For many companies, increasing sales revenue is their goal but there is no understanding of how to grow sales. Many times a sales manager will call in the Sales VP and say in effect 'go get some more sales'. Without a proper understanding of the front end or demand generation portion of the sales process there is a significant barrier to sales growth.
Many companies mistakenly think that the sales process starts with the sales force, when in fact it starts with the customer and the need to create demand. Most prospects who you first engage are not ready to buy, but more than 40% will be ready within a year. Thinking longer term, upwards of 80% to 90% will buy within two years. The gap occurs when companies do not have a demand-generation program in place to engage prospects over the life of the their buying cycle.
Gap analysis is a planning tool used to help you understand where you are, where you want to go, and how you might get there.
5 Steps for Demand Generation Gap Analysis
Five common brainstorming steps to finding the gaps problem are:
1. Manpower — The people resources required
2. Methods — The methodologies you need
3. Metrics — What you need to measure
4. Machines — Tools you will need
5. Materials — Marketing materials, online resources, sales collateral, etc.
These five steps can be applied in the context of demand generation gap analysis to illuminate the areas you need to pursue and the questions you need to ask in order to create a plan for sales growth.
Some examples of the questions that might be raised as a result of these 5 steps are:
- Do you have people dedicated to demand generation?
- Do they have the skills required to be successful?
- Could you bring in an outside partner to fill this role?
- Is there an understanding of how people find your company?
- Do you understand the buying cycle of your ideal client?
- Do you know how to qualify? What is the difference for your company between a marketing and a sales qualified lead?
- Do you know all of the steps a prospect needs to go through to become a customer? Do you monitor and manage them through this process?
- What are your sales goals?
- What is the rate that a lead turns in to an opportunity and then into a customer?
- How many leads do you need to meet your sales goals? From which sources?
- How long does a lead take to become a sales qualified lead?
- What automated demand generation tools do you use?
- Is your website a demand generation asset?
- What internal tools do you have to manage leads through the buying process?
- What is the quality of your prospects list?
- Do you have interesting content that attracts prospects to you?
- Do you have offers that allow prospects to convert so that you can engage them?
- Is your marketing about telling them or educating them?
Creating, and following through with, a structured brainstorming analysis like this should help you identify your gaps, determine how to bridge them, and provide you with a working understanding of how to turn 'go get me more sales' into actual sales growth.