[Guest Blog] 3 Areas that Can Help Cultivate a Lead to Money Mindset

August 26, 2015

Back on July 23, Peter O’Neill of Forrester Research and Laura Roach, SVP of Marketing and Customer Success at OpenSymmetry, were the featured speakers in a webinar examining the Lead to Money process. “Lead to Money” is really a tagline describing the way a healthy business works: sales, marketing and all other customer-facing functions are aligned, assisted by technology that assists and enables that alignment.

It sounds simple, but moving toward a Lead to Money approach often involves un-learning ways of doing things that have become ingrained in the way a business (or a department within a business) thinks collectively. For example, when a marketing department feels pressure to deliver more leads, it focuses on that goal, creating more content or attending more events or buying more lists. This can increase lead numbers – but it may do so at the expense of lead quality, or create an environment where sales has no real knowledge of where leads come from, making them harder to work.

In an optimal Lead to Money scenario, sales and marketing processes and technology are aligned so the changes in one area are understood and anticipated by other parts of the business. For example, if marketing’s charged with generating more leads, sales can see what’s being done and, better yet, has the ability and opportunity to help marketing make the right changes. If sales starts using a new process, marketing should be made aware of it, especially if it impacts lead flow or emphasizes a different kind of customer. You get the drift.

When various departments act independently, the results can be unpredictable and the experience for the buyer/customer can become inconsistent and ultimately unsatisfactory – so moving your organization in an aligned, Lead to Money direction is the best way to not only land new customers but to keep profitable for the longest possible time.

How do you move from today’s subsistence-level alignment to a Lead-to-Money driven approach? It varies from business to business, but here are three things all companies must do if their transformations are to be successful.

  1. Fight the Fiefdoms

The term “owns” gets thrown around a lot: “customer service owns customer experience!” “Sales owns CRM!” “Marketing owns the mailing lists!” The use of “owns” reinforces the idea that broad functions or sets of tools are the property of one or another department in the company. With certain personalities, “ownership” becomes something personal, especially in turf wars between sales and marketing. In this scenario, one side may not wish to help make the other look better by sharing data. It’s a ridiculous scenario, because it means neither side has the interests of the company in mind. But it happens all too often, and in companies so large you’d never expect to see it.

In a Lead to Money scenario, leadership of departments needs to develop a more mature mindset and recognize that the goal is to convert prospects into paying customers. The ultimate goal – revenue - is the real measurement of success; everything else is a nice leading indicator. In this scenario, anything a CMO or Sales VP does to enhance the abilities of his or her peer’s department will be reflected in revenue. Sales and marketing can’t be rivals; they must be partners in a real sense, and because of this, the idea of building fiefdoms within the company is today counterproductive and genuinely dangerous.

  1. Collaborate on Technology Decisions

SaaS has made it very easy to implement new technology solutions – so easy that it’s helped organizations re-build the data silos we spent the last 15 years knocking down. Operating on the concept of “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission,” sales pros and marketers have brought new technologies into their organizations based on the benefits they can bring to their departments, while ignoring the benefits those technologies may have for other parts of the business. This can result not only in data silos but in redundancy when sales, marketing and support bring in multiple solutions to attack a single problem.

Any new technology that’s being contemplated by a department should also be exposed to other parts of the organization to see if it benefits other departments. IT should be involved as well to provide a practical view of implementation and to watch for areas where integration issues may crop up.

  1. Understand the Sales Cycle is Never Over

The expression “Lead to Money” feels somewhat final – but don’t look at it as simply a new-customer acquisition concept. In reality, with an integrated marketing and sales approach, it’s a great way to keep connected with customers and drive greater total value from every customer relationship. This is especially important today as the subscription economy emerges as a preferred way for businesses to buy; in this model it can take as long as three years for a customer to become profitable. That means that focusing solely on acquisition can actually cost you money. Instead, apply the same ideas of lead nurturing and drip campaigns to your existing customer base – and make sure the sales rep in charge of each account knows what’s being done to engage those customers. One CallidusCloud customer saw an immediate 30 percent jump in sales to existing customers when it initiated such a program. Although matching the right content to the right customer is important, the business found that just staying in touch made a huge difference; customers often approached them about new business that had nothing to do with the content that was delivered to them. The mere fact that the seller kept in contact with the buyers kept it in the front of the buyers’ minds and let to additional revenue.

These are just three things to consider as you move toward a Lead to Money approach, but they can make a monumental difference in the mindsets of the people charged with making that approach work. Without that mindset, no technology you employ will be effective. The old mantra about “people, processes and technology” still holds true: as you change your processes and update your technology, make sure your people are thinking and behaving in ways that can take best advantage of their new tools.

To learn more, watch the full webinar recording.

 

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