The news can be a scary place. Lately it seems the headlines in the tech world have gone from talking about the “Great Resignation” (employees leaving their jobs in large numbers amid strong demand for labor and low unemployment rates), to threats of a looming recession. As a result, VC money is harder to get and company valuations are leveling back down to seemingly more reasonable levels.
If you’re wondering why your marketing team seems to be huddling in conference rooms or on Zoom calls re-working program and budgets plans, it’s because the marketing budget always seems to be one of the first things on the chopping block when belts start to tighten. So, teams start scrambling to show the impact that decreasing spend on marketing will have on revenue.
As marketers it’s easy for us to say that now is not the time to stop spending on marketing. And, it’s true. Reducing spend now will directly impact revenue in a few quarters. But, we also get it. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. These situations (among others) are exactly why a solid marketing operations foundation is so important.
We view this as an opportunity to tell your story.
When the business needs to scale back on spending and has a few levers to pull to do it, there is no more critical time for marketing to be able to show what impact budget adjustments have to revenue over time. To be able to demonstrate this, marketing teams start pulling together all sorts of data that may exist across their CRM, marketing automation, or other analytics tools to tell a ROI story.
But when those tools aren’t working properly, aren’t passing data back and forth seamlessly, or you don’t have the dashboards and reports that you need all ready to go, you miss a golden opportunity to make your pitch on why your budget should remain intact.
Alas, even if you can tell a compelling story, there may be times when budget cuts are inevitable. In those cases, you will be in a position to look at your program plans and decide which programs are the ones to get scaled back or canceled. Data is your best friend in this situation.
Again, armed with key data on the performance of each of your programs, you will be able to very quickly zero in on what programs you can’t afford to stop and which ones will impact that revenue number the least. Having tools in place that help you quickly and easily make these decisions are absolutely critical when you are forced to pivot mid-year.
At 4AM we talk to companies everyday who struggle with getting their tools in a place where they are serving and enabling them instead of the other way around. The last thing you want to have to do when faced with justifying or revamping your budget is to spend time chasing, rationalizing, verifying or cleaning data.
So, where do you start?
Keep. It. Simple. Your CRM and your marketing automation tools are critical to get right before you do anything else. But, it’s about more than just selecting the right tools and setting them up. You actually need to take a step back and:
Define your go-to-market strategy. Who are you targeting? Is this a SMB play with a velocity sales model focused on the US? A heavy channel play reliant on indirect sales? Fortune 100 focus with an Account Based Marketing strategy?
The answers to these questions will inform how leads are processed and move through the marketing and sales funnels and thus what workflows and automation are required to support them.
Align sales and marketing. Listen, we get it. Sales is from Mars and marketing is from Venus (or maybe Sales is from Venus and Marketing is from Mars? Either way you get the point). It will never be perfect, and that’s okay. Alignment is not that the sales and marketing teams go out to lunch or happy hour every few weeks and everyone likes each other.
True alignment happens when both teams sit at the same table and agree on: how do we define a lead vs a SQL vs an opportunity? What SLA’s do marketing and sales hold each other accountable to? How do leads get assigned? Routed? Segmented? Worked? How many is marketing responsible for delivering? Sales?
Only once the teams align on these core fundamentals, can you implement the workflows required to support them.
The tools. Now you can implement your tools. Make sure they talk to each other. Make sure data passes seamlessly through them. Make sure they support, automate and enforce the things you outlined above. And, set up the reports and dashboards you need in order to make sure you can answer the questions:
How are we tracking against our goals?
What pipeline / revenue is marketing delivering?
How are my programs performing?
How are leads moving through the marketing and sales funnels?
We have done this working internally at companies of all sizes. We have been where you are. Now, we help other companies get it right both through our marketing enablement platform, and through our professional services.
Our approach starts with the business and then moves to the tech:
First, understand the business and what you are trying to achieve.
Second, align teams internally around how it should work.
Third, implement the tools to support the business.
Don’t get caught continuing to bend your teams or processes to fit the way your tech is set up. The tech is there to support you and your goals, not the other way around.
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