Marketing Insights

How to be a True Revenue Marketer: Moving from MQLs to Revenue Goals

How to be a True Revenue Marketer: Moving from MQLs to Revenue Goals

We hear it everywhere:

“Marketing should be owning all of pipeline”

“Every marketer should be held to a revenue number”

“Marketing is as accountable for revenue as sales”

Great marketers and revenue teams believe this, but it is really hard to operationalize. When a business gets complex and a buying process has upwards of 15 or 20 touches it can feel not worth the effort. 

But it is possible–and we’re seeing some of the most effective revenue teams do it with the right support. 

Why it’s so important to get KPIs right

There are typically four buckets of measurement that marketing teams can be goaled on– MQLs, pipeline, revenue, or some combination of those three. 

I’ve seen a lot of companies that are measured 50/50 on MQLs and pipeline. 

In theory, this is not a bad way to measure success. You make sure we’re driving enough volume at the top of funnel and the idea is that a large percentage will turn into pipeline, and ultimately revenue. 

But what often happens is that companies hit 100% of their MQL goal, and only ~30% of pipeline. 


Because these two goals are actually counter intuitive. The work it takes to drive a high volume of MQLs is not the same work that needs to be done to create quality pipeline. 

Teams either have to do double the work to hit both goals, or fall flat on one. 

Vanity metrics vs revenue metrics

More and more marketers are starting to think of MQLs as a vanity metric. It looks nice in your board presentation, but this metric lacks substance. 

This can often result in marketing ‘winning’ when the business is losing. 

Think of how most marketers increase lead volume–by gating content, hosting webinars, or sponsoring events. 

But just because someone is interested in a topic related to your product, doesn’t mean they are part of your ideal customer profile or ready to talk to sales. 

Often, when teams are measured on this goal, their work stops when an MQL enters the funnel.

This means there is no incentive to make sure you are driving quality leads that are most likely to buy from you. 

Making the move from MQL to revenue goals

If marketing leaders notice that an increase in MQLs isn’t helping the company's bottom line, why aren’t they making a change? 

We work with tons of teams in this position, and typically it’s a mix of fear and politics. 

What’s going to happen if marketing is no longer measured on a goal they have complete control over? Will the team still get credit for the work they’re doing?

Here’s what these teams need to know. 

When done correctly, though the quantity of leads will likely decrease by shifting to a revenue metric, the quality will improve–leading to increased revenue.

And in a time when resources are shrinking, most companies don't have the capacity to play a numbers game. Teams need to be focused on the quality leads that are most likely to drive revenue. 

Putting the tools and tracking in place

In order to make this change, you need to have the tools and tracking in place so that a decrease in quantity won’t hurt the company’s bottom line. 

Using a predictive scoring model, like MadKudu, you can pinpoint the small percentage of leads that drive the majority of revenue. 

For example, in this screenshot we can see that 80% of this company’s leads are just distractions for the business, leading to only 2% of revenue. 

By flagging these low quality leads, you ensure your GTM team can focus their time and resources on the top 20% of leads that are most likely to convert. 

If leadership still isn’t ready to make the move to a full revenue goal, we work with companies do a “dark launch,” running MadKudu’s scoring alongside their current MQL model to compare the difference. 

Before going all in on scoring, our customer, Snyk, actually ran a side by side approach to make sure that decreasing volume wouldn’t hurt their bottom line.  

This was championed in partnership with marketing and sales development leadership, and sponsored by the CMO directly. 

What they found is that while MQLs dropped 30% when comparing MadKudu vs their current MQL setup in Marketo, there was zero impact on revenue. 

They were able to shift fully to a revenue goal instead of worrying about the drop in MQLs, and the team now spends more of their energy converting the quality leads within their funnel. 

Getting your team on board 

Now that you know a decrease in quantity won’t impact your revenue, the final step is getting your team excited about this change. 

What we’ve found works well is getting sales leadership involved early on. People are more likely to champion something when they are a part of the creation process. 

If you use a scoring software that takes business insights into account, you’re able to incorporate sales feedback directly into your model. 

Ask your team questions like the following: 

“Do the high scoring leads in the new model look like prospects who would typically convert?”

“Is the model successfully weeding out people you wouldn’t want to talk to, or are there other considerations we need to make?” 

“How accurate does the data look to you based on what you know of the industry?” 

Since sales is on the front lines, they will have a solid understanding of what a high and low quality lead looks like. 

Incorporate their suggestions where it makes sense, making sure your sales team is comfortable with the final product. 

Do a slow roll out to build trust

This doesn’t need to be an abrupt change, instead, we recommend a slower approach to make sure you’re still hitting your revenue goals, and to build trust between marketing and sales. 

With a predictive scoring model and revenue automation intelligence, reporting will show that only a percentage of MQLs have a chance of creating pipeline and revenue. 

Start with the least likely to convert, and reduce volume by 10% at a time – measuring to show success, and repeating until you have reached your goal. 

Ready to make the shift?

If you’re noticing that an increase in MQLs isn’t correlating with an increase in revenue, it’s a good sign that it’s time to make a change in how your team is incentivized. 

Follow these steps to get started

  • Put tracking and tools in place to find data backed qualified leads
  • Compare the new model with your current MQL system to prove a decrease in quantity doesn’t lead to a decrease in revenue
  • Get your team on board by getting their input from the beginning, making them part of the creation process
  • Decrease MQL volume over time, measuring to make sure your still hitting your goal
  • Start measuring marketing success on pipeline and revenue, instead of number of leads

If you’re looking for a way to switch from an MQL to a revenue goal, MadKudu can help. 

Want to learn more? Get a demo today