The Revenue Marketing Manifesto

Why Revenue Marketing is the way forward for B2B

Andrew Wooler
December 21, 2022

Lead-centric Marketing

In B2B, revenue comes from companies, or teams within a company, not individuals. So how did B2B marketing become so centered around individual leads?

It’s true that a single person can help drive a deal, but nothing much happens without the buy-in of other stakeholders. Even the most powerful executives have to run their budget by finance every once in a while, and they won’t stay popular long unless their team is also on board with major decisions.

For the past 10 to 15 years, CRM and marketing automation systems have led marketers down the path of becoming effective at capturing individual contact data and launching campaigns with the goal of creating marketing qualified leads. The individual contact or lead became the fundamental building block of marketing automation and CRM and the primary avenue by which marketers conduct their business. When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail...or in this case, an MQL.

Yet this approach leads marketing into a bit of a jam. While marketing talks about leads, the rest of the business is focused on opportunities and revenue. A marketing leader excited about their lead-centric metrics will often find that their executive peers are confused by MQLs and unsure exactly how marketing is contributing to revenue. As a result, marketing can quickly find themselves in the crosshairs when things aren’t going smoothly. The unfortunate distinction for shortest average tenure at the C-level belongs to the Chief Marketing Officer.

This is the marketing credibility gap. Lead-centric marketing terms are foreign to the revenue-centric language understood by the rest of the business. And although the credibility gap is felt sharply by a CMO receiving blank stares in a board meeting, the problem has ripple effects that extend down to the system level.

Because marketing models are disconnected from sales and customer success systems, it’s difficult to unify analysis of the customer journey, and marketing teams are often left to build their own custom lead-centric analytics. While this has been great for the employment prospects of many developers and consultants, it’s dragged marketing into all of the complexities of implementing custom data infrastructure, and has stolen away much of the time and resources that should be devoted to the purpose of marketing in the first place -- building brands and driving growth.

Revenue Marketing

Revenue Marketing is a new approach that seeks to eliminate the marketing credibility gap and secure the CMO’s position as an invaluable asset to their peers. Revenue Marketing centers key marketing metrics around revenue and connects marketing strategy with the revenue operations engine of a company. By adopting Revenue Marketing, marketers should be able to draw cause and effect relationships between their initiatives and revenue outcomes.

So how does Revenue Marketing contrast with the lead-centric marketing approach?

Individuals vs. Accounts

Thinking of B2B buying decisions in terms of individuals fundamentally misunderstands how those decisions are made today. Forrester research shows that 80% of B2B buying decisions are complex scenarios, involving, “...three or more people across two or more departments, and committee scenarios where strategic purchases include multiple people and departments across the organization and require executive oversight.” Finding a B2B purchase that can be confined to a single individual or even department is now rare.

By focusing on individuals at the top of the funnel, lead-centric marketing essentially gives up on the complexity of the eventual buying decision, and kicks the can down the road for sales to figure out later. Revenue Marketing, in contrast, thinks of initial engagement in terms of the whole target account. Accepting the broad nature of the buying decision earlier in the go-to-market process puts marketing and sales on the same page, accelerating the velocity of opportunity generation and development.

Qualified Leads vs. Qualified Opportunities

The lead-centric model thinks of an opportunity as existing when it’s been qualified by sales and is being actively worked. In theory, piquing the interest of a lead should be the entry point to other stakeholders within the organization, where the opportunity (and the buying decision) really exists. Yet on average, opportunities today are created with only a single person associated with them. The traditional process of converting individual leads into opportunities treats opportunities as if they are made up of scattered individuals, instead of the cross-functional teams that actually make buying decisions.

Revenue Marketing chooses to view the entire funnel in terms of opportunities, from initial engagement to close. As a company plans which accounts to target, it at first associates a single potential opportunity with that account. During the marketing and sales qualification process, is it the opportunity that progresses down the funnel, with all the relevant leads living under the banner of that opportunity and acting as data points about what stage the opportunity should be at. Marketing and sales viewing all stages through the lens of opportunities allows for a more continuous and accurate assessment of the entire customer journey.

Lead Conversion Metrics vs. Revenue Metrics

The traditional sales funnel divides marketing and sales between lead and opportunity metrics. Besides causing marketing and sales to work towards misaligned goals, this also makes it difficult for marketing to explain to the rest of the business how they are contributing to the bottom line. With lead-centric metrics, pinpointing revenue contribution can often be difficult for marketers themselves to empirically understand. Trying to explain the effectiveness of a marketing campaign in terms of leads converted is a more abstract connection to actual growth that requires some imagination from all sides.

By aligning marketing and sales around the opportunity, Revenue Marketing allows the business to value every stage of the demand engine in terms of potential and actual revenue. Before marketing or sales qualify a potential opportunity, it can be valued at the median or average sales price, so that potential opportunities work out to be a sort of “total addressable market” for your company. Then, as opportunities progress and are closed or disqualified, marketing can easily convey the value of its contribution in revenue-centric terms that resonate across the executive level, including by looking at marketing dollars spent per opportunity at each stage of the funnel.

Current Snapshots vs. Time-series Data

Lead-centric CRMs are built to track account information, update contact information, and record financial transactions. Marketing automation systems capture individual contact data and help to launch targeted campaigns. While these systems typically include reporting and analysis features, they’re intended to provide a real-time view of your business, such as understanding progress towards current quarter targets. You may be able to change date ranges on a dashboard to look at the same metrics for some previous quarter, but these systems are not intended to capture trend data over time. 

Revenue Marketing understands that time-series data is critical for determining how marketing investments contribute to overall company growth. Marketing leaders must have access to time-series data pulled from the continuous snapshots taken by CRMs and marketing automation, in order to extract meaningful trends that indicate prioritizing future marketing initiatives.

Static Dashboards vs. Interactive Visualizations

Lead-centrism has isolated marketing systems, and so has pulled marketing into the business of building custom analytics. This usually results in a learn-as-you-go approach with marketing teams trying some mix of business intelligence platforms, CRM dashboards, custom data warehouse implementations, even the dreaded spreadsheet. Marketers end up with one-dimensional dashboards that require tinkering to perform more granular analysis. 

By unifying analysis of the customer journey around the opportunity, Revenue Marketing extracts high-level strategic views with supporting low-level details on the opportunities that make up a metric. Opportunities are continuously analyzed from initial engagement to close, so there are no hidden contributors to revenue obfuscated from reporting, and marketers can obtain greater interactivity and granularity with their data. The net result is that Markeing can determine and explain how they are affecting revenue outcomes. 

Siloed Operations vs. Unified Operations

Revenue operations has emerged as the strategic integration of ops across marketing, sales, and customer success. The idea is to achieve greater visibility and coordination across all revenue-facing teams by aligning their systems and processes. However, lead-centric marketing has driven a wedge between marketing and the rest of the business. With marketing metrics based around leads, it’s difficult to connect marketing models with sales and customer success in any useful way.

As long as Marketing metrics and models are disconnected from the rest of the business, the marketing growth engine will be disconnected from revenue operations.

By centering marketing metrics around the same ones prioritized by sales and customer success, Revenue Marketing builds transparency and alignment across all revenue-facing teams. Additionally, with revenue-centric terms, marketing can demonstrate to finance how effective various investments have been, and give the CEO a more accurate picture of the state of the revenue engine.

Past Stats vs. Predictive Forecasts

Part of the “learn-as-you-go” approach to marketing teams building their own lead-centric analytics is that things can get a bit disorganized. Expensive consultants make a living off of continuously customizing CRMs and marketing automation systems, all to get basic one-off dashboards to show the right numbers. 

Because Revenue Marketing can help obtain a unified view of the entire funnel, it makes it easier to identify CRM data inaccuracies and diagnose a fix. In this way, Revenue Marketing provides the foundation for introducing more advanced data science and machine learning into marketing analytics, because the better organized data can now be used for training models. Marketers will have the footing to apply predictive analytics to start projecting business outcomes. 


Lead-centrism, reinforced by CRM and marketing automation systems, is causing B2B marketing to face a credibility gap. Marketing leaders are finding it far too difficult to identify and convey exactly how their activities are providing value, and their executive peers don’t understand their lead-centric metrics anyways. 

The aim of Revenue Marketing is to eliminate the marketing credibility gap by refocusing marketing on opportunities and revenue, unifying analysis of the customer journey and giving marketers the foundation to use their data for more trend analysis, interactivity, and predictive forecasts. Revenue Marketers will usher in a new era in which marketers can precisely understand how their actions matter to the bottom line -- and persuade their colleagues of it, too.

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