Revenue Marketing: The Future of B2B

17 Oct

Marketing means different things to different people. For me, marketing is about solving business problems. Sometimes that means building awareness, sometimes it means better understanding customer requirements, sometimes it means investing to generate revenue, and sometimes it means galvanizing employees around a common purpose.

But over the last decade, B2B marketers have made an unprecedented shift of resources to focus on revenue generation. Today, B2B marketing program managers, lead generation experts, event teams, search marketers, content creators, and database marketers all align to drive revenue with the highest possible ROI. This is the core of “Revenue Marketing.”

What is Revenue Marketing?

Revenue Marketing is the development of repeatable prospecting programs that new drive customer acquisition and measurable sales.  The key to revenue marketing is a predictable return on investment: if you know the impact of marketing investment then it’s possible to link marketing plans to specific revenue objectives.

The rise of Revenue Marketing as a discipline is the direct result of new CRM tools and models. In sales-driven B2B companies, marketers have earned a seat at the table by tracking the bottom-line impact of every dollar invested.  CRM systems now make it easy to track how campaign investments generate leads, how leads become opportunities, and how opportunities become revenue-paying customers. The result is a new focus on ROI: optimizing the marketing mix to drive as much revenue as possible from a given marketing investment.

In the most sophisticated companies, revenue marketing now drives the entire sales pipeline. Sales people don’t make cold calls. Instead, inbound leads are automatically nurtured until they are right for sales. In these companies, marketing programs people are paid like sales: they have pipeline and revenue goals and substantial at-risk compensation built around these goals. The quarterly planning process begins with the revenue goal and backs into required marketing program investments and sales staffing.

The Revenue-Focused CMO

Over the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to dozens of B2B marketing and sales executives about their approach to revenue generation. I was surprised to see how similar revenue marketing practices are across a diverse set of companies. The tools, roles, tactics, language, and best practices are becoming firmly entrenched. Today in B2B, revenue marketing is a clearly-defined discipline. And like any high-value, growth discipline, expert practitioners are both hard to find and well-paid.

This new focus on revenue is one of the reasons that CMO influence is on the rise. With increased accountability for business performance, CMO’s are able to justify larger budgets. And these budgets are more likely to grow in direct proportion with a firm’s revenue and growth ambitions. Over the next year, B2B product company CMOs have reported steady budget increases. A February survey reported double-digit average increases for B2B marketing budgets. (Source: CMOSurvey.org).

For CMOs, Revenue Marketing — along with Brand and Social — has become a core B2B skill set. While domain knowledge is important, smart B2B CMOs build success by working closely with sales leadership to build alignment, to make sure that the end-to-end customer acquisition process works effectively, and to build a revenue engine that delivers results. In the best run organizations, sales compensation plans, quotas, marketing goals, and sales and marketing investments are jointly developed by sales and marketing leadership.

Another thing I have learned is that the most successful companies share a few basic best practices. In my next post, I’ll dive more deeply into the approaches that separate revenue marketing superstars from the average practitioner.

One Response to “Revenue Marketing: The Future of B2B”

  1. Lukasz November 5, 2013 at 6:33 am #

    How are you differentiating revenue marketing from direct marketing techniques applied to B2B?

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