Experts weigh in on effective b2b lead gen

What is the most important ingredient in effective lead-gen and why? 1) Technology 2) Sales-marketing alignment 3) Branding/awareness

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Nader Ashway Principal-creative director, moddern Marketing “Sales-marketing alignment. Yes, you must deliver a compelling message tied to a brand promise in order to create enough interest to capture a lead. I'm a creative, so I have to answer this way or else they'll revoke my card. However, aligning with sales is most critical. The creative could generate a jillion leads, but without honoring the qualification-filtration protocol, they may never convert. Then you've wasted time and money (and maybe even dented the brand—eek!) on leads that won't do the business any good.”
Michael Bird President, NetProspex Inc. “Technology. In 2013 the smart management of data within technology is what gives a company an advantage over the competition. Today more tools are available than ever to scale, cast a wide net and reach a large audience while capturing an inbound prospect's propensity to buy in real time. Marketers can clone their best buyers using an immense amount of available data, and increase the impact and relevance of their programs. It's never been more important to keep data current, complete and clean to fuel today's automated and sophisticated marketing technology.”
Craig Conard President, Sudden Impact Marketing “Sales-marketing alignment. It's by far the most important element in assuring success in any lead-generation campaign. It begins in the planning stages; the involvement of sales and sales management brings mutual ownership in campaign direction and strategy. Getting that street-level perspective of the sales dynamic upfront in crafting effective messaging is invaluable. On the back end, any campaign is only as successful as the sales it helps close. Marketers aren't carrying the sales bag, and ultimately rely on the sales team to validate the program. We want them on board throughout the process.”
Kathleen Finato Senior VP-marketing and business development, InterCall “Sales-marketing alignment. According to the American Marketing Association, 50% to 80% of marketing content is not used by sales. Many marketers falsely assume that if they build it, sales will use it. But content that doesn't address buyers' questions won't be used by sales. In a well-aligned organization, marketing knows the challenges that sales is facing and creates content that engages and educates buyers. The result: More opportunities with better-educated buyers and a shorter sales cycle.”
Stacey Haefele CEO, HNW Inc. “Technology. The truth is, of course, you need them all, but technology edges out front for me because it is such a critical underpinning to thoughtful, effective execution. And without it, you can't measure. At the end of the day, if you don't know what works, then what you have is a hypothesis—not a strategy—and no reliable way to test it. It's tantamount to marketing on faith.”
Scott Hornstein Partner, b2p Partners “Branding. It's founda-tional and clearly the most important aspect of successful lead generation. It is the gatekeeper to engagement. When prospects come across your lead-generation message they ask three questions: Who are you; why should I care; and what's in it for me? If your brand is robust and compelling, the answers to these questions will be immediate and transparent. If not, prospects will not respond or engage. They will simply move on. If the prospect does not see value, all the alignment and technology in the world won't mean a thing.”
Dan McDade President-CEO, PointClear “Sales-marketing alignment. It's the most important ingredient in lead qualification. Technology is capable of getting more poor-quality leads to sales faster than ever before. Only the biggest companies can afford spending money on branding, and all of the awareness in the world is not going to help a company if sales reps don't effectively follow up on opportunities. Lack of alignment is resulting in wasted marketing spend: The bigger the company the worse the problem. It is time for each company to have a judiciary branch monitor lead flow so that no lead is left behind.”
Nick Panayi Director-global brand and digital marketing, Computer Sciences Corp. “Marketing automa-tion. Marketing automation brings us many gifts: a single marketing database, efficient use of marketing assets, cohesive marketing campaigns and integrated dashboards. A positive side effect of this digital revolution is airtight integration between marketing and CRM systems, which in turn gives us the ability to dissect any lead, contact and sales process activity in real time and in broad daylight. This will ultimately eliminate the finger-pointing between the quarrelling siblings in sales and marketing, and will let us spend the time filling and working through a healthy funnel.”
Irv Shapiro CEO, Ifbyphone “Sales-marketing alignment. Prospects begin their engagement with your company at the top of a sales funnel and move from stage to stage until the sale is closed or lost. Growth hackers, the new marketing professionals, combine the art of advertising with the technology of the Web to manage, measure and automate every step of the lead-generation process. The seamless transition of a prospect from a raw lead to a nurtured and qualified opportunity speeds the time to close and reduces customer-acquisition costs.”
Kirby Wadsworth CMO, Limelight Networks “Sales-marketing alignment. Effective demand generation requires that marketing start conversations on relevant subjects with likely prospects and that sales converts those to closed business. Technology increases scale and prior brand awareness increases speed, but only end-to-end, lockstep alignment between marketing and sales achieves desired business results. It's all about measurement and communication. Successful alignment requires constant, ongoing, proactive engagement across people, processes and technologies. It's hard work.”
Brad Wamsley Managing director-b-to-b and technology markets, Mason Zimbler “Sales-marketing alignment. A strong brand and great technology infrastructure, as important as they are, cannot overcome poor sales-marketing alignment. Mis-alignment results in unqualified leads, MQL/SQL/SAL disagree-ments, and wasted marketing and sales resources. Together with alignment, marketing today demands five essentials: audience under-standing, integrated planning, a publisher mentality, a differentiated position, messaging/ creative and behavioral sciences. Together, they'll result in programs that win big, short and long term.”
Sandra Zoratti VP-marketing, Ricoh Co. “Technology. Today, 70% of a buyer's journey is complete before sales gets involved; five years ago it was 30%. Lead generation has changed dramatically, and marketing owns the first 70%. Customer engagement, not transactions, catalyzes this journey, which begins digitally, often with mobile or social. Smart marketers use technology to capture and leverage data, then listen and connect with the right prospects.”
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