A couple of weeks ago, Marketo announced its research-based belief that its form of revenue performance management (RPM) could help grow global GDP by $2.5 trillion by 2015. I love it when emerging companies talk about big plans this way. It reminds me of the young plumber who upon seeing Niagara Falls for the first time says, “I think I can fix it!”
But there’s something to this proposal that ought to be taken seriously and when you talk about trillions of dollars you are presumably talking seriously. Global GDP in 2011 is predicted at $68.65 trillion by the International Monetary Fund and the Marketo announced figure was spread over three years. But that’s a lot of improvement no matter.
To put this into perspective you have to back up and ask about the assumptions involved and Marketo was kind enough to anticipate the questions and perform a little research. According to the announcement, Marketo did some analysis of its customers’ revenues as they took advantage of the company’s marketing automation, sales effectiveness and analytics tools.
Side note: No one’s crown jewels were harmed in the analysis. Having a big pile of relatively homogeneous data for analysis is a side benefit of multi-tenant cloud computing. Multi-tenant cloud computing could provide important analytic benefits like this to all users if we could only 1) Put down some ground rules governing the use of the aforementioned crown jewels, thus creating a data commons; and 2) Get over our hang-ups about maintaining the pristine nature of our data in clouds. Really, it’s like the five year-old who can’t stand seeing the peas touching the mashers on the plate. But I digress.
The three tools, marketing automation, sales effectiveness and analytics, combine to provide the tools a company needs to implement revenue performance management strategies. RPM is still a relatively new idea but other companies like Eloqua, with whom Marketo competes and Cloud 9 Analytics (a Marketo stable mate in venture capitalist Bruce Cleveland’s menagerie) are conspiring to give the idea critical mass.
In the nub, RPM is simply about using the data that is routinely given off by our business processes as fodder for the analytics engine. Too often the data goes unused or simple reporting engines choke on the abundance. But an analytics engine spits out all kinds of ideas like what to offer the customer based on its experience, or generally offering insight that a human eye might miss but which a statistical model would discover easily.
So, two and a half trillion bucks over three years averages out to a bit less than one percent a year. In percentage terms that is not much but the existence of all the zeros in a trillion will get your attention. After all, that’s growth and incremental improvements like this are how markets and economies grow.
More importantly, the ROI can be stunning. Given the fact that RPM would not be applied evenly across big corporations and lemonade stands, the places where it could make a difference would notice the change. Moreover, the cost of implementing RPM where it’s needed would be much less than the incremental gains, especially with modern cloud computing delivering the tools cost effectively.
I am not an expert on RPM, yet. I am more like the one eyed man in the land of the blind. But my thought is that we ought to get familiar with this idea, which is essentially applied analytics. Our economy is still climbing out of the recession and the jobs numbers that I have seen for May are disappointing. Every recession ends with some new product or idea taking off and leading the way. I haven’t seen the big new idea yet but maybe this is it. Regardless, a little investigation won’t cost anything.
All the chatter about the Salesforce acquisition of Radian6 is quite interesting. A couple of postings from people I respect make good points. First Joe Payne, CEO of Eloqua:
“Conspicuously absent from Salesforce’s network of role-specific “Clouds” is one that centers on the marketing function. Is the Radian6 acquisition the beginning of a Salesforce Marketing Cloud? Someone on the investor conference call asked Marc Benioff whether this was the first move toward business-to-consumer. His answer was worth noting: ‘We’re really seeing the beginning here of the Marketing Cloud.’ Given the excitement we have seen around Revenue Performance Management – a discipline that requires both sales and marketing data – in the executive suite, it is not surprising to see Salesforce moving this direction.
And here’s Jon Miller CMO of Marketo:
“Personally, I think Salesforce will continue to make acquisitions “around” the marketing automation space (such as Jigsaw and Radian6) without moving directly into the category; I also would not be surprised if they bought an email service provider. Salesforce has never shown much interest in a “Marketing Cloud;” they seem more interested in Chatter, the Force.com Platform, and Service Cloud 3, and I suspect future acquisitions will focus on augmenting those capabilities more than in marketing.
It reminds me of the old joke, if you want three economic opinions ask two economists. We’ll need to wait a while to know which is right but I’m betting on Payne’s analysis more or less.
IMHO Salesforce has been deficient in marketing for a long time. Perhaps that’s because marketing’s business processes have been more amorphous compared to sales and service. But more likely, it was because Salesforce grew up selling to emerging tech companies that were selling new category products. Your marketing needs in such a situation are rather minimal. But today, there is much less category formation going on — that will likely change with the introduction of the tablet PC— but for now, companies wanting to sell, and who doesn’t, need to market like many of them never have.
Marketing and customer intimacy have driven the social CRM market for several years and the demand destruction caused by the financial meltdown a couple of years ago tipped the scale. That’s why ideas like revenue performance management are so important today and in order to do RPM you need tools. So it’s not surprising that Salesforce bought Radian6. It was time.
Phil Fernandez, CEO of Marketo, is our latest thought leader interview subject on the Beagle website (http://beagleresearch.com). Phil’s career started in the analytics boom of the 1980s and he’s been successfully bringing analytics closer to the customer with every iteration of a career that includes companies like e.piphany and several others. Lately analytics has taken on even greater importance as he and other Silicon Valley leaders have begun talking about the importance of embedding analytics in line of business applications. The shorthand message for all this is, typically, embedded in the movement’s tag line — Revenue Performance Management or RPM. Who doesn’t like revenue? RPM strikes a nerve for any CEO worth his or her BlackBerry and that’s is why this interview is a must-read.
The long recession and the rise of social CRM were not simply co-incidental. I believe they happened together. That’s not to say that social CRM happened for some cosmic reason, I neither subscribe to the belief that all things happen for a reason nor do I believe I am qualified to hold forth beyond what I’ve just written. I think social CRM — whose roots precede the recession — became important during the recession because it represents a good and inexpensive way to keep tabs on existing customers and possibly capture some new ones at low cost.
That’s recession 101 in my book. Manage the installed base, capture the business that’s available, keep the maintenance stream coming in and, whatever you do, don’t give a customer a reason to leave you. In the process you can promote your thought leadership and that’s valuable too. Social is perfect for that and a good deal more. But now that the recession is giving way and job growth — a frustratingly lagging indicator — is making tentative gains, many companies that I speak with are turning their attention to revenue and how to accelerate it.
Just as managing the customer base is recession 101, accelerating revenue is recovery 101. Some of us may not have made the psychic switch yet but that’s coming. Lots of people I speak with, especially vendors and VC’s, have the revenue idea firmly in place and, just as social predates the recession, revenue performance management (RPM) predates the recovery.
VC’s like Bruce Cleveland, a former high-ranking executive at Siebel, have been writing about RPM for a couple of years and today I can speak with him and people like Phil Fernandez, Founder and CEO of Marketo, or Swayne Hill, CEO of Cloud9 Analytics and many others about RPM and have good discussions. The talks aren’t simply about revenue and how nice it is but more substantively, they’re about accurately identifying opportunities and bringing them to fruition not just in a reasonable time but like clockwork.
Unlike other trends that we’ve seen over the years, RPM is unique in that it focuses on end-to-end business processes and quite possibly the overlap of responsibilities and systems to manage those processes. One of my favorite examples of a sales manager and a company that “gets it” is Dave Fitzgerald an EVP at Brainshark who has a constellation of SaaS applications covering the end-to-end spectrum. From lead nurturing to forecasting to compensation, Fitzgerald has RPM covered and he could be its poster child.
Every recession has an end and there’s always an idea or technology that leads us out. Often, what leads us is a tacit agreement to do things better and at less cost than we did prior to the meltdown. The idea makes sense and it spreads virally and no one wants to be left behind with a business practice that is outdated and relatively expensive. On-demand computing was one of those drivers from the last recession, so was the on-line meeting. Companies like Salesforce.com and WebEx became big players in the process.
You might say that those companies were too small to have a concrete effect on the economy at large. But keep in mind that they weren’t alone and in any case, no trend has to carry the economy on its back, the trend need only be leveragable and contribute to the growth rate, which is a more doable thing.
Revenue performance management fits the current need. It is a blanket term that can easily apply to managing anything in your SG&A line as it can apply to revenue generation. Its orientation is growth, not simply maintaining a hunkered down pose waiting for things to get better. The economy is shifting; everywhere I look experts are showing us how to do more with a little less.
Anneke Seley of Sales 2.0 fame is telling us to look at hybrid Web-phone-and field selling. Analytics vendors are showing us how to mine our social data to find the customers and prospects and customers who really need our attention. And experts like Thor Johnson are telling marketers to get more quantitative in discussions with the C-level both to justify their budgets and to have greater impact on a company’s direction.
When you boil that ocean down one of the surprising things you are left with is that the distance between sales and marketing is shrinking and that might be the biggest thing to come out of this recession. Sales and marketing each have their jobs to do and each is different from the other. But what’s clear is that if there was ever an either/or discussion about sales vs. marketing, the conjunction is changing from “or” to “and”.
As that change takes place we are already seeing the emergence of a new job title, the Chief Revenue Officer or CRO. I’ll admit CRO doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue but I am old enough to remember when CIO didn’t roll off the tongue either. I am also seasoned enough to recall other gems like vice president of first impressions, proof that some trends are fads. But CRO looks to have some staying power, most importantly because of that “R” word. Who doesn’t love “R”?
The CRO is the person who will need to understand both sales and marketing and most importantly also know that the two need to be mutually reinforcing. It does no good for one to be the servant of the other. CRO is a status to which both the VPs of sales and marketing can aspire. Does this mean that CMO and CSO go away? I don’t know. Does the CFO report to the CEO? The Board? Or work with the CEO? It matters.
What’s certain, as I look at the landscape is that marketing and sales are a lot different today. Customers are in control and many people recognize that the sales process is rapidly giving way to the buying process and that sets the stage for some interesting realignments.
Happy Groundhog Day!