How do you Define Success?

How you define marketing/sales success is one of the most critical steps to profitability.


Bill Arnold

11/3/20234 min read

How do you define marketing/sales success?

One of the first questions we always ask in the sales process, during the exploratory call or in our discovery brief, is, “What is marketing success and sales success?” It is done to make sure we are all aligned and our expectations of success match. It still amazes us that so many well-established companies have not come to terms with this question.

A surprisingly large percentage of the prospects (over 40%) simply don’t have an answer. They ask if we can give them time to contemplate that question. This is not an esoteric question, such as what the meaning of life is. You should know what it is you want to achieve especially because you are paying an agency to achieve it.

Another 50% of the prospects will give a more considered answer. Often, they will share that they want more customers, sales, or brand awareness. They have a clear appreciation of what they want or need to achieve, but when asked “how much,” they cannot actually quantified it with a number. They will often ask, "What is possible?" They are also ready to hire an agency and want to embark on this marketing journey but have no idea of the destination they are seeking. It is critical to establish, upfront, the results that would please both them and their management.

Another 8% of the prospects have a clear and well-defined understanding of what they want. They will say we want “X” percent increase in social engagement, a bounce rate of less than “Y”, or even their email open or click-through rate (CTR) improved by “Z” Percent. Occasionally, we will get the answer of, "We want to increase our number of leads by 20 percent." These are all wonderful key performance indicators that absolutely need to be addressed and improved. However, they're not what should be defined as marketing/sales success.

I promise you that at your next company evaluation, if you proudly state you have achieved any of these KPIs, your management will thank you but ask how that affected the bottom line.

The remaining 2% will provide some definitive response that addresses the bottom line. Sometimes, these numbers are well thought out, and other times pie-in-the-sky hopes and dreams without any real foundation.

Prevail Marketing believes that at the end of the day, there are only three metrics that really constitute true marketing/sales success and that these numbers (while aggressive) must be attainable.

Understand that for EVERY client, Prevail Marketing tracks 400 key performance indicators (KPIs). Some of these are tracked weekly and others on a monthly basis. Why would we subject ourselves to such anguish? Doing this for EVERY client takes valuable time. What’s the point?

These KPIs represent the health of the marketing/sales program and show if we are moving in the right direction. Numbers don’t lie. If you want a successful result, you need to know what is working, what needs to be optimized, and what is broken.

Based on the KPIs, we might increase our efforts where we are finding success, modify a program for better optimization, or completely change course if the approach is not meeting expectations.

No business will survive just because an open rate or CTR has been improved. A marketing manager will not be given a performance bonus simply because they have increased brand awareness or social engagement. An owner cannot pay a bonus to an employee who obtained an improved bounce rate or page load speed. These are all very important KPIs but are simply precursors to true marketing/sales success. On their own, they don’t pay the bills.

What is TRUE Marketing and Sales Success?
Marketing Sales Success
Marketing Sales Success

Business owners and upper management only care about 3 KPIs. Substantial increases in:

  • Customers

  • Revenue

  • Profitability

If you increase your CUSTOMERS, not only does that mean an increase in sales but an increase in opportunities. The more customers you have, the more conversations you can engage for up-sells, reorders, or for them to become brand advocates or evangelists.

Increases in REVENUE obviously mean more money. Businesses need money to pay…. well, for everything.

An increase in customers and revenue means very little if it is not done profitably. Marketing/sales success not only means you accomplished increasing customers and revenue but you actually improved the company’s profitability.

If you achieve all three, you will have achieved marketing/sales success. But there is more….

The operative word is a SUBSTANTIAL increase in all three.

What defines substantial depends on the business itself. We have worked with clients where there are less than 100 potential prospects in the world, but a sale would mean tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue. We also have clients whose targeted personas are in the millions, and they need tens of thousands of dollars in sales for it to have any impact. Clearly, what constitutes a substantial increase varies significantly for each of these companies.

The key is that Prevail Marketing is transparent and upfront as to what substantial should mean for every client. We discuss and agree on what substantial means and when that should be achieved.

We have an extensive pre- and post-sale discovery and assessment process that allows Prevail Marketing to quantify what targets we should aspire to achieve. Something that is both audacious and achievable.

We ask one thing from every client. Measure and evaluate us on our ability to obtain the substantial marketing/sales success that we agreed upon at the outset of the engagement.

If you set the wrong target, it doesn’t matter if you reach it.

Track ALL the precursor KPIs (We do) as they will show you if you are on the right path, however, NEVER accept reaching those KPIs as success. It is only when you achieve substantial increases in customers, revenue, and profitability that you can claim victory. Then wash – rinse -repeat.

If you would like help in figuring out how you should define marketing success, or once defined, how to achieve it, let’s have a conversation.

But be prepared for our question… How do YOU define marketing/sales success?