In case you haven’t heard, OMI has announced our new partnership with the Marketing Automation Institute (MAI), the leading authority on marketing automation. With this new alliance, we will develop and deliver world-class B2B marketing education, and help marketers navigate the way to more revenue, faster. To help kickoff this new era in revenue optimization, I interviewed Carlos Hidalgo, Executive Director at MAI (he’s also teaching our new crash course on marketing automation). Here’s what he had to say:

1. OMI is thrilled to partner with the Marketing Automation Institute to deliver best-in-class B2B marketing training and education to marketers worldwide. Can you explain why you decided to partner with OMI, and how you think the industry will benefit?

Since we founded the MAI about a year ago the goal and objective has always been to enable, equip and educate the marketing automation and B2B marketing professional with the education they need to perform their roles in this Buyer 2.0 world in which we live.  In the OMI we found a like minded organization that sees the need in the marketplace and has a mission that is right in line with ours, equipping and enabling through education.  Given that our focus is the same the partnership made perfect sense.

2. What is the biggest mistake marketers make when developing a lead management program?

One of the biggest mistakes that organizations make is they do not go far enough in the development of the process.  Many organizations and even consultancies describe lead management in the context of lead scoring and lead nurturing.  There is so much more the lead management then those two areas and to not expand to an entire framework you will not see the benefit that lead management can bring.

Secondarily, many organizations do not clearly embrace the change management aspect that occurs with a lead management process.  You cannot develop and implement new process and not think about the behavior change that is needed with marketing and sales.  The sooner organizations embrace and drive that change, the faster they will achieve success.

3. Why did you decide to start the Marketing Automation Institute? How did you get involved with B2B marketing training and education?

First and foremost the marketing world that I and many others grew up in has changed dramatically and as a result so has the role of today’s marketer.  We have the change in our buyers to blame for this and quite honestly it is a good thing as b2b marketing is now more relevant than ever before.  However, with this role change came a lot of uncertainty and new skills that needed to be developed.  The questions that were being asked by marketers were a good indication that there needed to be an educational resource and with that the MAI was born in conjunction with a group of industry leaders and vendors.

As for how I personally got involved?  I have always been passionate about ensuring marketers could do their jobs well and have always believed marketing should be a key contributor to the revenue generation of a company.  As a result, I spend a good amount of my time conducting workshops and trainings for clients so I guess you could say this type of education has been a part of what I have done since the my early days of the MA space.

4. Do all B2B organizations need lead management and marketing automation? Why or why not?

I would not say all, but will say most. I do believe that all need a lead management process even if the company is 2 people working out of their home.  Every organization needs to have a defined understanding of how they will manage a lead once it is generated.  This can be done manually on a very small scale.  For those that have a very small business, I do not think that automation is a mandate.  In many of these instances, an organization can get by with a simple email solution.  However, once you get past a certain size organization where you are needing to tie in your sales data via a CRM system, track multiple leads and sources and have full funnel reporting and metrics, I would say an automation system is a must.

5. How can marketers stay on top of all the latest advancements in marketing automation?

There is so much information out there, some good and some pretty bad.  I think buyers need to be aware that if it sounds to good to be true i.e. 978% increase in leads, trillions of dollars of revenue added to your bottom line, 543% increase in sales conversions, it probably is.  So with that, it is best to go to third party sites that have done the research and also ask other users.  Some sources I would recommend for this are:  Marketing Automation Institute (of course!), Focus, Quora, LinkedIn (plenty of groups you can join including the MAI group, Sirius Decisions, Marketing Automation Times and DemandGen Report.  All of these will provide the most objective information available and on some of them you will be able to dialogue with other end-users and get their experiences.

6. How do you think B2B marketing will evolve in the next 5 years? 10 years?

I think more and more marketing is going to be looked to as a revenue catalyst and a sales enabler.  The changes in our market will keep on coming and marketing will be tasked with enabling the organization to adapt and keep the buyer in focus.  It is an exciting times for B2B marketers and one that should be embrace.  The next 5-10 years, if anything like the last 5 years will be quite an exciting time and will continue to thrust the B2B marketer to the forefront of organization growth strategies.