Top 5 Challenges for B2B Demand Generation Marketers


Posted: October 15, 2007 | Modern B2B Marketing

I’m here at the MarketingSherpa B2B Demand Generation Summit in Boston. The opening session was by Sean Donahue, Senior Editor for B-to-B Marketing at MarketingSherpa. In it, he shared the top five challenges faced by B2B marketers. I was especially intrigued by challenges 3, 4, and 5.

1. The Growing Committee

Even at small companies (100-500 employees), the average number of people involved in a decision is 6.8. You need to answer all those people’s questions, and each has different concerns. This means you need to tailor your marketing materials to each of them. In fact, 77% of respondents to Marketing Sherpa’s survey say that targeting the content to their job role makes the content somewhat or significantly more valuable.

2. Use the Right Content at the Right Time

Not only do you need different content for each buyer role, you need to customize content for each stage in the buying cycle. This is also true since different buying roles tend to be more involved at different stages.

3. Getting Landing Pages Built & Tested

Marketers say the top reason why people don’t create landing pages is that they don’t have the time or resources. However, as Marketing Sherpa points out, using and optimizing your landing pages can improve conversion rates by 40% or more. Think about it: getting 40% more conversions for the same spending is a lot smarter than spending 40% more!

4. Being Everywhere

80% of decision makers say that they found the vendor. Does this mean you should give up or cut your marketing budget by 80%? Of course not. What matters today in marketing is to be findable when people are looking. This, of course, means being everywhere they might possibly be when they start searching.

There are two interesting implications to this.  First, it implies lots of cross-media, low-volume campaign all year long rather than spending your budget on one or two big programs. This way you can spread your budget across time period and channels.

Second, you need to focus your efforts where people look – and by far, this means managing your search engine marketing campaigns, especially on Google.

5. Handing Off the Right Leads

Less than 25% of the leads on your website are ready to speak with a sales rep. That’s why the best companies score their leads and then use lead nurturing to build relationships with qualified prospects who are not yet ready to speak with Sales. This means:

  • The ability to dialog with qualified prospects through automated “drip marketing” campaigns
  • Lead analytics to understand and score the prospect’s interests and intent
  • Tight integration with SFA to automate tasks and track sales follow-up

To demonstrate the ROI of lead nurturing, Marketing Sherpa compared the results of all companies versus “best practice” marketers. They found that best practice companies pass only 12% of leads to sales (vs. 17% on average). But, 40% of those leads convert to prospects (vs. 34% on average) and to sales at 20% (vs. 16% average). The result is 9.6 sales per 1,000 leads, vs. 9.2 sales per 1,000 leads – which means more revenue. Also, they save costs as well, since they don’t waste as many high-cost resources like the direct sales channel.

Do you agree? Are these the top challenges on your mind?

Related Resources

  • Glenn Gow


    Our clients are seeing many of the same things you and Sean are seeing.

    The Growing Committee / Use the Right Content at the Right Time

    Both of these points create a need to understand the buying cycle. Who are the people involved in the decision? What roles do they play, and at what time do they play those roles? I have a greatly simplified version of this called The Smile Curve.

    This is an easy way to think about it, and it gets marketers moving in the right direction to begin mapping the buying cycle for their product or service.

    Getting Landing Pages Built and Tested

    I’m sorry, but this is not difficult to do. Companies that ignore this are simply wasting their money on their advertising, their SEO and their site.

    Being Everywhere

    I have written about this topic as well in Who found Whom? A key element of the mix we advise our clients on is a heavy emphasis on social media.

    Handing Off the Right Leads

    I completely agree with your point about handing off leads. One question our clients grapple with constantly is “When do you require a visitor to your site to register vs. letting visitors peruse your content as much as they’d like without registration”. The trade-off is better information about those who are willing to register vs. many more visitors who want to surf, but not register. In the end, the answer depends on the relationship you want to have with a site visitor. We want them to “want” to become a lead at the point they register.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

    Best regards,

    Glenn Gow


    Crimson Consulting

  • Jon Miller

    Thanks for all your thoughts, Glenn. But to confirm your point about landing pages, I think you mean to say that it shouldn’t be difficult to have landing pages, even though for many companies it is. (Unless, of course, they use Marketo Landing Pages.)

  • Mac McIntosh

    Jon, although I have found similar results to those reported by MarketingSherpa, I think that too many marketers still think that lead cultivation is the responsibility of the folks in sales. However, that approach doesn’t work. Sales is measured, compensated and rewarded for closed sales, not lead follow up, so they focus on the sales-ready opportunities and generally neglect (or cherry pick a few of) those that are not pre-qualified as being sales ready.

  • Dale Underwood

    Jon, since you handled 3-5 thoroughly I thought I would address 1 and 2 from an Enterprise sales perspective.

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Jon (@jonmiller) is a VP and co-founder at Marketo. He is the author of multiple Definitive Guides including Marketing Automation, Engaging Email Marketing, and Marketing Metrics & Analytics. In 2010, The CMO Institute named Jon a Top 10 CMO for companies under $250 million revenue. Jon holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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