The Demand Gen Dead-End

Demand Creation ‌• June 27, 2012

For my inaugural post, I thought it was fitting to write about something near and dear to my heart (and career)–demand generation.

I still remember the first time I was asked if I could handle demand generation within a field marketing group. Like any good marketer who had no idea what this really entailed, I said “Sure!” and started asking everyone around me (including Google) what this really meant. As you can imagine, my first attempts to actually ‘generate demand’ were well-intentioned but not very successful. In fact, I was finding myself at a demand gen dead-end. I thought I had great multi-touch campaigns and offers (landing pages! content marketing offers! telephone follow-up!), but was finding MarketingSherpa’s estimation that 70-90% of marketing-generated leads are never followed-up by sales ringing woefully true.

About this time I got a new manager who was (and is) an incredible mentor and she distilled it for me thusly: “Demand gen is about keeping Sales happy. They need to buy in to everything we do or it isn’t worth our time.”

Bingo. This is what I was missing. Instead of starting with the Sales team and asking them what they considered a lead, what they needed in order to actually spend time following-up, what they were hearing most frequently from customers and prospects, I was starting with myself. So I backtracked. I had a kick-off meeting with Sales to pitch my campaigns and get their feedback. I sent out revised campaign language and prospect personas afterwards and then had weekly meetings to talk through the leads that were hitting the system to hear what was and wasn’t a fit so that I could keep tailoring appropriately. Finally, I was getting somewhere. My leads actually got worked and, perhaps even better, I got real feedback about how to make my efforts more successful.

I won’t pretend it was all sunshine and rainbows from this point forward–what fun would it be if there wasn’t a little sales and marketing tension?–but it definitely helped both teams bring a little more smarketing love to our field group and helped me learn the all-important lesson that sales and marketing have to be in sync if you actually want your demand gen efforts to not end up in a dead-end.

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