Demand Generation: Why Marketing Gets it Wrong and Sales Doesn’t Get It At All

A new report called The Reinvention of B2B Marketing, from eConsultancy shows there is still quite a disparity between B2B marketing and sales organizations.  The study reveals findings from a marketer’s point of view and states that, by and large, marketers do not feel valued in their organizations and that most organizations are “sales-led”.

sales and marketingThis kind of thinking, the kind that stops to discuss, “are we a sales or marketing led organization” is one of the key reasons why most organizations struggle with demand generation success today.  Companies need to dispense with the discussion of what internal department has more sway and begin looking to align around a buyer-centric demand plan with the goal of creating perpetual demand and improving customer lifetime value. This should be the most pressing question in any organization.

Consider the following statistics from the DemandGen Report 2013 Buyers Survey:

  • As many as 41% of buyers said they waited longer to initiate contact with B2B vendors than they did a year ago
  • Almost half (46%) of buyers still prefer creating a short list of vendors before making the decision to communicate with a sales rep
  • Nearly two thirds (64%) said a vendor’s content had a significant impact on their buying decision.
  • As many as 37% of purchases in 2013 involved four to seven people

In short – the buying process and the buyers have changed (this is hardly new news) and it takes more than just one department to engage them.  Buyers have seized control of their own buying process while marketing and sales grapple over who is going to be in charge . . . . resulting in organizations providing  a poor purchase experience and significant obstacles to improving customer lifetime value.

Marketers do indeed need to assert their leadership in developing a demand generation – content strategy (Strategy means the right content and not more content) that aligns to the buyers purchase process.  This is not the job of sales, although sales needs to be involved in providing their knowledge of the buyer and insights from the field which is imperative in developing this strategy. Marketing and sales need to work together to obtain the best information and understand of their buyers to develop true buyer insights.

In addition, marketing needs to be able to demonstrate the results they are getting from their demand programs, however only 39% of B2B marketing organizations demonstrate true marketing ROI according to the Lenskold Group.  This lack of reporting and analysis is a blockade to marketing assuming a leadership position in organizations, as without these reports and metrics, they are unable to speak in the language of the their counterparts and demonstrate value.

Sales needs to come to terms with the fact the B2B buyer is not as reliant on them as they have been in the past, and as a result, the need to adjust their role accordingly and improve their skill sets.

As seen in the statistics above, the interaction with sales is pushed much further down the buying process than in the past.  This dynamic calls for sales to place a greater reliance on marketing’s ability to develop a solid demand generation strategy, developing the right kind of engaging content for meaningful interactions and help drive greater pipeline impact.

Additionally, sales needs to understand that their role is to help nurture the sale to close and bring it to close in a consultative manner when the time is right.  There is no cold calling in a holistic, buyer-centric Demand Generation Strategy. There is, however, strategic follow-up to by sales to prospects and customers when they have demonstrated the right behavior or taken a specific, “sales-ready” action.  Only then should sales engage to help solve their prospects pain or address their needs.

With only 28% of organizations achieving a “true marketing and sales partnership” according the eConsultancy study, it is no wonder why demand generation success is so elusive.  Marketing and Sales truly need to focus their efforts less on who is in charge and more on aligning around their buyer and development of an end-to-end demand process. Without that, no one wins, not sales, not marketing and certainly not the customer.

Author: Carlos Hidalgo @cahidalgo CEO and Principal, ANNUITAS

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