PowerViews with Carlos Hidalgo: A Holistic Approach to Driving the Demand Process


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I am pleased to have as my guest today Carlos Hidalgo of the Annuitas Group. Carlos is a recognized thought leader in B2B marketing and known for his keen insights on the development and implementation of lead management processes, as well as marketing automation.

Carlos has been named three years in a row—from 2009 to 2011—to the Sales Lead Management Association’s 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management. He is a frequent speaker, blogger and contributor to many B2B marketing publications.

2012 Trending: Marketing Is Ahead of Sales in Understanding Buyer 2.0

Click to start video at this pointAsked about changes in the marketing and sales landscape he sees happening and needing to happen, Carlos talks about marketing’s forward motion and continuing challenges: “Marketers are at a place where they understand what they need to do, and they understand where they need to go.”

But improvement is needed in getting there: “I still don’t think there are a lot of marketers who understand here is step one, step two, step three, and here’s the practical change we have to bring to our organizations in order to have a buyer-centric view and a buyer-centric environment and culture from our company perspective.”

He also believes—from the point of view of skill sets and understanding Buyer 2.0—marketers are ahead of salespeople. He illustrates this by noting, “If I had a dollar for every time each week I get a phone call or an email from a sales rep that says, ‘Hey, I saw your name,’ or ‘You downloaded this,’ or ‘You stopped by our booth. Would you like to set aside 30 minutes to see our product?’ That just clearly signals from a sales perspective B2B salespeople still have not adapted to the new buying environment that we live in. And I think marketers recognize it.”

The Core Issue: It’s Not Alignment – It’s Driving the Demand Process

Click to start video at this pointIn response to my question about what he is seeing in the area of marketing and sales alignment, Carlos says alignment is not the core issue: “I think when we focus on how do we align marketing and sales, we’re focusing on a symptom, and not the core challenge. The core challenge is really driving that demand process through the organization which is a holistic approach of people, process, content and technology—and having marketing and sales work in a collaborative fashion in each of those areas. That also includes common metrics and objectives.”

He describes an engagement with a current client in which they jointly built the SLAs and the business rules. He adds, “We’re mapping those back to the systems to send alerts and—lo and behold—sales is actually making that part of their compensation plan.” Marketing, too, is tied in on some of their bonus objectives.

Commenting on the complete alignment across the organization, he notes, “Never once did we start the conversation with how are we going to get you guys to get along. It was here’s the issue, let’s develop the process, let’s implement the change that’s required for that process, and now let’s measure to it. And it’s going really, really well.”

Instead of Outbound vs. Inbound, Focus on an Integrated, Buyer-Centric Approach

Click to start video at this pointI ask Carlos about his view on the current debate on outbound marketing vs. inbound marketing, and he talks about the importance of integrating the two. He describes a recent conversation with a client: “She said, ‘I’ve got to develop how I’m going to approach inbound vs. outbound.’ I said, ‘With all due respect, I think you’re looking at it the wrong way. You really need to look at how am I going to integrate my inbound with my outbound.’ If you look at inbound—at its most simplistic—being found, that’s great. So what are you going to say when you’re found? You’ve got to be able to say something. And so now it’s that integration.”

He talks about the importance of how media are used in an integrated way: “When I read that it’s only inbound and that outbound is dead—that’s like saying email is dead or telemarketing is dead—I don’t think any of it is dead. I think that it’s the way that we’re using them. I think having an inbound strategy that’s integrated with an outbound strategy—and again, ultimately a buyer-centric strategy and an engagement strategy that includes both of those—is key to any kind of success that an organization wants to have. I don’t believe starting a conversation with outbound is the best way. I think it’s being found and using inbound. But you’ve got to be able to respond to that which is at its core outbound marketing.”

Get Involved in the Dialog and Shape the Conversation from an Education Standpoint

Click to start video at this pointIn response to my question about how he views research that reports 70% of the buying process is complete before a sales rep gets involved, Carlos notes that Gartner predicts this figure will be 85% by 2015. He talks about how buyers have more access to more information than ever before, adding, “The buyer has access to your customer base, to my customer base, to my client’s customer base online, through LinkedIn, through Quora, and through social groups. I can collect as much information as possible.”

He identifies how we should be approaching buyers given their access to information with or without us: “I think the core point is the buyer is not as reliant on the organization or the vendor to collect the information any more. It really truly is about what are we doing to communicate with them and really help shape the conversation and get involved in the dialog from an educational standpoint—and not always be so ready to sell.”

Recommendations: Invest in Your People & Get into Your Buyer’s Shoes

Click to start video at this pointI ask Carlos for his advice on what marketing and sales should be looking at to achieve greater success in 2013, and he talks about two priorities.

He first discusses investing in skills development and references several recent studies:

  • The average marketer receives less than a thousand dollars a year in training.
  • 85% of marketers according to Sirius describe themselves as self-taught.
  • 77% of marketers either rate themselves as only somewhat or not at all effective.

He adds, “Those are staggering numbers. I mean that’s a large majority of marketers saying, ‘I’m really not too good at my job.’ The sales statistics that I have seen show something that’s pretty similar to the B2B marketing space.”

Carlos also shares an anecdote that illustrates how much continuing education is a priority for professionals: “One of the best conversations I had last week was with a marketer who said, ‘My company is not sending me to this conference, so I’m literally taking some of my PPO and my own dollars. I’m getting myself down there because this is stuff that I need to learn to be successful, and I’m going to invest in my own career.”

And he notes the second priority is getting into your buyer’s shoes so that you really understand your buyer. He says one of the best examples of this is a recent commercial for the 2013 Honda Accord: “It starts off and says, ‘We know you.’ It talks all about the things they know about drivers and how they’re able to make a car specifically for us. This is the first commercial I’ve seen in a long time that makes me say I want to go buy that. But it’s a perfect example. Honda has taken the time to know that we’re tired, we’re frustrated, we have relationships, we work, and we’ve got to drive in the pouring rain—and they’ve designed this car to address that.”

Putting ourselves in our buyer’s shoes means we have to find out what makes them worry and what challenges they have on a day-to-day basis. He concludes, “I think marketers and salespeople who truly get to know their customers will be light years ahead because now you can plan the content and plan the delivery of that content. You start to build a demand architecture and a demand process that is really going to deliver value-based outcomes—rather than opens, clicks and shares.”

You can connect with Carlos and learn more about his work at the Annuitas Group via the following resources:

Carlos Hidalgo

Carlos’ Email Address: chidalgo at annuitas group dot com

Annuitas Group Website: www.annuitasgroup.com

Carlos on Twitter: @cahidalgo

The next PowerViews will be with Linda Richardson of Richardson. Stay Tuned.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dan McDade
Dan McDade founded PointClear in 1997 with the mission to be the first and best company providing prospect development services to business-to-business companies with complex sales processes. He has been instrumental in developing the innovative strategies that drive revenue for PointClear clients nationwide.


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