While many demand generation experts focus on things like targeting the right audience and developing an appropriate offer for that audience, this is only part of the equation for what’s needed to really succeed with demand gen.

Here are four critical steps that contribute to the success of demand generation. It’s no surprise that they all involve coordinating with Sales.

Secret #1 – Connect the Dots between Sales & Marketing

It’s surprising that in many large organizations, the Marketing team overseeing demand generation isn’t involved much with the Sales team. We have seen many marketing teams focus on delivering MQLs, and stop there. While they may recognize that the Sales team is the ultimate recipient of their efforts, Marketing rarely takes the initiative to bring the two teams together to collaborate.

However, the most successful demand generation teams build a close working relationship through regular meetings with Sales. This creates an open line of communication and helps both organizations understand each other, finding common ground.

For example, if Sales is focused on account-based selling, is the demand gen team working with them to do account-based marketing? Another area to explore is the MQL “hand-off”. How well does the demand gen team understand whether or not the sales team is really getting what they need?

Sales teams tend to be open to working with the demand gen team. Don’t be surprised if the Sales department asks for more — not fewer — meetings to enhance that working relationship.

Secret #2 – Plan & Collaborate Together

Once you have established a close working relationship between Marketing and Sales, Marketing can begin an ongoing planning discussion. While Marketing may initiate the conversation, it’s key that both Marketing and Sales contribute to the brainstorming and planning process. Marketing team members are often surprised by the fact that the Sales team has valuable input. After all, the Sales team talks to customers every day, so they may understand the issues customers care about much better than Marketing does.

For example, we have seen situations where the Sales team has a better feel for how to position a solution against a competitive offering. A collaborative effort will result in Marketing creating more powerful messaging, and a better overall strategy to bring in qualified leads.

A marketing campaign developed by both Marketing and Sales will not only have more impact with the buyer, but will also be better accepted by Sales when the leads flow in.

Secret #3 – Educate the Sales Team

Once Marketing and Sales have developed a marketing strategy together, it’s time to focus on education and communication. Marketing should present everything it knows about an upcoming campaign to the Sales team. Once the Sales team understands the messaging, approach, logic, and timing, it can provide valuable feedback about tweaks the team would like to make to the marketing campaign.

For example, if the Sales team believes a particular approach results in lower-quality leads, then Marketing can show the data that either agree or refute that hypothesis.

From there, keep the lines of communication open by maintaining visibility with the Sales team throughout the campaign, so Sales reps are reminded about what the brand is doing, why they’re doing it, and when it needs to be done. It’s important that Sales feel like a part of the process.

Secret #4 – Close the Loop

Once a campaign is complete, the Marketing team should discuss what worked and what didn’t work with Sales Management and individual Sales reps. What you’ll uncover in closing the loop can be extremely valuable. Ultimately, both Marketing and Sales want to know the impact the campaign had on pipeline and revenue. By reviewing the results together, you can make improvements the next time around.

When all parties are in the same room discussing the same objectives and measuring the same data, it’s easy to get on the same page and acknowledge what didn’t work, as well as brainstorm on how to make improvements.

When a campaign doesn’t meet expectations, but you don’t meet as a single collective, it’s easy for people to start blaming each other, instead of working together to come up with a better solution.

What are some things you have found in working with the sales organization on demand generation?