Demand Generation: Why It Has To Be On Your Radar, Mr. Sales Leader

Sales Radar

To Mr. Sales Leader: underestimate the contribution of marketing in your business’s growth and demand generation process, and you are missing a big opportunity.

It’s easy to take the mindset that sales is the center of the organization because it’s the sales team that “closes the deals”. But smart sales organizations today fully understand the entire revenue picture and work collaboratively with marketing to integrate with the demand generation process. This is especially true in B2B organizations where customer sales cycles are long and winning customers often require lead nurturing – a process typically led by marketers using marketing automation tools like Marketo and Eloqua.

So, here are five things every sales leader should do to embrace a marketing-led business growth model:

Know the Success Indicators Of Your Future Sales

If we define success as sales exceeding goals, there are typically two indicators of future sales success. The first is inputs such as qualified leads and sales people. The second is conversions – how effectively do you convert leads at each stage of the buying cycle and what kind of trends do you see? Here are conversion trends charts that provide this kind of data:

Revenue Cycle Conversion Rates Charts

By knowing these two types of data points, you can forecast your future sales pipeline.

Quantify Leads Needed For Each Sales Person To Hit Quota

To make this calculation, you’ll need to assess a few things: basic conversion rates, the size of your average deal, the time-to-conversion at any point in the sales cycle, and your goals for new bookings. Most companies define leads as either marketing qualified or sales-ready.

Your waterfall result might look like this:

Revenue Cycle Waterfall Sales Rep

Sales of $50K in May might demand two new customers from six new opportunities in February derived from 18 sales-ready-leads that same month and 180 marketing-qualified-in January.

Quality Check Your Leads

Working closely with your marketing team to develop a formal “contract” or SLA for leads is crucial. If they deliver your required supply, your team agrees to immediate follow-up. During ongoing collaboration or within the CRM, marketing provides details on new opportunities and required next steps. With feedback from sales on the quality of incoming leads, the entire team can gain insight into patterns and ways to nurture the best leads. A 30-minute weekly meeting is all it takes, and the impact on sales-ready leads can be huge. With everyone communicating and working toward the same goals, sales and marketing become one highly effective team.

Expand Lead Volumes

Working collaboratively with your marketing team should result in more control over the quality and volume of leads they are providing. With that happening, your sales force can focus more on territory development using social and business networking tools to extend marketing-sourced opportunities.

Know When You Need Bodies

Adding sales resources in response to customer demand should be a data-driven exercise. Similar to the ‘waterfall’ we calculated above, the right number and timing of new sales people depend on your individual sales expectations and conversion rates.

So, our calculation might look like this:

Revenue Cycle Waterfall Sales Team

$350K in August sales equates to 15 new customers, 44 opportunities and 126 sales-ready leads in May from 1,263 MQLs in April and four fully utilized sales people with an average monthly quota of $86K.

Being marketing-led means working holistically with the entire revenue cycle in mind. Understanding the levers you have to manage and optimize demand is job one for sales manager survival.

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Swayne Hill


Swayne is the former SVP of Sales at Mintigo. He was previously Senior VP and co-founder of Cloud9 Analytics, a leading Sales Forecasting and Business Intelligence solution provider, serving Pandora, ADP, LinkedIn, DocuSign, EMC and many more. Earlier in his career, Swayne spent 13 years with Cognos building and running sales teams around the world as the company grew from $50M to almost $1B in revenue and was acquired by IBM. Swayne sits in several high-tech startup advisory boards and holds a Bachelors degree in economics from the University of Toronto.