I pretty much fell into my role as a marketing operations director running a demand generation team at my last job.  I was looking into marketing automation software and trying to get some leverage internally to sell it.  So I went to a recent hire who was brought on to roll out our CRM system (SFDC) globally across the organization.  He said he would help me if I helped him with this little project rolling out the marketing functionality of the CRM system.  I said “sure!” having absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into.  Within six months, I was rolling out an entire global marketing infrastructure.  It was trial by fire – fortunately I learn quick and it was the best thing that ever could have happened to my career.

If you are looking to hire a demand gen leader, it’s tough to find the right person in today’s market.  It’s a relatively new field and there just aren’t that many of us skilled in it.  You can either find someone who has done it before, which is a limited pool, or you can bring someone on your existing team up-to-speed by partnering with a consulting agency for initial expertise and learn from them.  In either case, here are a few of the essential skills to look for:

  • Analytical expertise.  Someone who is not only good with numbers, but who can also make sense of and act on those numbers.
  • Operational expertise.  Familiarity with process development and focus on continuous improvement is critical.
  • Change management expertise.  One of the biggest stumbling blocks on this journey is building an entire infrastructure only to find out no one is using it.  Look for a resource that can build consensus and align with the sales team.  Someone who has previous sales experience is ideal.
  • Business expertise.  By this I mean someone who has a good grasp of business goals and the ability to align marketing to meet those goals.  This does not need to be someone that knows the industry or your particular company well, necessarily.  But they should have the ability to understand the industry, your company, your products and your challenges fairly quickly.  Someone who can see the big picture and then align everything underneath with that big picture.
  • Leadership expertise.  Someone who can articulate the vision and value to the organization and get everyone behind it.  Don’t confuse this with a good manager – a good leader will gain followers regardless of their organizational reporting structure and has influence far outside of their own vertical in the org chart.
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