Over the last few months, we have been immersing ourselves in the concept and application of B2B demand generation.
For those unfamiliar with the term, Demand Generation is a marketing process that nurtures and engages prospects appropriately at each stage of the buying cycle.
We have a number of client projects in progress at this time and are closely monitoring the challenges and successes that we encounter. This is in the interests of continuous improvement, practical insight and, of course, great results for our clients.
The principle of demand generation is the application of multi-touch marketing communications that respect, and are tailored to, where the prospect is in the buying process. In simple terms, it is holding back from trying to close the sale on first contact - because the attempt will fail unless the buyer is ready to buy.
As ever, matching the theory to the practice is the hardest part and the first obstacle normally occurs at the acceptance stage.
The theory says that we must stop the salesperson going in too soon. Instead, we must align the nature of the conversation with where the prospect is in the buying cycle.
When implementing a programme of this nature, early challenges arise when you have a sales-force that needs feeding. A proposal to slow the flow of leads in the interests of a higher rate of sales conversion further down the line is rarely popular with a team that likes to show it is active, if not always successful.
This is closely related to persuading telemarketers not to go straight for the appointment when all of the instincts and training are directed towards this end.
The demand generation process requires nothing short of a wholesale change in the sales process and sales culture, which is a big ask of any organisation. We, therefore, address this with a three-tier approach to gaining the support and engagement of Sales.
Firstly, we enter into open and shared communication with the sales teams to explain the approach.
Secondly, we run a dual system in which we work the new approach on a specific set of data and allow traditional methods to run on the remainder. This retains the continuity of supply and keeps the sales team on board during the transition.
Thirdly, we persuade senior management to adjust incentives relating to the demand generation exercise to reflect nurturing, not just closures.
Demand Generation requires discipline and a whole-hearted commitment to the methodology by us and the client. A breakdown in any area of the process undermines the programme - and, more importantly, the results.
In future posts, we will take a look at some of the specific 'in-life' challenges that we encounter, such as generating relevant content and managing and monitoring the process without a sophisticated CRM system.