Four Strategies for Transforming your Demand Process

Read today’s post for Software Advice from Carlos Hidalgo @cahidalgo CEO and Principal, ANNUITAS.

In their State of Marketing Audit, the CMO Council dubbed 2013 as “The Year of the Marketer.” The reason behind their bold statement: responses from their study showed more than half of CMOs forecasting budget and headcount increases, an increased optimism on collaboration with sales, and the ability to attain revenue growth. This is certainly good news and I hope they are right.

However, if in 12 months we will be able to look back and deem this year a rousing success for marketers, a transformation must take place. While many organizations are taking some needed steps to improve their demand generation and value to the organization, these steps are incremental, not transformational. The marketing executives I get the privilege to meet with tell me the following:

  • “Our organization is siloed. We have so many groups focused on specific tactics and it makes it hard to align around a single strategy.”
  • “We still talk at our buyers way too much about our own services and products and I fear we are missing the buyer connection altogether.”
  • “We pull metrics, but spend a good portion of the time not analyzing, but arguing over if they are believable.”
  • “We surpassed our goal on number of inquires, but still missed on the overall revenue contribution number.”

If marketing is going to earn 2013 as our year, this has to change and organizations need to begin thinking in terms of a transformational demand process. There are four changes in thinking that organizations need to embrace to begin this transformation.

1. Buyer Centricity

This first step to transforming your demand process is to take a buyer-centric approach. This is more than just writing content that appeals to your buyer–this requires change in every aspect of the organization, including the messaging, how you design and implement demand generation programs, configuration of enabling systems, and how marketing and sales work together in the management of the buyer life-cycle. All of this must align to Buyer 2.0–a buyer who has access to a wealth of information available on the Web and is less reliant on marketers and outside salespeople for information–and their buying process.

First look at how your company is structured. Do your marketing and sales departments align to your buyers’ purchase cycle? This goes beyond marketing and sales alignment to marketing and marketing alignment.

One client I worked with had multiple groups within their marketing department that engaged with the buyer, but no alignment across those groups. The result? A porous lead management process and lost opportunities. As they began aligning around the buyer’s process, they saw an increase in qualified leads, contribution to pipeline and revenue.

2. A Focus on Outcomes

Take a revenue-oriented approach. This is a strategic, outcome-oriented view to identifying, qualifying and converting the buyer into repeatable, sustainable revenue and maximizing the customer’s lifetime value. As my colleague and partner Adam Needles spelled out in a recent article, this includes taking a look at how your organization is structured and the operational process by which the organization will work.

3. Alignment

As mentioned earlier, marketing and sales must collaborate. I believe one of the most damning phrases that has seeped into everyday B2B vernacular is the “lead hand-off to sales.” Let’s understand one thing: the buyer does not walk through the same systematic paces we do with our linear funnels. They do not want to be “passed-off.” They want to have a one-to-one dialogue that helps them make an informed buying decision.

This means marketing and sales together must determine how they will engage, nurture and convert their buyers. Too often, marketing focuses on the “Top of the Funnel”–driving inquiries and sales on the bottom third. This causes a gap in the process and leads to a poor buyer experience, lead leakage and lost revenue opportunity.

Marketing and sales need to define this process and create demand programs that create demand programs that create dialogue with your buyers at every stage of their purchase cycle. This goes far beyond tactics–it requires the creation of a demand architecture that choreographs marketing and sales working in tandem in response to the buyer.

4. Clarity

One of the things causing confusion in today’s B2B environment is the lack of clear terms. What is a campaign? What is a program? What is an inquiry? What is a lead? And so on. Marketing and sales must define what they mean if they are going to achieve success in working toward a unified buyer strategy and make their metrics meaningful.

I would recommend taking the time to get key stakeholders from both marketing and sales to collaborate on these terms and document them. This is foundational and at the very least, it will ensure both groups understand the internal discussions.

In one organization in which we worked, the result was a glossary of terms distributed across sales and marketing. This led to fields being renamed in the CRM and Automation systems and a better alignment across the board. It was a just a start, but a very important start!

While I certainly hope the CMO Council is right in their “Year of the Marketer “proclamation, this title must be earned. This starts with transformational change and a new demand process approach.

* This article was published today on SoftwareAdvice.

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