I’m the type of person who measures everything. I know how many proposals I convert to revenue. I know the profile of the executives that hire me vs. take free advice. I know how many hours each type of engagement takes to complete. I even know how many truffles it takes to get through a difficult conference call.
Thank you, Dad, the primary influencer of my number obsession.
I’m not alone. As marketers, we become obsessed with open and click-through rates. We fret over keyword ranking. We're thrilled when our email subscription rates skyrocket—and for good reason. These are tools of our trade we must learn to master. However, these are not the measurements marketing should be held accountable against. When we concentrate exclusively on them, we lose focus on our core mission: to drive business growth.
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. The sales team is responsible for the length of the sales cycle, win-rates and bottom-line closing business. On the surface this makes perfect sense—divide and conquer. But in fact, it’s this black-and-white division of labor that leads to unhealthy tension and inefficiencies.
Lead To First Meeting/Demo
Marketers must be responsible for the ratio of leads to first meeting. The magic happens when we hold ourselves accountable to maintain or improve this ratio. 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.
Length Of Time In Each Buying Stage
The second metric is 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—rarely measure anything between first meeting and the percent of overall leads that result in revenue. This is a huge missed opportunity. After all the buyer’s journey mapping we do, 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. Ultimately, we better train the sales team to use the tools we’ve worked so hard to build.
And our last sales-oriented metric and one that is so important: 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, sharing ownership of 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. And best of all, the organization gives us the emotional permission and resources to do it.
These metrics go beyond the number of orders placed, lead generated, profitability and retention metrics that are typically measured. I challenge you to focus on them; they provide insight that can specifically be acted upon and have a direct impact on growth.
Samantha Stone is the Founder and CMO of The Marketing Advisory Network. This piece is an adapted excerpt from her book Unleash Possible: A Playbook that Drives Sales. Throughout her career, Stone has launched go-to-market initiatives and led marketing strategies for award-winning, high-growth companies, including Netezza, SAP, Ascential Software and Powersoft.
Follow Samantha Stone on Twitter at @samanthastone.