A New Year's Resolution Worth Keeping - View Marketing Success Through the Sales Pipeline

January 3rd, 2013 by Robert Pease

There are many different dimensions to the marketing discipline and no shortage of pundits who expound on the merits and complexities of brand, position, etc. but in reality, the only thing that matters about your marketing efforts are their impact on customer acquisition.

Regardless of the business you are in,  you have some type of sales pipeline whether that is someone walking into your store and browsing around or someone entering a long and complex sales cycle to make a capital investment.

Marketing is often thought of as a cost center and, to a degree, it is a cost of doing business but the closer you can get to revenue generating activities and the better you are at connecting the dots between marketing activities and booked sales the better for you and your company.

Go and look at your last three new customers.  Where did they come from? How did they find out about you?  How long were they in your sales cycle?  How and when did they touch your company either in person or via some on-line path (website, social group, etc.)?

Now take a look at your sales pipeline.  How many opportunities are there?  The sales pipeline is the focal point of the market-facing side of your organization. So, anyone in sales, marketing, customer care, product management, etc. should have access to this on a real-time basis and understand how won, lost, and stale opportunities impact their job and day-to-day activities.  This forces a level of transparency that may make some uncomfortable as sales shares their ups and downs, marketing is held to account for their budget, and product sees the results of feature priorities but it will add a focused discipline to your company and the priorities of everyone on your team.

As a marketer, you need to be maniacally focused on the source of an opportunity. The source is the marketing activity that introduced the prospect to your company.  This could be a simple web search in which case you need to know what they searched on to more proactive efforts like inside sales outreach.  Regardless, knowing this is a critical component to measuring the return on any marketing activity.  Where it gets more complex is understanding attribution.  Attribution is sort of like putting a puzzle together to understand the activities taken to go from first contact (source) to becoming a customer.  After that search, what did they do?  Read a section of your website, request more information, or talk to someone?

Once you have this understanding, your job is to reproduce it at scale and cost effectively.  Ultimately you are seeking a predictable, repeatable, and cost effective way to find, engage, and close new customers.  That is the job of marketing and don’t forget it.

View marketing success through the sales pipeline.

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