At The Mezzanine Group, we focus on the science of marketing. We’ve talked about the “art” of marketing, which can be fun and creative, but it takes more than pretty pictures to achieve marketing ROI.
For many B2B companies who are in the process of putting more formal processes and systems in place for sales and marketing lack historical data on the performance of these functions. This may be partly due to a lack of infrastructure that allows data to be recorded or a lack of understanding about what metrics would give them the insight needed to make actionable decisions.
When B2B companies have no benchmark for sales and marketing metrics, setting them can be a difficult task. It is often based on “gut feel” and “want” – especially when discussing metrics like revenue forecast, leads, close rate, etc.
In these situations, there are five actions B2B companies can take to start benchmarking data:
1) Identify up to 10 Sales and Marketing Metrics – There are a myriad of things that can be measured, start with the 5-10 that are most critical for your business and put systems in place to start tracking results immediately.
2) Develop a reporting system – Don’t have a fancy CRM? No problem. Companies can create simple dashboards in Excel to get started. The dashboard should track your metrics on a monthly basis (for some sales metrics, you may even track weekly), and it should be shared and reviewed with all key staff.
3) Set benchmarks based on industry averages – If your company is embarking on new sales and marketing metrics and doesn't have time to gather a few months of data before getting started, set some benchmarks based on industry averages. If they don’t exist, set goals that seem realistic as opposed to ideal. And set a date to revisit these goals once you have a few months of factual data (it may take longer depending on your business cycles and when you started reporting).
4) Re-set goals based on factual data – Once you’ve gathered your own data, review with your team and revisit the goals. Augment them as needed. You might make slight or significant adjustments. This will depend on the metric and any surprising insights you've uncovered. Often, metrics can signal problems. For example, maybe your close rate is significantly lower than you thought. If it’s a systemic issue, your company may decide to strategically address the issue rather than simply accept the metric for what it is.
5) Report and Recalibrate – Continue reporting on a monthly (or more frequent) basis and have a formal review of your metrics every quarter. This allows everyone who is accountable for those metrics to come together, discuss what they mean, and determine whether any actions are needed. Some metrics may signal a need to recalibrate a sales or marketing metric. Read my previous post on the Importance of Recalibrating.
It’s never too late to start measuring. If you feel behind, don’t. Start with these five actions and you’ll be well on your way to setting more realistic goals, having systems in place to track key metrics, and developing a process for frequent review and recalibration.