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7 Steps to Marketing Automation Success

So you are about to take the plunge and invest in a state of the art marketing automation solution.  Once you purchase it and turn it on your sales team is going to be overwhelmed with more qualified leads than they can handle, you may even need to hire more sales people to keep up with the lead flow.  Life is about to be good again, right?  If it were only true!

While it is commendable that you are committed to building a lead gen engine to sustain your sales team, the reality is that some basic work has to be completed prior to implementing any MA solution.  If one or more of these steps are missing the likelihood of a successful program is greatly reduced. Below is simple 7-step checklist that will help you down the path to launching and sustaining a successful lead generation program.

Determine the perfect customer profile

Many organizations still allow their sales teams to self-select prospects. By defining what the perfect prospect looks like for your business you can keep the sales team focused on high probability buyers.

Develop buyer personas

Understanding the buyer persona is critical on two fronts. You have to be able identify who the real decision makers are and what is driving their decision process. Knowledge in this area also allows you to dial in key messages. For example, messaging to a CEO about reducing cost will fall on deaf ears if he or she is only focused on revenue growth.

Define a qualified lead

Ask 3 sales people what a qualified lead looks like and you will probably get 3 different answers. It's critical that both the marketing and sales team agree on the definition of a qualified lead, without it leads generated by the marketing automation process may not be accepted for action by the sales team. This a critical must have!

Commit to building a content development engine

The vast majority of marketing automation-driven, lead generation programs fail because there is not enough relevant content to sustain them on an ongoing basis. You need to be capable of developing and publishing a steady stream of relevant content to your prospects so you can begin to understand there needs based on their interaction with your messages. Providing information that helps your prospects solve problems or understand key business trends will ensure they want to continue getting your messages. Send too many sales messages and you risk having your contacts unsubscribe from your feeds.

Score lead behaviors

Scoring lead behavior is a critical component to a well-run program.  Scoring the contacts who have interacted with your website and messages based on things such as title, frequency and specific pages visited will allow you to begin making some basic decisions about the qualification level of the leads engaging with you.  Start with a basic scoring approach and modify over time, as you better understand the correlation between prospect behaviors and sales outcomes.

Planning the lead handoff process

Once a lead has been deemed qualified it's time to pass it to the sales team. The handoff process should include a brief lead history to allow the rep to formulate a sound strategy prior to the first call. The sales organization also has an obligation to follow up on each and every lead sent to them. In some cases the sales person may ultimately determine the lead is not fully qualified. When that occurs it's important that the sales person return the lead back into the messaging process along with feed back on why it was not completely qualified

Develop measurement dashboards

If you can't measure it you can't control it. Knowing what is working well and what is not working will allow you to make adjustments to your process real time. Building some basic reporting dashboards will also give the executive team the confidence they need to fund and potentially expand these types of game changing programs. Also, as these programs take time to show results, reporting the stats on a weekly basis you can keep the skeptics quiet while the real results begin to speak for themselves

Sound processes and solid content are the fuel that keep marketing automation engines running at peak performance. If you want to build a fast lead gen engine take the time to get the right pit crew in place before you start the race, it will be effort well spent.

For a more detailed overview of how to prepare for and launch a successful B2B demand generation program, check out our white paper, Increasing Sales Effectiveness With Marketing Automation.

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