For most marketers, the answer is the same one I gave to my kids on a recent road trip to Disneyland, "Not yet … but the good news is we know how to get there."
And just like Disneyland, predictive revenue, born from fantasy, is now a real destination – which more and more progressive B2B marketers are seeking to arrive at.
So how exactly do you get there ? As with any road trip, you'll need: 1. Resources 2. A Map, and above all: 3. a commitment to GET THERE.
Start with Predictive Marketing Automation Analytics: A key resource you'll need to complete this journey is a marketing automation application equipped with predictive analytics. You may already have a CRM and even some 3rd party modeling tools like SPSS, SAP, or PivotLink, but the predictive metrics on the complete marketing and sales cycle ( the revenue cycle ) are essential. To predict revenue, your marketing automation solution must have a few key features and an elegant way presenting data. Without going into an exhaustive list of marketing automation features, the solution must at a minimum be able to track all touch points in the revenue cycle and be able to build and grade a unified contact history profile on each contact in your database. The basics include:
Email Activities, ( sends, opens, bounces, responses, opt-outs)
Website Activities ( which pages are being viewed, how many pages viewed, how long, and how often ) Where the website visitor is coming from and which pages are being exited.
Social Network Activity: How is the contact communicating in social networks in relation to your offering?
Landing Page Activity: Which sources are driving landing page visitors, which forms are being abandoned, and why?
Lead Grading is an important ingredient in predictive revenue and should be maintained in close collaboration with the sales team's criteria of an A through F quality lead.
Rules-based, Triggered Activities and Alerts are also key to implementing a repeatable process that helps predict revenue.
Chart Your Course with the Sales Team: With the measurement tools in place, mapping the quickest path to predictive revenue is much easier. As co-pilots, marketing and sales must map the course together. In additional to grading criteria, personas and each stage of the revenue cycle must be agreed on. The nurturing schema for graded persona's must be understood by each team member. Likewise, criteria for triggered alerts must be jointly defined and adjusted. It may take some time for the grading segments to gel, but once they do, some things to analyze include:
Which sources are driving the highest quality leads within defined time frames ?
What is my cost per lead broken down by lead grade ?
What percentage of A, B and C leads result in marketing qualified, sales accepted leads and forecasted opportunities.
How are leads progressing from one stage to the other ?
What percentage of leads progress from one stage to the next – and how quickly ?
What actions are impacting the acceleration of leads through the revenue cycle ?
What is my cost per marketing qualified lead, sales accepted lead, opportunity ?
What percentage of opportunities result in sales ?
Which reps and lead sources have a higher conversion rate from sales acceptance to opportunity to sale ?
There are quite a few other metrics that can analyzed, but knowing how differently sourced and different quality leads are progressing through the revenue cycle helps you reveal a "prospect cadence" that contributes to predictable revenue. Knowing cost per graded lead by source and propensity to convert to sale helps identify projected ROI on your marketing campaigns. Through alignment with sales, this measurable and truly accountable map finally positions the marketer as a more precise navigator to predictable revenue.
Get Commitment to Run the Business on Predictive Revenue:
It starts with the C-suite and permeates down to each marketing manager and sales rep. It's not just a notion that everyone simply agrees with. It's a hands-on process that even the C-level execs are involved with – often times on a daily basis. Give the C-level execs insight on the revenue cycle with an executive dashboard. Include them on key triggered alerts – and define the follow-up actions. Consider a more frequent forecast of sales accepted leads, forecasted opportunities, projected revenue and projected ROI. Trigger alerts when near team indications don't align with earlier projections.
Any new place worth getting to requires change. Since change is often swifter with outside assistance, consider hiring a guide with deep domain expertise and a proven approach. As the wheels of change start turning in the direction of predictive revenue, expect some bumps along the way. Testing your initial assumptions on lead grades, triggered activities and alerts is essential, and adjustments are expected. As long as everyone understands we're ultimately headed to Disneyland, a few detours along the way are acceptable.