Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 248: Q & A with Kelley Hippler @forrester
By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
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This week’s show is called “How Forrester is applying the SiriusDecisions frameworks both within the organization and across the revenue engine to drive results” and our guest is Kelley Hippler, Chief Sales Officer at Forrester.
Join us as Kelley Hippler tells us a little bit about this years’ Forrester B2B Summit, formerly known as SiriusDecisions and then dives into the new concept of B2B revenue waterfall and its effect on marketing and sales working together in an account-based environment.
Listen in and/or read along with the transcript below.
Matt: Welcome everyone to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, my name is Matt Heinz. We are here every Thursday, live at 11:30am Pacific, 2:30pm Eastern. Thank you for joining us. For those of you who are joining us on LinkedIn live, we have adjusted our format. Used to just do this audio only, but why not add a little video component. Since we are on Zoom all days, anyway, let us just do it as a video. So, for those of you watching on LinkedIn live, thank you so much for joining us. If you are live, you have an opportunity to ask questions of our guests today, and we’ll throw those in today as well. If you are watching on demand or listening to this in audio only format on the podcast, thank you so much for subscribing and for listening. If you like our format today, if you like our content, this is what we do. We talk to some of the best leaders in B2B sales and marketing every day. Or, every week, excuse me. And we have all our past episodes available on demand at salespipelineradio.com.
Very excited to have our guest today, Kelley Hippler. She is the Chief Sales Officer for Forrester. And I want to get into the diversity inclusion council eventually as well, Kelley. But first of all, thank you so much for joining us today. Thanks for being part of the show.
Kelley: Thank you, Matt. It’s an honor to be here, so thank you so much for the invitation.
Matt: So, as we record this, we are coming up at the end of May. And the beginning of this month was the Forrester B2B summit, which is a new version of what was always known as the SiriusDecisions summit. And has always been sort of at the top of the B2B calendar for those that are interested in the latest and greatest trends in B2B, especially enterprise marketing. And this year was no different. Great content. Great sessions. Thought you guys did a great job continuing to build and foster community among the group as well. So we’d love to sort of hear from you how you guys think things went and what some of the highlights were from the event earlier this month.
Kelley: Sure and thank you for that. I think our research team and events team did an amazing job with that event and bringing that community together, because when we think about the SiriusDecisions acquisition and why that was so critical for Forrester, the whole concept of aligning sales product and marketing is just so important for businesses to be able to accelerate growth and drive profitability as they move forward. And I think that these events are a great opportunity to really showcase this and for teams to be able to come together and do that work.
So, for us, it sort of serves a dual purpose. Obviously, we’re there to help bring new thoughts and concepts to our clients. But I can also tell you my teams and my colleagues and peers are also eagerly writing things down, and it helps to shape our own internal strategy and processes as we go forward. Over the last couple of years in this role, I have benefited greatly from being able to use a lot of the different frameworks that SiriusDecisions, formerly, now under Forrester, can bring to our clients to help with that alignment.
Matt: Well, and this is going to continue. You guys announced, formally, Forrester Decisions moving forward. And one of the things I’ve always enjoyed about the SiriusDecisions models is a couple of things. One, this is not just theoretical. These are models, but you do a great job in the event in particular of showcasing how it’s being put into practice by companies. They are built for sort of complex sales and marketing situations. But the models themselves, I don’t know if you guys do this intentionally, but if you’re a smaller business with less resources, with smaller budgets, you can deconstruct some of these models and use the essence of them to build your foundation and then add other components as you grow. So I would expect that you see that in the different range of sizes and phases, stages of companies that Forrester works with.
Kelley: Absolutely. I think regardless of a company size, a lot of the principles, whether it’s how you think about your sales organization, and we talked a lot about the future of sales and the future of buying, a lot of those same elements come into play versus, could be a billion dollar plus company, because I think a lot of the same principles do apply. It does just, to your point, become a matter of scale. But the frameworks themselves, if you think about a sales organization, regardless of the size, time is your most critical element and the most valuable resource that you have. So, thinking about how you deploy those resources, where they are spending their time, and how you better maximize the time of your sellers is a universal issue that all our clients and ourselves are constantly looking at and you can use the Sirius frameworks around.
We used a sales activity study to benchmark how and where sellers are spending their time, pinpointing places where we are maybe spending a little more time on non-direct selling activities than we would like. But it’s also a great way to then go back to your business partners and get that partnership and buy-in when you can quantify, “Hey, we’re spending X amount of time building decks, how can we do some things to lighten the sales load?” Or, last year in particular, a lot of time in internal meetings. So we’re like, okay, we understand everybody’s at home and we want to keep people connected, but we have to give our sellers some time back. So what’s great is it really allows you to have a conversation by the numbers and about the numbers to help move your peers along and to help drive that alignment.
Matt: There’s been a lot that I think has changed in the way people are managed sales and marketing, the way that buyers are buying. Over the last year, I think some of the things that have accelerated the most aren’t necessarily inventions from the pandemic. There are things that were happening gradually and then maybe happened a little more quickly, sort of accelerated over the last sort of 12, 14 months. I think what most people may, some people may not realize, especially maybe people newer to B2B marketing, B2B sales and marketing, when we think about things like the demand waterfall, even things as simple as the MQL and SQL, those did not exist before SiriusDecisions kind of put a name on them. I mean, you think about the marketing qualified lead. It’s a common noun in B2B. That was a SiriusDecision’s invention. And so, as we have evolved complex buying and selling, the model has evolved as well.
So, can you talk a little bit about how the demand waterfall has really sort of taken on the account-based complexity of sales and marketing today, and what additional components were key to some of the updates put into the demand waterfall this year at summit?
Kelley: Absolutely and I do think that was one of the key highlights this year, was the rolling out of the new B2B revenue waterfall. And to your point, Matt, I think it really does reflect just some fundamental changes in how people are buying moving forward, and how B2B selling needs to change when your clients are changing. What I also think it really marks is that bringing together of sales and marketing, where it is not the case where marketing fills the top end of the funnel and sales takes it and runs with it from there. I think marketing and sales need to partner together at every step in the customer journey moving forward. And for me, it’s that alignment throughout the customer life cycle that really comes to light with the new model that we have. So, part of what I love about it is, as a sales leader, I am not just thinking about client acquisition. It is obviously important, but we have more opportunity through driving retention and then thinking about how we do upsell and cross sell within our existing accounts. And that was part of the reason I was so excited when I saw the revenue waterfall because it looks at the cascade across those four dimensions, which are the four things that a sales leader is thinking about as you are doing your territory design and figuring out how you are going to get to plan. But then to be able to track, in a measurable way, what your conversion rates are across each of those different dimensions is going to really help with resource allocation, alignment, and being more thoughtful, both on the sales and marketing side, moving forward. But also acknowledging that marketing has a role to play at each stage in the customer journey. And we want to make sure that we are fully aligned both internally, but also encouraging our clients to do the same thing as well. And I think for me, just seeing that cross sell and upsell broken out separately, as well as the renewals, was really a home run, and something that we are already talking about internally. How are we going to measure and track it on our own end as well?
Matt: Now this evolution of the role of marketing and the marketing leader has been kind of exciting to see over the last several years. We’ve gone from marketing existing and operating kind of in a vacuum, thinking about that just as the demand waterfall saying marketing kind of just owns the top of the funnel, to thinking about sales and marketing working together in an account-based environment. But also, just making sure that there is a coordinated, cohesive approach to the pipeline. And now, for those organizations to think not just about acquisition, but the overall lifetime value. So think about this as not a demand waterfall, but a revenue waterfall. Right? This really is sort of naturally elevating sales and marketing leaders to business leaders. Talk a little bit about that evolution, and is that… Do we see that as a mandate? Is that becoming table stakes for sales and marketing leaders? And for those that may feel more like parts of the puzzle and, “Oh, I got my CEO, CFO are kind of running the table at the leadership team meetings.” How does this greater opportunity allow your CMOs and your CROs to become more active business leaders for themselves in their careers, but also to help their organizations?
Kelley: I think that is a great question. What is interesting when we talk about the future of sales, one of the five Ps that we talk about is profitability. And we definitely see a trend with more and more CSOs, CROs, really taking a look through that lens of not just how do I deliver on the overall bookings and revenue target that the company has, but how do I do it in a way that best optimizes the resource that we have? So, it really is putting a pivot around that. One of the measures that we use is the LTV to CAC. So the lifetime value versus client acquisition cost ratio. Again, another great asset that we leverage from our research, which sort of touts that organizations should be striving for a three to one lifetime value versus cost of acquisition. And I can tell you for me, personally, as we headed into the pandemic and thinking about where do I potentially shift some resources to, because there were some places where the market was soft? Knowing where our most profitable clients are, we redeployed some of our resources to help shore up our business during that timeframe. And I do think that sales and marketing leaders really do have an opportunity to focus on both sides of the equation, not just the booking side moving forward. I think that they will become better stewards of the overall business in doing so, and probably find a lot more satisfaction in the work that they are doing as well. So I think that’s definitely something that’s become increasingly part of the work. And it’s also why it is important for the CMO and your CSO to be so well aligned.
So, Shirley Macbeth and I here at Forrester, she and her leaders joined my staff meeting every other week because we wanted to make sure that, A, there’s whole visibility, that we have got a good relationship with the team members, and that we are all aligned and working towards the same goals. Her team has a target based on our bookings targets. So I think that was also a big and momentous step forward for us internally at Forrester to have a CMO come in and say we’re signing up for this number and we’re going to help create that pipeline that’s going to help to get you there, which I think really helped to drive the collaboration and the trust across the two parts of the organization. And I’m just very grateful for that.
Matt: Well, I love to hear that you guys are sort of drinking your own champagne on that front. Right? That the same time that you are sort of bringing, through your analysts, some of these best practices and new ideas to the market, that you’re marketing and selling as well. And so we’re able to leverage some of those same things internally.
Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Kelley Hippler, she is the Chief Sales Officer at Forrester. And then at the conference a couple of weeks ago, cannot believe it is already almost June here as we record this, and that was the first week of May. It feels like it was yesterday. You guys sort of formally announced former Forrester Decisions, which is sort of the co-branded, sort of what used to be SiriusDecisions, now part of Forrester. It seems to me that there really is sort of a one plus one equals three situation here. Right? In terms of sort of taking what has always been sort of some of the foremost thinking research frameworks in B2B and combining that with Forrester. For people that are familiar with SiriusDecisions, as well as people that may sort of have not been as familiar, talk a little bit about how you think about Forrester Decisions and how that will continue to play a leadership role in the market for years to come.
Kelley: Absolutely. We are very excited about the Forrester Decisions launch. Actually, today wrapped up a number of workshops with our sales teams who are very anxious to get out there and talk to our clients about this new offering. When I think historically about Forrester’s strength, a lot of it has been around providing vision and insight into what is going on externally in the markets and giving our clients guidance there. And then to the points that you’ve made, Matt, SiriusDecisions went very deep from a functional perspective. And what we are doing is merging those two things.
So, every one of our clients will still get that vision research as we go forward, because we know the key thing that we bring to clients is that ability to align across their organization, because to drive customer obsession, you need all parts of the organization to line up behind what your clients are looking for. So, we do want to make sure that we are exposing everybody who encounters our relationship with that thought leadership, but then have the ability based on the priorities that that individual must go much deeper into our frameworks, to do guidance sessions with the thought leaders who created those IPs to help them as they make meaningful impact in their business.
So, it truly is bringing the best of both worlds together. And it was no simple task. Our product team has done an outstanding job working with our research team, because about a year ago when these conversations started, we were sort of like, “Okay, we’ve got Forrester, which is a largely horizontal product that goes like this, and SiriusDecisions is a vertical product.” And it was like, “but we got to get them into one.” So how do we get these two things into one? And I think that the solution that the product team has come up with is elegant and is going to drive meaningful impact for our clients because they literally will get the best of both products as we go forward, plus new IP, and a much deeper engagement model on top of an enhanced digital experience that is going to help to escort them through their priorities. From there, we will be able to measure the impact that we are helping them to drive within their businesses.
So yes, our team is extremely excited. I’ve been at Forrester for 22 years, and I think this is the most significant product launch that we’ve had in my history here. So very much looking forward to seeing the product launch in Q3.
Matt: I love hearing that. I think as the sales and marketing continues to increase in complexity, on both sides, I think we’ve argued forever, “Hey, the buyers are changing. It’s getting longer and more complex, more members of the buying committee.” I think you add exponential complexity when the sellers have changed, when the culture of how sales teams work has changed. Not only do you have marketing and sales working more closely together, but it is very material to say that those are now happening in a remote, if not hybrid, model. So seeing people in the hallway saying, “Oh, go sit and listen to your sales team and make calls.” You may even not be able to do that anymore. Right?
Kelley: Yeah, absolutely.
Matt: Because you literally are sitting somewhere totally separate. So, getting guidance on that ongoing complexity and sort of hearing what your peers are doing, is critical.
I do want to shift gears a little bit before we run out of time and talk a little bit about the Forrester Diversity and Inclusivity Council, if you do not mind. So you’re the executive sponsor for this group. We’re coming up on June. We’ve got Pride month coming up. There’s an awful lot of logos that are going to be rainbows in a little bit. And a really good friend of mine, Katie Martell, she talks, she literally has a bunch of content around this idea of rainbow pandering. Right? That a lot of companies say we’re going to support Pride month by turning our logo a different color, and that’s kind of all we do. Right?
So when I see companies that are putting together and investing in diversity inclusion councils and helping them think through what that looks like, it means that you are putting your money where your mouth is. You’re putting more focus and attention in doing that. Would love to hear a little bit about why that’s important to Forrester and what are some of the things you guys are doing sort of internally and externally with that.
Kelley: Sure, absolutely. Our Diversity and Inclusion Council was stood up a little over a year ago, and I’m very proud to be one of the executive sponsors along with Sherri Kottman, who’s our Chief People Officer. And essentially, we do an annual employee pulse check sort of survey, and we had sort of seen for two years running that one of the areas that we personally were scoring the lowest in was around diversity and inclusion. So, seeing that there was some need within our employee base that we were not addressing. And with our focus on customer experience and knowing from our own research that a good employee experience drives good customer experience, we really wanted to start to dig in and figure out how and what we could do to help create a more inclusive environment at Forrester. So what was great was Sherri was able to pull together a lot of the employees that had approached her and had a lot of passion around this, and were able to stand up a Diversity Inclusion Council. The team put together a charter, and we sort of have three pillars that we work on. So, focusing on the inclusivity of our environment and really wanting people to be able to bring their full and authentic selves to work. And for myself as Forrester’s first female, chief sales officer, the thought to me that other folks did not feel as though, for some reason, that there were barriers that they could not be their full, authentic selves, really broke my heart a little bit because that is not what we want to be about. And that’s not… I came to Forrester because, as a woman, I was able to progress. And to see that there were groups within the organization that were not having that same experience, and being a member of the executive team, I really wanted to dig in and see what I could do to help there. So I do think these efforts, and I have learned a ton this past year. You could have filled in a thimble what I truly understood about this before starting to do this work, and definitely encourage others to… You know, there is so many resources now to be able to learn and understand how we can be better leaders.
I think for leaders, a lot of this is about being vulnerable and not showing up thinking you must provide or are expected to know the answers, but just coming and listening to your employees. So we started with the inclusivity. We’re also working on the diversity of our hiring and our talent acquisition efforts. And then also we’ve had several workshops across our executive team using some of our own frameworks to figure out what is the voice we want to have out in the marketplace. And I think because of the research that we do, diversity of thought is so critical to being able to bring the best insights to our clients. So also, where we landed was that this was a space that we knew we needed both for our employees, but also for the value of our research to invest more time and build out a roadmap so that we could do better and deliver more for both our employees and our clients.
And it has been so rewarding to see, in the past year, the progress that we have made, but still very much a long road ahead. But I’m so proud of the efforts that we’ve done. We have employee networks where folks can come. And for Pride month, yes, we will have banners, but we also will have weekly programming throughout the month to help celebrate and acknowledge Pride month, and wanting to further educate the rest of our employee base there. And I think that was something that was very important to us, was that we embrace this in a way that is authentic to Forrester and our brand as we go forward.
Matt: I love that. Well, thank you so much for sharing all of that. I think, look, we all live in glass houses and I think this road is very much a journey, not a destination. And I think it’s important. The more conversations I have to say, “What can I do? What can we do? What should we be doing?” Is ask questions, continue to learn, be open to new perspectives, find your blind spots and just try to be better. Right?
Matt: That alone, I think is helping a lot of individuals as well as companies sort of make the right move. So thank you for your involvement in that. And thanks for sharing a lot of that.
If people want to learn more about Forrester Decisions and some of the new opportunities, where is the best place for people to look into and check out?
Kelley: They can certainly go to our website at Forrester.com. And we have lots of information, a landing page there about Forrester Decisions. Folks are also welcomed to reach out to me on LinkedIn, and I will get them connected to whatever resources to help answer any questions that they have.
Matt: Awesome. Well, Kelley Hippler, Chief Sales Officer for Forrester and Executive Sponsor of the Diversity and Inclusion Council. Thank you for sharing a little bit about all of the above. And thanks for joining us today on Sales Pipeline Radio.
Kelley: Thank you, Matt. Really appreciated the conversation.
Matt: Absolutely. Well, thank you everyone for joining us today. We will be here again next week and every week, 11:30am Pacific, 2:30pm Eastern, LinkedIn Live, as well as available wherever you get fine podcasts. On salespipelineradio.com. On behalf of my guests, I’m Matt Heinz, thanks very much for joining us. We’ll see you next week.
Kelley: All right. Thanks, Matt.