The Future of Demand Generation & What It Means for B2B Marketers

The B2B marketing landscape is about to go through a much-needed transformation.

“Change” is the new normal for B2B marketers. The best marketers are learning to be agile, continuously adapting to the ever-changing expectations of their customers and the c-suite. Those who embrace change are most likely to elevate both their marketing team results and personal career – by becoming true revenue marketers.

This was a key takeaway from the Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) “Future of Demand Generation” virtual roundtable led by CMI’s Chief Strategy Advisor, Robert Rose. Integrate’s CMO, Scott Vaughan, joined Mathew Sweezey, Head of Thought Leadership at Salesforce, and Sangram Vajre, Co-Founder of Terminus, for 45 minutes of B2B marketing real-talk.

If you want to grab the recording for your playbook, here’s a direct link. If you’re more of a reader than a listener, here’s a breakdown of all the good stuff.

The Current State of B2B Marketing & Demand Generation 

The definition of demand is rapidly expanding, and marketers are responsible for every stage of the customer journey. For a long time, we marketers have been solely responsible for feeding the “top of the funnel”; that is to say, generating as many leads as possible (preferably marketing qualified leads) and hoping they find their way through the funnel and pop out as revenue.

This simply is no longer the case. Marketers who solely focus on MQLs as their core success metric are doomed to stunt their organization’s growth, especially those who continue to rely on manual processes.

For a long time, marketing charged after net-new contacts and logos to add to the portfolio. Noting how marketers are now transitioning their focus to expansion, cross-sell and upsell, Scott Vaughan stated during the roundtable:

“Everyone is at a different level of marketing maturity, but it’s all about how close you can get to moving the needle to revenue.”

And as Sangram Vajre explained, we find ourselves moving away from “demand identification” and instead moving towards creating more demand and revenue from a community we’ve already engaged:

“When we function in this type of marketing infinity loop, we create customer advocates that end up generating twice as much revenue as a net-new logo.”

Closing out the topic of demand gen’s current state, Mathew Sweezey reinforced a heavily discussed idea at our B2B Game Changer Thought Leadership conference: Demand generation requires a maniacal focus on customer experience. The marketing team is responsible for creating ideal buying experiences and then carrying that experience over into every touchpoint the customer has with the brand after the signature.

We’ve Been Overserved MarTech 

...and now we’re “falling off the barstool” drunk.

I’m so glad CMI made this one of the main points of this discussion. It’s a persistent problem we see every day in the market: marketing organizations often have 50+ pieces of tech that they purchased as one-off solutions. Worse, they’re consuming resources and budget and many aren’t delivering on their promise. While all marketing teams need technology to be efficient, we must ensure that each piece of tech is aligned with our strategies.

process, data, talent, tech

A common opinion at the roundtable was how the “too much tech” problem,  is a direct result of marketing automation systems failing to deliver on promises of broad capabilities; instead, they’re mostly just serving marketing teams as email systems on steroids. When marketing automation made its debut, we were promised a connected experience to automate the breadth of marketing efforts, making our marketing teams ultra-efficient. When that wasn’t delivered, we had to fill the gaps with one-off solutions that only solve short-term problems and hinder our ability to scale, since we’re functioning on an ad-hoc basis.

In fact, Mathew compared the current MarTech ecosystem as the “wild west,” similar to the hypergrowth the IT industry experienced in the 1990s. We have so many options in a 6000+ vendor-strong landscape and we’re so hungry to automate that we end up putting the cart before the horse. With this plethora of options, it’s critically important for us to understand that defining the process must come before any decisions are made regarding the purchase of additional technology.

Demand & Revenue Generation Starts at the Top of the Funnel

...but that’s not where it stops.

What we’ve learned at Integrate working with hundreds of mid-market and enterprise B2B marketing teams is if you orchestrate demand at the top of the funnel, you create efficiency downstream. With the top of the funnel free from junk leads and disconnected, manual processes, more resources can be reallocated down-funnel to increase conversion rates, build pipeline and generate revenue. Marketing teams can also direct resources to cross-sell and upsell efforts throughout the existing customer base.

Sangram made an especially important observation that the whole idea of demand and revenue generation boils down to what the CMO expects of the marketing team. Most marketing teams are measured against lead goals instead of the idea of creating a full-funnel customer experience. Why? Is it that customer experience is more difficult to measure? Or is it because we’re inherently afraid of change? As Sangram noted, it’s our job as B2B marketers to blaze the trail on measuring revenue-based metrics that also deliver positive buying experiences.

Creating Results with Their New & Improved Demand Plans

Scott discussed how our industry has a severe “dirty data” problem that needs to be cleaned up. By tackling this messy issue, your marketing programs and follow-on sales effort can be more effective, while also delivering exceptional experiences.

On a different topic, Sangram made a bold statement regarding the touchy subject of sales and marketing alignment: “The word alignment should be banned from our vocabulary.” The biggest problem around alignment is not that we’re not actively trying to be aligned teams, but that we think we’re aligned.

Sales and marketing both come to the table with shared goals, discuss a strategy, decide it’s a good fit for both parties, but neglect to use it as a cornerstone throughout the quarter or year. To create real results that breed revenue, we need to abolish the notion that sales and marketing are separate entities and instead become the revenue teamOnce we’ve tackled this sales-and-marketing-silo issue, we can tackle the bigger alignment issue: getting buy-in from the entire company, specifically the executive team.

The Bottomline on the Future of Demand Generation

B2B marketers have their work cut out for them in 2019. This isn’t a career for the weak, as creating measurable results in an industry that continuously changes its expectations is no small feat. But with a solid strategy, predefined processes, clean data, connected systems and smart talent, we can forge our path to revenue success.

martech-blueprint-workbook

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