I’m always shocked when I speak to sales and marketing professionals and find that they have very few shared metrics aside from revenue or profitability. Marketers are responsible for leads, unique website visitors and brand awareness. Sales is responsible for the length of the sales cycle, win rate and bottom line closing business. On the surface this makes perfect sense – divide and conquer. But in fact, it’s this black & white division of labor that leads to unhealthy tension and inefficiencies.
If you’re tired of the sales & marketing tug of war over resources, blame and credit it’s time marketer’s took SHARED ownership of these three traditional sales metrics.
1. Lead to first meeting/demo ratio – Marketer’s often think of sales people as children sitting at the dinner table, fork and knife in hand pounding the table “we want leads. we want leads”. And while I never met a sales team that didn’t want more leads, what they really want is more opportunities. Executive pressure to increase leads often comes at a cost – the passing of poor quality leads that don’t align to target markets and buying intent. We’re obsessed with working backwards. If I need to produce $1,000,000 in revenue and I know my average sales cycle is $100,000 I need to close 10 deals. To close 10 deals I need to find 100 opportunities. To find 100 opportunities I need to find 1000 leads. To find 1000 leads I need to…you get the idea. While a valuable exercise for budgeting and planning this approach takes us away from efforts to improve conversion. As a marketer would you rather deliver 1,000 leads that converts to 10 meetings or 100 leads that convert to 10 meetings? Marketers must be responsible for the ratio of leads to first meeting. When we hold ourselves accountable to maintain or improve this ratio magic happens. We start training sales people on how to follow-up on specific types of leads. We make sure the sales team is well armed with first meeting incentives. We ensure that what they present during those first meetings leaves a lasting impression. We relentlessly follow-up with sales to make sure they are quickly picking up the hand off we sent them. We even focus on finding better quality leads in the first place.
On a related note, if you are measuring cost/lead you are probably heading down a dangerous path. I might be able to significantly reduce my cost per lead, but at what cost? Are 100 $5 leads that produce 6 opportunities really better than 100 $20 leads that produce 28 opportunities? What we should be measuring is cost/conversion to opportunity.
2. Length of time for each stage in the buying process (typically measured in days) – Even those enlightened marketers who measure the conversion from lead to first meeting – sometimes labeling them Sales Qualified Leads – they rarely measure anything between first meeting and the percent of overall leads that result in revenue. This is a huge missed opportunity. All that buyer’s journey mapping we do and we don’t measure how well we’re impacting each stage! By evaluating along the way if we’re reducing the amount of time each buyer spends in the buying stages we are motivated to improve the buyer’s experience with helpful content and resources that match their needs. We improve the delivery and format of this content. And ultimately we better train the sales team to use the tools we’ve worked so hard to build.
3. Win rate – Too many marketers are afraid to take ownership of the company’s average win rate. It’s deemed outside of marketing’s control and often viewed as a direct result of the sales team’s skills. While sales effectiveness certainly plays a part, owning the win rate can significantly change the behavior of marketers – in a good way. Suddenly we are building content for the last stretch of the sales process. We’re investing in training programs that better align sales actions to target personas. We even pay closer attention to the competition and building a differentiated offering.
If you don’t believe changing your focus on metrics makes a difference check out this case study for one client that shaved 54 days off the buying cycle.
What we measure matters!