By Michelle Miles May 28, 2019

Want Pipeline Predictability? Create an RCM

When it’s implemented well, a Revenue Cycle Model (RCM) in Marketo can have a hugely positive impact on your marketing, giving you an at-a-glance view of the customer journey. But because the process of setting up an RCM isn’t a straightforward, one-size-fits-all approach, many businesses either inadvertently set it up incorrectly or put off deploying it until some later date that never comes to pass.

And that’s a mistake, because the benefits of a carefully conceived RCM—things like a predictable sales pipeline and improved workflow, more effective marketing because you understand where leads are in their buyer journey, and understanding marketing’s impact on revenue —are well worth all of the work that goes into getting the model set up correctly. Here are a few tips that will help you avoid common RCM setup pitfalls.

Mirror Your RCM and Your Biz Practices

Like any other technology or process within your organization, your stakeholders must actively adopt it if it’s going to have any chance of becoming a meaningful part of your business. That’s why it’s so important that your RCM mirrors your existing business practices—e.g. Your automated processes, sales processes, etc.—as much as possible.

For example, if your sales team is already updating a lead status field or creating opportunities in SalesForce, leverage those activities to trigger stage changes in your RCM rather than to require additional manual actions. Similarly, when prospects reach a specific scoring threshold, leverage that to trigger an engaged or MQL stage change. Review your current business practices for actions that can trigger your RCM stages.

Manage Campaign Flows in a Single Program

For ease in testing and troubleshooting, make sure that you create a default program separate from the RCM in which you can manage all of your campaign flows. Set it up so that these flows update a field that is either specifically created for this purpose or that adds contacts to a list, and then set your transition rules to search for contacts with the corresponding list membership or field value. And while you’re setting this up, don’t forget to include anything that may be related to this model—from your initial model population and ongoing triggers to batch cleanup campaigns. By setting things up in this way, it will be easier for someone new to your system to jump in and get started, immediately grasping everything that is happening without needing to review both the RCM and the program.

Give Recycled Leads a Place to Go

New leads are important, but recycled leads are also important to your business’ bottom line, so make sure you have a place for them. Create a place on your success path where recycled leads or contacts may re-enter so that you can move them to the next stage and track their journey.

While you’re making a place for these recycled leads, remember that you also need to reduce the score when the lead moves to “recycled.” Exactly how the lead gets back onto the success path is determined by your business model, but it should be more restrictive than the first time the lead qualified. Options include requiring recycled leads to have a higher scoring threshold to qualify for MQL status, implementing a minimum time period, or qualifying leads solely on behavior versus demographic score. Additionally, we’ve set up some models where recycled leads are disallowed from the “engaged” stage and only allowed in the MQL stage as a way to avoid falsely inflating the pipeline.

And here’s a tip: For recycled leads, break out MQL measures into MQL and Most Recent MQL. For example, if you have an MQL Timestamp field, make sure to create an MQL Most Recent Timestamp field too. Then block field updates only from the MQL Timestamp field.

Minimize Distractions

Just as you’re mirroring business practices within your RCM to help ease adoption, another smart move is to try and stick to key milestones for your RCM stages. Resist the temptation to include every lead progression that crosses your mind, and instead visualize what pipeline reports are mission-critical. Remember that nurturing doesn’t just happen at the beginning of the customer journey—it continues throughout! So don’t feel like you need to create a separate nurture “bucket” for any stages; you can handle that through smart list filtering by stage. Leaving out unnecessary transitions will reduce noise and unnecessary complexity in your reporting, and make your RCM more technically robust.

Additionally, keep your detours to a minimum—working with clients over the years, we’ve found that in the vast majority of situations, the only three detour stages business RCM’s need are:

That’s it. Adding more detour stages unnecessarily complicates your model.

Another common mistake I see clients make is trying to force their model to do too many things. Instead, consider what elements must be in your RCM, and what you can accomplish with separate programs, segmentations, smart lists, reports, etc.

Test everything and then test it again

You’ve heard the phrase, “Patience is bitter but the fruit is sweet.” It’s never been truer than when it comes to your RCM. Suffice it to say that investing the time in comprehensive testing is an investment in your future and your sanity. It is considerably easier to detect issues with your model prior to deploying it rather than launching it, deactivating and updating it—and dealing with all of the campaigns, reports and useless data you gathered in the meantime. And that doesn’t even take into account if you made marketing and business decisions based on that data—yikes!

To test your RCM, create 20-30 leads* and clone your program, adding a filter for ‘email address is’ and your test leads prior to activating your model. Then put your RCM through its paces, doing everything you can think of to try and break it so that you can fix it before it goes live. Address any issues you find, then deploy your RCM and start enjoying all of the benefits it provides.

*Quick tip: create a google email (ie name@gmail.com) and use the + feature to create a lot of test leads with one account (ie name+testlead1@gmail.com and name+testlead2@gmail.com)

Michelle Miles

VP of Consulting Services at Perkuto | Marketo Champion

Marketo Certified Solutions Architect and MBA. Passionate about solving marketing automation challenges and process optimization. Two energetic children.

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