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Revenue-Driven Marketing Ops: The People, the Stack, the Return

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In the latest episode of The Revenue Marketing Report, Matt Solomon of Airship gives an honest rundown of what it takes to evolve into a revenue-driven marketing ops team: the People, the Stack, and the Return.
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Matt Solomon
Based out of Denver, Matt runs Marketing Operations for Airship.
Revenue Marketing Report

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The People

Building a reliably savvy marketing ops team is un-chartered territory for many companies. If you are at its helm, you have a lot of questions to answer: How should the team fit into the organization? How will you work with sales or other revenue teams? How do you secure budget? How do you hire and write job descriptions to find your “unicorns”?

Let’s whittle it down for simplicity to three core roles you’ll need:

  1. Systems-focused -- This is the expert in setting things up, who implements your tools like a whiz kid. Think Marketo- and Salesforce-certified pros.
  2. Optimization-focused -- Marketing teams, especially at the enterprise level, tend to collect myriad point solutions. Some are used across the team while some collect dust. Regardless, most are never optimized to their full potential.
  3. Return-focused -- This is essentially an analyst role in place to justify the ROI of your marketing efforts and MarTech stack.

And of course, you need reliable process in place to support all of those roles and the goals of each.

Tip: If you don’t yet have a marketing ops team and think you need one, make the argument. The more marketing spend is firing up, the more necessary marketing ops is to optimize that and track your return.

Aligning your entire team with Sales is critical, and it’s all about building trust. People come and go all the time, so this isn’t an easy task. Staying in constant communication with revenue teams, through churn and burn, will help you gradually gain credibility, especially when your efforts alleviate stress for the sales team and help close deals faster.

One way of staying in communication is to hold a weekly meeting with a cross-functional team of your pipeline stakeholders:

  • Who -- Sales leads, business development managers, the head of demand gen and ABM, and whoever else you think is key to bringing it all together.
  • Format -- Make it consistent. Go over the past week's performance to clearly lay out your lead flow by source and channel. Call out the teams creating the most ops, whether from the partner side, the sales side, and whether they were they marketing sourced or not.
  • Gain forward momentum -- Use your reports as a gauge to determine where you will focus more effort (top of funnel, which territory, or a specific vertical, for example).

Having this reliable feedback loop will drive and align your sales and marketing teams in powerful ways

Tip: Marketing/Sales head-butt is a real thing, and it really (really!) can be reduced if you take the right approach. Don't come with a recommendation unless there's proof. Always have the metrics to back it up. And when you do have a criticism of something Sales is doing? First, learn why they made the decisions they did, and get to know their reality. Don’t just walk in and call their baby ugly, or suggest they rip out all their useless stuff.

The Stack

You’ve probably seen Scott Brinker’s infamous annual Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (here’s 2019’s doozy). Even if a marketing organization picks just a handful of the over 7,000 tools available, a sales team can be overwhelmed with what gets pushed over to them.

That is to say -- You can spend thousands (realistically, hundreds of thousands, even) to make sure great leads route to the right sales reps. But if they don't know what to do with it, and if at the end of the day your marketing team or sales team can't make the right decisions to help grow business, what are you doing it for?

Your stack should be dialed in from the get go. Make sure you’re gathering the right data and doing so consistently so that your down-the-line reporting is as accurate as possible. This means:

  • Define your channels and sub-channels before you set up the tool, and don't change them. Cleaning up a tangle of channels after the fact is complex and takes up valuable time.
  • Run a tight ship with your tagging strategy. Consistency is key for accurate tracking and reporting.
  • Keep in mind that out-of-the-box reporting for tools like those in Marketo and Salesforce can do the job, but not entirely. To find the answers you really need, you usually need to go outside into another business intelligence tool.

Tip: Think of your stack not just as “marketing” tech. Doing so can get you stuck. Instead, frame it from a revenue perspective: Can the tool help accelerate what Sales reps are doing? How will it help close deals faster?

The Return

The metrics that move the needle are the ones that will get you a seat at the revenue table with your executives to  make the case for getting and doing more.

Metrics around flow, leads created, MQLs sent over the fence — they matter, sure. But focus more on those that tell the story of your opportunity pipeline creation.

What are your percentages of sources from:

  • The marketing side
  • The partner team
  • The sales reps

Looking at those, drill down deeper into each source category. Out of all of the ops that you closed (in marketing, for instance) over the last three quarters, what were the close rates? How much time did it take to close? What stands out about those that didn’t close?

Examine your contact roles. Do you have larger accounts dozens or even hundreds of contacts on it? You don’t need to care about everyone that’s engaging; you should focus on the people the rep was actually talking to. What did that person do?

This is what it means to understand and focus on your buyer journey — the chain of events that leads up to a successful closed-won opportunity.

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