Tuesday, May 21, 2024

How to live with the fact that the value of marketing is defined by sales

Many marketers might feel challenged or threatened by the notion that the value of marketing is defined by sales. However, it isn’t such a provocative idea. Remember, fewer than 1% of all leads turn into customers. That’s hardly a statistic you want to stand behind. If company leaders set a 100% growth goal for a year, do they try to reach it by hiring more marketers? No! They might hire marketers to support sales, but there’s no sales quota based on marketing.

It’s a rare company where the marketing department gets more money when sales goes down. There’s even a statistic that investors like to use as a growth metric when evaluating organizations: sales and marketing efficiency.

There are numerous examples of companies that have thrived for years without true marketing support, or even a marketing department. We’ve seen companies started by solo entrepreneurs file an initial public offering with a two-person marketing team. Sales will always be in the driver’s seat, and marketers are brought on only to grow revenue—if they’re brought on at all.

This might sound as if we’re raining all over the marketing parade. But we find that aligning marketing with revenue frees designers and writers to do their best work, because they have a purpose to everything they create. You can design and write the heck out of eBooks, blog posts, and webinars, but if you don’t know why you’re making the effort, your creation may be vanishing into the void. These are what we call lost marketers, and the key to their salvation is a conversation about their role in creating demand to drive more business. 

Gifted with purpose, marketers are free to choose their tactics from a wider menu and communicate with a narrower audience. By running a well-thought-out B2B program, your marketing team structure will change. Your brand developers will become full-on field marketers and program managers, released from the monotony of siloed content. Suddenly, curated events, dinners, one-to-one videos, and more high-touch creative pieces are in play, because you identified them as marketing tactics that will generate revenue with select accounts.

Purpose-driven marketing doesn’t go with the flow or stick to the same script for months. Instead, it builds excitement, aligns with your customers’ goals, and brings marketing and sales together.

So, don’t be afraid or offended when we say that marketing is defined by sales. And don’t look for so-called “ABM marketers” to replace your current team—there are no such creatures. Your current team will help send your revenue through the roof as long as you give them a greater and clearer purpose.

Excerpted with permission from ABM is B2B: A Guide for Marketers on why B2B Marketing and Sales is Broken and How to Fix It, by Sangram Vajre and Eric Spett You can also learn more about ABM as a practice through Vajre’s Flip My Funnel podcast channel.


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Sangram Vajre
Sangram Vajre
Sangram Vajre is the co-founder and CMO of Terminus. Before coming to Terminus, Sangram was Head of Marketing at Pardot, which was acquired by Salesforce in 2013. His first book, Account-Based Marketing for Dummies, will publish on April 18, 2016. You can follow him on Twitter at @sangramvajre.