CMO Confessions Ep. 4: Yext’s Jeff Rohrs

Hi folks, and welcome to another episode of CMO Confessions, our bi-weekly podcast covering all things marketing. Once again, I hope everyone listening is enjoying this series and are drawing up some inspiration from, frankly, some kick-ass marketers.

This week’s guest, Jeff Rohrs, coincidentally, is quite familiar with kicking ass. Jeff is the CMO of Yext — a leading Digital Knowledge Management organization helping marketers and brands manage their image and data in the age of voice assistants — but he also has a stunning background in the B2B sector as both a leader and a writer. He’s also one of the few marketers I know with a Juris Doctorate (read: law) degree.

Pretty accomplished, right? That’s not even the half of it. Jeff has few books under his belt, co-authoring tomes like The Everywhere Brand and AUDIENCE: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers. Additionally, Jeff has previously served as the Vice President of Marketing Insights for Salesforce and ExactTarget.

You can find Jeff and his latest insights on his Twitter feed, @jkrohrs. Additionally, you can download his latest white paper, How Voice Search Changes Everythingright here.

Finally, if you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunesand Google Playstores.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Transcript:

Joe Hyland: 

Hello, and good day to everyone. I want to welcome you to our next episode of CMO Confessions. The idea here is this is a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast that explores what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO of ON24, and joining me today, and this week is Jeff Rohrs, CMO of Yext. Jeff, great to have you here.

Jeff Rohrs: 

Thanks, great to be here.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, you guys are on one hell of a ride. So, a little background on the Yext and then Jeff, I think people would love to hear your perspective on the company. Yext went public this past year, a leading digital Knowledge Management Platform — the DKM space. Do you want to give give a little more background on what you guys are doing over at Yext?

Jeff Rohrs: 

Sure, so folks, you know, basically understand our mission, and we we’ve had this mission since Howard Lerman and Bryan Distelburger really kind of founded this iteration of the company. And that mission is to simply give companies control over the brand experiences that their customers have across all of the Digital Universe intelligence services they use today, be it Google or Facebook or Yelp or navigation services other things.

Our own research and the way that things are evolving showcase that the consumer has moved obviously away from the desktop. Not entirely, but their time is now majority spent on mobile, whether it’s search navigation in the moment kind of the interests, and so that means we’ve moved away from a world of ten blue links to one that’s controlled by knowledge and answers.

You know, especially now that you see the rise of voice assistance — you’re often asking it, “where should I go for lunch?” and “What is the answer to this question?” And so, we really are that platform that companies use to make sure that all of their customer-critical facts are correct in the moment, be it locations, store hours, photography that’s seasonal and fresh menu items. For doctors, you know, what insurance do they accept? And so that whole world we call digital knowledge and our space we call it Digital Knowledge Management.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, that’s really exciting. And, so successful that you’re able to go public so congratulations on that.

Jeff Rohrs: 

Well as anyone who’s gone public will tell you that the beginning of the ride. So that is that’s just one wonderful date, and it was a wonderful experience, last year, to go through that.  But now it’s about meeting and exceeding expectations and making sure we continue to build kind of product that our customers need to achieve their goals.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, and working hand to hand with with your attorneys, which, I’m sure, any marketer can attest to is it lovely experience.

Jeff Rohrs: 

I shook hands with our general counsel yesterday, because one of my deep dark secrets that I’m a recovering attorney.

Joe Hyland: 

Well, actually, you lead me into my first into my first question, which is: I know a few CMOs who also have their JD. Walk us through how that happens.

Jeff Rohrs: 

Yeah, so, this being CMO confessions, I don’t have any degree in marketing. I don’t have any degree in Business. My undergraduate at Miami of Ohio was in Mass Communications and sociology, and I did a lot of stuff around radio. So, I was a DJ at a classic alternative rock radio station called 97x.

Joe Hyland: 

Really?

Jeff Rohrs: 

Yeah, if you’ve ever seen Rain Man it’s the one where they go, “Bam, 97X the future of rock’n’roll!” It was sort of amazing experience and out of that I started a music video show on campus that ran on, kinda, local cable access and got to interview all these different artists — like Trent Reznor and Bob Mould — and, basically, [I] just caught the bug for artists and artists’ rights. And so I thought, “Well, you know, I don’t feel, graduating from college, that I’ve got enough, you know, book smarts and world smarts.” And so I decided, “I’ll go to law school to do a dual degree, so I’ll get my masters in mass communication, and  also learn how to protect artists’ rights.”

I was woefully naive, got myself in six figures of debt before it was fashionable. And then discovered I had to go practice law afterward. I, fortunately, went to a great firm by the name of Baker & Hostetler, practiced there for a couple of years doing what I lovingly referred to as “whatever-they-told-me-to law,” which was mainly litigation. And the thing that turned me was — at the end of my dual degree program, my time in Boston, I went to Boston University —  they had installed, in the mass communication department, in 1994, a state-of-the-art Mac lab — power macintoshes, like fresh off the assembly line.

And I remember Jim Lingle — the instructor, who had previously worked at Apple, hauling in, you know, carrying this very heavy one-gig hard drive — and I took the first multimedia classes involving the internet in 94 at Boston University, caught the bug, but I had to go pay those debts, so I went to the DOS world of Baker & Hostetler, and instantly realized I got to pave my way back towards technology. Which I did in a series of jobs working at LexisNexis, and then an end-to-end consulting firm that burst when the bubble burst called Future Next and then — it started out as strictly an email marketing Services firm — but it grew into a full service digital agency as I became president called Optimum. That’s where I forged our partnership with ExactTarget and Scott Dorsey the founder of ExactTarget came calling after we won Partner of the Year. And he said “Hey, would you ever consider joining us?” And I said, “Hey, for the right price, I’d consider a lot of things.” And that led to a year-long conversation and I joined there in May of 2007.

Helped build-out thought leadership, content marketing, did a lot of around our annual event connections — was really kind of a bit of a, I called myself a Jack Black/Harvey Keitel, mix — so infotainment and fixer on some stuff. Had the great pleasure of working under Tim Kopp, who was the CMO and now is with Hyde Park Ventures — and has a great blog, by the way, called CMO VC if anybody’s interested — and rode that wave going public with ExactTarget. A year later where acquired by Salesforce, right in the midst of me writing a book. And that book came out in time for Dreamforce that year. It’s amazing what Wiley publishing will do when they realize they have distribution at Dreamforce. And then, lo-and-behold, two years into the Salesforce piece, I got recruited into Yext. With good timing, because I was interested in stretching my abilities and seeing what I could do and it was a great opportunity.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, that’s a cool ride, but one question I have is, I think I know the answer, but I’m curious to get your take is how curated was your career path? So here, I ask because hearing it in reverse, it sounds like you had everything planned out. Did it feel that way as it was happening?

Jeff Rohrs: 

So, I will say in a broad sense, when I got to the to the law firm, I recognized pretty quickly that I was “Which one of these is not like the others?” You know, when you get your reviews as a lawyer, and the number one common is “Jeff is very creative.” That’s not meant as a compliment. You’re thinking about what you should be doing. So, I always likened it, and I always thought in my mind as this very long circuitous path that I was going to take back towards technology and communications.

And what happened, when I left from the firm to LexisNexis, it was in the mid 90s, and this was back when LexisNexis — it’s a legal research service for those who don’t know — it had installed PCS and installed software at all of the major law schools and law firms in the country. So, the model of a rep was education, sales and tech support — so, you literally crawl around on the floor to fix, when a competitor had taken out your landline, or done something, or install new software.

Well, right in the midst — less than, I think, a year, into that role — they migrated and launched Lexus.com. We would now call it, “they moved to the cloud.” So, they changed the model from the install software to cloud-based technology. So, they’d still provide the computer, but now it’s going to Lexis.com. And I got to be on some product review teams and there was a competitive product that came out — not to get to in the weeds, but, the gold standard of citation checking in the law, the way that you make sure case law is still good for you to cite in a brief is called “Shepherds.” And Lexus acquired that and that was an editorial product — thousands of editors making sure the case law was good, updating it regularly with paper updates and then they migrated to electronic. Well, Westlaw, the competitor at the time, was innovating and they came up with a product called “Keysight” that didn’t use any human editors and purported to give you the same quality that Shepherd’s had.

But the truth was it was more like the from the school of “launch and fix it afterwards.” And in law you just couldn’t have that. So, if you were relying on the information you’ve had in Keysight at the time, there was a high degree what you were relying on was wrong and that could subject you potentially to malpractice or other very, very bad outcomes. So, to cut the story short, I created some marketing selects that were competitive and compared this, and I put him up in my law firms and my fellow reps saw them, and they said, “Hey can we use those?” And I said, “Sure here’s the files.” And they used them, and then I got this call from corporate one day that said, “Hey, did you put these together?” And I’m like expecting to get like spanked, and instead they said, “Hey, do you mind if we take this program national?” And I’m like, “Okay.” So, the light bulb kind of went off.

I interviewed for a product marketing job. Got offered it for less money than I was making in the field and I began to connect the dots that, “You know what? That world wasn’t right for me, I need to go over to the agency world.” And, so, each step was a step where I knew I wanted to get to something different — explore expand my abilities — and this was when the internet didn’t have books to train you it didn’t have rules. I mean, one of the the funny footnotes to my career as I was the first person to do paid search marketing for Sherwin-Williams, the paint company. That was a client, and I was buying the word “paint” for five cents a click on Ovature and Google.

Joe Hyland: 

Ah, the good old days.

Jeff Rohrs: 

Yeah, and here’s the here’s the punchline: they canceled the program or when it ran its course. They did not renew because we were sending too much traffic to their website, and they were embarrassed about their website at the time.

Joe Hyland: 

Love it.

Jeff Rohrs: 

This is, like, early 2000s, and so I’ve seen some things, but I’m of that generation where we grew up and had to figure out the internet —and internet marketing and digital marketing and then mobile marketing and then social marketing — as we went along. And so my communications background actually was probably the best I could have, because, at its heart, marketing is how do you emotionally connect with buyers and motivate action out of that. And there is also a huge interpersonal part to it in terms of marketing and leadership about how do you actually work with people? How do you see the forest for the trees? How do you balance short and long-term thinking? All of that.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. I think great marketing is the art of persuasion. I think in this high-growth, pressure-packed world that many CMOs or marketers find themselves in uh, it’s easy to lose that vision and being able to see the forest through the trees because you have one redwood right in front of you which is, you know, “I need to increase pipeline right now or tomorrow.”  And you very much feel that being a publicly traded company where every quarter you have to release your earnings, right? Your performance. How do you weigh those two?

Jeff Rohrs: 

Great question. First, you know, I benefit by working with one of the legendary CFOs, Steve Cakebread, who was the CFO when Salesforce went public when Pandora went public. And so, you know, his team and my team worked very close together to understand the financial implications of what we do in marketing and making sure that we’re aligned so nothing is, you know, out of alignment on that quarterly basis. And so that’s a very, very critical role, but to get to the funnel part of this, right? The demand generation piece, there, I’ve been very fortunate as well as this has evolved.

When I first came onboard I didn’t focus on demand because we had a pretty good demand process in place. I needed to focus on brand, messaging, positioning, category, and, honestly, our field marketing was critically important because we were starting to move from a centralized New York sales team to one that was regional and global. And I am a firm believer that, in B2B marketing, it is a far more emotional personal sale than anything in B2C. And the reason is that your buyers have their jobs on the line. And, so, field marketing sponsored marketing owned events are critical because it allows you to connect as an individual. And a B2B buyer ultimately wants to do business with people they like, and trust, and be a part of something. And I was fortunate in my career to see that materialize at ExactTarget, with our “orange culture” and our connections user conference and our 360 user groups, and then, through the acquisition, got to come in into a mature organization in Salesforce that was still growing by leaps and bounds, and see what they had done with their, Ohana, Hawaii-inspired culture that Marc Benioff had championed. And their community.

And to see what they’re doing right now, with the Trailblazer stuff, is phenomenal — they’ve really given their community this amazing engagement. And so now to come back to “how do you balance demand in all of this?” You have to be looking at the funnel, certainly, you have to be driving enough leads and marketing influence, but also, you know, renewal, upsell, customer referral — all of that is another piece of it that, as marketing, you often share — and I share with revenue and I share with our chief customer officer.

And, so, I feel very fortunate to work with some great people in that regards. So, we have a holistic approach. That’s not to say there haven’t been fire drills, and you know, and there hasn’t been a lot of change, but each step of the change has made us better and stronger, and we’ve got, what we feel, is a pretty good team and machine built so that we can mobilize as we need to.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah. I’m gonna go back to something you said a couple minutes ago, and truthfully is refreshing to hear, that B2B purchasing decision is emotional because I couldn’t agree with you anymore. Someone’s job, is in fact, on the line.

I’m a buyer, and I buy anything, I’m saying “I endorse this I recommended and, financially, I’m backing this.” I think a lot of people feel that on the B2C side, this is an emotional decision, but that on the B2B side it’s purely numbers — this is purely driven by ROI or a business decision And I think a lot of marketers, at least on the B2B side, are losing their way with the shift to making more data-driven decisions. Which is fantastic, I don’t think anyone would argue against using data, but I think that emotional element is as present as it ever has been because, as you said, these ultimately are decisions that impact someone’s job — and their job is their livelihood.

Jeff Rohrs: 

Sure, you know, striking that balance between the data driven and the human, emotional driven is the constant struggle I think that you have in marketing today. What we have done, and benefit from, is really aligning well with our sales and our pipeline side of the house.

So, there’s been great leadership added there and the way that I do it in my organization is I have you know direct line reports on a marketing core team. The person who owns the marketing operations demand side of that has a strong dotted line to my counterpart on the revenue side, who owns pipeline, BDR, SDR, etc. And, sometimes, you’ll see, and I saw this in my tenure, you’ll see BDR and SDR, you know that inbound-outbound layers, swing sometimes between marketing and revenue depending on the maturity of the organization, who’s who in the zoo, etc. And the key is that, that is a shared resource, no matter where it sits. They have to be on message. They have to have the right uh marketing assets. They have to have the right sales methodology. And so, that strong dotted line of that leader, she actually sits over on that leadership team, not just mine.

And that’s been a critical piece to make sure that we have that two-way street between revenue and marketing. And then we have other leaders of mine, who similarly have those strong dotted lines, reporting to other leaders in the org — some of them sitting on their leadership teams others, it’s a little bit more informal — but I have found that, A) that creates much better alignment, so there’s no “us versus them,” and B) it creates opportunities for personal growth for those leaders and their teams because they don’t just see and benefit from my experience, or what we experienced together — they benefit from greater alignment with revenue or marketing product and strategy or our experience with our CEO, and having direct project relationships with Howard Berman, our CEO.

So that’s been interesting. Because there is no one single roadmap, but in order to strike that balance I think you can’t be an insular marketing organization.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I agree, and I think your point on cross-pollination is a great point. Which is having people sit in different groups and work with different groups and really live that. That’s how you get away from this bullshit of sales versus marketing — there should be alignment and it starts with the team. So, I think that’s a great point.

Jeff Rohrs: 

Well, and you need great leaders on that side of the fence who appreciate what marketing brings to the table as well. And, again, I have been very fortunate to have those kind of relationships with our revenue leadership.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, that’s fantastic. I wanted to go back to something you said earlier on a book you wrote, and you’ve written a couple books, right? You just released the “Everywhere Brand,” I think this past year, and then you had “Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers” right at the transition between ExactTarget and Salesforce. Any other books or just those two?

Jeff Rohrs: 

Actually, Everywhere Brand is more of an e-book that we released, so I don’t want to make people think it’s a 200 to 300 page-turner. But the Everywhere Brand, or was really one of a number of things I’ve written like that over the years. So, actually, Audience, my book that I wrote that was published by Wiley, was inspired by a lot of research e-book series I did at ExactTarget called “Subscribers, Fans and Followers.” So that was great to have that opportunity to kind of punctuate that research series and the ExactTarget experience by putting that book together.

Joe Hyland: 

Okay, when I was at Kronos, we authored a few books. We did it the opposite way, and I’m curious to get your take on this. So, for us, this was an 18-month process — we were compiling all this research, and Kronos is a workforce management company, it was it was workforce management specific in the manufacturing segment — fascinating, I know — and so after 18 months we released this mammoth book. For us, then, it was, truthfully, a demand gen asset for a few years. A guy by the name of Greg Gordon authored it and we put him out on the speaking circuit. So, you’re saying you did it [write a book] the opposite way, where you had created smaller pieces of content over the year, or years, and then towards the end said “Wow, there’s enough here for to justify a larger publication a larger book.” Is that fair to say?

Jeff Rohrs: 

It is, to a degree.

So, the “The Subscribers, Fans and Followers” came out of Morgan Stewart, and I. Who’s (Morgan Stewart) now principal and founder of Trend Line Interactive, a great email consultancy based in Austin. He and I came up with this idea that — and again this would have been, like 2000, late 2008 or 2009 — “Hey there’s a lot of talk that email is dead, that’s not true. All these emerging social channels are trying to position themselves that they are the be-all, end-all. We’re old enough and experienced enough to know the truth: that everything settles into its own kind of place — and we should do some research and ask consumers how they actually view the relationships they have with brands through Twitter, through Facebook, through email, through these different channels.” And so that gave rise to the research series. And as the data came back we realized we were sitting on multiple publications, not one.

So, we split it out into —the first series, I think, was six publications with kind of a summary — 7th, and it was at that time I realized there’s a book in this Morgan, and I both did and so we started to try and pitch. But [we] couldn’t get interest, but also, we had day jobs, and it was just hard to do. But then the series took off so well with our intended audiences of the C-suite of the marketers we were pitching, and our own sales team — they were using a very successfully in their conversations — that we then expanded the series. And we started researching other things, [like] “When is your mobile Independence Day?”

That was one of the subsequent ones — that was the idea, and you might remember this — for years everybody would predict “This is the year of mobile. This is the year of mobile. This is a year of mobile.” It’s hard to believe now. And we came out with that and we said “Look, the year of mobile is when you get your smartphone because your life completely changes and here’s what that means.”

And so as that continued then finally got an inbound call from Wiley, and they said “Hey would be interested in doing this.” And so that finally served as the catalyst.

But — at the core of what I’d been doing — I created the content marketing team at ExactTarget and we were doing content marketing before there was content marketing. “Subscribers, Fans and Followers,” you know, it started kind of right around the same time that my friend, Joe Pulizzi, was really spinning up Content Marketing Institute. He and I didn’t even know each other — we lived in Cleveland, just minutes from each other, and it took Ann Handley of Marketing Profs to introduce us — and now he’s “retired,” but that’s a whole other podcast about Joe Pulizzi at some point — but it was validating to see what he was doing and what I was doing, and trying to accomplish, because we had to educate.

And that’s often what we have to do in MarTech still today, is educate. Because all you have to do is look at that [landscape] and look at — what is it? Over 5,000, 8,000 different MarTech companies today? And, so, you have to educate as to what is your space? What is the value deliver? How are you differentiated? Why should you prioritize budget for this solution over other solutions because everybody’s knocking on your door. And, so, I feel like that was a really good thing for me to latch on as a communicator as a writer and have carried that through at Yext — because “The Everywhere Brand,” that is a piece of content that’s meaningful and generates conversation.

I’m actually going to be doing a keynote at Retail Week, live, in London, shortly about that — we have another one that my colleague Dwayne Forrester did about how voice search changes everything. So, it really is tapping into the Zeitgeist that connects with our product and our value proposition but creating something of value to that reader and that marketer.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, key word there being “value.” It’s amazing how a lot of companies want to be everything to all people. And focus is a beautiful thing and, I mean, I know, in our space, you’re right there’s —  that one Scott Brinker diagram that everyone points to —  5,500 or 6,000 B2B MarTech companies. I mean, you need to have a carved out a niche and you need to make sure our solving a real problem, or you perish. I mean, 4,500 of those companies will fail.

Jeff Rohrs: 

Well, all credit goes to our CEO, Howard Lerman. We have an annual planning process in which we have these goals, and all the teams have goals for this planning process. We also established “un-goals,” if you will, and they clearly delineate what we aren’t. And that focus was one of the reasons I was attracted to the company because it had already demonstrated — and I joined almost three years ago now — the ability to be multi-product, but then to spin off really good ideas, technical ideas, into a separate company when it wasn’t relevant to the core mission of the company.

As I’ve seen us evolve, as I’ve seen the product that strategy team grow and cement, we still have that laser focus on what is our ultimate vision. We want to put companies in control of their information everywhere. So, the customer-critical facts. What are the things that are going to allow that person from point A to point B to discover you? Whether it’s unbranded search or branded search, whether it’s you’re on a map, or you’re in, perhaps, a service like Uber. These are all the places this stuff is to be serving. You know, whether you’re using a UI, [like] text, voice or, [even], Google now has its Google Lens that you can hold it up in the real world and you can get information about places around you. So, all this is coming so fast and furious that focus ultimately, I think, is a huge way to distinguish yourself.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, focus. It’s a huge way to distinguish yourself and it’s also, in my opinion, critical to running the business.

You just gave a good example, it’s critical and marketing and sales decisions — it’s sometimes what you’re not going to focus on, or not going to do — is just as important as what you will focus on. And I think it’s sometimes easy to miss that, right? When you can sell to so many people, or quote-unquote “help” so many people.

So, Jeff, just to wrap up one final question — a two-part question. What do you love most about — and this can be marketing or your current job — and what do you hate the most? What do you loathe doing?

Jeff Rohrs: 

Sure, it’s all start there. I loathe having to sort through my inbox every day and delete the unbelievably voluminous number of unsolicited emails that I get from other company’s SDRs or sales people. I have a folder called “Bad Sales Emails,” and I don’t even — I mean, I delete some of them, and then the worst of the worst I’ll throw over there— and someday, I’ll write a book. Because there are, you know, there’s the desperation tactic of, “This is the fourth time I’ve contacted you if you don’t if you don’t contact” and then it turns into the threat tactic which is, “If you don’t respond to this, I’m gonna stop talkin to you.” Okay, that’s sounds good to me.

Joe Hyland: 

That sounds funny, I never asked you to talk to me in the first place.

Jeff Rohrs:

Exactly! You know, and then there are the ones that — I showed this to a colleague yesterday — I got this inbound email that, literally, if you would print it out, it was probably three full pages. It was so intense. You just don’t have the time to do that. And so that’s why the thing I hate most because it not only takes my time, but it reminds me of the desperation and the bad marketing tactics and the things that exist out there.

And what it drives me to do is actually partner with our revenue and our rev ops team to be involved in our sales onboarding process — and we just had our sales kickoff and I was involved in some training sessions there — because I want our people to understand and feel that pain and remember the person on the other end is a human being, so why would they respond to your email if you’re not providing any value? And “Your threats mean nothing to me, you know, select the number; Do you want me to respond? You want me to respond in three weeks?” I don’t care about any of that. And the ones that do penetrate, I was asked this by a rep as well today, are the ones that convey value and are respectful and understand who I am. That’s how you kind of get through. So, that’s probably the thing I hate most.

The thing I like most is working with you know a great team. I’ve had the opportunity to do that over the course of my career, and Yext is no exception, and, honestly, kind of a pinnacle. Because, now being in this kind of a leadership position, I’m working with some talent that I see — and they already have great careers — but, you know, they have really great futures and the opportunity to empower them to learn more, to become better marketers, to become better business people, to understand the sales and marketing gamut, but also understand the customer journey and customer pain points and all of that. That is, that’s highly enjoyable and is the reason that I get up and go to work. It’s not only to achieve our goals that we’ve set from a mission standpoint — of that idea of perfect information everywhere and putting customers in control of that —but also to work with such a great group of people who inspire me and are doing amazing things and will continue to.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, those are two great answers. Life’s too short to work with assholes, right? So, it’s incredibly rewarding when you can help great people along their career journey. Just work with smart great people.

Jeff Rohrs: 

It absolutely is. And I want to emphasize that is not just the folks on your team, that goes down to, you know, folks on the facility staff. We have we have a killer facility staff, they are so positive. And I mentioned that because, as a marketing organization, we’re not just doing external events we’re doing internal events, too. And so you’ve got to — you’re building relationships that are going to last you a long time — and I’m always blown away by people that treat facilities staff horribly. I’m like, “I want to be friends with the person who has all the keys.” That seems to be a good relationship to have.

So, you know, it’s fun because, the organization, the other thing that we just did with our annual planning days, we had our entire crew in from around the globe and they were broken into 15 to 20 person tour groups, and there were 18 tour stops around our office, in which different groups had 10 minutes to present. Our marketing one was a brainstorm around campaigns and our “onward” theme — Onword is our annual conference — and it allowed people to see, “Oh, marketing, actually, is challenging. This brainstorming thing, like, creatively, is challenging.” But they also got to see other parts of the business in really interesting ways.

And that’s an example of — we have our fingerprints on that a little bit, that’s our CEOs vision — marketing can have an impact on the culture, and how the organization feels about itself, and how responsive it is to its folks and whether they feel empowered, and they have career opportunities as well. And, so, viewing it holistically, it’s not just about demand —although, that’s the thing you ultimately get measured on is, “Are you hitting the numbers?” — there is a much broader conversation where you can add a lot of value to the organization.

Joe Hyland: 

First of all, those are some cool ideas you guys, have and some cool things you do. Yeah, marketing gets to work on some pretty cool things, and I think getting insight into that for the rest of the company is rewarding, right?  And good for you…

Jeff Rohrs: 

We’re the guys who got to book Luke Skywalker for that last year. So, I mean, Mark Hamill isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah — there are worse professions. Okay, Jeff, listen, this was fantastic. Thank you so much.

That’s all the time we have for this week’s episode of CMO Confessions. You can find us on Twitter at @ON24 or ON24.com. For Jeff, it is @JKROHRS or yext.com All right, incredibly exciting. Thanks so much and I’ll talk to you guys later.

Jeff Rohrs: 

Thanks a lot.

CMO Confessions Ep. 3, Megan Heuer of SiriusDecisions

Hi, and welcome once again to CMO Confessions, our bi-weekly podcast at ON24 exploring what it really means to be a leader in today’s business world. I hope you all are enjoying the series and are drawing some inspiration from our guests’ wealth of experiences.

In this episode, we have SirusDecisions’ Vice President of Research, Megan Heuer. Megan was kind enough to shares with us her insights on what goes into a successful customer lifecycle, how organizations ought to approach account-based marketing and her secret cooking Twitter account. Coincidentally — and it is an actual coincidence — we’re “officially” releasing this episode during SiriusDecisions Summit 2018, the organization’s annual B2B marketing bash in the middle of the desert in Las Vegas. If you’re not at SiriusDecisions Summit (which is going on now), I highly recommend giving this episode a listen, as it provides a good deal of insight into why SiriusDecisions is modifying its demand waterfall and its anticipating marketing trends. (I also recommend checking out this Q&A with Sirus’ Senior Research Analyst, Cheri Keith.)

If you’re at SiriusDecisions Summit, be sure to stop by booth #109 and say hi to the ON24 crew. A number of us (including me) will be out and about at the conference, taking in the sights, sounds and lessons.

Finally, if you’d like to our first batch of episodes back-to-back (and why wouldn’t you?) I’d suggest you head on over to our podbean site here. You can also check us out on both iTunes and Google Play as well.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Transcript:

Joe Hyland: 

Hello, and welcome to CMO confessions, a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast that explores what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at ON24, and this week joining me is Megan Heuer who leads the SiriusDecisions research and advisory organization. Megan, how you doing today?

Megan Heuer: 

I’m doing great. Thanks so much for having me as a guest.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, this is fantastic, thanks for giving us the time. Well, you’re doing some pretty cool things over there — you lead a team of exceptional analysts. I can say, in a truly genuine way, because we work really closely with you guys. And I think your mission is to help clients apply data-driven insights and best practices to the real world priorities, so they can deliver exceptional growth and customer experiences. So that’s the boilerplate and I would love to hear from you [on] what it really means to run this practice and what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis to help your clients.

Megan Heuer: 

Absolutely well, thanks for asking because I’m really excited about what we’re doing. I’ve been doing — and I say that, I’ve been doing this for, going on, 10 years — and the thing that I think is really exciting about where we are now as a company is in the way that we want to help leaders within B2B organizations is to help them understand exactly what “good” looks like. When you really think about it, there’s so many things that you can know about the behaviors of companies that outperform others — the ones that really get to the higher gross, get to the higher profitability.

There are behaviors that you can measure that say, “What do they do? How much do they invest? How do they do things? Who do they hire?” And we really want to get to a place where we have the data underlying every one of our recommendations — and we’re well on our way to it — to be able to say, “When companies outperform here are the things they do. And increasingly, what we’re building are playbooks, that tell organizations what it takes to grow faster and smarter than everybody else.”

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I love that. How do you — and this is going to be a weird question, because I think you’re right in what you just said: more and more companies, particularly given the market opportunities, are trying to fine-tune both sales and marketing, really understand the demand waterfall, which we can talk about at some point in the discussion, and really supercharge growth — what do you recommend to your clients in terms of balancing the day-to-day pressures of growth — which I have to tell you we very much feel here at ON24 — with building something, that’s built to last and really working on the brand and bringing value to clients versus just focusing on, you know, how many MQLs and pipelines did you build that day?

Megan Heuer: 

Well, here’s the interesting thing about that, and it’s a really good question because we get that a lot from our clients, like, “Hey, man. I just need to execute, like, don’t tell me to do all the strategy nonsense.” And I get that, but here’s the thing: when we look at the data, at the fastest growing companies, one of the areas that they invest in is planning. They actually have a longer-term technology roadmap than their peers. They actually do more in terms of thinking about where they should invest in why they should invest there. They’re actually thinking earlier about supporting a great post-sale customer experience than their lower-growth peers.

So, all of those things — having a great brand that’s driven by a great customer experience that is supported by employees that are inspired and engaged and have great messaging —all of those things come together in a growth business that’s really successful. It’s actually not either/or, it’s that some of the things we think slow us down are actually, when done right, and not too heavily, are the things that help us get there faster.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I love that answer. One of the reasons I went into marketing was [because] I was a psychology minor —  the art of persuasion, which is always fascinating to me — and I think you’re right. While we can use data, while we can harness data, while we can run a lean organization that makes smarter and smarter decisions to drive growth — at the at the end of the day, it’s the story that we’re telling, it’s the value we’re bringing to market that’s going to lead to those results. And I think smart marketers understand that balance.

Megan Heuer: 

Yeah, amen to that. I mean, if it was me running the show in a marketing organization, one of the biggest investments I would make is finding, cultivating, harvesting and amplifying the stories my customers were telling about their experience and the value they were getting. And, really, just the things that whatever it is I sold was helping them to do. That is why people buy. You know, our data set, hands down, 80 percent of the reason B2B buyers — and this is over many years with thousands of buyers — say they make their choice, is based on their own direct experience with the company or the experience they hear about from other people.

80 percent! Price wasn’t even close. Even value of the offering or kind of fit of the offering for their needs — not even close. It’s all about experience, and I think that is a game changer on B2B, we just have to do a much better job of harnessing it.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I think that’s brilliant. I was talking to Jeff Rohrs, who is the CMO over at Yext, recently and he had an interesting comment, which was most people think B2C, it’s more of an emotional decision, right? You’re pulling at someone’s heart string to make a consumer decision or consumer-related decision, because it’s their personal life. But he argued that it’s the opposite. In a B2B purchase it’s more of an emotional decision because someone is ultimately voting with their role, their job. They’re putting their, perhaps, career on the line, and that might sound extreme, but I think it’s a fair point. And you have to have real conviction for a purchase, so whether that’s experience you’ve had with a company, or through a peer — these are not just, you know, transactional decisions — these are decisions that that ultimately deal with someone’s livelihood, their own career.

Megan Heuer: 

You know you’re so right and the minute we forget about that, you know, when somebody chooses to make, particularly a big investment, in a solution for B2B, whether it’s services, whether its technology, they are really putting a lot on the line. You know, they’ve had to go to bat for you and you’ve got to make that so easy for them and so not scary for them to say, “I really trust that this is going to be the solution that does the right thing and I’m not going to end up — six months, nine months from now — really worried about whether or not my boss trust me anymore.” And that’s a big deal. That’s a big responsibility, right? For providers.

Joe Hyland: 

I love that you just said “trust.” I couldn’t agree with you more. There needs to be trust, there needs to be a relationship there. I want to I’d love to hear your thoughts on marketers, whether they’re owning the whole thing, or they’re partnering with the customer service team, on owning the customer life cycle. Because, in a SaaS world — where it’s nice to acquire a customer, but the goal is to retain them over a long period of time, hopefully for their entire lifetime — how do you see marketing shifting from owning acquisition and messaging and brand through the entire life cycle and owning a relationship post-signature?

Megan Heuer: 

Oh, my favorite topic. I actually think this is pretty much the biggest opportunity marketing organizations have right now, especially in SaaS and recurring-revenue companies of any kind. But you could kind of argue any business really needs to make its business to hold on to the customers they have — so that you’ve got this efficient lower cost and all those good things, but that’s the different soap box. Marketing’s role in post-sales — so, I can tell you what it should be and I can tell you what it is based on the data that we’ve seen.=

Joe Hyland: 

Perfect.

Megan Heuer: 

Based on a study that we did of about 600 B2B customers — we interviewed them about “What do you want in the post-sale environment versus what do you get?” Right? So, what are they seeing today? And the really interesting thing about that is those buyers basically pointed to things like online content, events, webcasts, customer stories; many of the same things that marketing produces really, really well for presale were exactly what customers wanted, albeit with different content to help them at different stages after they buy.

But they wanted the things that marketing does really well, right? And what were the things they weren’t getting? All of the things marketing does really well. In particular, content was a big miss, and those online interactions that marketing has been expert at for a really long time — really big miss. And that’s where marketing really needs to become part of the revenue engine both pre and post-sale. And just as our data shows us that, in the pre-sale, it’s basically a 50-50 split at every stage of buying — early, middle and late — in terms of buyers saying whether they want, essentially, marketing-led activities versus sales-led activities. It’s a partnership, according to the buyer, right? Now, what we actually do in sales and marketing is not necessarily that balanced at all stages, but the buyer saying they want that 50/50 split.

Turns out, in terms of sales content — and actually sales content is even in there in the post-sale — but in terms of marketing-led interactions versus access to service environments or relying on the products, they really want that same kind of balance with the things that marketing brings to the table. The trouble is very few B2B marketing organizations have invested appropriately in customer engagement resources, content, people who know how to do that — messaging that supports it. It’s really all about cross-sell and upsell after people buy — it’s not about helping them get value from what they have. And when marketing organizations do say “Hey, I need to team up with my customer success folks. I need to team up with my account managers. I need to make sure that I’m anticipating the things that my service team is going to get before they get them so that people can get self-serve and don’t have to pick up a phone, or go click to chat, whatever.” All of those things marketing can do for an incredible value make the post-sale life-cycle more profitable, but they’re just not doing it now. And it’s a big miss, but also an incredible opportunity.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I am beyond passionate about what you just talked about for a lot of the same reasons that you described. We do — so I will compliment us here, and then, I will eviscerate us at the same time — we do a great job creating content for — I’ll be really honest here — for prospective customers. We create incredibly compelling content on the role of webinars. I can get these great results, we highlight our customers to show the use cases, how they’re using webinars and creative ways make etc., etc. I think we do a phenomenal job there. And we very much care about our customers. We would we would be nowhere without them, but on the marketing side, I think we’ve kind of abused that relationship. And, so, we’ve highlighted our customers really to bring on new customers versus doing what you just said. And we found that out, somewhat the hard way, because we have a whole bunch of customers who come to webcast that we have or road-shows that we have, which are really targeted at prospective customers — and so many of our customers said, “Oh, that was the most amazing content. You guys had such creative ideas you highlighted so many unique use cases examples. You name it. I really wish I had that on a day-to-day basis because I have all these challenges coming up with creative webcasting formats, etc.”

And in that moment, I realized, boy, we’ve done a really shitty job of continuing to tell these powerful stories to our customers. So, we think we’re customer-centric, but are we in marketing? So, we’re creating a whole new division which is going to be on customer life cycle, which is meant purely to make sure our customers are successful because — I mean, you’re right the economics are simple, of course — ultimately, if our customers don’t stick around we won’t have a company. And I think we need to shift the way we’re doing things. So, I’m pretty excited about it, but I think you’re right: a lot of companies aren’t doing that, and neither were we.

Megan Heuer: 

Well, I’m so happy to hear you’re investing there because it’s just the right thing to do, the smart thing to do. And, by the way, it’s really fun. I mean that’s great work to do as a marketer.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, it’s true. So, it’s interesting, even though I said we haven’t invested in it enough, every year at the start of the year I’m asked by our sales team, or my boss, our CEO, “what’s the big focus this year?” And every single year the big focus is highlighting our customers because — you said it before in your research — people buy from peers. So, I think you said 80 percent of decisions were based on a positive experience a purchaser had had either with the company themselves or through heard through a peer. Surprise, surprise: every company has great things to say about themselves. But if you have a customer, or an unbiased person say, “Boy ON24, or SiriusDecisions, boy are they a first-class company!” That’s trust, and that comes with a higher-level recommendation and consideration, right? So, for me, if you have happy customers and you can highlight them in pretty transparent ways, you’re on the road to some great marketing.

Megan Heuer: 

Oh, my goodness, yes. You know, and I think the opportunity there is to also make sure that you’ve got a systematic way to identify who those happy customers are and giving them a way to help them shine. You can tell their story and they can be a little bit famous, too. I think there’s so many good things that come out of that orientation.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, and you’re right. It’s different for different industries, of course, but we’re marketing to marketers. I mean, the vast majority of our customers are in the marketing department and most are in demand generation. It’s easier to highlight marketers. Marketers kind of want the limelight on them and they want to be the stars for a moment. My last company was in the procurement space and I have to say the procurement department was a little more shy to tell those stories. So, depending on your industry, it can be easier or harder.

Megan Heuer: 

No doubt, and you know, I’ll tell you, even in regulated industries we’ve seen luck with this. But one other thing that we found with the post-sale world, and our data has pointed to this, but we’ve also been able to sort of get it down to a science, is think about all that we know about how buyers buy and mapping out the buyer’s journey and knowing exactly what they want to consume. Because we’ve gotten all this great data. Marketing organizations that are really doing well, are, you know, “data’s our friend,” and they’re using it well, and they have it down to a fine science, like you said, it’s really you can know what you need to do. Well guess what? You can do that in the post-sale, too! And we do not see enough people using that same rigor to define, “What are the steps that my customer goes through? What do they at each of those steps?”

And, actually, they miss really even the most important thing, during the buying cycle, we identify buying for personas, right? “Who’s our buyer. What are they need? What’s different about them? What part do they play in the purchase?” Well, we don’t do it after they buy. We don’t start to say, “Who are our customer personas and what do they need after they buy?” That has nothing to do with making a purchase decision, right? “What do they need from us, and where do they like to go to get that?” And as part of that process of defining your customer personas, just like you do buyer personas, and defining their journey, as they work with you, you can at each stage of that journey, identify the ways that they’re probably going to be willing to tell a good story to others.

So, you can create this great virtuous cycle of providing the right resources for those customers, but also making requests of them to help you with your marketing as they go through that journey in just a systematic of a way as we do for the buying cycle today.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, that’s a great point, you’re right. It comes down to having a dedicated focus, post-signature. Because the relationship can change, but it can change in a positive way, and then then you can really embrace that.

Megan Heuer: 

Oh, absolutely.

Joe Hyland: 

All right, let’s turn to your ABM practice because I think ABM is a fascinating topic for a couple reasons. First, I remember, how many years ago is this? Fifteen years ago, when I was in marketing programs, my CMO, I was at a server company not too far from where you where you work, in Maynard, Massachusetts. In the old deck headquarters, a company called Stratus Technologies, and my CMO said to me, “Hey Joe, we’re gonna hire someone to do something brand-new, really exciting. It’s called account-based marketing, and we’re only going to go after, or, only going to focus on five or ten companies and these are very large organizations that we think we can sell a lot of product into.” And that was my first experience with ABM. Now, out here in San Francisco, you can’t walk one block without seeing an advertisement for the hottest trend in in marketing, which is which is ABM — and which has only been around for five years, which of course, is not true. So, one, I’d love to hear about the practice and what you guys are doing — and I’m sure you’re advising clients in some great ways — but I’d also I’d also love to get your perspective on ABM done well, and how a lot of people get ABM wrong.

Megan Heuer: 

Good questions. Well, in terms of how we’ve approached it as a business, like you, both my boss, Tony Jaros — who leads all of our product organizations and he’s been with Sirus from the beginning, so 15 years-plus — he and I worked together many years ago at a company called the Peppers & Rogers Group that was all about identifying customer value and customer needs and really using that to power or have that data-driven strategy underneath your marketing focus areas. And, of course, what does that point you to, but an account-based strategy? So, we’ve been doing this for a very long time — the 15-20 years that it’s been around. So, when he came to Sirius, and then when I came to Sirius, we both agreed that this was an area that we needed to continue to publish and focus on because we’re both big believers in the fact that it really, really works. And in B2B it’s inescapable, so for the last 15 years really, we’ve had content in the SiriusDecisions library. And, for the last ten that I’ve been here, I’ve helped to build that. And, for the last five plus, we’ve had a dedicated practice around it.

And the dedicated practice around it was really designed to say “How do we bring some rigor to how people buy account-based marketing within B2B? How do we encourage them to adopt it?” Because we know how successful it can be, but then also “How are we a little bit more flexible than some of the ways the market had been thinking about it?” I think historically the market really thought about it as, for some people at least, the large account model, right? About these big strategic accounts. Of course, you’re doing custom things to win them, that’s not really it. There’s a lot of different ways you can say “I know the universe of accounts that I need to go after, or the business, and then, therefore, that tells me some different things that I may need to do as a marketer and also in support of the sales organization and their go-to-market strategy.”

And we really approached it from that concept of saying, “It’s not just about your largest strategic accounts. You might have a named count list, you might have a vertical list that’s very defined within a particular area.” So, what you really want to do is go back to your go-to-market model, the B2B company — and this gets that your point about ABM done well versus not so much.

ABM done well begins with simply looking at “Who do we sell to?” And really knowing who’s in your addressable market, and I don’t use that in kind of the general product orientation sense of, “Well, we sell the company’s over, you know? $50 million dollars.” Okay, that’s not an addressable market, that’s the phone book. Does such a thing still exist? That’s not helpful, right? What you need to do is say, “Who is our buyer?” And that may look different depending on different segments of the market — you may have strategic accounts, you may have named accounts, you may have SMB, you may be all over the place in terms of the different accounts — but I would define most companies not to be able to narrow that down to a list of account names.

Once you have that list of account names, and you know how your sellers are organized against pursuing those accounts, you can say, “Okay, this tells me a lot about the kinds of account-based marketing, the kinds of demand I need to create as a marketing organization.” It’s a math problem. “Who do I need to reach?” And once you have that foundation in place, you can then define the appropriate approach to demand. That may be strategic accounts, that may be what we call “named account marketing,” which is really ABM at scale, it may be something a little lighter, what I would call more “marketing to accounts” than “account-based marketing,” because you’re not really you’re saying, “Hey, this is my target list of accounts,” but you’re not necessarily changing your messaging based on actual information about each account. But that’s okay, right? For a bigger segment of the market, that may be the right thing to do.

What we’ve identified is really a range of different demand creation styles that suit all different go-to-market models, all different types of accounts. And the trick for every company is to figure out what the right balance of those approaches is and then that’s what you put in place. That’s what you resource and you up-skill to and you come up with the right tactics to support. And you work in partnership with your sellers in a much more meaningful way — and that’s ABM done well.

Joe Hyland: 

And done horribly?

Megan Heuer: 

Ha-ha! Done horribly is when you call it account-based marketing, but basically you say, “I’ve got a list of accounts. I haven’t really thought about why I want to win those accounts, or even if it’s likely that they have any interest in talking to me, and I’m going to simply send messages to them based on what I want them to know, not based on what I think they need, not based on who they are, not based on anything else, but I’m just going to send stuff because they’re my target accounts, and I’m going to put ads in front of them, and I’m going to do all these other things.” That is not account-based marketing, that’s marketing to accounts, but that’s also kind of foolish in this day and age because there’s an awful lot you can know about your accounts before you ever try to talk to them. And, to me, it’s kind of a shame if you do that and call it account-based marketing. You’re just missing an opportunity.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I love this notion of marketing to accounts versus account-based marketing. I don’t know if you’ve if you’ve written any thought leadership pieces or even just a simple perspective on it —I think it’s a great point. I mean there’s there’s a massive difference — a huge chasm — between one and the other.

Megan Heuer: 

I agree and there’s a place for both, but I actually came up with that concept a couple of years ago, basically on a rant, because I was really sick of seeing people call things account-based marketing. I’m like, “Not so much, you’re targeting accounts all right, but there’s a whole lot of things you’re not doing that you could be.” Hence, the marketing to accounts versus account-based marketing. I’m trying not to sound overly judgmental. Even though I am.

Joe Hyland: 

That’s why I ask. No, I think there’s a lot of misinformation in the market, right? There’s a huge difference between everyone you can sell to, what’s your addressable market versus who’s your ideal customer profile. So, for us, we have, I dunno, there’s 250 or 300 thousand companies we can sell to, and I assure you we don’t have that many customers, yet, but we have a much more focused group. And you’re right, it needs to be down to the names where we say, “Boy, these are companies we feel strongly that we should be partnering with or should be using us for as part of their tech stack.” And if you can’t name them, it’s not part of an ABM strategy.

And I’ve spoken with a lot of sales reps who say, “I want to do ABM to these 10,000 accounts.” And I said, “That’s different.” Like, we can’t have customized messaging for 10,000 accounts unless it’s just a little trick that we use with off-site advertising where we put their name in an ad, which I have mixed feelings on, personally.

Megan Heuer: 

Well, you know it’s funny, I agree with you now based on the state of the art, but I’ll be interested to see as AI and Predictive Analytics and other kinds of technology gets better and better and the quality of the data that B2B marketers are creating and maintaining becomes better and better to support those tools. There may be a time when you could say, “You know what? I could use some form of real account-based marketing based on what I know to a pretty large number of accounts.”

Most companies aren’t there yet, but you got at the exact issues. It really can just simply start with saying, “It’s not my theoretically addressable market, it’s my practically addressable market.” Who’s in that? And that’s really the heart of our new demand unit waterfall, right? It begins with, what is your practically addressable market because in a realistic way, who do you consider to be the people that you can sell to? Now, how do you begin to measure how well you’re doing at engaging them and closing them?

Joe Hyland:

Okay, you brought up something — I’m really glad you brought up — it’s kind of — I don’t, do you have any sports or hobbies that you partake in or that are part of your life?

Megan Heuer: 

Well, I’m a big cook. I love cooking.

Joe Hyland: 

Okay, cool.

Megan Heuer: 

I’m actually godawful, of course, but I love cooking.

Joe Hyland: 

I can’t think of a good analogy in the kitchen. It’s really interesting how a lot of brands — and this will not be relevant to a chef —change things year-to-year. It’s like [how] a sneaker changes each year, or there’s a new season and you have to get the latest model. I’m a skier and it’s amazing how little changes year-to-year with skis, but we’re marketed that we need the latest and greatest. And I think there is a misperception on the demand waterfall that every year you guys come out with a new waterfall and nothing’s different, but it’s marketed as the latest and greatest. I’d love to hear some thoughts as to what justifies the change and how you look at each different iteration?

Megan Heuer: 

Yeah, I’ll start with I really wish it were the case that there weren’t all these really cool new things that come out for the kitchen all the time where you’re like, “Really, I need a 23rd different kind of whisk! Because it’s going to make my eggs that much fluffier.” No, it’s crazy, it’s completely crazy. So, you know, happily, some cooking equipment may be less expensive than ski equipment, but it’s still so weird.

Anyhow, that said, we’ve come out with, basically, three different waterfalls in 15 years. We had our original that came out many moons ago — predates me at Sirius. Then we had what we called the “re-architected waterfall.” And that was about five years ago, and then the past year we came out with what we call the “demand unit” waterfall and the thing that I was really excited about with the demand unit waterfall is I think it’s brought together a lot of things that previous versions didn’t. Not because I don’t think we were thinking about it necessarily, but because I don’t think we, or the market, was there yet.

So, for example, when we came out with some of the original constructs in the first two waterfalls, it’s very much of a marketing process model, right? It’s all about “marketing things going in the top and marketing things come out the bottom.” But the truth is we are all about sales and marketing alignment because we know companies grow faster and are more profitable the more aligned their sales and marketing organizations are. That’s a proof-point we’ve had over many years and hundreds of companies. So, we know that works, but here we have this kind of core construct that didn’t quite go there.

The demand unit waterfall does away with all notion of marketing versus sales, or marketing and tele versus sales, is gone. It’s all one view that says we all share the audience that we need to win, our target accounts, and we both share responsibility for engaging those accounts in different ways as they progress from cold to close. So, it’s a shared sales and marketing process model, but it also brings in the thought that, you know, in the old waterfall it really began at the point of somebody raising their hand and saying, “Hey, I’m interested!” But we know, as marketers, we are able to engage those folks right from the point that we can give them a name, right? We know their accounts and then we know them, right? Um, so there’s a whole bunch of stages that the old version didn’t capture that now technology lets us do much more effectively and quantifiably. So, we’re able to start earlier, um, but we also added the concept of “you don’t begin with an infinite universe of accounts.” The previous two versions began with any account that you possibly want to engage, but it only counts that shows up as an inquiry a hand raised.

And in this version, we begin with, “What is that practically addressable market?” The market you want to go after? And then we start to measure from there to say, “How well are we doing at converting from that denominator?” That’s a really key difference. And so, the part about it being shared with sales and the part about it not beginning from, you know, “An increase showed up, a miracle occurred!” Now, you know, let the measuring begin. It’s a much more practical way of looking at the market, and it reflects the reality of the technology that’s available to us to use to do that.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I love the hybrid approach with sales as well. I think there’s a lot of ways you can have sales and marketing collaboration and there’s a lot of ways to totally screw it up. Real joint ownership on goals, I think, is setting up both groups for success. So, I’m in alignment with what you guys have just released.

Megan Heuer: 

Well, I’m excited about it. You know, and we’re seeing a lot of companies and a lot of technology providers and services providers who are excited about it, too. Because it gives, I think, a really good construct and an instruction manual for how to take advantage of some of the really cool stuff that’s out there on the market and begin to be able to put it to work in practical ways that — your CFO and your CIO, not to mention your CMO, and your head of sales — are going to be very comfortable making investments in because you can show them, “Hey, here’s how it’s going to help us.”

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I love it. All right, well, listen, I think we’ve come to the bottom of the hour. So, Megan, I want to thank you. How active are you on Twitter? I see your Twitter handle here, @megheuer. Are you active, or you like me, and you post every six months when you’re mad at an airline?

Megan Heuer: 

Hahaha, well, I do that. But you know, actually, I have a little bit of a Twitter problem from time to time. I will be in there and quite active. I’m in there most days.

Joe Hyland: 

Oh, that’s cool.

Megan Heuer: 

Yeah, it’s definitely become a little bit of a habit.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I know my wife…

Megan Heuer: 

I get a kick of it. I have a great little, you know, TweetDeck view of the world. I love it.

Joe Hyland: 

Oh, that’s cool. Yeah, my wife’s pretty active on social and makes fun of me and says, “I don’t know how you’re the head of marketing — you don’t even understand anything about social.”

Megan Heuer: 

Well, I’ll tell you, though…

Joe Hyland: 

I won’t comment on.

Megan Heuer: 

I don’t even have a Facebook page. I won’t do it. Nope.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, you know it’s interesting. I do. I’m so inactive. For me, I found two things. One, that it just ate a ton of time. And then, two, I ended up spending that time looking at pictures of my friends-from-20-years-ago’s children. Which was fine, it was great to see what my old friends were up to, but if you’re not really actively friends with someone I’m not sure why you’re spending so much time looking at their lives. So, I don’t know, for me, I’ve pretty much stopped.

Megan Heuer: 

Yeah, I’ve heard, it was Matt Heinz, actually, who the other day said he quit the stuff. And, like, “This is not bringing joy in my life, therefore out it goes.” And I can see that. You know, I use Twitter 90 percent professionally and occasionally, I’ll put in the random tweet for something else. I actually have a separate account where I post recipes, but I’m much less active on that.

Joe Hyland: 

Recipes account? Well what’s that account? That’s the account I want.

Megan Heuer: 

Hahaha. Well, you’ll see how long it’s been since I put anything up there, but it’s @frommegskitchen.

Joe Hyland: 

Okay, that’s cool. That sounds interesting. Anyway, Megan, this was fantastic — thank you so much. I really appreciate the time and I hope you have an awesome day. Thanks for tuning in everyone.

Megan Heuer: 

Thanks. Everybody. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for enjoying our, thanks for inviting me.

CMO Confessions Ep. 2: Engagio’s Heidi Bullock

Hi, and welcome again to CMO Confessions, our bi-weekly podcast at ON24 exploring what it really means to be a leader in today’s business world. I hope you all had an opportunity to listen to our first episode, featuring Matt Heinz, Founder and President of Heinz Marketing.

For our second episode of CMO Confessions, I had the good opportunity to talk to Heidi Bullock, Chief Marketing Officer at Engagio. Heidi has had a super-interesting journey to her position in the marketing world, where she started her career as a molecular biologist and worked her way up the marketing ladder within that industry before moving to Marketo. There, Heidi helped to shape the company’s marketing program during a few key formative years. Now, she’s heading Engagio’s marketing efforts.

In this episode — which you can find right here — we talk ideal customer profiles, why it’s important to prioritize accounts and, yet again, why it’s so important for marketing and sales departments to coordinate and work together. Plus, much more.

As always, we’ve included a transcript of our conversation for you to pursue as you see fit. If you’d like to reach out to Heidi, you can find her on Twitter at @HeidiBullock and LinkedIn at this link. And you most certainly should check out Engagio, which is doing some great work around engagement measurement in the account-based marketing space.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Transcript

Joe Hyland:

Hello, everyone. My name is Joe Hyland, Chief Marketing Officer here at ON24, and welcome to another edition of CMO Confessions. Today, I have Heidi Bullock, CMO of Engagio. Welcome, Heidi.

Heidi Bullock:

Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be on.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, this is fun to do this. Okay, so since we said absolutely nothing is out of bounds, I’ll start with a question that perhaps you get a lot of, but maybe it will surprise you. How does a molecular biologist become a chief marketing officer?

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, it’s a question. I’ve definitely had. It’s an interesting path. I was somebody that was pretty technical, but I had the ability to communicate really effectively to people who I’m not going to say we’re not technical, but just busy and didn’t have the time to care about the details. And I think just that ability to communicate to people in different styles worked well for me. And, also, being in marketing being technical and having a thoughtful process has been an advantage. So, it’s not as much of a stretch as you think.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s actually really interesting. I think a lot of marketers shy away from being technical or really getting to know the product. I don’t know if you have any thoughts or experiences with that.

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, I see that, but I also feel like I see some marketers now almost trying to be so technical that they, you know, almost like it hinders them it’s like well, “I don’t have data; therefore, I can’t make a decision.” Well, nothing’s perfect. How can you make a good decision when you don’t have perfect data, which who has perfect data? Let’s be real. I do feel like I still see marketers that are like, “Oh, I don’t need to be in the product, or I don’t need to know those level of details.” And my feeling is you should be as close to the customers as possible. If you’re not doing that, to me, it’s a little bit weird every product that I’ve ever sold or marketed I’ve done my best to be in it as much as possible. Engagio I was in every day, Marketo I was in every day, and it really helps me relate to what a customer is not only looking at but facing.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I think you’re totally right. I mean, great marketing is always about them, and never about you, but if you can understand that the challenges, the plight like the day-to-day frustrations of whoever your marketing or selling to, I mean, you just have an enormous advantage because it’s about solving their problems, right?

Heidi Bullock:

Exactly. And I totally get that. We’re in MarTech, and so that’s a little bit different for us, but I’d even say when I was in the Life Sciences and sold software in that industry, I did my best to work with sample data sets and get in there as much as possible to and I really think it’s a benefit if people can do that.

Joe Hyland:

Okay, so you didn’t, maybe you did, I’ll ask, you didn’t have some grand plan in your career to rise up and become a CMO one day.

Heidi Bullock:

I knew that I wanted to always do a good job, and I think that I’m a fairly competitive person — I’ve always played competitive sports — so I knew that I probably wasn’t just going to sit on the beach and just be complacent. But I wouldn’t necessarily say at 24 I knew I was going to be a CMO. I just knew that. I was going to be passionate with whatever I did and do it the best that I could. So, that’s kind of always how I lived and here I am.

Joe Hyland:

That’s kinda good advice for life, right? I mean outside of one’s career. Just do what you’re passionate about like give it your all and, truthfully, good things happen.

Heidi Bullock:

That’s right, and I think also just being really realistic about what certain jobs are, that’s advice that was given to me a long time ago. Make a list and what are the things that are important to you, and I think sometimes, I’ll talk to people, I’m sure you hear this, like, “what does it take to be a c-level person?” And I think if people sometimes knew what it was they really wouldn’t to, they really wouldn’t want the job, right? And so, I think, it’s only important in life, is it, is it money? Because I’ll tell you like go be an investment banker do that instead.

Joe Hyland:

That’s true. And you’re right, I think there are components of getting to the top of any career path or any profession, perhaps, what you what you loved doing, it shifts, right? And there’s different responsibilities. we have a great finance department, but I loathe having a budget meeting. I just hate it, but it’s one of the responsibilities of the role, right? It’s not exciting, but you got to do it.

Heidi Bullock:

That’s right. Like, hiring too, that’s something that I see, and I think if people had any ideas sometimes how much hiring you have to do. It’s a good part of my day for sure.

Joe Hyland:

It’s true, particularly at a high-growth company. At my last company, which is in a completely different space, we were growing like crazy. I was about the 20th employee and when I left we were over 400, so there were weeks that half of my time was spent recruiting or interviewing which is, truthfully, it brings a different joy, but it’s not marketing.

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, it isn’t. Well, marketing yourself.

Joe Hyland:

I guess, yeah, it’s true. Let’s talk about growth hacking. Super-fast growth companies and then balancing, ultimately, building something that’s built to last. You guys are in hyper-growth mode. You’re doing some really cool things over at Engagio. How do you view balancing the realities of the short-term growth pressure, because it’s there, versus building something that is in fact built to last?

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, that’s a really good question. I think, for me, I wish I had a perfect answer. But I think, as much as we can, we try to not grow — if I could use the word — it’s almost artificial growth, where say maybe you add a bunch of numbers you bring in a bunch of customers, but if they all turn its sort of irrelevant. It doesn’t matter, and I’ve seen that movie before. We actually have spent a lot of time since I joined the company developing an ICP, we have a customer profile. There’s actually a segment of the market. We’ve really kind of figured out is not great to sell to even though to be honest with you. It’s made my job, and my sales partners job a lot harder. I think I could hit my pipeline goal much easier if I didn’t do that. But my feeling is if we have churn and other leaks in the boat, so what? It’s not going to help with that growth story.

So, I think having that right balance up front and that experience … You have to be pretty disciplined to do it because if we all can see the short pass to things it’s like, it’s almost like a crash diet like we all can live on some weird soup for a week, but it doesn’t work out and it’s kind of the same thing,  I feel like I have to make hard choices, and it’s made my job may be tougher, but I think it’s the right thing for the business. So, the quick answer’s we have an ICP. We’re really focused on a certain segment of the market that we know is good for us and so far, it’s gone well, but we have big hills to climb. I’m not sitting back and feeling like I have nothing to do.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, probably far from it. Yeah, for us, we were actually just talking about this in our board meeting a couple of weeks ago. We have what we call good DNA and bad DNA contracts and so not every win is a win. We’ve, and I won’t go into great detail on it, but we there’s a segment of the market that we sell into and they’re a little fickle and they don’t renew it at such a high rate. So, it’s really not worth it to sell-in there, right? And so that takes that discipline on the sales and marketing side because, you’re right, it’s easier for us to hit our targets if we kind of say, “Fuck it let’s just go after the whole Market,” but if the whole market doesn’t want our solution, that’s, at least long-term, that’s not good for us.

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, and I have to say just for people that are in high-growth companies. I mean growth a huge part. That’s retention like huge. So, you can do great on the acquisition side, and if you’re not clever about how you retain and keep customers, it’s actually is a problem that magnifies itself. So, I think if you can have some of that discipline of front it’s really worth it.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I totally agree. It’s important. How do you view presale versus post-sale?
So, you have obviously an acquisition strategy that you work in partnership with your head of sales. Over at Engagio, what happens after someone signs? Do you stay involved?

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, we do. It’s interesting since I have been — and I carry this experience from Marketo, I owned up cross-sell there, and I was involved; I wasn’t the owner of retention, but we viewed it as almost like several pillars were marketing was a piece of it — and I view it that way here too. Especially, again, because we’re selling in the marketers. So, I like to stay involved, as an example. We on-boarded a customer today. I was on the call. I wanted to make sure that they felt like they got what they needed and just tried to make it as efficient as possible. I can’t be on every call, but I really try to stay pretty involved.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s cool. I mean talk about staying close to the customer, right?

Heidi Bullock:

Right, I mean ideally. You know, I would love to do it as much as possible, but it’s tough. We have a lot that we’re in, but I think I’m definitely, for the larger customers, in the ones that they’re really critical for your business you probably want to do that.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, not that this is the reason we would do it, or you would do it, but also if there’s an upsell cross-sell component right they like you’re investing in a new client that could foster itself into a much, much larger relationship.

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.

Joe Hyland:

Do you want to talk more about your ICP? I mean, that’s kind of where you guys play in the market as well, right? Feel free to talk about how you use your own solution because I think people would really benefit from hearing about that.

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah. So, one of the first things we did — and I think people, and you kind of said this, that there’s a lot of noise — and I think for a lot of marketers they probably see stuff on LinkedIn and Twitter and everyone are just like, “Oh, this is like too much almost kind of that feeling like, “never mind, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.” And I would just tell people I joined Engagio, and we’re a small team we sat down, and we just looked at our closed-one deals, where we felt like we were having success and what are those companies have in common. We looked at certain technographics, we looked at demographics, we looked at a lot of different facets to cut to a place where we felt like, “Okay, this is a company that stays with us for the long term.” And we definitely saw a pattern with, as you were mentioning, a segment that seems to have a higher turn rate for us. I mean I can get into it, we really right now our focused-on people that have a Salesforce CRM. They’ve got some level of marketing automation in place. They probably, and this is harder, but there’s a certain type of marketing team that’s already in place. Like, if they’re heavy brand and have never done demand gen, maybe not the best fit for us.

So that’s just a small sliver, but we look at a lot of different facets, even geography comes into play, and then we’ve really focused there and one of the things that I’ve done just for people to think about. I have the ADR team, they report in to me, and we’ve actually caught them that way, so I have data that shows the segment that we’re trying to move away from, we haven’t sold the deal there, and I think it’s about 4 to 5 months, so it works, but you have to make sure the incentives are in place because people will get to their number, however, they can, right? So, you actually have to make sure that the comp lines up to it. And that’s something, I think, we’ve done that’s been helpful. That being said, to your earlier point, you gotta grow, there’s a lot we need to do, and you can’t have such a narrow ICP. It’s like, hey, we only sell to companies in Virginia that have 10 people that are vets. I mean that, so I mean he’s got to be realistic too.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, it’s an interesting line to walk, though. Because when I got to ON24 I looked at our addressable market. So, I looked at our TAM and is pretty massive and so, on one hand, it was exciting. It was like 250,000 companies in North America that we could sell to and so my CEO is excited. He’s going, “It looks great. We’ve got 1,200 customers right now. Joe, there’s so much room for growth.” And I said, “Focus is a beautiful thing.” And you’re right if we go scattershot here, and we just get 1% of this addressable market, we’re set, will be public, we’ll be worth a billion dollars. But will also have so much waste. We won’t be efficient. And so, we went through the painstaking process — and for us, it was pretty painful, because we weren’t that disciplined in our addressable market — and we cut out a lot when we really defined the ICP by vertical and region. We got laser-focused. And we’ve had some stumbles along the way — we realized our first pass at the ICP kind of sucked. We were too rigid on verticals. We didn’t use enough data. So, have you guys had to adjust it or were you right the first time?

Heidi Bullock:

You know, I feel it right now. We’ve been right, but early in the process, right? So, I think we’re a younger company than you guys, so I mean I’m sure it will evolve over time. I mean that and being flexible the name of the game I think, so far, we’re right. It’s been good and nice to see. I think another kind of point that I want to highlight that you asked, like how we use our own product. One of the cool things with Engagio is we actually can see, of the companies were focused on where we have coverage awareness and engagement, so that’s kind of another nice thing is we can sort of see, “hey here’s an account!” Like, maybe you have a series of accounts that are in a vertical. What your sales team can start with those where you have the right people and they’re aware and engaged and that’s been a huge even just coming here, I didn’t really have to get trained on Engagio we did that right away.

So that was actually kind of a nice thing. And then, we’ve basically been tracking like we have the different groups of target accounts and we kind of track them through their different statuses, and that’s been a nice thing to do to and report out on. So good, but I also think an important piece of kind of defining even if you have tiers. One thing I think is good is to meet with the sales team and the marketing team and say, “You know these are accounts that are going to get the white glove treatment, we’re going to have a lot of investment, you’ll get a lot of our time, but the tier-3 accounts, you know they might not get as much.” It’s more of a scalable approach, and I think that’s another kind of take away if I could add that today for people, I think that’s been really helpful. I even do that on the customer side as well because not all your accounts are the same and shouldn’t be necessarily be treated that way.

And what’s nice is the marketing team can figure out from a resource and budget perspective what’s reasonable because we’re all going to get the rep that’s like, “Hey this accountant, Florida. Can you guys fly out and do the workshop?” And it’s like no, we can’t because they are a tier-3 account, right? And that’s a really valuable thing to do is just making sure that you have those entitlements if you are thinking of a target account-based approach.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I agree. I think about, and we can talk more about ABM, I think a lot of marketers still struggle with this relationship with sales and having alignment. There’s no better way to get alignment than to have an agreed upon set of customers that there will be added emphasis and focus. I’m assuming that’s how it works at Engagio, but you want to talk about the partnership with sales?

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, let’s all face it. I think being a partner with sales is just — I mean, when you have that, there’s really kind of nothing better — it makes all of our lives and days much easier, and I think, to me, there’s like a few key things that I’ve seen that really help it. We have a good partnership because we do. We sit down we agree on accounts and we agree on the strategy and one of the key things though, that’d I highlight, is what’s nice is when we do use Engagio and it’s just the technology that kind of supports those interactions. It’s not. People can’t do it without it, but it just makes it more easily. It just scales. So, I can see, “Well, my refs did follow up on those accounts where we did that executive dinner,” and I can see that engagement and still can my sales team, so it’s not like yeah marketing sucks like what are they doing? They actually can see it and that to me has been just immensely beneficial. It’s like, I feel like it helps marketers definitely have that cred that I think everybody deserves, which is a good thing.

And so, I feel like everyone understands the need to coordinate, it’s just I think historically it’s been like very manual and hard, and you don’t want to hunt down the AVP in Atlanta and say like, “Hey Mark, you know how’s it going? Did we do XYZ?” And I feel like Engagio just makes that more seamless, and it’s less of a struggle to do it. But I’ll throw out another thing, I’m actually comped like a salesperson, and so I think not only having the technology and the, again, the goal of these accounts, but think about how you comp your marketing folks, because I think my sales teams like, “Hey, she’s in it with us, and I am, and I care just about you know getting those deals done as much as anybody.” So, that’s something I still don’t see as much and I it surprises me actually.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I think there’s a lot of — it’s scary — there’s a lot of marketers that don’t want to step up and take that on and if you really want to have a partnership with sales you have to have skin in the game same thing over here for better or worse. I’m comped on our bookings and pipeline. We, at ON24, I own our pipeline and we do it in concert, and in cooperation, of course, with our head of sales, but we felt like that was the best way for marketing to walk the walk. So, yeah, I think that’s important. I don’t think that many people do it, though.

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, I don’t think that many people do. But even just making, even if it’s, like, a segment of your marketing team, like if you have a larger organization, maybe, I just think as much as you can do that as possible. I think really helps because again people do what they’re incentivized to do.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, it’s interesting. I think a lot of people don’t want a lot of marketers don’t want to work with sales. Like, you’re supposed to say you want to work or sales, but sales can be messy. I was talking to a CMO of a Fortune 100, I won’t mention the name, and I was having this conversation. It was it was it was over drinks…

Heidi Bullock:

You should mention the name

Joe Hyland:

I just refuse to do it because what I’m gonna say isn’t very nice. What she said to me, but she said I was having this discussion, and she said sales is messy, I don’t want to be involved, I don’t want my bonus tied to it. And she had been at this company for a year and a half is a huge company. She said I have not had one conversation with a sales rep, and you just I don’t know maybe you can you can get away with that when you’re a twenty-billion-dollar company size. It’s about growth like you have to be tied at the hip with sales.

Heidi Bullock:

I think, I’d actually even say you should be tied at the hip with customer success, too. I like the idea of like a revenue team that’s kind of my future model of how I’m thinking about things, and I don’t know, I get it, sales is messy, but you know what life is messy right? It’s like. I don’t know. I just feel like if you don’t want messiness then I don’t know why you’re in a c-level job. Like it’s messy, it’s hard, and I think it’s how you … I think part of our job is being elegant and figuring out how to work with other teams. It’s like, not everyone’s like us, right? And actually, that’s what makes it exciting and fun. It’s like, you know what matters to sales, you know what matters to your partner team. I mean if we want messy let’s talk to IT that can be really good times. I feel like it’s really critical in our roles. We’re sort of the hub of customer input and data, and it’s our jobs to kind of make sure that we can get along and facilitate that with other teams. So, I like salespeople and I always have felt like their good partners, and we always, I feel, like the companies where I’ve seen winning occur really regularly as when marketing and sales are aligned. That’s my just what I’ve seen though.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I agree, and I like that you threw the CS team in there because in a SaaS model you’re nothing if there’s a huge hole the bottom of your glass and revenue is falling out the bottom. How you market, that’s why I asked the question earlier on are you involved post-sale. I mean, it’s wildly different marketing strategy, if you, if you are involved in the whole life, cycle, yeah.

Heidi Bullock:

I think it’s better it actually. I think, makes you a better marketer because you have to really think about the beginning to end. It’s like kind of going back to the diet analogy. It’s like yeah, you can have weird soup for a week, and it’s like you might lose some weight, but then you get [to] change it again, and I just think like thinking about like balance and doing the right thing from the beginning. It’s just it’s just better for the business.

Joe Hyland:

And you understand the customer more, let’s face it. It’s easy to spout a whole bunch of bullshit on the front, and they get someone excited, and then they buy the product and they realize, “man, they were full of shit.”

Heidi Bullock:

Exactly.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, but if you’re involved the whole way. Like you can’t do that.

Heidi Bullock:

Right, and I think it helps a lot with your acquisition strategy to because you can actually see what was effective or, maybe, some of the things that you’re positioning that you’re like, “Oh, that was maybe a stretch.”

Joe Hyland:

It’s true because we all do that, right? But I mean if you…

Heidi Bullock:

Never!

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, never, of course. Why did I say that? That’s ridiculous. Well, let’s talk about

Heidi Bullock:

We all make perfect content all the time

Joe Hyland:

Perfect content and everything we say is absolutely true. There’s no there’s no future selling in there.

Heidi Bullock:

That’s right!

Joe Hyland:

I want to hear the difference — Marketo your experience at Marketo — and now at Engagio. Obviously, different company, but there’s a pretty strong Heritage from Marketo. You came from Marketo, John came from Marketo. I’d love to hear what the dynamics are like what the environment is like and some of the differences.

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, I’d say I’d see the similarities that I think are really, really cool and, first and foremost, we just really care about marketers and making them successful. I think that’s what was you know why I love Marketo it’s just the passion around the marketer who, let’s face it, for a long period of time, when I first got into marketing, you know the top question I get is, “Hey are those hats ready? And it’s like, “What?” And that’s the number one way to annoy me to ask about like hats or t-shirts like just I don’t even I’m not involved. It’s not my thing. But I feel like the passion around marketing and making them successful in making them perceive to really as a really value-add department and critical for driving the business is really common with both companies and it’s exciting. I just feel like any way that we can help marketers is like, that’s what we’re here to do and that’s a great feeling so that’s a similarity.

I think a difference is just like obviously size. Like, Marketo was so much bigger. But I see a lot of similarities because even when I joined Marketo people are like why can’t you use an ESP? Why do you need marketing automation, and so it’s a little bit, still, educating the market in and helping people see it’s not extremes, clearly, but what benefits you can get from evolving your technology stack. I see a lot of similarities. See the people that are involved from an early stage just really care a lot, and that’s fun and exciting and the DNA at Marketo early days was amazing, and, yeah, I think the biggest difference I see is probably now, just its size. And I think when you’re a CMO or a leader in an organization where you have 25, 30 people is very different than when you have a team of, like, eight. It’s just different.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, how big was Marketo when you when you arrived?

Heidi Bullock:

So, I got there in 2012 and so we were a few hundred people at the time. Yeah.

Joe Hyland:

Still relatively small I mean that’s not huge.

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, still pretty small, right. And I think the interesting thing then was like the market itself was not many people have demand gen roles on teams. Like that, I remember, was a pretty novel thing. Where’s now everyone’s, like, of course, we have demand gen, and that’s kind of where we’re at with ABM. We’re starting to see there’s ABM leaders and people that are thinking along those lines. So, it’s kind of fun. It’s exciting. But I think Marketo how did a great job. I think building something that helped that really generally help marketing folks, and that’s just that’s awesome, and that’s again, I think, with Engagio, we’re just trying to take it to the next level and do our best to make marketers successful, whether you’re a senior level marketer, or you’re a marketing coordinator, and you’re like, “I have a lot of shit to do.” I’m gonna make this easier, right? We’ve all been there.

Joe Hyland:

So how do you set up the team at Engagio? So, obviously, you guys were significantly smaller when you spend you started. Talk to me about how you built the team and are continuing to build the team.

Heidi Bullock:

Yeah, so anyone can relate to when you add people it’s like the best feeling in the world next pizza or tacos, I guess. For me, I feel like that minute you get some of you can depend on and you have the help, it’s the best feeling in the world. So, I have our ADR organization reporting and to me and so that’s kind of one area. We have a marketing operations technology person. I think those roles are essential. And I think that’s something I’ve seen. I’m kind of like highlighting the areas I think that have changed, and I think, you know, I’m even thinking about Revenue Ops as we get bigger and somebody that probably thinks about you know technology for success, marketing, and sales that kind of has all those key folks reporting into them. That’s kind of what I’d like to do long-term. Again, because, I think, a lot of those technologies most people kind of depend on a few systems and having somebody that oversees all those, I think, matters.

I have somebody that does our strategic events and a lot of like high-level kind of ABM programs, and then I have a demand gen leader, and then we have somebody that does content, social and a graphics person. So, it’s, I mean, a lot of people probably think that’s pretty bare bones, and, again, like at Marketo, the team was closer to 25, if you didn’t count international teams — and it was organized by business units. We had an SMB team that was probably more transactional more demand gen and Enterprise team that did more account-based marketing, and then we had content, social and events. So, to me, when you’re anybody thinking about team building right now that the biggest thing, I think, is different is the person that does your operations and your tech stuff because those people are hard to find, and I think the expectations for them, in a lot of ways are kind of crazy. It’s like, “Oh you’re going to be a Marketo expert, and build a plan of record, oh, and, go fix the Salesforce that she would lead routing.” Not many people can do all those things, and so I think a lot of companies and a lot of CEOs that I see they’re like oh, why is why do you need all those things, or is the text that really that expensive and your, but yet they want all that perfection and so that to me is a struggle still.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, you mentioned this at the start. Data at a few companies is clean. My wife, actually, works for LinkedIn and people at LinkedIn complain that their data is dirty, and if LinkedIn can’t have perfectly clean data when people tell them where they work, and what job they have, who can? But yeah, I think data is in some ways becoming sexy again, which is an absurd statement, but it’s so important particularly if you get a more and more focus with your marketing, or you don’t have the right contact information you’re screwed. I think those are becoming critical roles.

Heidi Bullock:

They are, and I think that it’s critical, but I think the piece that people don’t quite get it’s like, “Oh you don’t just buy you know marketing Automation, and you’re done?” It’s like, that’s the beginning, and I think it’s like who’s managing it? Who’s keeping all those systems clean? Reviewing your data? Making sure you think they’re ongoing deduping. I just think most people don’t have an understanding of that investment, and it’s hard when you’re a small company right are held to those standards that the level of investment is different, so that’s where you have to be Scrappy and I think pretty clever about it.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, no, I agree and it’s not one and done right like it’s not like you it’s not binary. You don’t do it, and then move on to the next thing like that’s forever.

Heidi Bullock:

It’s like brushing your teeth. You gotta do it every day.

Joe Hyland:

That’s funny. That’s a great analogy. Data is like brushing your teeth, you heard it here. All right, so, to wrap up. What kind of advice do you have for younger marketers in their career or marketers? Who are looking to do Dynamic things?

Heidi Bullock:

That’s a great question. I think, for me, this is probably going to be a little bit different than maybe something other folks would say I really look for people that love to learn — they just have this hunger for learning and a willingness to get in there and try a lot of different things, and I can’t overemphasize humility. I think I like people that just, even I feel, like, in our rules, I don’t claim to know everything I feel like I’m learning every day, and I think as you get older you actually realize how much you don’t know if I think that excitement of learning is what makes us better.

Joe Hyland:

I know something is happening outside my office.

Heidi Bullock:

But I think that’s what I look for is just people that are smart, and they’re hungry they want to try that they have that humility. It’s not like, “Oh, I’m, I know it all because I’ve been in marketing for six months.” It’s like, “Oh gosh, not at all.” And I think the people that I’ve seen do the best are just the ones that continue to learn, and they just stay humble. I mean it’s not to say you can’t take credit for your accomplishments. I’m not saying that but it’s just the willingness to keep learning and getting better, and I think. Really worth that for me.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s great advice. That’s a great insight. I mean so much of what we do in our jobs is I think problem-solving, but that’s true in any job, and there’s no there’s no playbook that you can come in and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, right? Yeah, there might be a methodology which is different, but there’s no always right way to handle something so I think that’s a great point and let’s face it. No one wants to work with an asshole and humility is a great a great quality of life.

Heidi Bullock:

It is because I think when you when it comes down to it. I mean we all are on teams and the team just has to be crushing it, right? It’s not about me it’s not about you, it’s not about one person. It’s about, you know, how’s that team hitting our goals and making sure that we’re winning, and that’s, to me, I think if it just like that’s like a team sport. You could have a rocking forward on a soccer team or basketball team, but that’s not enough to win the tournament, right?

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I was true. All right. I’m digging the analogies. Heidi, this was fantastic. I really enjoyed the discussion and thanks for the time.

Heidi Bullock:

Thank you. I appreciate it.

CMO Confessions EP. 1: Heinz Marketing’s Matt Heinz

Last week we ran a small campaign over our social media channels poking fun at brands that get a little too excited about April Fools’ Day. The point was to call out bad marketing habits and to promote the idea that — as B2B leaders — we should talking about these compulsions openly. It also, and this might be a little more honest and to the point, was to promote our new podcast, CMO Confessions*.

The aim of CMO Confessions is to explore what it really means to be a leader in today’s business world. It can be confusing and, at times, downright unpleasant. The advantage we have today is that we can share our experiences and advice with millions of people at the click of a button.

For our inaugural episode of CMO Confessions I talked to President and Founder of Heinz Marketing, Matt Heinz. We had a great talk about how marketers can build out a predictable pipeline, why we think account-based marketing is experiencing a resurgence and why, in our opinions, CMOs ought to own revenue responsibility. You can find a link to that episode right here.

Additionally, you can read our transcript of the whole episode after the jump for your own notes. Just in case you wanted to double-check something you heard.

So, without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s talk.

*Was that bait and switch a bad habit? Sure was. But, as I said, we all have our weaknesses — we ought to at least air them.

The Transcript:

Joe Hyland: Hello and welcome to the very first episode of CMO Confessions, a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast that explores what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, Chief Marketing Officer here at ON24 and joining me on our first — our maiden voyage — is Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing out in Redmond, Washington.

Matt, welcome to the show.

Matt Heinz: Hey, Joe. Thanks very much for having me.


Joe Hyland: Yeah, this is fantastic. You have a wealth of experience. You’ve been doing this for a couple decades as a practitioner before you started your own shop. I’ve heard you speak on numerous occasions. We’re fortunate to have you coming to Webinar World in a couple weeks, and you’re going to be presenting on the main stage, but your career is essentially centered around helping organizations drive measurable results, greater sales revenue with marketing that produces results.


Matt Heinz: Yeah, I think one of our VPs has said “You can’t buy a beer with a Marketing Qualified Lead.” So, as important as MQLs are, you know, it’s not the be-all end-all. So, helping companies build revenue-centric, predictable pipelines — that’s our jam. And so that’s what we spend time doing.


Joe Hyland:  Yeah, that’s the fun side of marketing, right? And, it’s funny, you see companies get themselves in trouble, or departments get themselves in trouble, when it turns into this pissing match between marketing and sales on what’s qualified, what’s not, versus what’s actually driving results.


Matt Heinz: I think, you know — as a lifelong marketer — when it comes to that alignment between sales and marketing, I’ll be the first to say this is marketing’s fault, right? I mean, sales by definition owns a number, and so when sales is grinding it out of the end of the month and the end of the quarter,  trying to hit their number, and us marketers, we’re down at the bars celebrating that we hit our retweet goal, like, there’s something wrong with that picture. And I wish that was just a joke — that’s a real story from a client a couple years ago.

So, there’s a significant amount of misalignment. I think that if you can migrate the culture of marketing to be to act more like a profit-center, to be more revenue responsible — sometimes that means different focus areas different actions different priorities — but I think that is that clearly the future of B2B marketing.


It doesn’t mean everything you do is going to be attributable to pipeline, but it means you have to have that orientation that what you are doing has to have revenue and sales responsibilities at the end of the day.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I think sports analogies are often forced, but I think there should be one metric that determines victory — and we’ll talk about growth in a couple minutes — but, for me, I feel that it is revenue and on the sales side it’s new bookings. So, on our marketing team, our north star is our annual sales target, and then we work backwards, right? There was a lot of things that lead to that — so there were upstream indicators — but we talk revenue, we talk new bookings, and then we immediately go to pipeline.

Then we get to the social components and how much content is required, like cool things like this. I think we do them because they drive results, but does this have a pipeline target on it? And, I mean, that’s silly, but the end of the day I think you got to combine the two.


Matt Heinz: You do, and I think there is there is a separation between what I would call, sort of, your operational dashboard and your executive dashboard. You know, if you’re going up to the c-suite, if you’re going to your peers and communicating what marketing did, you don’t want that report to be full of open rates and click rates, and retweets.

I mean, … having access to an audience and having the attention of an audience are two different things. And you’re not going to build pipeline if you don’t have the attention and engagement of the people that you care about. So, there’s plenty of work that goes into building attention and building that engagement that is not a straight line to revenue, but is a required predecessor to building that pipeline.

That’s a bunch of detail that — on a weekly scorecard — your c-level peers don’t want to see. I think if you come to the table with metrics that your CFO already understands and already recognizes as valuable, I think … you can sort of work back and walk back into “Here’s how we’re leading into that.” I think you’re getting somewhere.

Since you’re calling this the CMO confessions, I will say that I’ve heard from a number of CMOs that migration to having that revenue responsibility is actually quite scary, you know? When you’ve got a marketing team that has been used to measuring nothing further in the funnel than just a marketing qualified lead and has been valuing impression and valuing things like share a voice — this is a different paradigm. This is a cultural shift, and sometimes, I’ve seen some of the biggest impediments of that being the CMO themselves. Sometimes wittingly, sometimes unwittingly. But as we as we mentioned earlier, I don’t know that you have a choice as a B2B marketer these days.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I think that’s a great point and you have to walk the walk. So, at ON24, maybe I’m a moron for signing up for this, but I own, and our marketing team owns, our pipeline. So, not marketing sourced, not what goes through SDRs, like, we think that’s bullshit. Do we model it? Yes. Like, we’re not morons. But I own the number.

We had our board meeting yesterday. I have a close partnership with Jim Blackie, our global head of sales, but I present the pipeline. And we don’t get into, at the board level, of the details of where it comes to and if there’s a there’s a pipeline problem, I own it. I’ve got my bonus tied to it. This might be where, you know, who knows if it’s smart or not. But that’s, for me, that’s walking the walk. That’s saying, marketing, when we sign up for revenue — it’s not it’s not a vanity metric. We’re tying comp to it.


Matt Heinz: So, one of the biggest objections I hear from CMOS that they don’t feel comfortable embracing that revenue responsibility will say, you know, “I just I’m not comfortable signing up for a number I don’t have control of.” I’m guessing that your counterpart in sales does not have control of those deals getting close any more than you do, you know?


Joe Hyland:  Exactly!

Matt Heinz: And when you’re selling into large organizations, let’s not pretend that the prospect has control over when the deal closes. There’s so many variables that play. I mean, for everybody, like you just need more pipeline, bigger pipeline, to sort of make the numbers work in your favor. So, if we take control off the table and simply just say listen, “We have a number to hit, we’re in this together.” We think a lot is B2B marketers about attribution and who’s getting credit for things and where is the deal coming from. I could make an argument that between sales and marketing, maybe we should take attribution off the table.

I don’t care if this came from sales, I don’t care if this came from marketing. Now, I care if it came from this expensive marketing channel or that expensive marketing channel. I want to know which of those worked, and my waiting is, but I really don’t care about marketing-sourced versus sales-sourced. I care about hitting the number. Because we’re all gonna get fired if we don’t hit the number. So, somehow, we still got to do that. And there’s an awful lot of unproductive time spent just arguing over who gets credit.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, “unproductive,” I think, is the key word there and it just becomes two people digging their heels in arguing for what ultimately are just optics. Now, maybe I’m in a fortunate position where we’re privately held, backed by Goldman Sachs and a few other firms. We’re all shareholders and, so, for me, winning, as a company, is our company actually reaching some sort of a financial goal. So I care about the end results. For us, I care about our recurring revenue and, for me, that’s more important than getting dinged because we didn’t deliver pipeline regardless of whose problem it is, or fault. And if we’re if we don’t deliver those results there are bigger issues.

Matt Heinz: Well what I don’t want this to become is, “We move the pendulum all the way over to you know we have to account for every penny. We spend that everything we do has to have a pipeline metric around it.”

Because if, we because if we did that then all we would ever do is just buy ads. Because the ads, we can measure the ads. We can see results right away. We would never invest in content. We would never invest in podcast like this. You would never invest in making the migration over time from renting attention to owning the attention of your prospects. And we know how powerful and high-leverage owning the tension is, but you don’t buy your way into that. You have to earn that over time and that takes time and effort. But then, just like in a SaaS business, where you’ve got lifetime value increasing, you know, profitability, when you can own attention when you can get people that want to come here from you that becomes an annuity, that creates massive scale and efficiency in a marketing organization.


I mean, doing a podcast like this and doing blog and sort of doing, you know, other content elements — they don’t they don’t have to be immediately attributable to revenue today, but if you talk about it in the perspective we just did — that we’re doing this so that we can own the attention of prospects so that acquisition and retention and loyalty becomes easier and more efficient down the road — that is still a revenue-centric conversation to be having. I’m still putting that in terms of the business can understand.

Joe Hyland: Well, it’s your north star, right? It’s what the end goal is and I think it’s silly to only move one step away from that. You’re right, you would just create no content. The marketing team would just be full of demand gen marketers and, perhaps, SDRs, right? I don’t think that’s a prescription for success.

Though it’s interesting. I think we’re sliding down the slippery slope of a lot of organizations doing this. I just read comments from Marc Benioff, when he was at Davos not too long ago, that trust is more important than growth. Which I think is an interesting comment, particularly for a CEO of a publicly traded company, which has a pretty rich multiple based off of growth. His point isn’t that growth isn’t important, but it’s just what you were saying and owning, kind of having a seat at the table, and essentially earning trust. Well, that’s probably what leads to growth. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts as to how marketers are sliding down the slippery slope and moving away from great marketing.

Matt Heinz: Well, I don’t think you can. I think that if you’re moving away from what is always been great marketing, where you build trust and credibility and respect with your brand and your people and your company, if we move all the way to the other side of the first of the pendulum and just become growth hackers, where all we’re doing is optimizing Facebook pages and landing pages and digital ads — that may hit your, you may hit your demo request number tomorrow, but you’re not going to build a lasting brand, you’re not going to build a company that’s around for 100 years. You’re going to be very point-driven and transactional and you’re going to build a house on quicksand that your competitors are very quickly going to come and tear down.

And I, you know, I say that as a math marketer, as someone who starts a marketing plan with a spreadsheet, who wants things to be attributable, but I also highly value the brand and the reputation and the voice that you can create that gives you the benefit of the doubt, that makes you someone people seek out. I mean, we were talking to someone yesterday about how do you migrate your marketing from being interruptive to irresistible? How do you get to the point where you got people that want to get your marketing? [Who] want to be on your list that want to experience what you have to say?

Every company today is a media company, or can be a media company, and can build that audience. You have that opportunity, and I don’t care how like money-grubbing you are, or how conservative your CFO is, you go and tell them that you can create, your company can be a magnet for all the people in your audience and the people want to come listen to you? Everybody wants that asset, for sure.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, um yeah, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. But I think what’s happening, and as a funny story, is, uh, a friend of mine, um, works for a company where they’re tracking pipeline on almost a daily basis, and so the CEO saw a report in Salesforce and said, “We’re behind in pipeline today. What campaign can we run tomorrow to juice it?” And he didn’t have a good rapport with the CEO, so, they, the next day, they lit up they lit up their database, three million people with a click of a button, to try to drum up some clicks and short-term pipe. I think we’re seeing more and more of that.

Matt Heinz: Oh, it’s there’s no question we’re seeing more and more of that. And I think that that scorched-Earth mentality is going to have massive negative impact for companies as they try to sustain growth. You know, for folks listening to this that are anywhere near B2B marketing — I’m sure you all get the same — terrible BDR emails that we all get 800 times a day from people that have that same [email] —nowhere in that email is there any kind of value for me. All it is, is “Can I have 15 minutes of your time?” right? And the reason why we keep getting those is because they work enough to make a spreadsheet show that they work — that the VC say, “That’s the model keep doing that.” And A) they do work because there’s always three or four percent of the market that is actively buying, according to Gartner. So, someone out there has a need and wants to see that right away, but the collateral damage you are doing to the rest of the market, the damage you’re doing to your brand and reputation by going scorched-earth to hit your number tomorrow or this week or this month — if that aggressive rep leaves your company next week, or if someone comes in and finally convinces you to stop doing those kind of tactics — you’re still left that bad taste in the mouth, that bad impression with that prospect.

So, again, that’s a house built on quicksand that someone else can come and take over very quickly simply by offering a better experience. I mean, the challenge of sales guys at CEB have said, for the last couple years, “How you sell is more important than what you sell, especially when you’re building trust report and pipeline with your prospects.” So, I think you really have to be careful. Yes, you may be behind on your demo number today, and, yes, there may be things you can do to juice it for tomorrow — but you have to take the long view on this stuff or else you won’t have a business after this quarter.

Joe Hyland:  Yeah, I feel it every morning when I check my email I every morning there are 40 to 50 emails in the first five minutes or spent just pruning that list down to what’s real and it’s painful.

Matt Heinz: So, maybe I’m a glutton for punishment. I end up putting myself on some of those lists so I can see — I mean because there are some good examples. There’s a company — I was at  sastra conference just recently and had some follow-up in there — there was one guy that followed up, and he clearly had read some of my recent content and was commenting on things he had seen and then the last half of the email I got was probably a template — it looked a little more templatized and less personalized — but, I mean, in today’s world that stood out like a like a sore thumb.

He was selling something that I had no interest in, it would have not even qualified for us, so there wasn’t really a match there, but the approach is good. And you can’t automate that approach, but you can sure create a process around it. Even if you can’t get as many emails out the door with your spam cannon, you’re likely to get a better engagement rate with people you really care about. So, I think there’s trade-offs on all of that, but it’s, I don’t know, you got to balance the short-term activity and pipeline delivery needs with the long-term value you’re building with customers that will, eventually, be ready to buy.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I mean, that’s the thing — we actually get that question for webinars. How being a webinar provider? How long should a webinar be? And my answer is how much content do you have? Do you have … you’ve got 15 minutes of great content? There’s your answer. You’ve got two hours, and this is a super-targeted session and the attention span of your audience is there? Great, have a two-hour webinar.

There’s no magic answer. Same thing on emails, like, you’ve got something compelling to say and you think you can genuinely help someone, I think you’ll have good results. If you’re doing connect-and-sell with 23-year-olds just lighting up your market —  I don’t think it’s going to work. And you’re right, they do that because — I mean, I’ve looked we built these models ourselves — if you only need two or three percent response rate, and you send it to a couple hundred thousand people, shit, we got good pipelines. Like, is that really smart?

Matt Heinz:  You know, you got to be careful what you wish for on that. And I think that, if you’ve got, you know — whether it’s the 23-year-olds lighting up the emails—  we think about content, whether it’s content that you send out, something like this, or when you think about sort of those SDR emails, I think the lighter and earlier in the relationship you are with someone, the less content you can put in front of them. If you’ve got an hour and a half of things that are interesting to say, you have to earn my attention. I’m not going to give you an hour and a half, and then say, “Well that actually sucks.” You know? I think you start with 100 words. You start with five minutes. You start with an interesting video. You start with, you know, it might even be someone else that listens to you and says, “Boy, you got to listen to this.”

I committed to a college football podcast a year and a half ago because Craig Rosenberg, who we both know, said it was great, right? And, so I subscribed without having checked any of them out because, it’s free, there’s low-cost entry there, but [I’m] listening to them for an hour and a half talking about college football recruiting based on someone’s recommendation. That’s interesting. But if I didn’t know about it, I’d probably listen to it a lot less than that to make sure I liked it. But I think, you know, the content you put out has to be good, it has to be engaging, it has to be relevant to your audience and it has to be relevant to the stage of the buying journey they’re at to get and keep their attention.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, and there was trust, right? So, that came from a recommendation of someone you respect, or somewhat respect.


Matt Heinz:  Let’s not go respect. I know we both know of…

Joe Hyland: If Craig is listening, somewhat respect. Right, so you said, “Okay, cool. I’m not gonna scour the market and do all this research, cool, recommend it to me.” Yeah, that’s funny. What else are you seeing out there? What do you love? What do you hate and we’ve talked a lot about the pet peeve so far, but um what some great marketing you’re seeing?


Matt Heinz: Well, I mean I think we’ve we are seeing more companies invest in building what we call sort of the predictable pipeline, which is sort of getting away from random acts of sales and marketing that a lot of people do and you kinda referenced it earlier, “Oh, man. We’re light on the activity today. What can we do to light up a bunch of demos tomorrow?”

And there are times when the fire drill is necessary when you need to be agile. You need to pivot, but if you hit your number this month, or this quarter, like, what’s your confidence that you’re going to do it again next month and next quarter? And that’s not just about your campaigns. It’s, like, you know, how buyer-centric is your messaging in your content?  How well aligned? Is your sales and marketing team together? What process and tools do you have to facilitate greater efficiency in that system, and then what sort of go-to-market activities are in play that can feed the right volume of activity and leads back to you? And then what tools you have to report on that as well?

So, you know, we’ve developed, sort of, this six-stage sort of critical pipeline framework, these seven areas, that people can look at and say, “I’m strong here. I’m weak here. Here’s a place I need to focus on doing better.” I think a lot of companies in a lot of marketers are looking for the silver bullet, we’re looking for the one thing that’s gonna do it for us, right? I think four years ago — it was five years ago — it was social selling. Three years ago, it was ABM. Last year, it was AI. Like look, there’s no silver bullet. Like, I think, as we all painfully know, that have been in marketing for a while, it’s doing a lot of little things well and doing them consistently and repeatably, with scale.

And so, that’s where this idea of the predictable pipeline came. It’s just that you have to create a system that you can rely on that will deliver high-confidence results over time. So, I think the marketers that are investing in building that system — and it’s not just technology — it’s knowing what’s working, knowing your buying journey. It’s getting it’s fundamentals. That’s what we’re seeing a lot of companies really invest in and that’s helping them align with the sales organization to create that predictability and confidence.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I like that you mentioned the fundamentals because that’s not sexy to talk about so.

Matt Heinz: No.


Joe Hyland: Five years ago, I found, when I’d have conversations with marketing leaders, or people even on our own team, they would list a whole bunch of tactics and that was kind of the strategy: was a collection of tactics. And I think it was easy to course correct on that — easier at least. Now, what I’m finding, is tactics are being replaced with technology — and we’re a technology firm, so perhaps we’re adding to some of this — but the conversations I have are, “Oh, we’re going to invest in this technology this year you mentioned ABM or dabbling with AI.” And there’s nothing wrong with putting in a tech stack — obviously, you need to do that in today’s day and age — but putting in certain types of technology does not replace your strategy. And, going back to core fundamentals, [that’s] actually something that gets brought up in board meetings, and my CEO, we’ll say, “What’s working? Like, our we’re doing really well as a company our pipelines quite predictable?” And I list really boring things.


We’re very disciplined with our message right now. We’re doing a great job in the last two or three quarters in that we have a consistent webinar program, like a consistent demo process, we try to tell a story that is about the market — not about ON24, and trust me, we screw up more than we get right — but it’s the fundamentals that, for us, are driving the results versus these shiny toys or objects.

Matt Heinz: Yeah, I completely agree. I had two companies not too long ago, this is late last year, you know, we were talking about their marketing program and got a call back from the head of marketing said, “Yeah, you know, the CEO took a look at your business and took a look at your website, and he’s decided you represent the more traditional marketers, and we really just want to hire a growth hacker that can come in and make some moves really quickly.” And I think we just got, we just disqualified each other, pretty much for this conversation.

Yeah, I mean, there’s some really interesting flashy things you can do — and even through channels like this. I mean, we’re a ON24 user, I think you can do some really exciting things on this platform multiple formats multiple channels. We record episodes of sales pipeline radio through ON24. It’s been an enabler of our strategy, right? The technology is not your strategy. You find tools that can help you get the things done that are going to build your pipeline that are going to build your business and we do some things on a pretty consistent basis. Like, we do sales pipeline radio every Thursday. We do certain types of content every certain days of the week. I’ve got a daily cadence of prospecting and networking that I do. It’s not flashy, but it works. So I think if you’re looking for “How do we stand out? How do we do something different? How do we break paradigms?” Like, paradigm-shifting is not the goal — having something that is different than everyone else is not the goal. Pipeline is the goal and I think that you got to put your focus in right place. Honestly, once you find something that is working — the growth hackers pivot to something else, what I want to do is build a process around that.

Maybe that processes is buying a system that can automate it. Maybe that process is simply having a checklist that we follow every day. When we do sales pipeline radio for ourselves we have a detailed checklist of how that gets executed, right? And even though we’ve done over a hundred episodes now, like, we all still use that checklist as a safeguard. Yeah, the book, if you haven’t read, “The Checklist Manifesto,” written by a surgeon — these super-smart people that still have a checklist for the mundane details. I mean, I have a daily to-do list for my networking and prospecting — it’s stuff I’ve done for years and I still use that checklist because it’s something I don’t have to remember, you know? It just becomes sort of muscle memory.

I’m the last person that is going to apologize for the mundane. If it’s stuff that can repeatedly scale-ably deliver results.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, there’s nothing overly exciting about repeatable — and it takes that kind of discipline to bring repeatable results.

So another thing that, for me, is kind of silly and funny, but I think marketers get caught up in the craze, which is something that is a core fundamental of great marketing and then becomes the next latest craze. You mention account-based marketing being that three years ago, and, by the way, out here in San Francisco, it’s it still is.

We just went to, I won’t say the vendor’s name, we will probably end up working with them, but we went to an ABM-specific event over at LinkedIn the other day. So, it’s in partnership with LinkedIn and this will solve all of our problems and, again, I, for targeted marketing, I think will look to add in some technology to help us scale what we’re doing, but account-based marketing is just great personalized marketing. And when I remember 15 years ago our CMO said we’re gonna hire someone to do this new thing it’s called account-based marketing and it was a little more manual 15 years ago, but, talk for a few moments about what is what is old becoming new and what is what is all becoming a craze.

Matt Heinz: Well, I think going back to some fundamentals, right? I think, if you, the better you understand your customer, the more effective you’re going to be as a seller. Whether you are in sales or are in marketing. And I think that, to me, that viewpoint in that perspective provides for the two really clear distinctions in my mind between the ABM we should be doing and what we traditionally been doing is marketing.

ABM is not, like, “Well, let’s get a list and start marking them.” ABM is not, “Well, let’s do direct mail.” To me, once we move past sort of the frothiness of hashtag ABM into sort of what residually [will] be part of our marketing. I think there’s two things. One is having better alignment between sales and marketing. I think if you’re going after enterprise deals, no longer is the divide in the pipeline horizontal in the middle where marketing owns the leads and sales owns the conversion. I think the divide is now vertical. You’ve got sales and marketing that own each stage together. And, so, to be coordinated in and how you manage the pipeline, but also coordinating the story that you’re telling to your prospect throughout the pipeline, I think, is important.

The other piece that is incredibly important — and I think most people miss in ABM — is the complexity of the internal buying committee. You know, CEB tells us that now, on average, six members of the buying committee exists. You’ve got almost seven people. And many talk to and enterprise sales are like, “Oh, it’s way more than seven!” You know, all these people that are inside the organization that have a vested interest what you’re selling or what you are enabling.

So, I think your job as a marketer, as a salesperson, as an organization, is to help those six-point-eight people build consensus amongst each other so that they can make a decision faster. So, it’s not just having six personas. It’s understanding the connective tissue between those people, some of it positive some of it negative some of it political. There’s all kinds of stuff that exists, but unless you can help navigate that map, unless you can help navigate that consensus building, you’re going to have a hard time getting deals done. And, so I think, and that is not necessarily a marketing activity, it’s not necessarily a campaign some of that is just good account mapping that’s enabling — in many cases, your sales organization to have the right conversations in maybe a non-scalable way, like the way you do that, for one account, may not work for another account. But if it helps get both of those deals closed, I will take the time to do that, right? Put another way, I think good account-based marketing in some organizations is a lot more sales enablement and a lot less demand gen. It’s getting into the deals and coming up with bespoke strategies from your organization that may include marketing, but may just be inviting people to dinner. Arming your sales team with the right conversations to have when you’ve got three key members of that buying committee on the phone to help them build that consensus.

If you can provide the messaging and the connective tissue to get that deal move forward, I don’t care if it’s a direct mail piece or a friggin tweet, or a set of bullet points you give your sales team — get the deal done. And so, I think that mentality, back to our whole comment about like who gets credit who did what? Like, you know, get in the war room together and figure out what’s going to take to make that customer successful and get them on board with you.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, you’re going back to fundamentals, right? I think what people are confusing in the sexy side of ABM is “Think about it, we’ll be able to deliver this targeted message to thousands of people.” Oh, guess what, that’s transparent. Like, that, in my opinion, that’s not going to work great. Account-based marketing, by definition, shouldn’t scale to several hundred or thousand people.


Matt Heinz: We if we’re doing that, we’re back to the marketing of more, right? And we’re back to the marketing group that just wants more leads more traffic more retweets — like more is not necessarily better. You know, you talk to the sales team, that says, “You gave me more leads, but this guy I got yesterday’s a dentist in South Carolina. How am I supposed to sell an Enterprise IT solution to the dentist that downloaded your content marketing white paper? I mean, that’s just not helpful. And now you’re upset that I didn’t follow up with them 16 times?”

Again, I wish that was a joke! These are real stories that exist in the field, and so that just doesn’t pass the sniff test and I think we are seeing in real time the changing of how, of what, B2B marketing is. It’s not about activity. It’s not about volume. It’s not about how big your budget is. It’s about doing what it takes creatively in your business in your industry, but with a level of predictability and scale that can give you that predictable pipeline that can give you the confidence that you’re going to be able to do it again next month next quarter next year.


Joe Hyland: Yeah, I mean that brought us full circle. That gets back to what you said at the start about MQLs and getting in battles, right? If in the database that’s an MQL, it’s like, “Hey, you know, good luck selling to that dentist with two cats and a dog there —  we qualify them as an MQL.” How’s that relationship going to be? So, it’s about shared ownership on a singular goal.


So, Matt, listen, this is fantastic. You’ve got a pretty kick-ass book, which we have a couple of copies of here in the office, “Full Funnel Marketing.” Anyone listening, you can pick that up at HeinzMarketing.com in the resources section. I’m sure it’s pretty easy to grab.

And Matt, listen, and this was this was fantastic. Thanks for doing the first-ever episode of this with me.


Matt Heinz: The maiden voyage. This was fun, see, it’s conversational. It goes quickly. Hopefully, this gives people some value, and I’m really looking forward to hearing what’s coming up. I know you guys have a bunch of great guests and some great CMOS coming up in future episodes, so, uh, I will be listening.

Joe Hyland: Okay, that’s awesome listen. Thanks Matt, thanks everyone.

Matt Heinz: Thank you.