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Demand generation: 3 reasons to bite the bullet

Demand generation models are no silver bullet, but they are a great starting point for more cohesive and effective sales and marketing. This blog outlines three good reasons to embrace the approach in 2013.

At the Sirius Decisions Summit last month, I was struck by two things:

Firstly, Sirius Decisions has taken a very real-world approach with its new Demand Waterfall model. It acknowledges the distinct difference between inbound leads (associated with search, pay-per-click and social activity where content ‘pulls’ customers in) and outbound leads (from messaging that is ‘pushed’ out to customers via email, direct mail, telemarketing etc.).

Distinguishing between inbound and outbound leads is an important step, as it enables them to be treated appropriately as they progress through the funnel.

On the flip side of this, it seems that some B2B players are caught in a stasis. I spoke with several marketers who feel energised by the opportunities demand generation could bring, but paralysed by their organisation’s apparent inability to seize the day.

Demand generation in 2013

If I was to make one prediction for 2013, it would be this: in 12 months’ time, businesses that have implemented an effective demand generation model will be in a stronger position than those which haven’t.

Large enterprises – and smaller firms with a salesforce in place – can really benefit from a formal framework that enables a smooth hand-off from marketing to sales. Different types of leads can be identified and dealt with appropriately to maximise the chance of closing the deal.

So, what are the three killer rewards of implementing a demand generation framework?

1. Cohesion and collaboration - a core benefit of demand generation models (Demand Waterfall in particular) is bridging the gap between sales and marketing for more accurate pipeline predictability. Establishing a well-defined, sequential link between the departments means the silo mentality that has traditionally plagued B2B can finally be put to bed. Qualified leads are attributed to specific areas of marketing and handed neatly over to sales for progression and conversion. It is also easier to identify areas for improvement, such as pinpointing content that could be added to enhance processes and improve conversion rates.

2. Making the complicated simple - the scale, complexity and pace of marketing in the social age is unprecedented. Inbound leads are becoming more important than ever with the ongoing shift towards social media, search and content marketing. The funnel is increasingly made up of people who are drawn to the business via recommendations and online research, so a robust strategy is needed to support this. What’s more, these inbound enquiries are high quality, hot leads from people proactively expressing an interest in what you have to offer. Speed and relevance of response are absolutely vital here – we need to be thinking in hours (even minutes) not days. Firms which are optimised to respond to inbound leads quickly and effectively can steal a march on the competition. 

3. Profitability – this is the crux of the matter. Demand generation models can deliver clear value in terms of understanding which marketing activity translates into hard sales. What’s more, they actively enhance conversion rates by ensuring leads are nurtured appropriately, depending on how they originate. A well-managed framework creates a virtuous circle where marketing activity becomes more precisely targeted and conversion rates improve over time.

Managing change

It’s never easy to instigate change. Whilst demand generation models can empower sales and marketing teams, they do require a cultural shift. The critical success factor is openness and transparency. Involving both marketing and sales professionals in the decision making process is essential. Third party workshops also offer a great opportunity to bring pain points to the surface, brainstorm solutions and set the framework. Simple measures such as agreeing consistent terminology, definitions and descriptions upfront can help ease the transition.

If your business is still sitting on the demand generation fence, ask yourself where you want to be in 12 months’ time. Do you want to deliver better quality leads to your sales team, and know that they will be handled intelligently? Then now is the time to take action.