A lot of B2B companies invest significantly in lead generation marketing strategies in an effort to drive high growth. But with B2B prospects making up to 80% of their purchase decision BEFORE they engage with a sales rep, this approach may be missing the mark.
If your company is pulling in leads, but struggling with slow sales cycles and low close rates, read on for insights on how to ditch the outdated marketing approach and move to a strategy that supports the way today’s prospects buy.
The new reality: Prospects are avoiding your sales team
B2B prospects seem to be more elusive than ever. And if your sales team is struggling, you are not alone. Prospects are less and less likely to fill out a form, engage with a sales rep or do anything they think will trigger the sales emails, texts and calls. This is because, according to Gartner research, a whopping 72% of B2B buyers would prefer to have ZERO interaction with a sales rep during the purchase process.
Instead, they are digging in, doing their own research and making their short list of vendors before they reach out. And that means you are missing the boat if you aren’t winning them over BEFORE they are willing to have a conversation.
The key to tackling this reality head on: Demand generation.
Aren’t lead generation and demand generation the same thing?
Some marketers consider lead generation and demand generation to be interchangeable terms and the same strategy. But, they’re actually very different marketing approaches.
- You push product information to prospects via campaigns and digital ads.
- You gate content to collect contact information so your sales team can follow up to see if the prospect is interested in buying.
- The goal is to secure a sales meeting.
- Your marketing programs are focused on achieving short-term results to meet current revenue targets.
This is a short game that chases only the 5% of prospects who are actually in market and looking to buy in the near term.
This is also where most companies put the majority of their marketing focus. It’s short sighted because it attempts to bring prospects into your sales process instead of prospects bringing you into their buying process. The approach is flawed because the reality is you won’t convince someone to buy an expensive solution if they’re not already in-market or ready. It also ignores the 95% of prospects that are not currently in market to buy – and that is a big mistake. Because if they aren’t engaging with a sales rep until they’ve made 80% of their purchase decision, you’ve got to win them over sooner.
- You’re building a large digital footprint, so you show up where your prospects are.
- You freely give away your content to educate at all stages of the funnel.
- The goal is to build credibility and trust with prospects – even before they are in market to make a purchase.
- Your marketing programs are focused on building long-term results to achieve high growth targets.
Instead of the chase, you meet prospects where they’re at in the buying process. You aren’t trying to force a sale. You build marketing programs that first build brand awareness. Then you build brand loyalty. And ultimately, interested prospects who choose you on their timeline.
Playing the long-game ensures that you’re not just focused on a sale today, but you’re also engaging with the 95% of prospects who aren’t currently in-market. Because these FUTURE prospects are critical to your company’s FUTURE growth.
Demand generation is the ticket to long-term, sustainable growth
Demand generation focuses on solid marketing practices that build brand awareness, credibility and trust for your solutions by creating a digital experience that serves as your best sales rep. The goal is to create a user experience that connects your audience to relevant, highly targeted content for all stages of buyer readiness.
This highly informative and transparent approach gets you back to the basics of putting it all out there. It helps you:
- Collect leads supported by fundamentally good marketing that creates awareness and actual interest in your solutions.
- Offer a better experience for prospects who want to learn about your company on their timeline.
- Put your sales team in a better position to win with prospects who are actually ready to engage in a conversation.
- Shorten sales cycles and achieve higher win rates.
Building an effective demand generation program doesn’t happen overnight. It starts by digging deep to define your ideal customer profile and unique point of view. This is essential work that effectively positions your business and helps you stand out in a crowded marketplace. After that? You need to create content for every stage of the buyer journey and a strategy that promotes it, ultimately driving traffic to your website. It includes digital advertising, social media, listings, syndicated content, email marketing, account-based marketing programs, sponsorships and much more.
If that all sounds complex, it can be. But the alternative is to continue with a traditional approach that leaves you further and further behind.
More demand generation topics
If you’re interested in learning more about demand generation marketing, listen to The Demand Gen Fix Podcast with new topics every week. Check out these recent episodes for more insight:
- Lead Generation vs. Demand Generation: What’s the Difference?
- Selling Demand Generation to Your Sales Team
- Convincing Your Boss it’s Time to Invest in Demand Generation
Partner with the demand generation experts
Many businesses partner with agencies and demand generation marketing experts to create and launch their programs. In addition to getting the expertise you need, it frees your internal team to work on immediate marketing needs while building rationale and consensus for demand generation with your internal stakeholders.
If you need help persuading leadership that it’s time to transition to demand generation, share this article or invite them to listen to our podcast on this topic.
GrowthMode Marketing works with B2B companies to help them build brand awareness through a long-term, sustainable growth engine that aligns to how prospects want to buy. Contact us for a free consultation to learn more about how demand generation can help your company achieve high growth.