A Framework for Sustainable Growth: ANNUITAS Demand Process™

In April 2012 our CEO, Adam Needles, published a blog post that introduced the concept of Demand Process for the first time. It defined Demand Process as a model to integrate all elements of people, process, content, technology and data around the buyer journey and the engage, nurture, convert continuum. That post explained:

[Businesses’] drive towards a managed demand process continues to fall apart at execution.

As it turns out, getting our stream of inbound and outbound buyer education working in tandem with our lead qualification efforts, automating everything and getting everyone on the marketing and sales team partnering and operating on a continuous basis around this process … well that’s where we still struggle.

Fortunately, there is a better way

Since then, the concept of Demand Process has been road tested by the ANNUITAS team through 97 (and counting) enterprise transformations and nine years of continuous refinement.

The resulting framework is ANNUITAS Demand Process™ – a model that enables companies to operationalize every element of go-to-market, across all sales and marketing interactions, around customer journey. This enables companies to balance two critical, interconnected but often competing objectives: orchestrating customer engagement and providing lift to pipelines.

But what does Demand Process look like in real life and how is it implemented across the organization? Let’s unpack the elements of Demand Process.

Elements of Demand Process

There’s a lot that goes into operationalizing go-to-market around customer journey.

Ultimately, the goal of Demand Process is to orchestrate all sales and marketing interactions, ensuring every touchpoint is right place, right time, as much as possible while moving the customer through initial Engagement, Nurturing and ultimate Conversion.

Many organizations have world-class people, content, and technology, but they don’t have the framework to operationalize and bring these elements together. They have all the ingredients, but no recipe … no secret sauce.

The starting place is having a clear view of customer journey. Critical insights include understanding the customer’s external context, their buying process, the stakeholders involved in the buying cohort, their content consumption preferences and the inherent frictions they experience with your sales and marketing programs today.

The top anchor of Demand Process (see below) is the Customer Dialogue Logic. This is the end-to-end dialogue with the customer that we seek to drive; a step-by-step movement through information requests. Understanding this progression is an anchor for subsequent sales and marketing interactions throughout the customer journey, governing the logic of the progression. Demand Process layers cascade from there.

ANNUITAS Demand Process Model 2021

The next three interconnected layers are:

  • Content Marketing Model + Sales Enablement Model: Addressing prospective customers’ information requests requires having the right content available and aligned to the right stages of the customer journey. Thus, it is critical to have a comprehensive Content Marketing Model for upstream nurturing and customer self-education, and then there should be subsequent continuity with content for downstream Sales Enablement as the prospective customer begins to interact with inside and field sellers. When done right, the two should work together to define a singular body of content that addresses every anticipated information request throughout the customer journey from initial Engagement through customer Conversion. You can read more about Content Marketing Models in this article.

 

  • Engagement Channels Model: Customers have clear preferences for when and where they consume content, and so it’s critical that we serve different content via different channels at different stages of the buying process. For example, a CFO persona might be very open to certain content being delivered via email, but in other cases may prefer to do inbound searches for what (s)he is looking for. Thus, our Engagement Channels Model must map out the differential channels by persona and stage required to successfully engage with a prospective customer. Learn more about engagement channels in the article “How to Optimize Your Marketing Engagement Channel Strategy.

 

A Funnel Management Framework is the next layer and must be fully aligned to the conversation happening with the prospective customer. First, it must not simply identify target prospects and accounts, but rather serve as a barometer of the relative education, readiness and funnel progression for prospecting customers throughout their journey — meaning, it must provide predictive insight into ‘who is where’ in their buying process at all times. Second, it must bridge more nascent concepts of lead management and opportunity management. Too often companies get caught up in the insular concepts of leads, opportunities and account-based everything, and they miss the bigger picture; instead, Funnel Management must bring together and orchestrate these concepts and interactions to manage demand holistically, at both the individual and organizational level, end-to-end.

The lower two layers of Demand Process are too often where organizations begin in an attempt to drive growth:

  • Marketing + Sales Roles: The most fundamental concept of Demand Process is the idea of stewardship — i.e., ensuring that there is continuous interaction throughout the customer journey. Thus, it’s critical that organizations define their sales and marketing organizational model in terms of customer journey and lead-to-revenue progression. This means moving from a functional rationalization of roles (such as, “field seller” or “digital marketing”) to a process rationalization of roles (e.g., “inbound engagement” or “lead development”). It also means that it’s impossible to build your organizational model without having a sense of your go-to-market — a concept that is probably revolutionary to many, but really make sense if you think about it. Suggesting you recruit your team before you have defined your Demand Process model is a recipe for failure. We dive deeper into this topic and offer sample org charts in the piece, How Your Org Chart Can Make or Break Your Demand Marketing Transformation.

 

  • Technology Systems + Data Architecture: Technology is not a demand solution; rather, technology should underpin and enable Demand Process. This is also a major mistake organizations repeatedly make. Technology systems and data for sales and marketing should support and enable a customer data value chain — versus supporting random acts of sales and marketing. If you’re not sure if your technology is supporting a strategy or just blasting outbound campaigns, read this article.

Finally, there are two regulators in the model: Customer Targeting + Segmentation and Demand Process Management + KPIs. In plain words, an effective Demand Process model must be led by a scalable model that clearly articulates how to connect with the right customer (in the right place, at the right time), and it must be supported by a model for continuously optimizing and scaling this critical path with an emphasis on outcomes, not activity.

Operationalizing Go-To-Market Around The Customer Journey

The ANNUITAS Demand Process™ framework addresses the root cause of tactical demand: random acts of sales and marketing.

Tactical demand occurs when companies are going to market ‘inside-out’ – when companies have a product or service they are trying to ‘push out’ to prospective customers. It is the result of an outbound, campaign mindset. It is extremely inefficient and leads to a break-down in go-to-market execution – never achieving a repeatable model for sustainable growth.

Making the shift from tactical to strategic demand means flipping this paradigm and going to market ‘outside-in.’ It means aligning go-to-market around customer journey, leading with customer pain points (not product/service features) and making sales and marketing interactions anticipatory of and reactive to customer-pull. It means orchestrating all sales and marketing touchpoints so there is continuity of dialogue and awareness of the customer’s journey at all times.

The ANNUITAS Demand Process™ framework thus helps companies operationalize go-to-market around customer journey — providing a framework for sustainable growth.

Next Steps

How does ANNUITAS help companies transform their go-to-market through Demand Process — helping them become growth leaders in their markets?

Here are some additional blog posts, articles and white papers that provide further context:

How Do You Know Demand Marketing is Providing Real Lift to Sales? 

The Anatomy of a Strategic Demand Marketing Plan

Demand Marketing Transformation: The Path to Strategic Demand Marketing

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