Why Perfect Branding Isn’t Enough to Connect with Buyers

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Once upon a time, branding was an indispensable part of a company’s success in B2B sales. Marketing budgets spent on bold logos, memorable slogans, pricey sponsorships and colorful presentation were all devised for a simple overarching purpose: to get Sales in the door.

A company with strong branding could distinguish itself from competitors in the mind of a buyer long before the sales pitch. For Sales, better branding meant better odds a buyer returned your call, opened your mail, and visited your booth at an industry conference. It bred credibility.

This relationship was not always about the sale. A buyer might call a sales rep for no other reason than to hear about the latest products on the market, to make sure a competitor wasn’t enjoying a piece of technology they weren’t aware of.

Back then, buyers needed Sales to stay informed and make a purchase, and Sales needed buyers to stay employed. Strong branding, which would announce a company as a player, is what made this partnership possible.

Today’s B2B Sales Cycle

This B2B dynamic has changed, however. These days, buyers aren’t returning phone calls from anyone—great branding or not. They go online to do their own research, compare prices and features, and make purchases. Search engines are the new outlets for information, and Sales has less influence.

To make B2B sales today, you have to have a variety of content, distributed in a variety of ways, to create and deepen the awareness needed to bring buyers closer to the sale. Content solidifies your brand and creates awareness. Its role is to position your company as a trusted resource and problem-solver for your potential buyers—so they’ll think of you when purchasing time rolls around.

Calculating ROI

The design of a website, logo, or email campaign can shape a positive image of a company. But its payoff is murkier: How do you know if it had a part in creating or killing a sale?

Small and mid-sized companies with tight budgets don’t have time or money to waste. They need marketing-qualified leads today and sales-ready buyers tomorrow. Each precious penny dedicated to promoting the company or product needs to be justified. Did it translate into a lead? Did the lead become a sale? This is where demand generation can complement branding.

Content: the New Branding

Great content does what a traditional hardworking salesperson used to do: it shows up everywhere. A compelling white paper or infographic can be viewed, shared and linked to over an endless digital lifespan, attracting new buyers both identified and anonymous.

Placing that content in front of buyers, then tracking its success or failure, is critical for demand generation.W hen you publish a blog post, article or infographic, you can track exactly how many people consumed it—and when you require registration to download, you can tell exactly who they are.

Of course, gathering those insights requires technology tools like marketing automation software and website analytics, but if you’re using those tools properly, you can have an unprecedented level of visibility into how prospects are engaging with your brand.

Of those who consumed a piece of your content, how many downloads turned into leads? How many leads turned into sales? How much revenue was generated? Did it exceed the investment? With the right analytical tools, you can quantify your ROI.

A great logo and a beautiful website may or may not attract visitors to your product. It may or not have influenced a sale. But the B2B sales cycle is complex, and traditional branding is only a small piece of the puzzle. The cycle is bolstered by technological tools, great content, and seamless departmental integration. Are all of your bases covered?

Is Content the Solution to Your Shrinking Sales Pipeline?

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Despite a vibrant U.S. economy and an ever-expanding arsenal of technologies to help both salespeople and marketers reach more prospects, many companies continue to struggle to grow sales. Why? And what can you do about it?

Control Over the Sales Process Has Shifted

The sales game has changed, and many companies have failed to adapt. Simply put, salespeople no longer control the sales process from start to finish.

In the pre-Internet universe, salespeople held all the information prospects needed to make purchase decisions, from pricing to detailed product information. This put the salesperson in control. Conventional tactics like phone calls and trade shows were effective because prospects had no other means to engage with salespeople. Prospects had to talk to salespeople, whether they wanted to or not.

But today, prospects are in control. They expect to find what they need to know online, and they usually succeed in finding it—including product and company reviews, comparison tests, competitive pricing, alternative options, and much more. The net result is that your prospects don’t need your salespeople to get the information necessary to make an informed purchase decision. This isn’t meant to imply that salespeople are no longer valuable—quite the opposite is true, in fact—but they are no longer the gatekeepers of information and conductors of the buying process.

In theory, informed buyers could be a good thing for you. When prospects know exactly what they want and have reasonable pricing expectations, sales cycles can go much faster and make the salesperson’s life much easier. But it rarely works that way. The problem is that your competitors are lurking on the Internet trying to find these prospects while they’re researching online to steer them their way using paid search, ad retargeting, SEO and other tactics. And some of the “information” your prospects are discovering online is inaccurate or misleading.

Marketing to the Rescue?

As the Internet exploded with information in the 2000s, marketing organizations attempted to “control the conversations” about their companies that were occurring online. PR firms and branding consultants proliferated, and blogs and social media became all the rage. The broad strategy was to provide air cover to Sales—to sprinkle seeds of awareness and preference for a company’s solutions throughout markets. Presumably, this tactic would cut through the competitive clutter on the Internet and nudge prospects to engage with the company. 

The longer-term results of this strategy were mixed, at best. When after a while every company seemed to be issuing the same press release, prospects stopped reading them. It turned out that social media wasn’t the panacea many hoped it would be to drive B2B sales. The B2B media industry collapsed (or evolved, depending on how one looks at it), taking with it as victims many popular industry journals, media-sponsored trade shows, and targeted industry websites. Companies invested heavily in Web marketing, but when every website is just one click away from the next, it’s hard to keep people on one for long.

In the end, while online marketing tactics may have delivered some branding benefits, they rarely catalyzed sales conversations directly, or with any urgency. They rarely sparked conversations with the right people, in the right context. 

Content Gets You Invited to the Dance

The old-world tactics of both the sales and marketing realms are no longer effective for most companies. But one thing hasn't changed: salespeople still play a pivotal role in closing business, and their involvement can help deliver higher average selling prices and better-structured deals. 

You still want prospects to dance with your salespeople. But it's a dance that your prospects, not you, are leading. You need to be invited.T

That's where compelling content comes in. Your prospects are hungry for content that’s educational, helpful and informative in tone. White papers, articles, infographics, and videos are effective content assets in this regard. Of course, you need to offer content to prospects. And they’ll welcome it, as long as it’s targeted to the right audience, relevant (i.e., speaks to their pains), done well, and isn’t salesy.

To oversimplify it, there are five basic steps to this approach: 

  1. Create a library of high-quality content assets.
  2. Build a database of appropriate decision-makers. 
  3. Offer new additions to your database a compelling initial content offer via email. 
  4. Continue to nurture that list with more and more content. 
  5. Repeat steps 1-4.

Step 4 is particularly important. The goal is to “touch” suspects not once but repeatedly, over a prolonged period. During that time, you’re keeping your company top of mind for the prospect while priming them to buy from you.

When your prospects are ready, they will engage with your salespeople. But now they’ll have an instilled preference for working with you. They (and your salespeople) will be positioned to have a more fruitful sales conversation, accelerating the sales process and improving the likelihood of a win.

Content is part of the solution, though it is only one part. Remember, “content marketing” isn’t about tangible deliverables, nor is it a one-time event—it’s a process that gets you invited to the dance and can help you build your sales pipeline.

5 Key Points to Consider when Choosing a Demand Generation Solution

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Savvy B2B marketers are recognizing the limits of today’s email marketing and web analytics applications for generating qualified sales leads and are switching to a demand generation solution to ensure a continuous stream of qualified leads. In addition to providing typical reporting that legacy email and web analytics products provide, demand generation solutions automate the progression of leads through the pipeline so that sales can focus on only the most qualified leads.

When evaluating demand generation solutions, keep these 5 points in mind to ensure that you make a purchase that meets your expectations and the needs of your company.

1. Lookout for Hidden Consultants

When purchasing a demand generation solution, marketers are typically looking for a solution that their internal team can quickly and easily implement to improve their lead generation capabilities. Anecdotal evidence has shown that several solutions on the market fail to live up to this expectation. Marketers have found that once these solutions have been purchased, they are extremely difficult to implement and maintain. If this occurs, the software provider will be more than happy to offer you consulting services to operate the software they sold you. These consulting services can double or triple the cost of the original purchase price. Before you choose a demand generation platform, be sure to choose a solution that your internal team will be able to implement and use on a daily basis. Ask the provider what percent of their revenue is from software vs. consulting services. If more than 20% of their revenue is from consulting, there’s a good chance you’ll be contributing to the software AND consulting portion of their top-line. If you choose to go this route, be sure to set aside significant budget to cover these incremental costs. Some demand generation solutions on the market today can be extremely cumbersome and difficult to use. After being implemented, these solutions are often rendered useless because no one can figure out how they work. To avoid  this  situation, choose a demand generation solution that is easy to use. This will speed internal adoption and ensure that the application is used to its fullest potential. Evaluate the system’s user interface—is it intuitive? Are you able to get the information you need with minimal clicks? Look for a solution where the answers to these questions are a resounding “YES”.

2. Ensure Ease of Use

Some demand generation solutions on the market today can be extremely cumbersome and difficult to use. After being implemented, these solutions are often rendered useless because no one can figure out how they work. To avoid  this  situation, choose a demand generation solution that is easy to use. This will speed internal adoption and ensure that the application is used to its fullest potential. Evaluate the system’s user interface—is it intuitive? Are you able to get the information you need with minimal clicks? Look for a solution where the answers to these questions are a resounding “YES”.

3. Try Before You Buy

Would you buy a car before taking it for a test drive? Of course not. The beauty of hosted software applications is that you are able to take them for a test drive with minimal effort and no cost before you actually make a purchase. When looking at a demand generation solution, take full advantage of this opportunity. Execute a marketing campaign—does the system work as promised? Does your team find the application easy to use? Does it fit the needs of your organization? Free trials are a great opportunity to make sure that you’re getting the solution that’s right for you before spending any of your limited marketing budget. If you’re unable to test an application before you buy, be sure to perform extra due diligence to ensure you’re purchasing the solution that’s right for you and that all hidden costs have been exposed.

4. Training & Implementation Costs

While some demand generation solutions may look ideal from the outside, be sure to look at associated costs and effort for training your team on how to use the new application. Consider how difficult the solution will be to implement. Is it a solution that can be up and running in a few minutes, or will in require weeks of customization and implementation? In regards to training, be sure that training costs are included in the cost of the software. If not, find out how much training will cost up front so you can set aside the appropriate funds from your budget.

Strong Customer Service.

With any software product, during trial, implementation, and day-to-day use, there are going to be bumps along the way. When choosing a demand generation solution, look for a company that will work side-by-side with you—even after  the contract  has been signed.  Does the provider provide you with a dedicated sales rep that works with you even after you’ve signed on the dotted line? Or are you going to be passed on to a call center that has no idea what  you’ve been promised during the initial engagement or what your needs are. Look for a solution provider where customer service is included in your contract and you have a dedicated sales and customer service team that will work with your team to ensure their success.

As demand generation solutions continue their  rapid  growth and  adoption over legacy email and web analytics solutions, they’ll become a “must-have” in the near future for marketers serious about lead generation. By keeping these 5 tips in mind, you’ll have the facts you need to choose a demand generation solution that meets your expectations and is right for you.

Quantifying the Value of Lead Nurturing: A Case Study

Most marketing and sales leaders in the business-to-business world know that nurturing leads is important. The reason: it’s essential to maintain a digital connection with buyers who want to learn about a business pain, product, or service—but who are not yet interested in talking to a sales person. Buyers today often use the Internet to research products and vendors long before they’re prepared to make a purchase. This kind of buyer isn’t ready to be handed over to a senior sales executive and should instead be nurtured, or so common wisdom dictates.

But can the sales impact of nurturing be quantified? In this article, we look at a case study of lead nurturing that finds that nurtured leads were three times more likely to convert to sales-accepted leads than traditional marketing-qualified leads.

The Fallacy of the Linear Buying Process

Most marketing and sales leaders in the business-to-business world know that customers now direct the buying process. Previously, sales representatives controlled what prospects could learn, when, and from whom. Today, prospects anonymously use the Internet to research products and vendors before engaging with sales. The amount of research they conduct, the resources they use, and the pace of that research vary significantly from buyer to buyer.

So why do sales and marketing departments still work together in a linear fashion? Why are leads still qualified by marketing, handed to sales, and rarely handed back to marketing for nurturing if they aren’t ready to purchase?

Unfortunately, sales reps with high quotas are under significant pressure to close deals—and this pressure often causes them to enter the picture before the lead is sales-ready. The result of this preemptive engagement is one of two possibilities:

  1. The prospect feels bombarded and ends the conversation, or
  2. The sales rep rejects the lead altogether.

Either way, prospects who showed promise by engaging with marketing are lost, simply because they weren’t ready to make a purchase. The linear track of anonymous to marketing-qualified lead (MQL) to sales-accepted lead (SAL) to win or loss does not conform to the reality of the way BtoB purchasers shop and buy. Worse, it fuels the marketing-sales conflict that already exists at many organizations.

Testing the Effectiveness of Lead Nurturing

To examine the effectiveness of lead warming more closely, Sales Engine performed a study on one of its clients. Sales Engine built a library of multimedia content for this client and used email marketing, social media, search engine optimization (SEO) and ad retargeting to promote it to the 18,000 lead records in the client’s database.

Sales Engine also directed a small team of business development reps (BDRs) to follow up on all types of leads to measure and compare the conversion rates of cold leads, newly generated MQLs, and warm MQLs that had been nurtured over time. The results were striking.

Findings

The BDRs called these 18,000 leads and over two months and had live phone conversations with 1,216 of them. The objective was to set an appointment with an outside sales rep, at which point the MQL would become an SAL. Here is what they found:

  • MQL3s—leads that met the ideal prospect profile (IPP) but had minimal digital engagement—were 124% more likely to convert into an SAL than a cold suspect.
  • MQL2s—leads that met the IPP and clicked through on at least one email offer or downloaded one piece of content—were 321% more likely to convert into SALs than cold suspects.
  • MQL1s—leads that met the IPP and engaged over a longer period of time, clicked through on multiple email offers or several website visits, or consumed content multiple times through continued nurturing—were an astounding 878% more likely to convert into an appointment than cold suspects.
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While this data clearly articulates the value of nurturing leads, it begs for a different sales and marketing paradigm. Expensive enterprise sales reps with high quotas can’t afford to follow up on MQLs when even the best MQLs only convert to appointments at a rate of 5 percent. This difficulty is compounded by the fact that making first contact with an MQL1 may require 5-10 attempts—that translates to 500 to 1,000 attempts for every 100 MQLs.

This new reality calls for the BDR model. The BDR acts as a middle reliever who can have meaningful business conversations with prospects until they are ready to meet with the enterprise rep. The BDR can recommend nurturing content and help position the seller as a valuable resource so that when the lead does reach sales-readiness, the seller is the first company that comes to mind.

Lessons Learned

In the case of this client, nurtured leads converted nearly nine times better than cold leads. Even more importantly, these nurtured leads were three times more likely to convert to SALs than traditional marketing-qualified leads. This begs for ongoing lead nurturing by marketing, and mid-stage intervention by BDRs.

The nurturing approach doesn’t have to be more expensive than the traditional linear approach. BDRs are generally earlier in their careers, and because of the nature of the job, they tend to be less expensive than sales executives. Critically, good BDRs make sales executives much more productive, which means higher quotas.

Over time, the higher conversion rates of the leads nurtured by content and BDRs create a self-funding mechanism that allows companies to invest in more content, more marketing, and more BDRs.

Effective demand generation depends upon engaging with prospects in a way that feels natural to them—a way that doesn’t feel like a hard sell. It involves continually taking the buyer’s pulse, and tweaking the sales and marketing strategy to align with it—even if it means rethinking the entire marketing-sales paradigm.

How Many Leads Does Your Sales Team Need?

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MARKETING AUTOMATION AND LEAD MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS have allowed for a
near-scientific breakdown of the sales funnel. Leads in each stage of the buying process meet very specific criteria and behave in certain predictable ways. Technological tools allow marketers to score leads and move them through the buying journey with the help of nurturing content. It seems that this once-complex process can be distilled to an algorithm.

But you can’t fully automate the sales funnel, especially for complex, research-heavy purchases in the BtoB world. Sales reps are as important as ever—it’s just that their role has changed. Prospects are shopping and researching anonymously, and it is the job of the marketer to position the brand in a way that encourages prospect engagement. After this digital dialogue, though, a sales rep still must fully qualify the lead and close the sale.

For example, a prospect who downloads a white paper, visits your website ten times, and perfectly maps to your ideal prospect profile does not necessarily hate his current vendor or
have an approved budget to switch vendors. Any person who has engaged that much is a
wonderful lead worth keeping, and should be considered a marketing qualified lead (MQL)—but he may need more nurturing to be sales-ready. Behavior that indicates sales-readiness to a
computer may be more complex than it appears.

By the time a lead is ready for further engagement with a sales rep, it should have been
rigorously qualified by marketing. The sales-accepted lead (SAL) designation can be an
excellent indicator of lead quality . The bar should be pretty high for a lead to transition from
MQL to SAL. If a lead is accepted by the sales department, it should have been vetted and
nurtured enough that the SAL to SQL (sales-qualified lead) conversion rate is about 90
percent. What is the point of employing a team of skilled salespeople if you don’t deliver
sales-ready leads to them? If you qualify your leads stringently, you won’t waste your sales
reps’ valuable time with leads that should still be in the nurturing process.

There is another reason it’s important to qualify leads before sending them to sales: Highly
quoted, highly compensated sales reps must make their quarterly quotas or face job security
concerns. So, which leads do you think they should (and will) spend their time on? Sales reps
will naturally focus on the leads that have shorter-term close rates and will likely dismiss
perfectly viable buyers who just happen to have a longer buying horizon.

Rather than throwing those buyers out altogether, though, you should utilize your marketing
automation and lead nurturing tools to stay in front of them until they are ready to make a
buying decision. According to SiriusDecisions, 80 percent of all leads disqualified by sales go
on to make a purchase within two years—so why not stay on their short lists until they’re
ready to buy?

So, we have established that it is important to rigorously qualify your leads before you pass
them to sales, and we have affirmed the importance of hanging on to leads that aren’t yet at
the point of purchase. But to meet your revenue goals, how many leads does your sales team
actually need?

Using our Revenue Growth Marketing Calculator, you can work backwards from your sales
goal to determine how many leads you will need to achieve the growth you want. All you
need is your average win size (your sales price) and your conversion rates. 

Any investment you make in lead nurturing will help lower the pressure on the marketing
department to produce so many MQLs. If you have carefully outlined your ideal prospect
profile, marketing automation and lead nurturing can go a long way to qualify your leads.

But if you have a shallow or poorly designed prospect profile, all it will do is speed up the
processing of bad prospects and accelerate budgetary waste.

Finally, don’t forget the importance of lead velocity. A lead may convert from an MQL to an
SAL in 30 days, and it may take an additional 45-60 days for a sales rep to finish qualifying the
lead and close the sale. Don’t panic if you don’t start bringing in revenue right away—it will
come. The Calculator accounts for the impact of lead velocity to help you gain a realistic idea
of how and when you can aim to reach your sales goal.

Now that you know how much you should spend on marketing and how many leads you
need, it’s time to think about the size of your database. Selling and marketing are arts in their
own right, but it is important to break them down mathematically when possible. Hard
numbers allow you to measure your success and gauge your return on investment.

By the time a lead is ready for further engagement with a sales rep, it should have been
rigorously qualified by marketing. The sales-accepted lead (SAL) designation can be an
excellent indicator of lead quality . The bar should be pretty high for a lead to transition from
MQL to SAL. If a lead is accepted by the sales department, it should have been vetted and
nurtured enough that the SAL to SQL (sales-qualified lead) conversion rate is about 90
percent. What is the point of employing a team of skilled salespeople if you don’t deliver
sales-ready leads to them? If you qualify your leads stringently, you won’t waste your sales
reps’ valuable time with leads that should still be in the nurturing process.

There is another reason it’s important to qualify leads before sending them to sales: Highly
quoted, highly compensated sales reps must make their quarterly quotas or face job security
concerns. So, which leads do you think they should (and will) spend their time on? Sales reps
will naturally focus on the leads that have shorter-term close rates and will likely dismiss
perfectly viable buyers who just happen to have a longer buying horizon.

Rather than throwing those buyers out altogether, though, you should utilize your marketing
automation and lead nurturing tools to stay in front of them until they are ready to make a
buying decision. According to SiriusDecisions, 80 percent of all leads disqualified by sales go
on to make a purchase within two years—so why not stay on their short lists until they’re
ready to buy?

So, we have established that it is important to rigorously qualify your leads before you pass
them to sales, and we have affirmed the importance of hanging on to leads that aren’t yet at
the point of purchase. But to meet your revenue goals, how many leads does your sales team
actually need?

Using our Revenue Growth Marketing Calculator, you can work backwards from your sales
goal to determine how many leads you will need to achieve the growth you want. All you
need is your average win size (your sales price) and your conversion rates. Go ahead and
enter your numbers into the Calculator to learn how many MQLs you should have.
Any investment you make in lead nurturing will help lower the pressure on the marketing
department to produce so many MQLs. If you have carefully outlined your ideal prospect
profile, marketing automation and lead nurturing can go a long way to qualify your leads.

But if you have a shallow or poorly designed prospect profile, all it will do is speed up the
processing of bad prospects and accelerate budgetary waste.

Finally, don’t forget the importance of lead velocity. A lead may convert from an MQL to an
SAL in 30 days, and it may take an additional 45-60 days for a sales rep to finish qualifying the
lead and close the sale. Don’t panic if you don’t start bringing in revenue right away—it will
come. The Calculator accounts for the impact of lead velocity to help you gain a realistic idea
of how and when you can aim to reach your sales goal.

Now that you know how much you should spend on marketing and how many leads you
need, it’s time to think about the size of your database. Selling and marketing are arts in their
own right, but it is important to break them down mathematically when possible. Hard
numbers allow you to measure your success and gauge your return on investment.

By the time a lead is ready for further engagement with a sales rep, it should have been
rigorously qualified by marketing. The sales-accepted lead (SAL) designation can be an
excellent indicator of lead quality . The bar should be pretty high for a lead to transition from
MQL to SAL. If a lead is accepted by the sales department, it should have been vetted and
nurtured enough that the SAL to SQL (sales-qualified lead) conversion rate is about 90
percent. What is the point of employing a team of skilled salespeople if you don’t deliver
sales-ready leads to them? If you qualify your leads stringently, you won’t waste your sales
reps’ valuable time with leads that should still be in the nurturing process.
There is another reason it’s important to qualify leads before sending them to sales: Highly
quoted, highly compensated sales reps must make their quarterly quotas or face job security
concerns. So, which leads do you think they should (and will) spend their time on? Sales reps
will naturally focus on the leads that have shorter-term close rates and will likely dismiss
perfectly viable buyers who just happen to have a longer buying horizon.
Rather than throwing those buyers out altogether, though, you should utilize your marketing
automation and lead nurturing tools to stay in front of them until they are ready to make a
buying decision. According to SiriusDecisions, 80 percent of all leads disqualified by sales go
on to make a purchase within two years—so why not stay on their short lists until they’re
ready to buy?

So, we have established that it is important to rigorously qualify your leads before you pass
them to sales, and we have affirmed the importance of hanging on to leads that aren’t yet at
the point of purchase. But to meet your revenue goals, how many leads does your sales team
actually need?

Using our Revenue Growth Marketing Calculator, you can work backwards from your sales
goal to determine how many leads you will need to achieve the growth you want. All you
need is your average win size (your sales price) and your conversion rates. Go ahead and
enter your numbers into the Calculator to learn how many MQLs you should have.
Any investment you make in lead nurturing will help lower the pressure on the marketing
department to produce so many MQLs. If you have carefully outlined your ideal prospect
profile, marketing automation and lead nurturing can go a long way to qualify your leads.

But if you have a shallow or poorly designed prospect profile, all it will do is speed up the
processing of bad prospects and accelerate budgetary waste.

Finally, don’t forget the importance of lead velocity. A lead may convert from an MQL to an
SAL in 30 days, and it may take an additional 45-60 days for a sales rep to finish qualifying the
lead and close the sale. Don’t panic if you don’t start bringing in revenue right away—it will
come. The Calculator accounts for the impact of lead velocity to help you gain a realistic idea
of how and when you can aim to reach your sales goal.

Now that you know how much you should spend on marketing and how many leads you
need, it’s time to think about the size of your database. Selling and marketing are arts in their
own right, but it is important to break them down mathematically when possible. Hard
numbers allow you to measure your success and gauge your return on investment.

Overcoming the Two Biggest Resource Constraints of B2B Demand Generation

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What is Demand Generation?

Demand generation is about creating a presence in the minds of your prospective buyers. It’s about establishing a connection with your brand as a solution for buyers who need to solve specific problems. And, ultimately, it’s about being on those buyers’ short list when they’re ready to purchase.

Creating this presence involves orchestrating a wide spectrum of initiatives that will reach buyers in the places they frequent, engage them as they research and consider solutions, and equip your sales team to connect with them in a way that results in a closed deal. 

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To maintain a brand presence in the minds of your prospects, you must continually perform and optimize all of the activities above. Demand generation is not a one-off initiative that you work on for a period of time, launch, and forget about.

Needless to say, juggling this many ongoing projects requires tremendous effort and discipline. In fact, demand generation not only requires discipline, it is a discipline.

The perpetual nature of demand generation is precisely what makes it so difficult. Every department within a company has ongoing projects they try to maintain, but the challenges and emergencies that pop up addressing them.

If you are ready to make demand generation a priority, you will likely be challenged by resource constraints.

The First Challenge: Headcount

To prevent demand generation from being permanently relegated to the back burner, you must devote personnel resources to each part of it. You also need to have someone overseeing the entire demand gen function, ensuring that it is continually executed on time and within your budget.

Does this mean you have to hire a full-time employee to manage each piece of the demand gen puzzle, and another full-time employee to manage all of them? Not necessarily.

The key is to focus on the skillsets you need to fulfill each function. You may find that a single person can take on multiple roles—managing copywriting and execution for email campaigns, for example. There’s nothing wrong with using fractional resources, as long as people are assigned to the jobs they are best suited to do, and no one is stretched too thin.

These last points are particularly important to keep in mind. It can feel like there are never enough bodies to do the work that needs to be done, but remember that no one person is good at every component of demand gen. You can only stretch people so thin before their output quality starts to suffer.

Demand Generation Not Only Requires Discipline, It is a Discipline

If you’re struggling to staff your demand gen function, think creatively: start from the skillsets you know you need, distribute responsibility in-house where you can, and consider bringing on part-time contractors or outsourcing to fill in the gaps. As long as you have one strong manager type who understands the process from end to end and can ensure rigor in execution, you will be able to run a demand gen program with a relatively small team.

The Second Challenge:

Of course, to get the technology and headcount you need, you have to carve out a place in your budget for demand generation. It is easy to pay a lot for your demand gen function. Marketing automation software alone can be prohibitively expensive, and you still need people to create and run campaigns, manage your database, and close deals. If you bring on multiple full-time employees or hire an agency, costs will add up quickly. 

That’s why it’s important to choose software that doesn’t charge you for functionality you won’t use, and to be smart about who you hire (or contract with) to help you fulfill each demand gen role. The point is that demand generation is complex and requires a deliberate, rigorous approach—and the resources to back it up. Work backwards from your goals to determine what your demand gen function should look like, and budget, hire, or outsource accordingly.

The Blame Game: Whose Responsibility is Lead Generation?

The Blame Game: Whose Responsibility is Lead Generation?

If your win rates are not what you want them to be, don't be so quick to blame Sales. As Sales Engine VP of Sales Ric Riddle explains in this short video, demand generation has moved farther up the funnel.

Webinar: How to Develop Content that Drives Sales Conversations

In this webinar clinic, Presenter Mike Vannoy, Co-Founder and COO of Sales Engine Media will diagnose three of the most common mistakes that B2B companies make in their content strategy that results in lost opportunities.

Watch our presentation: How to Develop Content That Drives Sales Conversations, to learn more about:

  • How to produce content that connects with prospects like a sales rep

  • How to convert anonymous prospects

  • How to get on the short list when the prospect is 'sales ready'

 

Feeding Sales Is a Process, Not a Project.

Feeding Sales Is a Process, Not a Project.

For decades, the B2B marketer has been a manager of projects. They develop white papers, email campaigns, go to trade shows, and—well, you know, execute on lots of projects. 

But the world has changed, and the internet is now crushing a sales rep’s ability to generate their own leads. So, marketing’s new role as lead generators for sales requires more than just project management and stellar execution.  

What’s the role of a content strategist?

What’s the role of a content strategist?

Whether you’re an email marketer, blogger, or inbound marketing specialist, generating an ongoing narrative is a much more difficult proposition because you quickly run out of thought-leadership topics that can be re-spun into different angles, which is why a new critical role has emerged in the world of content marketing—the content strategist

From Branding to Demand Generation

From Branding to Demand Generation

Having the same brand since their start in 1991, First Rate knew they had to make some major changes if they were going to compete effectively and grow in today’s digital era. Given their mission to help wealth management firms grow and thrive as stewards of their client’s investments, First Rate needed an innovative approach that would help empower investors and advisors to simplify and better understand their financial world.

5 easy steps to building ongoing thought-leadership content

5 easy steps to building ongoing thought-leadership content

The development of ongoing, thought-leadership content has become the necessary element for a marketing program that increases visibility and produces leads, but it’s not enough simply to publish a blog or white paper anymore.