Every business needs to establish clear marketing goals and a powerful demand management strategy will be fundamental to meeting or exceeding those goals. A powerful demand management system includes mutually agreed upon terminology, well defined roles, clear responsibilities, specific lead qualification criteria, a scoring model, automated lead processing, routing, escalation and nurturing, and of course, testing, training and learning.
Demand management strategy and execution will directly impact four key marketing goals: predictable and consistent revenue, increased sales effectiveness, efficient marketing spend and avoiding “priming the pump” for competitors to reap the benefits.
It’s obvious that all businesses must consistently generate revenue at levels sufficient to support the business model and that will require the development and execution of the marketing concepts that are most relevant to the specific situation.
Some businesses embrace a variety of marketing mix strategies to generate a volume of leads each month. The leads are entered into the salesforce automation system and then the next month is a rinse and repeat. While this approach may produce leads, it is very expensive, the results are often unpredictable and friction can develop between sales and marketing as lead quality varies.
Best in-class companies take a more granular approach by creating and managing demand that has a high propensity to result in a customer. Specifically, the marketing process focuses on surfacing interest in the target market (specific job roles and titles) that meet mutually agreed upon criteria that has been specified by sales and marketing. Then, lead targets are reverse-engineered in order to know exactly what is required each month — in terms of the number of deals, qualified sales opportunities and marketing qualified leads.
Demand Management Strategy – Increased Sales Effectiveness
It does not matter whether the business sells directly through sales reps or through an e-commerce model – one of the marketing goals should be to convert as many leads to sales as possible.
At each phase of the buying process, it’s critical to give the customer exactly what he or she needs, exactly when needed and in the desired format. This is essential for establishing and maintaining high conversion rates in the sales funnel. Social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest are social media platforms that customers typically leverage on their smartphones, tablets and laptops as part of the purchase process. In addition, customers are all different in that they learn and respond by different content formats. This requires businesses to produce content in a variety of formats including text, web pages, blog posts, reviews, images and video.
Businesses must also embrace customer research and intelligence in order to know what customers want and do not want. Again, whether a business sells through a direct sales force or online, it should be familiar with the customer buying process and ensure that the messaging and content are meaningful, relevant and defensible. Accessing demographic, transactional, psychographic and behavioral data is key, as is leveraging social media, analytics and automation. Businesses that do so are those that experience higher conversion rates and typically attain their marketing objectives.
Demand Management Strategy – Efficient Marketing Spend
Marketing is expensive, so it is imperative that each dollar invested in different marketing strategies provides the maximum return on investment.
Businesses utilizing a holistic and integrated lead follow-up approach, in order to convert each lead to a qualified sales opportunity, enjoy a higher ROI. Specifically, businesses that tightly target a specific set of companies and individuals with a high propensity to purchase enjoy a competitive advantage. As a result, the number of companies and contacts is smaller than if these businesses did not target — so the marketing budget is actually higher on a per-lead or per-contact basis. This allows for more thorough marketing action plan but more importantly, it enables a detailed and comprehensive lead follow-up process.
Many businesses opt for a 10 or 30 touch demand management follow-up process which leverages social media touches, emails and phone calls. This follow-up typically occurs over a 30, 60 or 90 day period. By staying top of mind and relevant in the minds of these prospective customers, the higher the probability these individuals will engage in a buying process when they become ready, willing and able.
Demand Management Strategy – Priming the Pump for the Competition
Failure to deploy an effective demand management strategy will result in revenue for your competitors. Research shows that prospects that fall out of a sales cycle with a company typically make a purchase within 18 months. Some reasons for this include:
- the budget may not be available in the current quarter(s)
- contact was made with someone that is not critical in the purchase decision
- contact with the sniper in the account–someone who does not want your organization chosen
- reorganization or individuals changing positions
When customers search – with “buy” signals – they typically will make a purchase. And more often than not, a customer will engage with a vendor without the vendor ever knowing it. Organizations must learn to see these signs and can not ignore the social signals. Social media not only empowers customers access to information about companies and their products but it can help companies identify those individuals in a “buy mode” – i.e. prime candidates to enter into a purchase process.
The absolute worst case scenario is when a business invests sales and marketing resources to increase awareness and educate a customer only to have them purchase from a competitor. To avoid this, a best practice is to model the sales process from lead through qualified sales opportunity, including the specific tasks, resources, accountability and reporting needed. Next, the people, the processes and the systems need to be implemented and documented manage the sales and marketing processes. This will ensure the proactive management of sales velocity and conversion.
Marketing Goals – Summing it All Up
Demand management is the conversion of marketing qualified leads to qualified sales opportunities. Businesses that only focus on demand generation are failing to see more than 50% of the sales equation (Demand Generation + Demand Management = Customer).
To be effective, the demand management function must be tightly integrated with demand generation (the creation of leads) and the sales function. It’s critical that demand management be part of the planning of lead generation programs. The best lead follow-up processes are thought out when a campaign is conceived. And, the lead follow-up process should be set in motion when the program is launched — not when leads begin to pour in.
A powerful demand management strategy is an absolute must a sustained pipeline of qualified sales opportunities that will provide the financial results needed for a thriving business. Start with a proven process to create your Demand Management Strategy.