July 18, 2013
Book Short: The Little Engine that Could
Authors Steven Woods and Alex Shootman would make Watty Piper proud. Instead of bringing toys to the children on the other side of the mountain, though, this engine brings revenue into your company. If you run a SaaS business, or really if you run any B2B business, Revenue Engine: Why Revenue Performance Management is the Next Frontier of Competitive Advantage, will change the way you think about Sales and Marketing. The authors, who were CTO and CRO of Eloqua (the largest SaaS player in the demand management software space that recently got acquired by Oracle), are thought leaders in the field, and the wisdom of the book reflects that.
The book chronicles the contemporary corporate buying process and shows that it has become increasingly like the consumer buying process in recent years. The Consumer Decision Journey, first published by McKinsey in 2009, chronicles this process and talks about how the traditional funnel has been transformed by the availability of information and social media on the Internet. Revenue Engine moves this concept to a B2B setting and examines how Marketing and Sales are no longer two separate departments, but stewards of a combined process that requires holistic analysis, investment decisions, and management attention.
In particular, the book does a good job of highlighting new stages in the buying process and the imperatives and metrics associated with getting this “new funnel” right. One that resonated particularly strongly with me was the importance of consistent and clean data, which is hard but critical! As my colleague Matt Spielman pointed out when we were discussing the book, the one area of the consumer journey that Revenue Engine leaves is out is Advocacy, which is essential for influencing the purchase process in a B2B environment as well.
One thing I didn’t love about the book is that it’s a little more theoretical than practical. There aren’t nearly enough detailed examples. In fact, the book itself says it’s “a framework, not an answer.” So you’ll be left wanting a bit more and needing to do a bit more work on your own to translate the wisdom to your reality, but you’ll have a great jumping off point.