5 Key Points to Consider when Choosing a Demand Generation Solution

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Savvy B2B marketers are recognizing the limits of today’s email marketing and web analytics applications for generating qualified sales leads and are switching to a demand generation solution to ensure a continuous stream of qualified leads. In addition to providing typical reporting that legacy email and web analytics products provide, demand generation solutions automate the progression of leads through the pipeline so that sales can focus on only the most qualified leads.

When evaluating demand generation solutions, keep these 5 points in mind to ensure that you make a purchase that meets your expectations and the needs of your company.

1. Lookout for Hidden Consultants

When purchasing a demand generation solution, marketers are typically looking for a solution that their internal team can quickly and easily implement to improve their lead generation capabilities. Anecdotal evidence has shown that several solutions on the market fail to live up to this expectation. Marketers have found that once these solutions have been purchased, they are extremely difficult to implement and maintain. If this occurs, the software provider will be more than happy to offer you consulting services to operate the software they sold you. These consulting services can double or triple the cost of the original purchase price. Before you choose a demand generation platform, be sure to choose a solution that your internal team will be able to implement and use on a daily basis. Ask the provider what percent of their revenue is from software vs. consulting services. If more than 20% of their revenue is from consulting, there’s a good chance you’ll be contributing to the software AND consulting portion of their top-line. If you choose to go this route, be sure to set aside significant budget to cover these incremental costs. Some demand generation solutions on the market today can be extremely cumbersome and difficult to use. After being implemented, these solutions are often rendered useless because no one can figure out how they work. To avoid  this  situation, choose a demand generation solution that is easy to use. This will speed internal adoption and ensure that the application is used to its fullest potential. Evaluate the system’s user interface—is it intuitive? Are you able to get the information you need with minimal clicks? Look for a solution where the answers to these questions are a resounding “YES”.

2. Ensure Ease of Use

Some demand generation solutions on the market today can be extremely cumbersome and difficult to use. After being implemented, these solutions are often rendered useless because no one can figure out how they work. To avoid  this  situation, choose a demand generation solution that is easy to use. This will speed internal adoption and ensure that the application is used to its fullest potential. Evaluate the system’s user interface—is it intuitive? Are you able to get the information you need with minimal clicks? Look for a solution where the answers to these questions are a resounding “YES”.

3. Try Before You Buy

Would you buy a car before taking it for a test drive? Of course not. The beauty of hosted software applications is that you are able to take them for a test drive with minimal effort and no cost before you actually make a purchase. When looking at a demand generation solution, take full advantage of this opportunity. Execute a marketing campaign—does the system work as promised? Does your team find the application easy to use? Does it fit the needs of your organization? Free trials are a great opportunity to make sure that you’re getting the solution that’s right for you before spending any of your limited marketing budget. If you’re unable to test an application before you buy, be sure to perform extra due diligence to ensure you’re purchasing the solution that’s right for you and that all hidden costs have been exposed.

4. Training & Implementation Costs

While some demand generation solutions may look ideal from the outside, be sure to look at associated costs and effort for training your team on how to use the new application. Consider how difficult the solution will be to implement. Is it a solution that can be up and running in a few minutes, or will in require weeks of customization and implementation? In regards to training, be sure that training costs are included in the cost of the software. If not, find out how much training will cost up front so you can set aside the appropriate funds from your budget.

Strong Customer Service.

With any software product, during trial, implementation, and day-to-day use, there are going to be bumps along the way. When choosing a demand generation solution, look for a company that will work side-by-side with you—even after  the contract  has been signed.  Does the provider provide you with a dedicated sales rep that works with you even after you’ve signed on the dotted line? Or are you going to be passed on to a call center that has no idea what  you’ve been promised during the initial engagement or what your needs are. Look for a solution provider where customer service is included in your contract and you have a dedicated sales and customer service team that will work with your team to ensure their success.

As demand generation solutions continue their  rapid  growth and  adoption over legacy email and web analytics solutions, they’ll become a “must-have” in the near future for marketers serious about lead generation. By keeping these 5 tips in mind, you’ll have the facts you need to choose a demand generation solution that meets your expectations and is right for you.