Agile Revenue Planning for Marketers with Heather Durante


In her presentation, Heather explains the importance of budgeting and planning for demand. She also shares what agile revenue planning is and how to do so.


Heather Durante is Vice President of Global Demand Gen at Keyfactor, a leader in cloud-first PKI as-a-Service and crypto-agility solutions.  


“Agile Revenue Planning- Essentially, it’s the people, the processes and the technology that help us produce a go to market plan that accelerates growth, highlights areas to focus on and can be adjusted to respond to challenges and market opportunities”

“You have to be aligned on from a people perspective, and you have to have the stakeholders at the table so that you’re not constantly re-explaining a decision that was made but everyone is on the same page.”

Key Points

  1. Budgeting doesn’t have to be a scary word
  2. Agile revenue planning empowers marketers to be able to explain how the budget is currently performing
  3. What questions to ask in order to select the best tech stack


Hello, everyone, and welcome to Agile revenue planning for marketers.

My name is Heather Durante, I’m Senior Director of Integrated Marketing and
I’m really excited to be with you today for the Demand Gen Summit spring 2022.

So, a little bit about me, I’ve been a marketer for 15 years. I really,
really love planning and so that’s what I’m here to talk to you about today.
Vena is the only native Excel complete planning platform built for Microsoft
365 and Power BI vena transforms how businesses finance and ops leaders plan to
grow with our growth engine, SaaS platform and methodology and empowers and
inspires your plans and guides your growth journey.

So, let’s get into it. So, planning and budgeting for demand.

Budgeting doesn’t have to be a scary word. Although often boards and exec
teams will set ambitious revenue targets while marketing budgets a lot of the
time stay the same. And sometimes even they get cut. And we’re often expected
to do more with less and as marketers it’s very difficult for us. We all want
to close more deals, but that also requires us bringing the right customers to
the door. However, if a company isn’t really willing to invest the time, the
effort and the resources required, it can often put marketing in a position to
fail. So, this is really where we’re coming from when we talk about agile
revenue planning. So, what is agile revenue planning?

Essentially, it’s the people, the processes and the technology that help us
produce a go to market plan that accelerates growth, highlights areas to focus
on and can be adjusted to respond to challenges and market opportunities. So
really, it’s important for us as marketers not only to be able to adjust and
update our plans, because I think we all know, the one thing that’s going to be
true about your plan is that at some point it’s wrong. We also have to be able
to identify opportunities and react to our targets, with the right people
across the organization with processes that support our ability to scale and
the tech that really enables us to be data driven.

So why think about agile revenue planning? So really what this does at the
end of the day is it empowers marketers to be able to explain how the budget is
currently performing. And our ability to bring that data to our executive teams
and our board and explain why more budget is needed before sales targets are
set. Because we all know that MQLs aren’t free.

We’re often, you know, expected to work miracles but there really is a
foundation under which we can make the case for more budget and also explain to
the organization the impact of cutting budget. So how do we do it? So really,
we need people, process and technology to come together. And so, the place to
start is really with getting the right stakeholders aligned and involved early
so that your plan is not only understood, it’s shared. You organize your goals
and also support them.

So how do you then once you’ve aligned your stakeholders, bring it to life. So,
this is where the process comes into play. And once you’ve aligned on what your
goals are, you have to understand how you’re going to track them and account
for what you’ll learn from the data and how you’ll use that data to adjust your
plans against the goals. And then the technology is really only a piece of the
puzzle at the end of the day. So, I think you know as marketers, we’ve often
tried to solve problems with technology rather than using technology to enable
us to solve those problems. So, once you have your people and your processes
outlined, then deciding on what tech you’ll need to support your goals is kind
of the final step.

Let’s talk about people. So first of all, you want to align at the company
level to establish your high-level company goals. And so this is all of the
teams that contribute to revenue across the board. So, your sales team, your
revenue operations team, your finance team, your product team, and you really
want to make sure that as a company, you are aligned against either a strategic
plan, a balanced scorecard, at Vena we use something called an MVP which really
helps us map out what our priorities and our plays are going to be and how they’re
going to support the organizational goals.

And so, let’s say your goal as an organization is to grow revenue by 40%.
How does that actually then map to each of the departments that are
contributing to that goal? So, aligning at the company level is really the
first place that you have to start, then you really want to be able to speak
the same language as your finance team. And so, what that means when we’re
working with our finance team at Vena it’s really where we should be
accelerating or backing off on investments? And what’s the target impact behind
those decisions, spend more, spend less and what actually is the implication
for how we operate and then you really want to align with your revenue
operations team to make sure that you’re measuring what you need. So starting
at the company level, deciding what it is that you know, as a company, what
you’re going to try to perform, you know understanding, you know, what the
language is you’re going to use to explain that and then making sure that
you’re measuring the things that matter. You know, something that comes to mind
here is to MQL or not to MQL.

There’s a lot of conversations going on right now within the marketing
community about the value of an MQL. And so what does an MQL mean? How do you
define it as an organization? And then how do you actually measure that? You
know, is it just like a use case for somebody who downloads a white paper? I
think there’s a lot of things as an organization, you have to be aligned on
from a people perspective, and you have to have the stakeholders at the table
so that you’re not constantly re-explaining a decision that was made but
everyone is on the same page.

So, once you’ve got your stakeholders involved, how do you actually do it? So,
you map your high-level goals to the company’s goals and so let’s use that to
grow revenue by 40% example. How is marketing going to contribute to that and
what are the expectations of marketing’s comp contribution? So does it
contribute 40% of sourced revenue? If that’s the case, then how are you
actually then going to back out your channels? And so that’s where you get to
the next step. So, What channels do you have at your disposal and how do those
operate? So is it paid? Are they third party events? Is it organic? How are you
actually going to build targets against those that contribute 40% contribution?
Then you need to understand your funnel conversion rates. So how do those
channels actually perform? Do you have a higher MQL to SAL on your paid social
versus your paid or your paid search?

Are events your best driver and really sort of understand by channel, what
your conversion rates are for every funnel stage? Obviously, then you need to
know what your average selling price is. It’s going to be required for some
math magic. That we’ll do a little bit later. But you really need to
understand, you know, what is the contract value that you’re bringing to the
table and you’re actually closing business. And then you also want to
understand your programmatic channel costs and historically, you know, how
you’ve actually performed was spent so easier when you’re looking at something
like a third party sponsored event where you know, they’re, you know, 15 20 30
40 a little bit more difficult when we’re talking about variable and spending
on things like paid. And so let’s talk a little bit about that math magic for
driving scenarios.

So, this is a really simplified example, but I think this is something that,
you know, we’ve heard as marketers, so give us more leads, just spend more
money on advertising. And we know that increasing advertising spend is easier
to be scaled than something like say PR spend, but it isn’t always a perfect
spend $5 to get $10 And so when we’re explaining to the organization, you know,
what the actual effectiveness of that channel is, We have to be able to model
that based on conversion rates, so that we can look at what a likely return is,
what the investment would need to be to hit those targets and also respond with
target impact if you’re asked to scale back, spend, or even respond to a new

So looking at this example, it’s really simple. We’ve mapped what the MQL to
SAL, SAL to SQL and SQL to one conversion rates are in our funnel, you know, an
average selling price of let’s say $40,000 And we’ve started with the new logo
target and then worked backwards from there. And so the new logo target, let’s
say the example I used earlier was to grow revenue 40% marketing is going to be
responsible for 40% of that 40% Let’s call that 50 new logos, new logo times
ASP equals your err. So the expected return and then from there using our
conversion rates, we’ve backed out what our SQO’s needed, our Sal is needed and
then our MQLs needed to be able to hit that new logo target. And this
obviously, you know changes if we’re able to improve our conversion rates, or,
you know, as sometimes happens, our conversion rates go down. This model will
then adjust and let us know if there’s more spend required. And then this also
lets us look at what our cost per lead is. What’s our cost per meeting, what’s
our cost per opportunity and what’s our CAC overall our acquisition cost, and
then we can actually look at Channel effectiveness and what this lets you do if
you map this out across all of your channels, is look at where spend is better,
and not. And you’re able to then make decisions about where to double down and
where to back off.

And so, coming back to that conversation with finance, where are you know,
investments going to return higher and where are they not? And it really lets
you, I think, speak a language across the organization as far as accounting for
these changes. And we know that you know, you can’t only consider programmatic
spending. There’s also operational considerations and so, if this represents a
scale on your paid search efforts, and you know that you have to go from 100 ad
variations a month to 250. There’s not only the direct spend, associated there,
but there’s also the incremental operational cost to support it. So do you need
to bring on more headcount or do you need to increase agency spend and these
are also variables that you will bring in when you’re asked to adjust your

So when it comes to technology, you’re really looking at how you actually
become a data driven based question and give visibility into that data to all
the people who need it. And so I’m not going to come and tell you what the
perfect tech stack is, because that’s different for every organization, and it
should be. And so, I think there’s actually three questions that you have to ask
when you’re designing what that tech stack looks like.

And from the lens of having all of the stakeholders involved, the processes
agreed upon for how you are and quantify your success. And then also, you know,
how you’re going to enable people and so, first question, how do we remove data
silos and improve collaboration while ensuring accountability and accuracy? So,
everybody involved in the process of planning and readjusting and being able to
react needs to have access to the data, and we have to make sure that that data
is integrated.

The second question being where can I lean data and expertise to guide the
business even further than where it is today? And so, the technology has to
enable us to be data driven and be able to make insights needed to make business
decisions. And that brings us to the third question: how do we extend the reach
of the current decision-making process and strategic execution of the business?
So how do we make sure that the right people are involved in asking the right

And so really, this is a framework for approaching how you actually can
select technology that’s going to support your ability to scale and to grow and
to react. And so I want to finish off today, you know, just with a little bit
of give, so there are a number of marketing Excel templates that you can get
for free at These are templates that we use, that
we’ve also helped contribute to the creation of some of those examples are full
funnel and budget attribution, CAC report by Channel, Marketing Contribution
Report and spend pacing to how are we actually performing against our budget,
and then also pay channel contribution reports.

So, I invite you to try out a couple of them. Let us know if you have any
feedback. You know, budgeting and planning and forecasting and re forecasting
are really central to our ability as marketers to make sure that we’re hitting
the targets as an organization, that we’ve agreed to really make informed
decisions about where we spend our money and our time and our effort and our
you know, headcount, and how we actually set the strategic vision for
marketing’s contribution.

I hope that you learned something today that you can take with you. Please
feel free to reach out with any questions and I hope you enjoy the rest of the