By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
Late in 2015 we started producing a weekly radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which is live 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 featured an impressive list of guests and will continue to do so with awesome content going forward. 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.
The latest episode, The Agony and Ecstasy of Annual Budgeting and Planning (Seriously!)
The best marketing and sales plans are the result of a process that addresses the business interests, revenue requirements and marketing goals of a company. In this interview with TJ Waldorf, VP of Global Marketing for INAP, I ask how INAP addresses the needs of the stakeholders to create a budget and plan. In the first part of the interview we discuss the planning process, in the second half we explore how the budget is created.
- Start early
- Get all parties on the same page to allocate resources of people and dollars
- Align marketing and sales team
- Have regularly scheduled meetings between sales and marketing
- Develop a return on investment model that the CEO and CFO buy into
- Create a scorecard for marketing’s impact
About our Guest: TJ Waldorf Vice President, Global Marketing
TJ Waldorf leads INAP’s global marketing organization as Vice President of Global Marketing. Prior to this position, he served as Vice President of Inside Sales and Marketing at SingleHop, which was acquired by INAP.
His previous experience encompasses a broad spectrum of marketing, sales, operations and business management positions, including management roles at Phoenix NAP and Secured Servers. There, he led initiatives to increase global market share across several data centers with a broad IaaS portfolio of dedicated and virtual servers, colocation, private and hybrid cloud.
At INAP, we make performance-driven IT transformations a reality every day. The performance of your IT strategy depends on the performance of your infrastructure—its speed, resiliency and scalability. But as increasingly complex data center and multicloud solutions transform the ways we power applications and connect them to people, achieving the performance vital to the purpose of your organization is no longer straightforward. From data center location and compute environments to network security and interconnection, myriad factors dictate the performance of critical workloads and systems.
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Matt Heinz: Well, thank you everyone for joining us for another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. This is Matt Heinz, your host, and I appreciate everyone joining us here in the quiet week between Christmas and New Year’s as we are in true end-of-year fashion. We’re going to spend some time today talking about annual budgeting, annual planning and what goes into that.
First of all, thank you so much for joining us. I know we are live today. This episode is being played live on the Sales Funnel Radio Network, so thank you very much for joining us live. Also, thank you very much for those of you that are joining us through the podcast, if you found us on salespipelineradio.com or iTunes store or Google Play or wherever find podcasts are sold and available, thanks so much for joining us.
We are featuring some of the best and brightest minds every week in the B2B sales and marketing space. Today is not different. Very excited to have with us TJ Waldorf. TJ, thanks so much for joining us.
TJ Waldorf: Hey, Matt, thanks for having me on.
Matt Heinz: So, TJ is the vice president of global marketing for … Do I pronounce it INAP?
TJ Waldorf: Got it, yep.
Matt Heinz: All right, excellent, and I think we specifically today wanted to talk a little bit about, I think what I put in the title for this episode, the agony and the ecstasy of annual budgeting and planning. We’re recording this on the week before Christmas, TJ, and I imagine everything is done. All budgeting, all planning, it’s done, it’s all put to bed. You’re not going to have to look at it again for another year, right?
TJ Waldorf: That is close to being right.
Matt Heinz: Tell me about, without getting into the dirty details or sharing any secrets, when you think about annual planning and budgeting, what does that mean for you and your team?
TJ Waldorf: The biggest thing for me is, it’s really, if I was to sum it up in one word, it’s about alignment, right? It’s about getting everybody really on the same page. What you need to accomplish in the upcoming year, and then really deciding where to allocate resources. That’s people, that’s dollars, that’s time and energy, and it really is all about alignment from the top down to the folks that are in hand-to-hand combat, so to speak, in the field every day with customers.
Matt Heinz: And when you think about your team, like the people that you need to get aligned, I mean, within your marketing team as well as within your sales organization or customer-facing organization, who are the people that are critical from a planning standpoint to make sure you’re aligned around objectives and needs?
TJ Waldorf: Yeah, that’s a good question. We try to go pretty deep. It’s not just a handful of executives sitting in a room and saying, “Here’s what we want to go do.” There’s a lot of listening and that sort of work that goes into the early stages of planning to understand what are the needs and challenges and objective of individual sellers, for example, in different markets across the globe.
And then you kind of start to roll that up into the executive conversations. I spend a lot of time with our SVP of sales; I spend a lot of time with our CFO and other folks at that level to make sure that we are thinking more broadly across the organization on how to allocate resources.
Matt Heinz: Is that something that you tend to do mostly at the beginning of the year, as we’re sitting here today thinking about 2019? Is that something that happens on a regular basis? What have you learned in terms of the cadence of not just planning, but also objective level-setting with those around you?
TJ Waldorf: I think it’s a combination of both the formal start your planning budgeting process, call it August-September for the upcoming year, but just as important, those conversations are happening on a monthly and quarterly basis to make sure that you’re hitting the objectives that you need to hit throughout the year, and using that as another input for how you think about planning the upcoming year.
In my mind it’s an ongoing process, and then you do still have that, what everybody would consider the formal process that starts kind of in the fall.
Matt Heinz: Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with TJ Waldorf. He’s the vice president of global marketing for INAP. What’s unique about your position, TJ, is that you have spent quite a bit of your career on the sales side. You’ve had sales/operations management roles, you’ve been a vice president of inside sales. How does that sales background impact your planning from a marketing perspective? You know, B2B marketing leaders that are maybe listening to this podcast that haven’t had that sales experience, what should they be thinking about from a sales perspective to make planning go better?
TJ Waldorf: I come at it from a bit of a unique view, I think, at least in my mind I do. When you’re selling and when you’re in a sales role or leading a sales team, you have a number, right. You’ve got to hit a revenue objective, a booking objective, and that’s how you’re measured. I think taking that mentality into a marketing organization has probably put us at an advantage. You know, my marketing team’s been great at adopting that frame of mind and seeing the things that we do through the lens of the sales team. The activities, the events that we’re running, it’s all about helping the sales reps close more business. While we look at and measure things like traffic to the website and leads and all the, what you’d probably consider traditional marketing metrics, at the end of the day if the sales team isn’t their bookings number and you’re not filling the pipeline to help to do so, everything else doesn’t necessarily matter.
I think that’s the unique thing, and for marketers that hadn’t been in sales, as much as you can do to spend time with the sales team, the sales leaders, and really get close to what they’re trying to achieve. (A) you’re going to make some friends because they’re wanting to hear that, but I think that you’re going to just better align yourself with your organization’s objectives.
Matt Heinz: I want to go a little further on that topic because I think it’s important. You mentioned spending time with sales and not just learning what they’re focused on, but making sure you’re really intimately familiar with how they work. What are things you recommend people that are sort of maybe nodding their heads and saying, “Sure, yeah, that makes sense.” What exactly should they be doing? Should they literally be going on sales calls? Do you listen in on phone calls? What are some things that maybe your team has done or that you’ve seen work successfully, not just to learn what the sales team is doing, but also build more empathy for the role.
TJ Waldorf: Yeah, it’s a great question. I’m just thinking about my cadence as it relates to our sales leadership and customers. We’ve got a regular meeting every Monday where the sales leadership/marketing leadership are talking about here’s what’s going on, here’s what’s upcoming, here are the challenges, here’s what the sales team’s seeing in the field. They’re looking to us for feedback on how we can help them accelerate deals and get more eyeballs to the things that we’re doing.
So you’ve going that going on. We also are invited to the weekly forecast calls. It’s the SVP of sales that’s leading the calls. He’s got all the regional sales directors on and they’re talking through pipeline, they’re talking through best case and commits and what it’s going to take to close that business. I think that’s a really, really valuable call to be on for our team, because you hear certainly what’s going on and you get to ask questions. It’s not just them kind of running through everything and then you end the call. Anybody that’s on that call is expected to ask questions, to raise thoughts and ideas, and that’s really why it’s done, so you get that broader team involved in selling. So, even though the marketing isn’t out there directly closing business, we try to stay as close to that as possible.
Then the last things I’d say is if you have the opportunity, get out and meet with customers. Go on sales calls. We’ve got an executive sponsorship program where I’m an executive sponsor for some of our customers, and that keeps me really close to the conversation, too.
I’m not saying that the way that I do it is the exact way that you have to do it or even the right way, but those have been some helpful activities, and that sort of cadence keeps me honest to the things that we need to do to support sales.
Matt Heinz: I love that, and your background in sales certainly helps with that, but I think it’s really good advice, beyond just the, quote unquote, listen to calls and put your sales reps in a room and ask them what their problems are. I think those are some other good pieces of advice and tactical recommendations.
Related to still coordinating between sales and marketing, where do you find some of the primary sources of conflict or disagreement when it comes to planning, and what have you done and what have you seen work to overcome that?
TJ Waldorf: You know, I think that some of the disagreements come into, I’ll use events as an example, right. From a marketing perspective, we’re very focused on ROI, right. What are the different marketing channels where we’re spending dollars and where can we get the best bang for our buck? Sometimes sales reps might want to attend a certain event in their region and maybe it’s something that we haven’t necessarily seen the greatest ROI with in the past, or maybe we’re not terribly familiar with what to expect and can’t really build great assumptions around what that ROI would be.
That’s just one area, but I think that the way you overcome it is you have a conversation. You talk through what’s the rep’s experience been or what’s the sales director’s experience been with that particular event? Maybe they attended it at the last company they were at and they can give us at least some anecdotal evidence that it should make some sense here, too. It really just comes down to having those conversations and not just kind of staying in your silo and making some of those decisions without really pulling back the curtains.
Matt Heinz: And our last question here before we take a quick break. We’ve got TJ Waldorf here. TJ’s the vice president of global marketing at INAP. Thinking about input for those plans. We’ve talked about coordinating across customer-facing teams, especially sales and marketing. At what point in the process is it important to get feedback from both below and above? At what point do you ensure you’re got planning and priority feedback from your team, and at what point do you bring in either your peers on the executive team, or your boss, the CEO or COO or whoever you report to. What’s the best places to incorporate them as part of the process?
TJ Waldorf: Get the team involved as early as possible. We talked a little bit earlier about starting that process of going deeper into the organization and then understanding challenges. These are the folks that are going to have to help, and they’re largely responsible for executing whatever the plan is, so I think it’s important to have that voice and input, and ultimately buy-in to the plan, as early on as possible.
And then as it relates to the CEO and the CFO, I think that you’re having conversations throughout the year, so you’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s important to them, and that you can start to put the framework of the plan together, building their assumptions around what the return’s going to be, how you’re going to help the rest of the company meet the bigger objectives, and then just sit down and kind of walk through that and allow them to ask questions and add other ideas maybe that I didn’t think about or the team didn’t think about that really helps to refine it and make it the best plan possible.
Matt Heinz: Got it. We’re going to have just a quick break and pay some bills. We’ll be back with more with TJ Waldorf. We’ve been talking mostly about the planning process, but after the break we’re going to talk about the budgeting process and where the money comes from when it gets funded. When best laid plans hit the battlefield, you really start making adjustments fairly quickly. We’ll talk to you about what that means, as well. We’ll be right back on Sale Pipeline Radio.
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Matt Heinz: Thanks so much for joining us. We’re excited to have TJ Waldorf here today, the vice president of marketing for INAP. We got some great episodes coming up. Our first Sales Pipeline Radio episode of 2019 will feature Scott Ingram. We’re going to talk about the lessons from the sales 1%. How they do it and how you can, too. Whether you’re in sales or supporting a sales organization, you’re going to want to listen to that. Following Scott, we’re very excited to have Tiffani Bova who’s chief evangelist at Salesforce, to talk about her new book Growth IQ, what that means and why it’s important to your success.
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We’ve got more time here on Sales Pipeline Radio in this episode with TJ Waldorf. He’s the vice president for marketing for INAP and we’ve spent part of the beginning of this episode, TJ talking about the planning process. It’s one thing to put your plans and priorities on a piece of paper and a PowerPoint and everyone nods and says, “Yep, that’s the right thing to do.” And then comes the time you have to ask for money to fund it. So, talk about the intersection of planning and budgeting for you and what has worked well to ensure that it’s as painless of a process as possible.
TJ Waldorf: I mentioned ROI before and I think one of the things that I’ve learned over time is that there are lots of ways to show ROI, right. There are different models that I’ve seen at various organizations. The thing that’s important, as early on as possible to understand which flavor or a model, if you will, is the one that’s going to make the most sense to the CFO and the CEO. You don’t want to be thinking about whether it’s customer acquisition, their lifetime value, or anything else that doesn’t line up to how they’re thinking about it, because you can do all that work and then show up at the doorstep and be asking for your resources allocation for the year, and then it not align with everything else that they’re thinking about.
So I think that that’s the most important thing, is understanding how at the CFO’s level are we thinking about ROI.
Matt Heinz: And when you’re asking for money, I mean, how accurately can you think about and even conceive of what your spend’s going to be for an entire 12 months? I think you know, I feel like 10, 15 years ago it seemed reasonable to say, “Well, I know what I’m going to be doing and spending in Q4.” For a lot of companies, what you do a year from now is going to be dependent on the success of programs before it. So, does that require a more flexible and variable approach to budgeting, and how have you seen, if at all, an approach like that be successful?
TJ Waldorf: I think it really does require to be more flexible and agile, and I think that you can go into a year with your assumptions, whether that’s a percent increase from the previous year or it’s solely bottoms up based on success. So you can go in with that idea, but I think that it really does come back to almost a quarterly look at what’s working, what’s not working, should we shift things around, and just making sure that you’re constantly on lock set with the other metrics in the business because that’s where it’s all going to come back, right? And marketing has to be able to prove that the things that they’re doing are actually showing a return to the organization.
So, the more flexible you can be, and I realize that some organizations probably say, “Here’s the year. Here’s exactly what it’s going to be,” and we file that away and we stay within that for the year, but if you can be flexible and you can work that sort of model with the CFO or the finance team or whoever you’re working with, I think that puts you in a better spot because you can be more opportunistic throughout the year, as opportunities come up that you might want to invest.
Matt Heinz: Well now, flexibility goes both ways, I think. If you’re doing things that aren’t working and you’re not getting results out of it, you don’t want to keep spending on that, but if you find something that’s working you want to be able to in some cases double down on that. You want to be able to invest more dollars, and it’s not just redistributing money from elsewhere. Sometimes it really does mean making a bigger bet on doing that.
Talk a little bit about what the scorecard then looks like from that planning process. Like, how do you go from saying, “Okay, here’s our plan. Here’s what we’re going to achieve,” and then how do you best communicate impact of some of those efforts so you can go get some of that upward variable budget as the year progresses.
TJ Waldorf: It comes in a few forms. At my team level, my marketing leadership team level, on a weekly basis we go through a deck that has literally basically a scorecard that shows here’s how we’re progressing against our lead goal, here’s how we’re progressing against out opportunity goal bookings, and so on and so forth. So we’re looking at that weekly, and then on a quarterly basis, executive leadership team’s looking at how we’re progressing against the bigger picture throughout the year.
I’d say the more granular that you can be around the different channels that you’re spending in, so that you can build that narrative going into that quarterly discussion of hey, we’re seeing a lot of success through, I’ll point to events again. Or a lot of success through our vid media channels. Maybe we should think about investing a little bit more heavily as we progress into the second half of the year. That’s a conversation you work through, and I think that if the return metrics make a lot of sense to everybody, it’s very likely, to your point, that rather than shifting around you’re going to invest more heavily in that thing that’s working really well.
But it’s my job and my marketing team’s job to make sure that we can clearly articulate what those channels are, how they’re performing, what the investment is, and then make the ask.
Matt Heinz: Just got a few more minutes with TJ Waldorf, the vice president of global marketing at INAP, and I really appreciate you taking the time today. I love your perspective on planning and budgeting, especially given your experience on both the sales and the marketing leadership side. But you also have experience in something that I think a lot of online marketers aren’t even really aware of. You’re a Six Sigma Green Belt from back in the day.
Can you explain to the young people listening what Six Sigma is and why actually the concepts are still relevant in today’s marketing world?
TJ Waldorf: You know, in my current role I think the way that that translates is really continuous improvement. Constantly looking at how we’re doing against our objectives and constantly going back and figuring out how do we squeeze a little bit more out of those channels. That’s kind of how I would sum it up. There’s lots of other terminology and things that you can get lost in, but from a sales and marketing perspective, it’s being really cognizant about the processes and the various activities and the things that are going on inside your teams on a constant basis, so that rather than looking at maybe from a top-down view you can really understand the different levers that you have in each role and in each channel.
Matt Heinz: Continuous improvement, but also a little bit of just process improvement along the way. Becoming more efficient is how you do that, and I don’t think that that’s something we always spend a lot of time as marketers thinking about, is not just the results we’re generating, but if you find those repeatable, sustainable ongoing efforts, how do you make that process better? Can you talk a little bit about process improvement along the way as well?
TJ Waldorf: Yeah, exactly. It’s almost like, I know this term’s probably played out a little bit, but it’s the playbook, right? Something that you can refer back to. You know how it works, kind of the inner workings of the process were at play, and you can make the tweaks along the way to continually improve it.
Matt Heinz: Last question when we wrap up here with TJ. We ask a lot of people, your career has spanned a lot of interesting companies and you’ve had a diverse set of roles. Who were a couple of people that have really been influential to you along the way? They can be former managers, mentors, they could be authors, people alive or dead. Who are some people you might recommend others seek out, read about, read from, learn from, that have helped you along the way?
TJ Waldorf: I’m a big Peter Drucker fan as far as authors, management gurus. Andy Grove’s another one that would fit in that category. I’ve got something that I always encourage my peers and folks younger than me or even older, is that if you can find a mentor, it doesn’t matter who it is, they could be older, they can be younger, it could be someone that you only talk to through phone or through email, but somebody that you have that you can really rely on to bounce ideas off, to ask to give you the tough criticism on the things that you’re doing so that you’re getting that honest feedback and that your cost is improving. I think that’s key, I really do.
I’ve got a number of folks that would fit in my board of directors.
Matt Heinz: Love it. Well, we’re out of time, unfortunately. These episodes really go very quickly, but I really want to thank our guest TJ Waldorf for joining us today. If you like what you heard and would like to share some of his advice with your team, if you’re in the planning and/or budgeting process and want others to understand a winning, a proven successful perspective, definitely get a copy of this episode. It’ll be available on demand at salespipelineradio.com shortly. We’ll have a summary of some of TJ’s comments up on the website at heinzmarketing.com shortly, as well. From my great producer Paul, this is Matt Heinz. Thanks everyone for joining us on another great episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.
Audio: You’ve been listening to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio brought to you by the good folks at Matt Heinz Marketing right here on the Funnel Radio Channel.