Updated: Aug 28, 2021
The most common reasons why companies fail to optimize revenue gathering enablement includes leadership misalignment, leader’s pride, the breakdown of communication between departments, lack of process, lack of accountability, and disparate KPIs or health of the sales funnel.
Leadership misalignment is altogether too common. This is the #1 obstacle impeding revenue optimization. Misalignment often starts at the top of the organization and weaves its way through the company. Pride (discussed later in this post) can get in the way of fixing this. Within the area of revenue enablement, misalignment in the area of marketing and sales manifests as finger-pointing, accusations of poor quality or not enough leads, inadequate marketing or sales efforts, and more. Misalignment in this area is likely caused by the failure to communicate on the health of the sales funnel, as a standard business practice. This can be fueled by poor - or lack of - competitive intelligence gathering, failure to capture the buyer’s journey, information-hoarding by individuals, or disparate data that exists in silos.
Pride is prickly. When it comes to running your company, department, or team, no one wants to admit their leadership style, team, process, or methodology are not as tuned-up as it could be. Stop believing you’re great. Find experts to lead your departments and let them prove you are indeed, great. We recommend you aim to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. You’d like the accolades for hiring the best and the brightest, who build a great company with happy loyal clients, and we love to give them. The prickly part of pride is trust. Trust you have hired the right people in the right positions, and trust them enough to let them do their job. The numbers will prove whether they can do their job, or not. Until results and trendlines prove a leader is not performing, trust they will perform.
Communication breakdowns have many repercussions. For example, if marketing and sales are not unified around KPIs and discussing the health of the sales funnel on a regular basis, you've got problems to resolve. Furthermore, if they are not discussing or capturing the buyers’ journey, and what sales are hearing from prospects and customers, it is impossible for marketing to create content or deliver campaigns to support sales needs. In this scenario, sales are running with no support from marketing, and marketing is running blind. Hitting a revenue goal becomes increasingly more difficult, if not impossible. When communication between these two areas is healthy and collaborative, the cycle of revenue optimization can begin. Consider another example, relevant to the software industry, where engineers and developers are not communicating with department leaders. If development is occurring in a bubble, where actually, is development direction coming from? How would it be possible for sales to sell futures or address customer or prospect concerns if they are not regularly briefed about the development roadmap? How would marketing build campaigns and collateral to support releases? One note of caution before we move on to the next point - beware of PAB feedback as your only source of customer guidance on your development roadmap. PAB is a good source for guidance, however, consider looping in feedback from the sales and customer care areas of your company, or survey your entire customer base annually.
Lack of process, or no discipline around process, make accountability and optimization impossible. For sales, lack of process manifests as inaccurate forecasts. For marketing, lack of process may manifest as delays in lead handoff to sales, poor- or no data harvesting practices, resulting in poor prospect or customer intelligence. When process and discipline in these areas does not exist, it becomes impossible for sales to follow-up in a timely fashion, and marketing will have difficulty with Account Based Marketing. Overall, it will be difficult for these two departments to focus on the right things to drive revenue. Defined and disciplined processes, aided by tools and technology, yield a measure of accountability and the benefit of generating data for analysis. Rather than think about process and accountability as limiting, think of it as your baseline from which the continuous cycle of optimization and improvement can begin.
Disparate KPIs and health of the sales funnel creates tension. Sales traditionally focus on quota attainment, closing deals, accounts, and velocity through the sales cycle. They are typically measured by the number of deals closed, renewals signed, reduction in churn, and organic revenue growth. Marketing traditionally focuses on generating Marketing Qualified Leads, campaigns for market segments, and brand awareness. They are typically measured by lead pipeline and quality. One area where sales and marketing should unite is pipeline KPIs, with a focus on the health of the sales funnel, with a concentration on what is going on in the bottom 1/2 of the funnel.