The 5 Worst SaaS Demand Generation Sins

May 14, 2020

A strong Demand Generation program allows a company to predictably scale the number of Opps sourced by simply increasing marketing spend. Whether you’re just starting out or have been running Demand Gen programs for years, here are a few core “sins” that your team should avoid at all costs.

The process that creates and nurtures new opportunities for the sales team is known as “Demand Generation”. A strong demand generation program allows a company to predictably scale the number of opportunities sourced each month (or quarter) by simply increasing marketing spend (e.g. invest $1, get $3 in return). Whether your company is just starting out, or you’ve been running demand generation programs for years, here are a few core “sins” that your team should avoid at all costs. 

1. Not having a lead-to-revenue model

demand generation saas

Your team should know early on how your leads turn into opportunities, as well as how they can be nurtured if not immediately responsive. In this way your company can track and optimize the lead funnel by stage. Most early-stage startups don’t have such a model, which can make it impossible to scale. One of the most important parts of this system is the lead handoff process. The key to building a successful lead handoff is to make sure there is alignment between Marketing and Sales. Map all relevant variables, and come to an agreement on how leads will be scored, handed off, followed up with, and tracked. With a pre-agreed upon lead-to-revenue model in place, you will ensure that all your leads will be properly followed-up, and that you’ll be able to effectively scale and increase your sales pipeline. 

2. Focus on “leads” instead of opportunities/pipeline

It’s very easy to meet a MQL goal. However it is not so easy to generate consistent, qualified opportunities and pipeline for your sales team. While leads are important, Marketing’s goals should be measured in the number of opportunities and $ value of their pipeline. Take some time to understand your funnel metrics, and do the calculations necessary to create a realistic MQL goal based on your conversion rates.

calculate saas budget

3. Not tracking attribution

demand generation attribution

Attribution is a difficult topic, but the bottom line is that if you don’t know what is driving your growth, how can you optimize any of your programs? A basic attribution model is very easy to implement, but it can get harder as you scale. The first step is to track UTMs from your leads - are they coming from LinkedIn? Facebook? Which piece of content brought them to you? This information can be tracked via UTM to your CRM. The second step is to setup the Campaign object on your CRM and associate every lead generated from your programs to one of the active campaigns. For example, if a lead comes in from LinkedIn you can send it to the “Paid Social” campaign on Salesforce, where you will be able to see which leads from this campaign became opportunities. Replicate this workflow for all channels/campaigns with a tool like Zapier

4. Not implementing a marketing automation system early on

While marketing automation tools such as Marketo or HubSpot can be expensive, they represent your main asset as you start to grow. Keeping track of a few programs may seem manageable, but when you begin running multiple programs at once with hundreds of leads coming in each week, you’re going to need backup. These tools allow you to keep better track of paid acquisition programs, while automating the pieces of the puzzle that tend to draw human error. 

marketing automation saas demand generation

5. Mismatched resources and goals

If your goal is to close $8M in new ARR this fiscal year, and you currently have 4 reps with an annual quota of $1.2M each, how are you going to fill that gap? Hiring new Account Executives takes weeks or months, and they won’t be fully ramped up for at least 6 months. Are you going to invest more on digital ads? Or events? You will need a clear view of your funnel metrics from each channel and set realistic goals based on this data. 

Other Marketing “Sins”

  • Have a team that is “too junior” - You have one person creating content, one person in charge of social media, and a third one running events. While they are doing great work, they are doing so without a clear strategy and guidance, which leads to poor metrics. 
  • Spending budget on events without a clear strategy - Trade shows and conferences are a great channel to invest in, but they need to be managed and tracked properly. You must create a plan that starts weeks or months before the conference begins, and it should involve all the stakeholders (marketing, sales reps, SDRs). The ideal scenario is to have a decent number of meetings already booked before boarding the plane. Each attendee should have a clear schedule and instructions. Remember to track EVERY interaction that happens at the tradeshow, including those with existing customers or opportunities. If you can’t attribute your pipeline from these channels, you are basically throwing money down the drain.

Other Sales “Sins”

  • Lack of adequate onboarding and training: Most new sales reps at startups fail because of poor training - they are basically set up to fail. Most of the “training” today consists of shadowing calls and reading old whitepapers, but if you spend the time to create a robust training program it will pay off quickly.
  • Too many territories/accounts: Specially for companies with a horizontal solution, the temptation to go after every account is high. If reps start chasing any and all leads, regardless of vertical, segment, region, they will see poor results from their efforts. You have only a few AEs, and they should be hyper focused on ideal accounts only.
  • No SDR team: If your AEs are doing outbound prospecting, qualifying inbound leads, and trying to close deals at the same time, you are destined to fail. Start specializing your resources early on. Ideal scenario: have your Inbound SDR team reporting to marketing.
  • Messy or broad definitions and processes: When do you create an opportunity? When do you convert a lead? When do I move the opportunity stage? Many times we see reps doing different things, which creates absolute chaos in reporting and forecasting. Learn how to further develop your processes.

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