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Lead-generation demands grow

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“Marketers are going to quickly become experts at automating their existing processes,” Brown said, “and will then start to explore more sophisticated tools, such as Web tracking capabilities, multiple lead-scoring models and social sharing options.” “As maturity of an organization's usage of lead generation processes develops, [marketers] will see greater predictability, accuracy and repeatability driving a better balance to the art and science of marketing efforts,” he said. Lead-gen processes are also becoming more dynamic and personalized as technology allows for the detection of buyer preferences and the subsequent customization of Web content and offers. “This thrusts analytics even more into the spotlight, and this will drive new scoring models,” Aprimo's Arthur said. “In addition, analytics will help bring more accountability, revealing exactly how well—or how poorly—your current content and nurture campaigns are working. “There will always be some degree of outbound cold-calling activity but moving forward, more focus will be on inbound channels, like Web forms and webinar registrations,” she said. “The long and multitouch nature of b-to-b sales cycles lends itself very well to analytics to determine which activities and what content deliver the best results.” None of this comes without risk, according to experts. Without relevant messages based on a keen understanding of individual customer desires, engagement (and leads) will suffer. Marketing is always at risk of reaching a saturation level with customers and prospects. Avoiding customer overload while increasing engagement and relevance is becoming the new normal in b-to-b marketing. “Conversational marketing technology is an important component of this strategy,” Hambelton said, “because it was built to unify inbound and outbound communications strategies.” Such an approach, she said, can provide a centralized system for tracking and managing marketing activity data. That in turn can generate targeted messaging and the best, most relevant offers based on customer behavior and established preferences. As a result, the imperative for marketing and sales to work closely together has never been more pressing. “Some of the best practices for helping the teams work better together include common definitions for a qualified lead; lead scoring to identify suspected quality leads; a strong lead-management process to manage the handoffs; and the use of marketing automation to power the whole thing,” said Maria Pergolino, director of marketing at Marketo Inc. “The secret to a truly high-performance revenue engine is the effectiveness of a sales development team,” Pergolino added. “This role bridges the gap between sales and marketing, allowing for the sales development representatives to contact and qualify marketing-generated leads and deliver them to sales account executives.”

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