Much has been written (here and elsewhere) on the vagaries, metrics and particulars of driving true sales & marketing collaboration in B2B organizations. This goes well beyond just attending more meetings together. Ultimately, it’s about having the same objective and working as a cohesive unit to drive higher sales.
But how do you measure that success? Which metrics do sales & marketing leadership watch on a weekly (if not daily) basis to determine the health of their combine efforts?
I’ve seen several organizations experiment with this, using a variety of metrics and depth of scorecard. And although each respective team must watch and manage to a broader set of metrics, these three should lead sales & marketing discussions, and guide where they focus next to ensure they remain on course and above expectations.
1. Current selling period pipeline health
Whether you sell based on a monthly or quarterly sales cycle, how healthy is the current pipeline (qualified opportunities expected to close this period), and how confident are you based on that pipeline sales & quality that you’ll hit or exceed your sales goal?
Most marketers, at this point, claim that there’s very little they can do to impact current-month or current-quarter sales. And in a world where marketing’s role is primarily about lead production, that might be true. But if sales & marketing are working closely together, there’s still plenty marketing can do to help bring more deals over the line.
If you look a level deeper at the current pipeline, for example, what could possibly keep those deals from coming through? Are there decision makers who need more information, need more assurance, more context-building or more urgency, to get the deal done? What messaging, validation tools and more can marketing provide to support sales in their effort to close as many current opportunities as possible?
2. Qualified pipeline for the next two selling periods
Most sales organizations (let alone marketing groups) put their entire focus on the current selling period, and don’t start looking at the next selling period until, well, the first day or week of that next period. But if you wait that long, you’ll always be playing catch-up.
If you sell on a monthly sales cycle, you should constantly keep an eye on the growth of opportunities 60 and 90 days out. Your models should tell you exactly how big of a pipeline you should (ideally) have going into the month, which gives the marketing team in particular a bogey for finding new short-term sales opportunities out of their lead generation efforts.
This might be one of the most important sales & marketing alignment metrics available to teams today, not only because it cleanly combines short-term, outcome-oriented measures for both sales & marketing, but it also provides very tangible, actionable next steps for each group based on what the numbers are telling you.
3. New opportunities created
This measure is independent of specific closing date, but is absolutely tied to your common definition of what a qualified, new opportunity looks like. It’s unlikely you’re setting up new qualified opportunities for nine months from now if you’re on a monthly sales cycle, but those opportunities will likely be spread out across 1-4 months in the actual sales pipeline.
So this measure is more about ensuring that sales & marketing are working together to generate enough regular opportunities to generally spread out across your model and fuel near-future closed business.
You can look simultaneously at how these new opportunities actually spread across close-date months, but your model should indicate how many new opportunities are required each month independent of close date. Where should that production be month-to-date or quarter-to-date, and where are you currently?