Marketing as an Accountable Revenue Function

marketing revenue

It shocks me that so many marketers today still have a “sales vs. marketing” mentality. The way I see it, we all have the same collective goal – to make sure sales hits their numbers. But too many marketers are still running from the metrics instead of towards them – and that has to stop.

When you have a number, goal, or metric, you have something to measure against. You have a benchmark to reference. To me, numbers are so essential that a lack of metrics is something I struggled with my first two years as a VC. In the world of venture, the feedback loop is almost like measuring your success with a sundial instead of a stopwatch. It’s a big difference from marketing. As a marketer, you can’t know what’s working without a direct, real-time feedback loop.  

That feedback loop (which should include both performance metrics and regular, direct contact between sales and marketing) is essential to tweaking and perfecting your entire sales machine. It’s common sense to me that if there’s work to be done for the business to succeed and sales/marketing are tied together on the income statement, then they both own the same goal. Think of it like chocolate and peanut butter – great by themselves, but amazing when they’re together. This “all hands on deck” mentality is not only essential to winning as a team, but turning marketing into a well-oiled, accountable revenue function for your business.

The Marriage of Sales and Marketing

When I was at ExactTarget, marketing was responsible for 50% of all new business. To achieve that number, we split it into larger goals that were divided out into smaller tasks. Each task was then broken down by source and assigned an owner in a comprehensive spreadsheet that accounted for every marketing channel right down to the clickable ExactTarget logo at the bottom of every customer email. As CMO, I poured over my scorecard every day to see how we were measuring against our goals and determine which levers to pull to achieve different outcomes.

Marketing is essential to any sales machine (and vice versa). The thinking that marketing is only for branding and creative initiatives while sales is for closing deals is outdated – and frankly poisonous to your success. Research now shows that increasing revenue responsibility is even proven to drive results. Everything, including your brand activities, needs to revolve around sales and driving economic outcomes. By focusing on demand-gen-related goals first, you can earn the physical and literal capital to do the traditional/creative marketing tasks (like book tours, campaigns, etc.) later. If marketing can consistently turn $1 into $2.50 every time they touch it, the rest of the company will want to give marketing more money any time there’s extra budget to go around.

4 Steps for Turning Marketing Into an Accountable Revenue Function

The days of throwing leads to sales just to fill a pipe are over. One of the biggest trends I’m seeing as a former CMO is a flight to accountability and quality. The ultimate goal is to make sure sales hits the number. Marketing can increase their influence (and build trust from sales) by making some simple adjustments.

  • Stay close to the head of sales.

The leading success factor in achieving revenue goals is an effective marketing and sales partnership. Inevitably, your head of sales will be put on the spot in a board meeting for missing quota. Is he or she going to throw marketing under the bus for missing the mark, or back them up for doing everything they could have for sales? Sales and marketing leaders must be involved in each other’s planning meetings and projections to remain agile and proactive. Both teams should assess their strategy throughout the quarter. By staying in constant communication and working together toward the same goals, you build mutual trust and eliminate the childish “sales” vs. “marketing” debate.

  • Make sure you’re resourced to hit your goals.

One of the well-known requirements for making a “SMART” goal is that achieving it must be attainable in the first place. For marketing to thrive as an accountable revenue function, they have to be set up to succeed from the start. For instance, if the cost per opportunity is $1,000, but marketing only has $500 to spend on each, then they’re probably doomed to fail from the beginning. Readjust your goals and/or budget to ensure marketing can succeed. Otherwise, you may end up not only wasting marketing’s time and effort, but throwing away any money you had already invested.

  • Don’t sit behind a spreadsheet.

There are many business goals that can be achieved in the office, but hitting your sales numbers isn’t one of them. Instead of hiding behind the numbers, run towards them by going out to meet people in the market, learning/absorbing how others communicate and solve their problems, and spending face time with customers. Doing so will make you a better marketer and salesperson, giving you clearer focus on how to win. Numbers are a lagging indicator, not leading indicator.

  • Ensure each person understands their role.

People can’t do their part if they don’t understand how their role impacts the greater goal to begin with. In any high-functioning team, each member plays a crucial part in achieving success – and no one individual can do it all. It takes a village. The running back may be the one who scored the touchdown, but not without help from the line picking up a few blocks along the way. In the same vein, I always admired when a salesperson would recognize a handful of people from marketing, product, and customer success who were pivotal in helping them close a major deal.

Step Up, Work Together, and Win as a Team

In general, marketers have tied themselves to too much activity. They can point to all the “stuff” they’ve done like designing datasheets, planning webinars, or organizing events. But sometimes, you can get so busy with the ancillary things that you can’t see the forest for the trees and the real reason you’re all there in the first place – to advance the business.  

The role of marketing is now more crucial to business than success than ever – and it’s time for marketing to earn their keep. By remaining unsiloed and focused on a common goal, collaboration becomes the norm. And when your team steps up to take more responsibility together, everyone wins.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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