Next Gen Marketing Automation Platforms: Revenue Impacting

June 7, 2012

It’s time for the next generation of marketing automation – a revenue generating marketing automation system that focuses across new areas of predictability, effectiveness, and a wholistic view of a prospect/customer situation with the right analytics.  As a former high tech CMO that understands SaaS companies and platforms, I’ve implemented multiple instances of marketing automation platforms and more recently started a business digging deep at the marketing automation/CRM ecosystem to get more revenue, quicker.

Here are 4 areas that I think the next generation of marketing automation will solve for:

Predictive:  while the lead scoring models of yester-year are a good start to sorting out the needles from the hay, people are starting to realize that companies cannot ‘set and forget’ to hope the scoring methodology works long term.  Buying behaviors change and a buying committee in B2B is complex.  A predictive element with newer analytic capabilities is emerging in the B2B world, leveraging similar technologies that B2C marketers use (i.e. Amazon and best picks).  A company can then determine what products or solutions are most likely to be purchased based on similar demographic or segmentation sets.

Raise Sales/Marketing Effectiveness:  as I’ve previously posted on my blog, the data element is the single most important area for companies to understand and harvest, yet at the executive level it is often the leastunderstood.  Bad data is like a rifle with its sight off;  if your sight is off by a ¼ inch, you’ll miss your end target by a mile.  If the data is bad, you’ll never reach your target or lose valuable time trying to reach the target.  Newer marketing automation systems that leverage the right SaaS integration will be more sophisticated to go beyond the deduplication at the account, contact, and lead level (like they do today or with other 3rd party tools like CRM Fusion, Dupe Blocker, etc.) by providing real time feedback on phone numbers and contact information to increase the effectiveness of the inside sales organization.  Outsourced data cleansing strategies will become less prevalent as time goes on.

Assist with 360 view of a prospect:  with SaaS environments leveraging CRM (Salesforce.com) and new integration technologies (Dell Boomi, etc), there is a newer way to get intimate understanding of your customer prior to sales reaching out real time.  Billing information, trouble tickets, and other service questions can theoretically be displayed to a sales person so they are not ‘surprised’ calling into a new or existing account trying to up-sell.  With a 360 view, coupled with the predictive element, there will be new ways to get more revenue for companies that are savvy. Customer marketing (up-sell, cross-sell) is the hardest type of marketing to do and measure, this 360 view will help complete that circle. The single most important aspect is to make it easy for sales rep to get access to it from their current system.

Analytics that are meaningful:  the first generation SaaS marketing automation vendors have made an attempt at analytics, either licensing 3rd party software (Micromuse, Good) or attempting to build on their own.  The next generation analytic dashboards will be visible by anyone that has CRM access, not just marketing users with marketing data.  These analytics will show the areas above – marketing influenced revenue, 360 viewpoint, and data quality.  While some of this can be reported in systems today, it’s challenging at best.

What do you think, what are you seeing for future marketing automation environments to get more revenue, quicker?  Where are the pain points and shortcomings in your environment?



4 Steps to help Sales work Marketing Leads to DRIVE REVENUE!

April 7, 2011

I recently met with a Field Marketing leader for a successful B2B company recently and she had echoed a similar concern that is common in our industry  –  her concern was as follows:

“The marketing leads we give to sales aren’t being worked by sales, so it’s difficult to justify the marketing investment when the marketing leads aren’t closing or being worked.”

Here are 4 points to consider when trying to address the situation she faces – to net it out, it’s ACCOUNTABILITY:

1.       Inspect the lead definitions in the company by segment, by region, and by channel to make sure a qualified marketing lead is indeed qualified from a salesperson’s viewpoint.  It’s imperative marketing understands how sales qualifies and defines their own leads (not inquiries) as a starting point – what definitions they use, how they establish a need – with that definition in hand, it should MATCH what the marketing inside sales team has as a definition.  An outside, independent audit is helpful as it removes any sales/marketing tension with a disinterested 3rd party;  if that is not feasible, doing it directly from marketing to sales is the next best alternative.

2.       Establish a service level agreement with the head of sales on sales ACCEPTED leads (not sales qualified) AND  incent the inside sales team on sales ACCEPTED leads.   This is tricky – most heads of sales would want to know what to expect or count on from marketing as it makes their job easier.  The tricky part is that not all heads of sales understand the need or what an SLA is – particularly sales 1.0 executives.  So there may be significant internal selling on this point not to overlook!

3.       Establish metrics on a per rep basis –  THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP – specifically measure  on a per sales rep basis the quantity of leads that marketing sources, the quantity of leads that sales sources, the close rates and close TIMING for each sourcing category.  With this quantitative information in hand, a more mature discussion can be held with the sales leadership as to what is actually happening with marketing qualified leads.  Your marketing automation platform or Salesforce.com should help with this measuring.  One intangible point here – this data will force conversations, so treat the discussions with the heads of sales respectfully, not as a hammer.  The objective is to improve or close gaps on business challenge areas, not to hammer reps for how you might think of their performance!

4.       Benchmark similar sized company performance so expectations are set at the executive level.  At a tactical level, there is a great alignment opportunity between the head of sales and head of marketing in this scenario that she poses.  In other SaaS environments, according to SiriusDecisions and Marketo, I’ve seen upward to 60% of closed revenue sourced by marketing (note a more typical average for B2B SaaS is in the 18% to 33% range with Marketo pushing the envelope at 60%+).   The head of sales should want to know what marketing’s funnel is as it is less the head of sales team needs to do revenue wise at days end.  The board of directors will also want to know what marketing’s contribution is to revenue.

This lady was impressive, she had all the right business instincts identifying the challenge and just needed a bit more push as what to do next.  What do you find works for you?  Would love to hear a sales person’s perspective!


SaaS: Customer Retention is EVERYTHING!

March 29, 2011

SaaS – software as a service is a business model that was pioneered in the early 2000s to eliminate the costly software license model.  There are now a handful of global public company comparables with metrics that are published on the performance of these SaaS companies (Salesforce.com, Successfactors) and emerging fast growing companies (Appsense, Eloqua, Marketo, and Qualys to name a few).

An attribute to the SaaS business model is recurring revenue with shorter duration contracts, with resign upsell opportunities that typically range from 0-20% of the annual value.   With shorter duration contracts than that of a typical software license sale, retention of customers in a SaaS model becomes CRITICAL for the organization to make it’s overall annual revenue number.

Here are 5 techniques that I’ve used to help aid in retaining SaaS based customers:

  • Formal interviews with exited customers:  to be done by an external 3rd party to eliminate any survey bias and to get accurate information, you’ll be amazed at what your former customers will say about the onboarding process, their interactions, and the touchpoints they have with the organization.  This will also give a roadmap to win back their business.  I’ve used Primary Intelligence in the past with success.
  • Implement Net Promoter Score with existing customers:   to test periodically how customers see progress in your service offering or where the pain points lie on your customer service side.  This is typically done with larger, global enterprise B2B SaaS companies.  There are newer, more cost effective companies emerging to help smaller SaaS companies to run similar surveys.
  • Study and understand the compensation scheme for how your sales organization gets compensated on new and retention business.  A compensation model that is effective is how Gartner Group compensates their reps on new business and retention business (NACV model is what they call it – ask your rep, he or she will know all about it!)
  • Bundle and drive new feature/functionality around the resign period.  This bundling is key to drive price increases, I’ve had instances of other SaaS companies approaching me for annual renewal increases ‘just because’.  That line of reasoning is difficult to justify!
  • Involve your customers in global customer advisory boards so they can help shape product direction.  Engage your customers in regular field communication via newsletters AND LinkedIn (and opt-in customer forum), thus keeping them in constant contact with new developments on your product so they are always informed and never surprised.

What do you find that works for your organization’s customer retention efforts?