Five New Year’s Resolutions for the CMO

I had lunch recently with a VP of Marketing. He was telling me about his organization, the relationship between sales and marketing, and what he knew needed to change to make his company more effective.  I listened to him, thinking that he was hitting on many of the points I would have made if I were in his shoes.  When he concluded his assessment, I asked, “What does your CMO (his boss) think of all of this?”  His body language said it all – a roll of the eyes and a sigh. Then he said, “He’s a good guy overall, but is not the ‘leader’ type. I sometimes feel like I’m pushing the rock uphill… alone.”

Unfortunately, this sentiment isn’t limited to this isolated lunch conversation, but one that highlights the lack of effectiveness in many CMO offices today.  This CMO effectiveness void is being felt in many organizations and could not come at a worse time for marketers, or even businesses in general.  The need for CMOs to step-up has never been greater than right now.

As we roll into 2012, here are five resolutions that CMOs should adopt to be more effective.

1.  Learn the Language of Your Peers           

I had a discussion not long ago with one CMO about the goals and objectives of his organization.  When I suggested that he begin focusing on contribution to revenue and pipeline his resistance was clear when he stated, “I’m not committing my group to revenue. That kind of visibility scares me to death.”

This is a perfect example of a CMO who has failed to be effective in his role, perpetuating the feeling that marketing is not truly valued within the organization.  Why?  Because the CEO, the CFO and the CRO are all focused on revenue… THE KEY METRIC.

CMOs must commit to speaking the language of their peers, the language of revenue. They must hold their teams accountable for revenue metrics.  If marketing is to be respected and more effective, this language and measurement is a must.

2.  Be Socially Engaged

If the prediction from Gartner is true, then in less than eight years 85% of the B2B buying process will be done with no human interaction.  There is no clearer indication that the buyer has changed and that the open access to online and social information is where buyers will spend the majority of their buying cycle.

As buyers are spending the majority of their time engaging socially, it is imperative that CMOs begin to engage within this medium as well.  The content delivered over social media will be the difference between a buyer choosing one vendor over another. Why?  Because this is where engagement happens.  This is where meaningful dialogue occurs. This where a vendor can exchange ideas and help shape the conversation. CMOs who shy away from using social media as a key channel in their demand generation strategy will soon come to find themselves far behind their competition who have embraced it.  To effectively engage, CMOs must go to where the buyer is… online.

3. Connect With Sales

“Sales does not respect us.”
“We have a love/hate relationship with sales – they love to hate us.”
“I cannot get sales to pay any attention to me.”

These are quotes I’ve heard at one time or another describing the relationship of marketing and sales.  In most of these cases it’s due to the fact that sales does not get the necessary support it needs from marketing to help them hit their number.  As one sales person once told me, “Maybe if I knew how the opens and clicks were helping us generate high quality leads, I would care. But nobody seems to know how marketing is helping us.”

In order for CMOs to be effective, they must connect with their sales counterpart and begin driving towards a common goal.  Without the connection to sales, marketing’s role will be severely diminished.

If you’re a CMO wondering how to start that dialogue, let me suggest the following statement to get you going:

“I know that in the past marketing has not lived up to the expectations, nor worked with sales in a collaborative fashion.  Heading into this year it is time to change all that. We want to work with you to help drive new business and attain quota.  When can we begin meeting about this and develop the right processes needed to ensure we meet these goals together?”

4. Know Your Customer

Often when I am presenting, I will ask the marketers in the room how many of them make a habit of connecting with their customers by phone or in person.  This is more than just accompanying sales on a sales call, but truly being with and understanding their customers.  The few number of hands that go up continues to astonish me.

Today’s buyer is looking for a vendor who understands them, one who can discuss their issues without always talking about product features and functions. They want a partner who is knowledgeable about their space.  As a marketer, this means creating conversations, both online and face-to-face, where you ask, listen, then respond based on what THEY need, not what YOU want. If you want to truly connect with your customer (and ultimately develop the content that is relevant to them), make sure you know them intimately. Anything less is simple small talk.

5. Be a Leader

In all the years I worked in the technology space, I only met one CMO who I felt was a true leader who made a difference.  Today, more often than not, I see too many CMOs who refuse to or are afraid to lead. But the role of marketing is too vital in the B2B space today for CMOs to relinquish this responsibility.  CMOs must step up and begin to lead their organizations.

One aspect that this leadership will certainly include will be leading change.  For marketing to be effective in the new world of Buyer 2.0, it will take a new way of thinking, engaging, measuring and acting.  This will require patience and steadiness (this change does not happen overnight). It requires defined processes (no technology purchase will bring this about). It requires equipping the right people with the right skills.  It requires removing those who are stuck in their old ways and replacing them with those who will embrace a new culture.  It requires a leader who will have the courage to make the decisions that will bring all of this about.

CMOs, the time is now.  Don’t be the one who will be sitting here a year from now, wishing you had been more effective.  Here’s to hoping that 2012 will be remembered as the “Year of the CMO”.

Software Advice Whiteboard Session with The Annuitas Group – Demand Generation Vs. Lead Management (Part Two)

There is a lot of confusion about the role of marketing automation software as it relates to marketing processes. In part two of Software Advice’s whiteboard session with Annuitas Group CEO and Marketing Automation Institute Executive Director, Carlos Hidalgo, we discuss how marketing automation technology is not the complete answer to all your demand generation and lead management needs. Rather, it provides a critical piece of your demand generation strategy and lead management process.

View Part Two of the Whiteboard Session Now.

The Annuitas Group CEO Named a 2011 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management for Third Consecutive Year

The Annuitas Group CEO Named a 2011 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management for Third Consecutive Year

Carlos Hidalgo Recognized in Third Annual Sales Lead Management Association’s List of Leaders

 

Grand Rapids, MI – December 13, 2011 – The Annuitas Group, a recognized leader in lead management process consulting, today announced that Carlos Hidalgo, co-founder and CEO, was named for the third consecutive in the Sales Lead Management Association’s (SLMA) 2010 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management list.  The SLMA annual poll is voted on by peers and colleagues, and recognizes leaders who are paving the way in sales and marketing innovation.

As an industry thought leader, Carlos Hidalgo has been a leading B2B marketing executive and practitioner for over 15 years.  In both his experience working for and with some of the largest global B2B companies, Hidalgo has gained first-hand knowledge and a true understanding of the challenges that marketing and sales organizations face today.  Through this experience, Hidalgo recognized a gap in the training of marketing automation professionals and co-founded in 2011 the Marketing Automation Institute (MAI), a community and resource for vendor-neutral marketing automation education and certification.  In 2011, B2B Magazine also selected Hidalgo as a Who’s Who in Demand Generation and Focus.com appointed him an advisor for lead management and marketing automation.

“Carlos is one of the true visionaries in the B2B marketing industry,” said Craig Rosenberg, leader of the Focus Expert Network, www.focus.com.  “He realizes that organizations need real-world solutions and education vs. band-aids and quick-fix solutions, and brings the practical know how on making this a reality for his clients.  This is one of the many reasons why The Annuitas Group is so well-respected and why the MAI is an important addition to our industry.”

As the originators of the Lead Management FrameworkSM, The Annuitas Group was in 2005 to help B2B companies realize a measurable return on their sales and marketing investments in lead management, marketing automation and demand generation.  They focus solely on helping B2B companies develop and implement a lead management process that not only facilitates collaboration between sales and marketing organizations, but also improves the revenue and overall return on marketing and sales investments. Carlos can be reached at chidalgo@annuitasgroup.com or via twitter @cahidalgo.

About The Annuitas Group

The Annuitas Group is the leading provider of sales and marketing process consulting services for B2B technology, financial and manufacturing companies. With more than 50 years of combined experience, The Annuitas Group helps clients achieve greater marketing and sales efficiency through more productive and efficient lead management, marketing automation and demand generation programs. In all, The Annuitas Group has been able to identify over $750 million of potential revenue within their clients by developing new sales and marketing lead management process.   For more information, visit annuitas.com.

Media Contact:
Lori Piening
lpiening@annuitasgroup.com
512.917.1268

Software Advice Whiteboard Session with The Annuitas Group – Demand Generation Vs. Lead Management

Demand generation and lead management are two terms that companies should be fairly familiar with, but it turns out there is quite a bit of confusion around the two.  Software Advice, a site that offers reviews of marketing automation solutions, recently hosted this two-part whiteboard session with Carlos Hidalgo, CEO of Annuitas Group and Executive Director of the Marketing Automation Institute to explain the difference and how companies can make sure they develop successful programs for both.

View Part One of the Whiteboard Session Now.

If It’s Too Good To Be True…

About 15-years ago, I was at lunch with a guy who told me that within weeks I could be making in one month what I was currently making annually.  He proceeded to tell me that he was making $70,000 per month through a new multi-level marketing company and that I had an opportunity to get in on the ground floor.  He continued, telling me that this was the easiest money I would ever make. In fact if I took advantage of this opportunity, I wouldn’t even feel like I was working.  Then our conversation came to a screeching halt when I asked “If this money is so easy how come every one isn’t doing this?”  Check please!  (Yes, he paid for lunch.  After all he was making $70k per month).

Promises of exponential riches, rapid weight loss and real estate fortunes will continue to come and go throughout our lives.  And most of us are smart enough to smile and politely say, “No, thank you”.  Yet, it seems that the promise of “gold at the end of the rainbow” is picking up steam with many in the B2B marketing space. And many marketers in search of El Dorado are being drawn like lemmings to the sea.

Just this past month, we’ve seen offers such as “guarantee of significant business impact in less than 60-days”; or “a detailed understanding of where you’re deficient in your automation strategy in less than 10-days”; or even “100% increase in qualified leads to sales”.  Sounds great!  But if it’s this easy, then why isn’t everyone doing this?  Maybe because it’s not so easy.

If you truly want to revolutionize your B2B marketing organization, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1.  Quick Does not Equal Effective

We live in an instant gratification society. But that doesn’t work in B2B organizations.  Defining new processes, developing and implementing new strategies and aligning marketing and sales teams is not something that can be done overnight.  Yes, strides can be made quickly, and initial milestones can be reached in relatively short time.  But expecting to arrive at best-in-class status or having a comprehensive understanding of ALL your business issues in a matter of days is not realistic.  Yes, quick wins are great. But lasting, effective wins do not come quickly. They take time.  Anything else is just cutting corners.

2.  There is more to B2B Marketing Than Lead Nurturing 

Lead nurturing is getting quite a bit of attention from multiple vendors.  Many vendors and consultants are developing “quick hit” programs focused on helping organizations develop and launch lead nurturing campaigns.

Lead nurturing is certainly a vital component of a demand generation strategy, however, there is much that needs to be addressed to ensure that your nurturing will be effective.  If your goal is to produce an effective lead nurturing program that has tangible results (qualified leads that convert to sales) you must ensure the following components are in place:

  • A data management process
  • Lead qualification process (hard to know how to nurture them, if you don’t know how qualified they are)
  • A defined lead routing process
  • Content mapping
  • Metrics

Most companies need significant work done in these areas.  All of these processes take time to review and develop. Not developing them will produce lack luster results.

3.  It’s Not The Technology, It’s You

Not getting what you want from your marketing automation platform?  It is surely the fault of the technology right?  Think again.

Yes it is true that many organizations are striving to get more value from their automation solution.  But determining value based on which features and functions are or are not being used is not the way to determine value.

In order to improve the value of your return on technology investments look internally at your operations, your demand generation strategy and your process.  Identify your gaps, make the fixes, and develop the strategy to fill the gaps.  Only then are you ready to consider how the technology will allow you to execute that strategy.  As much as automation can provide, it should be one of the last things you consider when looking to transform your organization.

The B2B landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years.  As a result organizations need to transform their approach.  A quick fix is not the answer.   Be realistic in your approach and remember patience is key. Consistency over time wins the day.

Ten Ways the C-Level can Positively Impact Marketing and Sales (Part Two of Two)

This is part two of our 2-part series on how the C-Suite can help affect marketing and sales for the better. (click here for part one)

A recent report published by MarketingSherpa asked B2B marketers what was the top barrier for overcoming their marketing challenges.  17% cited difficulty in getting buy-in or support from the C-Suite.  Quite frankly I am surprised that the percentage is not higher.

Part of the reason that executives are so hesitant to buy into marketing is that they’ve not been provided a solid business case for making the necessary investments into marketing that will improve their business.  Yet marketing and sales need budget so they can adapt to the changing buyer, move them faster through the buying cycle, and ultimately drive revenue.  It’s imperative that marketing gains executive support.

We’ve blogged before on what marketers can do to remove the barriers and win over “mahogany row”.  In this post, we provide the final five things the C-Suite can do to enable their marketing and sales teams so they can improve their return on marketing and sales investments.

6.  Don’t Stay Married if It’s Not Working

Hear me out here. I am not advocating divorce.  However, what I am talking about is the dynamic where executives get so married to their plans, that they fail to change course if the plans are not working.

To change direction doesn’t always signal failure or indicate a poor strategy.  To the contrary, it can often signal maturity and understanding of the ultimate objectives.  If something’s not working, or if your marketing strategy is not going to plan, then make the necessary adjustments. Gather your team, collect their input (they usually have a more realistic and better view than you do) and adjust the course.

7.  Stop Talking About Alignment

If you conduct a Google search on the term “Sales & Marketing Alignment”, you generate 11,700,000 links to view.  This seems to be only a fraction of all that has been written on this topic.  Just today I saw three more articles that detailed the keys to marketing and sales alignment.

Executives would do well to stop trying to solve this “problem”.  Actually, it’s not a problem; it’s a symptom of a deeper problem.  Here’s what needs to happen to achieve alignment:

  • Bring marketing and sales together to develop a lead management process that addresses how leads will be managed.
  • Use common objectives and measurements between marketing and sales. (Revenue contribution goals are a good place to start.)
  • Design sales quotas to match average buying cycles.  As an example, it’s unfair for a sales person to have to meet a 90-day quota when the sales cycle is 180 days.

Begin working on these three areas and you will see the alignment issue disappear.

8.  Ensure You Have the Right People

One of the greatest ironies about NBC’s The Office was that Michael Scott, played by Steve Carrel, was an awful sales manager but a very good sales rep.   Carrel’s role served to highlight what many organizations do: they take someone who has had success in one role and promote them to another role for which they are not suited.  This is a poor HR practice.  Have the courage to determine if you have the wrong people with the wrong skill set in your marketing and sales roles. If you do, it’s time for some fresh talent.  Capable job seekers abound in today’s economy. If you are going to stock up on new talent, now is the time to do it.

9.  Know Thy Customer

On a recent episode of CBS’s Undercover Boss, a cruise line CEO posed as an entertainment crew staff member on one of his ships.  He was assigned to oversee the ice skating rink that had been installed on board the ship.  After hours of back breaking work just to get the rink set up, no one came.   He asked, “Why do we have this if no one wants to skate?”  Perhaps if they had done a better job of getting to know their customer, they would have known the answer.

This episode illustrates the fact that most executives don’t truly understand their customers.  Why?  Because their customer interaction is often limited to the top 5% of their customer base.  Such a small percentage does not provide an accurate representation of the buyer.  Yet, if you take the time to get to know your customer inside and out, you’ll be able to create better product, deliver better service and improve customer retention.  It will help you avoid mistakes like installing an ice skating rink on a cruise ship.

10.  Lighten Up

Life is short. Work can be stressful and difficult.  Good leaders make work fun for their employees. They keep things light.  Yes, most of us are passionate about our companies, and the services we provide.  But for most of us, we’re not selling things that are life changing. We need to remember that.

In one company I worked for, we were pressing to meet a product launch date.  Tensions were high among marketing, sales and product management (all of whom sat in close proximity to each other).  Sensing the stress cloud, the president of our division walked down a row of cubicles and announced, “$50 to the one who can do a wall sit longer than I can.”  The stress bubble was burst as a line of people doing wall sits emerged.   We took 10 minutes to unwind, watched a product manager win $50, and had a few laughs.  Our president was smart. He knew that tension did not create productivity.  Stress relief did.

We may have covered some non-marketing areas in these two posts.  But if marketing and sales are going to improve and adjust in this new buyer driven B2B world, it is vital that the C-Suite lead and enable change.  Without it, you’ll end up with an environment that limits what can be done, and fails to reach objectives.

The Cross Channel Conversation – Don’t Get Stuck with a Lemon – 9 Things Cars Teach Us about Marketing Automation

There’s a very natural parallel between marketing automation and cars.  This idea started to take shape thanks to an impromptu brainstorm on Twitter with Carlos Hidalgo from the Annuitas Group.

Marketing Profs Blog – Five Ways B2B Marketers Can Think (and Act) Different

On August 3, 1997, Lee Clow, then an advertising agency rep, pitched theThink Different campaign to Steve Jobs and the team at Apple. At the time, Apple had a tarnished brand, slumping sales, and they were being dwarfed by Microsoft.  The theme, “Think Different,” resonated. And it was what would define and continue to define Apple.

Click Z – Taking the First Steps Towards B2B Marketing Automation

With business decision makers consuming 90% of their information via the internet (source: Focus Research), its important for B2B marketers to stay connected and engaged with customers.  This article discusses the importance of marketing automation as the tool to both communicate with your B2B audience and connect with your sales team via CRM integration.

Ten Ways the C-Level can Positively Impact Marketing and Sales (Part One of Two)

A recent report published by MarketingSherpa asked B2B marketers what the top barrier was for overcoming their marketing challenges.  17% cited difficulty in getting buy-in or support from the C-Suite.  Quite frankly I am surprised that the percentage is not higher.

Part of the reason that executives are so hesitant to buy into marketing is that they’ve not been provided a solid business case for making the necessary marketing investments that will improve their business.  Yet budget is what is going to enable marketing and sales to adapt to the changing buyer, move them faster through the buying cycle, and ultimately drive revenue.  It’s imperative that marketing gains executive support.

We’ve blogged before on what marketers can do to remove the barriers and win over “mahogany row”.  In this post, the first part of a 2-part series, we’ll take a look at what the C-Suite can do to enable their marketing and sales teams so they can improve the return on marketing and sales investments.

1.  Understand that Change Must Occur   

Earlier in my career,  I was asked to begin developing a lead management process for my employer, a $1 billion software company.  This was a new role within the organization.  Two weeks into our new endeavor I got a call from my VP asking, “What on earth are you doing?”  His question was based on concerns that his sales counterparts had brought to him, namely that my team was asking questions about how sales managed leads, and that we had extracted data from the CRM system.  I responded by saying that if we were going to develop a new process we had to first learn what was broken. Then we could make changes to fix it. And there it was, that dreaded word – CHANGE!  Like many executives, my boss’s comeback was shortsighted. He informed me that while we needed process, we could not interfere with sales. Change was not in the cards.

Too many executives envision how things can be, but they fail to approve the changes that are necessary in order to enable their marketing and sales teams.  Steve Jobs was said to have no respect for the status quo.  Executives should take a lesson.

2.  Embrace the Change

Understanding the need for change and embracing it are two completely different concepts.  In my example above, my former boss understood change was needed.  But he never embraced it.  Why does this happen?  Because change requires effort, uncertainty, and instability.  But it’s also the catalyst for moving forward.  Embracing change means enablement, support and clearing the hurdles necessary for their teams to succeed. Many executives are uncertain about the changes going on in B2B Marketing today.  But if they will live with some uncertainty, and allow their teams to change, they will see enormous benefit.

3. Keep Things Simple!

Years ago, I sat in a sales management meeting with two regional VP’s and the President of our division.  Each VP was there to report his mid-quarter sales projections.  The first VP came loaded with all kinds of data.  Half-way through what should have been a 15-minute presentation (at this point we were way beyond 15 minutes), our President stopped him, and said, “Please get to the point. Keep it simple. Where are we with sales?”

The second VP got up and in one slide showed the number of deals and revenue in the pipeline, number of closed deals and revenue to date, revenue quarter over quarter and his projected forecast.  It was clear and simple (perhaps he learned a lesson from his colleague).  After less than 5-minutes of follow up questions, we had a clear understanding of what they had already accomplished and what was to come.

Too many organizations are bogged down in trying to do too much, trying to measure too many things, or trying to be all things to all people.  Complexity often leads to ineffectiveness. So, keep it simple.  As best you can reduce your strategic plan to one page.  Make sure you can articulate your corporate value statement in less than 15-seconds.  Measure what matters.  And extend this rule of simplicity to your marketing teams. Following the rule of simplicity will clear the clutter and help your organization focus on what counts.

4.  Allow a Little Room for Error

Ever watch a sports team play as if they were afraid to fail? (Insert 2011 Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves here). Yet inevitably, that’s what happens. They fail.  Conversely, championship teams play as if there’s nothing to fear. It keeps them loose, and allows them to focus on what they are doing, instead of what may happen if they make a mistake.

It’s not much different in business.  Executives who run their businesses with a fear of failure will ultimately fail.  Fear is not a motivator. It stifles creativity, innovation and limits success.  Instead, executives should allow their teams room to move and yes, even fail.  I am not suggesting allowing a renegade culture in your organization, but I am advocating room for a little risk.  Successful marketing is a series of tests, failures, lessons learned, then successes.  Make sure you create an environment that allows for failure.

5.  Listen and Respond

Herb Kelleher, Founder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines tells a story where he paid a visit to one of the baggage handling areas and how he noticed that some of the workers  seemed short on morale.  He asked them what was wrong, and they told him that they had asked their supervisor for a rope, but their request was denied.  They wanted the rope to pull carts back and forth in a more efficient manner.  Without hesitation, Kelleher ensured a rope was delivered and had the supervisor reprimanded.

This anecdote makes me wonder how many executives are depleting their employees’ morale over items as simple as a rope.  If you truly want to lead, then ask, listen and (when possible) enable your team so they can solve the problem.

We’re halfway there and there’s already much to discuss.  We welcome your feedback and comments.  Look for the second half of the blog post in a couple of weeks.