Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 301: Q & A with Casey K Carey @caseycarey
By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
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Join us as we dive into defining, measuring, and managing marketing performance in a variety of different ways and levels.
Listen in now, read below or watch the video!
Matt: All righty. Welcome everyone to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. I’m your host, Matt Heinz. Very excited to be with you here, live as we are every Thursday at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern. If you are checking us out, live on LinkedIn or Facebook or YouTube, thank you so much for watching. You, if you’re watching live, get to be part of the show. If you have a question, if you have a comment, please throw that in for our guest. If you have a comment or an alternative point of view on our topic today, which is going to be about both the defining, measuring, managing marketing performance in a variety of different ways and levels. Would love to get you to chime in. If you give your comment to us during the live show, you might very well see your face and comment as part of the show on air.
If you’re watching us on demand or listening to us through the podcast feed, thank you very much for listening, downloading, and subscribing. There are over 300 episodes of Sales Pipeline Radio available. If you like what you hear today, you might like what we’ve said in the past. And all episodes past, present, and future available at salespipelineradio.com. Every episode we’re trying to feature some of the best and brightest minds in sales and marketing. Today is absolutely no different, very excited to have with us today, the CMO at Kazoo, Casey Carey. Casey, thanks joining us today.
Casey: Hey, Matt. Super excited to be here. Thanks for asking me.
Matt: So, got a bunch of great things we want to get into. You championed and ran OKRs at Google, which I feel like is kind of like championing and running Six Sigma at GE back in the day. So very excited to have you here. Want to quick, before we dive into the deep end here, thank our sponsor, Sendoso, been working with us for the last several weeks. So we are a Sendoso user, a customer. We use it for some of our own campaigns as well and boy, I’ll tell you what, as the world continues to feel like it gets more digital, feels like we’re just getting inundated with digital noise. I think in the hybrid workplace as well, I think an authentic human connection can really make a difference. And when you can embrace all of those together, the physical, the virtual, the hybrid world, I think it really makes a big difference in your campaigns, in the connections you create with prospects and customers.
I was really struck by the quality of content that Sendoso put together on this topic at their conference earlier this month called Connected. If you missed the event on October 13th, it is now available on demand at sendoso.com/connected-2021. All of their sessions are available on demand. This is not a product pitch. I’m sure that up there they’ve got some videos you can watch around how Sendoso works, but the content from Connected, I was really struck with how good and high quality that was. So if you’re trying to create a more human connection, a better hybrid experience in your marketing and for your customers and prospect to connect, sendoso.com/connected-2021.
All right. Casey Carey. So let’s talk a little bit about managing marketing performance and this was a topic that was interesting to me. And you shared your experience in running OKRs at Google at the CMO coffee talk event a few months ago, and I’m seeing more and more marketing teams embrace sort of project and task management systems. We’re getting a lot of questions about Asana versus Trello versus Monday. Very good questions, but there’s a big difference between managing the tasks and knowing that they’re feeding up into. So talk a little bit… Step back, talk a little bit about your background and I’m sure, we’re throwing around acronyms already. Most people are like, what the hell is an OKR? So, a little bit about you and then we will unpack.
Casey: Yeah, absolutely. So, I spent most of my career in venture capital funded and high growth tech startups, about 25 years in martech and AdTech for the most part. So it’s interesting to be in the HR tech space now. But during that time ,really learned a lot about this idea of connecting strategy to execution and kind of really focused on that. And so, I had the opportunity to be at Google for four and a half years, a very OKR objective key results-based organization. And if you’re not familiar with OKRs, it’s a goal management approach and you can debate which ones are best or which ones are worse or anything like that. But they’re all kind of the same. And the idea is, we’re going to establish what we want to achieve. We’re going to put measures in place that tells us whether we achieved it or not, and then we’re going to do the work and we’re going to iterate. So, at Google, I was fortunate to have a fairly large team, but we also had the, then every quarter, set OKRs, score OKRs, report on OKRs. So probably over a four and a half year period, probably managed and/or created more than a thousand OKRs.
Casey: And literally Sundar would get up at the All Hands meeting on Thursday afternoon and present the company level OKR performance. So it went from top to bottom and was just part of the culture, and really it’s how they do business, frankly.
Matt: So, goal management systems, as you mentioned, I mean, there’s OKRs, there’s [B2 mom 00:05:08]. I mean, we use a tool internally, a system called EOS that’s sort of a broader operating system. I mean, I think to your point, which one you use is less important than I think having one that you use regularly. Right? So there’s goal management, project management, task management, and all important, but they all have to fit together. So, is OKR something that you have to implement at an organization level, or can you, depending on department, sort of implement something that works just departmentally to improve focus?
Casey: Yeah. Yes, I think is the answer, right?
Casey: So, a lot of times OKRs or some other goal management system will be adopted within the team, right? So I’m a fan of OKRs. My team runs pretty tight OKR approach. Our entire organization does not because, at the executive level, we’re not quite as committed or quite as excited about goal management and OKRs as I would like us to be. So, it’s kind of within our org, it’s kind of hit or miss, but often you’ll have a senior executive who… that’s how they want to do business and they’ll push it down into the organization. Other times you just may be teams who kind of pick it up as, yeah, this is part of our operating model. And we want to bring that to bear.
Matt: Talking today on Sales Pipeline radio with Casey Carey, who is the CMO, Chief Marketing Officer at Kazoo, but also a goal management specialist. Let’s talk a little about creating goals. Because I think a lot of people really are sort of depending on the culture and not really sure how to create a good goal. What is a good… How do you define a good goal?
Casey: Yeah, that’s a great question. Right? So at the end of the day, and we’ll use goal and objective interchangeably here, it should, at that level, it should be fairly strategic. Right? The idea of doing this is actually connecting the bigger strategy to the work that needs to be done and your goals and your results kind of make that connection. It’s that connective tissue. So you need a strategy and frankly, if you don’t have a strategy, I’m not sure why you’re setting goals. So start there. The good news is a lot of times when you go through a goal process, you’ll learn we’ve got gaps or issues with our strategy, so we can iterate back on our strategy as well. So there’s a little bit of a loop back mechanism there, but at its core, if I’m setting an objective, I want it to be aspirational. I want it to be inspiring. I want it to be… It’s got to be fairly simple. It’s got to in human language. I think one of the first principles of this is about transparency and having anyone in the organization understand what your top priorities are. Right? So don’t use acronyms. Make it clear what it is, what you want to achieve. And I think a lot of people get in this trap of, this is what we’re going to do this quarter. In most cases, a goal is not a quarter bound. One of the things we worked on at Google was… At one point they were way behind a mobile search, and so they said an OKR around becoming the choice for mobile search by consumers. That was a four and a half year goal. And now they’ve actually achieved it, but, so they set that goal out there. It was super aspirational, aligned the organization behind it and went after it. So I think when you’re setting that goal, don’t be afraid to give it a double shot of espresso. You want people to be excited about what they’re doing and why.
Matt: So, when I think about a goal that is four to five years out, which is certainly, if you think about sort of the vision of where you want to go, I mean, ultimately, I think a lot of people listening to this, or sort of in the midst of their Thursday are like, I just need to know what to do next. Right? I just want to know, I’ve got like million emails, I’ve got a bunch of slack DMs, what do I do next? Right? And so help people understand the cascade.
Matt: So, a four-and-a-half-year vision of where you want to go, do you go from sort of vision to goals to strategy to initiatives? How do you land that plane?
Casey: Yeah. So I would think about it as what’s our vision, long term? What do we want to be when we grow up? Then you have a strategy. And usually strategy is six to 12 months. As a company, here’s the things we need to work on that are important to us to move towards that vision over that period of time. Right? And I would say one of the things to keep in mind is everything changes all the time. This is a very dynamic and complex business and world that we live in. So you have to be flexible. You have to be agile as you do this and know that there’s no reason to create a three plan. Most of us are creating one year plans with quarterly updates. Right? And we’re going on that cadence. Right?
So you’ve got that strategy. Now I’m going to set goals that actually align with that strategy. And once again, I said, the goals may be… So one of my team’s goals is we want to be the brand leader in employee experience platforms. We’re not going to do that this quarter. We’re not going to do it next quarter. We’re probably not even going to do it in 2022, but we’re going to work towards that over a longer period of time. So we align, we’ve got that goal now. We know how to measure that and kind of what we think those results are going to be, whether it’s through brand clicks or it’s a brand awareness study or other mechanisms we can use to measure our progress towards that. So we’ve got the measures and now we start putting initiatives, which is, I call work streams. They could be projects, programs, sprints, whatever you want to use, but it’s actually, what’s the work we’re going to do that actually creates those measurable outcomes that we’re after.
Matt: Yep. And then you go from initiatives into that task list. Right? Is there [crosstalk 00:11:02] less stuff in between, so then you can say, okay, what are the tasks, what are the to-dos to help me to focus on those initiatives?
Casey: Yeah. And I think that’s where people struggle. They start kind of crossing the streams between an objective and results I want to achieve and the work that has to be done. Right?
Casey: And when you start making your objectives and key results, your task list, then you have to ask two questions. One is how strategic is that? Are you actually accomplishing the strategic connection that you set off to do? But two, why aren’t you doing that someplace where you can manage your work and your projects? Why? Why are you duplicating that in your goal efforts as well?
And so I think like one of the things we’ve done and I would encourage people to think about this, is historically goals have been contractual obligations. I’m going to sit down with you at the beginning of the quarter, we’re going to define your goals. At the end of the quarter we’re going to review how you did. And there’s a chance that’s going to impact your performance rating and maybe your compensation. Right? So it was almost like a contractual obligation. One of the challenges with that approach is you nobody’s going to stretch. Everybody’s going to be safe. So you really want to kind of disconnect the work that’s being done from what you’re actually setting out to achieve. And you want to talk about performance and compensation and curve growth and promotions based on the work that’s being done, as well as culture fits and a lot of other attributes, but separate that from the actual objectives that we’re trying to achieve as a company. And it informs it, but it does not necessarily explicitly connect it.
Matt: Got it. No, I love this progression and thank you for helping outline it. Because I think it helps put tools like Monday and Asana and Trello in the right place. They could be most effective when it’s not the tail wagging a dog and just throwing a bunch of shit in and then it’s figuring, okay, we’re going to just get all these things done. This is not about getting more done. This is about getting the right things done.
Matt: And so, your ability to triage what’s in that list based on the focus initiatives, to hit the goals, to focus on the strategy and vision. I mean, that’s kind of the mindset we want to look at. I know we’ve just got a couple more minutes left here with our guest Casey Carey, talking about goal management and how that sort of gets down to what the hell we do every day.
Let’s talk about setting goals. Because one of the things I like about OKRs and I also like about sort of the EOS system that we use, is it does not expect you to hit a hundred percent of your goals. And I think that mentality helps people set more aggressive goals that aren’t… it’s not that you want to set goals that are unattainable, but you want to push yourself a little bit and have you work in a system that assumes you’re going to fail in some of those. Talk a little bit about that gray area.
Casey: Yeah. So there’s a lot of studies that show that, not only teams that set goals, but teams that set stretch goals, actually consistently outperform teams that don’t, by 20 to 30%. And it makes sense. Right? So a big part of a [inaudible 00:14:03] culture is creating a culture where we’re going to stretch ourselves, but we’re also going to be okay with not achieving what we said we would do. Right? So if you end up in the 65 to 85%, that’s a win. That’s a green on the stoplight. Knowing that you set that stretch goal out there at 100%, and we use the phrase best possible outcome.
We hardly ever achieve our best possible outcome. So you most likely, you’re going to achieve what’s most likely, but if you set your goals and aspire towards the best possible, you’ll actually usually exceed your most likely. So really kind of having that growth mindset and in an organization, just almost recalibrating what the definition of success is. And I think that’s important. However, I will say you kind of have those results, but you should also have committed results. So there’s things like financial plans where that result is a committed result. Expectation is a hundred percent. So you can kind of have the best of both worlds.
Matt: Yep, absolutely. Hey, if people want to learn more about just goal management in general, I think, there’s a ton of literature on OKRs, on [B2 mom 00:15:15], and others. What are some of the places that you found instrumental as you sort of learned it back in the day? What are some places that you’d recommend today people check out to just learn more beyond this conversation about goal management?
Casey: Sure. Yeah. There’s, John Doerr wrote the book, Measure What Matters. It’s kind of the definitive OKR book, a little bit academic. I like a book called Objectives and Key Results. It’s probably the best book on that. And then there’s also a book called Radical Focus. And I love that because, and you touched on this, there’s really two reasons to do this. One is that clarity and focus is an accelerant. So just building that into how you run your business will actually significantly accelerate your business. But the other part of it is by making this part of how you do your work, you manage fast. So my team, we calibrate our goals on Monday, we update our key results, and we celebrate it on Fridays. So we’re running a weekly cadence around how we’re managing our work and the results that we’re driving. The interesting part is my goal is to make a QBR obsolete. And the reason it will be obsolete is because everyone who cares knows what the state of the business is all the time. So there’s no reason to stop and review it.
Matt: Wow. Well, Casey, I’ve had the pleasure of listening to you talk about goal management and OKRs a number of times and I’ve learned something every time. If I’m looking down, I’m not multitasking. I’m just taking more notes because you just continue to learn more stuff. So thank you so much today for joining us. Casey Carey, CMO, at Kazoo, OKR and goal management expert, if I say so myself and thank you everyone for watching, for listening, for being part of this. We’ll be back next week with more great guests, 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern every Thursday. Thanks for watching and listening. My name is Matt. We’ll see you next week on Sales Pipeline Radio.
Casey: Thanks, Matt.
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