B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 2028 · 7 months ago

Why 'Best Practices' Aren't Practical (w/ Udi Ledergor)


In our continuation of our demand gen deep dive, Lesley Crews talks with Udi Ledergor, CMO at Gong, on why best practices aren't really best. 

They also discuss:

  • Moving from conversational intelligence to revenue intelligence
  • Gong's iconic Super Bowl commercial
  • Demand gen defined

Yeah, welcome back to be to be growth. I'mLeslie Cruise, the Swedish media and we are continuing our deep dive intodemand generation. I'm very, very excited to be joined by the letter goreCMO at gang who obviously needs no introduction moody, thank you so muchfor coming on the show, excited to be here. Leslie, thanks for having me.Absolutely. I've been following you on linkedin for a while and listen to theinterview you did a few months back with chris walker was so inspired by it,really focusing on that impact of brand for B two B is so important. It was areally valuable episode for me personally, like I mentioned before, Ihave so many things that I really want to talk to you about but before we gettoo deep you know we are focusing this month on demand generation here on GDPgrowth. So I do want to ask you how in your own words would you define demandgeneration? I think demand generation at the broadest level is creatingawareness of a category and a product in a way that motivates people to comeseek you out, that you don't have to chase them and pay a lot of money toget them and pull them in. But you actually create the, the infrastructureor the landscape that allows them to easily discover you and and want topull themselves into you versus doing it the other way around. Yeah, sodefining that as building your own brand in a way that makes people seekyou out. That's really interesting to me, gang has been around for you know,about five years now, and of those five years, I think you've been thererunning the marketing department for, you know, 4.5 at least. So what aresome of the earliest things that you were doing to implement? Demand? Jincong great question. So I think there probably three parts that I would talkabout to the dementia and strategy and how I found them when I arrived and howthey've changed in the last 4.5 years. So the three components I I think areimportant to talk about our one brand and and and brand awareness. Second oneis inbound and the third one is outbound, so maybe maybe let's justquickly define each of them in a sentence or two. So when I talk aboutbrand brand awareness, it's like, okay, have you heard of gone? Uh if you havenot, that's that's shame on me if you've heard about us, but you're notquite sure what we do, That's a little bit better if you've heard about us andyou know what we do, but you realize that you're either a wrong fit oryou're not quite ready. That's a little bit better. And if you know who we are,you know what we do and you're actively evaluating us because you realize thatyou need us. That's that's wonderful. So that's like the highest level ofwhat we're trying to achieve outbound at the very basic level means that wehave to invest resources in order to reach out to you to let you know aboutus and try and interest you in evaluating gone at the very practicallevel. That probably means having a sales development rep reach out to you,call you and say, hey Leslie, I'm calling from Gone. I'm not sure ifyou've heard about us, we can do so and so for your team and we'd love to get achance to show you what you can do. That's expensive and hard to scale.It's possible, but it's expensive and hard to scale. What I consider inboundis in the most narrow form is that you Leslie have heard about us for quite awhile and when you're finally in a position of sales, sales leadershipteam and you're ready to enjoy the benefits of gone, you will eithergoogle gone to find us or you'll know how to reach us somewhere else. And onour website you'll ask for a demo request because you want to talk to asalesperson about evaluating gone. So that, that to me is the narrow and andholy grail definition of inbound. So if we agree that those are the three mainpieces, I would say that like most early stage startups when I arrived atgong we had zero brand awareness, nobody knew who gang was, we had zeroinbound because to come into our...

...website or to know what we're evencalled to find us, you've got to have heard about us and we were just gettingstarted with outbound. So I think this is kind of typical of every early stagestartup. Everybody wants to build an inbound machine, which you have to, butyou've got to be realistic about the time that that takes to do if you startfocusing most of your efforts are all of your efforts on inbound, you'regonna run out of money and your investors trust before you've createdenough traction to be meaningful. So what I've done and I've seen work atmultiple companies is on day one, you get very aggressive about outboundbecause the beautiful thing about ALba and you don't need much of a brand tomake it work. You buy a list of accounts and contacts. If I know thatLeslie is the sales leader, I sit erIC sTR down, I said call Leslie tell herthis is what we do and this is why she should care and convince her to take ademo with our Ceo or salesperson or whoever and that can work on day one.You don't need a brand to do that. Right? I can say hi, I'm calling frompurple elephants, I want to show you this new product. I know you've neverheard of us, but I know who you are and I think this can really help you. Sothat's what I would do again at every early stage startup that hasn't yetbuilt a brand or an inbound motion start with very aggressive outbound,that's going to build the pipeline that you need to get you to the next roundand create that initial attraction. Now, at the same time, you do have to startthinking about building a brand and awareness that will drive an inboundbecause the problem with outbound is that it is really, really expensive.And if you want to build a meaningful company to, to bring in thousands ofopportunities a month, doing that purely outbound is going to be really,really difficult and expensive and, and it's just not gonna get to a uniteconomics that investors or your CFO are gonna like, so realize it's goingto take time realized that the earlier you start, the earlier you'll seeresults and then I'll, and I'll end this this long speech with this part.If you're doing this correctly, what you'll see is your brand awareness andas a result of that inbound will start from zero, but go up into the rightover time and the outbound, you start very high up in the left, it will startgoing down to the right in the terms of what percentage of your total pipelinecomes from outbound. So when, when I joined on, 100% of the pipeline wasoutbound, 0% was inbound today, only 60% of our pipeline comes from outboundand 40% almost half comes in from inbound because we built a brand andwe're driving that traffic to to come and seek us on their own. Wow, that'sgreat for anyone listening, who is, you know, in a start up, in a smallbusiness, in a small company who wants to start implementing these dimensionstrategies and that's, that's great. Um, so over time, how would you say youkind of refine those things and just make them better over time as you go?Yeah, that's a great question. So at the heart of both of our inbound andoutbound strategies, obviously I oversimplified things to make themactionable. But rather than having an SDR make cold calls all day, whichnobody enjoys. Right, neither SDR nor the prospects picking up the phone,which they seem to help our Sdrs and A s have as many warm conversations asthey can even if they are outbound conversations. So even if they'recalling someone that wasn't expecting to talk to salesperson today, there's abig difference between saying, hey, I'm moody from Acne. You've never heard ofme. I know you weren't expecting my call. Give me 30 seconds before youslam the phone on me. Here's what I want. That. That's a cold call. A warmcall would be Hi Leslie judy calling from going here. I noticed yesterdayyou attended our virtual event and last week you downloaded Archie cheat. So Iwanted to hear feedback from you. How, how is that going for you? What did youfind valuable? And then I'll take you from that point in the conversation,which there's a lot of context and...

...warmth because you've already seenvalue from my company, I'm just calling you about that now, so you're moreinclined to give me the time of day and then if I can tie the value that yougot from that content into what I want to show you in my product, you're muchmore likely to say, okay, I'm ready for that next step because I know you guys,I've been reading your content, I know you're legit and you've alreadyprovided me with values. So at the heart of that outbound strategy as wellas our inbound strategy is our content marketing engine. And very early on weset out to create content that was extremely useful to our audience, givesthem a lot of value without asking for anything in return, knowing that somepeople will be consuming or content for years before they're ready to buy fromGod. So that's that's what we did. And we looked around and we saw, wellthere's over 100,000 books on sales. If you go to amazon type books on salesyou'll find over 100,000 books, probably a lot more. But they stoppedcounting them after 100,000. The problem is that most of those books arebased on one or two people's opinions and experience. You know, a guy workedat Xerox carrying around a bag. So a few things work for him, he wrote abook about it, erin work that Salesforce was the first SDR did a fewthings that worked for him, he wrote a book about it. Now some of those booksare are good and useful. I've I've read several of them. The problem is thatthey are based on very limited experience and rarely are they based ondata. So we said what if we used our own technology to create this exclusivedata that shows what actually works and doesn't work in sales but not in a waythat's open to conjecture or opinion, but actually what the data says.Because many things do have an answer. When is the right time to call someonein the week? What is the right first line to use in the call? What is thebest topics or subject lines using an email? There is a scientific answerthat's backed by data. So we started creating this series that we call thegong lab series. We started publishing this on a regular basis. And uh we wereright people were very, very interested in what we have to say. And we'reconsuming this state of very, very quickly. And that's what helped usbuild our initial brand as a company that knows their stuff around whatreally works and doesn't work in sales. And so we ended up producing more andmore articles and blog posts and then videos and then podcasts and events andwebinars all around this content getting more and more people in our webof information. And then they subscribe to our email list so we can send moreemails and then they attend our events and they follow our social media. So wehave more and more ways of communicating with them and informingthem when when you stuff like this comes out. And then my my rule of thumbis that 80 or 90 of the time we're providing this value and not asking foranything in return. But I feel that that earns us the right in theremaining 10 of the time to put out an offer that says, Okay, maybe now you'reready to, to ask for your demo or maybe now you want to know about goingpricing or maybe now we can talk about getting on for your team. So, so thatis the basic, the basic structure of any content marketing strategy is youcast a wide web by providing valuable content that people want to consume forthe value that it brings and in return, you own the right to occasionally, nottoo often ask for something in return. That's really interesting. And I thinkthat's what's so valuable about Lincoln alone today because you know, you canconnect with so many different people and you just put content out. You know,you're not asking for anything, you're just putting content out. People aretaking it, they're reading it, they're finding it valuable, they're takingwhat they see valuable and then they might circle back with you and say, hey,you know, like Leslie, I see that you post all the time about demand gen andpodcasting and this and that and love to start a podcast. Would love to knowhow and there it is and I didn't do anything at all. I mean I'm not asalesperson obviously, so I didn't do anything. All I did was post myexperience um from my perspective in...

...our company. So that's what I think isreally valuable about that. I agree. And you know, companies who are makinggood use of social media today, they know how to build a healthy balancebetween the corporate messages they want to send out. I mean, yeah,occasionally you do need to promote a webinar to drive attendance. But ifthat's all you're doing on social media, nobody's gonna follow your brand,nobody wants to hear from you because your, your that boring guy, right? Soif you look at companies like gong, we have a whole bunch of employees thatare creating their own original content sarah brazier in sales. She startedcreating content when she was an SDR Andre Mcbride, currently an SDR gongdevin read on our content team, but before that he was on our sales teamand a whole bunch of other people, including myself were creating contentnot every single day. Sometimes I can go a week without posting, but we dopost enough content that creates this excitement around what we're doing. It.It's not, it's usually not about promoting our next webinar, right? It'susually about something exciting that we wanted to share a learning somethingI think folks would truly find useful if all you're doing is boasting about,we won this award in that award, you become really boring. But if you wantto share something about here's an opportunity because I'm hiring for thisrole that you might be looking for, Here's a really amazing conversationwe're having with magic johnson next week, that we'd love you to join forfree and people want to join that sort of stuff and and then you throw in themix some of that corporate stuff. So when I do promote a webinar, it getsdecent traction. Not not great traction. Like when I post a video of me playingthe piano, which I also do, because I I feel that if I bring my whole self tosocial media, people respond better to all of my posts, not to just thoseposts because they see me as a whole human being and not some robot thatthat's you know, mindlessly posting webinar invites. Yeah, they respect youas a person, not just to CMO, which I think is really valuable for this nextquestion. It's a relatively broad question. You know, marketing isconstantly evolving. So I'm curious where do you think that demand gen as awhole is headed in the future? What's next? I think as companies think aboutbuilding their brand and driving demand. The one thing that's constantly beenchanging in recent years and it's part of this, you know, informationexplosion and the ease in which your prospects can access information aboutyour company is that you need to expect that your prospects are going tocollect most of the information that they need before they ever contact thecompany and you have to make that information available to them byamplifying your customer stories and knowing that they're going to readreviews on sites like G two and Cap terra before they come to your websiteor even decide they want to talk to you. So all these partly guerilla marketingtechniques and others just making sure you control how your brand shows upwherever you can. You've got to focus that a lot more than on getting theexact words right on your website. Because someone who have made it toyour website there at a pretty advanced stage of deciding to buy your product,you know, you still have to have a good website that converts them. But uh ifthat's where you're putting 90% of your work, that that's a big big mistakebecause that's where a very small percentage of your audience is going toend up at the end of the process of buying, you've got to make sure thatyou show up at the industry events, at the, uh, community organizations andthe reviews websites at every place where your audience goes to consumeinformation and to exchange thoughts whether it's, uh, certain social medianetwork, whether it's local chapters of the local organization, that's whereyou need to show up, and that's what creates the demand and that's whatcreates the awareness if people wherever they go. And I, we hear this alot right people say to us, you know, someone mentioned going to me a few oneweeks or months ago and ever since every day I see going popping upsomewhere on social media and at an...

...event and a friend told me about it andI saw someone on the train, sitting listening to go on calls and you justshow up everywhere, that's what you need, that's how you're gonna drivedemand. It's not about just building the best website in the world and andhoping that people are gonna show up. Absolutely, switching gears a littlehere James our founder here at Sweet Fish and I were actually talkingrecently about how gong made a decision to kind of change their category fromconversational intelligence to revenue intelligence. That was reallyinteresting to us because you know, you spend a lot of time and effort buildingthat conversational intelligence category. So I would love to know alittle bit about kind of what drove that decision to shift more of arevenue Intelligence category. absolutely. So that that's a decisionthat we made about 18 months ago, We launched revenue intelligence inOctober of 20 19 After about three years of belonging to the conversationintelligence category. And here's the timeline why we did that. So when wecame out with the product, we needed to call it something that people wouldunderstand and we looked around, we saw a couple of companies that were doingsomething that they call conversation Intelligence and and our first productwas close enough to what they were doing that we decided to pick that name.Embarking on a category. Creation journey is due long and difficult andexpensive and it's rarely the first thing you want to do. If you don'tabsolutely have to do it, you first want to get customers who actually useyour product and love it and then think about positioning it. So, so that'swhat we did. And it was like half of an afterthought to to attach ourselves toconversation intelligence fast forward. Three years later, we came up with twoproblems that made us feel that we had outgrown the conversation intelligencecategory. One of them was all of the other companies in that category had avery narrow scope of vision and product around what they do in conversationintelligence. It was mainly about recording calls and allowing people touse that for coaching purposes. And even back then, we had a much, muchbroader, farther out looking vision of what we want to provide sales team with.We wanted to provide them a complete view of their customer reality. Wewanted to allow them to focus on deals that need their help. And we weretalking about things that nobody else in the category was talking about. Sowe felt that a by attaching ourselves to conversation intelligence werebelittling how people see our product because they're looking at otherproducts and they're very, very narrow in scope. So that's one thing we wantto break out of the second thing and this one is more strategic as thecompany for the last couple of years has been going up market and we nowsupport, not only are thousands of small and medium sized customers, butnow we also support hundreds of really, really large businesses. Some of thelargest companies in the world are using gong and we found that to get theattention of a senior sales leader and keep it, we need to be talking aboutsomething strategic that she cares about. And when we went to a chiefrevenue officer and talk to her about conversation intelligence, we often gotbumped down to sales enablement because she said, well that sounds like atactical tool, go talk to so and so from from enablement. And we wanted tomake sure we're talking about something that she cares about that she could notbump us down that is in her responsibility. And after a processthat took us a few months um we landed on revenue intelligence and it was avery good bet because A the C. R. O. Cares about revenue and we've beengetting a lot more time with these senior sales leaders since we launchedrevenue intelligence because now it's a strategic tool for the Revenue leaderand not tactical tool for enablement, definitely help us break apart from allthe small niche players and conversation intelligence that arestill mainly focused on call recording.

And I'll end with this. If I look atthe last 18 months, there's so many companies that have nowrenamed their category or their products or their messaging to mirrorthat of gongs and talk about revenue intelligence. That that might be theclearest sign that what we're doing is working and that they're feeling howfar behind they have been left by gone, that they want to try and catch up byby mirroring some of that messaging and framing there. They're categories sothat that's clearly working. And obviously we welcome more and moreplayers in the category. Just reinforces that what we've built isreal has a ton of demand and there is room for other players. Yeah. Like yousaid, I mean, clearly it's working. So that's that's really inspiring. And itdoesn't put you in that box. Like you said, it lets you out of that and notjust in this little section. You know, you have more of a range. So, well, Ican't into this interview without asking you about the Super Bowl ad, Ijust can't do it. So for those of you listening, I'm sure you've seen it. Ifyou haven't seen it, you've definitely heard about it. But going actually ranan ad in the Super Bowl this past year and you know, this makes so much sense.And I was still really shocked and honestly very excited when I saw thecommercial I saw, you know, live and you rarely see a B two B sas companydoing a Super Bowl commercial if ever. So can you just briefly share thethought process behind that? And how how did that idea come about? What wasthe end goal there? So if you've been following gone for a while, it probablywasn't a huge surprise for you have gone did something crazy like thatbecause there's nothing that excites me more than getting crazy ideas. Eithermyself or from team members or from inspiration. I get externally. Uh welove doing crazy things. It's what gets you crazy results. If you do whatpeople call best practices, they're actually ordinary practices becauseeverybody's doing them. So you get ordinary results. If you wantextraordinary results, you got to do something extraordinary and that'snever best practice because otherwise you go back to being an ordinarypractice. So when, um, when I became aware of sort of the options ofadvertising the Super Bowl and that it doesn't have to cost millions ofdollars like most people figure. And I stopped correcting people and they said,oh, gang spent $5 million on their Super Bowl commercial. We spend a tiny,tiny fraction of that, but I'm like, yeah, okay, whatever. I don't mind youthinking that I've got that sort of budget, but I don't, I was intriguedbecause a nobody has done it before, which is what automatically gets meexcited. Like nobody in our space, no sales tech company that I know of inthe history of the Super Bowl has ever advertised on the Super Bowl. So thatdefinitely got me excited and there is a bit of flexing in it, right? Becauseyou see a company like going in the Super Bowl, you go like wow, these guysare really super successful, so that was part of what we were going for. B.I knew that and and this is what I've been doing for every time I dosomething out of the normal digital realm of Lincoln and google, like whenI do out of home advertising or I wrap cars or I do something like that bymirroring that and amplifying that on social media, I get so much bang for mybuck because I know that I've got a really highly targeted audience onlinkedin and in my email list and in my virtual events. So if I can do thingsoutside of that realm and then bring them back into that realm by doing asimple digital campaign, amplifying our Super Bowl commercial on linkedin.That's where I got thousands, thousands of relevant views of the commercial.Even if not everyone watching the Super Bowl was in my target audience. I canjust mirror that for almost $0 in my, you know, home networks where I knowthat that the right audience is watching you. So that was that was alsopart of it. So I think it's part of our category creation because, you know,once, once a company goes Super Bowl, you know that this is not somequestionable startup that may or may not be there tomorrow. This is now asuccessful category. And this is the leader advertising on Super Bowl primetime, you know, that their company here...

...to stay. And if you had any doubtsabout should I get this now or should I sit this out and see how it works out?We got a lot of calls the next day saying, hey, we saw it on the SuperBowl. We've been sitting on the fence first for a while now. But that sort ofpushed us off to say, okay, we need to look at this Now. I had an interviewwith some candidate the couple of days later and she said, you know the reasonI took the call from the recruiters because I saw the Super Bowl commercialto restore it wow. And then the last thing I'll say on that is that I thinka lot of marketers and even more so their ceos and CFOs get too hung up onattribution, which is a huge, huge challenge that will remain unsolved forthe foreseeable future for marketers. And had gone. We are not obsessed aboutattribution. My rule of thumb, which is supported by by my leadership team, isabout 80 of my program budget. I'll put on things that I should be able tomeasure their direct impact on pipeline and revenue The remaining 20%. Leave mealone and let me do my crazy experiments. I will do things thatthere is no way to measure if they were extraordinarily well. I think we'llknow and if we don't know, then they probably did work extraordinary welland we'll just move on and and mark that as a learning from that experiment,fortunately for me, Super Bowl was one of those things that worked really,really well. During Super Bowl week, we broke all records and had the biggestweek of all times have gone for new business opportunities created. So evenmy skeptic CFO, we love you tim when he saw those numbers, he's like, okay, Iguess I was wrong. So Super Bowl really performed well for us, even withoutbeing able to track, you know, people who were sitting with their Doritochips on the couch, watching the Super Bowl and were those exact same peoplethat came in the following day? Some of them were, some of them were not. Butis it possible there was a coincidence that Super Bowl week during our firstSuper Bowl commercial coincidentally have the biggest week of new businesscreated. Probably not. And everyone understands that even without beingable to perfectly track that attribution, uh those things are highlycorrelated and there's probably causality there as well. So that thatwas an experiment that turned out very, very well. Many other experiments don'tturn out as well, but we just learned from them and move on and try the nextbig thing. Absolutely. I love you talking about attribution becausethat's so prevalent in this topic. Even I feel like people are so focused onthe attribution and they shouldn't be, You know, it's not not so important tolook at. We have to measure everything because everything can be measured sothat you've got to do right to bring business to the company. And thatincludes being creative and trying crazy stuff. And a lot of those edgycrazy stuff cannot be easily attributed. I'm so glad that most companies are soconservative that they don't even try doing this stuff because it leaves allthat space for me to experiment with and grab everyone's attention. So youkeep doing your attribution. I'll keep doing my crazy stuff. Yeah. You'll justkeep doing Super bowl commercials. That's awesome. Well judy, thank you somuch. Any final thoughts here. This has been so insightful for me and I knowour listeners will find it so valuable as well. So thank you final thoughts. Iguess one. If you want to connect with me, just look up the letter gora onlinkedin. Only one letter go around Lincoln. So should be pretty easy tofind the other letters or you'll find is my husband so it can confuse us.He's the doctor. He does the real work marketing. And finally, if if you're insales and not yet using revenue intelligence, then, um, as, as one ofour biggest customers recently said you're being highly irresponsible fornot using revenue intelligence in 2021. So you've got to go to gone dot Io andcheck it out for yourself. Absolutely. Well, this has been great. Thank you somuch for joining me for me to be growth. Thank you Leslie at Sweet Fish. We're on a mission tocreate the most helpful content on the Internet for every job function andindustry on the planet for the B two B marketing industry. This show is howwe're executing on that mission. If you...

...know a marketing leader, that would bean awesome guest for this podcast, shoot me a text message. Don't call mebecause I don't answer unknown numbers. But text me at 4074 and I know 33 to 8.Just shoot me. Their name may be a link to their linkedin profile and I'd loveto check them out to see if we can get them on the show. Thanks a lot.

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