With Chris Walker, CEO of Refine Labs
Chris Walker, CEO of Refine Labs, speaks about measurement and marketing supporting revenue. He shares key insights about alignment versus collaboration, marketing contributing to revenue, MOPs as a critical function, and why every deal is marketing influenced.
Chris Walker is CEO at Refine Labs. Refine Labs is a demand accelerator for B2B SaaS companies. Chris helps companies increase marketing’s contribution to qualified pipeline and revenue while lowering customer acquisition costs. Through the Demand Acceleration Framework, he builds a system to capture existing market demand in intent channels and create new demand in awareness channels.
How can marketing support revenue?
I worked at a company in 2016 through 2018 which was a $35 million high growth company. All the CEO and the executives cared about was how much revenue marketing contributed to the business. It's sad that most marketers walk into companies and do not have that mandate. Most marketers have mandates like getting 9,000 more website visits next month or other dumb stuff.
You can simplify marketing metrics that affect marketing. How much pipeline and revenue do we end at? What customer acquisition costs and pipeline velocity do we drive through our website? How does that compare against those top level business metrics against other revenue streams like buying trade show booths, running our outsource BDR team, having sales, source their own deals, or anything else that you spend.
When you look at that, you'll see the number one way to grow your business is to educate buyers. Then they come to our website and say, “Hey, could I talk to your sales team about buying your stuff?”
Center the market on that. Change your focus to how much to spend on marketing and how much gets generated through that. Then the attribution component is used to drive strategy, not to prove credit of specific programs.
Let's just say you spend a million dollars on marketing and you have $6 million ARR coming through your website. You look at that and realize you’re running marketing at a two-month CAC payback. If the CFO comes over and says, “Hey, I dunno if these Facebook ads are working. I don't see this in attribution.” You can go back and say, “Look, the benchmark of what most companies at our scale and size do right now is that marketing payback is more than 12 months. We're running the two and a half month payback period.”
How critical is MOPs during scale?
Operations as a function is critical for success during scale. It's just like Demand Gen: marketing is a space that has been pretty much defined by the technology in the category. You need an outside view in Ops from either a consulting firm or something that's objective and not attached to technology vendors. Something that’s focused on delivering the best in class outcomes to define what processes should look like and how it should work is actually the future.
Finding your own strategy is critical. Otherwise you’re going to look like a lot of the firms that become a Google partner and then just do whatever Google says. What does Google tell them to do? It tells them to figure out the best ways to spend more of your money on Google ads.
What opportunities do you see for MOPs?
Number one, fix attribution so that your team can do things that actually work. You need to stop relying only on software. You are a team that can educate executives on why software is not the only way to do this and how to add other mechanisms so that your team can release the handcuffs on Demand Gen and everything else that actually works.
The next thing is to look at the entire inbound customer experience and fix it after they submit a demo or they ask for something. Where do they go? How does that call go? How long does it take for a follow-up if you're still on the speed delete thing? What does that follow-up look like? How could it be more effective?
I'm going to go talk to 20 of the people that we moved to close and then lost, and collect information on what they thought about their experience. I'm going to hire some of my friends or some people that I know to secret shop us and give us honest feedback of what they think about the experience.
I do that with a lot of our customers. I'll secret shop them and see what they do. I'll collect every single touch point, every single data, how long it takes, what was my opinion on it, how it could be better, and get all that insight. Then start with a blank slate. Think about when you have people that are qualified to buy that and tell you they want to buy. How do you get them into a meeting with an expert that can up them so that they can move through a buying process?
Your win rates will go up significantly. Your sales cycles will go down significantly. Your customer experience will get significantly better, without doing anything else. No marketing, no budget, no new programs. You just fix a process to help people want to buy when they want to buy.
Those are a couple of major wins that set you apart as an OPs team from a tactical executor of projects to a force driving the business and the strategy of the roadmap of the major things needed for a successful future.
How are business deals influenced by marketing?
There's not a single deal that your business has closed in the history of your business that wasn't influenced by marketing. Every single customer is going to visit your website, to see some level of marketing at some point to leverage enablement tools. All of those tools are things that marketing typically owns in a business. The only difference is whether or not you want to use software to attribute it in order to go back and prove ROI for things that would have happened anyway. The idea and the use of influence revenue is totally flawed. It's going to get influenced by marketing.
Whether you influenced revenue or sourced revenue as the main thing to measure, it doesn't matter. If you only use software to measure it, you're just handcuffing your marketing team and your sales team.
I’ve never gotten the pushback on getting net new accounts to sales that they’re not currently targeting. These are clients coming through the website saying, “Hey, I want to buy now.” Instead of them taking 120 days to close, they're closing in 45 days. Instead of you winning those opportunities at 7%, you're winning them at 39%. You keep building on that and they keep saying, “Hey, there's this flow of customers? When we were working on this in Q1, we were getting $1.5 million in pipeline. In Q4 now we're getting $7 million in pipeline for marketing this year. It's working.”
Marketing needs to grow up and stop trying to use software to take credit for things that would have happened anyway. Start taking ownership of driving the business.