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Boost Demand Generation through Sales and Marketing Alignment

Boost Demand Generation through Sales and Marketing AlignmentWe know successful deals aren’t created and closed by the sales team alone; there’s significant homage due to the marketing team in their demand generation efforts and kick-starting the funnel. To maximize outcome, the secret is to enable your business to boost demand generation through sales and marketing alignment. Don’t get us wrong—this doesn’t mean cutting the marketing team altogether and asking sales to take over (check out this case study); rather, have the two teams work harmoniously to achieve the best results.

Manage the Data

Between the two departments, data should be gathered and analyzed and best practices defined. When determining which strategies have proven most successful, keep in mind the four primary phases of demand generation: awareness, interest, preference, and commitment.

The goals here are to drive awareness and interest through successful inbound and outbound marketing that will enhance the sales cycle. In order to boost demand generation through sales and marketing alignment, both teams must be focused on determining the buyer persona. The marketing team gains awareness of and attention from potential prospects (suspects) through understanding who they are and what they want. This knowledge comes through the eyes of the sales team. By having a comprehensive profile of the current buyer persona, marketers can more directly target the audience and create more personalized campaigns, such as email marketing, which in turn drive higher return rates. Gather, analyze, and share the knowledge.

Guide Validation

Once the marketing team has generated demands, the next step is to convince the suspects that your solution is best through generating the leads. The marketing team has a plethora of ammunition to accomplish this: whitepapers, videos, blogs, reviews, direct mail, etc. Re-analyze and reuse the data collected from automated marketing solutions to further personalize each point of contact with the prospect to determine scoring and qualification, and pass only the qualified ones over to sales.

Nurturing the leads to the point of qualification comes when you boost demand generation through sales and marketing alignment. If the demand generation is low, activity in the pipeline is low, close rates are low. It’s key to have a solid grasp of the initial steps in order to maximize flow in the funnel to the closing steps. Implementing marketing programs that work together with a structured sales process will help to build awareness about your solution, remind prospects why your solution is better than others, and convert prospects into customers.

B2B Demand Generation – How Does it Work?

B2B Demand Generation How Does It WorkB2B demand generation is the process of facilitating the buying process through a combination of marketing and sales assets. The purpose of generating demand is to proactively build awareness about your solution and convert a suspect (unqualified prospect) to a customer.

Effective demand generation aligns your marketing and sales teams through an integrated system, such as the combination of our Lead Management Automation™ platform with the Salesforce.com’s Sales Cloud CRM application. To maximize results, a dem gen strategy involves having the two function areas share information and knowledge.

Data from each silo should be analyzed to determine what has worked within each discipline. The most productive strategies should be combined to fulfill the four primary phases of demand generation:

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Preference
  4. Commitment

These four phases in the demand generation funnel move suspects to buyers through distinct approaches and unique objectives.

Awareness

The first objective is to open eyes. Creating awareness can be achieved through inbound and outbound channels and is focused on connecting a potential buyer with a problem to your solution.

Exposure is critical during the awareness phase, so experts suggest deploying as many touch points as possible. Frequency is important as well because it can often take up to seven exposures to register in a suspect’s mind. Remember, before a suspect can show interest he must first be aware that your solution exists.

Interest

The next phase is to stimulate interest in your solution. What makes your solution appealing? What features are commonly in demand? Building interest requires an sharper focus on what your solution can do for your suspects. Once buyers are made aware of your solution, the strategy used during this phase is to target needs and match benefits.

Here is where you strive for TOMA (top-of-mind-awareness) through a series of messages that escalate need/benefit match-up  Buying triggers should be targeted during this phase. Using the data that was analyzed during the development of your demand generation strategy, highlight the most appealing features or benefits to generate interest.

Preference

This phase may be owned by both marketing and sales. Now the objective is to become the preferred solution for your suspects. Prior to buying, most B2B prospects become interested in a few options. This stage moves them to a point where, if a purchase has been approved by management the suspect will be interested in a sales engagement with your company.

To be considered a preferred choice means that most of a buyer’s objections have been overcome. At this point your target is close to making a decision – and your solution has been deemed the best solution for her company.

Preference for your solution can be established through deep marketing engagements such as webinars or white paper downloads. Qualifying sales calls can also develop preference within your leads.

Commitment

Your sales department should have ownership of the commitment phase. Here BANT has been confirmed and final objections are overcome. Commitment is gained through advanced questioning intended to root out hidden objections and preparing your target to buy your solution. Demand has been cultivated, the lead has been nurtured, and your solution has become the clear option for your target.

5 Keys to Maximizing Demand Generation

Maximizing Demand GenerationDemand generation requires discipline, patience, and focus. The process of building awareness, creating interest, and provoking action requires a deeper strategy than simply building a marketing campaign. Here are a five key considerations to maximizing demand generation:

Website as hub

Design marketing, sales, fulfillment, and customer service through the prime portal for the company – your website. This can increase efficiency when interacting with your markets and lead to greater demand for your solutions. The site can be used to aggregate contact data from marketing inquiries, product orders, shipments, and feedback forms. By enhancing visitor experience and maximizing the functionality of your site, it becomes the lead touchpoint and will convert customers to advocates.

Your website can be used as a demand generation vehicle in itself through design elements that align with a lead’s decision-making process, build engagement, and progressively reduce objections. In order to be effective at demand generation, it’s also important to ensure that the site appeals to market participants at different points in the buying cycle.

Deploy multiple tools

Effective demand generation requires a basket of tools. Start with an integrated marketing approach that deploys multimedia communication tools to cultivate relationships. Channels such as blogs or Twitter feeds provide effective exchange mechanisms where suspects, prospects, and customers can connect with your company and provide meaningful information that can be used for future marketing campaigns.

There is no shortage of options for database mining, touch point tracking, and contact management. Tools that manage the distribution of information and track lead activity provide more robust market interaction and granular analytics. And with marketing automation tools such as our Lead Management Automation™ platform, companies are able to cultivate lead relationships and measure campaign effectiveness.

Know thy audience

The first step is to analyze your markets. Not just demographics, but psychographics and buying triggers. It’s important to develop a persona or profile for your market(s) that provides marketing and sales with an audience they both can connect with. Marketing campaigns should be persona-centric, letting the audience figure out why they want your solutions.

Turn your marketing strategy from ego-centric to customer-centric. Ask questions, get others to praise your solutions, and make buyers feel good about choosing your solutions. Successful marketers understand who their buyers are by learning about what they do, what they care about, and how they see themselves. Above all, learn how to talk with your market(s) and not at them.

Remember the long term

In a perfect world your B2B sales cycle would be complete within 30 days. Maybe two weeks. But that’s just not the way most purchases happen. With lead times of six months, a year, or even 24 months, demand generation is a long-term proposition. Keep in mind, it can take up to ten impressions just to register in a suspect’s consciousness!

Integrate marketing, sales, and customer experience

Future demand is generated through reputation management. The reputation you earn is formed through the entire process a customer experiences, from first contact to solution delivery to satisfaction follow-up surveys. It is important to blend your marketing strategy, sales execution, fulfillment process, and customer feedback together.

Throughout the lead nurturing process a strategy of integrating marketing and sales touch points is essential to generating demand. Messaging is more effective when combined with a marketing inquiry follow-up call from a sales agent. As a lead moves through the marketing pipeline it often becomes necessary to execute sales calls in order to elevate a marketing-qualified lead to a sales-qualified lead.

Once a purchase is made, customer satisfaction feedback through forms and phone surveys help to deliver the expectation that the relationship doesn’t end with a sale. And though a sales conversion has taken place, demand generation is still necessary to maintain a long-term customer relationship.

Building Awareness: Your First Step Towards Demand Generation Part 2

Building Awareness: Your First Step Towards Demand Generation Part 2In our last post titled Building Awareness: Your First Step Towards Demand Generation we talked about using search engine optimization, viral marketing, social media marketing and email to help build awareness and generate demand. We’ll add a few more items to the list in part 2 of this post.

Pay Per Click Advertising

Using web publishers to create awareness accomplishes two objectives: 1) it gets your message in front of prospects through a third party (who has likely earned the trust of your market), and 2) it allows you to measure results and pay only for responses to your message. Be sure to advertise with publishers whose content is relevant to your business; simply buying ad space on popular websites and search engines doesn’t always produce good results. Narrow your focus to include publishers who reach your target audience.

Outbound marketing is a more direct approach to creating awareness. Using outbound techniques may run the risk of alienating prospects; however, results are measurable and often leads are qualified sooner than when using inbound marketing methods.

Telemarketing

Using call centers, automated messaging or staffing telemarketers can be effective in creating awareness; however, telemarketing effectiveness is often based primarily on timing (where a prospect lies in the sales cycle). Many of today’s B2B marketing professionals consider telemarketing a costly option that does not produce comparable results to inbound marketing, but it does have its place in certain industries. This technique provides a way to instantly respond to questions, so it can be a good way to introduce a complex product.

Outsourced Lead Generation

There are several ways to create awareness through companies like Lead Liaison. We use web forms, landing pages, email campaigns and website tracking to build lead lists. These lists include targeted prospects that may or may not be aware of your company or products but they have a need that requires a solution. Often this strategy is comparable to SEO because the leads that are captured have shown an active interest in what your company provides.

This concludes our series on  Building Awareness: Your First Step Towards Demand Generation. Are you interested in using Lead Liaison to help build awareness and drive demand? Contact us ASAP if that interests you.

Building Awareness: Your First Step Towards Demand Generation Part 1

Building Awareness: Your First Step Towards Demand GenerationIn order to create demand, you must first create awareness. There are two primary ways to go about this – inbound or outbound marketing.

Inbound marketing uses online content to draw visitors to you by providing something of value not attached to a specific offer. It is an indirect method of creating awareness; prospects respond because of their interest in material relevant to your business, not because they are actively interested in your company or its products.

Search Engine Optimization

In order to attract prospects that are actively seeking information that is relevant to your business –  “kicking the tires” if you will – optimizing your company website and other web presences is essential. According to a 2012 report by the Kitterman Marketing Group, approximately 92% of B2B buyers use online resources to evaluate purchases. Using relevant keywords and phrases within your online content helps boost your presence in search engine rankings.

Viral Marketing

Although there is no formula for creating online content that is so interesting that its popularity explodes on the net, using remarkable video clips, images or other creatives can be effective in building awareness. The goal is to reach individuals with high social networking potential that will send your creative to other influencers until its exposure reaches a mass audience. Once there, your message can be used in other marketing activities.

Social Media Marketing

Leveraging the influence of social media is almost necessary in today’s marketplace. The strength of SMM lies in its ability to use influencers to share your content. Your creatives should be interesting, timely and relevant in order to gain traction among social media users. Getting the attention of industry leaders in your markets is important to using social media effectively.

Email

Creating awareness by contact through email messages can be tricky yet productive. It’s critical to gain approval from your prospects; this can often be accomplished by offering valuable information through other channels in exchange for an email address. Once you’ve gained that approval, an email drip campaign can be effective in nurturing leads towards a sales engagement.