The Current State of Marketing Automation (Infographic)

My first very important announcement is:, my employer, created the infographic below.

My second very important announcement is: I like it and I hope you do too. Mad props to Carlos Hidalgo, who helped curate the information. For me, following the marketing automation space has been the first time I have been able to watch a market from start to finish and really understand it. Yes, I have been alive in Silicon Valley during the rise of all the other technologies du jour, but this one I know. I love being a fan.

I hope you find the infographic interesting — we’ll have to see how much it changes next year!

Focus Funnel Expert: Carlos Hidalgo of The Annuitas Group

The Funnelholic wraps up the week with an interview of one of the industry thought-leaders who contributed to the Focus Experts’ Guide: Sales and Marketing Pipeline and Funnel Models.

Meet Carlos Hidalgo, President of The Annuitas Group. With 15-plus years in the demand generation and lead management space, Carlos is an expert in lead management process and marketing automation. He is a frequent speaker and author on the topic of lead management, and contributes to the The Annuitas Group Blog.

The Funnelholic: Explain your approach to the funnel.

Carlos: We take a dual approach to our lead planning, which is a combination of internal – revenue-focused and external — customer engagement through nurturing at every stage.

With the internal view, it is imperative that marketing and sales know and agree on the goals. This allows marketing to know what success looks like in regard to their demand generation and also shows what their overall contribution to revenue is. All this planning is done in conjunction with sales. There are a few other benefits as well from the internal view. The first is you can now can measure every stage of the pipeline/buyer journey and identify bottlenecks or potential breaks that are causing a missed target. Secondly, having these numbers and conversion rates will enable marketing to better allocate budget to ensure these goals are attained.

The second approach is an external view, which is all about buyer engagement through nurturing. In order to properly manage your funnel, it is necessary to manage the buyer relationship at every stage and to understand this engagement/nurturing is about speaking to buyers directly where they are in the process, whether it be early stage, sales engagement stage or even after they are a customer. As shown here, nurturing should be an ongoing practice that spans all stages of the buyer lifecycle.

The Funnelholic: Besides your own, were there any other funnels that resonated with you?

Carlos: The two that stood out to me were Ardath Albee’s and Steve Woods’. Ardath captured what too many companies fail to understand, in that the management of the funnel is about the customer and is not a linear up and down approach because that is not how buyers buy today. Steve also did a great job stressing the understanding of the buying process but highlighted the revenue quotient as well, and organizations need to understand both sides are vital to success.

The Funnelholic: What did you learn from the exercise?

Carlos: There were a few things that were learned from this exercise and were more reinforcements of what we have learned over the years of helping our clients. The first would be that the proverbial sales and marketing gap is a symptom of a larger problem and not a problem unto itself. By marketing and sales collaborating on the planning and buyer funnel, the gap is closed and alignment is achieved.

The second leads to the first, and that is the importance of process in relation to lead management; this again is both the responsibility of marketing and sales. Without the proper process, it is virtually impossible to manage the buyer relationship or gain the expected value from the marketing and sales relationship. Having a defined lead management process is key to the overall success and allows for the buyer engagement that today’s buyer is demanding.

The Funnelholic: If everyone needs to create a funnel to model their business, what are best practices for creating it?

Carlos: I think for an internal view, it starts with revenue and must be determined collaboratively between sales and marketing. Having the shared goal of revenue creation allows both sides to measure appropriately and gives a true picture of success or failure. Revenue does not lie and must be one of, if not the, measuring stick by which marketing and sales are viewed.

Secondly, it is making sure you incorporate the impact of nurturing on your lead planning and understanding the vast improvement that will occur on conversions through the use of nurturing.

Join the conversation: Is the funnel still a relevant metaphor for the b2b sales and marketing process?’

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter