The Importance of Formalizing Your Demand Gen OperationsThis is part of our series, the Seven Pillars of B2B Demand Generation Success. In this post we describe Pillar #6, the key step of formalizing the core operations of your demand generation system. Once you’ve defined and documented the system (Pillar 1), established your models (Pillars 2 and 4), and established the team roles and incentives (Pillars 3 and 5), you have the core elements in place of a well-defined demand gen system. Now you need to operationalize it. Make sure it sticks and doesn’t become “shelfware”. This entails two key steps.
First, Lock-In Leadership Support — You’ll Need It!This sounds like change management 101, but don’t roll your eyes. As with many of the other Pillars described in this series, this one can be make or break for your demand gen success. Achieving alignment within the leadership team is not easy, and ensuring the broader team gets one consistent message from their higher-ups is even harder. So, don’t short-change this step. Go back to the company leadership team that was involved in the process of defining the system. Ensure they buy-in and are committed, and will assist you in making sure it is the “law of the land”. Make sure they are sold on the value of the system and understand the requirements that it will place on their teams. Look them in the eye… get them to commit! Leadership support is critical as inevitably some aspects of the demand gen system will meet resistance. Sales and Marketing people—particularly those that work in high growth, dynamic environments—are predisposed to chafe at the perception of “too much process”. But your demand gen system is a finely tuned engine that depends on people to follow defined processes during their daily tasks. It takes a little extra effort and discipline to follow these procedures, and sometimes requires a little carrot-and-stick cajoling from leadership to make sure they adhere to the defined process. This enforcement is always better coming from the leadership of the relevant group, vs. one of their peers.
Second, Sell It!Once you have the air-tight and unwavering support of the sales and company leadership, it’s time to promulgate the system. You need to sell it. Hold team meetings and 1×1 sessions with key folks on the sales team, ad sales ops team. Host a lunch and learn or two. Go the extra mile to befriend someone who you expect to resist some of the new changes. (In our article on Codifying the Demand Gen System (Pillar #1), we used the US Constitution as a metaphor for your document that defines the essential framework and processes of your demand gen system. The US founders knew that writing the document was only half the battle–they then had to take it to the people to get it approved. While you don’t require a two-thirds majority vote, you do need to get the buy-in from the folks you’ll count on to execute on a daily basis.) In all of these discussions, make sure you explain the value of the new system in WIIFI terms (“what’s in it for me”?). For example, for the sales team, adherence to the system will lead to accelerated sales cycles, closed deals, and ultimate money in their pockets.
Nurture the System to Become a Roaring Engine of GrowthIn the first month or two of the new system, monitor very closely. Be patient — following the procedures is not second nature to most folks. Gently encourage and remind the team to follow the procedures. Look for opportunities to streamline or simplify. Be sure to over-praise folks for adhering to new processes. Don’t break out the big stick too early or you might be labeled the “process police” and resistance will build. Rather, assume that during the first two months, you’ll need to invest additional time in nurturing the new system along, and block out time in your schedule for it. This time investment in the beginning will deliver huge returns shortly, and will continue to pay off for a long time to come.
Final Thoughts on Implementing your Demand Gen SystemWith leadership support and the extra focus of you and your team to ensure the new demand gen system takes root, you will soon see it running smoothly and the process deviations become the exception, rather than the norm. This is a magical state to achieve– a well-tuned engine that delivers an ever-growing supply of qualified opportunities to the business. This is part of our series, the Seven Pillars of B2B Demand Generation Success. Here is the full list of posts in this series.
- Codify the Demand Gen System
- Build and Work the Pipeline Model
- Differentiate and Define Roles within the Lead-to-Close Process
- Measure and Know Your Pipeline Throughput Capacity
- Design the Right Incentives – Particularly for New Customer Acquisition
- Enact, Implement & Enforce
- Execute Lead Gen Campaigns with Adherence to Best Practices