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Marketing is Eating Sales (and what mid-market companies should do about it)

Yield Group presented at Digital Summit Charlotte and discussed the shift in the customer buying process to digital channels.
Gary Schwake
Last month Yield Group presented at Digital Summit in Charlotte, NC. An event that brings together 1,500 digital marketing and growth pros together to share best practices. We covered a topic that we see middle market companies struggling with every day, which is the shift in the customer buying process to digital channels and away from “traditional” sales. You can listen to the full presentation (with slides) below, but we also summarize the key points for you here.
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You can read a summary below, or head straight to the 23-minute presentation with audio and slides.

Digital Pushes Marketing Activities Down the Funnel

Gone are the days when Marketing was responsible only for “branding” and awareness, or tossing leads over the wall to have Sales “work” the opportunity. Buyers now navigate up to 85% of the buying process without ever talking to a sales associate.

Building the Engine

The transition from a more “traditional” sales and marketing organization to a data-driven growth engine can be a difficult challenge. In our work with middle-market growth companies, we have identified 8 critical steps. We cover the “Big 4” in our presentation:

  • Do the Math
  • Map the Journey
  • Map the Data from the Journey
  • Design the Toolset

These are the “Big 4” because we see mistakes (and sometimes, neglect) most frequently in these areas.

Do the Math

Middle-market companies, by definition, have already had success. They have markets, customers and revenue. So when we ask them to “do the math,” there is sometimes a quizzical look. The math on which we focus is on the unit economic level. All companies track revenue and expenses, but in order to understand, with confidence, where to invest for growth, we need to understand customers on an individual level. There are four critical elements to this exercise:

  • Lifetime Value (LTV)
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
  • LTV:CAC ratio
  • Payback Period

Once we understand the LTV of our customers, the amount we are willing to pay to acquire those customers and the time in which we need to recoup acquisition costs, we have all the ingredients we need to build an intelligent, data-informed acquisition plan.

There Are No Average Customers

In this section we highlight a critical consideration. There are no average customers. It is often necessary to start our analysis using overall averages, but the goal is to segment our customer base into cohorts, groupings of customers with similar characteristics. These cohorts, and their respective unique economic characteristics, will help us define specific acquisition plans and tactics that are relevant for each.

Map the Journey (and the Data from the Journey)

It is *very* common for middle-market companies to feel confident that they know the customer and their buying process, but it is equally common that none of this has been validated in years (if ever). Have we mentioned that both the buyer and their process has changed, a lot?

Given the velocity of change, it is prudent to validate the following every year (at a minimum):

  • The market segments on which you are focused
  • The buyers (or buying team) within each segment
  • The personas of each member of the buying team
  • The “buyer jobs” for each persona

Once this information is validated, you can focus on a specific persona and map their journey through the various jobs, and then identify each of the data elements required to both measure and activate along the journey.

Make the Data Actionable

The selection of marketing and sales technology tools is dependent upon the outcome of the segment, persona and journey work. The temptation is to select tools that do everything and fit the data, actions and journey to the tool. You will build a much more effective tech stack, however, if you focus first on the core functions required from the tools (email, scoring, forms, etc.) before deciding on the tools.

There is no silver bullet. The buyer process is too complex and evolves too rapidly for one software tool to provide all the capabilities necessary to deliver the right content to the right customer over the right channel at the right time. To do this requires a clean, well architected data layer with a thoughtfully designed and implemented set of software tools. This structure will provide the foundation needed for comprehensive, “full funnel” reporting on marketing and sales activities, which enable companies to invest, with confidence, in efforts that drive growth.

Looking for More?

If you are a marketing, sales or product leader at a growing, middle-market firm and you feel there is untapped potential in your organization, we encourage you to take a look at our Growth Maturity Scorecard to assess the areas on which to focus.

Alternatively, you can always contact us to chat directly about your growth challenges and opportunities.

Click here to view the slides and listen to the audio

Marketing is Eating Sales - Digital Summit Charlotte

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