Demand Gen Playbook: 5 Ways to Drive Revenue in a Down Market

Zack Alspaugh

What this playbook provides

We understand that there is a lot of market speculation and uncertainty. In times like these go-to-market teams really feel the pressure to attain their revenue goals while budgets get frozen or cut. We partnered with the team at Mutiny to develop an actionable playbook that you could leverage with relatively low lift and low cost. This post provides tactical plays that demand gen leaders (anyone that those tasked with delivering pipeline) can do to ensure they meet their targets in an uncertain economy and faced with budget cuts. They are centered around the concept of needing to be efficient and monetize their current customer base (e.g. PLG) and existing funnel (vs a focus on acquiring net new Leads/Accounts). These do not require the use of MadKudu or Mutiny (though we'd argue that it wouldn't hurt.

Jump to a Play

Setting the Stage: Is it a Recession?

Sometimes as marketers we like to try and talk things into existence. 

My go to example is account based marketing which dominated the thought leadership circuit for 24 straight months and was framed as the easy and obvious way to drive revenue. Anyone who was responsible for demand generation and was therefore on the ground level of that movement, quickly found out that ABM was neither easy or as obvious as preached. It took a considerable amount of alignment, iteration and resources to pull together a successful ABM strategy. 

We are at another juncture where thought leadership is likely going to change your day-to-day demand gen tactics. This time it’s a more severe trend. LinkedIn feeds are filling with prophecies of doom, gloom and recession. Companies are anticipating and hedging against the next big economic downturn. 

I have some good news and I have bad news.

Let’s Start with the Bad News

I am not an economist, but those that are or at least are more in tune with the macro trends might not be ready to call it a recession just yet - stagflation maybe - but from their perspective it’s not certain and not even imminent.

And while a lot of this is still being prefaced with IF, there are real consequences playing out i.e. layoffs, stalled deals, budget cuts. Boards and VC’s are coaching C-Suites to reign in CAC and limit spend. Go-to-Market teams and marketing in particular will face the most immediate budget reductions.

Your CMO is going to come to you (if they haven't already) asking for what channels are/aren't performing, where budget could be cut, and with an ask to build a new plan that gets you to the same number but with fewer resources.


The Good News is…

Unlike Covid, these are not unprecedented times. Many people in your company and most of your leadership team have been through down markets and have a ton of experience to share. Our CRO just this week shared 10 things that a marketing leader should consider at a time like this. Don’t be afraid to tap into that knowledge bank.


Even if you personally haven’t been through this yet, Covid was a great dress rehearsal for what to expect and how budgets and strategies will change. Here is some practical advice and a couple of low lift plays you can deploy today to help generate revenue. 

5 Tips for Demand Gen Leaders

How to Handle a Down Market: The Broad Strokes

1. Be proactive. Bring the conversation to leadership rather than waiting for cuts to come down.

Maybe you’ve heard murmurs about this within your company. Maybe you haven’t heard anything about it at all. I highly recommend you bring this topic up with your boss and/or your leadership and take this problem head on. Show them that you are focused on what’s good for the business, get insight into what their bosses are concerned most about and begin to align your strategy. This in the long run will provide more transparency, clarity and hopefully preserve a portion of your budget. They won’t be so quick to cut if they know you are emphasizing efficient spend. 

2. Focus on your reporting. Make sure you tell the right story.

Hopefully you are already a data driven marketing org and you are listening and reacting to what your feedback loops are telling you. (If not, here’s a good step one to building a data-driven culture.) Be sure you are very focused on customer acquisition costs (CAC) and more importantly the quality of pipeline you are delivering. Audit your funnel, pay close attention to what is converting and pour your energy into raising conversion rates. It’s also really important in tight times that you share the story of your data beyond your demand team and marketing. Make sure, if demand and new leads are slowing that you illustrate that the quality isn’t dipping and revenue goals are not at risk. This will prevent additional pressure.  

3. Talk to peers, listen to what others are saying.

A lot of other teams will be in a similar position so take advantage of knowledge sharing and communities to learn what is working for other teams. Keep your ears and your mind open. Co-marketing is also a great way to extend reach without having to overextend on budget. 

4. Be agile but be discerning.

I highly recommend listening and learning as much as you can. In times of downturn the market shifts quickly and you’ll need to anticipate and be willing to try new things. There is a huge advantage to being a first mover on a trend and topic. However, while it’s important to be comfortable with shifting strategies and experimentation, you also have to be discerning. Pick and choose what will have the biggest impact, let your data help you decide on priorities.

5. Make sure your messaging is relevant and sincere.

We all remember how hollow the “In these unprecedented times…” email felt a couple months into the fray. Focus on problem solving and partnership with prospects, and keep perspective on the situation. It’s going to be a very trying and stressful time for companies but the real impact will be felt by individuals who will be worried about losing their jobs, making ends meet and supporting their families. You may have great business solutions but don’t lose sight that it is people who buy software and their priorities will be shifting alongside market shifts.

5 Demand Gen Plays to Generate Revenue

...Even if Your Budget is Reduced

1. Wake the Dead

A great untapped source of revenue are recently-closed lost deals. You can easily segment them by closed-lost reason and target them with automated email nurtures, personalized webpages, and SDR outreach plays that will help bring them back into the fold. Why chase what you previously couldn’t win? The benefit is you’ve already done the heavy lift of educating them on who you are and how you will help their business. Already you are side-stepping some potential acquisition costs. Now you’ll just have to sharpen that message. My recommendation is to use the current change in the market to create some urgency. Explain why now is a critical time to invest in your platform. I also highly recommend automating this play so it remains a light lift for the team and focusing on opportunities that show engagement. 

Setting Up the Play:
  • This should be an integrated campaign effort across multiple teams. Be sure to partner closely with SDRs or Sales for this play. You’ll want to keep the feedback loop tight so you can make micro adjustments as the play runs. It will also help ensure buy-in from the sellers who otherwise might be quick to dismiss old accounts that they worked on but didn’t yield results. I also recommend executive sponsorship. Have your leadership connect with their leadership early in the conversation. Executive buy-in increases likelihood of winning.  (We discuss this topic in greater detail in the stalled deal section.) 

  • Be Thoughtful in Your Segmentation. Not every deal is the same but there should be patterns to why some deals died on the vine. I suggest taking an account focus, not a lead focus and you’ll want to group your segments as best as you can by closed-lost reason and tailor the messaging to their specific objections. For example, 50 accounts with closed-lost reason ‘not in budget’ run a play that exclusively highlights financial ROI or offer a limited time discount for the first first year of the contract. I also recommend assessing the overall fit score or likelihood to purchase. You’ll want to prioritize quality opportunities when possible. Also, make sure that you’ve given them appropriate cooling off time. I like to aim for at least 6 months after they’ve been marked closed-lost and up to a year if your company has a lengthy sales cycle. 

  • Make it Effortless for Sales. They might not be overly enthusiastic re-treading previously charted territories. I highly recommend coming to the table with all of your content, email copy and objection handling already baked, including situational responses i.e. if finance gets pulled into the conversation. You want to lean on feedback from your sellers but to get this off the ground with high momentum, marketing should do the heavy lifting.

Specific Wake the Dead Plays You Can Run:

Here are a couple relatively low lift, low cost tactics I’ve run in the past. 

Option 1 - Mini Nurture / Blitz campaign

The goal is to try and drive consecutive engagements which will help you prioritize accounts who might be interested in revisiting the conversation and preserve sales’ time and effort. Marketing provides email air cover to contacts at selected accounts. Keep the aircover simple and straightforward, you just want a pulse check, don’t over engineer the ask. 24 hours after your marketing touch, pull out contacts who clicked (or opened - depending on volume) and send them a secondary marketing email the following day with a stronger ask. From there they can be passed directly to sales or graduate to an outreach sequence. For those who don’t engage, run the same motion with a different air cover email after a short cool off period. I like to run three aircover sends over a 3-6 week period then recycle the accounts that don’t engage.

Flow chart of a sample demand gen campaign
An Example of a 3-Part Blitz Campaign

Advantage: No cost associated, just need time and content. The blitz motion will also create tight alignment between teams since their outreach will be predicated on a recent action. It will also allow you to quickly qualify or recycle segments of the database. I recommend running one closed-lost reason at a time so sales doesn’t have to toggle between different messaging and sequences.

Option 2 - Host a Small Field Event

These can be done in-person or virtually and you can do it in a 1:few (several accounts at once) or 1:1 fashion. Field events create a reason to reach back out and because there is a date, there is some baked-in urgency. It also creates a reason for your primary contact or champion to connect sales with new contacts within the account. Most importantly, it puts the sales rep in a room with multiple people (ideally most of the buying committee) where they accelerate conversation and address concerns all at once. Personally I love virtual wine tasting events because they are fairly cost and prospects generally enjoy attending them.

Screenshot of a Virtual Event
Hosting a Small Virtual Field Event and Blind Wine Tasting

Option 3 - Send Personalized Webpages with Relevant Content

Based on the reason for the close-lost, you can adjust the messaging you include in the resources your sales team sends.

If you lost because of:

  • Pricing: Share case studies of how companies smaller than or equal size have used your product. 
  • Lack of feature: Share product updates and instructional content about how your product is getting better. If your sales team has been keeping a running list of feature requests, this is a great opportunity to highlight the ones that have been launched.
  • To a competitor: Share a blog post that shows a direct comparison between yours and the competitor's product. Buyers' remorse might kick in and they’ll want to revisit your product. 

These webpages can be created as a template and then duplicated with different types of content featured based on the target audience. See how easy it is to build personalization at scale.

Dialpad's Personalized Webpage
An Example of 1 to 1 personalized page with Mutiny

KPIs and Metrics You Should Track:
  • Email performance both for marketing and/or sales will give you a sense of the content relevance. Are you onpoint, still resonating?
  • Pipeline Reactivated - How many deals have been converted back to opportunities. Don’t just share numbers. People love logos too. “With this play we were able to get Mutiny back to the table.”
  • Win Rate and ARR - Good to know and understand, but I’d also measure this against net new deals. This will inform efficiency, and if the results are strong, it will help create buy-in with sellers. 

2. Expansion Plays 

The existing customer base is a gold mine for revenue generation but is way too often overlooked as demand gen teams pour their resources into net new leads. These customers know who you are, are actively using you and understand the benefit you provide, so once again you save the step and associated cost of educating them. Even better though, you already know them. You have a ton of invaluable insight at your disposal - who they are, how they use your platform and most importantly how they are not using your platform. This will be your whitespace and will inform your messaging. 

Setting Up Your Expansion Play: 
  • Align with Your Customer Success Team. They know your customers best and have spent innumerable hours talking directly with users and key stakeholders. They will help guide you on messaging, use cases and inflection points in accounts that might be ready to purchase more. 

  • Start with the most active users, but the goal is to reach new contacts.You’ll want to work closely with your customer success team, but this is where your demand gen instincts will really kick in. Expansion is exactly that, looking to expand the number of active users and their viable use cases. (Don’t forget to consider user ICPs as well - regular user vs admins vs power user etc.) You’ll have to focus on activating new contacts, helping your customer teams multi-thread the account, and get in front of decision makers, new orgs and executives. It’s helpful to rely on customer champions too. A great starting point as well are different global teams and regions. Technology and strategy in big organizations isn’t always uniform and helping one region see the success of another is a great way to expand. 

  • Don’t be salesy, be educational. Customers are a valuable thing so it is really important that you aren’t salesy or pushy in your tactics or messaging. Instead be a partner and be educational. Help them access new features but do so by really relating to their day-to-day objectives and by being prescriptive in your recommendations. Another thing to consider, just because they are customers doesn’t mean they know who you are. Don’t lose sight of the fact that companies tend to have large tech stacks and not everyone has been inside your platform or is even aware of what problems you may solve. Brand awareness and high level messaging will have to be woven into your tactics. But remember you aren’t educating the market, you are educating individuals so keep the what, the why and the how specific to their persona and responsibilities. 

  • Don’t be scared to show the big vision.Customers typically come into the deal cycle with a specific problem or use case in mind and once they have solved for it, are content. It’s your job to help them see the broader vision and all that your product has to offer. Many brands have a natural land and expand their journey, others need to be more deliberate about it. Help your customers zoom out and see the potential benefits of expanding their investment. Paint the ideal state for their business and help them chart the course there, even if it is still several iterations beyond where they are today. Milestones and performance benchmarks are helpful signposts for the journey, and can be easily sourced from your backend platform data. Another great way to get that conversation started is to ask different stakeholders within the account to grade their strategy effectiveness. More often you’ll find minor misalignment on performance and expectations which will allow you to drive the conversation forward and offer solutions toward realignment. Other excellent programs to help articulate the big vision are maturity models, roadmap webinars and customer case studies. 

Option 1: A Weekly or Bi-Weekly Nurture Track

Set up a simple weekly or bi-weekly nurture track that exposes new features and new plays within your platform. Example: I see you’ve been doing X, have you considered trying Y? Keep the emails very succinct and tactical. Tell them how they can solve or scale a specific use case, providing step by step guide on setting it up and a simple example of another customer. You’ll want to monitor email engagement and subsequent platform behavior. As usage increases, flag that behavior to sellers who can then add licenses or unlock new features.

Flowchart of a Customer Email Nurture Track
An example of a Time Based Nurture Track
(Bottom track is an series of automated fwd style emails to stay atop the inbox)

Advantage: I can’t emphasize it enough, keep the messaging educational. If you do, then there is no downside to this tactic because customers that don’t spend will simply receive useful tips and have your brand top of mind.

Option 2: Customer User Groups

People love hearing about what other teams are doing, even more so in times of tough markets. Set up small user groups where similar customers can meet and discuss strategy. It’s ok if the key focus of the conversations isn’t 100% about your platform. People will want to hear from their peers and in those discussions they will discover new ways to use your tools and new possibilities for their own strategy. All you have to do is provide the forum for them to meet and discuss. I recommend segmenting as best you can by size, industry and use case that way the shared pain points and possible strategies are as transmutable as possible. 

Option 3: Upsell Trigger Moments

Ask your product team to share usage metrics that help you to understand the timeline most customers take to go from a free trial to paid, and from paid to upgrade. Once you know these timelines, you can begin to adjust the educational content and messaging you’re sending to your customers to prime them for the next stage in their user experience. 

This is especially helpful for companies that run a product-led growth (PLG) motion. For example, if you know that the most important action to get a free trial user to paid is for them to invite their colleagues to the product, set an automated trigger for the customer success representative to send them some educational content around collaborating with colleagues. UXPin ran this motion and were able to increase free trial conversions by 21%.

This process can be done manually at first, but once proven can be automated as simple Slack notification or emails to the responsible representative.

MadKudu PQL signals
An example of Product Qualified Lead Alerts

KPIs and Metrics You Should Track:
  • Platform Engagement - Look at an individual and at an account level. 
  • Total # of Active Users on account. Chart change from outset of campaign effort. You’ll also need to define active user as a team, whether that refers to recently logged in or performing specific actions.
  • Feature usage (if possible) before and after specific email campaigns that highlight new use cases. Measure on target account level but also look across the full customer base. Are your efforts something that could also help retention and adoption across a broader audience. 
  • In-Platform spend - if eligible, track spend prior to campaign activation and after. It helps to watch this stat across several timeframes i.e. rolling 3 months and rolling 12 months to understand trend. 
  • New Contacts added to account. This will help you gauge growth and awareness among existing customers. 
  • Expansion pipeline and closed won revenue. Also pay attention to win rate and how that compares to other efforts outside of expansion.

3. Retention Plays 

Sticking with customers again because, like I said, they are a gold mine of untapped, under resourced revenue opportunities. These plays will be fairly similar to your expansion plays, but I highly recommend separating your green accounts and your red accounts. First reason, you don’t want the red disillusioning your green companies. Second, the messaging you deploy will be very different. You don’t want to approach struggling customers with new use cases if they already feel like they aren’t getting enough out of what they are doing. This will be a very mid to late stage messaging focus. Reacquaint customers with the why and the how.

Before I get into specifics, let me emphasize why this matters to demand gen. Many of you are probably thinking, hey retention is great, but it’s out of my purview. Here are some simple facts. In times of recession you need to be hyper-focused on reducing CAC. Acquiring a new customer can cost 5x compared to retaining an existing one. Also, increasing retention by 5% can increase company profits by 25% or more. If you can help keep revenue on the books, it will take significant pressure off of your efforts to drive new revenue, which will be significantly more challenging in a slower economy. Lastly, you can’t sell into, expand with existing customers if they are broadly unhappy. And since we are focused on CAC, one eye popping stat is you are 60-70% more likely to sell to existing customers compared to a 5-20% win rate selling into new customers. Moral of the story, recession is an all-hands on deck situation and if you can show contribution and impact to the company’s overall health and revenue, you’ll be entrusted with more budget in times of greener economies. 

Last point on why this matters. By working closer with your customer teams and customer base, you will get a much better sense of messaging, unlock new use cases, identify champions and stories that you can use at the top of the funnel and help shorten sales cycles. 

Setting Up Your Play: 
  • Align with Your Customer Success Team. It should go without saying but don’t do anything with your customers, particularly at-risk ones, without first aligning with your success team. As noted above, they know your customers the best. 

  • Strive to create regular touchpoints. Our jobs as marketers should not end when the sales cycle ends, but sadly in many instances it does. This is your opportunity to create greater education and awareness among the accounts that matter most, the ones that are already paying. Work with customer success to map a customer lifecycle and to better segment your install base. Work with them to create regular touchpoints and opportunities for further product education. One thing I love to ask my customer success counterparts, what questions do you continually have to answer for your customers, where do customers see the biggest friction point in their adoption? This is your shortcut to necessary messaging, content and touch points along the way. 

  • ROI is critical. No one will grow their investment if they can’t see or share their current benefit. Your biggest value as a marketer working with customers is helping users see and more importantly articulate their success and success metrics with leadership in their company. Case studies are nice but people will want to see how their spend is contributing directly to the company bottom line, especially in times of economic downturn. Things like EBRs and ROI calculators can be helpful in sharing that narrative and making sure outside orgs like finance see and understand the value of their investment with your product.

Option 1: EBR or Executive Business Review

EBR’s are a pretty common practice. If they aren’t happening in your company currently, help get them off the ground. If they are, here are a couple easy ways you can volunteer your services. A lot of customer success is asked to shoulder the effort of building and managing customer decks, pull metrics and to invite the necessary parties. Provide some design and outreach support, polish the deck as we often do for sales and build an email campaigns and landing pages so customers can request their ideal meeting times. Put forth some of the same tactics and resources forward that we as demand gen marketers typically put forward to getting demos booked. This will free up your success team to focus more on the conversation and the data. Another simple thing I’ve enabled for customer teams is an internal EBR database where we track decks, use cases and success metrics across different accounts. 

Executive Business Review slides
Sample EBR Deck: Be sure to keep the session as perscriptive as you can

Option 2 - At-Risk Account Intervention

Work with success to identify at-risk accounts (I recommend starting in the yellow, not the red) and running aircover campaigns. One of the biggest reasons accounts can turn red is they are feeling neglected. Pull a segment of target customers and market to them as you would a mid funnel opportunity. Run nurtures with access to more product information and how-to’s, set up regular webinar series where they can register and see important strategy in action and help set up small field events where stakeholders can get direct facetime with executives or thought leaders within your company. 

Spreadsheet of a Customer Lifecycle Journey
Sample Customer Lifecycle Journey
(Even if you don't run this play you should have your lifecycle defined and mapped)

Option 3 - Champion Building, Champion Following

Your success team will have many personal relationships with stakeholders within their accounts. In other instances they are looking for opportunities to bridge that gap. Help support their cause with some advocacy focused programs. Volunteer marketing swag that they can send to key contacts, run an award program where you celebrate individual users across your social channels (also a clever way to highlight key brands that otherwise are hesitant to agree to formal case studies), interview successful customers on how they drive their strategy forward (be ok with talking about things beyond your platform and company). All of these tactics will increase your brand affinity and can be used to educate and excite the top of funnel as well.

Another thing that happens very frequently during uncertain markets is job changing. It’s really important that you track your champions as they move roles to different companies and leverage your existing relationship and their familiarity with your platform to start a purchasing conversation. One simple play that always works well is direct mailing a bottle of champagne and offering a congratulations. Simultaneously, you should have plays baked for creating a new champion in their former company. Once again I recommend a direct mail send, marketing swag works well. Or you can send another bottle of champagne with a note “Congratulations, you are my new go to!” But don’t just build the bond, be proactive in getting them up to speed on past initiatives and ROI so you won’t end up as a budget doc casualty. 

KPIs and Metrics You Should Track:
  • Net Retention Rate - (Starting MRR – Contraction MRR – Churn MRR + Expansion MRR)/ Starting MRR x 100
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) or Customer Health Score - Many companies have a complex forumla to determine customer health. I also recommend a simple shorthand version i.e. red, yellow, green that you can segment by. Also critical that this data is available and up to date in your CRM so go-to-market teams can use in customer marketing efforts. Many companies have customer data siloed away with the customer success team.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) - Using NPS surveys is a good pulse check of who is happy and unhappy.
  • License Activation and Platform Stats - Be sure to monitor how often customers are using your tool. Look at aggregates by segment as well as individual accounts.
  • Customer Lifecycle Benchmarks - define each stage of the lifecycle journey with key benchmarks of behavior you expect customers to perform at. I recommend an average benchmark, a high performer and of course at-risk. This will allow you to intervene sooner and prevent churn well before renewal conversations.

4. Website Visit Outbounding 

Customers are 70% into their journey by the time they reach your sales. Understand who is visiting, prioritize top quality based on their profile fit model, personalized messaging based on web page and content consumed. You can use Segment and MadKudu data to understand and engage high value web visitors. This is a good avenue for retargeting ads which will allow you to spend budget on accounts showing intent rather than those who are unaware and possibly not even ready to consider a purchase. You can also go about this without any spend at all using Mutiny for inbound and outbound web personalization. Internally we partner with our sales development teams to reach out to web visitors. The brand and thought leadership has done the work of bringing them to you. Now capitalize on it with sharpened messaging that matches the content and pages they’ve consumed. 

Screenshot of Slack
Here is a screenshot of the Website Alerts our Sales team receive

Setting up a Website Visitor Outbounding Play:

Internally we use a couple of key integrations within our techstack to accomplish our outreach. Of course every stack is different and you and your marketing ops team can accomplish this play through several other avenues. Here is the data we needed to set up the play:

The Recommended Tech Stack and data:

  • Timeliness is key. This play is designed to help you capitalize on intent the very moment it happens. We surface the alert within a designated Slack channel that notifies the whole sales team and links to the account page in Salesforce. From there the account owner can see what pages were consumed and craft a custom outbound message to a key contact (or multiple contacts). Moving quickly is the best way to capitalize, we keep our SLA within 2 hours.  

  • Don’t be creepy. Unless the visitor is cookied, we won’t always know who from the account hit our site. With that in mind we are careful not to reference the web visit itself because it might have been another individual on their team. It also simply comes across as creepy. You may have a lot of data at your fingertips but how you use it makes a world of difference. Instead, we coach the sales team to reference the subject matter or craft a message that would align with the content consumed to give an heir of personalization without privacy violation. 

  • Be sure to prioritize your web visitors. Just because we can track visits doesn’t mean we outbound to every single one. That would be a horrendous use of our resources. We score those visits based on their account fit and only reach out those who have the highest propensity to buy. (Want to see how we calculate that? Read this)

Option 1: A Mini Outbound Sequence

Our sales reps will run a 1-3-1 sequence meaning one touch, typically an outbound and personalized email within the designated SLA. If there is no response in 24 hours, they will follow up with a three touch effort, connecting on social, cold calling / leaving voicemail and emailing one more time. The follow up email will reference the voicemail. If still no response they’ll give it a 5 day cool off before reaching out one last time. This is a high touch, quick sequence and is usually run to several contacts simultaneously. We’ve found a lot of success in this process. 

Prospect Sales Email Response
This is a real response to our 1-3-1 email outreach sequence

Option 2: A Personalized Buyer Journey for Every Visitor

If you’ve got multiple buyer personas and industries you’re selling to, getting the messaging of your homepage right is near impossible. So rather than trying to appeal to everyone (and therefore appealing to no-one), you can create personalized inbound experiences so every visitor is shown a relevant buyer experience. 

For example, small and medium businesses (SMBs) don’t want to have to talk to a sales person before trying out the product. They just want to get into a free trial. On the other hand, Enterprise customers prefer to talk to a sales rep early on so they can make sure it’s worth their time to continue. 

The signup page on the left is personalized for SMB visitors, whereas the signup page on the right is for Enterprise visitors.

Screenshot of Mutiny's Personalized Web Experience for SMB Accounts

Screenshot of Mutiny's Personalized Web Experience for Enterprise Accounts

Advantage: If you’re already using a data enrichment took like Clearbit, you can plug it right into Mutiny to quickly create multiple versions of your website personalized for that specific buyer.

KPIs and Metrics You Should Track:
  • Email response rate
  • Meetings Booked
  • Pipeline and Opportunities Closed-Won

5. Stalled Deals 

One counter that will crop up quite a bit during a down market is “we’ve frozen our budget,” “we are pausing all spend,” “we are waiting to see what happens in the market before we make any decisions.” Other deals will simple go dark on you. No worries, here are a couple proactive ways you can bring stakeholders back to the table. 

Setting up the Play:
  • Define Stalled Deals. Analyze your funnel, look for active deals with 15+ days without activity and focus there. You can also ask sales to proactively tag deals in your CRM. In March of 2020 we had a custom field in our Salesforce marked COVID Stall which we used to filter target accounts for our campaign. 
  • Recreate Urgency. If an opportunity stalls, there was a business case and at one point momentum. In the past, one way to help recapture that sense of urgency is to focus on the opportunity cost of waiting. Try to quantify the impact of waiting. In many instances that could be framed as hours lost on manual tasks or re-work, ARR missed in go-to-market strategy. Every company right now is looking for ways to drastically improve their spend and efficiencies. By hitting on that pain point you can reframe this deal as a timely and necessary investment rather than a superfluous cost. 

Specific Plays You Can Run:
Option 1 - Direct Mail Play

Often when deals stall, the primary contact suddenly becomes unreachable across email and phone. One way as a demand gen team to recapture the attention of an account is with a well time, well crafted send. Have sales nominate deals that are stalled, bonus points if you leverage the custom Salesforce field and automate this, and orchestrate a 1:many direct mail play that will allow you to reconnect in a channel that they won’t be able to ignore, their desktop. One important tip, make sure whatever you send has some important bullet points or documentation explaining why the time should be now for this deal. I’ve seen many iterations of this play, send a branded candle with a note “Let’s reignite our conversation,” a bottle of wine and a note “I know software purchases can be a tough decision, have a drink on it. In the meantime here are some important stats on why you should consider doing this now and not later.” or my own personal favorite, branded fortune cookies with customer ROI statistics on the paper fortunes! I ran this play at my last company and we were able to get 62% of our dark deals to respond and in just a week were able to progress 26% of those opportunities to a later sales stage a week after we launched the campaign. Some of you may be thinking, these are lean times and direct mail is an additional cost. Sure, but what is that cost up against closed won deals? 

Option 2 - Executive Buy-In

Often when deals stall, someone higher than your primary contact is the one who hit pause. Rather than running into dead-end conversations with that champion, have one of your executives come over the top to their executive team “I understand, {{AE Name}} on my team has been working with {{Primary Contact Name}} on a potential deal. I just wanted to make myself available to answer any questions or assuage any concerns you may have.” There are a couple advantages to this. First, your C-Suite has a pretty extensive network and they just might know someone across the aisle who can help unlock this deal. Second, execs tend to be more straightforward and transparent and will give you a definitive answer whether this opportunity has legs. If it does, great you are now in contact with the individual who’s going to help make that final decision. If not, recycle it and reallocate the time and those resources toward another deal. 

So you’re probably thinking, this sounds nice but isn't this a sales play? Here is where marketing can step in. Build late stage content that will help create urgency within these executive conversations. One thing that has been very effective in deals are customized RFPs that help highlight your differentiators and quantify the impact your product will have - bonus points for updated messaging referencing why this is critical despite the current market trends. A second way to help support this play is by creating the “Letter to [blank] play.” You can create custom messaging that will quickly outline how and why your platform will make a proven difference and address specific concerns of a specific role. Then enable your sales team to partner with their champion or executive team to present that objection handling to your target audience. For example, A Letter to the CFO where you can address how this purchase is a viable investment, payback times and quantified additional business cost by not acting now. These letters can also work top down, “Letter to Director” here are three ways our team can leverage this platform to do x, y and z and use the exec to exec conversation to put downward pressure on lower decision makers.

 

KPIs / Metrics to Pay Attention To:

  • Stage Movement / Deal acceleration: Of the target accounts, which ones saw activation within a defined time period after the campaign was enacted. 
  • Expected Close Date: A key symptom of stalled deals are forecasted close dates start getting extended. This is a great indicator of success. Measure whether they are re-entering your current quarter. 
  • Pipeline Impacted / Closed Won ARR

More from the Blog

Personalize Your Buyer Journeys: 4 Important Learnings About PLG

We gathered a group of 50+ growth & marketing leaders to discuss scaling PLG. Here are 4 key learnings.

Read Story

Demand Gen Playbook: 5 Ways to Drive Revenue in a Down Market

In down markets, marketing teams really feel the pressure with to attain revenue goals while budgets get cut. We partnered with Mutiny to develop playbook of revenue driving plays.

Read Story

The SaaS Winter and the CMO

No department is impacted faster from a downturn than marketing. Regardless of how well you, as the CMO, are running your side of the business, you will face pressure to do more with less. Here are 10 key areas you should evaluate.

Read Story