Is Digital Demand Generation Sexy?
Is sales an art or science? For years that has been a great debate, with most coming to the conclusion that it is both. When it comes to B2B sales, there is no denying that you need digital demand generation in order to be successful. The question becomes is it an art or a science? The greatest thing about digital demand generation is the ability to put performance metrics to everything you do. However, how do you combine the science of sales to the art of marketing to make a sexy results-driven demand generation program?
It really centers on your prospective customers. While the back end of your demand generation programs may be equal parts science and art, the front end needs to be seamless around how your customers buy. You need to first understand the process your customers go through and then map your demand generation process to how they buy. We can that the Inbound Sales Pipeline.
The Customer Buying Process
Your typical prospective customer goes through three major steps in order to make a purchase decision. It starts with being at status quo and ends with them choosing your company, your competitor or, more often than not, choosing to remain at the status quo. In order to make sure they choose your company, you need to make sure you are helping them along each step of their buying process.
The following are the different stages and examples of the different ways to move your prospect along in their buying process:
Your prospect may be experiencing a limitation, problem, or obstacle with their current situation but has not opted to address it by actively buying a solution. In the first phase of the buying process, decision makers need to be convinced that the status quo must change, and the buyer must convince not just themselves, but many other stakeholders on the customer’s buying team, that the change is both beneficial and needed.
At this critical stage, when the project vision is defined, most buyers are researching options on their own and are creating requirements for their solution. It’s at this pivotal time when buyers define strong provider preferences. Forrester Research reports that 65% of vendors that create the buying vision during these early stages get the deal. Moreover, this is all done before buyers even engage in conversation with the salespeople. For many companies, not establishing a strong presence during this stage represents a “failure to launch” – resulting in a slim chance of being considered in the final decision.
It’s important to introduce your prospects to industry trends that highlight developing issues and the business value of adopting change. You need to create problem awareness that takes your prospects away from the status quo and creates a priority shift. Use social media and call to actions to guide prospects towards educational articles and webinars about problems and pain points to help them learn more about the scope of their problem and current situation. Additionally, expand on the industry trends with facts and statistical information they can use to shift consensus. Remember to focus on the business value of solving the problem and on hard data in a story format and not as stand-alone facts without context for the prospect’s current situation. Keep your focus on the problem-to-solution scenarios.
At this stage, the prospect is committed to resolving the problem and focused on building a business case. They are looking for leading experts on the subject and the potential outcomes they can realistically plan to accomplish. Once a buyer has committed to change and prioritized the project, they start to research possible solutions and create a short-list of providers. During this phase, it is difficult for buyers to wade through the copious amounts of research and marketing materials to understand the various advantages and benefits that each solution approach might provide.
This is the time to put your expertise into play. At this point, prospects have a basic knowledge about possible solutions, and they’re committed to solving the problem. Discuss risks and how your expertise helps mitigate it proactively. Expand their thinking to illuminate the overlapping issues that may be offshoots of the project so they can plan to address them. In short, help them enlarge their thinking in strategic ways. Make sure you consider the needs of the project influencers, various stakeholders, and colleagues.
At this stage it’s important to:
- Find your unique point of view which can challenge the prospect's assumptions and create more demand
- Create clear points of differentiation between you and your key competitors
- Convince your prospect they need to do something different and make a decision for you, right now
In the final stage of the buying process, your prospect’s buying team must reach consensus on a particular proposal. By the final decision, Forrester Research indicates that 35% of decisions involving vendor selection are made, making it more important to establish connection and engagement during the earlier phases. However, many deals are stalled by a failure to overcome objections and drive consensus during this phase, making it vital to effectively address this obstacles
This is the opportune time to highlight customer success stories and demonstrate how your customers have achieved successful project implementation and business value. Discuss industry developments that expose the costs of the problem, and work to confirm your buyer’s resolve to remedy the issue. Most importantly, make sure you focus on exposing the benefit your customers achieve by partnering with you to achieve problem resolution – expertise they won’t get if they buy the similar product down the street.
The Bottom Line
While many think that sales is sexy, the backend of any good demand generation is equal parts science and art. The biggest thing you need to remember is that you need to build the process around how your customers buy.
Want to learn more about how to build a lead generation engine that is built around how B2B buyers buy? Check out this free guide.
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