By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
Late in 2015 we started producing a radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which currently runs every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific. It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.
We’ve already featured some great guests and have a line up of awesome content and special guests coming up. Our very first guest was Funnelholic author and Topo co-founder Craig Rosenberg. Next we had Mike Weinberg, incredible writer, speaker, author, followed by Conrad Bayer, CEO & Founder of Tellwise. Recent Guests: Jim Keenan; Joanne Black; Aaron Ross; Josiane Feigon, Meagen Eisenberg, and Trish Bertuzzi.
We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into and throughout the year. We’ll publish similar highlights here for upcoming episodes. You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.
Matt: If you are listening to us live, thank you very much for joining us, we are live every Thursday at 2:30 Eastern, 11:30 Pacific. You can also catch us on the podcast; so for those of you listening and subscribing on the podcast thank you very much, get us on the iTunes store and Google play at any time and of course all of our episodes are available on demand at www.salespipelineradio.com.
We are featuring, throughout this series, sales and marketing leaders who have interesting things to say. We’ve got speakers, we’ve got authors, influencers and as much as possible especially in 2017, we are featuring practitioners. We are featuring the people that are operating sales and marketing in the trenches doing the hard work that understand that the sausage getting made isn’t always pretty but are trying to innovate and figure that out.
And we’ve got with us to the a very special guest, Shari Johnston who is the senior vice president of marketing at Radius and has an illustrious career in marketing. At some point we are going to talk about Santa.com I promise but before we get to that we will talk a few other things. Shari thanks so much for joining us on Sales Pipeline Radio.
Shari: Thanks for having me Matt, happy to be here.
Matt: Awesome. I’m feeling there’s a bunch of different areas we can take this discussion I mean just based on your background – demand gen and the marketing technologies space. But the one place I think we are sitting here, it’s already technically late January if we can all believe it. And so the 2017 as well underway, as you look at the years, you look at what’s important in B2B marketing and as you think about how you are driving the marketing strategy at Radius, what are some of the places that you are seeing particular focus? Where are the places that you are putting bets on to drive marketing results in 2017?
Shari: Yeah, good question. Yeah, I think year-over-year this year is no different than any others that marketing has pressure to really help scale the organization especially in a startup that I am in. And so we are continuing to have pressure on driving greater value for our marketing dollars and at a more rapid pace. So that, in my mind, obviously tends to draw people to quick win tactics. But I am a firm believer that there is really no silver bullets and we do need to develop a real well orchestrated machine throughout your engine to really draw prospects into successful customers and customers into successful advocates.
While there is no silver bullet I am definitely doubling down in certain areas specifically that we have just drawn significant ROI on from last year. And some of those areas are in especially back in the field marketing space we’ve seen quite a bit of success where we are having an organization just driving that education, building that trust with our customers, getting that face-to-face connection has been successful in helping drive and scale the organization.
Matt: Well, I’d love to hear some of the things you are saying in terms of where you focus. I love the lifecycle marketing approach where it’s not just about getting new customers in the boat but also turning them into advocates and ensuring that you are doing the right things across the business. I mean that really requires an integrated approach, not just in who you are selling to and how you are marketing but customer communication, customer success, product marketing et cetera. What are some of the best practices you see working that can help B2B companies continue innovate and be successful and proactive on the acquisition side but really to take a full lifecycle, full lifetime value approach to the customer?
Shari: Yeah, good question. For us I see a lot of success in really instilling the core personas and the core buyer as something that’s front and center in the organization. I just went on site to a customer yesterday who I thought was doing a really great job at this – Infusionsoft – where they had their four key personas blown up life-size with what they look like, what their job is, what their day today is, to really kind of help instill in the entire organization what these people deal with on a real a basis and help create that empathy throughout whether it be on the sales side, whether it be on the marketing side all the way through customer success.
I think it’s a very key that people understand who your core audience is to help drive that full customer lifecycle and that leads all the way into how you message your emails to engage with them better, to create an on boarding program for your customers that will resonate with them and how you go to market with them and sell to them to create compelling value propositions. So that was something that was really compelling that we’ve touched on here maybe not done as good a job as our customer Infusionsoft but would love to continue to drive that through the organization.
Matt: Well, we could always get better at those things and I think I’m excited to hear more people talk about lifetime marketing opportunity with customers and what that can mean across the business and really what it means in terms of marketing continuing to evolve its leadership role in the overall organization.
You mentioned earlier the pace of marketing and you are veteran of a number of early-stage companies and so I know you are used to not only the fast pace of marketing but also the expectation cycles shall we say of how marketing can deliver. Talk a little bit about what it takes to run and execute marketing in that fast-paced environment where you are expecting and hoping, the entire company wants fast results but that doesn’t always jive with buying cycles, doesn’t always jive with just what it takes to do marketing, right? How do you balance that tension?
Shari: Yeah, that’s a really good question. I think for me one of the biggest struggles that I see us trying to tackle as marketers is really painting that big complex picture that is the buyer’s journey and articulating the value. If you just focus completely on the demand gen piece, on the conversion piece, you will soon fall short on really creating that customer lifecycle value that we talked about as well as your diminishing returns if you’re just focused on one area of the funnel. So really trying to, in our organizations, look at the buyer’s journey.
We have a good close one deal that comes about, we will paint a picture of their digital lifecycle and really help educate the organization on all of the touch points these people went through to get from A to B. And I think that helps us understand that there is not just this knee-jerk reaction of oh, email is working, let’s just double down on that or ads are working, let’s just double down on that. It’s really very unlikely in B2B marketing that it’s a single thread that is helping move your buyer through the buyer’s journey.
Matt: Well, you’re right. In most B2B environments you don’t have a one call close and so it’s multiple threads, a complex cycle. If you believe CEB we now have 6 to 7 people involved in the buying committee so there is an orchestration required inside of organizations.
Some people think of this as account based marketing, I just think of it as the reality of sales and marketing today. As this process becomes more complex externally, what do you have to do as a marketing leader especially coordinating with your sales organization, to better manage that process and do that in a way that is scalable and repeatable across a growing team?
Shari: Yeah, really good question. As you probably know I am a big ABM advocate, have definitely had a lot of success with an ABM strategy. And to your point earlier, I kind of… We talk about it as this new fad that’s coming about but in all honesty it’s sort of how sales has been operating since the dawn of time. They’ve always had key account lists on their side.
In my mind it’s really just helping bridge the gap between sales and marketing and align them more clearly. And I feel better about what I am doing if I know I am delivering campaign engagements or an opportunity to an account they’ve already identified that they want, that feels a lot better than me throwing over a whole lot of opportunities or leads that likely or much of which will fall short and just actually eats up the sales’ reps resources and time and doesn’t really improve results.
So ABM has been something that I certainly implemented in the last few organizations and have had a lot of success with in terms of just helping increase our average deal size, decrease the sales cycles and then just increase conversions rates all the way through, just been something we are definitely putting in place in Radius this last year and we are definitely doubling down on.
And then back to your point of, it just gets even more complex so when we think about all right not only do we have these accounts but we also have six or eight buyers that have different needs within that account. So this year we are even focused even more B spoke tailored accounts strategies to high-value accounts that our sales and marketing teams have developed a list of these kind of high-value accounts that we feel we can really add value to. So that all would be really interesting to see.
And a different lens for marketing where I would say five, seven years ago we were all very focused on a volume approach. So from going from hey, I delivered 8000 and raises or leads this quarter to wow, I did three B spoke campaigns to really highly targeted strategic accounts with custom content, it’s a different conversation and something that even at a progressive company like Radius we’ve definitely had to have some change management around.
Matt: Yeah, I want to talk a lot more about that because I think what you are describing in terms of moving from a volume game in marketing showing how many leads you can generate, having that chart that goes to the board that shows up into the right lead volume, more and more and more and more and more that’s not… In many cases that can be counterproductive to generating the revenue and sales that you want. So I definitely want to talk more about that, talk about the cultural changes that are sometimes involved in helping organizations, helping sales, helping executive team, helping a board rethink how to look at what marketing is doing more on the quality versus quantity standpoint.
We are going to take a quick break. We will be back with a lot more with Shari Johnston, SVP of marketing for Radius and talk more about integrating with sales, talking about changing the mindset and culture of how marketing thinks in a revenue responsibility and we are definitely going to talk about Santa.com. We will be right back, Sales Pipeline Radio!
Matt: Well thanks very much once again for listening to Sales Pipeline Radio. If you like what you hear you can definitely check out more of what we are doing www.salespipelineradio.com. Make sure you check us out in the next few weeks we’ve got some great guests. Coming up next week last official Thursday… Well not just official last Thursday of the month in January, we’ve got Jon Miller who is one of the cofounders of Marketo and is the founder of Engagio, speaking of account based marketing, he and his team was doing some interesting work there.
Week following that we’ve got David Priemer who is the vice president of sales at Influitive, we will be talking about kicking off the year right and what happens after the sales kickoff. If you get the sales kickoff, everyone gets excited. Then you go back to work and fire drills and reality to balance, so how do you make sure you continue the momentum and excitement from sales kickoff?
And in a couple of weeks after that we’ve got Lauren Vaccarello who is the vice president of marketing at Box, we are going to be talking a lot about software as a service, sales and marketing and how to do that effectively. Today, still very excited, got some more time with Shari Johnston the SVP of marketing at Radius. And before we get back into revenue responsibility and metrics and culture changes based on what you are doing.
So if you go to www.Santa.com today it is this really cool tool that allows your kids to get text messages from Santa. Imagine that might not have been what you were working on in the way back machine so it stuck out to me obviously on your resume so I wanted to just hear what that is all about.
Shari: Yeah, definitely an interesting part of my career. I was a Pacific Northwesterner like yourself living in Portland and decided to head down and ride the dot com wave that was happening in the Bay Area and that was my first job in the bay area. It was just a consumer-based site, really new revenue model to speak of but a lot of funding. We had a parade in downtown San Francisco with Christina Aguilera. We had a television spot, it was really interesting time. But as you might imagine was with no revenue models, it quickly went downhill and obviously was a very long time ago – aging myself here, I believe in 1999.
Matt: Yeah, well I feel like those of us that were around back then especially those listening, on our resumes have sometime around 1999, 2000 some dot com on our resumes, I don’t know we should write a book, we should write a joint memoir from some of the silly things that we did in the name of growing a business that had no business model. There is a lot of interesting stories out there.
Matt: Well, let’s get back to sort of the task at hand. I mean you’ve spent, since the Santa.com holiday parade, you have been at Sun, you have been at Demandbase, you’ve been at Cisco, you’ve spent years now sort of honing what marketing is doing well and your team at radius is doing some great work. Before the break we were talking a little bit about culture shifts and the way that marketing not only thinks about and operates from a marketing standpoint but the way they communicate their value.
Were there any growing pains or I guess like migration pains as you moved the way marketing is perceived from a volume-based story to a quality at conversion-based story? Was that difficult for even sort of sales counterparts let alone C-suite and board to understand and get behind?
Shari: Definitely. I think it was both the sides frankly. On the sales side, that’s just what they been used to, that’s what they expect from marketing, is a volume game and they want more and more and more and of course they want quality as well but that’s a bit more ambiguous to measure. So that’s definitely a change of management issue that I’ve tried to solve by doing pilots and really focusing on a couple of key territories with an ABM, showing success and then helping roll it out throughout the organization.
But even on the marketing side, I think marketers are really grasped not only to what they know and what they feel comfortable with as well as a measure is a lot easier to explain of hey I am doing my job I deliver X but also the issues around them having to explain this more complex system that they are offering, and value that they are offering through ABM. So I think on both sides of the fence it really was a change management side on sales as well as the marketing side to get everyone aligned and thinking differently than just a volume approach.
Matt: Yeah, I mean it definitely, for a lot of people we talked to about this, a work in progress. Not only sort of changing the culture how you communicate it but how you do it. I mean I have worked in companies where there is a revenue goal attached to marketing but you have someone in marketing that isn’t willing to increase their cost per lead because that’s what they manage even if increasing their cost per lead could actually go after the right prospects, get the right prospects in and actually increase the contribution of marketing into the pipeline. I mean do you see remnants of that? Is that a cultural change? Does that require hiring new people with different perspectives into marketing? How do people start to migrate that better into 2017?
Shari: Definitely, yeah. And I think to your point of an ABM approach, is really effective or a targeted approach is only effective if everyone is really on board. If some people are still on a volume game approach and then some of focusing on different goals, you’re going to get very mixed results.
And the other change management issue I find very prominent in these high growth companies including my own is you will get everyone on the same page which seems like a triumph in and of itself in here is our model, here is where we are at, everyone is on board, we are seeing initial success. But in a fast-paced company we sometimes bring in, rightfully so, new leadership to help scare the organization that lots of times you have to resell or reeducate on this new process that they may not be used to and that’s not the lens that they have measured or looked at before.
There is still a definite consensus or a different opinion that marketing only controls the top of the funnel and therefore shouldn’t be responsible for metrics in the sales world and I think that’s something that it takes education to overcome that – hey as we are progressing as marketers, this is in a more progressive approach to doing things and this frankly produces a lot better value for the organization as a whole.
Matt: Well what I found is a lot of marketing organizations and executives will begin to embrace the revenue responsibility and naturally kind of pushes them in a direction of doing more sales enablement work, I think it’s a natural for marketing to provide value for their end of the funnel. Sometimes that ends up generating some turf battles between sales and marketing or sales isn’t used to marketing providing that value and there can be some feet stepped on. What does sales enablement look like for you guys and how do you think about that role in conjunction with your sales counterparts?
Shari: Yeah, definitely. One nuance here that’s kind of interesting that I am seeing more and more of to help with that issue, and I think there is positives and negatives to it but at Radius we all roll up and marketing rolls up to our CEO so we functionally are all actually in the same organization, which I think it helps create alignment in that we really are sort of forced to align under the same management.
But you know, there is also… There is still the natural battle of throwing that hand off, needing to be seamless and the contention between that does not necessarily go away just with the work structure change.
So yes, sales enablement for sure is something that I’ve seen actually in my organizations, be a bit batted back and forth between organizations. I take up an approach on that the lens is typically better seen through the functional organization that it’s coming out of.
So for instance if my organization is very focused on strategy; we are not necessarily are great services organization. So while we create sales enablement for the core sales enablement function of data sheets or presentations, all of our core assets, the B spoke and tailored messaging is done by the individual group so we have sales enablement is structured to do that more tailored approach for one off requests in the sales group and then same on the customer success side where more service-oriented one off requests structure is needed.
Matt: Awesome. Well I want to thank our guest today Shari Johnston SVP of marketing at Radius. Thanks so much for joining us, these times always go so fast. We have run out of time very quickly in a half hour show but thanks so much for joining us. Thanks everyone for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.
If you want to hear from Shari again you can definitely hear a recap and a replay on demand at www.salespipelineradio.com and if you want to make sure you don’t miss any future episodes, join us live every Thursday at 2:30 Eastern, 11:30 Pacific and subscribe at the podcast iTunes Store and Google play. Thanks very much. On behalf of Shari and our fine producer Paul, this is Matt Heinz, thanks for listening, Sales Pipeline Radio!
Paul: You’ve been listening to Sales Pipeline Radio, the only show that takes a look at how to build and sustain a pipeline with Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing.