Holiday Alert: Don't Let a Crazy Financial Plan Get Set While You're Gone
!! CMOs: Don't let your guard down over Christmas!! If your annual plan is evolving and it's still crazy, you can't let it get finalized by the CEO and CFO over the holidays. Don't take your eye off the prize while being distracted by ginger cookies and hot chocolate.
Getting the financial plan right is the #1 most important thing you will do all year long as the CMO. If you don't get it right, and there's no f-ing way you can meet the pipeline and revenue goals, you and your team will be frustrated, demotivated and could even get fired later in the year. Getting the plan right sets your team up for success and lays out the OKRs for each quarter that follows.
Hopefully, you've already done this, but the key elements:
1) Build a bottoms-up forecast to complement the top-down planning coming from finance and sales. CFOs plan a revenue and efficiency number they would like to hit for the right valuation and investor pattern. Then, they back out how many salespeople would be needed at certain quotas and attainments to meet that number. But only marketing can do all of the bottoms-up work to show how much pipeline organic growth numbers will provide at current rates and how much money you'll need to fill the pipeline of the planned salespeople (don't forget to factor in that organic converts at 2x the rate of paid!). If the growth numbers for organic, or the gap between the budget you need and what they will give you is CRAZYTOWN, you have to raise the flags now. Not after you've missed the number.
2) Team up with the CRO to push for something stretch but attainable - If marketing complains that "this plan is too hard" alone, it is sometimes ignored by the CEO and CFO, who just want you to "figure it out." If you team up with the sales leader and together propose and share what is and is not attainable, you have more strength to sway the CEO and CFO to a more reasonable plan. The CRO doesn't want a plan where you can't provide enough pipeline, and he/she can't hit her number.
3) We have to get back to predictability - Many companies had to reforecast the year last summer as it became clear their plans didn't align with the market reality. And some companies didn't even hit those re-forecasts. CFOs and boards would *like* everyone to return to higher growth with even more efficiency. But that doesn't mean the impossible is suddenly possible. We can't sign up for completely unattainable goals - our teams won't survive it. We have to work strategically with the C-Suite and keep playing with all of the variables to get to something that's uncomfortable but in the realm of possibility if we execute well.
Unfortunately, much of this planning is still a moving target even though the holidays are already here. Yes, we should be taking time with our families.
But don't go on holiday and let the plan get finalized that will make your year impossible.
Protect your team.
YOU MUST GET THE FINANCIAL PLAN RIGHT!
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