Accelerating growth is every CMO’s most fundamental job. But smart marketing executives are now thinking beyond ways to merely drive growth and realizing they are also the best equipped people to forecast it.
With the visibility and data available to marketers today, marketing departments are the ones able to accurately forecast sales furthest into the future. No department’s forecast capabilities — sales included — comes close. Here are three reasons why:
1. Marketing Owns the Top of the Funnel
The nature of demand generation means marketing has an impact higher up the funnel than sales. Marketers fill the top of the funnel with new leads, and help sales reps further down the funnel close them. This top-of-the-funnel focus matters because it gives marketing visibility at the earliest point in the sales cycle. Smart marketers leverage that visibility and, using other key conversion and velocity metrics (such as lead to opportunity creation rate and sales cycle length), accurately forecast future growth.
Not only can modern marketers track demand generation performance, but they can also predict how improvements to any channel (say, paid search) will drive more leads, what percentage of those leads will convert to paying customers and how long the nurture process will last. Marketing’s high-level intelligence starts with visibility into initial leads, by channel, and what happens at every stage of the buyer’s journey. That’s a blind spot for even the most data-driven sales executive further down the funnel.
2. Broader Visibility, Fewer Surprises
Visibility into new leads also allows marketers to adjust their program mix in almost real-time, turning lead generation into a science. The key is to continually monitor the metrics that matter most by channel (paid, organic search, events, among others). Quarterly reports are still valuable to spot trends and to establish a baseline for real-time analysis, but marketing automation and reporting tools like BrightFunnel and C9 enable marketers to track real-time performance across a variety of angles and cohorts.
Capturing this data, with or without a full analytics solution, allows marketing to accurately predict how (and when) the campaigns will impact sales. Plus, it allows marketers to easily adjust spend and program mix, develop hypotheses about how to increase performance within a current channel — or test a completely new one.
That marketing visibility, when leveraged correctly, can exposure key opportunities that otherwise would slip through the cracks. If you know organic search has the fastest lead to close velocity and the lowest cost of acquiring new customers, you’d find new ways to capture more organic leads.
3. Clear View to the Future
Lastly, marketing can see further — and more clearly — into the future to predict growth. Sales can’t compete, for one major reason: Marketing teams, at least those that frequently track performance, can see the entire funnel from unknown lead to paying customer. While sales leaders likely have a good grasp on their own data, it represents only a partial view of the complete buyer’s journey. Forecasts that don’t factor in marketing intelligence rely on incomplete data. What’s more, sales metrics like opportunity to close win rates, while crucial, can fluctuate widely.
The bottom line? Smarter sales forecasting is possible, but marketing holds the key. To eliminate the guesswork involved with sales forecasting, give marketing the tools it needs to continually monitor the key metrics that drive movement down the funnel, improve campaign performance in real time and be an active participant in growth predictions that help set revenue goals. Marketing’s broad view throughout the funnel, and its ability to project far into the future, is enough to make any sales director envious — and any CEO or CFO eager to approve additional marketing budget.