CMO Confessions Ep. 23: PayPal’s Penny Delgadillo Valencia

Hello and welcome again to CMO Confessions, our bi-weekly podcast covering the world of B2B marketing and sales.

We have Penny Delgadillo Valencia, Head of Global Partnership Marketing at PayPal, on this week’s episode of CMO Confessions. Penny has worked her way through the ranks at Microsoft and SAP before making her way to PayPal.

Along the way, she developed a few skill critical sets that are in high demand in the digital marketing arena. Chief among them is the ability to manage, work with and support channels and partners. In this episode, we go over how she does partner and channel management — as well as what she focuses on day-to-day and why taking risks is critical to anyone’s career.

Penny has some great insights when it comes to marketing at both a big-picture level and when sweating the details is key. If you’re interested in discovering what else Penny has to say, you can follow her on Twitter here. If you’re interested in her background and what she’s sharing with like-minded peers, you can check out her LinkedIn profile here.

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 iTunes and Google Play stores.

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

Table of Contents

Transcript

Joe Hyland:

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of CMO confessions, a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast where we explore what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at On24, and joining me this week from the greater Los Angeles area is Penny Delgadillo Valencia, Head of Global Partnership Marketing at PayPal. Penny, great to have you on the show.

Penny:

Thank you, Joe. It’s great to be here, I’m very excited to be talking to our fan base.

PLANNING THE WORK AND WORKING THE PLAN

Joe Hyland:

Fantastic. So let’s, let’s dive right in. So you think about our careers now, or specifically your career now, I’d love to get your perspective on what you know now versus what you knew when you started this journey. And really, you know, what a lot of other marketers are probably challenged with or struggling with in terms of what they really should know about the B2B marketing world.

Penny:

Yeah, no, that’s a great question. And I think some of my insights probably apply to a lot of different things. Not just sort of your career path as a marketer. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some, many, many, fantastic marketers. And one of the things that struck out at me and stayed with me is this one quote that talks about planning the work and working the plan.

And so I think first and foremost, if you don’t have a plan or a vision of where you want to go, wherever that is, as a CMO or not, I think it’s going to be hard for you to work the plan. So always be mindful about planning the work and working the plan. I think the second big thing for me, and you can see this in my career trajectory and where I sort of place my bets, is that I looked at opportunities where there was a high risk, high reward.

And so a lot of the work that I did at Microsoft was all on incubation businesses where we were really trying to transform into the cloud. These businesses were not highly funded like Windows, or breaking glass every day and really believing in the long term strategy that we needed to move the company. And you really have to have the tenacity and the appetite to work on those types of businesses. And so I always encourage people to look for those not bright spots but dark spots because those are the ones that are really game changers in your career.

And then I think the last piece is, and again, I think this applies to life in general, is understanding your sixth sense, right? If things feel good, then they feel good for a reason. If things don’t feel good, they don’t feel good for a reason. And I think that third eye sort of sixth sense people ignore and it’s probably the most critical factor that’ll drive you to probably the breakthroughs in your career.

Joe Hyland:

I love that. I think that’s fantastic advice. I think a lot of particularly your second point on taking risks and really going for it. I think marketers, and not just marketers, marketing departments, companies that are bold or marketers that are bold; I think you can do really powerful things and I think it is all too easy in one’s career but also in a marketing plan to have your end goal, as you said, planning the work, to set yourself up for, sign up for things that are pretty easy to achieve because that way you’re not, you won’t miss the mark. And I think in doing so, you will miss the mark, so to speak. And I think that that’s brilliant advice. I’d love to hear more on going bigger, taking bigger risks and shooting for the stars.

TAKING BIGGER RISKS AND SHOOTING FOR THE STARS

Penny:

Yeah. I mean, the first thing is that organizations don’t really reward failure, right? They reward success. And I think one of the things we talked about at Microsoft was, hey, how do we reward failure living in a meritocracy and where we have to be a little bit more self-deprecating, right?

So I think taking risks, failing fast and learning and iterating is probably one of the biggest things that we have learned from the likes of brands like Amazon. And I think that is one of the things that rings true in the way that they drive their culture and the way that they run their business. And so I think, you know, one of the key things is to take the risk, learn how to fail and fail fast.

I feel that organizations need to look at how they could reward failure versus successes. And I think the true reward with failure is taking the leap of faith, failing fast and then iterating quickly. And I think if you look at a brand like Amazon and the culture that they have there, and the way that they drive their business, they have been able to iterate and move the needle on game-changing technology that if they didn’t have that mindset, probably would never exist. And I can’t imagine life without my Alexa.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I think that’s brilliant. That’s a great example too. Yeah. I’ll be really honest, this is something that we’ve struggled with on our own marketing team because I think it’s just natural for, as you said, for businesses and companies, but also individuals to think, “Oh, I need to succeed at everything. Like I should get an A in life and I should only do things that I can actually accomplish.” And you need to take risks, right? Like, yeah, Amazon’s a great example. Microsoft’s done really cool things here too, where, yeah, you sign up for, I heard this the other day, one of my previous guests talked about, BHAGS, big hairy audacious goals, which is actually something I had not heard about before.

Penny:

That’s a good one!

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I think it comes from the military. And yeah, that’s where we do great things, signing up for things that you know you can accomplish. Like, well, I’m not really sure if that’s really a good way to go through life and probably not a good way to go through one’s career. But yeah, innovative companies get ahead of that and they encourage that. Yeah, and I think anyone listening should really heed that advice because if you want to get ahead in your career you don’t want to be conservative. Do big, bold, really cool things.

WHAT A CHIEF ORCHESTRATION OFFICER IS AND WHY YOU NEED ONE

Joe Hyland:

Okay, cool. So, I’d love to hear your perspective more and more in the channel world and in partner marketing and if the challenges that we’ve been talking about and the opportunities that we’ve been talking about for just general B2B marketers, is that the same in a partner world? Is it different? What does that world view look like?

Penny:

Yeah. To me, it’s the same with a nuance. And so if you think about what B2B marketers need to know in this day and age is that marketing, whether it’s channel or direct, is really at the tip of the sphere, to lead disruption and transformation, right? That’s what we do as marketers and we need to figure out the way that we align with our customer’s needs and be that customer-first perspective for the entire organization. So, I talk about the concept of a new COO and it’s actually not what you think. It’s actually Chief Orchestration Officer.

So I think if you go into brand marketing and you run your P and l if you become a product marketer, if you become a channel marketer, you’re going to be that COO of your business and you’re going to have to orchestrate across every single discipline in your organization, whether it’s sales, marketing, digital, brick and mortar, customer success, right?

All of these touch points now are aligning to really hone in on what that end to end customer journey is. And at every moment, we need to put the customer first on that journey. And that’s one of the transformations that we’re going through at PayPal, right? Looking at how does our partner experience look like from an end to end perspective and what are our partner’s wants and needs at every touch point with PayPal. And how do we make that the best in class, most successful experience for them, whether they’re talking to us daily or whether they’re engaging with us on the web once a month.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. It is so easy for us as marketers to put ourselves first, whether it’s done purposely or accidentally, and it is a very basic point of course, but it is always about them never about you. So it’s just a different audience, right? So, you’re putting, you’re ensuring, and I love the COO concept, you’re ensuring that your partner’s needs whatever they are, that those are on the forefront of what PayPal is doing, right?

Penny:

Correct. And look, we’re all consumers, right? We’ve seen this convergence of B2B and consumer marketing coming together several years now. And as a partner, you have the same expectations as a consumer that your partner, in this case, PayPal, is going to know what you need, when you need it, how you need it, where you need it. Right? And that’s the consumerization of IT and marketing that we’ve seen happen over the last few years.

PARTNERS, CHANNELS AND HOW TO USE THEM

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. One, yeah. And you’re totally right. We need to look no further than just how you and I and everyone listening consumes content, consumes items, how we handle ourselves in a commerce situation. But what’s interesting is in my stint, my brief stint compared to yours, in the partner world and in the channel world is I find that a lot of companies have a hard time putting their partners first. And I think that that’s short-sighted, and it, but it takes a really world-class partner marketing and really partner-first mindset to ensure that you are treating your partners just like you would your customer base or your employees. They really need to be front and center.

Penny:

Absolutely. And I think both at Microsoft, at SAP and even now at PayPal, we clearly realized that partners were at the forefront center and at the leading charge of driving transformation with our customers. Right? They are the unspoken salesforce. They are the unsung influencers of the world. And in some cases, they know more about our customers than we do. And so if we’re not engaging them early with training, if we’re not engaging them early on how we’re moving the needle in the market, if we’re not engaging them in our sales operations piece of the business earlier in the buying cycle, then we’re really not leveraging the power and the strength of what a channel can do for a company.

THE THREE AREAS PENNY FOCUSES ON DAY-TO-DAY

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. That’s well said. Yeah, particularly being close to the customer, right? I mean that’s incredibly valuable insight. Okay, so I think the landscape has been set up. I’m curious to know what the biggest challenges for you? So you just described what this should look like or maybe does look like, but that being said, what are the day to day challenges that you’re facing?

Penny:

Yeah, I mean, for us at PayPal, I think it’s just the sheer scale of opportunity and we want to make sure that we do it right. Right? And we do it right and we do it right by the customer. I think it’s a staggering statistic, you know, and I was working on the Microsoft ISD business that today Microsoft has a channel of 400,000 partners and on any given day their onboarding 7,500 net new partners a day. So the sheer scale of what we need to do as we start to look at partners and customers all needing commerce solutions and PayPal being the platform to enable them to do that is probably one of my biggest challenges. And I think there are probably three areas that I’m squarely focused on. I talked about the partner experience because you have to start with a world-class partner experience in order to be able to deliver.

I think the second one is the narrative, right? What is the story that we want to tell our partners and that we want our partners to tell our customers? Because if we can’t get clear on the narrative and we can’t articulate the value that we see, then it’s going to be hard for our partners to do that and our customers to understand it.

And I think the third one is the conglomeration of martech, right? There are so many ways, tools, vehicles that we can engage our partners with. And so it’s really landing on what is that martech stack look like? What is the engagement touchpoints that we want, you know, with our customers? And then how do we get the technology to work on them. So I’m spending a lot of time on customer journey mapping, narratives and technology roadmaps.

HOW TO ENGAGE WITH THE PARTNER COMMUNITY AND BUILD TRUST

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I love talking to marketers about, not just their tech stack, but how they’re engaging with their audiences in a manner that scales because there’s nothing more engaging than what you and I are doing right now. It’s just like a great one to one discussion.

But when you have the kind of scale that you talked about at Microsoft and what you have now at PayPal, I’m guessing there were, you know, there aren’t as many one-to-one discussions as any of us would like. So how do you do that? Talk to me about, you know, how some of the ways you do engage, with the partner community?

Penny:

I mean I think there’s a couple of ways that we engage with them. Right? At the top level we have very deepened relationships with our largest partners, right? And we spend a lot of time listening and learning from them because I think, you know, they have the same challenges we do, right? They have ecosystems, they have partner programs, we’re a partner in a myriad of partner opportunities for them. So, really sharing best practices and learning and listening to what they need from us and bi-directionally I think is super important.

I think at the lower scale, right, because we have a large scale of partners where they’re digitally managed, you know, we try to look at surveys and qualitative feedback from them to help us guide us and grade us on, hey, are we on the mark? Are we off the mark? Right? And I think having those quarterly checks and balances bi-annual checks and balances and really just taking the feedback to heart is where you truly develop that trust and being a partner for life.

HOW TO INCORPORATE PARTNERSHIP FEEDBACK INTO YOUR MARKETING

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I think that’s fantastic. I’d love to dig deeper in listening and learning because there’s nothing worse than any relationship in life where you feel like you give feedback and perhaps the other person, the company, you name it doesn’t listen. And with a partnership, it by definition should involve both sides and ensuring that there is listening, there is learning and hopefully, there are adjustments if need be. So, yeah, how do you incorporate that feedback and how much of that is in your marketing versus kind of what you need to do perhaps on the product side or go to market?

Penny:

Yeah. And I think that’s a great question. I mean, I think for us, we definitely take a multipronged approach to that. Right? I think one, we have to set the tone that starts with what do we want to achieve, right? What do we want to achieve from a joint brand standpoint together? What do we want to achieve from a revenue and sales goals together?

And so getting that clear alignment on what it means to have that mutual partnership and having those quote-unquote KPIs aligned so we’re all sort of swimming towards the same ocean or island, which you know, is where it starts, right? I think the second one is the monitoring, right?

So making sure got your scorecards in place and that you’ve got that closed-loop feedback, whether it’s in a QBR or whatnot, to make sure that you are actually swimming to the island and things are going well. And then I think the last one is honesty, right? If you can’t have those honest conversations, let’s say look we failed here, but we can do better here. Or hey, this was a great success how do we capitalize on it and have those somewhat, sometimes hard conversations. It’s not that it’s assigning blame, but it’s more of, hey, how can we all do better together? And so I think if folks take that approach to any type of partnership relationship, that’s really where you build the trust.

BE AUTHENTIC WITH YOUR MARKETING

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I love that. I love where you ended there. I think a lot of great marketing is about empathy and trust. I mean, it’s easy to slip on this slippery slope, but so much of what we do in marketing is highly produced and highly curated and very well thought through and maybe you’ve got like your brand agency in the room with you when you’re constructing that go-to-market message and plan. But the best marketing is authentic and it, you know, it is just overflowing with empathy. And yeah, you’re right. I think that’s so important for partnerships. I also think it’s just great advice for marketers.

Penny:

Absolutely. I think you need to be authentic especially going back to some of the things that we talked about around the consumerization of IT and marketing, right? And as an example in our portfolio, we’ve got some very authentic brands. And I’ll give you an example of Etsy. They were just recently named the number two e-commerce site in the U.S. by Netimperatives, right? Etsy was born out of the fact that we had thousands and thousands of people that we call casual sellers that had some unique and interesting goods that they wanted to sell. Right?

And what better place to do that than online? And so if you go there they have a curated portfolio of thousands of sellers where some of these unique, brands and items would have never been found unless maybe you traveled, right? And so I think thinking about how we enable cross border trade, how we enable cross border transactions, how do we bring the uniqueness of some of these countries in a commercial fashion online is one of the things that, you know, we’re here to solve for with our platforms and really enable that any type of seller, right, can be a business and drive success.

Joe Hyland:

Wow, I love that. I mean this is really impactful work you guys are doing and pretty cool reach, right? That’s a powerful story. I love what Etsy is doing and it’s cool that you guys are powering a lot of that and partnering with them. Do you share those kinds of stories with your broader partner community or meaning do you kind of tell this like here’s what great looks like XYZ partner plus PayPal or is your communication always focused around just specific things that you can do and are doing with that individual partner?

Penny:

I think as marketers, we have the opportunity to be storytellers and I think great marketing starts with storytelling. And honestly, if I could rate ourselves, we could probably do better in that category. You know, being transparent and honest and building trust. Right? And so I think we need to, again as we look at putting the customer first, keep an eye on how do we drive a storytelling mentality? Because at the end of the day, any one partner or customer isn’t going to want to know the solution that you’re selling them. They’re going to want to know what is the business outcome that I’m going to get if I invest in your solution.

And I sincerely think that storytelling means being outcomes based, being empathetic to where the customer wants to go from a business perspective, not a technology perspective, and not really focused on the speeds and feeds off it, but how is it going to grow their business? And we’re spending a lot of time understanding the impact of how a partner with PayPal can grow their business and what are the exponential things that we can do and bring to the table for them to be that partner for life because we are enabling their growth. So it’s not just selling them technology or selling them a platform, but selling them a vision of where their company can go if they partner with us.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, you just said that so perfectly – where their company can go, right? Like, that’s not about PayPal. You can help them get there and that’s through a partnership with PayPal but I think that is focusing on what matters most. Yeah, I think for marketers, and I’m seeing a lot of good marketing today, there’s also a lot of bad marketing, I won’t call anybody out, but focusing on outcomes and results and whether that’s revenue or increasing market share or helping your partner be more successful.

Penny, I love that. I think more and more marketers, but just more and more companies in general, focusing on the actual business outcome, is what we need to be doing, but we need to be doing it in authentic real human ways. And I think you said it really well. It starts with storytelling. It starts with a customer-first mindset.

And I’ll end it with, because I just loved that you started us off this way, plan the work, work the plan. I think that’s brilliant advice and if you don’t see the whole picture, it’s really hard to march towards the end goal that you have in mind. So I highly encourage all marketers to think big, think audacious, and take that advice. So, Penny, I want to thank you again for the time. I really enjoyed the discussion.

Penny:

Thank you, Joe. Same here anytime.

Joe Hyland:

All right. Thanks so much.

Penny:

All right. Bye.