How to structure SaaS marketing teams to deliver more leads

Marketing is constantly being pulled in two directions:

  • A support function -- to serve the needs of the business with value that only marketing can bring.
  • A revenue driving function -- to increase pipeline and growth for the organization.

These two objectives are often in conflict due to the following reasons:

  1. Constantly shifting organizational needs: The organization’s needs are changing constantly. For example, sales has deals in the pipeline that need supporting. There is no way marketing can not help in a situation like that.
  2. Different accountability and KPIs: While they both fall under the umbrella of “Marketing”, the two functions have very different accountability. Focusing on product marketing, for example, will not generate significantly more leads (usually).
  3. Limited resources: Especially in sales driven organizations, there are often not enough people to do everything that is expected of marketing on the list below. For example, doing sales enablement really well may mean losing a content person who can focus on SEO.
  4. Different skill sets. A great product marketer is very hard to find. A great paid media manager is also very hard to find. To find a person who can do both is near impossible.

Lack of understanding of these 4 things leads to “difficult” conversations with marketing, typically in the form of questions like:

  • “How many leads were generated because of marketing activities?”
  • “What was marketing’s contribution to pipeline?”

Marketing’s retort back is usually trying to:

  • Show data of its contributions (which is not always possible — e.g. a product marketing campaign)
  • Indicate support it gave to sales in the form of sales enablement (which is not always acknowledged by sales)
  • Use vanity metrics to show some value, which don’t always translate to sales (e.g. email open rates, website traffic, event attendance)

Here’s a simple way to solve all these problems:

  • Separate out “Demand Generation” from “Marketing Support” as two distinct functions
  • Establish different KPIs for each (Keep leads as the KPI for Demand Gen)
  • Establish roles for people within each function and try not to distract people with responsibilities of the other function (e.g. Demand gen person focuses on Paid and is not asked to make a deck for a sales deal)

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