Unemployment fell to 8.4 percent in August, as America slowly recovers from the pandemic peak.
But employees, specifically sales and marketing professionals, are returning to a much different landscape. And it's unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
When I joined Salesforce in 2009, we were on the heels of the Great Recession. Our mentality as marketers was directly influenced by the economic belt-tightening that had just occurred across the globe.
These were lean times. But it wasn’t like our entire world was turned upside down.
Today, as companies buckle down and shift resources, teams are under more pressure than ever to drive revenue. And unlike 2009, the world isn’t the same as it was in February. From a practical standpoint, the high-touch tactics that historically have been used to close deals– like events, entertainment and in-person meetings– no longer exist.
At the same time, sales quotas still do. When you’re a B2B company, perhaps backed by ambitious VCs, you can’t take a mulligan in 2020. You need to figure it out.
Practically, that means that everyone within an organization is now responsible for revenue in some form or fashion. This is especially true for marketers, who will now be held to unprecedented levels of scrutiny to drive ROI. And that’s going to change organizational makeups for the foreseeable future.
The 3rd Era of Marketing
Time for a quick history lesson: The craft of marketing has long reflected the consumption of media. Wherever potential customers consume media, marketers have contrived ways to use that media to get their attention.
It all began with the 1st Era of Marketing, which I like to call the Mad Men Era. This post-war period was driven almost entirely by creative – and expensive – ad buys. Sophisticated analytics and measurements didn’t exist yet, and perceived success often hinged on the vagaries of old boys’ networks as much as efficacy. The old adage of “half of ad spend is wasted, we just don’t know which half” certainly applied here.
Then came the internet. The Demand-Gen Era, or 2nd Era of Marketing. began at the turn of the 21st century. This opened the door to digital channels that created instant response and data capture, allowing marketers to measure the impact of their work in new ways.
This ushered in a whole new world of accountability, leading to the establishment of the CMO role and ownership of the purchase funnel. For the past 20 years, we’ve a/b tested every click, view and share, tailoring campaigns for maximum effectiveness.
And then we’ve handed those leads off to sales to close the deal.
Post-COVID, those days are over. Marketing can’t cut itself out mid-funnel anymore. Sales reps aren’t closing those leads in person. The high-touch methods are gone until further notice.
Perhaps most importantly, prospects aren’t waiting around for things to normalize before they buy things. They’re under increased pressure, too– and that means, if they’re browsing your website at 3am looking to onboard a solution that same week, you need to be in front of them, with tailored information that can close the deal.
This is the 3rd Era of Marketing, where the customer, not the brand, dictates when buying is done. It’s already happened in B2C, where you can buy anything at any time. Why not B2B as well? It’s a prime opportunity for marketing departments to step up and take ownership of the full funnel, not just in terms of new business, but in renewal and expansion.
For marketers, this is a sink or swim situation, and the implications are clear: Embrace revenue now, or risk consolidation with sales.
Revenue, Or Else
We’ve reached a shaking-out point for CMOs: Are you in service to sales, or are you a peer?
Many CROs would say the former. Marketing has long been measured by soft metrics like awareness, clicks and leads, whereas sales teams live and die by their ability to hit monthly quotas.
Worse, some CROs might even be perplexed by marketing efforts. What will that national television campaign actually provide? How many leads will that peripheral content actually nurture? Is it really worth sponsoring that virtual event?
These are conversations that many marketers aren’t used to having vis-a-vis revenue. But they better start getting comfortable. With sales and marketing no longer marching to their own metrics, and sharing the common goal of revenue, there is no room for siloes anymore. Both departments are responsible not only for new business, but for retention, and upselling of existing customers. The reality is that both teams need the skills and insights provided by the other.
The Revenue Era is about mapping the full lifecycle and optimizing every single touchpoint, no matter where it’s coming from. You cannot become customer-centric across the entire lifecycle unless you have acquisition, engagement, closing and data all under one roof.
At the end of the day, it’s marketers who need to wake up and smell the coffee. Those who align their efforts to revenue will earn a seat at the table. Those who don't will either be rolled into the sales department, or they’ll be dusting off their resumes.