In the foreword to Revenue Engine: Why Revenue Performance Management is the Next Frontier of Competitive Advantage by Steve Woods and Alex Shootman, Eloqua CEO Joe Payne writes that “This is not a book about marketing. It’s not about sales. This is a book about the only thing that matters: revenue.”
Woods, CTO and co-founder of Eloqua, a provider of marketing automation software, and Shootman, the company’s Chief Revenue Officer, present a bold and comprehensive framework for realigning sales and marketing groups around a data-driven process for maximizing revenue. The authors rather audaciously position the concept of revenue performance management (RPM) as “the final frontier for transformative investment,” following in the footsteps of the development of the principles of scientific management, total quality management and supply chain management.
Whether or not readers are ultimately persuaded by the authors’ arguments, there’s no question that their diagnosis of the changing landscape for b2b and considered consumer purchases hits the mark. Buyers now control the process; through search and social channels, buyers now complete 70% of their decision process before making their first contact with a sales person.
Yet at the same time, marketing and sales professionals now have access to far more data about what types of information buyers are seeking, where they are looking, what questions they are asking and what sources catch their attention, than ever before. Woods’ first book, Digital Body Language, explained how to capture and interpret that data; this book carries the process through to its conclusion, showing how to tailor content and communications based on that data to maximize sales revenue.
After examining the changing landscape and explaining why the traditional separation of sales and marketing functions no longer makes sense, Woods and Shootman delve into the buyer behavior and psychology, and what can be learned about these elements through online data collection; a framework for optimizing media and content investments; and how clean, high-quality data provides the foundation for the revenue engine.
Part 2 of the book, sub-headed “Stop Crunching Numbers—Start Crushing Them” delves into the detail of data collection, cleansing, benchmarking, optimization and utilization. It’s a practical field guide to building and running a revenue engine, though this isn’t an exercise to be taken lightly. It is in many respects a fundamental reordering of marketing and sales functions based on observation, testing, measurement and continuous improvement.
Among the insights offered along the way:
Search and social must work together to connect buyers with content: “The resulting challenge for marketers is interesting. If searches become more precise, we must strive to create a wealth of interesting, relevant content at all phases of the buying process. Similarly, as search results are increasingly guided by social influence, we must also build influence and reputation among the appropriate audiences so that our results are found to be relevant.”
Understand your primary marketing challenge in order to fix “leaks” in the buying process. Most marketing challenges fall into one of three broad categories: the Flying Car (“your business can solve a problem that most of the world is unaware can be solved…so potential buyers blindly continue with their inefficient processes…and do not actively look for a solution:); the Wallflower (“you are not a vendor that comes to mind when prospective buyers look for alternatives”); or the Red-Headed Stepchild (“you are evaluated when potential buyers look for solutions, but buyers rarely select your solution”).
Your marketing emails had better provide value. “One or two uninteresting or non-valuable messages from a particular source will quickly lead the user to to reflexively delete or ignore any future content. This is known as an ’emotional unsubscribe’—the recipient has effectively tuned out of the communication.”
Provide prospects with multiple methods for direct contact. “Active searches for information also occur when prospects call a vendor organization, submit an online request for information, or attend a tradeshow seeking answers to specific questions” (or engage directly in an online conversation with a vendor representative).
Understand who the key influencers are in your market and engage them. “The most reliable way—indeed, perhaps the only way to ensure your messages are fully discoverable in social media is to build strong relationships with the influencers in your space who are more likely to share those messages and ensure that your messages are sufficiently interesting, relevant and non-salesly.”
Use multiple methods to help prospects discover your solutions. “There are three primary avenues for buyers to become aware of your company and solutions: by actively seeking information (often via search), passively encountering information (often via ads), and being influenced to consider new information (often via social media).” PR can help with any of these methods as well.
And there’s much more.
Smaller companies with modest lead flows may find that this motor has more horsepower than they need, but marketing executives at mid-sized and larger b2b firms should give the Revenue Engine a test drive. They may just find it to be the key to a faster and more efficient vehicle for accelerating sales growth.