Demand generation will continue to be a rapidly-evolving discipline within SaaS companies that requires the unique blend of science and creativity. New tools pop up every day and the buyer behavior is constantly changing.
So how do you find your footing to build a solid demand generation function in your company?
By following the demand generation best practices below, you will give your company a significant leg up and create a solid foundation that will sustain years of future growth.
1. Understand Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
Creating content, generating opportunities, closing deals…all of these are difficult to do well if you don’t have a sense of who your ideal customer is in the first place. The ICP you create doesn’t have to be perfect and it should be something that is fairly fluid as you continuously evaluate data, but you can’t just target everyone (aka no one) and expect to get any traction with reasonable unit economics.
The ideal customer profile should not be confused with personas. It is a set of characteristics or attributes that define the type of company that is a good fit for your product or service and is something that your company is devoted to investing resources to acquire them. The attributes will include markers like industry, region or company size as well as other factors like what their pain points are or who is the decision maker.
For a great guide to creating an ICP, check out: How to Create an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
2. Segment Your Audience
Audience segmentation isn’t limited to creating different lists in your email platform and it isn’t some arbitrary grouping of your prospects & customers. Valuable segmentation happens from analyzing your own data and understanding the unique differences in groups of customers.
A great example is when the same product can be purchased by agencies that use your product to provide services to clients and by companies directly. How the agency buys and uses the product will be quite different from the way a practitioner at a company will buy and use the product.
When you can identify the unique characteristics and segment marketing materials & messaging, email content, pricing and sales team structures to align to the needs of each segment, the result is more efficient acquisition, better conversions and superior retention.
3. Add Value
One of the best ways to grow your audience, build your brand and increase demand for your products or services is by adding value to others. You shouldn’t be creating content for the sake of creating content or because someone told you that you should start a podcast. You should be doing it because you know that you can add value for your target audience.
Some great examples of this include creating thorough how-to content to solve someone’s pain point, creating templates that will save people time or enhance their work, developing free tools that meet a specific need and become a critical part of someone’s workflow and curating quality content from multiple sources to share via social media, a newsletter or as a product.
4. Invest in Content Creation
Content marketing has exploded in the last several years and the bar continues to be raised so you really can’t be half in on content creation and expect good results. If you are going to do it, then really do it.
Teams that invest the time and resources not only into writers but designers, front-end developers, videographers and data science as well are able to create content that is valuable, entertaining and a positive impact on revenue.
5. Give Your Sales Team the Most Qualified Leads
The highest-performing demand generation teams are masterful in dialing in the leads the sales team should be spending time on, the ones that are junk and the ones that just need more time before they are ready to be passed on.
A lot of teams, especially early the life of a new company, want sales to work every lead and view every lead as high-quality and ready to buy. This ultimately leads to frustration between sales & marketing and the less qualified leads take time away from the reps being able to focus on the most qualified leads.
6. Test New Channels & Tactics
Best-in-class demand generation teams know that even if they are hitting their numbers for this quarter and the next, they need to be building towards what comes 6-12 months down the line.
This is necessary to create a robust set of channels and lead sources that drive pipeline growth for the sales team. Marketers are notorious for taking any new channel or tactic and running it into the ground so what’s working now may not in the near future.
7. Tie Demand Generation Activities to Revenue
Traffic and leads don’t pay the bills. It sounds like common sense but you’d be surprised how many demand generation teams can get so wrapped up in hitting a lead or MQL target that they lose sight of what really matters. Revenue.
Best-in-class teams have figured out how to close the loop to know which sources/channels/activities are driving the revenue and tested extensively so they know the most efficient places to invest more time and resources. And once you have this dialed in, you pretty much become unstoppable.
8. Remove Friction at Every Stage of the Customer Lifecycle
Homepage, pricing page, sign up forms, onboarding flows, setting meetings, rep engagement, sending proposals, signing contracts, new customer engagement, rep handoffs, implementation, renewals, the list goes on. There are so many points in the customer lifecycle.
The more you can be going through the process end-to-end, testing and getting feedback, the more you can remove friction at each point and improve conversion rates. The best part is that improvements at multiple stages in your lifecycle will have a compounding effect on your overall unit economics.
9. Align on Data Sources & Definitions with Sales
One of the most critical elements of sales and marketing alignment is the data by which the teams are working from, building goals on and reporting on.
If you can get to a point where both teams are building all of their goals and reporting off of the same data sources and using the same definitions, you will spend less time discussing the validity of the data and answering, “how did you get that number?” and more time discussing how to grow revenue together.
Where to Start
If you feel overwhelmed at this point, it is important that you don’t let it hold you back. I doubt any company really does all of these flawlessly and everyone has room to improve.
Identify 2-3 practical items that can be changed or implemented this week and get started. It is a long process and the important part is to just get started.
Nate Turner is an independent marketing & growth consultant for SaaS companies. Nate was the first marketer at Sprout Social where he spent over 8 years building and scaling the inbound engine, helping grow the company from $0 – $100M in revenue & IPO. He enjoys working with marketing & sales leaders to solve hard problems and create sustainable growth.