The best-run Marketing and Sales groups use a best-in-class demand management system to ensure a healthy and sustained sales pipeline of qualified sales opportunities that convert to closed won/deals at a velocity and volume that consistently meets or exceed sales targets, each and every quarter.
A best-in-class demand management platform includes:
Database — the ability to collect, store, retrieve, execute on, import/export, analyze and report on any stage identified in the marketing and sales funnel. The system requires input capabilities that support both on-line, real-time/near-time processes and offline, batch input of data.
Data Augmentation — the system must be able to automatically append missing data or append supplemental information to a record from internal or external third-party sources.
Data Cleansing – the system must provide integrated data cleansing capabilities (ideally in an automated, real-time manner) to eliminate incomplete, redundant or duplicate lead information based on criteria set by Marketing and Sales.
Dashboards, Reports, KPIs and Analytics – the system provides preconfigured dashboards, reports, metrics, KPIs and analytics to track, monitor, manage, act, predict and learn on any term, tool, person, process or system documented in the marketing and sales funnel. These terms include absolute values, percentages and percent change, dollars and conversion ratios.
Integration – the ability to integrate with Salesforce automation, eCommerce, Web Content Management Systems, social media platforms as well as being mobile- friendly.
A Best-in-Class Demand Management System Includes:
- Terminology, roles and responsibilities
- Qualification and scoring
- Lead processing, routing, escalation
- Testing & training
Demand Management System – Sales and Marketing Terminology, Roles and Responsibilities
Efficient and effective revenue generation requires Marketing and Sales to work hand-in-hand. Establishing a mutually agreed upon vocabulary facilitates efficient and effective communication in a meaningful and relevant context. Next, roles in the Marketing and Sales funnel must be defined and specific responsibilities assigned to each role.
A best practice for creating terminology, roles and responsibilities is to create a table that includes:
- The identification of whether it is a marketing or sales stage
- The name of each stage
- A definition of each stage
- The marketing and sales criteria required at each stage
- The owner of each stage
Take it to the next level by thinking through the communication format, timing and audience that should be present at each stage, and the appropriate dashboards, metrics, reports and KPIs which are relevant and actionable.
Key Deliverables – Sales and Marketing Terminology, Roles and Responsibilities
- Define roles and responsibilities
- Document the stages within the marketing and sales funnel
- Define the requirements for each stage within the marketing and sales funnel
Demand Management System – Qualification Matrix and Scoring Model
The most successful organizations are masters at applying the right resource to the right task, at the right time and in the optimal mass. Unfortunately, not all leads are created equally — only a small percentage are “sales-ready.” And to find those, a managed and repeatable process is required. In demand management, a qualification matrix is often created to segment those leads that should be passed to a direct sales rep, a sales development rep, a nurture path or starbursted. It also identifies dead leads.
The most effective Marketing and Sales organizations not only embed a qualification model into the demand management system but they incorporate a Target Account Profile (TAP) into the process as well. A TAP assembles the essential questions and responses that, if asked and answered as desired by a prospect, yield a sales opportunity with a very high probability of becoming a highly satisfied customer. The profile is typically developed jointly with Sales and Marketing, and, to determine best fit, the Target Account Profile then becomes the blue print or profile for all prospects and opportunities to be evaluated against.
Another layer of sophistication to a demand management system is to integrate a scoring model. A scoring model captures the behavior of suspects, prospects and customers – be it via the website, email, phone, physical and/or social media behavior. The scoring model assigns and subtracts points for desired and undesired behavior, and provides behavioral insight that can be used in conjunction with the qualification matrix to provide even better insights for evaluating the opportunity.
It’s important to note that the questions and behavior noted above are never captured in “one-shot” by any one form, person, conversation or engagement. They are captured over time by numerous sources. The content requirements in the Qualification Matrix and Target Account Profile are layered throughout the marketing and sales funnel to be raised when appropriate — not forced in awkward situations that usually yield inaccurate information or a dead lead.
The demand management system must be able to store, update, append, score and prompt the Marketing and Sales teams in an intuitive and real-time manner as what has transpired and what the next step should be. Lead scores are not “ones and dones” as they change with time and behavior by a contact, and can significantly impact the account.
Key Deliverables – Qualification Matrix and Scoring Model
- Buyer Behavior Model
- Target Account Profile
- Qualification Matrix
Demand Management System – Lead Processing, Lead Routing, Lead Escalation and Lead Reporting
Lead Process Management involves creating lead management workflows or business rules to, in real-time, to dynamically augment, route, score, qualify, escalate and distribute leads. Documenting the lead process in a graphical workflow allows the Marketing and Sales teams to visually think through the processes in holistic manner, promoting detailed analysis for each discrete step.
Marketing and Sales must collaborate to establish the routing logic in order to keep it current. This can include daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly updates of “do not contact” lists, opportunities in the sales pipeline, and targeted accounts and existing customer lists, just to name a few. Depending on the organization, there may be circumstances where opportunities escalate directly to a sales rep, sales development rep, or to starbursting, nurturing or dead paths.
Demand management is run by numbers, so it is a very scientific aspect of Marketing. The demand waterfall is a key concept in demand generation and demand management. The conversion rates between stages needs to be tracked, monitored and proactively managed in order to achieve optimal results. To fund investment in demand generation programs, estimates or forecasts should be made. In addition, actuals should be tracked and compared against forecasts to attain the desired program ROI. It’s also important to establish metrics, reports, dashboards and KPIs for lead status and for sales pipeline to effectively manage the Marketing and Sales funnels.
Key Deliverables – Lead Processing, Lead Routing, Lead Escalation and Lead Reporting
- Scoring Model
- Lead routing
- Lead escalation
- Dashboards, Metrics, Reports & KPIs
Demand Management System – Nurture Strategy
Research shows that 2-5% of most B2B markets (excluding the 16% tails on either end of the normal distribution curve) are ready, willing and able to buy at any given moment. Given the amount of companies selling into most of these markets, that’s not a lot. Also, research suggests that 80% of an organization’s leads that are dead or archived typically go on to purchase from a competitor or alternative within 24 months. What is the probability that an organization will connect with the right person, at the right time, with the right message and will follow-through flawlessly?
On the other end of the spectrum (from “one and done” marketing programs) is the concept of integrated demand creation and demand management programs. In this construct, nurturing plays a huge role. In short, nurturing can build a brand, establish thought leadership and keep an organization top of mind and relevant for when the prospect decides it’s the right time to buy. At the core of a nurturing program is segmentation based on personas and the stage of the buyer behavior model. It’s important to note that nurture programs and personas are not limited to leads only — they can and should be extended to customers and prospects as well. The only limiting factors to nurture programs should be the level of understanding of the persona, the identification of the buying stage and whether or not a relevant and meaningful asset exists. By cultivating this latent demand through nurture programs, organizations can increase the conversion of unqualified leads to qualified sales opportunities and drive more revenue. And, by maintaining a relationship with the customer base, usage, customer satisfaction and repurchase should increase.
Nurturing should be an integrated process spanning many systems and processes within Sales and Marketing. Nurturing is appropriate for prospects, visitors, sales pipeline and customers that fit the target account profile. Nurturing should be a business fundamental that synchronizes Sales and Marketing by demanding knowledge of the markets, domain, workflows, buyers, sales process, buying process, competition and products.
Nurture Strategy – Key Deliverables
- Lead Flow Diagram
- 10 Touch Model
- Nurture paths by buying stage
- Nurture paths by persona
Demand Management System – Test & Train
It is crucial for the demand management and demand creation teams to work as a synchronized unit. When integrated demand generation programs are created, that’s the time to construct the demand management plan, not after the fact. The same concepts that apply to nurture in demand management are the exact same concepts that should be applied to build effective demand generation programs. In addition, the sales development reps (SDRs) need to be an active part of the planning and execution of marketing programs. This is because SDRs are the first voice in the organization a prospect will hear from, so it must be aligned with the message and content presented to a prospect or customer. The training and education of the sales development rep needs to be a core ingredient in the demand generation plan – otherwise the plan is flawed from the start.
Key Deliverables – Demand Management System Testing & Training
- Model testing
- Model refinement
- Training materials
- Communication plan
- Quantitative measures
- Qualitative measures
The demand management structure, processes and tools are ideally built in an objective and quantitative manner — and run the same way. It’s pretty close to impossible to anticipate every scenario (a missing data field, a blank, etc.) that may arise and “break” the system. It’s imperative to construct the demand management system in such a way that there are discrete parts that make up the whole, and that each part has a set of regulating mechanisms (metrics, oversight, etc.) to ensure that it runs smoothly. Managing the numbers, or the objective side, is relatively straightforward and there are a number of automated tools to do so (metrics, conversion rates, dashboards, KPIs, etc.). However, qualitative feedback from the sales development reps will provide a subjective, qualitative assessment. And, conducting audits of which leads are considered dead, routed for starburst, nurtured, as well as reverse-engineering closed/won deals will provide even richer insights as to the soundness of the model.