By Chuck Leddy
If our recent Marketing Operations Maturity Benchmarking Report is any indication, building an effective marketing operations function within any organization is far from easy. It takes laser-like strategic focus on business goals, alignment across often-silo’ed functions and systems, the right technology, talented people willing to learn, great leadership, and more. Two leading experts in marketing operations, Bekkah Lyman and Rebecca Le Grange, recently shared their views on what it takes to drive marketing operations success.
Bekkah Lyman is Senior Marketing Operations Manager for Oracle NetSuite, where she provides support for her organization’s demand generation team, sales operations, and business development teams worldwide. Rebecca Le Grange is Managing Partner at Sojourn Solutions, where she’s dedicated to ensuring that her clients are successful in blending marketing teams, process and tools to drive peak performance. Both participated in a recent Insight50 webinar on marketing operations, during which they shared the following insights:
1. On the “proper” role of marketing operations:
Lyman: We’re supposed to ensure that leads are continually flowing to sales, and we’re supposed to share feedback on how those leads are performing. We’re looking to learn from data and work better based on it. Marketing operations has all the data, and should be providing insights on processes, technology, and alignment to other teams and departments. We offer answers to questions that help others improve. I liken our role to being Batman’s computer — when you come to us, we quickly supply the answers you need.
Le Grange: Marketing operations is the team within marketing that looks at the strategy, then looks at what assets the organization has in place with teams, processes, and technology to meet its strategic goals. The role of marketing operations is to ask how marketing can most efficiently use resources and data to drive better strategic results. They should be asking the tough, strategic questions around resource allocation and budgets, holding people accountable.
2. On the talent a marketing operations team needs:
Lyman: We need problem-solvers in marketing operations, people who are open to change. No single day in marketing operations is the same as another day or cookie-cutter in any way. You need so many skills: the ability to translate data into insight, the capacity to work well with others outside your area, and a constant focus on driving improvement. It also takes passion, which I look for when I’m hiring people for my team.
Le Grange: In terms of hard skills, you need some level of technical proficiency and an aptitude to learn through trial-and-error. I’d add project management skills into the mix, because marketing operations is often involved in complicated projects like technology implementations. In terms of hard skills, you need curiosity and a willingness to ask tough, critical questions of people and data. Collaborative skills are key, because alignment of marketing and sales and other departments is essential for success. You need people who can break down the silos and work across functions.
3. On driving marketing and sales alignment:
Lyman: You have to begin by evaluating the existing gaps you have, the bottlenecks that have become obstacles. You need to look for those gaps in three main areas: your people and teams, your technology stack, and your processes. Then begin the process of closing them.
LeGrange: As Bekkah said, it begins with mapping out all your gaps between marketing and sales. Once you do that, move to prioritizing steps to address those gaps with resources. You should start with initiatives that take a holistic view of your strategy. It really depends upon your organization’s goals, where you want to go, then figuring out how to get from where you are to where you want to be.
4. On improving data management processes:
Lyman: Understand your strategy and what particular data is relevant for driving it. So you might ask, ‘what data points are important for lead scoring?’ I always recommend identifying what’s most valuable from a marketing and sales perspective. You need to place value on the data that drives your leads and return-on-investment/ROI.
Le Grange: It all comes back to understanding your overall strategy and the goals you’re trying to achieve. Your key initiatives in data management, and how your data management works, will all depend on supporting your strategy and goals with data. Start with small-scale pilots to build and scale your data management capabilities.
5. Tips for marketing operations leaders:
Lyman: Go back and map your technology stack to your sales processes. Identify the gaps and close them. As you do, be sure to document what you’re doing, so you can see when things go wrong, know why, and fix them faster. Additionally, open up regular communications with other relevant departments. Make sure you know what they are doing, and vice versa, which will help on alignment.
Le Grange: My tip is for marketing operations leaders is to carefully, honestly examine whether you have all the necessary skills to succeed in the role, and if you’re seeking enough feedback to improve yourself. As a leader, you really do need to offer your team a good example of personal development, and then encourage them to follow it. That starts with you.
What comes across most clearly from these two marketing operations experts are the ongoing challenges of keeping up with evolving trends in technology and customer behavior while maintaining a laser-like focus on your organization’s strategy and goals. Finding and deploying talent and technology is never easy in a business landscape that’s continuously changing. Every marketing operations team and leader has much room for improvement on any number of fronts.
If you’re looking for help in driving that marketing operations improvement, we can schedule a complimentary marketing assessment to get you started on the right track. As part of the assessment, we meet with you to discuss the results and provide customized insights. Contact us today!