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Let's face our tough new reality: Demand pipelines are soft, at best.

It's not easy to drive demand during this work-from-home era. Proven lead generators, like industry events and direct marketing, have been canceled or are now irrelevant, unable to provide the leads you need.

But, there's a silver lining: People are spending up to 50% more time online. Now is the time to identify who among them is open to buying, and to refocus time and attention to create the pipeline your organization needs to carry on and recover.

Right now, it's all about building operational agility into your marketing and customer experience capabilities and infrastructure, and relying heavily on the data they provide. By integrating and automating the applications you depend on for lead generation, you can get at the data you need, qualify it, and quickly put it to use to engage the likeliest buyers.

Here are three effective data-reliant ways you can address your soft pipeline and drive marketing efficiency in the midst of these challenging times.

1. Maximize inbound leads by responding in five minutes or less

Only 42% of B2B companies responded to leads within five days, a recent report found. That is truly shocking, considering it's well-established that waiting to connect with a lead for longer than five minutes from the completion of a webform results in a 10x decrease in the ability of the salesperson to connect with that lead (Harvard Business Review). The same study reported that just 4.7% of companies made that five-minute window.

That research is more relevant than ever because your prospects' budgets and their organizations' needs have changed during this unprecedented time. Today, no one can afford to wait five days to follow up with an inbound lead who is expressing direct interest in a product.

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image of Bhaskar Roy

Bhaskar Roy is vice-president of growth at Workato, app integration and automation software. He has 20+ years' experience building enterprise and consumer products and bringing them to market.

LinkedIn: Bhaskar Roy

Twitter: @broy