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Why Sales Operations is Marketing’s BFF

If there’s been one overarching trend in marketing in the last decade it’s been around metrics. The more that you can measure the success (and failures) of your email campaigns, the more effective they become. The more you measure the success of your content, the more you can build more materials that drive conversions.

That’s why there’s been the emergence of a whole trend of vendors and approaches to measure the success of marketing campaigns. Not just marketing automation, but revenue attribution platforms, tools for measuring content success, applications for monitoring email bounce rates. The list goes on.

At the same time, as you’ll know from this column, marketing has increasingly focused on driving revenue. The Sales CMO is the thesis of this blog, after all! When you combine these trends, you recognize that it is critical to not just measure your impact and success for the top of the funnel. You need to measure bottom of funnel effects too.

I’ve worked at companies with varying levels of sophistication when it comes to the CRM and sales data. Sometimes reports are easy to access and you can ad-hoc get information you need to correlate revenue with your marketing activities. Or, far better, companies that directly integrate their sales data with the marketing data have a huge advantage.

That’s why marketing needs to befriend the sales operations team. Access to rich, real-time sales data is how you can take your marketing decision making to the next level. But what should you be asking for? What kinds of information do you need? Here’s my set of first asks:

Extend Insight Deeper into the Funnel

That’s great that you have marketing data on the performance of your marketing campaigns. But you need to know success rates deeper in the funnel. That’s where your sales operations friend will help. Get answers to questions like:

  • What MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) took their meetings? How engaged were they in these sessions?
  • Which MQLs turned into qualified opportunities? What were the common elements of the prospect or account personae?
  • How large were the opportunities generated by each marketing initiative? Where should investment take place to maximize the return?
  • Did marketing influenced programs generate returns? How do you attribute the revenue back to individual marketing programs and vehicles?

Identify Inflection Points in the Funnel

Throughout the course of any buyer’s journey there will be starts and stops. Prospects may come into the funnel and eject themselves, only to return weeks or months later. The same holds true in the bottom of the funnel. But if you knew more about these inflections you could deliver better sales enablement initiatives to support sales efforts.

  • What were the stages that were most associated with deals slowing or falling out of the pipeline? When you can see the activities that surrounded this moment and see common threads you can more readily plan for content and methodologies to address the frictions.
  • How long were times between conversion points? Like the above, if you can see where long or lengthening times are between conversions — e.g. it used to take 3 weeks to go from a demo to an opportunity — you can use that data to minimize friction points and get the funnel humming again.

Content and Messaging Effectiveness

Marketing and sales content are critical components of sales enablement. But are sales teams using the content? And which sales enablement assets are driving revenue? Working with sales operations allows you to get data about which content is being used (or not). That can help you to correlate sales numbers back to your content.

  • Which content are sales people using with their prospects?
  • What sales situations is the content used in?
  • What correlations can you draw between content use and advancing or won deals?
  • Which content can you produce more of?
  • What messages resonate so you can tune content more effectively?

Prospects per Account

One of the keys to successful go-to-markets is speaking to the right people within the right accounts. But is sales actually targeting the correct prospects (both company and people prospects)? Sales operations can fill in the gaps by helping marketing to choose more or better data sources. Or perhaps better targeting for priority accounts.

  • How many accounts are in the named or priority category?
  • How many prospects are in the CRM and marketing automation platform per named account? Perhaps filtering or weighting by score.

A healthy relationship with sales operations can be a boon to marketing and your company’s go-to-market in general. So, build this relationship, get richer data, and move the revenue needle!