The Status Quo Is No Longer Viable: Let’s Measure Marketing Like Sales

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks


How do you nurture a culture of alignment if you’re not even in the same city? The biggest fundamental challenge to sales and marketing teams today is exactly this: how do you measure success?

Measurement: The Core of Misalignment

I was just at lunch with a couple friends. One of the friends is a global vice-president of sales at a successful company. He was telling me that at a board meeting, the CFO at the board challenged the CEO and said, “what is the return on investment on marketing?” And the CEO replied by saying it was complicated, and they started on this debate of why it was complicated.

Board members all around the world are having this discussion, and it’s because organizations have always seen marketing as more of an art, and less of a science.

No matter what, you can talk culture, you can talk all kinds of science versus art, but it all comes down to measurement. Misalignment is an issue of KPIs. Sales is only measured on a black and white scale of, “did you hit quota or did you not hit quota?” Pretty simple to measure, pretty simple to align to, pretty simple to reward and punish.

The challenge with marketing for so many companies is they’ve never been able to measure how they contribute to revenue. They’re only seen in terms of brand awareness, and what we call ‘vanity metrics,’ which are likes, shares, comments, clicks, attendees, page views, followers, etc. with no tangible correlation to revenue.  

Where Measurement Meets: The Sales Qualified Lead

We don’t make money on leads, we don’t make money on clicks, we don’t make money on likes. The only way to solve this is to have sales and marketing sit together and find a way in which they figure out what the perfect handshake is between them.

How can marketing  increase the demand of qualified leads for sales? And how can sales contribute to content so marketing can create better insights? In fact, according to SiriusDecisions, “Up to 65% of your marketing team’s digital content never makes its way into the customer’s hands.”

That perfect handshake in our company is called a sales qualified lead, or a sales qualified opportunity. We’ve discovered it’s the right place in which sales and marketing touch hands. They can work and collaborate with each other on the volume, velocity, and probability of what those sales qualified leads are, and they can hold each other accountable for what they need out of those sales qualified leads to both hit their goals. Marketing can hit the volume, velocity, and probability that they need, and sales can do the same all the way to the close.

Once you get to that piece, that magic handshake is a great service level agreement. Sales can create and record documents, and say, this is what I’m promising to give you: volume, velocity, probability, and service to get you there. And sales says, once you give me that, I promise to do these x, y, and z things to bring it over to home.

Direct Sourcing Compensation for Marketing

Should marketing have compensation based on their contribution to sales goals? I actually believe this model is the future. It’s going to start like a snowball.

Stage one is that organizations need to recognize the importance or relevance that marketing is having on a percentage of revenue.

Stage two is quantifying that exact amount. You know what marketing is directly sourcing, or lead sourcing, and you’ve assumed 100% attribution and influence. The reality is, none of our customers would be there without marketing. There’s an attribution and influence, but let’s compensate on direct sourcing, as we do with salespeople. Salespeople are compensated on closing the deals they’ve worked on, not other people’s deals; it’s a direct sourcing model.

Stage three naturally comes after business owners look where the deals are sourced from and acknowledge the empirical evidence that marketing is contributing to sales goals. Now we have to set a goal, a benchmark of where we were before, and we can set a milestone of where we want to get to. And if you get us there, we can reverse engineer how much money we make off of that, and let’s set a goal of how much reward, intrinsically motivating the marketing team, no different than we do with salespeople. 

That’s the next stage. It’s going to add some complications around cost and customer acquisition, but the smart organizations are going to be able to reverse engineer their goals and say it all makes sense. If you can get us to a certain goal, and it fits within our budget, let’s all share the wealth.

I will say most companies we encounter haven’t even crossed stage one. They haven’t even recognized the actual direct impact of marketing. They only have a marketing team and a marketing budget because they believe it’s just part of the way of doing things. Once you change your mindset and turn marketing into a revenue-driver, you’ll really start to see a handshake develop, enabling faster pipeline and revenue.


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