Demand generation is a process to create inbound demand, and oftentimes, the process includes demand capture (i.e. prospects searching for a product or solution you offer). While the exact definition of demand generation depends on the industry or the company you are in, it is known as customer acquisition, lead generation, or even “sign-ups” for SaaS companies. In the nonprofit sector, the definition could mean pledges from donors. At its core, it is basically the process of generating an inbound volume of inquiries or leads.
In the B2B setting, demand generation has started to take a backseat to Account-Based Marketing (ABM), though both can work side by side, albeit serving different purposes. Demand gen is volume-based and is owned by the marketing team, whose primary responsibility is to drive leads into the CRM for the sales team to eventually close. However, because 50% of sales reps ignore marketing leads (according to The B2B Lead) since only 25% of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales (according to Gleanster Research), a volume-based demand gen approach should not be totally relied upon.
By contrast. the key difference with ABM is that the process starts with identifying your target accounts and always works in collaboration with sales. ABM is essentially a courtship of accounts and spends quality time building up the relationship with the accounts until there’s a marriage (i.e. deal or sale).
A well-oiled marketing department is really an amazing way to add value to an organization’s product or services, but when marketing isn’t tied to what the organization is trying to solve, then marketing is being underleveraged. Look inward – into your organization – and see if you can fully unleash the potential power of what marketing can do. Blueprint solves this for our B2B clients through an audit of the sales and marketing process followed by a re-engineering to scale accounts through larger deals.
Most customers tell us that they have a pretty good handle on demand generation, and subsequently share how many leads they generate and how effective they are in doing so. We also usually hear that ABM is a bit of a mystery.
Though both approaches can work together, there are distinct differences and very different outcomes:
1. ABM supports but does not source the pipeline. Demand generation on the other hand, is where marketing sources a significant portion of the pipeline. Demand gen is often analogous to “casting the net.”
2. ABM is a very coordinated effort that includes some human touches primarily with the salesperson, along with coordinated, automated touches managed by the marketing team, such as various triggered or automated emails. ABM can be personalized yet still scalable.
3. ABM focuses on named accounts, while demand gen brings potential customers that aren’t necessarily being explicitly pursued.
When to choose ABM over traditional demand generation
If your sales cycle is rather long and complex, if there are many decision-makers at an account, if you have a relatively defined target market (i.e account list), and if your business goals are dependent on closing a set number of accounts, then you’re in a perfect situation to begin ABM. On the other hand, if your business model doesn’t check all of those boxes, then demand generation may be the way to go, or some combination of the two.
It’s important to keep in mind that marketing and sales teams must be fully aligned to run ABM programs as ABM is a marketing and sales-driven initiative.