Essentials of Perpetual Revenue
Several days ago I had dinner with a long-time friend who is a self-employed B2B entrepreneur. After years of building a strong customer base, she admitted that her goal this year is to drive more “passive income” from clients who aren’t actively engaged. It occurred to me that even enterprise-level businesses struggle with this goal – how to drive continuous revenue and capitalize on customer lifetime value.
Simply having a demand generation program is no longer enough to drive sustainable revenue, as evidenced by the less than three percent of marketing departments that indicate their demand generation efforts are actually effective (ANNUITAS 2014 B2B Enterprise Demand Generation Survey).You may have the right content marketing strategy to fuel your Demand Generation program, however, you may need to take a step back and evaluate if you truly have a Demand Process that will drive perpetual revenue.
The elements required to develop a Demand Process are not revolutionary. However, the challenge is ensuring they are sequenced and aligned to deliver the best results; this is often difficult for organizations. Spend time thinking about a few key areas before you begin to build your process:
- Ask “WWBD?” (What Would the Buyer Do?)
If you’ve taken the time to develop buyer personas, then you are already a step ahead of your peers. However, if those personas have been built heavily on job title and job function, or worse yet, BANT criteria, then you are missing out on key insights that can connect you to your customers across their entire buying process.
In fact, according to the ANNUITAS Enterprise B2B Demand Generation study, only 33% of organizations include the buyer’s buying process as part of their personas. Without this insight, there is no way you will be able to deliver relevant content to buyers at each and every buying stage. Part of this process is accounting for the inbound and outbound content consumption behaviors of your buyers which will enable the ability to Engage and Nurturing them over time. Remember, the buyer’s journey is not linear and it needs to be based on buyer-needs and pacing, not an arbitrary path planned by marketing without insights.
- Mind the Mid-Funnel Gap
Due to the overwhelming pressure on demand generation teams to quickly “get more leads in the pipeline,” top of funnel engagement tends to be the main focus of programs, as well as becoming the primary goal for marketing automation platforms. Organizations then tend to jump straight into bottom of the funnel conversion with their efforts. This leads to lack of priority on mid-funnel nurturing, resulting in the majority of the buyer’s journey being missed, causing a dissatisfied and often uneducated buyer.
It is this mid-funnel focus that is the most critical aspect to any perpetual Demand Process, as nurturing is continual by nature, and where the majority of most lead scoring and progressive profiling takes place. By ignoring mid-funnel activity and content development/optimization, you both lose touch with your customers as well as the ability to influence their purchase agenda.
- Learn to Love Layers
If you already have a Marketing Automation Platform in place, have implemented Service Level Agreements (SLAs), and made your team recite “awareness, consideration, purchase” ad nauseum, then congratulations – you have a firm foundation for a company-centric selling process. But perpetual revenue is driven by an end-to-end Demand Process comprised of several layers, always starting with the customer as the foundation: aligning B2B marketing and sales interactions with the buyer; leveraging lead qualification stages to maximize customer lifetime value; and operationalizing demand generation activities via federated models and organizational blueprints. It is all about Engage, Nurture and Convert in this optimized model.
- Realize That “One and Done” Rarely Results in “Won and Done”
Building a strategic Demand Process is no small feat, and once completed, you may be inclined to sit back, relax and allow the program to work its magic. However, a perpetual program must also be continuously monitored and optimized.
Demand Process is a flexible, scalable framework that evolves across stages of maturity to gradually improve revenue outcomes. Once your program is up and running, it is necessary to track performance and fine tune along the way. Is certain content performing better for one persona or stage than another? Is your federated scoring model driving predictable opportunities or does it require tweaking? Are new personas presenting themselves across different business segments?
Demand Process is an effective strategy for perpetual revenue, but only if your organization also accepts it as a basis for transformation.
Author: Kendra Hathway @KendraATL is Senior Director, Strategy at ANNUITAS