In her last True Confession, Latane Conant shares how companies desire predictable revenue growth but don’t set up teams to succeed in generating it with MQLs. She also shares how an account based strategy tied to account engagement metrics can help your teams build a real pipeline.
In my last article, I confessed I have a secret weapon when it comes to account and lead scoring, allowing AI to determine the high-value accounts and leads we pursue, rather than an arbitrary scoring system like the MQL.
Honestly, more people should use this cheat code because according to our research, 50% of respondents believe their lead scoring processes don’t even surface the best leads accurately or consistently.
Rather than the traditional lead scoring processes, we use the “6QA” to tell us when accounts are “in-market” through a combination of account profile fit, contact profile fit, engagement scores, and in-market predictions. The 6QA removes subjectivity and allows us to appropriately engage based on the account’s buying stage.
So, my last confession (for now) is that I’m calling BS on marketing only owning part of the pipeline and quarterly revenue targets.
Marketing departments have come a long way, and the majority of the ones I talk to own, or at least feel responsible for, a portion of the overall pipeline. BUT I have to ask: If marketing is crushing pipeline goals and the overall company is not, is the job really done?
Too often we self-silo because it’s hard to control and ATTRIBUTE the breadth of potential revenue-generating sources back to each and every activity. But if you want to survive, it’s the job.
McKinsey & Company calls people who break out of the self-silos “unifiers.” They’re the ones who stitch together fresh insights and a real understanding of customers into a clear and broad picture. CMOs and CEOs then turn that picture into short- and long-term goals.
The ultimate goal for marketing, sales and your entire organization is to achieve predictable revenue growth. When we show up as the chief marketing officer and report and dissect nits and nats of our little mole hill, we appear junior and disconnected — we’re not unifying.
Christine Heekard, a brilliant CMO (now CEO), said it best:
“Our job is to be the seat at the table that represents the market. The chief market officer understands current and future customer needs and articulates how the overall revenue cycle is performing to capitalize on the market opportunity.”
When I talked about replacing the MQL with AI-driven intent scores (what we call the 6QA), I hope I didn’t give the impression creating 6QAs was the goal, any more than creating MQLs or SQLs should be your goal.
The goal isn’t really even your marketing sourced pipeline target. It’s best capitalizing on the market opportunity, unifying the revenue generating team and optimizing resources.
So, how do you achieve this goal — and better yet, how do you measure against it?
Transition to an account based strategy
Good marketing has always been about segmentation and targeting. We’ve always known this and strived for more fidelity in both.
Now, with an AI-driven account engagement platform, we have the means to measure our effectiveness, not for attribution credit or as a goal in and of itself, but as a way to optimize our campaigns and budget to maximize predictable outcomes.
When you move away from measuring the number (or even quality of) leads, and instead anchor performance measures on engagement from accounts specifically in your ideal customer profile (ICP), you can begin to micro-target using specific demographic, technographic, firmographic and even certain behaviors to increase predictable outcome from each segment.
It’s much easier to predict revenue from a campaign aimed at a small segment of highly targeted accounts than it is from 1,000 leads who filled out your contact us form.
Then, it becomes all about running campaigns driving great engagement against those micro-targeted segments. Some campaigns are large with hundreds of accounts, while others may have only a handful of accounts. And the goals may vary depending on your business priorities:
- Increase partner co-sell
- Increase win rates in the enterprise segment
- Grab market share from a competitor
- Increase deal velocity
- Break into a new industry
BUT every program ties out to a campaign. On the campaign we measure cost versus increasing or decreasing account engagement, open opportunities and pipeline.
This lets us adjust when things are underperforming, benchmark our overall performance over time, evaluate (and double down on) our top programs, and cut what’s not driving revenue.
A good example to illustrate the value of account engagement here at 6sense is around our recent funding announcement. We put a ton of work into the press release, bylines and a LinkedIn video campaign.
It was great to see engagement on LinkedIn — some of the videos scored 15,000 views! It was also cool to see our media share of voice lead the pack in our industry; and, of course, we got a big spike in web traffic. But not a single MQL — which I’m OK with!
Did any of that matter? Maybe it was just my mom and in-laws being really excited and proud of me, clicking and liking away.
This is where our ICP segment comes into play. Using our platform, we could see exactly the impact on account engagement (which was huge) within our ICP segment.
Every single campaign we run starts with our master ICP and refines accounts (currently around 31,000 accounts) down to the exact segment we want to target, often times just several hundred accounts.
There are virtually unlimited combinations of filters, from keywords being researched, to company size, to technology being used, to online behaviors, to buying stage.
These filters let us micro-target the exact audience, with the right message, at the right time — much more predictable.
How you can achieve predictable revenue growth
This isn’t some super secret formula or methodology we’ve developed. We believe transparency builds trust, so we provide full transparency across the revenue team. Marketing, sales and customer success teams can see exactly what kind of account engagement is being driven by each campaign.
I do still measure myself and the team on marketing-sourced pipeline created each month. We have quotas, and we strive to hit those. I hold myself accountable to our overall business performance.
I monitor the total pipeline numbers — not just marketing — and allocate pipeline quota to each channel (inbound, outbound, events, partners, upsell, direct, etc.) accordingly, based on historical performance, strategic direction, resource allocation and ability to drive account engagement.
But I’m able to do this in a way that drives much more predictable outcomes than just arbitrarily increasing the number of MQLs we need to meet the pipeline target, or adjusting the lead scoring to game the system.
If you’re looking to achieve more predictable revenue growth, torch your MQLs and:
- Look at account engagement as a critical measurement for your account based segments with respect to timing, specifically how to identify and pursue “in market” accounts. These are your 6QAs: accounts with the highest likelihood of resulting in revenue.
- Start with revenue and pipeline instead of leads. Understand how account engagement impacts that cycle and build your go-to-market plans to maximize segment engagement.
- Use measurement and funnel insights to ensure your resources (sales and marketing) align with the buyer’s journey.
While I’m sure there are plenty of other confessions to come, ditching MQLs is a good starting point. The most important part is that you help your marketing teams really own the pipeline.
Read CMO Confessions #1 - Who Cares About MQLs? here
Read CMO Confessions #2 - I Have a Secret Weapon here
Read the original article here
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