B2B marketers have always had to prove their value – internally and externally. To maintain budgets and headcounts and demonstrate ROI. And to turn leads into new customers by offering solutions that solve problems, and personalised nurtures that keep them comfortably engaged until they’re ready to sign.

When all was going well, “time-to-lead” was the metric that mattered. How fast did you get them into the funnel; how soon did they sign? Cold leads meant cold calls, and business that never converted, so hot leads must equal hot prospects, and if that works, then, the-more-the-merrier. That was the thinking until the numbers didn’t add up.

Buyers went digital, disembarked from the journey laid out for them, chose the path of least influence and, ultimately, the self-service checkout. And the sales and marketing ecosystem became obsolete.

To re-align themselves with the buyer’s journey, marketers must adjust their thinking and focus on the metrics that matter. Value the customer by making the time it takes to prove it, the key measure.

It’s Not About Me...It’s About You

This evolution, from “time-to-lead” to “time-to-value”, isn’t just a change in terminology, it's a fundamental shift in how marketers approach demand generation and customer engagement. But it’s also getting back to basics and putting the customer first; forgetting about what you get from the lead, and focusing on what the lead can get from you. Because when they see value, you can prove it – to everyone.

While the traditional “time-to-lead” approach has its merits, particularly in environments where volume and velocity are paramount, it overlooks the nuances of long-term value.

The Evolution Of Time-To-Value

“Time-to-value” shifts the focus from simply generating leads to creating genuine value for them as quickly as possible. By understanding and addressing a customer's unique needs, challenges, and goals from the outset – rather than simply shunting them along - marketers can build stronger relationships, and, ultimately, drive higher conversion rates and brand loyalty.

So, why is this shift happening now? Several factors contribute to this evolution in demand generation:

1. Data Governance and Compliance – Play By The Rules

Spamming your way to a sale won’t work, but it could earn you a sizable fine. Data privacy and compliance laws mean marketers need to adhere to a host of rules and regulations that make lead generation a minefield, not just legally, but reputationally. Buyers are clued up and any questionable lead-gen techniques could be reputational dynamite for brands that deploy them.

2. Technological Advancements – Better Data Helps Build Better Relationships

Advancements in marketing technology enable us to dig deeper, know more, and target potential customers better. By utilising key insights into customers’ behaviours, preferences and challenges, marketers can execute a value-driven strategy that can be tailored to individual journeys, rather than relying on broad, catch-all approaches, that let too many leads into the net, and see too many go nowhere.

3. Branded Demand – Don’t Dull The Connection

Disconnected brand and demand advertising has resulted in the un-branded lead phenomenon. Buyer’s remember downloading content but have no brand connection with the company syndicating it, meaning they’re unlikely to remember it was your brand that wrote the ebook. And that’s a problem. B2B digital marketers need to align their brand and demand strategies in a Branded-Demand approach to drive demand generation performance today. Buyers need to know not only what content they downloaded, but who wrote it.

4. Focus on Long-term Relationships: Play The Long Game

Every transaction counts, but the realisation that long-term customer relationships are more profitable is a game-changer, with loyal customers becoming repeat business and also advocates for your solution – aiding the sales process. Businesses are now prioritising strategies that lead to sustained engagement, customer satisfaction and loyalty. The "time-to-value" approach aligns perfectly with this long-game mentality, emphasising proof of value as the lifeblood of enduring relationships.

The “Time-To-Value” Change And The Changes You’re Required To Make

The shift from “time-to-lead” to “time-to-value” requires marketers to examine their strategies, allocate resources and define success. It also requires a deeper integration of customer insights, a more agile, integrated and responsive marketing approach, and a commitment to delivering real value at every touchpoint.

As we move towards optimising for value not speed, its crucial marketers don’t simply apply the stopwatch in a different way, by trying to accelerate the delivery of value. “Time-to-value” is a commitment to ensuring that every interaction with a buyer improves customer satisfaction and engagement. It demands patience, precision and a deep commitment to understanding and meeting customer needs.

This new era of demand generation offers a promising, and achievable, path forward amid a myriad of obstacles. The shift requires marketers to rethink strategies, challenge assumptions, and constantly innovate and optimise. The rewards – stronger customer relationships, higher conversion rates, and sustained business growth – are well worth it.

To add new business – always add value.

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