Demand Generation is all of the promotional marketing activities that lead to additional parties being added at the top of your sales pipeline. In my experience, if you want to maximize your Demand Generation, you must strategically structure your lead generation programs around Best Practices and continually tweak them to ensure that you and your team will generate results. Here are some good Best Practices.
Start by performing a quick assessment of your organization’s current Demand Generation capabilities. Identify your team’s strengths, weaknesses, and gaps. Develop a plan to address the gaps by going after the easiest gaps to close first, and closing them. Then move on to the next priority, and so on. Spend an hour doing some research on the web of what is working for other companies, from a Demand Generations standpoint. Whatever you do, keep moving forward, and don’t let frustration or discouragements slow you down!
Prepare a Strategic Demand Generation Plan based on the tactics, messages, media and timelines that fit within your budget. Consider your available resources to follow up on each investment, and plan to follow up in a timely fashion. If you cannot follow up in a timely manner to each investment, then don’t make the investment. Spending money to generate leads that you don’t have to follow up on (due to a lack of time or resources to act…) is like wearing sunglasses in the dark. Doesn’t make sense. That all sounds simple and like nobody would be silly enough to invest in leads that they don’t follow up on, right? You’d be amazed how often lead generation doesn’t happen the way it should.
Ensure the alignment of your sales team and your marketing team in pursuing lead generation campaigns. When strongly aligned, sales and marketing organizations agree about how to define leads, how to determine an appropriate lead status and how to track and monitor the lead development process. Don’t let sales and marketing counter-act one another’s best efforts. Encourage these teams to raise the level of their collective games together. Ensure that you hold them equally accountable for results, and challenge and encourage them along the way to spur some healthy, friendly competition. Remind your sales and marketing teams that they will accomplish a whole lot more together than either of them can attain alone.
Identify a clear and concise understanding of the source of your best leads. Find out where your top customers have come from and which messages helped them to become interested in your company and your solutions. Next, perfect your message so that it is tailored to fit your target market of best prospects like a glove. Engage your subject matter experts (SMEs) to ensure that your message is crisp, customer focused and is presented in the context of a solution to a customer’s known pain. Once your message is perfected, deliver it often via many media outlets. Use all of the available social media channels, your website, your local networking meetings, your speaking engagements, your trade shows, etc. to shout your message from the hilltops. Plan to use multiple media in a coordinated effort to pursue leads. By coordinating your media schedule, you will increase your collective rate of responses. Great campaigns don’t rely on one media, but rather leverage email, online, social media, white papers, case studies and more.
Employ a solid web marketing tool that is integrated to your website and to your CRM systems. This will ensure that your team has the tools to allow them to properly nurture all leads that are generated and track all lead nurturing activity. The performance of any Demand Generation campaign must be measured and tracked in a system that allows for easy analysis of investments, success, and results. You will want to track opens, click rates, inquiry rates, lead quality, lead sources, top search terms, lead conversion percent, top conversion by sales rep, closed business by campaign, and pipeline/revenue/margin contribution rates. When you leverage the capabilities of your applications, you can be much more scientific and gain leverage as you’re working to build your pipeline and grow your client base and your revenue. Embrace the technology and remember that technology alone cannot carry you to victory. You need a coordinated human driving the campaign, and the technology just extends your investment by amplifying your effort. Make the effort count!
Gain a keen understanding of your prospect’s buying tipping points and also the seasonality of your business to maximize your results and make your Demand Generation investments more potent. Don’t launch your campaign the day before Christmas if you’re targeting business owners and business people. Your approach must fit your target market and hit them when they are most interested and available to receive the message.
Be very strategic about your investment in Trade Shows and Conventions, tracking which shows lead to the highest ROI. Focus your Demand Generation investments on the shows and conventions that are well attended by the target markets that you are courting as new customers. Make sure that your investment in the event is robust enough to allow you to represent your brand well and have something valuable to talk about at your booth, and staff appropriately so that you leave every visitor with a positive impression of your brand. Ensure all participants in your trade show effort know what behaviors generate opportunities, and train them on how to work the show so that their time in the booth leads to ROI. Measure the results you achieved at the event and make sure it matches your expectations before returning next year.
As in all things, process excellence can make a difference for you in your Demand Generation activities. We suggest that you create a closed-loop process to ensure that leads don’t fall through the cracks. You want to make sure that after all of the investment of your time, energy, and resources to create leads, that they receive appropriate follow-up before they lose their interest. Identify the habits and best practices of the people in your sales organization who are making the most of their new leads and use those best practices to raise the level of the rest of the team. If every member of the team is using the same methodology to follow up appropriately on leads and is meticulous about how they qualify and develop leads, your results will quickly improve. Common sense, right? Make those leads count, by ensuring that every member of the team knows EXACTLY how to follow up on a lead, and how to qualify and develop a lead in the best possible manner.
One great technique that is often overlooked in many growing companies is a simple one to implement. As mentioned before in this article, ensure that your sales and marketing teams are aligned. Do not allow the sales team to be headed in one direction and the marketing team to be headed in the opposite direction. Your Sales Leader and your Marketing Leader must be in complete synchronization about what marketing is doing to create “at bats” for your Sales AEs. In addition to ensuring tight cohesion and alignment around objectives for growth, you will want to leverage the competitiveness of the marketing and sales teams. This is best accomplished by simply implementing a contest where they are working together to develop results across departments and tracking results publicly during the campaigns. As the teams begin to work more cross-functionally, you will want to publicly celebrate the top collaborative performers in both departments with appropriate rewards. Nothing ensures growth like having a tightly integrated partnership between Marketing and Sales. It’s that critical to your greater success, so work at it…
These Best Practices provide us with some food for thought. By now, you may have some exciting new and actionable ideas that you can implement. Take the initiative and ensure that you act quickly. Don’t wait. Make up your mind to raise the level of your Demand Generation game by trying something different TODAY! Your results in 2017 will depend upon it.
Michael is an Executive Development Coach and Business Advisor to start-ups and medium-sized companies in the high technology sector. Michael helps Presidents, CEOs, Business Owners, and their Leadership Teams to raise the level of their games, and to leverage tools and strategies to maximize the power of their business culture and their business model. Michael will be hosting workshops on the fourth Friday of each month in his offices in Prior Lake, Minnesota. Space in these Executive Workshops is limited, so please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org today for more information on how to reserve your spot. January workshops will cover the power of behavior analysis in the workplace, as well as, time management. RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!