Pods and Plays for Marketing Success, with Bhaskar Roy


In this episode Benji talks to Bhaskar Roy, Head of marketing at Workato. 

Discussed in this episode: 

  • Transitioning from traditional marketing team structure to pods and plays 
  • How to experiment in new, potential segments
  • The importance of truly understanding those you serve 


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Conversations from the front lines and marketing. This is B two B growth. Today, on B Two B growth, I'm excited to have BASCAR Roy with me. He's the head of marketing over at Worcado and integration and workflow automation company. BASCAR, it's great to have you with us. Same here, bend. Looking forward to our conversation. Yes, we had originally connected back in February, I believe, and you guys are doing some really fascinating things at Workado that we're gonna learn from and lean into, uh, specifically around using pods and in sort of plays. Before we get there, though, just tell us a little bit about what you're focused on these days, Bascar, and what gets you really excited and passionate about marketing. Yeah, me, it's it's it's amazing. You know, I think marketing is one of those things, but that is a constant change that happens and if you look at from our standpoint, yes, you know there has been a little bit of softening in the market and as a result of that, you know a number of things. One is we are seeing that people are devoting or spending more and more, are paying more attention, I would say to automation. Yeah, right, because that's a way for them to scale. So we are starting to see a good inbound coming in other people requesting more or US being more relevant to what that is, and as a result of that, you know, our messaging is likely changing some of the place that we had originally thought about. You know, the messaging around those are changing as well. But that's what's the exciting part about it. Yeah, always having to kind of be on your toes, pivot with the market, you know, do what's given to you, but also, you know, figure out the way to be most presentable and most exciting to those potential clients. So, okay, with that in mind, we're gonna talk about pots in place, and here's what we had talked about back in February. Basically, what you had done, and you can correct me if I'm wrong on any piece of this, but you took a year of data and you asked like, what's the average deal size, what's the wind rate, what's the velocity of new deals, and then, with that information, you started to determine what are plays that we want to run, and then groups of people specifically tasked to run those. Essentially, it was a pods and plays type of strategy. I know I've vastly oversimplified the process there, but filling the gaps for us about what was important for this transition, for Worcado and what you guys have been up to now over what the last eight plus months? Yeah, so thanks, thanks, man these, thanks for setting this up, you know. So I'll step back a bit before getting into the details. So, if you look at work out of we had a platform, right, it's a it's a platform that enables you to automate your business processes by connecting and integrating with your Tex stacts. Right. So, as you can imagine, the use cases of what can be what you can use work cut off out a lot. Right. You can use it to automate your sales and marketing process so, for example, your lead, general lead, you know, the way you do lead routing, etcetera. Financial processes like order to cash, procure to pay a child, processes, onboarding, off boarding people. There are so many departments and so many different use cases. So when you look at and you know, the other reality that came in at that time is that people don't really buy platforms, people buy solutions to problems. So when you look at it from that particular Lens, you start thinking about, okay, what are some of the key things that our customers are using word color for and what are the buying work Cldo for? So that was the I would say that was the genesis of looking at place. And the the great thing is, you know, we have one of our advisers. His name is Dan Rodgers. He was the Cmo of service now, where he grew service now to, you know, just multi billion dollar company, and now he had go to market operations at rubrick. So as we talked to them, he introduced us to this concept of place and so we took that to heart and then we looked at just like saying, we looked at one...

...year data. Look at, you know, how our customers buying WORKADO. What are some of these key use cases that they're looking at? And then from there we started looking at, okay, what does that wind rate look like for each of those use cases? What does our spor of its sales price look like for each of those use cases, reclosing them faster or slower? Based on those use cases and based on all of that data, managing the data, we came up with the hypothesis of certain place that we wanted to go to market with. So that's how that's how it originated. Yeah, I love I think thanks for adding color to the picture that we're painting here. I think that's really helpful insight. Before you can get like mass adoption, even if you know you want to run several plays or you have all these ideas, you're gonna have to test it right. You'RE gonna have to figure out at a small scale what works about this. How do we implement? What was the first part you guys assembled? How did you originally start this process? Yeah, so we looked at, you know, we have, we serve three different segments, you know, in our in our company, one is in the in the market, one is our commercial segment and then there is enterprise segment and the third one is, you know, Workardo can also be used as an embedded platform. So, for example, if you want to from your application, if you want to, you know, integrate with other APPs and serve that as a part of your product itself, you can embed white label work cut and embed as a part of that. And these three segments we looked at and then we narrowed down on the commercial segment and we selected our first play. Two mainly, I would say, are the main use case that we saw. People were buying US far, and so it was in the commercial segment. One very specific use case to a very specific buyer and the buyer was head of business technology and it was about, you know, getting them. The use case was ordered to cash. So if you think of order to cash, it is, you know, when you get a sale down, after the sale happens at the order to come comes in, all the way to how do you recognize the revenue? How do you build you a customer? How do you provision your customer? How do you get them to go live? So that entire entire cycle of order to cash the customer value. That's the use case that we saw prominently and that's where we started. So good place to start. Okay. So I wonder, and this would be more of like a larger scale business question, but for you guys at Workado, are you thinking more about like jobs to be done by the what you provide an automation? Are you thinking of I C P and like what kind of language do you guys use their yeah, we look at ice P, so we protectually look at I C P means. Who is our ideal customer profile? What does that look like? And then what do they use Workado for, you know, across the board and then found the place around it. Yeah, that's great. Okay. So then the other distinction that I'd be interested in is some people might hear this and they go, okay, is the pod set up sort of like integrated marketing? Is there some differences there? How would you say, like pods and plays versus integrated marketing? Where are they similar? Where they're different? That's that's a great question. In fact, we we grappled with that ourselves initially. So Integrated Marketing, I see, is very different. Integrated Marketing is how do you leverage, you know, multiple marketing channels to essentially drive demand, deliver your message, etcetera. Right. So that's integrated marketing. The reason why we call these sales play is mainly because it's very aligned to sales. It is not about demands and or how integrated marketing is. It is end to end funnel. Right. So, for example, this would be how do we drive demand? Let's go back to the audit to cash. How do we drive demand for audit to cash? Yes, we may take an integrated marketing approach to drive demand for order to cash. But then it goes to okay, once the demand comes in, how is our sales team going to talk to them? What does the first meeting that look like? What are the following collaterals that we need to provide to a sales team? What do sales enablement look like? How do we close...

...this customer? And once we close this customer, how do we expand those customers? So you look at a full funnel approach instead of just the integrated marketing, which is just the demand and or, you know, the top of the funnel aspect. Yeah, that's really helpful and I love that approach. People are trying this in multiple different ways and obviously it also depends the scale at which your organization is at. So as you're you're doing this, who's in the pot itself like, who are you bringing together to really focus on this? Yeah, so it is, as you can imagine, it's extremely cross functional. I would say that the two core personas are product marketing and demanding, and the way we separate that is demanding is top of the funnel in the sense how do you drive pipeline? What does that look like product marketing, is essentially the middle to bottom of the funnel. How do you really close on that pipeline? What does that look like? But apart from that, there is content folks in that because they're writing very specific content to those place, both top of the funnel content as well as bottom of the funnel content. We have representation from sales leadership sales enablement, because they are key function in making sure that, you know, we are able to close on the demand that we're generating for this play. And then, you know, depending upon the structure or what the play is about, we even have our partner or channel sales team. If there's a very big channel angle to the way we're going to drive demand for this play, they are part of that as well. So that's, in short, you know as to what that hard looks like. Now, having said that, it's not that everyone is dedicated to one part. Yeah, that was my next question right, in the sense in them multiple parts, but most of the time you can see the folks who are really dedicated to this a product marketing demands and and content. Those are the folks that are dedicated to a part. Okay, so then when you're implementing the first one and then I think actually when we talked in February, maybe it had ballooned up to maybe nine or so pods. But how are you thinking about? And and maybe this is too nerdy of a question, but I think of where people report and then, if they're a part of a pod, and then other parts of the organization that they're working on. What does reporting look like? Because I love the idea of a pot, but I could see it also messing with certain pieces of where people report and all that. Oh, it is. We are still learning how to do that. I'm glad to hear you. Don't you aren't perfect. So so it is. It is underving. It is it is changing, right, because all of a sudden you know, as you can imagine, it's no longer the traditional hierarchical approach that people have. Right, your responsibilities are not just your manager, but your responsibilities are what the pot is all about, the play is all about, right, and it's unnerving, mainly because you know you're now accountable to the delivery what is needed by your peers in that brood and it's cost functions. So it is unnerving. It requires an organizational change, it requires a cultural change over that. But you know, the great thing is people recognize that that this is the way, essentially, that you have to get some quick winds and success from it, and then it just becomes easier because then people start seeing, okay, all of a sudden, you know, the demand that we're getting is more qualified, we are closing at a much better clip, and then people start aligning towards that particular notion of the pod. But yeah, you're right. It messes up your your organization and mainly because you know you are no longer driven by just what your manager is saying. You're driven by what the backlog is and what the requirements are for the pod. Okay, so you have this inclination that it's going to work because you have some outside voice going, hey, should try pods and plays. There's thought put into the process. You're not just gonna do this haphazardly, but there's also gonna be, like you're alluding to right here, learnings that happen as you implement. So I wonder, going less from a here's what a pod looks like, just more story mode and how it's actually worked out for you guys. Can you explain some of the learnings that you've had happened in real time and some of...

...how that's affected Workado in your team. Yeah, absolutely. So let's let's look at overall. You know, I'll do it before and after, just to give you some kind of storyline around this. So, before we had the part structure, you know, we were doing general demanded right, we would run, say, whatever we paid ads at. There are certain hypothesis around messaging. All of those things we would be running and then the demand would come in and then get routed to whatever, a SDRs and as in order to fulfill that. Am Right. So that was that particular notion which is there. And when we went to this part structure, all of a sudden we said that we are not going to do generic marketing anymore. We are going to very specifically message around order to cash. The persona is going to be this. That's what our ads well run, that's what our message will be running. A SDRS will be trained in order to just talk about order to cash and become experts at a specialist started. Our as will be trained so that when a lead comes in around this, they will be able to fulfill that particular demand. So, as you can see, all of a sudden there is a specialization that is kicking in as a part of this, and so the I wouldn't say objections. So the pushback was, oh, but we have done this when it is working well, why should we change it? And then initial part of it you will struggle, right in the sense it just won't work out of the out of the box, just because you have you're saying that this is the right way to do it. But as long as you get people's mindset saying that you know, this is a way that we can scale, as we can build parts and scale and be able to address our customers need in a much better way, as long as they're aligned to that particular concept. They have to get into this mode of experimentation. And that was the change it right, because you know everyone would come and say, but this is already working, we are delivering and beating our quarterly targets. Why should we make this change? So it was the change aspect of it, which was pretty from an organization standpoint and we have to learn through that. So initial part of it was, you know, okay, let's do both the genetic you know, if you have an ad budget, let's divide it. Some goes to the part structure, some do the genetic and let's see, not based on how many leads we are getting, how much are we converting to the quality, this quality of leads coming in and a conversion. If the part is converting better, let's move all the budget towards that. So that had to be some of these experiments that we had to do in order to prove that this part structure works such a big piece of this. We've talked a lot actually recently on B two B growth basker about how we report the numbers that we take a look at, and one of the things is there's there's some new ways of measurement you could think about in marketing, but you're not going to be able to implement those overnight and you just hit on it with this hybrid approach to go, okay, here's what we're experimenting with, Here's what we're testing while at the same time using the old structure, because that's a helpful conversation to have internally with the marketing team and to have up up in the C suite as well. Right where you're going, okay, this is what we have been measuring, here's a slight shift or a tweak or what we're seeing from our experimentation, and then you can take that to scale. Yeah, and you know, the the other good thing that worked for us, as you know, going back to and this is this is more of a nuance because of our collowing that platform. There's our sales team. You know, if you look at it, our sales team have to understand like twenty, thirty different use cases because they didn't know whether the customer was coming from it. So I have to learn about all the H R processes that I need to automate. I have to now become an expert in finance and understand all of this. I also have to become an expert in I T. I also have to become an expert in this. There was just too much for them to learn to be able to deal with any of the leads. Now, with the specialization, then it becomes simple, mainly because these are specialists. You're specialists in terms of the finance, automatitions of things. You know exactly how to...

...talk about this one thing that you're learning, learning it really well and becoming an expert in that. So that specialization helped them simplify and you know, figured out round times became better just because they had to focus on a couple of things rather than so many different things. So there's benefits that we probably could have seen coming from a pod structure. Like I think about alignment. If you put people from different parts of the organization together, different even marketing roles and functions together in a pod, they're going to have to work together closely. Alignment is going to come into play. You could have seen that before and and and seen that coming down the road. I think of experimentation. Also potential there that I would have seen beforehand. But I want to go to maybe have there been some unforeseen benefits of implementing pods in plays that now you can look back over the last several months ago, Oh man, we didn't fully see this coming, but this has been a benefit for our our marketing team and for Worcado as a whole because of implement station of this. Yeah, so it has, and I think it is. It is the simplification for our go to market. You know earlier, overall, you know we would means, if you go back to the generic side of things, we would be testing so many different message, so many different side of things, so many different personas. All of a sudden now we're saying that, no, we're going to focus on these three things and simplify the entire go to market all the way from demand and to close. Right. So I think we kind of had a sense that this will help us focus. But you know what the big learning was? We didn't realize how much it will simplify things overall. No longer is the content team just generating content for, you know, just seo purposes, the purposes. It's not se O, it's not about that. It is about converting these kinds of customers. Are Drawing these kinds of folks into the into the funnel. It just became more purposeful. So I think it just helped a cross the board around where people saw the purpose and it's simplified the go to market overall. That's a great way of saying it's simple and purposeful. Are Great words to call us back to, which would lead us into the how part of this conversation. Because to me I'm going, okay, you're selling this idea. It's been complicated, it's had some mess to it. Right, still working out some of it, but people being okay, I can see the benefit of this type structure, but I would not know how to get there. So if we placed you, or let's say you put on your your consulting hat for a second, Baskett, what would you say for those that are going, all right, we want to formulate some sort of pod to test this, where will we start? Yeah, it's a great question. So the first thing I would say is, you know, if you this to me, I think is lends itself well to a product that supports multiple use cases. Right, if you're selling to one buyer and one particular use case, then you don't really need to go through that trigger. You really understand that buyer, you unders and that one use case and you're selling that part may not be the right approach. But if you have a platform like product which can serve multiple buyers multiple use cases, then you know, start diving into it. And the way to dive into it, you know, is in a couple of different ways. One is, if I was placed into a brand new company or, you know, what's consulting to a company that is a platform product, I would first talk to the sales team, multiple sales reps, to understand, you know, what is working for them, what is not working for them, what kind of use cases that they are saying? What are they selling? How do they sell? Get understanding of that. Then go to demand and to understand how they're driving pipe and looking at how well that is converting, how the handoffs are working well or not. Then go through, you know, do the due diligence, look at call recordings from customers to see what kind of conversations are customers having, you know, other teams that are having with customers and what are customers saying, because at the end of the day, you're looking to replicate how your customer is going...

...to buy your product and create the sales play around it. So getting it from the customer voice, looking at that as to how they're talking about it, how they're stating their problems, looking at that and then look at the data. Right, once you have the data, then, armed with it, you have to get now organization buying. That's you have to go to your C R O or your CEO, your demands and leader and others, saying that, okay, this is a change, here's the reason for that change. Here are the place that we think at the right place to run and, you know, work with them in order to find. You know that it takes some time before it can take shape because without internal buying from all the various stakeholders who are who are participants in this entire go to market function, you know it won't take off. Yeah, it's internal, then it's external in the way of customers. Then you're saying go back to the data and then bring that up internally to a larger, maybe like c suite level, discussion. I think each of those steps obviously crucial. I like that, regardless of if you're in a company that's at the scale that would need to implement pods immediately. One of the takeaways for me from this conversation is just when you even if you could do this for a project where you were creating some cross functional forced alignment, you're gonna learn things and that's we we've preached that often internally here at sweet fish lately, just talking around the need for those forced conversations, especially in a remote environment, and that happens automatically when you do some of this pod type structure. So any company, any size, could learn from what you guys are seeing by by tweaking this and and then others that are already at that scale could obviously implement more of a pod type structure and and and get to buy in needed. When you think of the key elements for helping you form these plays before they get to the Pod, what was most important to pay attention to? What was most important to like the key element of the plays that you were going to run? Yeah, the to me, external. It is very, very much focused around, you know, what are your customers saying in the conversation regarding what they're buying? So it is it is how your customers buy. So listening to your you know, call recordings and having these qualitative discussions with your customers and even potential prospects just to understand, you know, what words are they actually using when they say that? Are they really saying that I have a means, means I want to improve my order to cash, or are they saying something else? So you have to formulate that play around how the customer wants to buy and the problem that they're looking to solve, rather than inside out right. So I think that's to me that the lynchpin around making that work is is that outside in approach and just always keeping that in mind. What did you guys do to make sure that your insights were correct, because if you're outside focused, you you could think you're hearing one thing but it could be another. So like who's in, who's involved in listening to what customers are saying and actually creating those places? Was it an internal thing or were you hiring externally to create those insights? So it was internal, so we had that's why, you know, sales, this is another big part of it. Sales is such a big, big part of this, right, because they are the ones who are, you know, day in and day out, doing these calls right with customers and understanding what they're saying. So sales was a big part of this. And Product Marketing, so sales and product marketing came together in order to come up with the place. Now, product marketing obviously looked at the data, etcetera. So they brought that data element to it and then the discussion happened. At these the right place or not? If these are, this is because this is what data is saying, but is that really cool? So it was it was a combination of you know, I would say, the sales leaders and the product marketing leaders coming up with what those this place look like, what those places could look like. Now there is one thing that Benji, we didn't touch on is it's it's a lot of it is data driven, but some of...

...the place, or I wouldn't say some, one of the places that we always call these we call the flyer place. These are experiments because you want to have some experiments. Right, it's something, some focused, but then you're starting to see some trend come into the market, right, you're starting to see somewhere there are some signs that we are winning over here. You don't want to be so strict that, you know, you don't accommodate for that and lose that opportunity. So we call those flyer place, where we can spin up a pot with maybe not much, maybe just a product, marketing and demand in person, and then we see how that works. These are experimental place and then you go through that same rigor as if you are, you know, executing that play with the mind are we are we winning over here? What does that wind look like? HOW IS OUR SP working? What does the wind rate look like? And then matching that, you know, across the board. So that has to be some flexibility in that, otherwise you would miss opportunities. Good Point. there. Thanks for for bringing that as well. I wonder when you're thinking of pods. The piece that we also didn't didn't touch on that we need to is how long are these pods together? What was the initial phase of like how long were they planning on, you know, running this thing, or was it indefinite? What does that side look like? Yeah, so when we went into it, we knew that it would be at least a year because we didn't see any science as to why those would change. We realized that messaging, etcetera, could change, but the core use case won't change. So we went into it. Where why we had those core plays, which we call long running, which we don't. We have not put a time limit on, you know, Benjing, because we think that those are core ways. So understand that there are science that okay, this is not working anymore. We think we'll continue those right. So that's one aspect of it. So those are core plays. Now the flyerplace totally depend right in the sense these are experiments, but we give it a good at least six months, because that you need that time to make sure that you have the right learnings there and you're not abandoning something where it could have the potential. So for the flyerplace, you know, we kind of say that, you know, we have to try for at least six months before we give up. So that's that's how we look at it. Okay. Well, my last question for you as we start to wrap up here, bastards, just when you're thinking of what this process has entailed from start to where you are now, somewhere in this this messy sort of middle, you've seen some success, but you're also, you know, continuing to tweak and make it better. What are the things that you would tell people who want to take this approach to watch out for? What should we stay clear of? Any any key learnings there as we as we start to wrap up today? Yeah, so I would say that, you know, you have to somewhat commit to it, because this is as an organization. You know, and I know that it may be hard to say that, how can we commit to something which may or may not work? But you have to. And and the reason for that is if, as an organizationally, you're not changing towards that, most likely you will not see the success. Right. So, if your demands and is not focused on it, if you're product marketing, your content team, your sales team and not really working together in order to make that play work, you will either get most likely you might even get just either false negatives or something like that, or false positive. So be aware of that and so commit to it as an organization for a period of time to see and make it work, because it will take time. It's a pretty big shift right. It's no longer generic marketing. You're specializing, you're going after it in some focused ways, in a very focused manner, and you have to commit to that as an organization. So I think that's, to me, the learning overall is make sure that you're committing to an organizationally, plus you're getting that cross functional alignment right upfront with all the various go to market functions for it to work. And you would say if I placed you in a new company, same scale, obviously would have to make sense, but this is a process you'd be willing to go through the headaches of implementing again because you've...

...seen the success from it. Absolutely, because you know all of a sudden, think about it tomorrow. All we have to do is if we can get into this kind of mode, we still see another market opportunity or we do something we're spending up place. Yeah, and, you know, going after it as in an independent way, attacking that specific segment or that whatever is that market there, with the value proposition that's very specific to it and looking to see how we win there. Absolutely, I means it's it's the way for us to scale to, you know, toward this billion dollars of revenue and more. Fantastic, man. Well, this has been so interesting. There's so many more questions we could get into around pods in place, but I think this gives us a great start and a great jumping off point. Things to think about around alignment, things to think about experimentation, how you communicate with customers, how you actually get those insights, and this has been fantastic. Fast. For those that want to stay connected to you and to work caught out, tell us a little bit more of how we can do that. Yeah, absolutely. So the best way to connect to me is linkedin. I'm Oskar Roy, head of marketing at Orcado, so I think by Linkedin handle is a Huskar Roy as well. So, yeah, hit me up on Linkedin and with Orcado we have a great presence on Linkedin as well. If you have any questions. Feel free to connect with me on Linkedin ask any questions. I'm active there and happy to help perfect well. We really appreciate you stopping by the show and I know that it's conversations like these that help fuel growth and innovation for B two B marketers, and that's why this show exists. So if you want to connect with me as well when you're listening to this, you can search Benji block on Linkedin. Would love to chat with you about marketing for everybody. Keep doing work that matters, the important stuff. We want to focus in on that and Basker, thank you again for for stopping by the show. Thanks, Benji. This was very helpful. I had fun time talking to you. Absolutely B Two B growth is brought to you by the team at sweet fish media. Here at Sweet Fish, we produced podcasts for some of the most innovative brands in the world and we help them turn those podcasts into micro videos, linkedin content, blog posts and more. We're on a mission to produce every leader's favorite show. Want more information, visit sweet fish media DOT com.

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