demand generation was once a fairly straightforward discipline. You'd be given a leads quota you reached by pulling several different levers—gated website content, badge scans at trade shows, and other tactics designed to engage people interested in your product or service. You'd do the upfront work and hand the leads over to Sales with an interest in how they converted and whether the team was attracting the right type of individual.

However, the role of the demand professional has changed.

Today's demand gen manager is a shepherd whose job it is to design and build experiences that lead customers to engage more deeply with your business. Modern demand gen managers are masters of technology and marketing.

Finding the right person with the proper mix of skills to fill this role is crucial to grow your business over time.

Automating with a personal touch

More and more of the marketing experience is automated. From the content that buyers see when they land on a brand's website to the way online experiences change based on visitors' previous behavior, automation allows us to drive new programs that weren't previously possible in marketing. But automation systems can't make those decisions in a vacuum.

The modern demand gen manager fills the void by supplying expertise and intelligence, and then programming it into the marketing automation scheme. Functionally, the demand gen manager now is the person who owns and fine-tunes the experiences B2B buyers have with your organization.

Think of the demand gen manager as a maestro whose job it is to collect and interpret data from a wide range of sources—your site, the data it generates,and third-party information from networks such as LinkedIn or Facebook.

Each data point is like a note on a sheet of music that represents the journey a buyer will take from initial introduction to purchase and post-purchase support and advocacy. The demand gen manager's job is to connect the notes that foster engagement at every level and that deliver an experience that keeps buyers coming back for more.

Sound like a complicated job? It is. And that's especially true now. Rather than wait to be marketed to by big brands with big reach, B2B buyers search for answers and choose the technology that best fits their specific needs.

Here are three things to look for when hiring a demand gen manager in the do-it-yourself era:

1. Deep technical experience

Does your demand gen manager have an understanding of unique identifiers and the role they play in the experience you provide visitors both on-site and off-site?

Think of unique identifiers as ID cards for those visitors who haven't provided you with their information. Companies can use unique identifiers, typically a series of randomly generated characters, to create custom experiences for those who've visited their site once or many times. Additionally, identifiers can be matched with third-party data sources to reach the same individual off-site. Unique identifiers are an important component for how retargeting and other off-site targeting functions operate today.

You need someone technical enough to understand who visits your online presence even without registering. After all, a brand's website is going to be its company's primary demand gen vehicle; it's the face of your brand and the entry point to your products.

You need a demand gen manager that understands the under-the-hood data that describes everything happening on the site at any given time.

2. Marketing savvy and familiarity with the buyer's journey

At the same time, your demand gen manager can't only be technically sound. He or she needs to understand the buyer journey and be equipped to have informed conversations with the chief marketing officer, sales members, and other senior leaders about how buyers are proceeding through the process and their actions along the way.

After all, a demand gen manager who understands why some content is more engaging than others is more likely to design journeys that lead prospects down the right path.

3. Creativity and comfort with metrics that actually matter

Anyone can pull metrics. Clicks are metrics. The problem is that clicks don't matter without context.

Your demand gen manager must be able to think beyond the basics, and when necessary, employ third-party data sources to glean new insights.

For example, at Spiceworks, if we recognize you've come to us from a specific vendor's site, we can use available usage data to guide you through a journey designed specifically for you. We want your experience to be relevant and interesting from the moment you arrive to our site.

The right data leads to the right fit

Marketing has always been a data-driven discipline, and it's even more so today. Hiring people that know how to handle and take advantage of data is crucial for success in the self-service era.

Yet that sounds easier than it is. Few companies can afford to hire a data scientist to do complex analysis. Those who can't are going to have rely on marketing automation systems built by data scientists who've studied entire industries and drawn broad conclusions. That's good, but these systems still won't tell you what your customers want and when they want it.

For that, you'll need an expert who's good at knowing what to analyze.

A demand gen manager with deep technical expertise, marketing savvy, and the creativity to develop uniquely telling metrics can make those decisions, and in the process, make your marketing smarter and the buyer's journey more pleasing.

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What to Look for When Hiring a Demand Generation Manager

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image of Sanjay Castelino

Sanjay Castelino is vice-president of Marketing at Spiceworks, a network where millions of IT professionals freely connect with each other and thousands of technology brands.

LinkedIn: Sanjay Castelino