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.