andy culligan on market mentors podcast
Nov 30, 2021

Understanding Demand Generation and Modern Marketing’s Relationship with Sales

Introduction

Demand generation is a popular trend in modern marketing because of the way it supports sales teams and enables them to be more successful. But many businesses overlook the fundamentals of good demand generation, and consequently run into challenges or fail to meet their revenue targets. 

In this episode, Andy Culligan talks to Matt Dodgson about the most effective techniques he’s learned for successful demand generation over the past 10 years.

About Our Guest

Who they are: Andy Culligan, Freelance Chief Marketing Officer. 

A bit of background: Andy began his career in sales before transitioning over to marketing, giving him a unique perspective on demand generation. Originally from Ireland, Andy is now based in Vienna, Austria. 

Where you can find them:

Prefer Video? Watch a full video of the podcast here…

Episode Takeaways

Here you’ll find some of the best advice from the podcast that you can easily digest and learn from.

1. What is demand generation, and what should it involve for businesses today? 

Firstly, it’s important to point out that the terms ‘lead gen’ and ‘demand gen’ are often used interchangeably, and people sometimes get them mixed up.

But Andy believes the difference between lead gen and demand gen is quite clear: 

  • Lead gen involves going out and bringing in individuals that you’re trying to sell to.
  • Demand gen is more about creating awareness for your brand, so people will recognise it and come to you. 

Still, Andy was also very quick to suggest that it’s best to avoid viewing these two things as disconnected. In fact, in a sense, lead gen is a part of demand gen. 

Andy went on to explain, “They meet in the middle somewhere. You can’t say this is a lead gen activity and that’s a demand gen activity. I tend not to separate the two.”

“Call it whatever you want. You need to be creating demand by everything you’re doing from a brand perspective, how you present yourself out to the world. All the different activities you’re doing are creating demand, or should be creating demand. If they’re not, then you’re doing a bad job.”

Everything you’re doing from a marketing perspective should be generating demand.

Andy Culligan

And, according to Andy, one of the most important components of successful demand gen today is account-based marketing. 

He explained, “Nowadays, you need to be doing some level of account-based marketing. If you’re not, you need to start. The companies that don’t do account-based marketing right now are the ones that maybe aren’t fully certain of how to do it, or they think it involves a massive investment, or they need to have a huge amount of resource to pull it off. But none of the above is true.”

“You can start doing account-based marketing tomorrow for very little money. How? First of all, as a company, sit down and understand who your ideal customer is.”

Listen to the full podcast episode to hear Andy’s detailed guidance for taking an account-based marketing approach within your own business. 

To learn even more about account-based marketing, check out our recent podcast episode dedicated to that topic here

2. What should the first 90 days in a new demand gen role look like? 

No two businesses are the same, of course, so how you approach a new demand gen role will be different for each individual business. 

However, as an outline, Andy shared the following advice: 

  1. Start by assessing the current state of affairs. Usually, look at the business’s revenue targets first.
  2. Compare the revenue targets to the current sales pipeline and see how close (or far off) you are from hitting them.
  3. Next, look at the typical conversion rates from pipeline to closed deals or revenue, and the typical length of the sales cycle.
  4. Use that to understand how much sales pipeline you need to generate, through marketing, to help the business to hit those targets.
  5. If there are gaps or problems, that’s when you shift the marketing focus to generating enough pipeline for the sales team to get back on track.
  6. Get the sales and marketing teams working together on things that will help book more sales meetings and, ultimately, generate more revenue. An example of this is to create specialised pieces of content targeted at engaging the right audiences, such as webinars, eBooks, videos, or customer case studies. 
  7. Then, once those efforts begin generating interest, the marketing team should support the sales team in following-up with the prospects who have been interacting in meaningful ways. 

3. What are some of the common mistakes and pitfalls businesses should avoid in this area? 

A big mistake many businesses make is they expect marketing activities to deliver revenue in unrealistic time-frames. 

“People expect immediate results,” explained Andy. “In the tech space in particular, people are very, very impatient.”

But it’s crucial to understand the majority of demand gen strategies will be long-term investments, which will take time to produce results.

Andy also identified an unwillingness to test and trial enough, seeing this as another error lots of companies are making these days. 

He said, “A lot of the time, the C-suite think they know how marketing works, because everybody has an opinion on marketing. But you have to gain experience knowing what works, what doesn’t work, what types of methods work, what processes you need to put in place, and all these different things.”

Without testing things out and making mistakes often, marketers won’t know what works well and what doesn’t. 

And, finally, Andy emphasised the importance of getting the basics right before investing too heavily in marketing technology. 

Too many businesses today think technology is a silver bullet solution for their marketing troubles, which simply isn’t the case.

“A lot of companies think that tech is going to save their life, but it won’t,” said Andy. “How you use the tech and your approach, your methodology to actually getting in front of more prospects, is what’s going to save your life.”

Marketing tools and technologies are only as good as the information that you put into them.

Andy Culligan

Be sure to work hard on getting the basics right first. Then, once the foundations are in place, start using digital tools to enhance your people’s capabilities and streamline your processes. 

A few other highlights to look out for in this episode:

  • Andy shares some of the signals he uses to gauge how well his marketing activities are working.
  • Andy provides advice for balancing your short-term tactics and long-term strategies. 
  • Andy discusses what companies should be looking for when hiring their first demand gen specialist.
  • Andy also recommends some great digital tools to use when you’re beginning to scale up your marketing efforts.