If you’re like a lot of teams, managing growth and driving pipeline got a whole lot harder over the last 6-9 months.

And although the back half of 2022 saw a lot of missed quotas and teams stretching to see what they could accomplish in the year …. It’s 2023. And the best thing teams can do is be clear-eyed on what’s possible, focus on the sales and marketing activities that’ll have the most impact and give their teams clarity on how to actually achieve the growth they want to see.

As I’ve helped many revenue and operations leaders prepare for 2023 – and done so myself for our team – here are 5 things to know in order to drive realistic and healthy growth in 2023.

P.S. – all of the tools, resources and templates we’re building are available in our 2023 GTM Un-Playbook. Get all of these resources — free to access and start using — here.

It’s 2023: Time for Marketing and Sales to Share Goals

One silver lining from sluggish growth and demand that can no longer rely on momentum? 

Both marketing and sales teams are feeling the heat. And that’s the perfect time to re-align your teams around the metrics, goals and KPIs that matter to both teams and are indicators of what healthy pipeline looks like.

Whether you use MQLs, SAOs, influenced revenue, marketing attributed revenue or any other combination of team-specific metrics to set goals, build strategies and track progress … it’s more important than ever to make sure that all revenue teams:

  1. agree on success metrics and their definitions
  2. understand the levers at their disposal and align on the impact of each
  3. execute plays and track progress together

Let me give you an example.

If your sales team is prioritizing outbounding as a new business pipeline generator, and your marketing organization is also standing up ABM tactics (like target account ads, 1:few content builds, gifting, etc.) … there’s going to be overlap in your tactics. That’s a good thing … unless these strategies and measurement of impact are built in silos.

Your sales team will outbound to their TAT (aka the Sales Assembly ink I have on my bicep … orrr, meaning their total addressable territory) with gusto.

Your marketing team may be running ads to some or all of those accounts. And if the team isn’t doing the upfront work to build goals and strategies together, both of these efforts will work less effectively than if they were built together.

Each team will also likely over-attribute their efforts to any pipeline that came through and point to their counterparts to do more to support their efforts.

It’s just more of the same marketing vs. sales friction, right?

A better way?

  1. Align on the north star goals for both teams. The short answer: it’s revenue. Define it, set goals around it and share with the teams who are accountable to move the needle.
  2. Get in a room and hash out how marketing and sales drive toward that number with their separate plays and what their joint strategies will be.
  3. Create a single source of truth for reporting and data. No more asterisking open pipeline or having different definitions of what a “good” lead is for both teams. One metrics set, one reporting function … makes an even playing field.

We’re bringing teams together in 2023.

Drive Revenue Growth.

Tools, templates and resources to help you do more. All available in the 2023 Revenue Un-Playbook.

Editable templates, built to easily configure for YOUR go-to-market team.

Download and make them your own today.

Forecasting Revenue Growth in an Uncertain Market

Revenue forecasting is never easy.

But consecutive quarters or years of predictable increases in growth or even tactics that have become so reliable, that they feel like they’re in the DNA of your team (I’ve seen full sales teams able to recite the exact ASP of a certain type of lead, because … they fish where the fish are, folks) have made our measurement and forecasting skills as organizations a little rusty.

The fix?

Don’t fight it.

You’re in a different selling market than you were in 2021 or 2022.

Your sales cycles look different, your channels are performing differently and your team is working in a whole new way.

And it means that revenue leaders need to become much more explicit in their levels of confidence in their models, need to work with more relevant data sets (your conversion rates from Q1 2022 are likely no longer reliable) and need to monitor, report and adjust their models more frequently as new variables come in.

My forecasting rules

  1. The less certainty you have, the less far out you should forecast
  2. The shorter time frame you forecast, the more frequent you can and should analyze market trends and pipeline changes
  3. A forecast that isn’t trusted is unusable. Communicate frequently and transparently, proactively seek improvements and make adjustments accordingly … and build plans with those that can help you make that forecast a reality

One great way to do so? Refresh your pipeline meeting.

Yeah, the pipeline meeting. That place where marketing and sales come together to review progress to goals, discuss short-term and long-term tactics … and duke it out to see who gets credit for the wins and who’s at fault for sluggish pipe.

Just kidding.

Your pipeline meetings are the best place for marketing and sales to walk the walk on the promise to work together on driving growth.

And done right? They’re the only way you can move fast, forecast better and adjust your go-to-market as conditions continue to evolve.

We’ve got a pipeline meeting template that helps you structure and frame up what’s covered, who’s responsible and how to make these sessions as actionable as possible.

Just make sure that Revenue Ops is the source of truth for both setting goals and managing progress. 🙂

Review Leading Indicators, Lagging Indicators and Everything In Between

If you’re getting sales and marketing together to re-set their goals and work more closely together, it’s prime time to take another look at the key performance indicators (KPIs) / success metrics / however you quantify and define the data points that teams measure to determine whether they’re making impact.

The marketers in the room may have a lot of leading indicators on the list: web traffic, SERP ranking, lead form fills, content downloads … all of the pre-sales customer activity to show whether marketers’ efforts are having an impact.

But sales has key performance indicators, too. Response time, average deal sizes, demo call scores … they’re varied and important.

Metrics are good. Metrics are insightful. 

But tracking metrics for the sake of it or, more commonly, tracking too many metrics that are distracting or have low correlations to the end goal, are counterproductive and leave too much room for inaction or the wrong actions by your team.

  • Take a look at the KPIs that your teams are measuring: define them, interrogate what moving the number actually does for your topline goals and set proper goals.
  • Cut and consolidate where you can. It doesn’t mean that these insights aren’t important, but if it’s not easy to track and you don’t have confidence that you can impact it … you’re probably over-indexing on looking at the data vs. using the data. Pro-tip: two teams or functions have similar KPIs, defined or tracked somewhat differently? Create immediate alignment by merging into one shared and aligned upon KPI.
  • Share and socialize your final list. Your marketers have less of an understanding of what revenue generating activities your sales team tracks to, and your sales reps likely undervalue the efforts that come before “HOT LEAD” hits their inbox. Create a stronger team by educating and aligning on purpose.

New Business vs. Growth Pipeline

Whether you’re dealing with sluggish new business demand or not, there’s never been a better time to shore up revenue from existing customers.

Retention and customer success strategies are a full topic for another day, so here I’ll focus on how you can rethink where your revenue is coming from.

Your best customers are the ones that have the strongest product fit and have seen real value from using your product.

And they’re also likely the ones that can do more, use more and are best served by expansion.

If you haven’t focused here and are forecasting new revenue gaps compared to goal … look to expansion, or growth, revenue from the existing member base.

Expansion revenue is:

  • More efficiently earned … the channels to drive awareness, consideration, trial and purchase of a cross-sold or up-sold product are owned. Layer on paid channels if you want, but you’re starting from a lower CAC.
  • Likely under-tapped. Your current customer strategies have likely prioritized retention and usage.  But the right expansion opportunity strategy – with accountability across sales, success, marketing, product and more – can not only make each customer relationship more fruitful, but be a boon for new insights and an understanding of what should be sold on the front-end in the first place.
  • Full of potential. “More with less” means teams are scrutinizing budgets and seeing where they can consolidate. If you’re delivering for your current customer base, that add-on or higher tier plan that they weren’t interested in a year ago may be more valuable if your solution can bring more of their budget or their team together.

Drive Revenue Growth.

Tools, templates and resources to help you do more. All available in the 2023 Revenue Un-Playbook.

Editable templates, built to easily configure for YOUR go-to-market team.

Download and make them your own today.

Harmonize Your Growth Streams

Your customers can come from a variety of channels: 

  • You might have a booming channel or referral program
  • Some customers may start as trials, with others are outbound-ed to, request a demo or come in as a content lead
  • Product mixes may vary, with some customers starting with a “base plan” or others purchasing a module of your product and leaving your core offering on the table
  • We’ve already discussed expansion revenue. Which has nuances all of its own.

Whether you’re leaning into sales-led, marketing-led, product-led or partner-led growth tactics in 2023, you’ll be doing your future-self a favor by defining, aligning and bringing the teams that own multiple growth streams to the same table.

Even if they work in different sales cycles, sales processes vary or the volume of deals vs. revenue is volatile across channels … there’s a lot more to be gained by having your leaders and their teams understand the full to go market strategy.

It means that they can identify more efficient channels, can identify places to collaborate and learn from what works in one space and how they can apply it to their own.

And you’ll need all of the collaboration, focus and creativity you can get to make 2023 a foundational and ground-breaking year for your team.

The best organizations will do so.

All of the resources mentioned here are available in the Un-Playbook.

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