“Accountability” in B2B marketing demand generation is more than creating bulk leads that meet basic firmographic and demographic criteria. Real accountability means your partner understands your demand generation funnel goals and is committed to doing what it takes to get there.

Accountability begins with detailing, in precise terms, what success looks like for a marketing demand generation campaign. It means setting clear expectations and measuring progress against those benchmarks. And it requires clear and open communication to continuously optimize campaign tactics and uncover better strategies to meet your organization’s ultimate goal – booked revenue.

That’s how leads become real opportunities to grow your business.

Exactly What Is Your Marketing Demand Generation Partner Accountable for?

B2B marketers should expect their demand generation partners to deliver opportunities that meet campaign criteria. Contact data included in these opportunities should be correct and comprehensive. You should have absolute transparency into how your marketing demand generation programs are progressing, and you should be confident that if an issue does arise, your partner will take immediate steps to correct it – before, during, and after the campaign is complete.

Every campaign should be viewed as a chance to optimize your demand generation funnel. You should expect your partner to provide analysis and insights about the success rates of specific tactics and audience segments. In turn, you should be willing to provide data about how successfully delivered opportunities convert to the next stage of the customer journey. If you aren’t seeing scheduled sales calls and closed deals, you should expect your B2B marketing demand generation partner to provide insights on ways to improve the next effort.

In a real sense, “accountability” is the basis for a stronger, more strategic relationship with your marketing demand generation partner.

Where Does the Focus on Accountability Come From?

The focus on accountability in marketing demand generation can be attributed to two key changes in the B2B marketing landscape:

  1. Digital channels, including email and CPM/CPC, have driven the demand for revenue attribution and precise measurement of every tactic marketers employ.
  2. Financial pressures created by the pandemic and continued economic uncertainty have escalated scrutiny over marketing budgets, even as companies spend more in hopes of growth.

In its recent planning guide for 2024, Forrester suggests that more than 70 percent of B2B marketing execs plan to increase spending into Q1/Q2 2024. Those same marketers say driving near-term revenue is a primary goal. The report advises marketers to “euthanize pet projects” that don’t directly generate revenue opportunities, and advocates looking for partners to build centers of excellence around key functions, such as the demand generation funnel.

Likewise, Gartner’s 2023 CMO survey found that 85 percent of marketers said they prioritize profitability over growth. The survey also reports that 71 percent of enterprise marketing teams say they are being asked to do more with less.

Revenue, and particularly the return on investment (ROI) metric, is now the standard by which B2B marketers are held accountable. And that accountability extends to marketing demand generation partners. Obviously, your demand gen partner isn’t making sales calls – closing a deal relies on a lot more than the quality of contact data. But you need to be sure they are willing to embrace and work toward that goal through constant review and optimization.

A 360-degree View of Accountability

Minor issues sometimes come up during campaigns – you should expect your marketing demand generation partner to simply replace an incomplete lead or adjust a parameter or two. That’s just common practice to keep the program moving to a successful conclusion.

The real opportunity to optimize your demand generation funnel comes during detailed reviews at the end of campaigns. You and your partner should meet and discuss:

  • Campaign parameters
  • Any issues that may have impeded progress
  • How to adjust campaigns based on feedback from sales and other stakeholders

Gather and evaluate feedback from your entire organization, not just the marketing team. Sales is a critical component in driving revenue, and if they simply “don’t like” the opportunities that your partner delivers, you need to find out why. And your marketing demand generation partner needs to buy into that process.

Leads vs. Opportunities

A contact with a desirable job title is just a lead. An in-market company is an opportunity. Delivered contacts must come with buyer intent data and a 360-degree view of how this person is going to drive the decision to buy within their organization.

The key to holding your partner accountable for delivering these kinds of revenue opportunities is a, trust-based relationship where you both share information and insight to perfect demand generation funnel strategies. It’s the next big evolution in B2B marketing demand generation.

What Accountability Looks Like in Practice

Real accountability in marketing demand generation is data-driven. As we noted earlier, how your sales team “feels” about leads is certainly relevant to booking revenue, but ultimately that kind of loose sentiment analysis has to be tied to a metric you can track and optimize. Uncovering these metrics is a key value of building a strategic relationship with your demand gen partner.

Here are the key steps to building that relationship:

Define Initial Expectations

You must clearly outline your goals, target audience, messaging, and the desired outcomes. Customer service workflows and response times should also be included in these expectations. This process involves collaborative discussions between your team and your marketing demand generation partner to align strategies and ensure a unified vision.

Be sure these expectations are explicitly detailed in your request for proposal (RFP) and service level agreement (SLA). Formalize expectations, outlining key deliverables, timelines, and the responsibilities of both parties.

Demand Data Quality and QA

Regular data audits and validation processes should be implemented to maintain the integrity of the provided opportunities. This should be table stakes, but not every lead shop or agency brokerage meets this level of accountability. Be sure they do!

Commit to Conversion Rates After Opportunity Delivery

A reliable marketing demand generation partner should be committed to not only delivering a specified quantity of leads, but also ensuring that these leads have the potential for conversion to the next step in your demand generation funnel. This does not mean a revenue guarantee. But your marketing demand generation partners should be able to commit to goals for next-step behaviors.

This involves analyzing historical data, understanding the target audience, and refining strategies based on insights gained from previous campaigns.

Metrics for Evaluating Demand Generation Partner’s Opportunities

Accountability boils down to relevant metrics. You should establish a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the effectiveness of the opportunities delivered by your marketing demand generation partner.

These metrics often include:

  • Opportunity Quality: Assess the relevance and accuracy of provided opportunities based on predefined criteria. Be sure to include buyer intent data as part of your data analysis.
  • Delivery Pacing: An often overlooked aspect of marketing demand generation effectiveness is the pace at which opportunities are delivered. Don’t accept leads in bulk drops. Your team will not be able to act on them effectively, and inconsistent pacing may point to quality issues.
  • Conversion Rates: Measure the percentage of opportunities that progress through the sales funnel and convert into customers.
  • Return on Investment (ROI): Analyze the overall return on investment by comparing the revenue generated from the campaign against the total cost. ROI is the ultimate goal of all marketing spend, but be aware that using it as an accountability metric with your demand generation partner requires you to provide visibility into your entire revenue pipeline.
  • Engagement Metrics: Monitor metrics such as click-through rates, open rates, and other indicators of prospect engagement to gauge the effectiveness of the campaign.

Responsiveness to Issues

The true test of accountability for your marketing demand generation partner is how they respond to issues when they do arise. You want to work with a partner whose instinct is to find the root of the issue and resolve it, so problems don’t continue to undermine your demand generation funnel.

Establishing clear communication channels and response protocols is essential. The root problem may be unclear expectations, or even miscommunication within your own revenue teams. Your partner should be aggressive in identifying issues and creative and flexible in implementing the fix.

Accountability Fuels Communication and Results

Today’s B2B marketers are held accountable for every dollar they spend, and that accountability must extend to your key strategic relationships, including your marketing demand generation partner. By setting clear expectations, monitoring for success, and optimizing your demand generation funnel based on what you learn, you will get the most from your investment.

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