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Marketing Velocity and the 5 Keys to Making the Cash Register Ring


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What does Talladega Nights' Ricky Bobby know about marketing? Speed is the key. And that if you're not first, you're last.

Learn how to use velocity to close deals.

Download The Starr Conspiracy Tech Unit’s free white paper “Marketing Velocity and the 5 Keys to Making the Cash Register Ring.” In it, you’ll learn:

— The most important metric in turning leads into sales
— How to align your people, processes, and technology to make your marketing efforts more effective
— Steps to creating continuity and agility that will crush your business objectives

Published in: Business, Technology
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Marketing Velocity and the 5 Keys to Making the Cash Register Ring

  2. 2. MARKETING VELOCITY AND THE 5 KEYS TO MAKING THE CASH REGISTER RING 2 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Marketing velocity is the speed or rate at which marketing efforts yield business results. Marketing velocity can be accelerated with the thoughtful implementation of enabling technologies such as marketing automation, CRM, social media platforms, and analytics solutions. However, companies often expect these technologies to be the solution rather than enable the solution. In fact, sales and marketing technology slows marketing velocity or speeds up bad outcomes more often than it serves as an accelerant to marketing velocity. Here are the keys to accelerating marketing velocity with sales and marketing technology: 1. Velocity Metrics — Start by identifying the key milestones in your sales and marketing process, and then create baseline velocity targets for those milestones. For example, the key milestones in your process may include: (a) inbound lead, (b) first meeting, (c) presentation and demo, and (d) proposal. It’s not enough to measure the volume or conversion rate of these outcomes. It is an indisputable fact that the faster sales opportunities progress from milestone to milestone, the more likely it is that your company will win the business. For years, we have preached, “Time is the enemy of sales.” Therefore, you must set measurable velocity goals for each milestone. How quickly can you respond to inbound leads? How soon can you set the first meeting? How fast can you create a proposal? The more time that elapses between milestones, the more likely it is that you will lose the deal to a more nimble competitor. 2. Process Mapping — If you can’t draw your marketing and sales process as a single flow chart on a napkin, then you don’t have a tenable marketing and sales process. All companies are incapable of executing complex processes with consistent, positive outcomes. Create a simple process and memorialize it in a diagram. Train your entire sales and marketing team on the process so they can exercise their own good judgment in the field. 3. Redundancy and Business Continuity — Systems without redundant backups are doomed to fail. If your entire sales and marketing process (and technology stack) is controlled by a single person, you are sure to experience downtime. You can mitigate the risk of downtime by training several people on the process and technology or by outsourcing systems management to a managed service provider. 4. Custom Implementation — Much of the best sales and marketing technology was not designed for enterprise software companies (go figure). Marketing automation, sales force automation, social media, and analytics solutions must be shaped to serve the unique needs of B2B companies. Your technology stack will not accelerate marketing velocity with an “off-the-shelf” implementation. 5. Strategic Alignment — Finally, your sales and marketing technology must be tuned to your strategic growth goals. Are you fighting for market share, or are you squeezing margins for profit? It matters all the way down to how your technology stack is configured.
  3. 3. MARKETING VELOCITY AND THE 5 KEYS TO MAKING THE CASH REGISTER RING 3 WHY VELOCITY MATTERS Being good isn’t good enough anymore. Enterprise software companies have to be fast, too. Rooted in decades of tradition, the sales and marketing function has largely failed to keep pace with the increased velocity of product development and market dynamics. Meanwhile, research is proving what entrepreneurs have known intuitively for years: Speed matters. The key to success in enterprise software markets is to win early favorite vendor status. More than 90 percent of the time, early favorite vendor status is awarded to the company that gets to the prospect first! When prospects are researching a software category, they are very likely to be persuaded to the worldview of the first company that contacts them (unless they have a negative experience). Think calling a prospect back in 48 hours is good enough? Think again. If you’re not contacting prospects within minutes of their interaction with your brand, you’re missing your window of opportunity. Forbes reported in 2012 that only 27 percent of leads ever get contacted, but sound structuring of resources, processes, and technology can raise that rate to 92 percent. Data reported in 2013 by Yahoo Small Business Advisor shows that contacting a lead within five minutes yields a 78 percent close rate, compared with a 19 percent close rate when the response to a lead is within five to 30 minutes. The numbers are even more dismal if you wait to contact a lead after 30 minutes, at just a 3 percent close rate, according to the Yahoo business report. 78% 19%
  4. 4. MARKETING VELOCITY AND THE 5 KEYS TO MAKING THE CASH REGISTER RING 4 Technology makes rapid response to even passive interest possible — but it makes it possible for your competitors, too. If you’re not competing on velocity, then you’re not competing at all.
  5. 5. MARKETING VELOCITY AND THE 5 KEYS TO MAKING THE CASH REGISTER RING 5 CASE STUDY: POOR VELOCITY The Starr Conspiracy worked with a large Human Capital Management (HCM) company recently that epitomizes poor sales and marketing velocity and serves as a valuable example of the majority of enterprise software companies today. This company was dissatisfied with its conversion rates from initial inquiry to closed deal and couldn’t identify the process break. Popular theories circulating around the marketing team included everything from poor creative to ineffective sales training. However, our audit of their sales and marketing process identified several choke points that were degrading velocity. The scenario below was typical for this company (covering a single marketing process): 1. Email blast sent to rented media 2. Prospects download white paper from landing page 3. Prospects are “staged” in marketing automation system until qualified by marketing 4. Qualified prospects are diverted to “lead-nurturing” program until “progressive profiling” yields high lead score 5. High-scoring leads are staged in CRM system until qualified by sales 6. Inside sales reaches out to “sales-qualified leads” via email and phone 7. Successful “connects” result in first meetings with sales rep 8. Unsuccessful connects are dropped back into lead-nurturing program 1. Email blast sent to rented media 2. Prospects download white paper from landing page 3. Prospects contacted within 30 minutes of initial download 4. Prospects contacted five times within 10 days to establish connection 5. A successful connection results in a first meeting with a sales representative In the above example, qualified prospects were not called for weeks after the initial download. And when contact was not made on the first or second call, the sales team gave up altogether. Our analysis streamlined the process to focus on velocity. The new process required a reconfiguration of the company’s marketing automation and CRM solutions to eliminate choke points and prioritize fast response over cumbersome manual qualification. Here is the new process:
  6. 6. MARKETING VELOCITY AND THE 5 KEYS TO MAKING THE CASH REGISTER RING 6 This simple reorientation around velocity increased the conversion rate from inquiry to first meeting from 2 percent to 15 percent in less than six weeks.
  7. 7. MARKETING VELOCITY AND THE 5 KEYS TO MAKING THE CASH REGISTER RING 7 VELOCITY METRICS Marketers have relied upon metrics for decades. In enterprise software, we have settled into a nice rhythm of measuring lead quality, conversion rates, and marketing expenses. Today, most marketers can tell you their average click rate, their MQL rate (marketing qualified leads), and their cost per lead. The problem is these metrics don’t actually correlate with business results. I’ve worked with companies that have excellent visibility into traditional metrics and perform quite well. They have low lead cost, high-quality leads, and great conversion rates all the way up to MQL. But they aren’t selling anything. I’m not saying these metrics are not important or helpful. But when they are not aligned with business strategy and correlated to business results, they can actually be misleading. If your marketing team is achieving a great cost per qualified lead, what else is there to work on? In these traditional metric environments (which represent the vast majority of enterprise software companies), velocity is not measured. Ironically, it is velocity that has the most significant impact on business results — especially in closing deals. We recommend creating a simple definition of marketing velocity for your business based on speed between milestones. The simplest definition of marketing velocity is the amount of time that passes from initial inquiry to closed deal. We can now break that up into smaller cycles. How much time elapses between inbound inquiry to outbound call, for example? Now that you have established a baseline, how can you accelerate this phase of the process? Is it possible that an overly cumbersome lead-qualification process is actually slowing down the time to response? Probably. Over time, you can break the marketing and sales cycle into smaller and smaller segments and focus on a simple question: How can we make this faster? Inevitably, this will lead to a more streamlined technology stack as cumbersome processes are simplified to increase velocity. If the process that your company uses to qualify leads prevents them from being called within 30 minutes, then the qualification process is doing more harm than good.
  8. 8. MARKETING VELOCITY AND THE 5 KEYS TO MAKING THE CASH REGISTER RING 8 PROCESS MAPPING Very few companies that we’ve worked with have an existing process map for marketing and sales. At this stage, I’m not even talking about the technology process map; I’m talking about the actual business process that drives the conversion of raw marketing material (leads) into finished goods (closed deals). How do people work together to assemble the deal? Who has decision authority at each stage in the process, and what decision are they making? When developing a process map, it’s important to start with a strategic goal. The Starr Conspiracy believes that velocity is the most important goal for marketing in enterprise software companies. Markets move fast, and we have to grab as much market share as we can while the sun is shining. Now that we know the goal of the process (to convert inquiries to closed sales deals in the shortest amount of time), we can start working on a process that only considers the people that we have and don’t have. Pretend that you’re not going to have any enabling technology at all beyond the Internet and email. As you create the process, if you stumble upon a choke point that slows velocity, figure out how to eliminate it. Only after you have diagramed a high-velocity sales and marketing process should you consider how to adopt technology to support your process. You see, most of us who buy these systems believe that the system is the process. In reality, if we used every feature in the marketing automation or CRM system, we would create a process so complex that velocity would be destroyed and the company’s ability to stick to the program would be diminished to the point of futility. The other outcome of this process, which can be uncomfortable for many companies, is that traditional roles break down quickly. Sales and marketing must operate in a fluid manner. Roles are blurred. Decisions are made on the fly to accelerate velocity. When pursuing maximum velocity, accuracy is often sacrificed to a small degree. But perfectionism at this stage of your journey will kill velocity. Remember that we are pursuing an outcome of a high-velocity experience for our qualified prospects. Occasionally, that means we will let some nonqualified leads through the gate in the interest of velocity. This is to be expected. There is no shame in using 20 percent of the functionality offered by your sales and marketing systems. Anything that slows down velocity should be discarded.
  9. 9. MARKETING VELOCITY AND THE 5 KEYS TO MAKING THE CASH REGISTER RING 9 REDUNDANCY AND BUSINESS CONTINUITY Without fail, the lack of redundancy and business continuity is the single most significant threat to maintaining marketing velocity. This has happened more times than I can count. We’ve seen companies get just to the leading edge of marketing velocity only to have their “marketing operations manager’’ or “sales operations manager” leave to take another job (their skills are in high demand). When they leave, they take all the institutional knowledge about how the system is set up with them. The Starr Conspiracy launched the Tech Unit to address this issue. We manage these systems for our clients. We start by formulating the business strategy, creating the right process map, and configuring (and implementing) the sales and marketing technology stack. After that, our team runs it for you. You never have to worry that you’re going to give back gains in velocity because we have a team assigned to your account rather than a single individual. And every role is staffed redundantly, so we’ll never skip a beat if a system administrator is on vacation or sick or decides to leave The Starr Conspiracy (heaven forbid). We didn’t build the Tech Unit because we thought it was an interesting line of business. We built it because the work our Advertising Unit was doing to drive leads and build brand awareness was often hitting a brick wall in the marketing automation systems and CRM system. We couldn’t achieve our clients’ business goals in many cases because our leads couldn’t wind their way through the spaghetti pipes of the sales and marketing technology. But three months later, the person we trained might be gone and we were back to square one. An unexpected outcome of managing the technology stack for our clients is that we’ve been able to create a comprehensive analytics dashboard that pulls metrics from “both sides of the fence.” Specifically, we can track all the campaign metrics associated with media management (such as clicks, downloads, list performance, etc.) and combine those with downstream metrics from the marketing automation and CRM systems (such as sales cycle, deep pipeline conversion rates, etc.). The net result is that we can be much more predictive and proactive in our recommendations to increase marketing velocity. Even if we had not launched the Tech Unit in 2013, I would still recommend outsourcing the implementation and management of the sales and marketing technology stack. These systems require business continuity, constant care and feeding, and a deep understanding of the correlation between marketing outcomes and business outcomes. Individuals who have the skill set to manage systems at this level rarely stay in a single position for more than nine months. Once they’re gone, it’s back to the dark ages. A solid outsourced provider can ensure that you achieve velocity and hold on to the gains for years. We are experts in sales and marketing technology and have often consulted with our clients to guide them through the changes that needed to be made to increase velocity.
  10. 10. MARKETING VELOCITY AND THE 5 KEYS TO MAKING THE CASH REGISTER RING 10 CUSTOM IMPLEMENTATION There is no way around it: Enterprise software companies need a custom implementation of their marketing and sales systems. Here are just a few reasons why: 1. The technology provider always has its own proprietary marketing model that it wants you to implement. Its brand is often built on this model. Unfortunately, these models were not built for enterprise software companies. The complex sales and marketing process involved in selling seven-figure software deals in emerging markets is just different from transactional sales models. This doesn’t mean the systems won’t work. In fact, several of them are game changers! They just need to be used the right way for your business (which varies even among enterprise software companies based on business strategies). 2. Technology providers want you to adopt as many features as possible. This is something they actually work on. It’s one of the primary reasons that “lead nurturing” and “progressive profiling” became two of the most damaging concepts for enterprise software marketing in the 21st century. Strong words, I know, but lead nurturing and progressive profiling are oversold as solutions to your problems because they leverage the coolest components of marketing automation and CRM. I’m not saying there isn’t a role for lead nurturing. I am saying that the best way to kill marketing velocity is to drop your leads in the purgatory of a 10-step marketing program. Use only the features that increase velocity and the business results you want will follow. This most often means using a stripped-down version of the technology (and, no, you won’t pay less for it). 3. Integrations need to be prioritized by velocity. There is more to integration than simply tying two or more systems together. What are they supposed to do once they’re talking? The short answer is they need to increase velocity by passing only the most important information between marketing and sales. If your marketing automation system isn’t placing a lead in the call queue within seconds of download, then the integration strategy is not driven by a focus on velocity. 4. Standard dashboards and metrics are not focused on velocity. The primary goal of your system is to increase velocity. Who cares if we have a 25 percent click-through rate if qualified leads aren’t called within 30 minutes? The technology provider wants to set up a robust dashboard. And the executive team will always want more metrics than are necessary. Your custom implementation needs to focus only on the metrics that matter. More than five, and you’ve boggled the human brain. I could go on and on about the need for a custom implementation. HubSpot data from 2011 shows that 50 percent of marketing automation users say they haven’t seen the full value in technology and 25 percent believe they are not using their systems to their full potential. But just keep this in mind: More than 80 percent of marketing automation system implementations are unsuccessful. The reason? People can’t keep up with the management of the system, they are overwhelmed by complex functionality, and most users cannot absorb all the data. Most often, this is because their implementation is too ambitious and not aligned with the critical path of accelerating marketing velocity.
  11. 11. MARKETING VELOCITY AND THE 5 KEYS TO MAKING THE CASH REGISTER RING 11 STRATEGIC ALIGNMENT Profit-oriented companies need to see fast ROI on their marketing spend. Accelerating velocity is the key to fast ROI, but it also means that financial metrics need to be part of the mix. Profit-driven companies can’t lose money to grow. They need to grow at fast rates while preserving profit. Market-share companies, on the other hand, only care about grabbing as much share as they can (especially in the early stages of market development). For these companies, velocity is key. Aggressive, Agile-style campaign testing is more common in these environments, which has an impact on technology implementation and management. Also, the sales teams tend to be larger and more specialized (e.g., by industry, by region, by product line, etc.), presenting more opportunities to accelerate velocity. Market-share organizations are also more aggressive about channel development and partnerships, which also has an impact on sales and marketing process and technology. In short, the marketing and sales stack that is right for one enterprise software company isn’t necessarily right for the one across the street. Business strategy should drive all decisions about people, process, and technology. It’s our goal as marketers to achieve maximum velocity and drive business results in alignment with overall strategy. Low cost per lead is nice, but it doesn’t make the cash register ring. Finally, your sales and marketing technology must be tuned to your strategic growth goals. Are you fighting for market share, or are you squeezing margins for profit? It matters all the way down to how your technology stack is configured.
  12. 12. MARKETING VELOCITY AND THE 5 KEYS TO MAKING THE CASH REGISTER RING 12 ABOUT THE STARR CONSPIRACY AND THE TECH UNIT The Starr Conspiracy (founded in 1999) is a strategic marketing firm providing service exclusively to enterprise software companies. The Tech Unit is an independent division of The Starr Conspiracy and strives to increase business velocity for our clients by managing critical sales and marketing systems, providing outsourced product development, and building technology-rich digital marketing experiences. The Tech Unit was formed to meet an urgent need experienced by most enterprise software companies. Rooted in decades of tradition, the sales and marketing function has largely failed to keep pace with the velocity of product development and market dynamics. To meet this need, the Tech Unit accelerates the flow of opportunities through sales and marketing systems, helps bring the right products to market faster, and builds digital experiences that engage buyers while effectively communicating value propositions and features and benefits (even as they are changing). Marketing and sales must lead, not follow. It’s not enough to have great sales and marketing strategies — they must also be fast, agile, and effective. That means moving at the speed of right.
  13. 13. MARKETING VELOCITY AND THE 5 KEYS TO MAKING THE CASH REGISTER RING 13 TECH UNIT SERVICES Marketing and Sales Systems Management The Starr Conspiracy Tech Unit manages a wide range of cloud-based sales and marketing technologies on an outsourced basis, including multiple flavors of marketing automation, sales force automation, social media, and analytics solutions. Our primary goal is to eliminate waste in the sales and marketing process and increase the velocity of opportunities as they flow through your sales and marketing systems. Agile Outsourced Product Development The Tech Unit offers comprehensive mobile application development, mobile overlay development, legacy software conversion, globalization and localization services, quality assurance testing, and UI design. Give us a cocktail napkin and we’ll have a product in the market within three months. Digital Marketing Experiences From responsive Web development to interactive marketing campaign assets such as games and immersive Web experiences, the Tech Unit lends development savvy to world-class campaign strategy and execution. White-paper offers delivered via email used to be state-of-the-art. Not anymore.
  14. 14. MARKETING VELOCITY AND THE 5 KEYS TO MAKING THE CASH REGISTER RING 14 WHY TSC? Enterprise Software Companies: Keep Reading The Starr Conspiracy Tech Unit is certainly not for everyone, but we know we are the best fit for most enterprise software companies. Why?
  15. 15. MARKETING VELOCITY AND THE 5 KEYS TO MAKING THE CASH REGISTER RING 15 INDUSTRY EXPERTISE For more than a decade, The Starr Conspiracy has worked exclusively with both large enterprise software companies and fast-growth technology startups. Simply put, we are a strategic marketing firm born and raised in a software world. We understand the nuances of the software marketing and sales cycle. We also understand how to build products that sell (right now — not 10 years from now). You’ll never waste time telling us what you do for a living or describing your buyer. And we won’t waste time with generic recommendations and strategies or failed trial and error. B2B BEST PRACTICES The Starr Conspiracy Tech Unit leverages proprietary technology processes and configurations to maximize the “fit” between your systems and your marketing and sales cycles. Businesses often turn to technology solutions that fail in implementation, are underutilized, or are a poor match for their needs. TSC Tech Unit has unmatched expertise in the enterprise software arena and knows how to configure your marketing and sales force automation. We will integrate these with your social media and other owned media. And our solutions will provide you with the analytics that drive results and best serve your unique needs in B2B marketing. INTEGRATED STRATEGY The Starr Conspiracy Tech Unit is one of three divisions of The Starr Conspiracy and is closely aligned with The Starr Conspiracy Intelligence Unit (our advisory, research, and consulting group) and The Starr Conspiracy Advertising Unit. The integration between these three divisions is a blueprint for the B2B “agency of the future.” Marketing agencies that only provide traditional advertising support are not valuable partners for enterprise software companies. The Starr Conspiracy Intelligence Unit helps drive go-to-market strategy; our Advertising Unit builds messages, brands, and campaigns that are always in alignment with the master business strategy; and our Tech Unit extends our best practices through the sales and marketing technology stack, while also establishing a strategic link between marketing and product development.