In the Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams, there is a classic line: “If you build it, they will come.” The refrain is whispered repeatedly to Kevin Costner’s character ‘Ray’ to build a baseball field in his cornfield and the ghosts of great baseball players from the past will come to the field and play. So he builds the baseball field in his cornfield in the middle of nowhere and the ghosts of famous old time baseball players actually do come and play on his field. Ray builds the field because he believes in the vision and the voices whispering to him the instructive phrase, “If you build it, they will come.” Most of Ray’s friends and neighbors are convinced that he’s crazy and only until they witness the famous old baseball players playing on his field do they start to believe. How does this relate to demand generation in 2011 and beyond? Because even if you hear the refrain and believe in the vision of building a demand generation capability within your company, it’s a lot harder to do than building a baseball field in the middle of a corn field. With no disrespect to Ray, building a baseball field in the middle of a cornfield is a fairly straightforward exercise if you have enough space (he did), time (ditto) and the right tools (ditto). Building a demand generation platform and capability for your company is a lot more complex. You can’t simply type in a Google search with “how to build a baseball field’ and get exact measurements and the tools required to build it. Try it out for yourself, what you will find in the Google search results for ‘how to build a demand generation platform’ are one-dimensional links to e-marketing tool companies. That would be analogous to the ‘how to build a baseball field’ Google search and if the results returned only have a single tool like a backhoe, which is a fairly complex tool that most people will never learn how to operate properly. It’s not very useful.

Since we’ve now determined that there isn’t a simple prescriptive recipe for how to build a demand generation platform or capability today, the question becomes why. The answer is that building an effective demand generation platform in 2011 is hard and involves many elements. These include a sound overall demand generation strategy, the tools and automation that you need to use, an overall content plan, the resources that you need to employ to execute properly, the communities that you need to participate in, social media, blogging, etc. This new world of demand generation requires a diverse set of skills and resources that typically doesn’t exist in the form of one individual or role. Some of the skills that you need are very new in nature and are not readily available. It also can be very costly to hire lots of full time people/resources when they are really providing a small piece of the overall demand gen puzzle, yet one that you need to do it well. It’s not about cost per lead or even how many leads you generate, rather it’s all about qualified sales opportunities (QSOs). At the end of the day, QSOs are what Sales reps and VPs of Sales care about.

Survey after survey shows that the #1 need for B2B companies is improved demand generation (aka lead generation) capabilities. Ironically, demand gen is typically an afterthought and relegated to lower level people that don’t have strategic insight or the power to make things happen. Demand gen is generally a fractured, siloed function within a B2B company that crosses functional lines without clear service levels defined or meaningful accountability. One recent survey showed that 80% of the leads generated by marketing are never followed up on by sales. That’s an appalling waste of resources and money! It’s clear that most B2B companies grossly underestimate what is required to build an effective demand gen platform/capability or they simply don’t know where to even begin. If you don’t know how to build it or are incapable of building it, how do you expect to build the necessary sales pipeline of QSOs to achieve your company revenue goals?

Here’s a primer for getting started with demand gen:

  • Start with your customer
    • Understand their evaluation and buying journey
    • Map your demand gen efforts, content and sales to their journey and it’s phases
    • Identify your ideal customer profiles (ICP) with associated value props, differentiation, succinct messaging and tailored offers
  • Develop an overall content strategy
    • Mapped to your ICPs
    • Broken down to the phase of their buyer’s journey & key stakeholders
    • Think easily digestible content chunks
  • Decide on the automation/tools that you will need to use
    • Integration between the tools is paramount
    • Skills necessary to use the tools
    • Recognize that the tools are useless without the right content and themes
  • Develop a ‘rolling thunder’ series of demand gen campaigns
    • Recognize that there is always some trial and error involved
    • Be ‘professionally’ provocative
    • Steady stream of outbound campaigns, themes, targets and offers
    • Remove all barriers to execute optimally
  • Measure often and report regularly
    • Shared accountability (cross functionally)
    • Service level agreements
    • Reward over achievement
    • Refine based on real time results

True Sales Results provides world class B2B demand generation services on an outsourced basis as well as a unique rent to own model.  Find out why our customers are raving about our services: