The planning and budgeting process for 2012 has begun and the exercise starts something like this: CEO has committed to the board revenue growth and increased profitability for next year. CFO says we need to cut costs, gain greater levels of productivity and efficiency. As the CSO this means; you need a strategy that allows you to achieve the upcoming year’s plan. You’re focused on allocating budget more efficiently while increasing overall productivity. You get to work immediately looking at places in your budget to reduce spending, increase productivity, drive revenue and make the number.
Today’s CSO has to manage the Demand Generation strategy as rigorously as the rest of the funnel.
Before you expend any energy on building next year’s sales strategy and budget, take a step back. Ask yourself, where do I start? How do I construct a sales strategy, supported by data (the stuff CEO’s and CFO’s love to see) that allocates the appropriate resources needed to achieve plan. Start with your sales funnel from top to bottom. Don’t stop at the Marketing Qualified Leads that enter your CRM- keep looking up. It all starts with Demand Generation- the absolute top of the funnel. Today’s CSO has to manage the Demand Generation strategy as rigorously as the rest of the funnel.
Let’s start with the definition.
Defined (provided by industry expert Eloqua): Made up of four main parts, demand generation is the art and science of developing, nurturing, and maintaining buying interest in your products and services. Campaign management, lead management, marketing analysis, and data management are all parts of demand generation. Successful demand generation relies heavily on a strong knowledge of the modern buyer and what drives their actions.
The Demand Generation role is primarily a marketing skillset function. That’s why there has been so much hype in the past year about sales and marketing alignment. In most b2b companies, marketing reports up through the CSO. As the CSO, you will need to lead the transformation of marketing into a focus of generating demand. Instead of “soft” approaches of the past, marketing must be transformed into a metrics-based organization that track campaigns, inquiries and conversion rates to provide detailed cost of inquiries.
What questions should you be asking yourself?
- Do I have a documented Demand Generation strategy?
- Is my Demand Strategy aligned to my Ideal Customer Profile and buying personas?
- Do I have the content offering to engage prospects early in the buying process?
- What is my lead sourcing plan to efficiently generate quality inquiries?
- What is my social media channels strategy?
- What type of resource needs to be allocated to Demand Generation?
- How much demand (quantity) do I need to drive into my funnel to achieve my plan?
- How will I monitor my Demand Generation efforts?
Looking at the sales funnel tells the story on the rapid pace of evolution. Having a world class sales process was enough to separate you from the pack at a point in time. Then it migrated to lead generation and lead management reps. Today we’ve moved to – Demand Generation. A sales strategy without demand generation= Einstein’s definition of insanity.