B2B marketers who are recognizing the limitations of today's email-marketing and Web-analytics applications for generating qualified sales leads are switching to a lead- or demand-generation solution to ensure a continuous stream of qualified leads.

In addition to providing the 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 five points in mind to ensure that you make a purchase that meets your expectations and the needs of your company:

1. Look out 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.

Various solutions on the market fail to live up to that expectation. Marketers have found that once these solutions have been purchased, they are extremely difficult to implement and maintain; and, often, the software provider will be more than happy to offer consulting services to operate the software it sold. 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 such incremental costs.

2. Ensure ease of use

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Christopher Doran is vice-president of marketing for Manticore Technology (www.manticoretechnology.com). He can be reached at Christopher@manticoretechnology.com.