Oh, year-end analysis. How I love thee and hate thee. Let me count the ways…
This is the time of year when executives become hyper-sensitive to numbers and are asking a flurry of questions.
- What revenue will we close the year with?
- What was our ROI on that new tech investment?
- What did we do this past year that was most effective at moving the needle?
As each department hunkers down to run their reports and formulate their own analysis and create their Powerpoint presentations to respond to these queries, they are looking to showcase the numbers that make their department shine. After all, next year’s budget increase depends on it! The problem is, those numbers and activities are different for each department.
- Sales speaks in revenue.
- Marketing speaks in leads and website downloads.
- Customer Success speaks in terms of renewals, attrition rates, and customer health indexes.
- Product speaks in terms of number of new features and adoption rates.
While that is all well and good, and frankly the natural way many companies approach this kind of analysis, there’s a problem. Executives end up comparing apples to oranges, and it becomes an unfair assessment.
So how do you get all departments reporting against the same metric? Is there one?
Revenue & the Customer Advocacy Common Thread
That common language everyone speaks is revenue – after all a business ceases to exist without it – so naturally, each department plays their role in making revenue happen. But how do you translate all of those different metrics above into revenue? You must zero in on the common thread that influences that revenue: the voice of your customer.
The voice of your customer – the stories and opinions shared by your successful customers who advocate on your behalf – is the common thread running through every stage of the buyer’s journey. It runs through every stage of the customer lifecycle. It is literally the thread tying existing customers, strategic business activities, and new customers together.
One metric that proves this common thread theory is revenue. Let’s revisit what I said earlier for a second, but from a viewpoint of revenue impact. Revenue is the literal translation of advocacy’s role throughout marketing, sales, and customer success, and reveals its impact on driving new business. Think about it…
- Sales speaks and lives for revenue, they’re entirely driven on closing that next deal. Well, customer references, testimonials and customer success content play a large role in closing business and securing that revenue.
- Whenever Marketing ties their programs to revenue by showing those customer referrals they generated, the customer speakers they secured to speak at that event or the PR push using customer stories drove qualified leads which lead to that revenue, it gets Sales’ attention.
- When Customer Success ties the number of customers they improved health scores so Marketing could do those activities and helped Sales drive upsell opportunities which increased revenue, it gets both department’s attention. Likewise, when customer attrition rates rise (especially from customer advocate accounts), it’s existing revenue is walking out the door which in turn makes new revenue targets harder to hit.
When executive managers finally see and understand how many touchpoints customers are influencing by their advocacy and the number of departments advocacy improves, they often change their tune. They realize customer advocacy is not just some dinky program sitting over in the corner. It’s a strategic value driver.
Optimize Revenue Impact with the Correct Tech Stack
With the right technology stack and correct integrations within it, customer advocacy’s impact is easily and seamlessly connected throughout every department to tell an end-to-end revenue picture. Furthermore, with the right tech stack, customer advocacy’s impact can be optimized to gain new levels of success to an organization.
What is the right stack? Well, there’s a common thread there as well. Best practices organizations have tech stacks that integrate all of the following with each other:
- Sales CRM (Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, SugarCRM, etc.)
- Marketing Automation (Marketo, Eloqua, etc.)
- Customer Success Platforms (Gainsight, Totango, etc.)
- Customer Advocacy Platforms (RO Innovation, Influitive, TechValidate, etc.)
When all of these systems share data about how, when, where and which customer voices are being used, regardless of buyer stage or owner of that customer relationship, a complete story is told.
Suddenly, all systems are speaking a common language. Revenue can be tracked and attributed end-to-end. ROI and total value of the customer can be calculated because all the metrics and information is available. Magically, your brand begins to rise above the rest.
This week’s post is by guest author Nichole Auston, Director of Content Marketing for RO Innovation, a sales enablement software built around customer engagement, advocacy, and marketing.