This is the ninth in a series of blog posts that provide demand and account-based marketing best practices in honor of the 12 days of Christmas.

As organizations enter a new year, the quest to optimize key processes such as the demand (aka lead) management process becomes a focal point. Organizations are looking for every possible way to get more return from their budget; making the demand process more efficient is a great way to stretch marketing and sales budgets.

Our next gift to you — for the ninth day of Christmas — is a handy set of tips that will make your process and your team dance!

  1. Create a cross-functional leadership team focused on the demand process. The demand management process orchestrates all the efforts of your marketing, teleservices, and sales teams, turning market potential into revenue. These efforts should be aligned through the demand council, a group dedicated to sales and marketing alignment and process improvement. This team should meet regularly (e.g., monthly) and focus on establishing process definitions, measuring performance against goals, and collaborating on improvements that optimize process efficiency and velocity.
  2. Align sales and marketing goals to opportunities (not leads). It’s impossible to align marketing, teleservices, and sales when the teams are working toward different (and sometimes conflicting) goals. Improve collaboration (and key metrics) by having teams define their success by the impact each has on identifying and progressing opportunities through the demand process.
  3. Stop fixating on marketing qualified leads (MQLs); evolve to a focus on buying groups! B2B buying decisions are predominantly made by a team (the buying group) that works together to identify the best solution to solve business needs. Unfortunately, most demand processes focus on the behavior of individual leads, placing emphasis on the engagement of individual leads as opposed to the collective behavior of the group. This process flaw often masks a buying group’s true interest. Best practice demand management processes coordinate the engagement of multiple buying group members aligned to an individual opportunity to provide better insight on an opportunity’s potential.
  4. Leverage all signals produced in the demand process to see the true propensity picture. Organizations often drive marketing programs that result in interactions (or signals) with multiple contacts within an account. These interactions range from automation qualified lead (AQL)/MQL creation, to engaged named individuals not reaching a lead score threshold, to anonymous website visitors from the account consuming relevant content. Unfortunately, once an MQL or teleprospecting qualified lead (TQL) is created for the account, the remainder of the interactions (and individuals) are ignored. This wastes valuable insight that would help qualify and close opportunities. Every interaction is valuable, and when packaged, interactions can provide better insight.
  5. Add more structure to your qualification follow-up. Inconsistencies in the execution of the qualification process is the most common issue in the performance of the teleservices team. These inconsistencies range from service-level agreement (SLA) issues (timing and depth of follow-up) to variations in the timing and quality of messages in the content. Leverage sales engagement platforms that provide structure to the follow-up process. This structure will ensure that engagement meets service-level requirements and can govern outreach timing, tactic mix, and content to deliver optimal results.
  6. Upgrade your handoffs; business development reps (BDRs) should schedule appointments and create opportunities. The days of passing sales a “qualified lead” and expecting it to drive reengagement is long over. Current best practice is to have the BDR schedule an appointment between the account executive and members of the buying group and often attend this meeting, too. The appointment ensures a seamless handoff and also acts as a higher threshold that increases the quality of the handoff. Additionally, having the BDR create an early-stage opportunity provides better visibility throughout the process.
  7. Timestamps are critical to successful measurement. The foundation for Demand Waterfall® conversion and velocity analysis is leveraging timestamps to capture the arrival of a contact, buying group member, or opportunity at key stages. This timestamp view must occur for every arrival at a stage; analysis can then be done over relevant timestamp periods to answer a variety of questions. Bonus points can be gained if the timestamps are stored with an approach such as a custom Demand Waterfall history object that supports recursion and simplifies reporting.
  8. Use filters to align to contexts. Measuring the performance of a single Demand Waterfall across an entire organization is interesting but lacks the granularity needed to provide actionable insight. Although an organization may deploy a common Demand Waterfall framework to define and measure demand process, the use of filters helps to create distinct views on different go-to-market motions. These filters often include attributes like geography, solutions, customer types, and expected deal size. For example, looking at a Demand Waterfall lens focused on our talent management solution for enterprise customers above $1 billion in revenue in North America provides the necessary insight to manage and optimize performance in that area.
  9. Make demand optimization and Demand Waterfall diagnostics part of your DNA for continuous improvement. The Demand Waterfall is the perfect candidate for adopting a continuous process improvement strategy. Leading organizations create a cross-functional demand management team that’s dedicated to collaboratively working to optimize this critical process. No matter how efficient the demand management process is today, it’s always possible to improve performance, so leading organizations arm their demand council with the SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall diagnostics tools and methodology to make continuous Demand Waterfall optimization part of their organizational competencies.

Embracing any or all of these demand management tips will lead to better process performance, driving increased efficiency and revenue in the new year!