Businesses run on systems. You have a system for paying the bills. You have a system for hiring. You have a system for firing. You have a system for manufacturing your products or delivering your services. Most of the best-run businesses have a system for everything. That’s how they scale.
But when it comes to revenue generation, most businesses continue to rely on separate groups of people operating in a random and unreliable way.
Marketing works to get your name out there and tries to generate leads. The sales team generates its own leads and tries to follow up on the leads marketing generates. Hardly anyone pays any attention to the revenue opportunity within your customer base and, month over month, companies struggle to hit their revenue goals.
And you wonder why you miss your revenue goals.
Matt Heinz, a highly respected marketing expert, recently did a survey of a few thousand CMOs. He learned that 62% missed their company’s most recent quarterly goals and 58% are on track to miss their goals this quarter.
This aligns with our own research that shows roughly 10% of companies are able to hit revenue goals quarter over quarter consistently.
If it’s not obvious to you yet, there is something missing from almost every company’s revenue generation efforts — they’re missing a system.
To be specific, they’re missing a Revenue Generation System.
Let's get into the details.
A Revenue Generation System is the process, methodology and tools necessary to build repeatable, predictable, scalable revenue growth for your company.
Typically, these actions, steps and processes are executed in marketing, sales and customer service.
A Revenue Generation System ensures that all of these three typically disparate teams are working together inside the system to orchestrate the activities needed to help the company grow revenue.
A Revenue Generation System includes ALL the necessary steps required to make sure that the company isn’t missing anything necessary for revenue generation and business growth.
A Revenue Generation System must cover the following four areas: strategy, tactics, campaigns and technology.
Today’s buyers are faced with a massive amount of outreach and content. By focusing on strategy, tactics, campaigns and technology, your Revenue Generation System works to cut through that clutter and deliver your message to your prospects in a way that causes them to take action and engage with your company.
If you’re excited about a system for revenue generation, there are just two places to get a system like this. You can build it, or you can buy it.
To build it, you’d have to know all the elements required to create this system inside your company, and if that was the case, you’d probably have done it years ago.
But you could undertake the effort to identify each element, create it, install it, test it, optimize it, train everyone on it and then continue to optimize the system over time.
Another option would be to buy it. Let’s be clear – this isn’t software, so you can’t simply put in your credit card details and purchase a Revenue Generation System. But you can work with companies that teach you a proven system, help you install it, help you test it, help you optimize it, train you on it and then work with you to dial it in over time so you get to your goals faster.
Some of you might be familiar with the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS). EOS implementers help companies install EOS inside their businesses. You could get a company to help you install a Revenue Generation System inside your business, too.
There are some very specific components of a Revenue Generation System. If you’re looking for one, or if you’re planning on building one, these must be part of your system.
Make sure the system includes strategy, tactics, campaigns and technology. You need all four for your system to work and produce results.
Our research shows that a complete strategy is missing from 87% of the company programs we review. This means some elements of what I’ll describe below are either missing entirely or too weak to be effective.
Here’s what should be included in the strategy component of a Revenue Generation System.
Personas – This is a detailed description of who you want to attract to your business. Sometimes we ask clients to describe their best and most profitable customers, while other times we ask who exactly they want their sales reps to be talking to.
This description includes demographic details (which most companies have), psychographic details and a complete digital footprint so that you completely understand where and how prospects get their information.
Big Story And Messaging – This is how you’ll get your prospects’ attention, pull them in and engage them with your company. Your story has to be emotional, compelling and easy to understand. When people land on your website, you have 10 seconds to get them to click and learn more. This is the same story your sales reps will tell.
Differentiation – Ultimately, people will want to know why they should work with you versus your major competitors. If that story isn’t a slam dunk, you might lose the opportunity, especially if your competitors are cheaper.
But if you can clearly articulate what makes your business remarkable (something no other business can say), you might be able to garner a higher price and close more deals more frequently.
Buyer Journey Mapping – Prospects don’t buy as they used to, and you have to know exactly how they are making their purchase decisions, down to the smallest detail. The better you can document this and understand it, the better you can tailor your marketing and sales execution to influence your prospects to select you. The Cyclonic Buyer Journey™ model gives you a framework to do this mapping.
Goals And Expectations – Your strategy has to be rooted in the company’s goals. How fast do you want to grow? What does that mean quantitatively? Are these numbers attainable and, if so, in what time period? Just saying you want to do 20% more this year than last year won’t make it happen if the rest of the execution isn’t aligned.
Investment – Speaking of execution, it costs money. Your investment in growth has to be aligned with your expectations. A goal to grow 20% is going to cost more than a goal to grow 5%. Often, the budget and the goals are not aligned, and they need to be to ensure proper investment to fund your desired growth.
Here’s what should be included in the tactics component of a Revenue Generation System.
There are hundreds of tactics that you should probably consider when it comes to your marketing and sales execution.
In the marketing area, you might be considering video, email, social media, paid social, paid search, organic search, influencer, webinars, live events and let’s not forget the website. This list doesn’t even consider all the sub-elements for each of these tactics.
In the sales area, you might be considering video, lead scoring, lead nurturing, social media outreach, sales process improvements, sales decks and more.
In the customer service area, you might be looking at videos, emails, promotional programs and building a knowledge base of FAQs.
All these tactics are not right for every company. This part of the system should be used to help select the correct tactics, assign a set of expectations for each tactic and build these into a collection that will deliver on your goals.
These tactics also have to be designed to be delivered in an orchestrated and omnichannel way; more on that in the campaigns section next.
Here’s what should be included in the campaign component of a Revenue Generation System.
They need to be highly personalized and one-to-one instead of one-to-many as you might have done in the past.
These campaigns also need to be crafted to support the company’s overall big story, and the collection of campaigns that are planned for rollout need to be sequenced over the correct time period.
For example, you might want to tell a specific story in 2023, but you’ll still need to create campaigns that run over a few months, quarterly or over a 30-day period. Each company is different, and the timing of your campaigns is going to be highly persona- and business-dependent.
The key here is planning these out, defining expectations and then applying an ongoing optimization process to ensure the campaigns perform as or better than expected.
This optimization is also a critically important part of the campaign process within a Revenue Generation System.
Here’s what should be included in the technology component of a Revenue Generation System.
There is so much to do with data, automation and analytics that you simply can’t deploy a Revenue Generation System without a technology platform that spans marketing, sales and customer service or at least integrates these three areas.
You have to lean into first-party data, which means your data (that you own) must be clean, complete and organized or segmented correctly.
You have to automate as much as possible while keeping it all highly personalized, so email, social, posts, content creation, search and other areas of marketing and sales execution must be automated correctly.
Everything you do must be data-driven, which means your dashboards have to be set up to not only deliver information but also help uncover the insights you need to create more effective action plans so you can optimize your Revenue Generation System every single month.
For most companies, this can be complicated to set up, keep running and manage on an ongoing basis.
But like most systems, the technology is an underpinning feature that can’t be overlooked or minimized.
Once you pull all four of these elements together, you’ll be in a position to start seeing repeatable, predictable, scalable revenue growth from your company’s marketing, sales and customer service efforts.
There are two concrete expectations you should have for any Revenue Generation System. The first and most obvious is a concrete system with defined steps and highly specific action steps that come along with the system.
In essence, you should expect a repeatable process that you can follow day in and day out to help your company generate more revenue. You should expect a set of tools that come with the process.
In the case of a Revenue Generation System, these tools might be persona worksheets, buyer journey mapping models to follow, planning guides that help you improve your website, search or social media efforts and tools to help you set, track and optimize performance.
This is in no way a comprehensive list, but the idea that you get tools in your system toolbox is important.
The second expectation should be business outcomes or results.
Let me state for the record that results will vary. Results are going to be specific to your company, industry and the stage at which your company is in your market. Results are going to be determined by how well you deploy the system, how well you stick to it and whether you’re investing appropriately.
Results are also going to vary based on your expectations. Obviously, if you’re generating 10 leads a month and you expect 1,000 a month but are getting 100 a month, you should be thrilled. You improved your lead generation by 10x, but since you expected 1,000, you might be disappointed.
This is important. In the beginning, results are going to be more modest. As the system gets ramped up, optimized and allowed to gain traction, results will improve.
The biggest mistake you could make is shutting down your system too early because results didn’t align with your expectations. Instead, set more modest expectations and overachieve.
Then fuel your system to produce even more results, until you get to the point where you just can’t handle all the leads.
Last but not least is timing. Again, depending on your business, industry, company and level of investment, installing, running and optimizing a Revenue Generation System could take two years. It could also be done in six months if you wanted to accelerate the deployment and the investment.
Just make sure everyone is on the same page with the expected timing and expected results. Once there is alignment, the process can continue unabated.
It’s the million-dollar question, right? How much is this going to cost? Of course, my answer is going to be that it depends, because that’s the truth.
It depends on if you’re planning to implement a system on your own. If so, I’d plan on putting aside roughly $100,000 over the course of two years, and it will probably take you two years.
If you wanted some help getting this done, I’d plan on budgeting roughly $120,000 to $200,000 over the next year. Again, this will depend on how aggressive your goals are and how competitive your market is.
However, I’d encourage you to compare these estimated levels of investment with the potential business outcomes associated with these investments.
If you’re doing $10 million now but after this investment you were doing $12 million and on track to doing $16 million in three to four years, that would be an additional $6 million in top-line revenue for an investment of just a few hundred thousand dollars. Most people would gladly to that.
In fact, once the system is installed and the revenue is flowing in, is there any investment number where it wouldn’t make sense? No, there’s not, because you would definitely pay $1 million to create an additional $6 million in revenue over any time period.
In the case of a Revenue Generation System, the actual investment is far less. When you look at the investment through this lens, it becomes an extremely affordable option.
I’d also encourage you to consider the alternatives. Continue to run your business at the same level it’s at now and has been for the last few years. Continue to put money into random acts of marketing that never generate any substantial improvements. Continue to work with agencies that tackle one piece of the puzzle but never even talk about what’s really needed to drive revenue up and to the right.
Albert Einstein said that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” You can do so much better.