If you missed the DemandCon Conference hosted earlier this month in San Francisco, the online recording of the sessions is worth checking out. BrightTalk did an excellent job with the recordings and is making all of them available for free on their website.
There are over 20 presentations available, ranging from Social CRM and Lead Generation, to Case Studies and Sales Enablement. A must-watch presentation, though, is the keynote address “The State of Demand Creation“, by Tony Jaros, SVP Research for SiriusDecisions. Here are some of my notes.
The State of Demand Generation 2012
Why is demand generation so important? According to Tony Jaros, marketers will typically spend 60% of their budget on demand generation programs. The problem is, there are 4 key battles playing out in organizations:
- Task ownership (who does what in demand gen process)
- Buying cycle control (you need to facilitate the buying process and understand what is required of you as a result)
- Create sufficient content (how can we possibly keep up with demand for content?)
- Create demand while we sleep (build a “perpetual demand engine”)
Tony says that SiriusDecisions is in the process of revising their demand generation waterfall framework (Inquiries > Marketing Qualified Leads > Sales Accepted Leads > Sales Qualified Leads > Deal Closed), but shared some interesting facts about typical conversion rates and contrasted those with what they consider “best-in-class” companies:
Typical Rates for the Average B2B Company:
- Inquiries to MQL: 4.4%
- MQL to SAL: 66%
- SAL to SQL: 49%
- SQL to Close: 20%
The numbers above mean that out of 1,000 inquiries, the typical organization will close 2.9 deals.
Best Practice B2B Company Rates:
- Inquiries to MQL: 9.3%
- MQL to SAL: 85%
- SAL to SQL: 62%
- SQL to Close: 29%
Best practice companies, on the other hand, will typically close 14 deals out of 1,000 inquiries.
The 5 Critical Tasks
How do you get to be a “best practice” company and increase your efficiency? SiriusDecisions says that to drive best-in-class performance, sales and marketing must align around five waterfall-based jobs:
- Seed (use of traditional and social media to set the stage for demand creation)
- Create (generation of “original” demand, focusing on quality, i.e. generating a better lead for sales)
- Nurture (care and feeding of prospects that aren’t ready for sales or that have fallen out of the waterfall)
- Enable (help reps increase productivity, both for sales and marketing-sourced demand)
- Accelerate (help sales move deals more quickly through the pipeline)
This all leads to a few things. For one, the rise of the “Demand Center” taking away tasks that were typically the domain of Field Marketing. But, more importantly, demand creation has become more complex, requiring increasingly specialized skills. And so, there are new roles coming down the pike based on each of the critical tasks mentioned before:
- Content strategist
- Inbound marketer
- Automation expert
- Web anthropologist
- Nurturing specialist
- Acceleration specialist
The Customer Buying Cycle Framework
According to SiriusDecisions, buyers go through three stages and six steps during their buying process.
Stage 1: Education
- Loosening the status quo
- Committing to change
Stage 2: Solution
- Exploring possible solutions
- Commiting to a solution
Stage 3: Vendor Selection
- Justifying the decision
- Making the selection
Buyers move in and out of each stage. You have to be prepared to engage them throughout the cycle. The problem, though, is that marketers have to face the realities of the B2B Buying Cycle:
- You control less
- You see less
- Your sales resources will often be in reactive mode
Organizations have to become better at determining what need and what questions buyers have when they decide to engage in the sales process. Understanding the buying cycle and the key needs buyers have at each point can help marketers and sales reps. Create a knowledge base with relevant content that your sales team can leverage during the sales cycle.
Content Creation Challenges
The biggest complaint from marketers is that they can’t keep up with content creation needs (multi-touch programs, social media, nurturing programs, thought leadership, etc.).
Why companies can’t keep up? Usually because marketers suffer from:
- No accountability (is everybody’s job and nobody’s job, there is a void in planning and strategy related to content creation)
- Lack of targeting (too broad a vision/strategy which is never revised)
- Rampart waste (content created has no memory, not related to previous content, not connected to other content, and has no story; and limited ability to find what’s needed)
- Burned cycles (lack of buyer knowledge, and lack of specificity)
Centralized responsibility for content strategy is becoming a requirement for highly effecitve b2b marketing. AKA the rise of the “Content Strategist“, which is someone that has:
Another issue when it comes to content creation is that most organizations engagage in “absolute targetting“, they think about everyone that could potentially buy what they are selling, and create content accordingly which means response rates are low, and quality of leads is also low.
Marketers should instead engage in “relative targeting“. You want to take your industry and segment it into sub-verticals and rank them in terms of external factors (trends, category spend, product use and importance, competitive presence). Then, use internal factors (solutions delta, domain knowledge, messaging, sales readiness, and database) to select the best segment for you to go after.
Best in class companies are auditing their assets. There are two steps for that:
- Classify by content type (white papers, brochures, testimonials, videos, case studies, etc.)
- Evaluate each piece of content (quality, relevance, value, influence on buyer perception)
The Complete B2B Persona
Buyer personas are all the hype again, and for good reason. They are the first step in your content planning process. SiriusDecisions has a B2B Persona template they use which you should consider for your next content creation project. Here are the key things they look at when creating the persona:
- Job role
- Buying Center (the department that makes the buying decision)
- Common titles
- Position in the org chart
- Challenges (what are the challenges this person faces?)
- Initiatives (what initiatives in this person involved with?)
- Buyer role type (influencer, decision maker, etc.)
- Interaction preferences (how do they prefer to communicate)
- Watering Holes (where do they go to get info they want)
The Perpetual Demand Creation
The presentation ends with the idea of the PDC (Perpetual Demand Creation). Building the perpetual demand creation involves a set of strategies to create efficiencies and improve performance over time:
- Inbound Marketing
- Website Conversion Optimization
- Lead Nurturing
- Sales Programs
As I said, there is a lot of good information presented and is definitely worth watching the BrighTalk recording in full.