How “Demand Generation” Affects Your Sales

Posted by LinkedSelling in B2B Lead Generation & Sales Development

How did the iPhone generate buzz so quickly? It created demand.

It’s not too different for a B2B world. You’ve got your marketing department. You’ve got your sales department. You’re putting out content. You’re doing lead generation stuff… like prospecting, like running ads. And when you get an interested lead, you hand them over to sales, where they’ll hopefully close them.

While that’s a sorry simplification of the usual process from attracting prospects to closing them, it’s also typical. 

What you don’t see though is that there’s an invisible thread running through that marketing and sales jungle. 

It’s what actually drives the prospect to keep reading your blog, to keep coming back to your site, to follow you on social media, and the same thing that drives them to introduce your company to their team and/or their superiors (the decision makers).

Know what it is?

Again, it’s demand.

You can market, you can prospect, you try to sell, but if you’re not strategic about actually creating demand, you’ll miss the mark every time.

When you can learn to not only create interest, but take it a step further and drive demand, you’ll find that you are able to connect with your prospects better, you can shorten the sales cycle, you can build long-term business relationships, and you can have the fuel to convert prospects into clients.

Keep reading to get our take on demand generation and how we incorporate it into every step along the buyer journey, from awareness to purchase decision.

What is Demand Generation Anyway???

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Demand generation is the bridge, the umbrella, and the glue for marketing and sales - and everything that supports them, creating the demand for the service you provide by highlighting the pain points of the prospect and consistently providing value. 

Essentially, it’s purpose is to systematically drive demand for sales, while both qualifying and building a trusting relationship with your prospects and clients. Which means it’s got its hands in both departments, with a very specific purpose and execution strategy.

The nature of demand generation requires that it take a very holistic and long-term approach precisely because it overlaps with so many other areas. The details come when you get into the campaigns that actually drive that demand that encourage people to make sales appointments. 

And that’s why we’re talking about this now. There’s a lot of lingo and it can be pretty confusing. 

The way we view demand generation at LinkedSelling is that the end goal is the messaging and the relationship building that builds trust and moves prospects to the next step, while lead generation’s purpose, for example, while it incorporates those aspects, is more focused on getting those qualified appointments on the sales calendar.

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This is a great way to put it,

“In other words, demand generation shapes perception, and lead generation is a data-gathering machine.” - Chelsea Segal, CEO of Targetwise

Demand generation’s focus is to create a trusting relationship between the buyer and a company, and for this reason also has a very long-term mindset; it’s strategic about creating demand at every point in the buyer journey. In order to do so, it brings your content, your inbound and your outbound strategies together with a cohesive, singular goal.

Demand Generation Is Naturally Incorporated In Throughout Our Process

While we’re a multi-channel, outbound lead generation and sales development agency, we’ve naturally incorporated this “demand generation” aspect in our lead generation and sales development approach with our clients for years. This is how we’ve both built demand for our own courses, products, softwares, and full-service agency offerings and how we’ve taught and executed growth strategies on behalf of our clients.

At its core, the concept of demand generation is about building business relationships - and most importantly, building that crucial trust that prospects need in order to convert into long term buyers. With our tactics and strategies, this concept comes naturally to us. 

It’s built in at every level.

For example, for years we ran various coaching and do-it-yourself or do-it-with-you courses and programs. In fact, this is how we got started. We literally wrote the playbook to teach our clients about how to build authority leadership and relationships - and why it’s critical if you want high quality prospects booking appointments consistently.

From the beginning, we taught in these programs to use a multi-channel approach incorporating social media messaging, email, phone calls, and more to deliver both high level and in-depth content as a way to provide value in a strategic way. This educates prospects, shows expertise, and builds authority and trust while also driving demand and interest.

With lead generation activities and building sales relationships, demand generation can both gauge and create interest in the prospect to continue learning more about your company and your service. 

Adding value at strategic touch points along the buyer journey not only positions you as an expert and as a helpful resource, but it builds a strong foundation for a business relationship and both creates demand and incites interest for your prospect to take the next step.

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How To Build Demand

There are four pillars we follow that help us (and our clients) take the lead:

Understand Your Prospect

This is always step one. We talk about it all the time. You need to know your clients and prospects at a level that will allow you to understand what motivates them and exactly what they need at every stage throughout the buyer journey. 

This is a foundational step to any business - the client comes first, not the product. 

You should know basic demographics like job title, industry, and more, but more importantly you should know specific pain points. Remember that these pain points come at different levels -

Know what they mean for that individual prospect.
Know what they mean for your prospect’s team.
Know what they mean for their company.
Know what it would mean if they were fixed, on a daily, monthly, quarterly and yearly basis.

Knowing this is crucial to demand generation because you simply can’t create demand without knowing what will resonate.

To learn more about how to know your prospect and build an in-depth prospect profile, read more here.

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Build your network

You’ll be creating content and building relationships as you engage in demand generation activities and you’ll need a pool of targeted prospects you can build relationships with. This is the natural second step in our system and we do this through multi-channel outbound lead generation activities.

This includes social media ads, outreach via social media messaging, email, and more. 

The key at this stage is to remember that your network of prospects must be filled with people who’d you’d love to work with. 

A big mistake we often see is that people build a platform, whether that’s a group on LinkedIn, they grow their LinkedIn connections, or they build an email list, but they build an audience of peers. This is easy to do because people often connect with people who have their same interests - which will be your peers. 

This is why it’s crucial to have built a strong foundation before engaging in other activities, whether lead generation or demand generation. You MUST target and create value for the RIGHT people.

Strengthen The Relationship

Demand generation at its core is about relationships. It’s about creating enough demand and interest that your prospect trusts you. 

You really can’t have demand without trust.

That right there is the beginning of a successful business relationship (or any relationship). 

Once you understand who your prospects are, and what their pain points are AND you’ve built a targeted network through a multi-channel lead generation approach, your goal is to strengthen the relationship by adding value at strategic touch-points along the buyer journey.

Again, this is incorporated naturally in our lead generation process, and in our sales development process.

To accomplish this, look at your prospects’ buyer journey and identify questions and needs your prospect has at every step of the way. Your content must answer those questions. 

This content can include case studies, free trials or demos, free consultations, whitepapers, helpful blogs posts, case studies, webinars or presentations designed for more detailed evaluation of your solution. All these content pieces educate and increase both interest and trust. This is how you can use content to create demand.

So, once you understand your prospect and you’ve got a content strategy in place based on what you know your prospect needs at each step of the buyer journey, you must elevate your communication by being human. You do this by engaging in specific outreach activities using social media messaging, email and telephone calling.

From a demand generation perspective, email marketing is very effective and can be used to share value (it’s the delivery method for all the content you’ve created), stay top of mind, answer those pertinent questions and pain points, and effectively create the interest that we want. 

We’ve found that it’s best to send nurture campaigns to prospects who’ve shown interest. Whether they’ve opted-in to our content or attended a webinar (through our lead generation efforts), they’ve somehow responded and requested our content. After we deliver it, we use email to both encourage them to book appointments (in conjunction will our SDR’s calling them) as well as to offer even more value over time.

The emails we send lead to our blog to get them to keep reading topics that interest them. They lead to case studies so they can see how we’ve helped others similar to them. They lead to new webinars and any new material we put. 

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The other way we use email is in our cold outreach. These might be “cold” emails where the prospect isn’t familiar with us yet, so increasing demand is extremely important here. Instead of pushing to an appointment right away, again we build the relationship by sharing value that address our prospect’s immediate pain points. 

In order to take the lead and create demand, it’s necessary that you add value. Doing so will naturally position your company as an authority and will naturally build trust in the eyes of your prospects as they begin to see you more and more as a true resource, not just another pushy vendor. 

Remember that the goal here is to generate interest and demand for your services (and eventually that demand will drive sales). For this, you’ll want to really show expertise in your subject area and provide content that answers questions to your audience’s main pain points. Do this buy creating and sharing strategic content pieces.

Demand Throughout the Sales Process

During the sales process, your prospect is now farther along in their buyer journey. You must continue to focus on creating demand at this point, but you need to start making the switch to more specific pieces of content and strategic messaging. 

This means that your prospect will have more specific questions about you, not just your company or industry, but how your specific solutions will help them. 

Drive up and interest using strategic nurture campaigns using email, phone calling and one-on-one social media to share exactly what they need to know to move them through the sales process. 

You’ll want case studies as social proof, and information about pricing comparisons, how to calculate ROI, what kind of ROI to expect, or anything else that the decision makers will need in order to close them.

How Marketing, Lead Generation, Sales Development, and Sales Teams Support Demand Generation

All the effort it takes for a company to build awareness, attract prospects, grow a network of targeted and quality prospects, get them to book appointments, and finally to make purchase decisions contributes to creating demand for your products and services. There is a lot of overlap between marketing, lead generation, sales development, and sales and the reason for that is simple: you need to drive demand at each phase.

First, remember that lead generation involves building a network of qualified prospects and demand generation is about creating interest and demand, and converting that into sales. They have two very different tasks, and yet there is definitely a lot of overlap. 

You need a lot of data in order to successfully run demand generation marketing campaigns. That includes information about your audiences, what they want, how they think, and what they’ll respond to. Lead generation activities can provide a lot of that via data collected online from direct content requests and opt-ins, as well as digital data derived from ad campaigns. 

Sales also contribute a lot of data because they’re on the front lines and talking to prospects every day. They know exactly what prospects are saying, what they’re asking for, and what objections they have. Sales knows what holds a prospect back from making a purchase decision and they know what kind of information will help the prospect overcome those hurdles. 

Utilizing this data from both the lead generation and sales team will help you determine what kind of content to include in your demand generation strategy. Using this data, you’ll be able to provide real value at every point along the buyer journey because you’ve sat down, recognized what your prospect needs and is looking for at each step.

To Sum Up: A Recipe for Successful Demand Generation

Think of demand generation as the push to develop buzz and awareness - and the pull that keeps your prospects and clients coming back. Note that while each of these pieces of content can be useful on their own (like sending a case study to an interested prospect) when you utilize content strategically and share it in the targeted nurture campaigns you create, you build demand and retain the attention of your audience.  

Demand generation is the glue that holds all the marketing, lead generation, sales development, and sales efforts together: they’re nothing if they don’t have demand driving them. The best KPI for demand generation efforts is simply revenue. If you’re successfully closing deals, then at some point along the way, you’ve managed to spark interest and create demand for your products and services. 

Focusing on and planning long-term, specific demand generation strategies will go a long way to enhance the efforts of all other teams involved from start to finish. Demand generation is incorporated into every LinkedSelling campaign we run for our clients, whether we’re running ads, creating email nurture campaigns, talking to prospects over the phone, or even on the hunt with prospects, we aim to build trust and share valuable content at each step of the buyer journey. 

We help our clients show their expertise, and through the data we collect, we help them dial in their messaging and positioning in a way that their prospects will connect with and be inspired to keep learning more.

All of this is demand generation. If you’re currently looking to revamp or implement a new approach to marketing and sales, I encourage you to learn more about the kinds of strategies we've implemented for hundreds of businesses over the years. It’s never a one-size-fits all approach. 

In fact, if you have specific questions you can’t find answers to on our blog, just book an appointment with an expert on our team. That way, you can talk to someone who can help align your goals with a strategic approach to filling your pipeline of quality prospects so you can close more sales consistently. This is a free call. We’re happy to help!

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