Connecting Marketing to Every Stage of The Modern Revenue Cycle

Marketers need to rethink their role in a 21st century commercial model that has become a data-driven and digital team sport.

The scorecard in modern selling is maximizing customer lifetime value at every stage of the revenue cycle. This is particularly true in B2B organizations moving to a recurring revenue model where expansion revenues and cross selling represent the majority of selling effort. 

These dynamics have blurred the lines between traditional marketing, sales, service and success roles and functions. They have also served to marginalize the role of the traditional CMO as curator of the brand, communications and media, particularly in B2B and SaaS businesses.

The impact of these changes can be seen in the size and nature of budgets marketers command.  Paid media and promotion – the traditional bastion of the CMO – now represent a much smaller part of the growth equation. Traditional paid media is now under a third of the mix according to a recent analysis by the Revenue Enablement Institute.  Owned digital channels – and the content, systems, data and teams that make them run – now command the lion’s share of both operating and capital budgets. The mainstream adoption of “4D” and omnichannel selling and recurring revenue models may have taken some budgets and responsibilities away from marketers and shifted more resources to expansion activities. 

One of the problems many CMOS and marketers always talk about is the fact that they have been always relegated to demand generation at the very, very front of the funnel when they can be doing so much more. They feel their role is shrinking as more and more of the resources and customer journey shift to downstream value selling, account development and expansion activities. Particularly in a subscription economy where half of businesses are chasing annual recurring revenues of some sort, or cross selling broad portfolios of solutions to key accounts.

Faced with these changes, how are CMOs going to contribute to the modern commercial model? And how can they redefine their role to do so?

Modern selling gives marketers unprecedented vehicles to create even more value than ever before. Aligning marketing with sales, success and service functional activities around growth to expand revenues represents a significant way for marketing to improve firm value and revenue growth.  To unlock this value, marketers must take a broader view of the customer journey – the full revenue cycle – extending beyond acquisition and transaction to include consumption and use. 

The maturation of a wide range of commercial technologies has armed marketers with new tools and capabilities to control the brand positioning, value story, and key messaging across every channel at every stage of the customer journey.  They need to take advantage of this to make themselves relevant. They need to play a bigger role aligning revenue teams, content, and processes around the customer. That’s an area CMOs can add vale and have credibility.  That’s a big part of what Revenue Operations is all about.

The shift to “4D”  and omnichannel selling may have taken some budgets and responsibilities away from marketers as media shrinks to under a third of the mix.  But it has also armed them with capabilities to control the brand positioning, value story and key messaging across every channel at every stage of the customer journey.  They need to take advantage of this to make themselves relevant. They need to play a bigger role aligning revenue teams, content, and processes around the customer. That’s an area CMOs can add vale and have credibility.  That’s a big part of what Revenue Operations is all about.

STEPHEN DIORIO AUTHOR OF REVENUE OPERATIONS DISCUSSES HOW MARKETERS NEED TO USE ADVANCES IN COMMERCIAL TECHNOLOGY TO TAKE GREATER CONTROL OVER CUSTOMER CONVERSATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS AT EVERY STAGE OF THE REVENUE CYCLE

In our new book Revenue Operations, we are telling CMOs they need to assert more control over the conversations and communications that happen at every stage of the customer cycle. Value selling. Positioning against competitors. Addressing pain points. What’s lost on most CMOs over the age of forty is they can and should control every word that comes out of people’s lips, every RFP, every communication. Technology is there to do it.

Advances in sales enablement, engagement, readiness technologies and the ability of AI to proscriptively deliver, monitor and control both human and digital conversations make this possible.  For example, smart CMOs are using Intelligent Response Management platforms like RFPIO allow them to govern every word of RFPs, RFIS, or every email customer inquiries using AI, ensuring they are compliant, current, relevant and on brand.  Solutions sellers are using Customer value management and value engineering platforms like Ecosystems have emerged that systematize value selling. This gives CMOs the power to create and control content that informs every from pre-sales value selling to post sales value realization. We cover all these technologies in the book. We’ve also outlined smart actions any CMO can take to connect the dots across their commercial technology portfolio to take more control over the conversations and communications happening at every stage of the revenue cycle. We like to call this the “green thread”.

If your leadership team has worked hard to define and agree upon the value story, the brand promise, and the messaging that matter – then that “green thread” should be coming through every channel – not just media. More importantly, it should be coming out of the mouths of all of your service people’s mouths, sellers , and solution engineers, and customer success teams. It should be reinforcing value already delivered, setting up cross sell. The channels and technologies to do that today.

This is common sense. And it’s not rocket science. Successfully weaving a green thread though every customer interaction and touch point is really a matter of having someone come in and connect those dots and demonstrate the art of the possible.

So the whole mentality for most marketers has the change. Historically, CMOs were comfortable living at the very front of this supported by large media budgets and with nobody asking questions about accountability.  But those days are over. Media is less relevant at the consumption phase of the cycle.  Owned digital channels like e-mail, chat, web commerce and mobile matter more. The focus of content has shifted from thirty second ads to thought leadership and validation content. But marketers, or their operations teams, don’t necessarily own those budgets or systems.

Taking greater control of this  “Green Thread” will help marketing and sales leaders adjust to the realities of a more data-driven, capital-intensive growth strategy by aligning all stakeholders and connecting all company commercial assets, data, and business processes. Instead of managing a shrinking role at the front of the funnel, CMOs need to demonstrate value across the entire revenue cycle by informing and enabling the conversation across the bow tie.  The green thread creates enormous value. It yields a better customer experience, with consistent messaging at every interaction, and value being affirmed at every step. It eliminates margin leakage by reinforcing value at every stage of the customer journey.  It generates higher returns on commercial assets by improving the utilization of expensive selling methods, training, thought leadership and validation content and thought leadership assets. It extends and enforces value selling deep into the expansion phase of the revenue cycle – which is the primary driver of growth and engagement at most B2B companies.

The trick is for leadership to agree that marketing should be informing and enabling the conversation across the entire “bow tie”, not just the very front of the funnel where they have historically been relegated. Marketers need to actively change that perception. They need to actively redefine their scopes and span of control. They need to start building the alliances with their peers in sales, success and service how now command the bulk of client engagement. And they need to work with their operations and enablement teams to create more “connected tissue” across their go to market processes, systems and workflows to do it.

You can learn more about ways to connect the dots across the commercial technology ecosystem to take control of the “green thread” in our new book Revenue Operations.

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