LeadMD is now Shift Paradigm

Click to see how best of breed organizations are shifting to grow

Andrea Lechner-Becker

Customer Marketing with Gainsight CMO, Anthony Kennada

Andrea Lechner-Becker / March 04, 2019 / 0 Comments

On this week’s episode of the Marketing Evangelist Network, LeadMD CMO, Andrea Lechner-Becker, welcomes Anthony Kennada to the show. Starting his career in business development, Anthony brings a diverse background to his role as Gainsight CMO. Listen in as he shares the secret sauce to Gainsight’s customer marketing as well as sharing how their best clients leverage customer marketing to grow.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

02:26 – What does Gainsight do?

03:41 – What’s your definition of customer marketing?

06:53 – We’ve all heard of the demand generation funnel. Talk to us about the customer success funnel.

10:36 – How do customer marketing experts communicate cross-functionally internally?

13:56 – Customer success is in many ways about whether the customer received the benefit, the outcome, they bought your platform to solve. How do you enforce outcomes with customers?

15:32 – How does Gainsight evangelize the job of customer success in general?

17:55 – How many accounts should a customer success person manage?

20:26 – People are building a career as a Gainsight admin. At what point should companies start thinking about hiring this focused role?

22:56 – Everyone loves a TechStack. What is the customer success or customer marketing TechStack?

25:37 – What skillsets do great customer marketers need?

27:54 – How often should marketing people talk to sales people?

30:06 – How do your salespeople overcome the objection of companies who are more interested in investing in net new logos vs. customer retention?

32:59 – Marketing metrics. Let’s talk about ’em.

36:59 – How do you see the role of a CMO with internal cross-functional teams?

39:17 – How do live events fit into your customer marketing and customer success evangelism?

32:59 – Marketing metrics. Let’s talk about ’em.

42:18 – If you want to connect to Anthony, how can you do so?

3 key Points:

  1. Customer success has a funnel just like demand gen. Of course, the funnel has different stages and players, but opportunities in customer success should bubble up to customer marketing and sales ops.
  1. Part of creating a category is to evangelize the discipline. With things like the Pulse conference and content, Gainsight has moved customer success and administration of their platform to a well-respected discipline.
  1. Marketing metrics. We believe we’re living in a world where the metrics of the 2000’s, lead and net new pipeline metrics, will move more to Lifetime Value and customer success.

Our favorite quote from the episode:

Inbound marketing tactics, maybe of the early 2000s, are great, but the new world is to really look at what successful, healthy, happy customers that are within your target profile look like.

Looking for more marketing expertise? Check out more of our favorite Marketing Evangelist Network videos!

Full Transcript

Andrea: Hello! Welcome to Marketing Evangelist Network, our vlog at LeadMD. We’re trying to keep vlogging alive single handedly. I’m super excited for our guest today, Anthony, who is CMO at Gainsight, one of our favorite products and one of our favorite people too, Anthony. So Anthony, can you just give us a little bit about you? Tell us where you came from, how you became CMO at Gainsight, all that stuff.

Anthony: Yeah, totally. Well, thanks for having me on. So, Anthony Kennada. I’m the CMO at Gainsight. I’ve been here six years now, which is kinda crazy. But, I started my career in SAS fresh out of college at Box. Worked there and got into sales and business development capacity. Went on to join something called Live Office, which was actually our current Gainsight CEO, Nick Mehta’s last company, where he and I first met in the business development capacity again, before we sold the company to Symantec. Very quickly, Symantec did a very short  product before Nick was basically asked to come on board for this company that would become Gainsight, and asked me to come on board at the start marketing at the company. So, business development, sales, product. This is actually my first marketing job. But I think it actually worked out pretty well, luckily for me.

Anthony: In general, this industry that we’ve found ourselves in, and customer success wasn’t a established category. There wasn’t a incumbent player that we had to go and figure out how to disrupt. We had to go and actually build a category, build a community and an industry around this new profession. A lot of what we brought in was first principles. I didn’t have the 10 years of marketing experience that might’ve biased me going in. We tried a bunch of stuff. A lot of stuff worked. A lot of stuff didn’t. Since then, over the last six years, we’ve built the company. Over 600 customers now. Just about 600 employees too all over the world, and so it’s been an amazing ride.

What does Gainsight do?

Andrea: For people who don’t know what Gainsight does, can you explain the product a little bit?

Anthony: So, customer success effectively a new practice that focuses on helping customers achieve their desired outcomes. For the business, that’s great for driving your retention rate; reducing any unexpected churn. Finding upsell, cross-sell, and the expansion revenue opportunities. And ultimately impacting advocacy and customer marketing, in which we’re gonna talk about today. In really helping turn your customers into your biggest champions and referral engines and everything else. As the world is increasingly moving to a recurring revenue model, that power has shifted from vendors to the customer that now has all the leverage. It’s our job as vendors to figure out how to best serve them if we want to be successful with our company. So, that’s the core thesis. We’ve got the technology that helps customer success teams operate and scale a lot of their touch points with customers. We also have a big community and brand arm that’s focused on enabling folks in the profession with best practices and networking and all these sorts of things.

What is customer marketing?

Andrea: You mentioned that this topic of today’s conversation is very focused on customer marketing, customer success, and so it might be helpful to just start with some definitions. So, when you think of customer marketing, what do you think of? What kind of roles and responsibilities fall within that realm?

Anthony: I feel like if we had that question for almost any other version of marketing, it’d be a straight up, this is exactly what it is. Demand then drives pipeline, drives leads, right? Brand drives awareness and influence and all these sorts of things. It’s more complex with customer marketing, because there’s a ton of outcomes that they’re responsible for driving. It’s not ultimately clear, at least from our point of view, where those roles sit within the organization. So you’ve got the customer marketers that are responsible for driving advocacy. Getting their customers to speak on their behalf at events, to rate us on TrustRadius or G2 Crowd, or help amplify some of our social campaigns, what have you? That feels like a pretty straightforward marketing role. For us, that’s something that we have in our organization. Customer marketing for the purpose of driving advocacy. Or actually, within that same role, you’ve got references and a lot of the other stuff that helps enable our sales teams to better understand our customer stories. Case studies to that effect. And then, go activate it in the field to help close deals.

You then see this customer marketing for the purpose of driving product adoption. Who owns the upsell campaigns to your existing stall base? How are we making decisions around who to email based on their relative health score, based on which features they’re currently using. That is something that I think is a subject of a little bit of debate. For us, we have that role sitting within our customer success operations team. That’s someone that works very closely with the marketing team, but they’re job is to help drive product adoption and upsell campaigns into the installed base. So those are two of the factors.

Maybe a third one just to complicate things even further is driving adoption of features. Who is responsible for ensuring that that latest feature that we know is sticky, that helps drive towards lifetime value moments? That role, we believe, sits within the product organization, using things like in-app channels to message to users; things to that effect. So it is all of these different constituents, and I think it’s maybe a signal that, when we, as an organization, as an industry, are trying to orient around the customer, a lot of the departmental silos start to break down. We’re seeing a lot of that in customer marketing.

What is a Customer Success Funnel?

Andrea: That’s awesome. You guys do this training or coaching around the concepts. When I first heard about it, I likened it to marketing and sales alignment, because I live in a very demand gen-focused world with our consultant firm and stuff. But I really loved the way that you guys talk about the funnel for customer success, customer marketing and sales. So, can you just educate the listeners about how you think of that customer loyalty side of the funnel.

Anthony: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, customer marketing has influence at every point of the funnel. It’s not even a funnel anymore it’s like an hourglass of sorts, because best inbreed companies are listening to some of the account-based marketing vendors out there, and they’re saying, the inbound marketing tactics, maybe of the early 2000s, are great, but the new world is to really look at what successful, healthy, happy customers that are within your target profile look like. Model those and go out and find others and use them to proactive means of getting them. The customer story, their ability to be successful, be willing to go on the record with you is at the very top of the funnel now, which is insane when you think about where customer marketing usually sits, or historically has sat. Customer marketing is a brand and awareness and top of funnel driver to pipeline creation. Certainly pipeline acceleration.

And so, we use a lot of, on our part marketing team, a lot of sales enablement tactics that we own, actually, in marketing, to enable the field to help them be better sellers. With that, we’re capturing, obviously, case studies, a lot of the different customer facing assets, some of which aren’t publicly available, that we don’t promote on social, that we don’t drive widespread awareness of. But that, we put in the hands of our reps to use as needed with certain prospects. So now you’re saying, okay, so basically the traditional funnel, customer marketing is all the way through. But we think this whole hourglass concept is interesting, because one you actually close a customer, you’re just getting started.

The notion of walking away when the deal is done might’ve made a lot of sense in a world before SAS or before recurring revenue. But now that we’re here, it’s your job to constantly win and constantly demonstrate value and win the renewal or the ongoing relationship with the customer. Customer success, we think, really owns that. That’s where the ability to put your customers, demonstrate value to them, give them opportunities to get plugged in to some of the different advocacy opportunities made available to them. Helps influence renewals, and helps them write a great survey response when we do our NPS surveys, speak at our user summits, all that sorta stuff. So, yeah. The hourglass, I think, has customer marketing almost as a filter or lens that sits on top of it, versus on any one stage.

How do customer marketers communicate internally?

Andrea: Yeah, I love that. I think another interesting thing that in customer marketing, I see amplified, but it’s certainly true of all marketing functions, is this idea of being able to market internally what you’re doing. I think the interesting thing about customer marketing, and the thing that makes it more visible, how crucial it is, is that, this function touches so many different areas. You were just breaking down. When you talk about having an enhanced usage of a very particular sticky feature, that’s a product thing. But, your customer marketers are hearing all of these things from customers and from case studies and all of the stuff that they’re doing. So, talk to me a little bit about how you guys, at Gainsight, either communicate internally between all these departments, or how you see your customers doing it.

Anthony: Yeah. So, we have a Gainsight of very geographically dispersed team. So, half the companies, is actually in two offices in India. In the states here, I think were in seven different cities. One in Europe; in London. The notion of having a weekly customer marketing standup in the office or something doesn’t happen. So, slack is a big focus for us, and a continued area of investment. We’ve all gone all in on slack. We’ve set up a number of channels, several of which are all company, in which we share some news that is … we call it the nice to know channel, and then there’s the need to know channel.

Customer marketing is both the writer and the receiver of information through some of these channels. On the receiving side, you’ll find that there’s a customer success manager or someone that has a direct relationship with the customer that captures a story that’s interesting., or an anecdote or a quote that they got in an email that they’ll then share through one of those channels, and our customer marketers are listening. They’re paying attention, and they’re capturing. In some cases they might reach out to that CSM and ask, hey is that something they’re willing to go on the record for, or do we use this in a case study? Hey, would they wanna speak at Pulse; at our conference, on that same topic?

So, it’s definitely a great place for us to listen and find opportunity. The second place I think is most interesting is, we have an opportunity to then get customer stories out at scale. So, one of the things that we do, is we’ve hired a third party firm that helps us do win/loss analysis. On the win side, it’s obviously most directly correlated to customers. We ask, hey, why did you buy Gainsight? What specifically was in the process? Sales process worked well for you? What are the outcomes that you are trying to drive? We’ll do some of this around renewals and expansion opportunities too.

Those stories are all synthesized into a slack ready format, I suppose, since that can be pretty long. And, shared with the company. Everyone gets the notification, gets the alert whenever we have an interesting customer story that we’re able to share. We like that format, because a third party person, I think, at the end of the day, the customer might be more comfortable talking to someone else that’s not on Gainsight’s payroll, I suppose. Yeah. So, slack’s been a huge part of our internal collaboration around customer stories.

How do you align customer outcomes to things in your platform?

Andrea: I love that. You mentioned something that I thought was really interesting, and in a previous conversation, one of your quotable little moments, you said, “A customer can love you and still not renew.” And so-

Anthony: Yeah.

Andrea: The tie in there for me, and what I love about Gainsight, is that you’re focused on outcomes that actually mean something to that customer’s business. ‘Cause, to your point. Yeah, you love us, you love our customer service, but if you don’t get what you bought out of my platform, then it doesn’t matter. Can you talk a little bit about how you work with your customers to really refine those outcomes. It’s easy to go, well, you know, we want to increase engagement or reduce churn. But a lot of people, they don’t even have those metrics at their fingertips. What is your churn today? Unfortunately, a lot of people, especially at the tactical level, can’t answer that question. So, how do you guys work with your clients to understand what the actual outcome of their customers should be?

Anthony: Yeah. So, a couple areas. One, very specifically, the way we do that is … I’ll try not to be self promotional, but we do have features in the product called success plan, and the core idea is, we wanna actually archive, timestamp. Say this is what we’re gonna go and do together with the product. You are buying Gainsight for x, y, z reasons. Let’s talk about what you hope to get out of it, and then let’s make this the basis of our future check-ins, of our quarterly business reviews, and all these different things. That’s a part of the core platform that we offer up to our customers for them to have those conversations with theirs. That’s the idea…

We offer up to our customers for them to have those conversations with theirs. That’s the idea. I mean, this is as fundamental as human relationships are. It’s expectation management. “Hey, we bought your software not because we like pressing buttons and logging in. We’re trying to make more money. We’re trying to drive more feature adoption. We’re trying to do all of these different things, all of these different outcomes, and so let’s, as vendors, make that transparent and make it just a core part of how we communicate with customers.”

Now, the other point mentioned is very valid. Especially as marketers, our job is to both sell technology but also create value in the marketplace around the job of customer success and the strategy and teaching people how to do it. We invest a lot of our time and resources through our Pulse brand to help get folks excited about being a part of this new industry, help create some standardization and best practices. Imagine I know a few of the folks at Marketo really well. They defined MQL and SQL, SAL. These are things that some people invented to help bring context and construct behind a new thing. There’s a whole lot of education and stuff that we’re doing to really help do that.

You have a lot of people that are like completely bought in that say, “Hey, Gainsight is doing us a service. They’re championing the profession. They’re sort of blazing the trail. We’re not ready for software yet. We’ll get there, but man, we love Gainsight.” Also I would just add that dynamic as marketers that are really focused on early stage content marketing, focused on building awareness and industry, that it’s also on us to be able to deliver software, in many cases, to the right customers that are the subset of that industry. They’re not going to do it just because they like you. They’re going to do it because you’re able to deliver some type of product value and demonstrate that at every year, every day, for the lifetime of the relationship.

How can SaaS companies evangelize for their category?

Andrea: I love that. {could I say that any more?!} I think it’s so interesting, right? People sort of throw out SaaS as a term all the time, but it literally means as a service. In my mind, I’ve always thought of the job of SaaS platforms to not only do something, like provide a tactical, technical way to accomplish something, but to evangelize and figure some of these softer things out. Right? Organizationally, it’s nice to say you want to empower customer success, but what does that actually mean? How many customers should each customer success person have? At what point does customer marketing come into play?

When you think about just that question, frankly, what do you typically see? How many accounts do you think it’s feasible for a customer success person to manage?

Anthony: Oh my gosh, this is like a religious battle. There’s lot of different folks on different sides of this. The way we talk about it, we look at like we apply a segmentation framework to it to give a really good answer. If you’re a company that sells really big deals, big customers, you’re at the top of the pyramid, that’s typically more of a high touch model, where you’re going to know the names of the children of your executive sponsor at the three accounts that you’re responsible for. In those worlds, you’ll see typically more of the single digit type of ownership. Maybe three to five accounts, in some cases maybe a little bit more, because these are folks that have badges. They’re at the customer’s side. They’re completely ingrained into the culture of that customer.

Then on the just opposite end of the spectrum, you think of like what we call a tech touch. If you’re Slack, and you have like literally tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of customers, some of which are like five to 10 people, it’s nearly impossible to hire enough people to throw at the … Not to throw at the problem, but to throw at the opportunity. In that world, hopefully you use technology to help you sort of scale. Then you do. You’re able to add some efficiency. I forget the latest projection, but you could argue a hundred, several hundreds of accounts.

For us, we think of that group actually more of the operations function. That fuels more customer marketing, customer success at scale, through the one to many type of marketing cadences. It’s the middle folks that I think are more of the tried and true, “Hey, I’ve got a handful of accounts. I’ve got 20 accounts, 25 accounts, that I manage.” They’re a larger deal. They’re not kind of the key enterprise accounts, but those folks that it’s 15 to 20, something to that effect that are managed by any one CSM.

How many accounts should customer success managers have?

Andrea: Got it. Thank you. I think everybody’s just looking for baselines, right? Ways to sort of grow and know like, “Oh, I am way out of whack,” or like, “Eh, it seems I’m sort of on pace here.” You kind of mentioned that part of what Gainsight is really focused on is creating a community and evangelizing the process of doing this, whether you’re talking about customer success or customer marketing or whatever. You have people who literally are building a career on managing Gainsight, right? At what point does an organization get big enough to sort of do that? Are you seeing that, “Oh, you have to be over a billion dollar company,” or, “You have to a certain number of clients”? At what point are your customers investing in a human being to really champion this?

Anthony: Honestly, a lot smaller than one would think. The benchmark that we usually look at is customers that are about 50 employees at the company. The reason is by that point you’ve already had a leader for the group. You’ve got a VP of Customer Success, some case the Chief Customer Officer. When you think of the good proxy for what the organization side looks like, and the number of sort of layers, there’s typically the best customers for us will have, obviously, the Executive Champion, but then somebody who’s going to manage the CSMs and their productivity, their ability to be successful. It’s the perfect, honestly, analogy to like marketing ops and sales ops. You need to bring someone in to both impact the productivity of the teams, also drive kind of the metrics, as well as obviously the operations of the tool.

Fifty employees and up is what we typically say, and we follow that same sort of playbook. It’s Gainsight admins or customer success operations folks, and we’re trying to do our part to help create a lot of the education and community for that sub-cohort of the community, the more technical kind of customer success processes that have to be sort of developed and institutionalized and all of that. It’s exciting, because sales ops has been around probably as long as Salesforce and others have. Maybe even longer than that. Marketing ops probably, what, early 2000’s? It’s cool to be kind of in the early innings of that new profession as well and that new focus in helping kind of create some of that community.

When does a company need a Gainsight administrator?

Andrea: That’s awesome. You kind of mentioned … I don’t know if you really talked about other technologies, but that’s where I’m going to go anyways. Your customers who use Gainsight, what else are they using? Are you using like Zendesk for customer support and then like moving it? What is … Everybody loves a tech stack, Anthony. Everyone loves. What’s a typical customer success techstack?

Anthony: Totally. It will vary, for sure. I mean, these are folks typically that embrace SaaS applications, and so they’re typically doing something. The core audience, I’d argue 80% of Gainsight’s customers, are typically Salesforce customers. They’re using that for CRM. There are, like I said, about the 20% that are using other CRMs, Microsoft Dynamics to name one, Netsuite, some of those. Typically, it’s more in the Salesforce ecosystem. Within that, you have obviously the support org that will typically fall under the same overall kind of executive buyer, whoever’s the post-sales owner. We hate using that word, but the post-sales owner will have support, which could be a Salesforce service cloud deployment. It could be Zendesk. It could be several of the others.

They typically have community, and so you might see some of the sprinkler former get satisfaction type folks. Again, on the Salesforce side, the community cloud, and things to that effect. There are folks that use like Zuora for billing. You kind of go down the list.

We think, though, that when you look at the owner and the buyer, it’s kind of the customer success platform. It’s the support ticketing systems, community, advocacy, the Influitives of the world, reference management software potentially, those are typically the ones that we’ll hear more often than not.

What are the qualities of great customer marketers?

Andrea: Go it. Cool. I’m super interested. I actually didn’t know until you did your intro that you came up in sales. One of the things that I always tell new marketers is that the best thing that they can do is go get a sales job, because all marketing is is selling en masse.

Anthony: Yeah. Good point.

Andrea: All we’re doing is scaling all the shit that you guys are doing the hard work on. Talk to me a little bit about … I think generally, a lot of marketers tend to be very friendly but somewhat introverted for the most part, right? A lot of marketers like to sit behind the scenes and send out emails or draft content or do all of these things that don’t require customer contact. I’m just interested, especially given your big sales background, how important do you think having a customer marketing person that actually wants to go out and shake hands, kiss babies, how important … What skillsets do you think great customer marketers have, I guess, is a less leading way to explain this question?

Anthony: Well, I think it’s critical for any marketer, customer marketer or otherwise, to have a full appreciation of sales. Whether that means the skillset, which I think what you’re saying, is to actually go out and be customer facing and be willing to engage with customers and get away from the glow of the laptop and that sort of thing, but also to understand how their work impacts sales and drives sales. When you think about what a CEO cares about ultimately or what the board cares about, there’s obviously it’s a loaded probably build, but there’s a lot of things. One of the biggest and most important is how is what this organization, whatever organization that is, doing driving revenue? Driving growth for the company?

For marketing in particular, we live in a relay race. We don’t live in a sprint by any means. Our ability to be successful relies on our ability to make our sales team successful. Otherwise, the leads that we generate don’t convert. Nothing happens. The case studies that we’re able to capture don’t get distributed to the right prospects. It’s such a collaborative working relationship with sales, so the need for a customer marketer to both be able to engage with sales, which is a little bit of a different dynamic than maybe some other groups, is critical, but also to understand their needs and also to be able to take their feedback and implement it. When things like reference calls, which references are going to work to help support certain types of certain cohorts of customers, we as marketers need that servant leadership kind of mindset to go in there and say, “Hey, what can we do to be better at any one given thing?”, because we realize that we share their success. That’s the way it is, I supposed, in B2B.

How often should sales and marketing teams talk?

Andrea: How often do you think that those sorts of touchpoints should be happening? Something like content reviews or just whatever? How often in your mind should a marketer, at whatever, you can stage it out if you want, talk to sales people?

Anthony: I mean, every day. Right? It’s just so easy now with Slack and stuff. You probably don’t need a recurring meeting every day, but the ability to sort of stay in sync with your sales team, the reps in particular, to get feedback live when they have it, to give it when it comes up, to share ideas, I think the closer you can get to your team in the field, the better off you’ll be as a marketer. Tools like Slack and others are helping us do that.

Typically, we’ll do things like a weekly pipeline review in sales where it’s a bit more structured and formal. As an executive team, we spend a lot of time with our sales leadership trying to understand what’s going on, how we can productively help them hit the number, quality of pipeline, relationship with the SDRs that are actually in our organization marketing. A lot of different formal and informal touchpoints, but leading into it, I think, is the important part. The more often you’re engaging with sales, I think, frankly, you’ll see more results, and the better your career trajectory will be ultimately.

Why don’t more SaaS companies invest in customer success and customer marketing?

Andrea: I love that advice. Let’s talk a little bit about … I’ll paint a little story. Say that you’re talking to your sales reps, and one of the things that I always tell marketers to focus on is objection handling, because if you can help a sales person overcome objections, you will be their best friends. Right?

Anthony: Yeah.

Andrea: Because that’s what they get out of the deal. I have to imagine that one of the objections that your sales people receive a lot of just the amount that organizations are willing to invest in churn in general. A lot of SaaS organizations are very, very focused on new logos. Net new logos. They sort of lose sight or at least don’t fund as highly the customer success, customer marketing, customer empowerment and delight. What do you guys create for salespeople to overcome that objection? Or maybe it’s not even an objection and I’m making shit up.

Anthony: It’s changing. Definitely from early days at game sites we had to like in many ways to quantify the pain of insurance so people are like, oh yeah, this sucks. This is worse than not growing fast. It’s like having the leaky bucket. We had a saying, it’s like the elephant in the board room. You’d got into board meetings you see slides for new business and growth and pipeline and everything, but you’d hear nothing in terms of like the health of your installed base. So now hopefully we’ve played a little bit of a part in this part in it, but in general there’s a bit more awareness that lifetime value, net revenue retention. These are like the key metrics for any SAS company to thrive. Growth is great, but in SAS in particular, unless we’re able to keep the customers, you’re out of luck. It’s not a sustainable business model.

So in that world, I think the market’s catching up with us a little bit on the software side. People are recognizing it. Our bigger problem is folks are still trying to figure it out and aren’t ready for software yet. So that’s an interesting job as a marketer. How can you both help them figure it out? This is the content marketing promise, but also quantify that urgency and apply the ROI of, hey, use the technology to actually accelerate and operationalize everything that we’re talking about on the content side. Closing that gap, dragging more urgency, helping to point to the pain a little bit more. I think that’a what’s going to help us collectively as a category and get kind of cross the chasm, so that people are talking more about this than they are new business.

But the reality is, if you look 10, 20 years from now, I think actually sales is the one that needs to consider shifting career plan. The way people are buying technology now, this is the whole informed buyer that, thanks to a lot of the content marketing that’s out there and thanks to people that know about you, your brand, your offering, your products before they ever pick up the phone to call or fill out a form. They’re coming to us and they’re almost ready to buy. If you look at what Amazon’s doing on the direct to consumer side, you can imagine a world where you don’t need sales anymore, you just need marketing and you need customer success to be able to help them make them successful. I think that the future is on our side. It’s just the opportunity to help quantify that pain and accelerate the growth, not accelerate the death sales, but accelerate the adoption of customer success.

Andrea: I have some inside sales guys that would be very upset at you.

Anthony: We’re hiring in customer success. It’s all good.

Customer Marketing and other Marketing Metrics

Andrea: So you mentioned lifetime value, right? And that is my all time favorite stat. I think everyone should use it all of the time. I don’t understand why people don’t, frankly. In your mind, even if you were to hire a demand gen person, is their staff going to be driving leads or controlling your lifetime value? How do you feel about marketing metrics in general?

Anthony: Yeah, it’s a really good question. I think that’s where we’re headed is a world where we’re all more accountable to lifetime value than we are to ARR, which is probably what we’re more focused on today. Today, we’re pretty traditional in how we think about the funnel. It’s still the traditional stages and whatnot. I think that the reality that we’re seeing is that we’re kind of maturing and getting more in the sort of account based world where we know who our targets are in the large enterprise. It’s less about how many MQLs we’re able to generate from that one account. It’s more, hey, how have they engaged with us and our brand in the last week? How many calls and meetings has our sales team got deployed and transacted with that one customer?

So it’s moving. I think that would be a step in the direction of lifetime value. Moving away from just numbers to logos. Perhaps I’m getting more account based, but it’s still a little traditional today in marketing. It’s so interesting. We’re typically one of the first ones to innovate and get disrupted and adopt something that new. I think a lot of the orientation, at least around the customer from a B to B context, is there’s a lot being said in marketing circles. Own the customer journey and customer experience and all these sorts of things. They’re great, but they’re not all connected to revenue. I think that’s potentially what the gap is for helping to accelerate a world where all marketers are paid on some early indicator of lifetime value.

Andrea: Yeah, I love that. I think the same thing. Even when I look at my metrics, frankly, at LeadMD, I don’t really drive MQLs. I drive meetings, meaningful meetings by the way. My meetings that I drive for SDR, they have to result in actual sales and they have to result in sales with good customers. That’s the other thing, right? You can sell a service and in lot of different ways I can just discount it. I can find some small company to buy it. But ultimately that’s not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for the best kind of customers. I think that to your point is huge. It’s huge conceptually. I feel like everybody’s sort of is like, oh, well of course. But then the actual KPIs that we’re held accountable to don’t result in that. So it’s just an interesting little gap that I agree, I see people start shift into it.

Anthony: Totally. Well, I think part of the reason is we’re not held accountable the lifetime value today. Where the customer’s thinking is, and we’re starting to see now these early leading indicators to the lifetime value, things like renewals and expansions and all that sort of thing. I think we’re a future is coming in which we would be.

What’s the internal role of a CMO?

Andrea: And so, as a CMO, right, what do you see as your accountability to building relationships with other executives? How important is, you know, cause we talked a lot about the relationship between sales and marketing, obviously, but even something like finance, what is your stance on sort of your role as a CMO boils down to what, ultimately?

Anthony: Internally or externally?

Andrea: Both. Sure.

Anthony: Yeah. I mean it internally, we are the pipeline people and so the growth of the company is something that typically we have a pretty big responsibility to at least be educated on and be able to speak to. Cross functionally that shows up in a lot of different ways. Effectively our ability to help informe the CFO about the types of investments we’re making, what channels are performing, the ways we can kind of bend the curve in certain areas, certain segments or GOs. We’re sort of the keepers of that intelligence. I think we have an opportunity to help inform the rest of the company. Really, at least from the demand gen kind of context. The other place is we have a big a role in helping to champion a lot of the values, what the company stands for.

We do a lot of internal cons, internal enablement, working with our teammate success team, which is like the HR team effectively, on how we help crystallize what our internal brand is and how we get people excited about being part of the game site. That shows up externally too in how we sort of do our executive cons and our positioning. We think that our CEO is sort of the living embodiment of the values that we espouse as a company. We’ve done like some crazy things to put Nick out there like doing a carpool karaoke with Aaron Levie from Box, being onstage with Vanilla Ice, recording a original hip hop song available now on Spotify. All about customer success. Filming a boxing video. So we have a role I think to really amplify a lot of what we’re seeing across the company, our purpose, our mission and what we stand for. As well as educating the rest of the company on everything that we’re learning and doing. That typically for us is around the growth, the growth context.

Using Live Events to Drive Evangelism

Andrea: Alright. So we talked a lot about community and how you evangelize this idea out into the world. I know, you know, we’re big in digital marketing, but of course live events still have a huge impact on people and how they think about things and a lot of people still use them to learn and educate. How have you guys used live events to sort of evangelize this concept?

Anthony: Yeah, yeah. I think at the end of the day, humans still like people to people live interactions. Sometimes that gets lost in the world of marketing automation, where everything is digital and that scale. It’s important. I think getting together in person’s important too. We actually do a big conference I hinted at earlier called Pulse, where we get everyone who’s, in the profession together to share best practices and create a lot of the networking opportunities. Those are prospects and customers alike. So it’s not necessarily a customer show. It ends up being a show for the industry. As marketers, we mostly speak to that early stage content that’s more about the jobs to be done. Then the later stage content is more about the product. This is a very early stage content.

Just expressed through a live format. What we’ve found is that the return has been great in that we were both able to align our brand with this movement that we were creating around customer success. Our sales team loves it. We set meetings at the event, ends up being a big pipeline generator for us. Our customers, we give them an extra level of love when they’re there, access and a attention, intention. It helps drive things like NPS and renewals and all that sort of stuff. So in general, and by the way, also, teammates love it. They love to be a part of it. It’s a good grounding effort for us every year, where we get to come together and build towards that big and crescendo, make it a big moment for the industry, for our sales team, for our employees, for our customers.

This year we’re renting Moscone center, which we’re pretty excited about. It feels like we’re growing up or whatever, going from an indie band last year where we had like, what was it, the Ferris wheel out in the, I can’t remember the name of it. It’s out. It’s like where are they do like festivals every year. Country fair type of experience to Moscone, where Dream Force and Apple, WWDC, Oracle world. It feels like the hallowed ground of tech conferences. It’s justgoing to be fun for us to have the community arrive on a stage like that. So we’re pretty excited about it.


Andrea: Yeah. That’s awesome. I think that wraps up as much of customer marketing as is feasible to cover in like 30-ish minutes. I want to thank you again for your time. I really appreciate it. That’s it. If people want to talk to you, how should they talk to you? Are you like on the Twitters and the Linkedins?

Anthony: I am on the Twitter.

Andrea: By the way, how do you feel about LinkedIn connection?

Anthony: LinkedIn what?

Andrea: LinkedIn connections. Are you one of those people that just connects with everyone or do you get like-

Anthony: I am. I am. A fun fact. I had a short stent as a recruiter before I got to Box. I was in the add everyone game back then and it got to a point that it’s not reflective at all of my actual network anymore. It just ended up being kind of bad whenever a SDR or someone’s like, “Hey, can you connect me to this person who you’re connected with?” I’m like, I literally have no idea who they are. So maybe not LinkedIn. But Twitter would probably be the better place to took connect. It’s just my first initial last name, @akennada. That’d be great place to do it.

Andrea: All right. That sounds good. Well, thank you again.


Share on activity feed

Powered by WP LinkPress