Predictability in B2B SaaS Marketing: From DemandGen to Pipeline & Revenue
It's 2022 and marketeers have still not been fully empowered to measure their DemandGen efforts across the funnel - a development that has a significant effect on pipeline generation and revenue attainment. Many thoughts and a few ideas in this blog on how to go about this peculiar situation.
Molting In Nature & In GTM
Nature is fascinating. A good example of this is a creature called the hermit crab. They are so-called coz of their tendency to withdraw into a shell when threatened. Every 12-18 months, hermit crabs change their shells via a process called molting.
During the process, hermit crabs would line up from the largest crab to the smallest, and each will upgrade into a new shell shed by the crab in front of them until each crab has found a new shell.
Wonder why we are discussing an episode from National Geographic? The answer lies in “molting.” Nature came up with a smart solution for hermit crabs to evolve and survive with molting. It took evolution millions of years to come up with this. When you think of your own GTM - there’s molting in there, too - an evolution of leads into their next potential stage: leads become MQLs, MQLs become SQLs, and so on and so forth.
Marketing Left Behind
However, the GTM’s molting has been unfair to marketing. The market for tech stack has grown phenomenally over the past few years - specifically, the sales tech stack that is focused once the opportunity is logged. Coz it is at this stage, a dollar value is attached to an opportunity, and for the tech stack, it is always easy to work with what you think is a good deal to go after. It also makes it easy to claim credit.
“Hey! Your deal has been in the Contract stage for two days now with no email logged. This is not good.”
And when that deal gets closed, the app could lay a claim to having influenced closure. Hence you notice every app from Clari, Boostup, ZoomInfo, SalesNavigator, and a dozen others - they all lay claim to the same set of won deals to each’s credit.
It is good. Anything that pushes you to close the deal is good. But this is not the hardest part. It is reactive. It waits for you not to do anything to tell you to do something. For startups whose battle cry is “hustle,” - this feels counterintuitive now, doesn’t it?
While sales have had this degree of support, at least, marketing has been left to figure. No one ever built something for marketing and said, “Look, here’s what happened to those 500 MQLs from your Salesforce Campaign: 250 of them got dropped at the SQL stage, and the other 80 made their way to the demos, and 170 never got picked up by SDRs - they are sitting as MQLs!”
Nobody Built A "Clari For Marketing”
A lot of companies have begun their next fiscal budget planning right now, and most will have done it within this quarter. Budgets would be decided and allocated. Most organizations' biggest chunk of the budget would be marketing to bring in the right leads to the website and convert them. To host events and bring leads, to host webinars and bring leads, to publish whitepapers and bring leads, to run paid ads on Google & LinkedIn and bring leads.
It is no wonder that when the cost-cutting exercise is done in a market like the current one, they all tend to look at the biggest cost of them all: marketing; and swiftly ask them to cut the costs. It is rather unfair and unscientific to spring to action by squeezing marketing to deliver without the ability to measure where their efforts went in.
While marketing has had the biggest budget, they have never had the lens to examine their efforts across the GTM funnel. And given it all trickles downstream, sales teams suffer too.
Marketing signs up for pipeline targets but does not get predictive visibility into where the pipeline will land. As Tom Wentworth, the CMO of Recorded Future, shared, “There is a Clari for Sales that helps Sales leaders commit to a sales forecast with confidence. However, there is no Clari for Marketing that helps marketing commit to pipeline targets.”
Marketing teams have been let down by the plethora of providers (ABM, Campaign Intelligence, Buyer Intelligence, Multi-touch Attribution tools) that don’t give predictive visibility into pipeline generation.
This is not a hypothesis. Even Boston Consulting Group (BCG) identifies that RevTech begins at the top of the funnel.
Driving Predictability: First “See” The Problem, And Then The “Fix” Becomes Apparent
It is hard to fix something if you can’t see the problem. Therein lies the root of why Marketing does not have visibility into what happens to the campaigns they run or paid leads they generate beyond the marketing stages.
Driving predictability in Marketing requires tracking, tracing, and anticipating how marketing Demand Generation efforts are impacting downstream pipeline and revenue and adapting accordingly.
However, there is seldom a connection between Demand Generation activities to what happens downstream in the SDR/BDR motion and the Sales Pipeline.
As an example: While there’s no clear answer to the right cost per MQL across SaaS companies, I have seen companies spend anywhere from $100 to $900 per MQL! Imagine you are the head of Demand Gen, and your team is committed to getting 5000 MQLs this Qtr in the "hope" of eventually generating $X M of qualified pipeline. You host events and webinars and paid campaigns and hit the target.
Presume you spent $200 for each MQL. At this point, you wanna know what happens to each of these leads you got in and how much pipeline they generated. Even if 10% get failed to be picked up for a month by your SDRs owing to high volume, that’s $100K you spent to get potential customers that never got the right attention. Not knowing why your sales are rejecting them keeps you from learning what kind of leads are translating into actual customers for you to perfect your campaign.
For the company in this example, spending $1M to get the 5000 MQLs, wouldn’t the CMO and Director of Demand Gen love to know how many leads and how much money per MQL is sitting at what stage of the funnel currently and how much $Pipeline has been generated? You bet they would go, “take my money!”
And if one could predict in advance where those MQLs would land and where the $Pipeline would land in the downstream funnel, they would go, "take my money twice"!
At this point, I acknowledge that no one can practically sit down and track these leads as they come and keep a tally of which lead is going where. It is not the best use of the talent you hired nor an efficient way to do it.
Your Top of the Funnel (ToFU) has consequences for pipeline generation and revenue attainment for sales. The domino effect of what happens at the ToFU initiates a succession of events down the funnel - good and bad, depending on how strongly you designed, devised, developed, and measure your ToFU.
The art of funnel metric analysis and prediction is a rhythmic dance between sales and marketing that requires both functions to know in real-time which leads are working, what opportunities are converting, what campaigns bring the best lead volume, and which are money well spent. It is a tango that frees up both functions from manual juggling of the processes and parsing through terabytes of data. It lets a system take the heavy lifting of the analysis to suggest insights and conversion metrics. At the same time, the stakeholders can strategize on critical information generated by the AI.
It requires connecting the Marketing Funnel to the SDR/BDR motion and the Sales Pipeline.
Gladly we do that at RevSure!