I just returned from the B2B/C2C Conference in Arizona. It was actually several conferences in one with the Sales Impact Summit as a separate track with it’s own slate of sessions.

I hosted a panel called “Evolving from Demand Gen to Revenue Gen” with panelists Brian Vass of Paycor and Susana Landiera of Microsoft. As head of Marketing and Sales Operations for Paycor, Brian has spent the last 3 years transforming marketing and sales into a well-aligned organization focused on the same goal – revenue. Susana has likewise helped to align marketing and sales at Microsoft through the use of smart social selling techniques that build relationships and help her sellers get in the door early.

Here are a few take-aways from the session.

Why evolve?

The past ten years have brought about substantial change for marketers. Marketing Automation went from being a nascent technology to being a fundamental layer in the MarTech stack.

Marketings’ goal was to use content as a way to get prospects to raise their hand (and complete a form) so that they could be nurtured and converted into an MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead). The big push was to come up with a standard definition for an SAL (Sales Accepted Lead) at which point, Marketing had done its job.

That’s no longer enough. Marketing can and must assist sales throughout the funnel moving beyond the SAL. A lot has to happen to move an SAL to a closed deal and Marketing can play an important role along side Sales. ABM (Account Based Marketing) is but one way that marketing can align with sales beyond lead gen. However, there are other letters that can replace the A. Industry based marketing or role based marketing or decision based marketing should all be considered.

Shouldn’t Sales have specific content that resonates with and is targeted at specific industries? Shouldn’t Sales have prescriptive content that helps buyers know how to buy rather than just what or why to buy?

How to evolve

Step one is to make sure you have the right structure in place. At minimum is to have one person oversee both Marketing and Sales Operations, or Marketing & Sales Alignment. It’s imperative that someone (or some group) holds a goal that’s shared equally between Sales and Marketing and that they are measured in a way that supports that goal.

Step two is to identify what metrics to use. Brian expressed his opinion that MQL is dead and should be replaced with bookings (and the extent to which marketing assisted with or impacted the deal).

Step three is to switch questions you instinctively ask yourself. One question put to the panel was, “What if we need 8,000 leads and all we can supply is 1,000.” The reason why that question is problematic is because we try to answer it in traditional ways, “where can we find more leads!”

When you find yourself asking questions that have to do with top-of-funnel, turn it around and explore whether the answer lies further down the funnel. In this case, perhaps the answer can be found by increasing the conversion from SAL to closed deal.

If you can help sales convert at a much higher rate, you might not need more leads after all.

The bottom line is that we need to re-frame the thinking about Marketing’s role. It’s time to move beyond generating leads because that’s just a small part of the equation. The only thing that really matters in the end is generating revenue. Marketing can impact revenue to a greater and more direct way than ever before if they choose to.