Half of your Demand Generation Funnel is Missing! Now What?
Ok, so it may not be half, but it often can be a significant percentage. Anyone who has dealt with crafting a marketing strategy that has to be executed through an external sales channel might identify with this scenario... “Welcome aboard Marketing Expert! The highest priority we have for you is closing the loop on our lead generation.” Right here is where you need to reset expectations. Closing the marketing loop requires a significant business decision that the executive leadership team needs to understand. They have to ask themselves:
Are we willing to invest in providing a sufficient number of licenses for allof our partners to be able convert the leads appropriately in the CRM system?
Is our company in a position of strength to make registering all deals in the CRM system a requirement as a percentage of partners will certainly defect to our competitors in order to maintain end customer control?
How will we corporately leverage the transactional and end user data to more effectively market? Does the forecasted marketing generated revenue from this shift more than offset the lost revenue due to partner attrition?
What is the optimal engagement model that provides my company with the closed loop we desire, but does not impact ease of doing business to the point of driving partners to transact more volume with competitive brands?
There is a myriad of other questions that the executive team would need to consider, however they seldom will get beyond the first two before moving on. If you have a large channel and it follows approximately the 80/20 rule of revenue distribution it is often hard to justify the corporate expense of licenses for the long tail of your channel ecosystem. So, what do you do if your marketing paradigm is such that a large percentage of marketing generated leads can never be directly tied to a sales opportunity or closed deal? There is no simple answer, but what I would suggest is you consider the following:
Conduct Analysis & Frame Success – Assess all aspects of your demand generation program and frame success based on that which can be controlled and measured. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your target audience, human resources, key processes, investment resources, tools and technology, existing content & campaigns and their performance. Only then can you begin to develop the strategic architecture of your demand generation initiatives.
Get Buy-In – It’s important that you acknowledge that a strategic decision has been made to not invest in closing the marketing loop. It is also essential to go a step further to ensure that you have alignment from your executive leadership team and the sales organization understands what your marketing team will focus on as well as what you forecast to deliver. I would say it goes without saying, but too often I have seen this step skipped; make sure your entire marketing team is made aware of what you are all signed up to deliver and why!
Optimize your Demand Generation Processes – It is easy to adjust content strategies, segment focus, offers, messaging etc. and overlook underlying issues or opportunities for enhancement in the system. Step back and assess the criteria by which leads are scored, how leads are distributed to internal sales, external sales and channel partners, what are the trigger actions in your MA system if someone opts-in from a particular channel, how is lead management tracked and reported by stage, etc. This “system design” approach will ensure, that while you can’t track every lead through a closed loop, that you have done everything possible to facilitate successful conversion with those leads that you can.
Create a Learning System– I have witnessed it over and over again where Quarterly marketing reviews are conducted that explain to management what marketing did and what the results were with no frame of reference to what the expectation was for performance. In order to create a learning system, it is imperative to forecast results (i.e. by region, by segment, by campaign, monthly and annually), track Results versus Forecast, analyze why you exceeded or fell short of your forecast in order to effectively adjust strategies to improve performance. How is anyone going to have a strategic discussion that drives continuous improvement if there is not a target set for performance. This rigor is especially important in driving marketing impact when a portion of your funnel is not visible as the return on marketing investment is always under scrutiny by management.
There are many more strategic considerations in developing effective demand generation programs within an open-loop, multi-channel go-to-market model that I would welcome the opportunity to discuss with you. I hope this post has been helpful and welcome your feedback.