The recent proliferation of marketing tools in the B2B space has brought what could very well be a golden age of lead generation. Shifts in platforms such as Pardot and Hubspot from purely inbound platforms to enabling and incorporating outbound marketing efforts is not just exciting, its probably overdue. 

There’s just one problem. 

For small and medium sized firms, the promise of data-driven outreach and account based marketing does not seem to be bearing fruits like it could. Fortunately, our research and work has bore a framework that is not only understandable, but actionable. 

Say the right thing, to the right person, at the right time 

Ideal state lead and opportunity generation in 2018 and beyond will be communicating precisely the right message, to precisely the right person, at precisely the right time. Striving towards this ideal means putting tools, tactics and data at the right places in a dynamic, iterative process. 

For sales leadership, endeavoring to chase this ideal gives real ammunition to excite and enable sales teams to focus on process instead of solely on quota. 

Buyer personas are the keystone 

Between the tools, tactics, and data sources, overwhelm is not just understandable it is expected. Buyer personas allow leadership and teams to simplify what resources they should use and, more importantly,  what not to use. 

While persona’s are an incredibly valuable tool for selecting the correct platforms and tactics to use, perhaps the most powerful result of an accurate persona is understanding how a prospect will seek solutions. Fundamental to intent based marketing is building the right prospect model with data, and a key place to start is knowing where your prospect is going to start and, only then, can they be guided to finish with you. 

Create content based on the data 

Someday, AI will be able to create the perfect content at the perfect time. Until then, it is up to humans to test and perfect the content that is being provided to prospects along their journey. 73% of B2B prospects say their buying decisions are influenced by content consumption, which means companies can influence buying decisions over the vast majority of B2B decision makers. 

Luckily for many, writers block is no more. Reading the signals from prospects along their journey means content can be more reactive and iterative than ever before. Similar to programmatic advertising in B2C, companies no longer need to guess what they should be creating: prospects will vote with their actions. 

Timing should be disciplined, data-driven 

Once implemented, an intent based program requires laser focus on timing. It will soon become apparent that timing of prospects intent and relevance has less to do with the current drivers of sales intensity, such as fiscal period ends, and more to do with the prospects process and the content they are exposed to. 

Fortunately, focusing on building a strategy around right thing, right person, right time that is supported by data and exemplary tactics, means the pressure of arbitrary fiscal periods will be replaced by prolonged, sustained sales success. 

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