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Demand generation (or demand generation) can only be understood by first defining the word request. Go back to your Economy 101 and remember that demand represents a person’s desire and ability to buy something. But that doesn’t mean that just because someone seems interested in buying, he or she has the financial means to do so.

Demand generation therefore encompasses all activities that help attract, engage and convert probable clients. Depending on your industry, Ideal Customer Profile (KPI), and personas, this can include a combination of:

  • Outbound sales
  • Content Marketing and SEO
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Social media marketing
  • Trade shows and virtual events
  • Email advertising
  • Direct mail
  • Affiliate and Referral Programs
  • Upsell or cross-sell to existing customers

Note that I bolded the phrase « likely customers » in the previous paragraph. Why? Unlike traditional lead generation programs, which tend to focus on new emails or contacts, demand generation is all about delivering new customers. Marketers, myself included, should pay close attention to this reality. Populating your CRM with 1,000 new email addresses that never convert is a waste of time and money. It hurts me to say this, but it’s true.

So what is the best approach to implement a scalable demand generation program that gets results? Let’s take a closer look.

How to improve demand generation in 2021 and beyond

If demand generation is a multi-faceted business that involves many disciplines, departments, and stakeholders, what can you do to maximize its impact for your business? Here are four steps to take in 2021.

1. Start with an objective view of your existing demand generation efforts.

Whether you realize it or not, you already have programs in place that generate demand. (Otherwise, you wouldn’t be in business!) To measure the impact of your existing demand generation efforts, go into your CRM and pull a report of opportunities closed during the past year. Customize the report to include the original source like outbound sales, upgrades from existing customers, paid ads, social media, and more. Now analyze the data to understand where the revenue is coming from. Visualizing your data as a pie chart can be a simple but effective way to understand what is working and what is not. Here is an example.

In the example above, it is clear that outbound sales are the biggest generator of demand. That being said, this graph doesn’t tell us anything about how effective sales are to generate demand. If the company’s sales team consists of 25 account managers and 10 sales development representatives (SDRs), the total cost of closing a sales transaction can be exponentially higher than a deal. self-service from organic research. Spend time analyzing historical transaction data from a variety of perspectives.

2. Develop a plan to collect better data

By analyzing historical data, you will likely identify gaps that are preventing all of your demand generation questions from being answered. After all, customer data isn’t just limited to basic contact information like job title, revenue size, and related opportunities. To truly understand the impact of demand generation on the customer journey, you may need to dig deeper and start collecting the following data.

Interaction data

Trade shows are great for generating lots of business cards, but not for closing deals. A trade show prospect may require dozens of sales and marketing interactions before they have the desire and the ability to buy. Collecting web and email interaction data in your CRM provides detailed information to understand which demand generation channels, campaigns, messages, and content influence a customer’s buying decision.

Behavioral data

Behavioral data is particularly useful for understanding the impact of your up-sell and cross-sell demand generation activities. For example, if you’re a software publisher, you can collect clickthrough data from your app to measure interest in closed features. Simple tweaks to your product’s interface can have a major impact on brand awareness and, therefore, demand for premium plans.

Attitudinal data

Customers can be a great source of new ideas and demand generation is no exception. Why not ask your customers for demand-generating ideas? Survey your customers and ask them to share their feedback on:

  • What websites, journals and industry publications do you read?
  • What type of content would you like to receive from us?
  • What would make you more likely to tell a friend about our company’s solution?
  • If you were the marketing director of our company, where would you advertise?
  • What virtual fairs or events do you regularly attend?

3. Align your sales and marketing teams

Sales and marketing teams tend to be the primary demand generators for businesses. Unfortunately, they are rarely aligned with each other. Inconsistent terminology, competing goals, and siled systems are just a few of the reasons organizations constantly struggle to align these two groups.

If you’ve had trouble aligning your sales and marketing teams in the past, fear not. A well-structured demand generation initiative can be the perfect opportunity to foster inter-ministerial alignment and simultaneously improve high-level performance. Alignment usually starts at the top, so your first step should involve gaining buy-in from sales and marketing managers on a common set of goals, methods, and metrics.

Once aligned with the big picture, leaders must continually work together to operationalize the vision. Check out Insightly’s Sales and Marketing Alignment Series for tips on achieving this goal.

4. Unify your demand generation systems into one platform

As you’ve probably noticed, the line between sales, marketing, and other demand-generating functions is blurred. Allowing sales to operate in one silo system and marketing to operate in another is not a viable solution in today’s competitive landscape. In short, you need the right technology to help you collect the right data, align your people, and understand what works.

Income-generating teams want fewer and better systems. Ideally, they want a system that allows them to visualize the buyer’s journey, create segmented lists of likely customers, and automatically engage buyers in a personalized way.

Unifying your demand generation efforts into a single platform, such as Insightly, is a smart first step towards making this reality a reality. Your revenue management teams will spend less time on time-consuming data integrations and imports, and more time on what matters most: developing highly targeted campaigns, programs, and initiatives that increase demand for your products or services.

They’ll also have access to better data – and more – presented in a visually appealing way that simplifies decision making and team alignment.

Maximize the impact of your future demand generation efforts

Customer behavior continues to change at a rapid pace. To be competitive, companies must view demand generation as a strategic initiative that requires senior management buy-in, a commitment to inter-departmental alignment, and technology that supports data-driven demand generation.

Ready to see how a unified CRM for sales and marketing can help take demand generation to the next level? Request a free demonstration with an Insightly representative. No commitment required.

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