Demand generation is becoming more and more of a necessity for B2B businesses. Buyers expect more from their vendors, and companies must adapt to deliver a seamless experience throughout the entire customer lifecycle (Thanks, Amazon!). Before we dig into what companies should be thinking about when implementing demand generation strategies for their business, let’s level-set on one thing: What is demand generation?
As Hubspot states, “Demand generation is more than just a branding concept or early funnel marketing tactic. Demand generation programs are touch points throughout the conversion optimization and sales cycles… The goal of demand generation is to build and nurture key prospect and customer relationships for the long term.”
InStereo has years of experience working with brands on their demand generation programs. We’ve been fortunate to help many companies scale existing programs to take them to the next level. We’ve also had the opportunity to work with those who’ve struggled in their sales & marketing efforts to get them back on the path to success. Through these experiences, we’ve learned from those successes and developed a framework for B2B professionals to consider when implementing demand generation programs in their business.
At the highest of levels, the goal should be simple. Create exceptional experiences for your buyers. Anticipate their needs and answer their questions before they know to ask. Be there when they need you, and deliver value even when they don’t. Why? Companies that create great experiences win. And winning companies create revenue and growth.
At InStereo we know that the only way to build a successful program is to take a step back and take a strategy-first approach to customer experience and revenue generation. A well-rounded plan will include a focus on five key areas:
When all of these elements are balanced and working together, great things happen. We force both Sales and Marketing to work together on a common plan for customer engagement. And when the right people agree on the right vision in an environment where constant change is encouraged, organizations can begin walking down the path of creating amazing customer experiences that maximize revenue.
It all starts with Strategy. And Strategy begins with a deep understanding of your buyers. When you know your buyers and truly understand their pain-points and wants, you can anticipate their needs and build touches into your sales and marketing processes that deliver against those needs. In order to accomplish this, organizations must have a deep understanding of their:
- Ideal Customer Profile — Who is the ideal target account?
- Buyer Personas — Who is the buyer within that account?
- Buyer Journeys — What is that buyers’ ideal buying experience?
By understanding your ideal target accounts, the buyers within those accounts, and their ideal buying process, you can then architect your internal sales and marketing processes and content to surprise and delight them all along their journey with you.
Technology and Data
Once the strategy is defined, an organization must implement tools that most efficiently and effectively allow their teams to execute upon the strategy. Commonly this includes CRM, Marketing Automation, Sales Engagement, and Data platforms that help manage data and process and automate communications with customers.
The tools are important, and data is the fuel that drives them. Without good, clean data, we can have a great vision, solid tech, but inability to execute and connect with customers in a meaningful way.
Another one of the common mistakes we see businesses make is prioritizing new technology over people and process. Truth is, a fool with a tool is still a fool. Taking a strategy-first approach lets you evaluate which tools best align with your teams and processes and allows you to implement in a manner which empowers the business users.
Said another way… make sure to get the technology that’s right for your business. Don’t buy a Ferrari if you don’t know how to drive stick. Don’t buy a heavy-duty pickup if you don’t have anything to put in the bed. And don’t buy a coupe if you have a team of four. In the end, you may get to your destination faster, most comfortably, and most cost-effectively in a Honda Civic — even if it’s not the sexiest ride.
Whichever tools you decide to implement, make sure the business is ready, and make sure they are right for your team.
B2B sales and marketing is a people-driven ecosystem. Even with all the technology we use today, organizations still buy from human beings. Tech alone does not drive demand gen, but the people within organizations that harness the power of technology to improve the connection to buyers.
In order for your strategy and technology to align, people need to be in the right roles throughout your organization. The first thing you can do is define roles throughout sales and marketing and evaluate if people have the right skills.
Once you have the right skills in the right departments, how collaboratively do your departments work together to achieve their common goals? All too often we see sales march to the beat of one drum while marketing is off marching to another. And IT can’t hear the music at all. For programs to be effective, all parties must work together with a common strategy and common goals.
One trend we love is the emergence of the Chief Revenue Officer or Chief Growth Officer. This is a leader who oversees all revenue-generating activities, including both the Sales and Marketing departments. By bringing these groups together, the CRO can ensure that all are focused on the common goals of growing the business and driving revenue.
Even if your business doesn’t have a CRO, sales and marketing leaders can take steps forward by aligning on their department goals and working together on plans to achieve them.
Once you have a strategy in motion and the technology and people to support it, you must develop a repeatable and scalable process for audience engagement. By doing this you deliver a consistent customer experience that drives revenue through your pipeline.
Oftentimes we see the “wild west” scenario: a sales team that has many reps doing their outreach their own individual different ways. You may have have seen this masquerade as an “entrepreneurial sales environment.” It can be effective for hitting short-term numbers on a growing sales team, but ineffective for scaling a growing organization.
Rather than allow sales reps to do whatever they wish to close their business, ask those same reps how Sales and Marketing leaders can provide tools to help. You may find that reps want the partnership. Some of their current methods may be effective, and the organization can benefit from taking those reps’ practices and standardizing them in a scalable way.
The same thing goes for marketing. Create repeatable processes for campaigns and customer communications, and create an internal constant dialogue between sales and marketing, that allows for input on what marketing tactics reps are seeing be effective and what needs to change. This helps each department understand how they best support the other.
Create a plan across Sales & Marketing and have everyone committed to the same goals, systems, and schedules. Work together. Grow your business as a team and not as individuals.
The most important thing to consider about process is that it’s never finished. Processes defined 6 months ago may be stale and outdated today. Organizations must plan to review and revise process constantly to make sure teams are most efficient in working towards the collective goals.
We’ve all heard it before… content is king. And it is!
Whether the content delivery mechanism is via a sales rep, automated email campaigns, website, blogs, webinars, e-books, or any other tactic your organization can dream up, in the end the content must provide value to your buyers. Without content that is targeted, engaging, and valuable to your audience, none of the other elements matter.
All too often, content is considered an afterthought. People think, “The tools will solve my problem!” or “the new-hire will figure it out!.” Always remember that audience engagement tools like Marketing Automation and Sales Engagement are just a means to automate and scale process. If there are no processes in place to automate and no content to deliver, the value of these tools diminishes quickly.
Those who focus on their buyers’ needs and deliver value to them at the right time and revenue will fall in place.
InStereo is a consulting firm of modern Sales & Marketing experts. We help our clients create amazing buyer experiences that drive more revenue. We work with customers every day to define their Strategy and plan for Technology & Data, People, Process, and Content. It all starts with a deep understanding of your buyers’ needs and building a framework to deliver value time and time again.
Can you do a better job of delivering value to your buyers to accelerate revenue? Do you have gaps in your sales and marketing process? We can help. Let’s talk!