The Dashboard of Truth with Monica Sullivan

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode Benji talks to Monica Sullivan CMO at Demand Science.

As B2B leaders we know data is important, but aligning sales and marketing with one common scorecard can be tough. Monica dispels the needed metrics to push your revenue teams forward, providing practical insights to help you create one dashboard to rule them all.

Welcome in to be toob growth. Excited for today's episode. We have Monica Sullivan here. She's the chief marketing officer at demand science. Monica, welcome to be to be growth. There'll to be here, Venie, absolutely so. You have extensive experience building, leading teams driving business success. You've worked at companies like constant contact GNET. So I think this conversation is really going to be insightful. Monica, let's start here thinking of your kind of current just daytoday, work at demand science as chief marketing officer. What excites you right now in your current role? Well, the most exciting thing that we're tackling that, and it really is still a big pain point, is solving the chasm between sales and marketing and really, you know, it's steeped in data challenges, but there's a whole lot more baggage in there, and I have some stats from research we've done to share with you as well. So it's kind of an age old thing, but I think it's just interesting to see where we're still miles apart and where we're actually getting closer and realizing, you know, that there's opportunity to fix this and we want to. Yeah, the topic that will kind of drill on today does touch right there, right where. It's like marketing and sales. It's this constant sort of friction. You hear a lot of talk on Linkedin or in the Bob space around that. How do we allow line and so excited to get your insights from a marketing perspective, as you are a leader. What have you experienced in your marketing history where you see that friction kind of firsthand? Yeah, I mean it is everywhere. So it's not something that's people should feel personally badly about. It's really and he like I said, the age old thing where marketing continues to feel as though sales is just not picking up on the great leads that are being sent over. They're not closing them fast enough or even following up. There's just a misunderstanding about why these great leads don't seem to...

...be great from a sales perspective. whose responsibility is or who creates the better leads, whether it's sales or marketing? You know, marketings perspective. Maybe you know someone picks up the phone because we've created the air cover of awareness for you so that they're ready for you and marketing will say I'm calling them and that's why they're coming back to the website. So there's just this really interesting dynamic that's always happening and I don't think it's about who gets credit because at the end of the day we are one general, you know, revenue jetterating team. We're supposed to be aligned on that front and that's where teams can be the most successful is when everyone is working toward one revenue target, where the KPIS are aligned, where sales and marketing both feel responsibility and are even bonused on revenue. So it's really everybody's responsibility. So that's definitely a first step, but it's just, you know, it has we have data that supports what we are already know that a fifty eight percent of marketers will say the leads I delivered a sales are better, and fourteen percent of the salespeople agree, you know. So it's just a big gap. Oh okay, so I feel like there is some movement overall in the B tob space where we're seeing revenue teams, where we're seeing that conversation. We're going to have sales and marketing in the same on the same calls in the same beatings we but what if sales and marketing are still viewed in organizations listening to this as two completely different departments? What are you telling them? We need to stop doing this and maybe we need to start trying this. What would you say, Monica? You know a lot of it is stop just the personal opinions and start getting together with meetings and what we've developed on our team. And what I recommend for everyone is a dashboard of truth. You know, at the end of the day, if you have a data source of truth...

...of what's happening in the pipeline, that you're using the common version of your ideal customer profile, that you agree on what the lead scoring metrics are and what constitutes a lead score of one versus five, you know, at the end of the day, the data tells the story and and while this opportunity to keep refining it, while you need to keep refining it, that that's the communication and process. So you need the data, you need to be talking all the time about what's happening and aligning on why certain leads don't seem to be scoring out the way they showed or why sales isn't following up the certain leads that score higher and then the process around how do you use the data, particularly from a marketing perspective, inbound leads that are permission based, penning that data with information that says that helps the salesperson prioritize and getting better and better at using data and insights to get conversion to, you know, happen more quickly and when everyone is aligned on that and feel like one team together, that's where the magic is. Yeah, so you said the Dashboard of truth. That's where I want to start to ask you some follow up questions because I think it's so important that you have something common that you're looking at that assesses what's working and then maybe what's not right now. So talk me through what brought you to this idea of we need a dashboard of truth and what is what's on there? Yeah, great question. So for a while, even within sales force, the marketing team had their own dashboard and the sales team had a different board and the sales dashboard showed a much different attribution, much lower attribution of marketing griven sales into outcomes and the marketing dashboard unsurprisingly, had a higher attribution marketing. Would look at potentially an attribution win. Know of you know, something was a lead that came in and it closed within certain you know, let's say ninety days, that would count sales only one to account the the first deal that came in the door and if...

...that didn't close, that was the end of the funnel. And so, you know, that was one sort of a ha moment for us and for many teams, you know, understanding kind of how we think about what counts as a marketing qualified lead and the attribution. The other piece of it is that, you know, we didn't have an automated scoring system. So the sales team would score leads and they would manually, you know, put the scoring into their dashboard and and determine whether or not something was a low score or high score. And we weren't using data necessarily to help improve that quality metric help them prioritize the leads that showed more promise based on either, you know, either technographic information, so installs that tells the salesperson, Hey, this person has other competitors, you know, in their on their site, so you can tell that embedded text act that they could be a good prospect for us, or, in some cases you know our clients are using other metrics and ways to qualify, like revenue. If it's not a certain size company, maybe they're not going to be able to pay for, you know, the services based on our size average deal. So there's a lot of ways you can use data to help qualify and not just have it all the manual. The other challenge we had was that there wasn't a quick enough response to leads. So back in two thousand and eleven, you may remember this, but Howard Business Review came out with a study that said you've got to get to, you know, two leads quickly in the B tob space was like back in the day was twenty four hours. Well, today it's within minutes, and we did some research that I had mentioned earlier. It said eighty percent of stills and marketing teams say that they don't get back to people within twenty five minutes, and so there's still a big opportunity for getting to people faster, and one of the reasons why that doesn't happen is often because...

...there's this question of how qualified the lead is and concern that they may not be a fit. So the more you can use data to drive the right hot leads to sales more quickly and then spend time with either a lead development rapper or a sales development wrap to qualify further if that's needed. You can at least get to the hot deals more quickly and you know, make sure when someone is in front of their computer searching, looking for solutions, you're there and and you've probably seen it yourself. You know the best customer, that's sorry, the best sales organizations are coming back to you within moments with either an email or call or both. Once you fill in a form, you know they're right there to have a conversation. Yeah, and you got to walk that fine line right, because you might get it. You might get it right, you might reach out in the first twenty five minutes, but that person better know their stuff, they better be personable. There's like so many things that then you have to be good at as a salesperson. So there's so many things we could dive into even on that part of the process. But you said eighty percent don't get back in twenty five minutes and I want to I want to talk about that for a second. What does that first touch in your mind need to kind of like look like? Is there anything there that you would give as like an insight? Because we all want better quality leads, right, we all want more quality leads, but then also that first touches is important. So I thought maybe we just talked about that for a second. Yeah, and I will say I'm you know, have to give creds to our sales organization. Not only do we have a great sales development team and they do all the right training and we've got truly a great sales team, and that's a lot of process and work, you know, by the salesops group, by the sales support teams. It's not just sales, but it is about understanding the person's need. So they fill out the form for a reason and our team focuses on what on the why? Not necessarily the idea that they need us for their data, for their pipeline support. You know, we obviously deliver be to be data and...

...help them with with permission based leads, but there's a why specifically they're looking for help from us that we try to get under and it's not so it's it's sets up that more consultative engagement. It's not just hey, you were looking for data, I have it. You know. So it's much more of a conversation and obviously there's a lot of training behind that. But you mentioned personal. Like it is personal. These people are trying to solve a business knee. They're trying to grow. There's still a lot of opportunity to improve the data that's out there provide more accurate data. It can be expensive, you know, so they're trying to make sure that they make a great choice about the data that they use in the partner that they pick to help feed the top of their funnel to help improve, you know, how the quality leads. They can get in and obviously convert faster. So they're trying to make sure that they can succeed in their own role and pick a great vendor that is, you know, the right price as well. Right. Taking us back to the dashboard, I'm thinking through some of those issues that you guys were having. When it's separated out, and you mentioned mqls. Talk me through once you're more data driven, once you're actually looking at some of that, how did you work to go from this is a problem on to dashboards to now this is actually what an mql is, and define that better. Yeah, so we started with a couple of different personas ICPs, you know, ideal customer profiles and that's something that we really talk about as a team a lot, making sure that we're pushing on that. You know, do we really feel like this is the right person and we're finding them in the right places? As we do targeted marketing, as we, you know, obviously retarget and make sure that they're the messages make sense based on where they've been searching. Like I said, we look to see there's any other signals that they're providing that show that they're really in market for the product,...

...that they're at least consuming content, that there's potentially even something that we have is called confirmed connect where, you know, did they pick up a cold call in the neck in the last three thousand six ninety days? Did they respond to an email? So they're truly more engaged and potentially a better, higher priority for sales because they're engaging and they're going to pick up the phone. You know, sales people want efficiency and they're going to prioritize somebody who will pick up the phone faster. So we look at all of those things when we're looking at the dashboard of you know, how quickly we getting back to people? Are we are we within kind of our sales process and getting getting that connect with the sale with a customer faster? You know, are we able to move people through the pipeline and get more qualified leads? So in our case it's a kind of a simple score card of, you know, one hundred and twenty five. So fours and fives are the most highly qualified and ones and two there are not. But we keep the scoring and the dashboard to the sales ops people and our team. But we don't want the sales people to know whether something was scored two, three or four or two. We want them to if they get the lead. We want them to follow up every time they get the lead because systematically and process wise, their hand a lead, it should be qualified by a timid gets to them, because earlier on we were realizing that when they could see what the score was in sales force, if it was a lower score, they were deprioritizing and they were not they were not falling up as quickly. So there's a whole method to the madness around what people see and what we've determined as a team. If it's if it's qualified, you should follow up. So there's some of those things that happen that you work on as a team over time and improve them. So it's data. It's obviously the process that decides which which salesperson. You know, we route the different leads to. So...

...we have a strategic team that takes on, you know, those larger accounts we have on our radar and commercial team that will take on all the others. You know, we really focus on software technology and BE TO BE SERVICES COMPANIES. So, you know, we're very clear on who our customer is. That is a fit that typically has the budget for the things that we're that you know that we provide because they have a need and they you know that you know their business is really looking for kind of that high quality lead at the top of the funnel, as well as some additional data for sales. So but we do look constantly at we improving. Are Qualified leads? Is there a gap? And we do look at the things that don't make sense, and so we meet, you know, as a team regularly to say, you know, here the leads that should have been more qualified. Let's look at why they weren't. Let's improve our process, let's improve our targeting from a marketing standpoint. Let's change our messaging so and really challenge each other. You know, if we think that hypothesis is that certain leads, you know, should be qualified based on where we find them and what kind of what keywords are coming in on and what businesses and if they're not closing, we have that hard conversation about you know, is it you know there's something that is different with the Reps. you know, is it training needed or is it really yeah, you know what we're doing in marketing and how we're how we're delivering the leads, but it's that conversation that helps us improve and then always challenging. Maybe, you know the funnel is expanding, maybe there are more people interested in your solution. So you don't want to just focus on the ideal customer profile that you've always had. You know, as a team at working together and you realize that there are some outliers. You can have an opportunity to identify a bigger total, a rest of a market, because you're looking at the data together and you're talking versus just looking at...

...the old definition of your f your personas. Hey, everyone, if you've been listening, to be to be growth for a while. You know that we are big proponents of putting out original, organic content on Linkedin, but one thing that's always been a struggle for a team like ours is easily tracking the reach of that linkedin content. That's why we're really excited about shield analytics. Since our team started using shield, we've been able to easily track the reach and performance of our linkedin content without having to manually log it ourselves. It automatically creates reports and it generates dashboards that are incredibly useful to determining things like what content has been performing the best, what days of the week are we getting the most engagement and our average views her post. Shield has been a game changer for our entire team's productivity and performance on Linkedin. I highly suggest checking out this tool if you're publishing content on Linkedin for yourselves or for your company. You can get a ten day free trial at shield APP DOT AI, or you can get a twenty five percent discount with our Promo Code, be tob growth. Again, that's shield APP DOT AI, and the Promo Code is be the number two, be growth. All One word for a twenty five percent discount. All right, let's get back into the show. I want to go back to the pain point, that is the separate dashboards between marketing and then this the separate sales dashboard, and I'd love for you to just say, what are those the key elm elements? If someone was to walk away from our conversation go I need to start a dashboard that has it all together, like this is going to be something we're going to walk away with. It's going to build it out that we can reference, sales can reference and marketing can reference. What are some of those key elements we need to be aware of? Yes, so agreeing first and foremost on kind of lead scoring, right, so what constitutes a qualified lead and what...

...doesn't, and being willing to revisit that model on a regular basis as you refine it together, because it does change based on, you know, your marketing tactics, based on where we are in the world, you know, based on you know, your opportunity to sort of find new business over time, depending on the size and, I guess, sophistication of Your Business. You know, learning your market, you know. So making sure you're open to adjusting that lead scoring model. The second is attribution, right. I talked a little bit about that to say, where do you attribute a marketing touch in the process? Forster put out some interesting stats, but you know it's there's there's certainly a lot out there that says that there's more touch points now than ever before in the customer journey. Right. So when you think about how many touches, you know it could be up to twenty touches or more. Marketing touches them in, you know, an email or display ad. You know, there's there's those kind of daytoday people are going to google. They're coming back, you know, maybe to a paid google search. You know, they might have found you on organic and they're coming back and paid because they remember your name. There's the sales touches, you know, there's the sales email, not in addition to the marketing email. So there's all of these conversations that are happening that are part of the journey and so aligning together. On the attribution, it could be a percentage at first, it could be, you know, different ways of looking at the attribution models, but saying, how much credit does a form fiel get based on the source, but also the overall touches that you can measure and there's ways you can measure that you know today better than ever before to understand what makes sense and and maybe how much weight you want to put toward it, as well as you know, agree if there's any credit given to repeat business. Like a marker would say, if you never would have had that customer in the...

...first place, how can we only get credit for the first deal? And sales would say I sold them every other deal and they we built a relationship and the customer experience. People might say they never would have had that second deal if I had up, hadn't had done a good job of executing on the campaign and being there. They wrap, you know. So really aligning on attribution is important. Obviously getting the best cleanest data that you can. You know, into how you might a pen and a rich your your opt in forms and how what you might know about somebody based on being able to add better industry information, better title information, you know, understanding your buyer group, because there's more than one person buying, so they're making the decision. I would say. So you might have one person who the decision maker, but there are multiple people in the buyer group. So marketing has to get in front of all of them and sales might need to have conversations with the influencers as well as the ultimate buyer and so agreeing together on you know what that means in terms of the influencer buyer group? Do you have that somehow on the dashboard when you're saying you're understanding the buying group? How does that sort of filter into when you're thinking of that dashboard? Yeah, it's a great question. So we know the conversations that are happening with influencers versus the ultimate decision maker and most people have in their crm will have information like that that they can tag and set up. So you know that it's a bigger buyer group and and you know small companies might have this even and larger companies are just maybe different sizes, are different types of titles involved in the buyer decision, as well as obviously the budget size. But knowing whether it's an influencer meeting, our dashboards will say, you know, influence our meeting. It'll kind of qualify in the sales dashboard around the funnel and the the sales process will kind kind of a conversation was whether it was a slam dunk...

...type of conversation, whether it was Luke Rom kind of medium conversation in terms of how likely it would is to close. You know. So there's different ways that bill. You know, the dashboard will kind of say like how likely is this to turn into revenue and x amount of days? You also learn your sale cycle, so you would know, you know, our average deal closes in x amount of days or months. The average deal size. You want you look at all those things together because it's also important and you also want to know is there a difference? Are This sales generated leads higher value than the marketing generated leads? Why is that? You know, if you're if someone's coming in through an organic lead, as it is a different than a lead that sales has spent months trying to real you know, get into this one one business. So that's one other metric that you also have to look at as a team to say why is that? Because in some cases it's a little skewed based on the types of clients that maybe your strategic sales teams are going after, you know, larger technology companies, you know. So you have to break that into you know, maybe traunch has to say, is it the same view of the average deal size that you're looking at? You know, do you need to break out kind of your top tier targets versus kind of your core commercial businesses or even by industry? So there's a lot of ways to look at the data and then a lot of businesses, and we certainly did this a constant contact. You also want to be looking at your attrition rates, you know, like what's happening with churn, you know, and also for, you know, different cohorts. So over time companies can get better at understanding you know, is there a difference in leads that came on board with, you know, a messaging and a value proposition, of brand position six months ago versus now? Is there a difference in their churn rates? Is there a difference in their average deal size and lifetime value? So there's depending on the type of business you are,...

...there's a lot of metrics that can help you understand how you're messaging, how your overall go to market strategies impacting your brain you know, impacting your outcomes, and make changes based on that going forward to make sure that you're obviously improving your churn rates. Let me ask you a follow up question on that. How often do you go over attribution rates and churn with your your team as a whole. Well, the sales and marketing team meets on a regular basis every other week. We're looking at all of the data. Yeah, so that's a number you would go out over that often not the churn rates as much with for our business, but we differ. We definitely talk about overall health and KPI is on a on a monthly basis, but a Sass business would look at them weekly, if not daily, depending on what's happening in the business. And you have, you know, when you're assass business like a constant contact where everything is kind of an online sign up and there's less of an outbound sales model, you're definitely much more aware of exactly how many leads are coming in and how many need to convert on a daily basis. As you look at a be tob business like ours that has both a subscription and, you know it, ongoing services business model, kind of higher value be tob it's, you know, really about kind of aligning on those turn metrics as well as what's creating that ongoing over and over again, retention and why people are staying with us are as just you know, as important, as you know why some of the ones might be leaving, but it helps you change your ICP. That's the reason why sales and marketing are going through that conversation. Is If there is some churn happening that you didn't expect, you know, maybe the ideal customer profile isn't what we thought, maybe there's a persauna that, and I'm somewhat talking illustrative here, but if it's somebody who's a lower deal size, they might be have a greater propensity to...

...churn. That doesn't mean it's bad as part of your business, but you just need to know that because it will help you, yeah, in terms of how you might be targeting and how you might kind of prioritize those deals versus some that are larger, as well as just understanding your overall scale of what how you need to fill the funnel at every level, because it does help. HMM. So there's some really great key elements here that you've outlined. So lead scoring, attribution, clean data collection, understanding the buying group right, that the dynamics their deal scoring, and then we want to be aware of churn. I wonder more of a question from like what kind of pushback do you get when you move to this sort of dashboard of truth, like for your marketing team or your sales team, because I would assume this is a little bit of movement for both right, because you're meeting in the middle. But what do you experience when you implement something like this? Yeah, you know what I mean. On the one hand, the numbers don't lie. On the one hand the numbers are aligned with what you set up as the rules. So you do have to keep looking at the numbers and challenging that exactly what they're telling you and and make sure that you're not just looking backwards at how you set up the ideal customer profile and how you set up your scoring models. But continue to refine them. You know, as data gets better around, you know what we're learning about customers and they're in market behavior, what we know about them in terms of their you know, parmographics, demographics of the customer and the contact data gets better. As we, you know, keep improving that information, we should be able to get better and better at aligning whether someone should score a higher score versus a lower score in the spectrum. But, as I said, unless you're having that next conversation. In our model with sales, you know, you don't know that they're necessarily not able to be an even more important customer in terms of...

...revenue spend. You know, then then somebody who scored a five. You know, it's really you have to have yourself to have the love of conversation and our model, if you're in kind of an SMB SASS model, you may not have that conversation. So you better have the data because someone might be just choosing to be a you know, an immediate trial and by the product, and that's where your turn data comes in to play a lot more, because if they're not going to start, if you're not engaging them through email in an in product and you don't make sure that they take those important steps to become an avid user of the product, they could churn because you're not taking all those right steps or you're maybe not getting the right person in the funnel. So it really depends on the type of B Tob business that you're in, for sure, but the data can help. But at the end of the day it can't only be about the data. Yep, yeah, it's got to be good mix. I really appreciate your insights. This is a really insightful conversation with Monica Sullivan. Give us a just a quick summary here as we start to close, of what you guys do at demand science. Would love to hear a little bit about Your Business and what you guys are up to. Yeah, now it's it's an exciting ride so far and a journey ahead. You know, we've been growing like crazy. We have over one two hundred customers and we at our core, or are be to be data company. But ultimately we help our customers identify their best audience, we help them activate, primarily opt in permission leads and get them in their funnel and we help them convert, you know, certainly with accurate data that helps them understand how likely they are to convert. Things like I've mentioned confirmed connect and understanding where they've engaged with phone calls and emails can help, as well as other buyer signals, you know, and ultimately help them grow. You know, we're an advocate to the marketer and the salesperson. There's a lot there are a lot of players in the space that aren't delivering necessarily...

...the same qualified lead that we are. Just given that we work harder to help filter out and make sure that the right title, the right ideal customer profiles being met and what we delivered to them, and it's a fun time. You know, you've probably seen a lot about the category of B to be data, and there's certainly a still a lot of room to do a better job, for the sales and marketing teams to come together with great data to really get aligned. You know, I'm excited about being able to deliver that, as we all are. Yeah, I'm excited for the future. I think dad is in an interesting place. Marketing and sales alignment is an interesting place and I'm glad there are more and more conversations like this happening because hopefully it will just spur so much more growth for the companies that are listening to this and for our organizations. Right, ultimately, that's the goal, is growth. So, Monica, thank you for joining us on this episode. For those that want to stay connected with you, how can they do that? Yeah, so for sure, Monica. Doubt Sullivan, a demand sidencecom and my linkedin always there, so happy to help engage in network. It's been a great experience. I'd loved being here with you, BEN J so looking forward to coming back to talk about BEB growth topics. That's right. Thank you so much for joining us and yeah, you can connect with me as well on Linkedin. Just Search Benjie Block. We're always having these types of conversations here on B tob growth, so if you haven't subscribed to the show, be sure to do that and I will be back very soon with another episode. Keep doing work that matters. Is the decisionmaker for your product or service a BEDB MARKETER? Are you looking to reach those buyers through the medium of podcasting? Consider becoming a cohost of BB growth. This show is consistently ranked as a top one hundred podcast in the marketing category of Apple Podcasts, and the show gets more than a hundred and thirtyzero downloads each month. We've already done the work of building the audience, so you can focus...

...on delivering incredible content to our listeners. If you're interested, email logan at sweetfish Mediacom.

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