Welcome to CMAweekly, where we dive deep into the world of customer marketing and advocacy. In today’s episode, we’re getting into the nitty-gritty of planning for 2024, with a focus on revenue, retention, and the evolving dynamics between sales and customer marketing teams.
Our stellar lineup of hosts and guests will share insights on navigating the challenges of attribution, the growing importance of customer advocacy, the impact of the pandemic on customer care, and the crucial role of collaboration in driving revenue and retaining customers.
So sit back, relax, and get ready to soak in the wisdom of our experts as we uncover the latest trends and strategies in the realm of customer marketing and advocacy.
Transcription & Topics
Retention, revenue, adoption, and references for 2024 & CMAs role in driving revenue and supporting sales.
Mary Green [00:00:06]:
We got some new people. Okay. Welcome, everyone. This is, Friday, 19th January. I cannot believe it’s Almost the end of January already. That seems crazy to me. Today, we’re gonna discuss planning 2024. Some people have already started planning at the end of last year, but I usually see people asking until maybe the beginning of March to discuss different topics in planning.
Mary Green [00:00:36]:
A couple of weeks ago or maybe early last week, we had a call with several people, and Taylor Bogar from Apollo, and she was we were talking about net Recurring revenue being a focus for this year. I did a short poll a couple of weeks ago that just Kind of asked people in the newsletter who, what, like, their topics are for this year. What are their priorities? And it’s not super different from last year. The top one was retention, then revenue, then adoption, and references. Maybe switch those last 2. Adoption and retention, though, Seem to be becoming more important. I think it has to do with possibly the cuts across Customer success. Apparently, even though marketers were hit hard in the last couple of years, customer success was hit, even harder.
Mary Green [00:01:47]:
And yeah. So those are the bigger topics that I’m seeing this year. We’ll put that up at the top here. Retention, revenue, References and adoption, which isn’t references kinda tied to revenue as well. So I thought I’d just start by asking, what are you all kind of working on this year? What is your What are some of your top goals and topics that you really need to drive in your organization? If anybody has any trouble with the screen, down in the bottom right, you can see How zoomed in or zoomed out you are. And, if you wanna add anything, go ahead If you can if you can’t and you want to, just let me know. The same as we always are. This is a very conversational call.
Mary Green [00:02:56]:
Just Jump in and share what you wanna share.
Let me let let Sean, Mary, let me share some thoughts. And so I’m not in a while at the moment, but I am obviously Job hunting for for Abel. But what I’m noticing, certainly from the interviews I’ll be doing and the, job efforts that I’m seeing, It is. It’s a heavy focus on revenue, and growth. Much more you know, in a sense, the retention bid is I I would argue a given, but, effectively, what organizations appear to be focused on is we just want you to be able to try Repeat and kind of, regular, revenue from existing customers and then maybe even Support net new, sort of opportunities. And that’s where from what I’m sitting but in this side upon anyway, that’s what that’s I’m very the real consensus is very little, and it’s also, maybe, between the lines, a, tendency to kind of assume that that can be done quickly, as opposed to, hey. These things take time, and you better build the relationships and, you know, deepen those relationships and all that kind of stuff. So that’s For me, quite marketing.
And, you know, it’s, I suppose, expected in a long way given the current economic headwinds. But, I would have thought, you know, that perhaps organizations might be more willing to invest in the broader customer Well, success in arts advocacy. Recognizing that these things do take time.
Mary Green [00:04:32]:
Yeah. I I see, both Lauren and Christina are talking about retention retention and Expansion. Yeah. The expansion expansion kind of falls under that retention and revenue, You know, both of them together, I didn’t I don’t think I put that separately on the poll I sent out. But I’m seeing, like, customer marketing, advocacy professionals is kind of becoming this Post sales Swiss army knife. I said that a couple calls ago. And, like, we have to kind of Figure out all the ways to support different functions, you know, By driving reviews and revenues and or reviews and references and all of those things. But I had an interesting call with Alyssa Steiner at the end of last year, early December, I think it was, and Is she made a really great case for how important it is for us to show our support to sales? Not that we don’t already support sales, but that we don’t necessarily Make them super aware of it in the way of, hey.
Mary Green [00:05:58]:
You need us. We need you to champion for us type of thing. And that came across as a little bit different to me because I know we’ve gotten a lot of people talking about how we need to drive references. And going through sales is one of those ways to do it. Obviously, customer marketing, email, and all of those campaigns do as well. But We often lack being able to prove the value of our programs, which I know, like, Dean Shaw is gonna be talking about that with Me and, Diana from advocacy events next Wednesday. And I just I thought it was a really important point that she made on how much we need to Both show that we are supportive of sales and make sure that they know it. Because when they know it, then it feels like we have even more of that support from them to be like, hey.
Mary Green [00:07:02]:
We need these people. You can’t get rid of them.
Mary Green [00:07:06]:
I don’t know what other people think about that. I guess it’s going off topic a little bit.
Rebecca Grossman [00:07:11]:
Hey, Mary. I can share a few thoughts.
Mary Green [00:07:14]:
Rebecca Grossman [00:07:16]:
Can you hear me? It’s Rebecca. So one of the things I think is interesting is my background was actually more in customer life cycle marketing, one to many, PLG. I didn’t know customer advocacy Existed until a few years later a few years ago, many years into my career, and really what I’ve seen in the last Year or 2 and some of us and people who have seen or heard from you before know that I talk a lot about customer marketing, meaning life cycle marketing as well as advocacy, And I’m really seeing this huge, switch or or or emphasis on on both the life cycle side as well, which I think has been super interesting. So one of the things that I’m very focused on also is expansion. How do we drive more revenue from existing customers? And what I realized last year, I had somebody in my team that transitioned from my team to product marketing, and he was it was an uphill battle to try to, like, really figure out how to do expansion well. And part of what I figured out is we were taking on too much. So I don’t know if other people are having this challenge, But the way that we have it now set up so if you don’t have it set up this way and there’s any way that you can, I encourage you to think about it, and, we’re still working through it? So we don’t have it perfect, but I’m happy to chat more is, so, actually, like, the chief customer officer we this thing’s called VCP, value creation process. I don’t know if that’s a common term.
Rebecca Grossman [00:08:35]:
It’s like this big thing with an executive sponsor. And so now that there’s an executive sponsor who’s in charge of growing revenue and there’s a program manager who’s in charge of supporting them and bringing people together across the community. We now have a lane, so we don’t own All of the aspects of retention, or sorry, of expansion and growing revenue, we own a lane of it, and so we own, marketing decides, like, what is the audience and who are we targeting and what is our best opportunity to go after, piece and and, like, the messaging and the positioning. Our expertise is how and when we communicate with people. And so by having somebody, like, program manage the whole thing and us being really clear about what our lane is, it has made things so much easier because now, Like, the person on my team was spending hours and hours trying to figure out if somebody raises their hand, like, how do we get them over to sales and, like, all of the back end stuff, I’ve started saying no. Like, our team cannot own everything. We need to figure out who across the organization, owns which part. So I don’t know if other people here feel like you’re owning the whole thing and it’s overwhelming, or if other people are set up with sort of program managers and, And other people as well.
Rebecca Grossman [00:09:53]:
But I just thought I’d share where we are, right now.
So I just, just wanted to, Becca, and something else that you picked on maybe. So my back keep in mind, Jen, and Sue. And so I’ve sort of kinda do customer advocacy in the last community as part of that.
Attributing sales to marketing, Clear ownership and division of responsibility, and Significance of documenting touchpoints in sales.
Mary Green [00:10:10]:
of the things that I think maybe we’re missing a trick here, but something I used to push really hard, I would join the weekly sales leadership meetings and, more importantly, the Pipe generation, meetings because that’s kind of like the bread and butter and and day job, in terms of trying to work out We’re driving pipe what we need to do. But as part of those conversations, I would customer sales guys and are down on the fact that Beyond the net new, we are looking at, you know, upsell, cross sell, renewal. And where are they in in in that process? And, more importantly, what references and customers perhaps do they need that can help engage and support that? Because my experience In the former company was that there was a separate customer advocacy team, but they never joined any of the sales calls. If anything, we would you know, if we need references or the sales teams need references, it’d be a kind of random where, you know, the the credit go update and Got back to sales and me and others. So I say, hey. Do you know so and so? Do you kind of think you’re missing the trigger? Get involved with sales, Literally part of that conversation and part of that process, and, therefore, you can show the value. And I think this is about you perhaps to show the value of customer see. And then it’s kind of success marketing because it’s literally in their face because the sales teams can see it’s more than just a references.
It’s how it impacts, revenue. And I don’t know whether anybody else perhaps, you know, you see something similar or whether they’re trying to do similar things in their organizations.
Mary Green [00:11:41]:
Well, I think, like, going back to what Rebecca was saying, like, a lot of people in our space are overwhelmed and trying to do too many things. And that’s a really good point to be able to try to get that focus. And, I’ll get it to you in just a second, Daniel. Yeah. To get that focus, I just wanna say from my background as well in customer, community market community and marketing. We I learned that you had to do the same thing. It has to be, Like, figure out the things that you’re best at that you can actually really focus on and make those a priority and Work on those and kind of, like, bring your organization along with that. But, obviously, there’s an art to it, and it’s a little bit different for everyone in their organization.
Mary Green [00:12:35]:
Some people just don’t feel like they can. Go ahead, Daniel.
Daniel Palay [00:12:39]:
Awesome. Well, happy happy Friday, everybody. Sorry. I’ve been missing the last couple ones, but I wanted to make sure I was here. A couple points on that. 1, when I started, which actually happened to be 3 years ago today, One of the first things I did was kind of a combination of 2 things we’re talking about. 1, make sure that we put guardrails on exactly what we were doing. And how we did that was we actually went around to every single sales meeting that there was, whether it was with the executives, whether it was with individual people and put together, like, these are the things we do, and we do them very well.
Daniel Palay [00:13:19]:
And we will be here to help you sort of be connective tissue, but this is what we do. And so that started from the very beginning, you know, setting expectations that this is these are the areas that we can deliver on. If you give more to us, We’re happy to consider it, but you have to remember what we have to, offset if we like, because we only have the same amount of time. And if we tell you that we’re doing something and you want us to do something else, you have to know that we can’t do all the things that we told you we were gonna do. The second thing there is, on the getting in front of sales as early as possible. We actually independently worked with our enablement Team. So we’re one of the, teams that presents to every new hire class and shows them the value of our team And working with us within the 1st few weeks that they start. So getting to indoctrinate people as it were at the beginning that our team is there to support them and make their lives easier.
Daniel Palay [00:14:18]:
But at the same time, as part of that presentation, we show them, How they can also help us and how is it sales fulfilling, cycle the the entire time. So it’s really, sort of that that that 2 pronged approach.
Mary Green [00:14:35]:
Yeah. I agree. Go ahead, Rob.
Daniel Palay [00:14:38]:
Yeah. Question actually back for Rebecca. I’m I’m curious to hear a little bit more On, you know, the the steps you took to delineate, right, to to create the lanes that your team worked in. And then Background on your organization, was there already, like, a rev ops function that helped to sort of step in and start to do those sort of, like, targeting mechanisms, or was that more done, do do, like, with the collaboration with the AM team.
Rebecca Grossman [00:15:06]:
Yeah. So we’re still figure all of this out. Like, we don’t have all of the answers. I think part of what part of because we have a program manager on the customer in a customer org, And she brought people together because her executive wants us to figure this out. So also for us, we have A sales so our renewals team and our expansion team are in our customer org. They’re not on the sales team, So I don’t know how common that that is. So, yes. So groups so growing and renewing and all that is in the customer org.
Rebecca Grossman [00:15:38]:
So that’s in his world. And so he charged her with figuring out again, with this whole explaining document, whatever, and he charged her with figuring it out. And I sort of came and I came to the meeting, and they’re like, alright. What can you do for us? And I said, well, here’s my lane. Here’s the part that I can play. Here are the things that I can’t do. And I said, The first thing you all need to do is you need to map out the customer journey because I have a piece of this, but I don’t own the whole thing. So, So in terms of, like, the rev op rev ops resources, like, I’m not exactly sure, like because that that to me feels Like, a little I’m I’m trying to not do everything.
Rebecca Grossman [00:16:18]:
I’m trying to to focus as much as possible, so, what they need to do is come back and say, Okay. Product marketing defines the ICP, the messaging, the positioning, and then they you’ll hand that over, and then then the next question is, Like, what are we communicating to whom and when? So that’s partly me, but it’s also me working with the product team because it’s not just about What, you know, customer marketing is doing, but we need to be coordinated so the in product messaging makes sense as well. And then I said, we need to figure out what do we want people to do. Like, you telling me you want a 100 leads or 500 leads or whatever, like, that’s not That’s not how it’s gonna work because I can’t just deliver leads. Like, we need to figure out, well, what is the experience? If someone’s interested, Is there any self-service? Is there any PLG emotion? Can they do a trial? Can they do anything, or do they have to talk to sales? And even when they talk to sales, like, what do we want them to actually do? Again, like, you all need to combat this out, and then I can help amplify the I can amplify the message to the right person at the right time. That’s where I feel like customer marketing’s expertise is. Y’all need to figure out what the rev ops role is and the plumbing because, again, the person on my team was so focused on, like, the plumbing and how do we identify when someone raises their hand, and how do we assign them to the right salesperson? And, like, it took me a little while because he’s so great and so independent. And Then I’m like, wait a minute.
Rebecca Grossman [00:17:49]:
We aren’t we’re not moving fast because he’s spending all this time I figure out how to how to get our hand raiser over to the right salesperson. Like, somebody else should be doing that. So So, again, like, we’re still definitely a work in progress, but I’m I’m optimistic. Unless they come back to me and say, hey, Rebecca. You said this, but we totally disagree. Right? Like, I I went to the meeting and said, This is where I need I said because I’ve been in the role. So, like, many years ago, I was the program manager for expansion at a company, and, like, that’s what I did in that role, and so I’ve seen that happen. I’ve seen that work, so I I said to them, like, this is what I think we need to do? And I’m my plan is to come back to them with the things that that I said I would do and then be like, okay.
Rebecca Grossman [00:18:38]:
Like, Where where is the rest of it? It’s it shouldn’t be on customer marketing to do all of it, so hopefully that Help.
Mary Green [00:18:46]:
Yeah. It this reminds me of the call that, Ari shared back in April. I think it was 21st, And he shared about, like, the priorities and being able to say no and telling, you know, how to say no. Basically, it was what I really liked was he was like, people would come and ask, hey. Can you do this? And I’d say, sure, but We’d have to take away from this other program. Like, I know it’s a little bit different because of what you’re saying, Rebecca. Like, you’re focusing on, like, staying in that lane, and that’s really good guidelines for, you know, making sure you Keep your focus, but I just like the way he talked about how we are being asked to do so many more things, And we really have to align each of these things back to the goals of the company, the department, Our responsibilities and our job and make sure all of these things are aligned and that the right priorities are being taken care of Instead of, oh, yeah. I can do this on the side.
Mary Green [00:19:58]:
And then what you’re talking about, Rebecca, reminds me just of the technology side. Like, yes, We can get these advocacy and reference tools to help us, but a lot of times, it might be as simple as setting up some Zaps in Zapier or Make .com, Like, in thinking about how can we automate some of these things to make this go a little bit faster because So much of our jobs now is playing with this technology on a regular basis and doing these Manual jobs that could be automated if we events little time to do that.
Collaboration with demand gen to drive revenue and retain customers. Demonstrating the monetary value of customer marketing efforts.
It sounds like, Rebecca, one of your colleagues who’s asked to do, and I agree with you, by the way, about sticking to the lines. But it’s, it’s like, and there should be a separate. In fact, most companies sales Do have a marketing ops team that does all that, you know, the with the back end stuff about where the leads end up and how they pass the sales and and the flows and have all the best of it. You know, I I never got involved in that from the demand gen standpoint. I just advised on that, and I, you know, focus on trying to generate those leads and try to put it through the funnel. But, Yeah. I didn’t have time to start working out which salesperson’s gonna get this lead and and everything else because I’d be there all day.
Mary Green [00:21:15]:
Mary Green [00:21:18]:
Allison Bukowski, I see you’re on. You have anything to share? Hey.
Alison B [00:21:23]:
Hey, everybody. It’s been a very long time. But I was free, and I was like, I am jumping on Mary’s call because I love being here. I just wanna Echo some of what Rebecca is saying, but then also what Daniel was saying. I think that this is just So much why we need somebody that has the overall view. Right? It’s part of why I stepped into my new role. I’m well aware that not everybody, You know, not all the orgs have, like, a a CCO or a customer experience person that can can do that, can see it from a 10,000 foot view, Bring the right stakeholders to the table, right, to have a conversation about how does this actually flow because it is completely a loop. However, so yay if you’re lucky enough to have that, because I think that that’s the the right way, the best practice of doing it.
Alison B [00:22:12]:
But, you know, Daniel was talking about, You know, how do you go about, you know, getting the buy in and then keeping the buy in, right, and maintaining the lines of communication and keeping those open? The roadshow approach that he described, 100%. You know, getting yourself a seat at the meeting table, right, like SKO. A lot of those are happening right and things like that, and make sure that you’re presenting. But it’s it’s also, like, this term like everboarding. Right. It’s not just onboarding. It’s like you have to consistently do it. So another thing that is also really helpful is having I don’t know how many of you have an internal, like advocacy council or a governance kind of committee for customer advocacy, customer marketing, customer experience type things, where During that roadshow that Daniel was talking about, you kind of force that, hey.
Alison B [00:23:05]:
And we’re gonna do this quarterly, and I need someone from CS. I need someone from sales. I need somebody from product, you know, from the marketing org to be a part of this So that we make sure that we’re doing what we’ve said we can do and that we are setting shared priorities. And, Mary, back To your point that we have pushback priorities, that’s what I call them, where it’s like, here. They’re documented. So this is what we said we would achieve and how we can kind of Push back on that if needed, if there are other competing priorities, but then you keep your stakeholders engaged. And I think that’s the way to kind of make sure that that leadership support comes in because there’s just so many programs that die on the vine or CMA professionals that are overworked because leadership forgot. And it’s not always even intentional, they just simply forgot.
Alison B [00:23:52]:
So, by setting that cadence, I found that very helpful. So that’s my 2¢, I guess.
Mary Green [00:23:58]:
Yeah. I would sales, like, I definitely agree with that. Additionally, from my Experiencing community and, doing all of that. Like, I would when I would first start a community, I’d come in and say, You know, I’m going to start a community. I’d like to, just find out who’s interested in being updated on this once in a while about what is going on with the community. And I actually get a lot of hand raisers that wanted to be on that list. And what I found is when I went to share that information. I would do an email, but then I’d also copy it and paste it to each individual in Slack So that there was an open dialogue between both of us because it’s so easy to look at an email quick and see, oh, there’s a few in the community.
Mary Green [00:24:49]:
That’s great. I’ll read it later. And the same with customer marketing. But I think I’ve heard more and more people Lately, over the past year, sharing how they’re putting together these boards and kinda committees of how they’re going to do certain things like customer communications or, customer marketing and Advocacy and things like that, so that’s a really great idea as well.
Alison B [00:25:16]:
Because, ultimately, we can’t do this stuff in a vacuum, And that’s what I you know, in all my conversations over the last week and a half, that is what I’m hearing is just a resounding I do my part And, like, to the customer references, and they love me. They love working with this program, and then it just completely falls apart In another area of the business, and and that’s something that definitely has to be discussed. So, you know, we do our small part. Right? CMA. I still consider myself, like, a CMA practitioner that that’s what, you know, we’re here to do. And if it means we get the right people at the table, you know, we’re not gonna get, like, credit it. But, hey, we did it for the benefit of our program and our and the resources that we desperately need.
Mary Green [00:26:00]:
Yeah. Absolutely. So, Allison, what what are you planning on for or seeing or planning for this year for 2024 in the CMA realm?
Alison B [00:26:14]:
Well, what you know, essentially, what I’m planning for is how can I continue to help support The CMA professionals? I’m very privileged that I I get to keep working in this in this world, and now I get to look at it from that, You know, 10,000 foot view of how can we improve the overall process. But I will say that by the last 8 day 9 days, that’s how long I’ve been With point of reference now in my customer experience role, there are themes, and they are I’m hearing them loud and clear. It’s 2023 sucks. So resources are at a you know, there’s no resources. Now I have nobody to do the things that we’re doing previously, Or, hey. That person got let go, and now I inherited this. That’s a big one. I’m hearing a lot of people saying I inherited a reference program.
Alison B [00:27:03]:
I inherited an advocacy groups. So now what? The other piece of it is just, leadership. No idea. No support. So it’s very timely that we’re talking about this now because you aren’t alone. If you’re facing that, it’s everyone that I’ve talked to, and then user adoption. Getting my stakeholders to do what they’re supposed to do, follow the processes that we’ve put in place. Those are the 3 big ones, the themes that I’ve that I’ve pulled out.
Alison B [00:27:30]:
So I’m I’m not happy to hear it in any way, shape, or form, but it it align very nicely to what is being brought up today.
Mary Green [00:27:39]:
Yeah. What was the second one real quick? I was just writing them down.
Alison B [00:27:42]:
So the lack of resources and then the, user adoption, like those Stakeholders, that was the 3rd one, and then the leadership support is the yep. The other one.
Mary Green [00:27:54]:
Anybody else wanna share their predictions for this year for what they’re working on?
Mary Green [00:28:01]:
This is Maria. Sorry. I sound horrible. I’ve been sick all week. So I apologize. That’s why I’m off camera. But I had a really good conversation with Allison on, Wednesday in her new role at point of reference. So I was just explaining to her, and it follows this conversation because, you know, for so many years, I managed a program that was just well respected and known and Really pushed, like, the boundaries in terms of getting new customers, and everybody wanted to join and be a part of it.
Mary Green [00:28:29]:
And so I’m I’m here now at Stripe, which I love. Great community, but they’re just growing so fast. They’re just so under resourced. So I’m doing a lot of tactical things that I’m not used to doing, but I’m learning a lot. So that’s great. And, like, it’s Easier like, I have to be cautious on where I say no to because it’s easier to say no when you’re kind of managing a program that’s, like, Tried and true versus a program that’s in the infancy stage. So, just feel like pushing kind of, like, Trying to get them to set more strategic objectives, besides what I’ve been given. And so I think they see the value of that.
Mary Green [00:29:08]:
Made a couple of big wins this week with kind of getting an IT resource to support us, just with a reference edge, which is great. And then, with some sales, just some sales wins, so that’s good. But just capturing that value and continuing to elevate it So people see it. I think that’s, like, just super important to continue to do that. So it’s definitely a learning experience to me, but I’m just I’m grateful for this opportunity and Happy again to work with Allison at point of reference. This is my 3rd company, where we’ve implemented or used rather References ed. So
Alison B [00:29:43]:
I didn’t pay Maria to show up on this call or or anything, but thank you, Maria.
Mary Green [00:29:51]:
That’s okay. We also have Evan Hawk on here. So we have a good, kind of layout of different Vendors that are here. But, Evan, do you have anything that you wanna share on 2024 predictions or things where you see people Are focusing on different, goals and maybe even how they’re going to try to reach these goals.
Impact of the pandemic on customer retention, care for customers beyond transactional purposes, and the integration of communities and advocacy in customer marketing efforts.
Evan Huck [00:30:17]:
Yeah. I’ll start the high level first. I mean, so we’re I’m always out there talking to investors and VCs primarily. You know, we’re we’re post series a, pre series b, so get pretty good pulse on that. I think the general sentiment is, like, there will be continued rockiness, but, like, a slight uptick towards goodness, is is great. And granted these are coming from VCs, we want to be optimistic because that’s their entire business. But but, you know, I think there’s some general Optimism and especially if the public markets do well, you know, I think that helps investor confidence. And why that matters to you is, like, then you you fund departments, right, Instead of instead of taking away new fun go to market stuff.
Evan Huck [00:30:55]:
So I I think that’s good. I think you saw, like, a lot of I think the nice shakeup that happened is, like, you’re seeing a lot of there’s this huge proliferation of vendors and a lot of it didn’t solve a huge problem And you see those vendors start to get knocked off. And so, obviously, that sucks in the meantime because, like, you lose jobs and stuff like that. But I think, like, Yeah. If you knew something like Maria did, you land at this new company. Like, this this next wave of companies is gonna be after having weathered the storm is gonna have you know, is gonna be very strong. So, I think that’s promising. I think from a customer marketing perspective, like, the trend I’ve noticed just from an investment in perspective is is just there’s there’s a decreasing, like, patience for results.
Evan Huck [00:31:38]:
And so my like, the error that I think I we saw people make is, like, These longer planning cycles and and trying to do this whole big strategy, and you you would do that for, like, 4 to 5 months, people be like, alright. I haven’t seen new things. Like, we’re just gonna cut it in this beautiful slide deck where all the strategies goes out the window. So I think, like, they’re customer Balance, obviously, long term strategy with with a need for, like, short term tactical hard hitting results to gain some credibility that you can then use to go Long term program?
Mary Green [00:32:09]:
Yeah. That’s when I was working at Demandbase, and I had to take over our program for advocacy and community. My goal because we had so much focus on we need results, like, yesterday, so you have to get them now. And I so I had a short term plan and a long term plan that I kept switching back and forth to work on. So I’d spend some time each week doing that, and I’ve been trying to teach people in community to do that as well because I think there’s in community, it was always, hey. 12 to 18 months before you start to see any kind of return on investment. It’s like, no. You can’t you can’t wait 12 to 18 months.
Mary Green [00:32:54]:
You’re gonna have a new CMO community in the middle of that And, like, get rid of the whole thing. So you have to find some results immediately and Be very strategic about what you’re doing and what you’re not going to do. Lauren Turner, you said References. Revenue. Revenue. Earlier in the call. Right?
Lauren Turner [00:33:17]:
Yes. Yes. I did.
Mary Green [00:33:19]:
How how are you going to hit revenue revenue revenue?
Lauren Turner [00:33:23]:
Oh, man. Let me pull out my magic eight ball.
Rebecca Grossman [00:33:30]:
Oh, Outlook unclear.
Lauren Turner [00:33:33]:
What what we’re really looking at right now and, you know, I don’t know whether we’re a microcosm of the whole Economy within customer marketing and advocacy in or all of tech per sales. But I I’m hearing the constant themes, you know, there’s no budget for anything. There are no resources. Do more with less. Be scrappy. I swear if I hear the word scrappy one more time. But even the even the traditional advocacy programs, I think, are almost being turned on their ear because you’re looking at Those customer proof points with your referrals, your references, your reviews, customers helping other all of those things that we know are really valuable, but they don’t have a dollar value attached to it. And if you do, I mean, because they The references, all of, yeah, all of those things can be used to help facilitate new business coming in.
Lauren Turner [00:34:28]:
But to be able to say, okay. Well, that That call between the prospect and your customer is worth x percent of the new contract that came in. Everyone has a different idea of what x is, and there are some companies where sales isn’t even going to admit that there is x. It’s going to be, oh, well, sales closed it. It’s you know, sales did the did the work, and then they’ll still go back to CMA And say, okay. How many more dollars did this community program bring in? And so there’s now this additional pressure to not only Bring in all of the inherent goodness that we see with customer advocacy in terms of those traditional KPIs. But now we’re also being asked to monetize the community as well and be able to put, You know, put a stick in the ground and say, yep. You know, this is how this is how many more dollars came in from upsell and cross sell as a direct Result of community.
Lauren Turner [00:35:30]:
And the sticking point isn’t just now we need to figure out how to monetize the community, but it’s that direct piece. Because a good community is part of an ecosystem that is helping to drive all of those eventual upsell, cross sell, happy Customer, renewal, all those other things. And so you’re never going to get that type of demand gen funnel Conversion where, oh, I had a webinar and someone says, oh, that was an amazing thing. I learned so much. Hand me a contract. And so to be able to have that expectation, to be able to create a through line is extraordinarily difficult, and it’s basically the only way we can really do it is with Some kind of fuzzy math, and all you need is 1 executive to not agree with the fuzzy math that you’ve put together, and then you’re dead. Well, that or
Mary Green [00:36:23]:
they just come in and
Lauren Turner [00:36:24]:
a big rant. I’m really sorry.
Mary Green [00:36:28]:
Or they just come in and they’re like, okay. We have to make cuts. We’re just going to Yep. Get rid of all of these people, and We’ll deal with what happens, get profitable, and then start hiring back people that want to support Customers, which is what I’ve seen. And Yeah. It’s it’s
Lauren Turner [00:36:50]:
really it’s really funny how the how the tides have turned. I mean, with COVID, you had an immediate retention issue because, you know, the companies were were closing left and right. And so suddenly, it dawned on Marblehead, oh, we have to actually care about our customers. And so the investment in These types of CMA programs were, you know, were very good, and they were and they were popular. And I kinda feel like once there became A little bit of a plugging of the massive attrition of customer, and there was a little bit more stability in that retention. It was like, oh, I guess we don’t have to care about customer anymore. Let’s go back to demand gen and the things that we can measure.
Rebecca Grossman [00:37:34]:
Lauren Turner [00:37:37]:
And and so and and part of it, I think, is is inherent to a corporate Culture. It’s like, are do you care about customers because you actually care about customers, or do you care about customers only so much As you can make it transactional and, you know, we care about them so long as they renew. Okay. Now we don’t have to care about them until their renewal is up again.
Mary Green [00:37:59]:
Yeah. That’s not good. And I have to say, like, with your focus on communities and making them, getting those monetized Quickly, I found that it’s very similar to advocacy because your advocates to me are another Community. They’re a group of people that do want to connect with each other in most cases, and they have specific Things that they want, they, you know, they have reasons why they’re participating and everything, so it’s really similar to what Community and, you know, advocacy are. Switch those. And I’ve never
Mary Green [00:38:38]:
Lauren Turner [00:38:38]:
And I’ve never had them as separate things. I I’ve always Gotcha. I’ve always had them very, very much integrated and blended, where we’re trying to grow the community while also using the community as a way to service and nurture advocates.
And while consolation, Lauren, and to your events about the kind of expectations that are placed, I think Well, I noticed, certainly, as the pandemic hit, was that there was very much a focus on Those that were in demand gen to the marketing to actually work even more with the community teams and customer marketing because they realized We’d like the penny talks if you left out, but they realize the importance of actually having, the kind of expertise and and, sort of, what we bring to the table, to be able to help drive, the revenue and also, make sure that those customers, Stay, sort of with the organization. And as I said, I I was in a position because because I was thinking of my agenda to the marketing, but I I kind of then Ran and and and drove the the whole kind of, arguments for customer advocacy and and, one of my former, companies. But my my advice would be, alongside the kind of, conversations with the sales leadership, if, you know, I We’d seek out the demand agenda to marketing and have, of course, the conversations to decide to make sure they absolutely, sort of tap in to what you’re doing so that they can go out and spread a message as well, so that you’re not then literally seen as being on the side and sort of an extension or or sort of into whatever they’re doing. It’s almost like an integral part of the whole revenue, operation.
Ambiguous attribution of sales to marketing efforts, layoffs prompting validation of department contributions, and the influence of corporate culture on interdepartmental dynamics are discussed.
Lauren Turner [00:40:22]:
Oh, I very much do. I’d be I’m it’s something that I’ve always done from the beginning regardless of what company I was that I will Get involved with all of the cross functional department meetings and keep them abreast of what’s going on and get their input and contribute to that. So for outbound marketing plays for for demand gen, for example, you know, I will surface up customers with quotes and and things that will tie into whatever that Theme is that they’re putting out and and tag teaming with them, as well as taking some of the more sales y sounding outbound, marketing plays and, you know, toning it down and making it more appropriate for customer facing communications. It’s just more along the lines of Those activities, because you can’t claim a specific percentage, they’re constantly being asked tour, but they’re not recognized as part of what’s contributing to the revenue. And so then you go back and they’re like, okay. Well, how much money did the did the community generate? And it’s like, well, these are all the activities that we did, and these are things that led to revenue. But I can’t, you know, but I can’t say, well, 10% of that is due to customer marketing because it’s it’s purely someone’s conjecture as to what that contribution is worth. And if they want to find a quick thing to cut, then it’s then they can just easily devalue what that contribution is.
Lauren Turner [00:41:50]:
Okay. Fine. You brought you brought in you you brought in the ecosystem that created compelling marketing messages that got that, that prospect in the door. You had them talk to a customer that helped close the deal. And in between, there was a webinar and and a white paper and an ebook, But we’re just gonna give all the credit to sales once it closes. And so now we’re gonna look back and be like, well, marketing hasn’t done anything, and you’re like, but wait a minute.
Mary Green [00:42:18]:
Yeah. I so I just wanna say, I think it was Evan Jacobs in the community was saying that he’s shifted his focus from Revenue influenced to, like, last touch or something like that. I’m I’m hoped on Hope to get him on next month to kinda talk about that. But at the same time, I had an interesting conversation with Dean Shaw where He’s trying to nail down those metrics and find out really what does this program Not just influence, but what is it responsible for? And I said, well, can’t you just ask sales? Like, what percentage of the sales, When there’s a reference added to it, do you credit customer marketing with generating? And he said yes, but I’ve been in a situation where people have been like, okay. Well, you you know, the company got $3,000,000,000 in sales this year. And once everybody came together and said what their contribution was, it showed $12,000,000,000 in sales. So he’s like, So that would help. And I was like, that’s a really good point because then if you are the CEO or somebody else, you know, in the c suite? And you get that information, and you’re like, wait a minute.
Mary Green [00:43:42]:
How did everybody contribute? And we have Four it says we have 4 times the revenue we actually had. That doesn’t make any sense. Yep.
Lauren Turner [00:43:52]:
And then when and then when you have, you know, something like the threat of impending layoffs, everyone’s going to want to validate to your point, you know, what they did to to justify their existence. And so you ask sales, how much of how much of customer marketing impacted that close? They’re gonna be like, well, You know, not much. I I you know, I’m an amazing salesperson. I would have closed that whether we had a reference or not. It helped.
Mary Green [00:44:16]:
And, You know? When they do when they are kind of cutting customer marketing, a lot of sales teams have Done the search for references before. So that work goes back on them, which is, you know, more stressful for them, obviously, but It’s I’m I’m happy to see that some community seem to be turning around to go back to offering some customer marketing because That revenue is so important, and it’s just figuring out that Those metrics, it’s difficult. I haven’t heard anybody give an answer on this topic that has been Super, super helpful and just, like, straight to the point. Like, this is all you have to do. I haven’t heard anything great on that.
Collaboration, open dialogue, and engagement in community and customer marketing, the challenges of resource limitations and demonstrating the value of customer proof points.
Lauren Turner [00:45:08]:
How much of it depends on the corporate culture And what department the sacred cow is? And and that’s where I think it really boils down. That if It’s a sales driven organization, then sales can do no wrong. And even if they don’t make their quotas, they don’t make their quotas because the marketing wasn’t compelling enough or you didn’t have enough webinars or, like, whatever it is, it’s not them. And and you can basically just shift The blame to whoever is not, you know, the the favorite child in in the department, you know, or sorry, in in the company. In company. In the company. So, I mean, you know, in in ours, it happens to I think it tends to be CSMs that, you know, the CSMs can do no wrong even if they don’t fully understand and how their own product works and and basically turn everything back to our onboarding manager because they can’t do a proper demo. Well,
Mary Green [00:46:04]:
I think, though, that, see, customer success is getting a major shift in how they’re seen because As I’ve been talking to more people Sorry. I’ve been What’s that?
Rebecca Grossman [00:46:17]:
No. Just just just posted in the chat.
Mary Green [00:46:20]:
Well, I looked at, There, Jason Lumpkin’s like, he talks about things, and he’s talking about how in a lot of organizations, customer success is going away Because it’s just not as helpful or supportive as they thought it would be. And I think it has to do with, 1, like, A lot of customers now want self-service, and there are companies even in our space that do not offer a lot of documentation at all Or ways to really be successful without going through somebody that you meet every 2 weeks, and talk to. So there’s that. We want more self serve options. We wanna do what we wanna do. We wanna have a general idea of what’s going to make us successful.
Lauren Turner [00:47:08]:
People that come to have a really close alignment between your product team engineering and your customers.
Daniel Palay [00:47:15]:
Mary Green [00:47:15]:
if you’re going to
Lauren Turner [00:47:16]:
be so reliant on self serve, you have to have a product that’s easy enough to use that you can self serve.
Mary Green [00:47:21]:
Yeah. You do. But On top of that, so many SaaS companies offer customer success by someone with 12 to 18 months of experience.
Alison B [00:47:32]:
Mary Green [00:47:32]:
I I have gotten on multiple calls with community platforms where I was representing a client, and I had somebody That was 6 months out of college trying to tell me how to build communities that I’ve built for 14 years. Right. And it’s like, number 1, you don’t have to tell me. Number 2, I’m not hopping on another call Because I I can figure out We’re
Lauren Turner [00:47:57]:
not offering we’re not offering a value in in new Right.
Mary Green [00:48:00]:
It becomes more of a waste of time than anything else, And more people have more experience now, so they you know, Daniel probably isn’t gonna wanna hop on a call with somebody that has 6 months of experience And telling them how to telling him how to run his team and build his strategy. We know what we’re doing. Give me that option. And customer success in so many companies is step 1, 2, 3, 4 is Exactly the same for everyone. Nobody wants to go through that.
Lauren Turner [00:48:34]:
Yep. That’s absolutely true and and fair.
Daniel Palay [00:48:40]:
Lauren, real quick.
Mary Green [00:48:41]:
Rebecca Grossman [00:48:42]:
Go ahead, Lauren.
Daniel Palay [00:48:42]:
Just to build off what you were saying, I I will say this, again, that I am extremely lucky to to work at the company I work for and work for the CMO that I work for. But find yourself or empower, your current CMO or VP of marketing with the same hatred of, Oh, I have your same head of marketing or whoever, or yourself to, be able to pull all of the data that, That shows all of the touch points because our CMO, and many of us in marketing follow his lead. Anytime a salesperson is like, yeah, I closed this by myself, we go to the data that we have because we we analyze this all the time to see how our programs are doing. Take a screenshot of the 1st time somebody, somebody interacted with us and, like, send it back to them. And it got so, it got, so much, it was part of the culture in in the company that are at an SLT meeting. I believe, Dave Kranowitz, our COO, and Scott Fingerhut, our CMO. Like, Dave said something about how there’s all these deals that sales closed himself. Scott was like, Cool.
Daniel Palay [00:49:49]:
Let me talk to our head of demand gen, and I will get back to you. Mhmm. And, it came back that At most, 1% of all deals that were closed for the year were just the immaculate, you know, conclusion as it were, that sales did everything. So the ability to show, like, yes, we don’t know how much this webinar actually affected it. But to say that, to to just say it out loud that sales did everything is actually wrong, and we’re not just saying it’s actually wrong. Here’s the actual evidence that it’s it it it’s happening.
Lauren Turner [00:50:26]:
These are all the touches. Yeah.
Daniel Palay [00:50:27]:
These are all the touches. And even then, that changes the conversation again from, I need to show that this touch equaled this deal. It’s no. This collection of touches equals this, This deal, which is why me as my team like, our team, I am freed up from having to justify the, like, amount of money that our, our, you know, programs effect. Right? I mean, I can pull the number. I can see, like, a reference call was used on deals Upwards of $31,000,000 since the time I’ve been here. But I also know that that isn’t the truth. Right? It it’s it’s a touch point.
Daniel Palay [00:51:03]:
So the more you can document it, the more you can show it On any given deal, and if you get all of the deals, be like, look. You’re you’re setting you’re showing the value that you bring and that Take out any number of those things, and that salesperson doesn’t close the deal.
Daniel, can I just sorry? Just on that point, though, and, I agree with you. One observation, and this is a challenge that I had, at a couple of companies, which is, As we know, sales execs can be very precious about their customers and and, and and their accounts. And trying to get them to fill out that information in Salesforce to say, actually, I’ve sent this reference or I’ve actually Spoken with this account about this particular, events engagement or this particular, customer and the way they’re using our platform It’s a challenge. And because they’re not putting it in, we’re completely blind to the fact that they’re using that information. I mean, it’s fine enough to get them to Salesforce for the basic stuff, let alone all the other stuff. So how do you get around that? Because I agree with you. It is about the touch points, and it’s all about the data to show This isn’t simply, you know, because I often say to sales teams, look. If it’s that straightforward, if you want bank qualified and you know, from the get go, I’m not in fact, I’m not sort of just commission codes to do it myself, and we don’t need you guys.
And it’s it’s kind of for me, the challenge is trying to Find that evidence because they will not fill out the information in SunSource.
Evan Huck [00:52:31]:
Mary Green [00:52:32]:
I have to interrupt because we only have a couple minutes left. So if anybody wants to hop on next week or you can take your call off or whatever. I I know this could get long, so sorry. Is it okay?
Daniel Palay [00:52:46]:
Totally fine. I I can I can answer real quick, though, Mary? Okay.
Mary Green [00:52:49]:
Daniel Palay [00:52:50]:
The the trick is, yes. Our stuff is harder to track. But people, if you’ve done if your Salesforce is done correctly and your forms when people sign up for webinars are done, like, that area Should be. And that’s a marketing operations thing. That’s a, it’s a a demand gen thing. That stuff should be automatically put in Regardless of what a salesperson does, if a contact signs up for something and it’s attached to an opportunity, that should be there. We can totally talk about it more, but that’s the that’s the side I was talking Not totally agree that getting people to register what they do with references is very hard, but the automation side should at least give you something.
Yeah. No. Definitely. I’ll connect with you offline, on LinkedIn or whatever, and we can sort of, consider the conversation at a later point.
Mary Green [00:53:32]:
Mary Green [00:53:33]:
Okay. Thank you. Thank you both. Honestly, So I really thank you for coming on the call. I have to say this call is sponsored by Champion, and They did a short platform walk through with us this week, on cmayweekly.com backslash champion. Oh, that’s fun. And next week, we’re gonna have Caitlyn. She’s gonna come talk about onboarding, communications, and review programs For 2024.
Mary Green [00:54:03]:
And, yeah, we have an intuitive call an intuitive success support call with Advocacy maven next Wednesday and every other Wednesday, it’s going to be. And I’ll be sharing An intuitive alternatives kind of guide that I’m working on this weekend. So, everybody, have a good weekend. Sorry for all the promotions. Amen. Thank you for the great conversation. Bye.