• The SiriusStars blog series provides an instant look at how select high-performing clients use SiriusDecisions research and analyst inquiry to increase revenue, meet and exceed goals, and transform their organizations
  • In this edition, we feature Fernando Santos De Carvalho, VP of marketing operations and head of CMO Office at Nokia
  • We spoke with Fernando about his background in sales, marketing and business development and how that has helped him get to where he is today, and the work he has done around audience-centricity and helpful lessons he has learned along the way

SiriusStars is an exclusive community of high-performing and highly influential clients selected for their exceptional work leveraging and implementing SiriusDecisions research and advice. The SiriusStars blog series is designed to share the personal and professional world of your B2B peers. In this post, we spoke with Fernando Santos De Carvalho, VP of marketing operations and head of CMO Office at Nokia.

SiriusDecisions: How has your background in sales, marketing and business development helped you get to where you are today?

Fernando Santos De Carvalho: I accidentally started off in sales, which intersected with marketing. Sales is high risk, but you have a high impact when you get it right, and that work became business development. The roles eventually intersected and morphed into other ones. Having been in sales and now working in marketing helps me be a much more pragmatic marketer, because I understand what makes a difference. Having been in business development helps me from a marketing standpoint – not just for marketing of what we need to do today, but marketing for new needs and things that are going to become opportunities in three years. One thing builds on the other, and you end up becoming better in each of these areas. You enable yourself to take on more senior, higher-responsibility, more fun jobs in sales because you’ve been in marketing. This applies to marketing because you’ve been in sales and in business development. It’s a virtuous circle in a way. I was lucky enough to have fun jobs and good bosses in all three, so it was a really fun ride.

Fernando CarvalhoSD: What does your spearfishing hobby have to do with your ability to sell and see risk?

Fernando: That was actually a job – I paid for my college studies selling fish. By the time I graduated, I decided I should get a safer job because this thing almost killed me three times. It was a high-risk but extremely fun job. I remember having discussions with the salespeople on my team using analogies from spearfishing championships, and I thought about how I started to work competitively in sales because of what I have learned in spearfishing. You balance those several small deals you have in your pipeline vs. a big one. That’s the same balance I used when I was spearfishing in a championship. If you only go after the big fish, you’re probably going to run in last because you’re not going to kill a big fish every day. But if you’re only going after the small fish, you’re never really going to get a big one. So how do you balance these things? Eighty percent of the time, you’re looking for smaller fish and generating a baseline of productivity in your funnel. Then, you’re spending about 20 to 25% of your time looking for those long-term, very high-risk opportunities that you need to develop, most of which are going to die.

When I was managing sales territories, some of our sales reps were struggling, trying to be too precise in the definition of what their territory was. We quickly changed the definition and experimented with something else. Spearfishing is similar in that sometimes you’re working on a specific fishing ground in a championship. You realize it’s not working and you’re insisting on something that’s a bad bet. Move on, try something else. If that doesn’t move, move on and keep on trying relatively fast changes. In spearfishing championships, you have to bring in your fish within six hours. In sales, you have 31 days to deliver your quota. Ultimately, it’s about time management under pressure for a given level of productivity. But if you vary too much, you’re also not giving the proper attention to any one of the points you’re investing in. There’s a balance there that you have to learn over time. Some of the sales reps that were working for me told me that they have to get into spearfishing to understand my analogies and learn better selling habits.

SD: What surprised you most about your audience-centric transformation initiative?

Fernando: We got to quickly do things that we historically hadn’t done because we thought we couldn’t afford to do them. We saw some quick wins in content creation for marketing, like a completely new approach to the web, advertising in airports, or videos. When we started to plan the new budgets in an audience-centric way, we started aggregating some of the initiatives and increasing their importance, and they became affordable. It showed us that we can get a lot more punch for the same amount of money. It gave us a lot of initial credibility from a marketing transformation standpoint within Nokia. Business leaders were now seeing us do new and impactful things we hadn’t done before and that was good. I hadn’t foreseen that when we started that this would be so impactful and end up helping us in getting the rest of the company on board.

I wasn’t pessimistic when starting this initiative, but I also believe that we were humble enough to know what we couldn’t do on our own. That adjusted the kind of approach we had with SiriusDecisions in supporting our transformation. It was not just the advising, but actually almost a year of consulting and having SiriusDecisions consultants embedded into the organization. They worked with us and project-managed what the initiative looked like. We also had workshops at very granular levels and worked our way through to make this thing see the light of day.

The point we’re at now has also been a good lesson in humility. We ran our first batch of audience-centric marketing campaigns late last year, and this year, we’re once again bringing in the SiriusDecisions team to challenge us back, and tell us what we did wrong content- and process-wise and what we need to adjust. Now we’re moving into the second phase on what we need to fix, which is not a small amount.

SD: Any other quick wins?

Fernando: In the enterprise market, Nokia is challenged with awareness. In the past, the way we were marketing solutions did not address that point. We talked about how we manufactured a given router. But from an enterprise buyer standpoint, Nokia used to be a phone company, so people would wonder why Nokia was talking to them about buying a router. They don’t connect Nokia with “I have a need that Nokia can help with.” That’s where the reputation-building campaign for the enterprise segment came from. When we started, the highest priority was the awareness campaign for the enterprise market to fundamentally tell the segments we wanted that Nokia has something for them. That generated something we had never thought about doing before, which was covering airports with Nokia’s Allwhere campaign and putting up banners in public spaces. That helped us realize that we should be thinking differently and not be product-driven, but audience-driven. Also, we learned the discipline of how to spend resources within a given hierarchy, enabling us to do things more efficiently that we hadn’t even considered doing before.

SD: Finally, we hear you’re a coffee connoisseur! What is your favorite drink?

Fernando: The love I have for coffee developed when I was working at an Italian company. I had a role where they would send me to Italy every other month or so, so I got to go to Italy a number of times. My favorite coffee experience is just going to any espresso bar in downtown Rome or Milan and standing at the counter and ordering an espresso. They make those very short, strong ristrettos, which are spectacular. It’s not any kind of bean, not any kind of roast – it’s just the experience of stopping by and having a 15-minute espresso on a balcony, in the middle of all the chaos, in a coffee shop in Rome.