The right scorecard metrics can be very challenging for entrepreneurial businesses, especially in the sales and marketing space. The stakes are high! If you don’t do it right, you can create silos, and departments might be working against each other without even knowing it. Do it right, and you have an entire business pointed in the right direction to drive revenue growth.
You don’t need to throw out your scorecard to build the perfect scorecard. However, some of your metrics might just need to be tweaked or narrowed to build alignment between your teams and get them working toward your ultimate revenue goal. When you get specific with your metrics, your teams will have more clarity on what they are responsible for (accountability), how they and other teams are performing (alignment), and will be able to see the impact of their work on the company’s revenue goals (impact).
Now, let’s get into it.
No one has an unlimited budget for sales and marketing, so it is imperative to have a smart, responsible plan to grow revenue. Businesses typically start to develop scorecard metrics with revenue goals, then eventually land on departmental metrics that support the goal. There are a couple of challenges with this:
- Many times, the big revenue goal is unfounded, based on a “spaghetti-on-the-wall” approach to setting a financial goal.
- Metrics are connected vertically for each department, but the cross-functional (horizontal) alignment between departments is lacking, and silos are created.
So how do you align the business around the big revenue goals? The answer is the Ideal Client Experience.
Let’s explore how Ideal Client Experience metrics work as the basis for aligning the business to drive revenue by looking at:
- High-level metrics
- Ideal Client Experience (ICX) metrics
- Departmental metrics
I was on a call with a partner yesterday that is working with a business that generates over $100M in revenue.
Interestingly, they do not have any specific growth goals they are pursuing as a business (just one of many reasons we love working with companies that run on EOS!).
Smart growth is about measuring both revenue as well as profit. In addition to tracking revenue and profit, consider tracking metrics like these to avoid the spaghetti-on-the-wall scenario:
- Number of Clients: Measures how effective you are in bringing on net-new clients
- Revenue per Client: Measures your effectiveness of increasing the value you provide to clients and the associated revenue
If it is trackable, you might even consider measuring # of ideal clients and revenue per ideal client. Regardless, these metrics can also help you develop realistic revenue goals (instead of the spaghetti-on-the-wall metrics).
How does this promote alignment? First, marketing and sales agree on the ICP — the Ideal Client Profile — and then leads are filtered against this. Marketing then focuses on generating the right leads, and sales prioritize closing them instead of chasing their tails with clients that are not necessarily good for the business. By the way, it is much easier for marketing to have a more narrow focus, and it takes fewer sales reps to close ideal clients and filter out suboptimal ones.
– From a past blog, 4 Strategies for Aligning Sales and Marketing
Ideal Client Experience Metrics
The big idea here is to ensure that your ideal clients seamlessly navigate their experience with your business with as little friction as possible – from bringing on a client to upselling/cross-selling and delivering value to them. For most companies, departmental metrics are not related to measuring how seamlessly your clients move through their experience.
What do we mean when we talk about an “Ideal Client Experience”?
That experience begins when your ideal prospect has a problem that you might be able to help with and ends when they are enjoying all of your products and services. The documentation of each stage that your prospect/client goes through is what we call the Ideal Client Experience (or ICX)…Ensure you think about it from the lens of your client and not from your internal sales or delivery process. Thinking about how clients feel in each stage and the friction that they might experience is a great framework for improvement. This lens allows you to be more objective in considering a sales and marketing direction. It often brings operations into the equation as well as they obviously have a significant role in maximizing the client experience.
– From a past blog, The Lens of the Ideal Client Experience
So how are Ideal Client Experience Metrics different? These metrics:
- Connect directly to high-level metrics like revenue and profitability as well as departmental metrics (see below), and
- Enable cross-functional teams to have visibility to the experience that prospects and clients have with your business.
Examples of Ideal Client Experience Metrics are:
- Ideal Client Experience (ICX) Stage Conversion Rates: The % of clients that move from one ICX stage to the next.
- Time Spent in Each ICX Stage: The time that an Ideal Prospect or Ideal Client spends in each client experience stage.
Keeping an eye on these metrics will help you prioritize where the biggest opportunity is to streamline your prospect/client’s experience with your business and realize revenue growth faster.
Departmental metrics are normally siloed without the added context of the Ideal Client Experience. Departments absolutely need to have their own metrics, but they need to be tied to some aspect or stage of the Ideal Client Experience. The best way to illustrate this point is to look at a few examples of departmental metrics:
Siloed Metric: # of Leads
ICX Metric: # of Ideal Client-Qualified Leads
Siloed Metric: # of Qualify meetings
ICX Metric: # of Qualify Meetings with Ideal Client-Qualified Leads
These new ICX Metrics will help you to get focused on your specific goals. We’ve already established that Ideal Clients are the ones that are the most profitable to your business, are the most productive to serve, and that your team actually enjoy working with. With that in mind, these clients are obviously the ones you want to bring in more of as they’ll drive more revenue and profit, right? If that’s the case, then shouldn’t your goal metrics be designed to help ensure you are bringing on more Ideal Clients, meeting with Ideal Client-Qualified Prospects, and closing business with Ideal Clients.
These new departmental metrics will help you to stay focused on bringing in ideal clients and driving more revenue. Out with old, unfocused, unspecific metrics and in with the new.
It’s hard to argue with the fact that it would be easier to meet your revenue goals by bringing on Ideal Clients than those that might not fit your Ideal Client Profile.
What metrics are you tracking in your business to ensure your team is focused on bringing the right clients into your business?
To learn more about how other entrepreneurial companies are optimizing their revenue scorecards schedule your explore meeting.
Need help determining the impact of some of your pipeline metrics? Check out our Worksheet!
“What are we going to do to hit our 3-year goal?” Leadership teams regularly ask this question in quarterly planning meetings. The way this question gets answered determines whether the company will hit the goal or whether they’ll arrive at a future quarterly saying, “Well, that goal wasn’t realistic in the first place.”
Traditional ways to hit revenue goals include:
- Do more marketing
- Hire more salespeople
- Buy some technology
These strategies sound good on the surface but often fail to deliver for two reasons.
First, the company threw activity, people, and technology to the problem without considering the process.
Second, most of these activities tend to be focused on net-new business to the exclusion of cross-sell revenue. “We need more new customers!” Yes. And, you also need to sell more to your current customers.
The Smart Way: Process
Boil a business down to its most basic level and you have three things:
Sales and marketing tend to focus on people and technology to the exclusion of process. As a result we have sales teams that struggle to onboard new reps and are held hostage to high-performing reps. Marketing becomes a series of unfocused activities. Technology gets used at only a fraction of the potential. All of this adds up to mediocre results.
What’s missing? Process. Working together, marketing, sales, and operations consider the buyer and client journey from the perspective of the client’s experience. At each stage they consider the goal, the friction, and the motivation to move forward. Then the team determines the experience they want to create. This results in a defined process backed with content. Technology supports the process by providing automation and feeding real scorecard metrics.
These processes live in playbooks. Now the people in marketing, sales, and operations know what to do to drive revenue growth. Current employees see the big picture. New team members onboard quickly as they understand their role in the process. Prospects and clients enjoy a great experience.
How To Know You Need Processes
Why do so many companies struggle with building and optimizing revenue processes? It depends on the size of the company.
You know you need processes when you are hitting an invisible revenue ceiling. This happens to small and medium sized companies.
Smaller companies have depended on the founder to wear the sales hat. Marketing was a nice accessory, but the bulk of revenue came from the relationships of the founder. Over the years, this company tried to hire some sales people but they ultimately failed because they didn’t have a process.
Medium sized companies often depend on the sales manager to drive revenue. Their role is to hire experienced (expensive) sales people and keep them engaged. When less-experienced salespeople are brought on board they often fail because they don’t have a track to run on. After six months of prospecting (and at least $50,000 of expense to the company) they give up. The few accounts they did land get passed off to the experienced reps.
Both of these scenarios tend to ignore cross-selling. The founder is too busy to cross sell. The sales manager is too focused on hiring reps and hitting quota to think about account management.
What’s needed? Processes that become playbooks. Small companies need this to scale. Growing mid-sized companies need it as well.
How Do You Build Processes?
Given the demands of day-to-day business and monthly quotas, the chances of building processes on your own are slim. Most companies will not risk de-focusing their team to work on building processes. That’s why it often makes sense to engage a third party to lead the effort.
Bringing in a third party like Convergo allows you to build processes without interrupting the daily requirements of business development. You also get the added benefit of an outside perspective from a team of experienced Growth Guides.
To learn more about how other entrepreneurial companies are solving the problem of growth by building processes, contact us today to set up a 60-minute explore meeting with your team.
Most companies want to do playbooks last, preferring to try to get quick wins with a sales activity blitz, a marketing campaign, or some shiny technology. While this may generate a short term blip in the results, these things rarely create ongoing revenue growth. Playbooks create a consistent client experience. They clearly describe the experience you want to create during each stage of the customer journey with the goal of reducing friction and improving motivation. Playbooks outline the steps of the process to deliver that experience. They include content and tools to maximize conversion and velocity. They leverage automation. The problem is that many companies tend to put playbook creation last on this list of priorities. Instead, they direct resources to things like:
- “Let’s build a new website!”
- “We need a new proposal template!”
- “We just need to go sell something.”
- “Let’s run an email and social campaign to generate some demand.”
- “Let’s do a webinar.”
- “Let’s get a new CRM—that will solve our problems!”
- “Check out the new buyer intent solution!”
All of these are great. However, outside of a broader strategy combined with a way to execute, most of these initiatives end up being temporary shots in the arm. Sometimes they are simply a waste of money, not yielding any measurable results. I get it. These things seem urgent. They look like they will bring needed revenue. However, when we are honest, we all know that short-term thinking yields short-term results. Instead, what if you took Stephen Covey’s advice and “began with the end in mind?” First, craft the client experience you want to create through both the net-new and cross-sell stages of the customer journey. Second, build playbooks for each stage of that journey. Then you will have the context you need to create content, do activity, and apply technology. Here are five reasons playbooks need to be done first:
1. The process of creating playbooks gets everyone to think through the details of execution
In our Revenue Growth Workshops we guide leadership teams through documenting their Ideal Client Experience. The cross-functional input from marketing, sales, and operations gives a full picture of what the business looks like through the eyes of a client. Having the multiple perspectives of marketing, sales, and operations reveals the issues in the client experience. Getting outside of silos and working together shines a light on where improvements need to be made. With the Ideal Client Experience in mind, these same cross-functional teams are in a position to think through how each stage could be optimized. The creation of playbooks allows the cross-functional team to build and document what it takes to orchestrate a frictionless client experience that is consistent from start to finish. At this point, the team understands the content, activities, and technology needed to support the Ideal Client Experience. Instead of ad hoc activities, the marketing, sales, and operations teams can get to work building the things (like automation) needed to support the playbook.
2. Playbooks define the content that needs to be created.
Most content focuses on demand generation. While we need to get the attention of our prospects, that’s only the first step. At each stage of the Ideal Client Experience different content is needed. During the net-new phase of the Ideal Client Experience, buyers have predictable questions at the various stages of their journey. Not answering these questions leads to friction. Proactively answering these questions creates motivation. Once they become a client, the marketing shouldn’t stop. Instead, content should focus on helping the client onboard and adopt the solution. Then, content can be created to support cross-sell growth, helping clients get the best and highest value from their relationship with your company. The creation of playbooks helps sales and operations teams identify the content that is needed at each stage of the Ideal Client Experience. This content becomes useful in creating velocity though the experience, increasing close rates, decreasing sales time, and maximizing cross sell.
3. Playbooks create scalability
If you want to grow you need scalability. This means new sales and operations people need to be onboarded into a consistent system. One of the most expensive investments a company can make is in sales people. How tragic when new salespeople sit down at their desk and find a stack of business cards and a few brochures. Even if you have hired a salesperson with relevant industry experience you cannot expect they know the way your company sells. Playbooks maximize sales success. New salespeople sit down to detailed documentation about the sales process. They understand the experience you are trying to create. They see how it all fits together. They find content and tools to support their journey. They discover automation that makes the experience easy and predictable. The same goes for operations. Playbooks show people in service or client success roles how to interact with customers in a way that not only maximizes satisfaction but also supports cross-selling. Playbooks make onboarding easier, helping new team members get up to speed. They create consistency. They give managers something to coach toward. All of this enables scalability.
4. Playbooks create a basis on which things can be improved.
Gino Wickman in the classic book, Traction, tells us that you cannot improve something that has not been documented. Once you document your Ideal Client Experience in playbooks you have a basis for improvement. The first version of your playbooks will not be perfect. However, having the playbooks in place gives you something to improve. Businesses that say they want to improve revenue and enhance customer experience are missing the mark if they don’t have playbooks. You can say you want to improve something, but do you have a mechanism to ensure that improvement becomes part of your company culture? With playbooks, you have the ability to say, “This is how we do it now.” Then you can roll out the improvement in a new version of the playbook that says, “This is how we are going to do it in the future.”
5. Client experience playbooks force alignment between marketing, sales, and operations.
Marketing, sales, and operations alignment has been elusive for most companies. When we do Revenue Growth Workshops, one of the consistent pieces of feedback we receive is, “I had no idea what was happening in the part of the client experience I’m not responsible for.” By creating playbooks together, marketing, sales and operations teams build alignment. They see the big picture. In co-creating playbooks for each stage of the Ideal Client Experience, they end up aligning efforts. All of this drives more revenue while improving customer satisfaction. The side benefits to the organization are huge as these formerly-siloed groups begin to work together.
Do You Have Client Experience Playbooks?
So, here’s the question: Do you have client experience playbooks? If not, why not? Kevin Davis wrote one of my favorite sales books, Slow Down, Sell Faster. The title says it all. Sometimes by doing things that feel like we are slowing down we actually end up accelerating. Stephen Covey told us we should, “Sharpen the saw.” Perhaps creating playbooks is the ultimate sharpening of the revenue saw. Pausing to think through the experience and documenting it will help you achieve bigger results, faster. If you don’t have playbooks, we would love to help facilitate their creation. Contact us today to explore how other entrepreneurial companies are accelerating revenue.
Sales and marketing are historically misaligned, which is very curious given their goals are really the same, right? If sales and marketing both have the same goal of bringing more clients into the business, it doesn’t make sense that this misalignment still occurs. And technology and communication have evolved to the point that this misalignment should no longer be acceptable. So how can you bridge this misalignment? Here are four strategies for aligning sales and marketing:
- Track the right scorecard metrics
- Develop an aligned messaging plan
- Create cross-functional processes
- Align your tech and data
Let’s look at each one of the 4 strategies to align sales and marketing from a before and after perspective:
- Before: Sales and marketing exist as foes in silos
- After: Sales and marketing are aligned and working together to bring on more clients and sell more to their clients.
One point to reinforce, as we always do at Convergo, is that businesses should be focused on acquiring and retaining ideal clients, not just any client. Ideal Clients are the ones that can buy everything that you sell and that your business is optimized to serve. That concept is woven throughout this blog.
Track the Right Scorecard Metrics
Before: Sales and marketing have their own metrics that are completely unrelated. Marketing is pursuing scorecard metrics like website traffic or # of leads. In the meantime, sales managers hammer their sales teams to do more demos or deliver more proposals. What is missing from these metrics? Remember the Ideal Client concept?
After: Website traffic and number of leads are put by the wayside because they don’t consider the ideal client.
An Alternative metric is # of Ideal Prospect leads. This is the number of leads that come in that meet the Ideal Client Profile (ICP) criteria.
How does this promote alignment? First, marketing and sales agree on the ICP, and leads are filtered against this. Marketing then focuses its efforts on generating the right leads, and sales prioritizes closing them instead of chasing their tails with clients that are not necessarily good for the business. By the way, it is much easier for marketing to have a more narrow focus, and it takes fewer sales reps to close ideal clients and filter out suboptimal ones.
Develop An Aligned Messaging Plan
Before: Marketing is creating content and executing a plan that is based on their assumptions about a fictional persona that they assume is correct because they get no feedback from the sales team on what real people are saying.Meanwhile, the sales team complains that the marketing team is passing along leads that are not closable. They get frustrated, and the two sides maintain life in their silos.
After: The content plan is based on an Ideal Client Profile with personas created and agreed upon by both sales and marketing. Sales and Marketing have regular meetings where the sales team shares common questions, concerns, and outcomes that their clients and prospects are asking about and sharing.
Then, the content hits the mark, and sales reps have begun actively sharing content to support their efforts to serve their prospects and clients.
Create Cross-Functional Processes
Before: Marketing has their processes to create content and tactics to increase website traffic and generate “leads, ” which have a very low close rate. In their mind, they are succeeding because all that they are being asked to do is to generate leads.
Sales teams are managing their sales process. A low percentage of leads are actually sales qualified, and even fewer advance to later stages in the sales cycle.
After: The “Sales Cycle” has been replaced by a “Net-New Experience” where sales and marketing work together to bring the Ideal Clients into their business and usher out the ones that are not good fits.
Only Ideal Prospects are in the pipeline, and sales reps help them through the Net-New Experience using documented processes supported by marketing content that answers their questions, generates trust, and helps them seamlessly navigate the experience with your business.
Align Your Tech and Data
Before: Marketing uses platforms to execute tactics like email marketing and may have access to databases of companies in their market that might fit their profile. A lead is created and passed off to sales, often with limited information.
Sales uses their “CRM” for their sales process to close business. They don’t have visibility to what content the prospect might engage with and therefore are serving the prospect only knowing part of the picture.
In the meantime, client data is trapped inside a proprietary ERP that sales has no visibility to, limiting potential cross-selling possibilities.
After: The CRM is a single source of the truth, with Marketing, Sales, and Operations enjoying a 360-degree view of the Ideal Prospect/Client from when the prospect is totally unaware of your business to where they are buying everything they can from you.
Given advancements in CRM and Marketing Automation from companies like Hubspot, the excuses for Sales and marketing working in silos are disappearing. Stay tuned for more detail on each of these 4 strategies in separate blogs.
When it comes to content most sales and marketing teams spend time asking the question, “What content should we present?” They should also be considering this: “When during the sales cycle should we present specific content?”
Today’s buyers are overwhelmed with information. Over the past decade, the focus on content marketing has created an incredible volume of (mostly) useful information. (A recent Gartner survey of 1,000 B2B customers showed that buyers felt about 90% of information they encountered as part of a purchase is high quality.)
In the January 2022 edition of the Harvard Business Review, co-author of The Challenger Sale, Brent Adamson, makes that case that in the world of easy access to information, the job of sales is to help prospects make sense of all the information. He calls this sales role, “sensemaking.”
One way you can help your buyers make sense of their decision is by sharing the right information at the right time during the sales cycle.
Adamson says, “Reps must carefully consider what information to disclose when, how to present it, and—most important—how to connect it to everything else the customer is learning.” The goal is to make sure the seller is seen as both proactive and objective as they help the buyer make sense of their choices.
In a world of complex decisions where the biggest competitor is often the status quo, presenting the right information at the right time is a critical part of an effective revenue growth strategy. Again posing the question, “how you can share the right information at the right time?”
Here are three steps to help you know when to share information.
Understand The Stages of Your Client Experience
While salespeople like to think of a sales cycle, the real party in control is the buyer. You could consider their buying cycle. Since most companies have long term relationships with their buyers that go on long after the initial purchase, I like to consider the entire client experience. (And, since growth happens best with Ideal Clients, I like to look at the client experience through the eyes of an ideal client. We call this the Ideal Client Experience.)
During a Revenue Growth Workshop, we help clients map out the stages of their Ideal Client Experience. At each stage we consider the motivation to move forward and the friction that might hold the buyer back. These two categories help define the content that could be helpful at each stage.
Create a Focused Message Plan
Next, you need to create a Focused Message Plan. In Revenue Growth Engine, I talk about the reality that buyers don’t buy products and services, they buy the outcomes the products and services enable. Thus, your content should be focused on the outcomes your client wants.
You can take this concept to each stage of your Ideal Client Experience. What are the outcomes your client wants at each stage? What questions do they want answered? Where do they want clarity?
In a Focused Message Plan, content is strategically created to address the motivation and friction at each stage of the Ideal Client Experience. By addressing questions and introducing helpful insights at the right time, content helps move deals forward faster, creating pipeline velocity.
Integrate Content Into Your Playbooks
Mapping your Ideal Client Experience and creating a Focused Message Plan are useless if they don’t get integrated into your sales practices and culture. The final stage involves creating playbooks for each stage of your Ideal Client Experience. In addition to documenting the process, identifying tools, and creating training for each stage, effective playbooks also contain content suggestions. Sales reps become armed with the right content to share at the right time.
Best of all, the well-timed content can be shared proactively during the sales process. This helps build the trust necessary to close the deal.
Have you identified your Ideal Client, mapped out your Ideal Client Experience, created a Focused Message Plan, and integrated this into your Revenue Growth Playbooks? If not, that is a great way to begin. Schedule your Explore Meeting now to learn more about how other companies are using these strategies to accelerate growth.
Brent Adamson, Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2022/01/sensemaking-for-sales
Bill Poole was a guest on The COO Show where he chatted with host Bill Reed about why there may be silos in your organization and how to integrate your teams to drive revenue growth. They also talked about how important change management is for creating lasting change and happier employees. Listen to the episode below!
Read the article here.