CMOs have the shortest tenure of any C-suite leadership role. Christina Del Villar says that's because they don't take the time to build a marketing map of influence.
This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Christina Del Villar talks about why it's so important for marketing leaders to be effective internal communicators within their own companies and how building a 'marketing map of influence' can be a game changer when it comes to getting things done and increasing tenure.
Check out the full episode, or read the transcript below, for details.
Kathleen (00:00): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm your host Kathleen Booth. And my guest today is Christina Del Villar, who is a Silicon Valley marketing expert with 25 years of experience. She's an author, she's a board advisor, she teaches. I'm sure she does 20 other things, but we're going to have her tell us in her own words. Welcome Christina.
Christina (00:50): Thank you. Thank you, Kathleen. Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here. So I have been a marketing executive in Silicon Valley for the past 25 years, mostly focused on go to market strategy and overall marketing strategy. And in my past, my career has mostly been focused on B2B organizations in that space. And I've worked with about 30 startups over the years, including Bill.com, which went public last year just about this time, as well as some really established companies like Oracle and Autodesk and Wells Fargo.
And basically, you know, I was lucky enough to be in Silicon Valley, but one of the things that, that I learned right away was that I'm not that big idea person. I'm not the person that's going to come up with the next big thing or this huge paradigm shifting type product, but where my strengths were.
Christina (01:38): And this is what I realized was in developing that strategy, the processes, the programs, the teams, everything that's needed to execute and implement their go-to-market strategy. So that was kind of a learning lesson for me, really understanding where I fit in. And I've really embraced that over the years and really like it.
The other thing that came to that I came to understand really quickly was that marketing in general is just, it's a very misunderstood I'm sure you've experienced this many times where people really don't know what it is that we do, what we bring to the table.
A lot of people just think we, you know, make t-shirts and touch keys and tweet and have fun all day long and they don't really get the concept of, of the marketing strategy, both inbound and outbound. And, and so it was this really hard as a marketer and working on strategy to help people understand both externally my executives leaders outside boards that we discuss things with and internally to my own teams.
Christina (02:35): And, and what I found was that we're just, we're kind of, kind of bad at marketing ourselves, right? And we're supposed to market the marketer and we're just not, not very good at that. So over the years, what I did was basically created a framework and a methodology that would help marketing professionals work smarter and more efficiently all while having greater impact, but taking that a step further, I really wanted them to be able to articulate the value, add that they have not just in a marketing organization or their team, but to the overall corporate strategy as well.
And so that was really key to what I'm, what I basically spent the last six months doing is developing writing the book that talks about this and developing some courses that will help people do that. And then over my career, I've just sort of been doing it ad hoc, not really recognizing it as a framework or putting it in, in that kind of a framework that's easy to understand and implement.
Christina (03:22): And so that's basically what, what I've been doing. And I think it's really important for people to understand that you, you can, you can build a great strategy. You can have a great plan, you can execute seamlessly, but if you then don't take those results and share them in such a way that are meaningful to your audience. And that kind of gets back to the market, the market, the marketing person then it's just kind of, it's meaningless, right?
Like a CEO really doesn't care. How many MQLs do you bring in, but they want to know is how much revenue you brought in. So it's really just a matter of taking all that information and figuring out what those results look like, and then sharing those results again, in such a way that are meaningful for your board or the CEO, or even your manager or even like the sales team or product teams, because they're thinking about things differently, they have different goals.
So again, that's why I wrote the book. And hopefully my goal is to help others avoid some of the pitfalls that I've experienced, or I've seen a lot of my colleagues and my teams go through over the years.
Kathleen (04:25): I love this topic. I need to, I have been accused over the years of picking my podcast guests for selfish reasons. And I admit it, I do, I, I pick topics based on what I want to learn more about. And this one is such a good one, in my opinion, for a couple of reasons, one, there's a ton of data that the average tenure of like a CMO it's under two years or something crazy like that.
The shortest of the C-suite, it's the shortest tenure of any C-suite position. And what you said about marketers being terrible at marketing themselves is so spot on. So just to share a little personal anecdote, I just, this past week published my personal website, which I have been working on for two years. And it wasn't like it was hard to build the site.
Kathleen (05:22): I just, like, the thought of writing copy about myself and like finding video and pictures of myself, it was just, it was not fun at all, but whatever I did it, it finally happened, but it was painful. And, you know, I definitely realized through that process, like marketers are horrible at marketing themselves and I'm, I'm, you know, example number one of that.
But what you really said that I think struck home to me was about marketers, not communicating well internally in the organization, what they do and the results they're getting. And I will fully admit that I'm guilty of that. You know, I'm a serial startup marketer. And I don't know that this is unique to us, but I can certainly speak to it. Like we're doing 50 things at once at all times.
And, you know, you're when you're the head of marketing at a startup, you're strategizing, you're reporting and you're executing. And sometimes it's very easy to fall into the trap of spending a lot of your time executing and some strategizing and not a whole lot reporting on what you're doing and write about it. So I am, so that is all very long way of saying I'm excited to talk about this topic.
Christina (06:30): I love talking about it. I love writing about it. So I'm excited that other people, and again, I think it really does. It hits home for a lot of people and there's often been times, and I'm sure you've experienced this in some of your listeners where they're like, look, I know I have to share my results, but I just need to get it done right now. It's only my focus on is just getting it done. And by doing that, it's great because you're getting it done. But then at the end of the day, nobody knows what you did.
Kathleen (06:55): Right. And like, so what I think that sometimes people think marketing is a whole lot of like, woo. Nice pictures, and...
Christina (07:10): We do, we make really nice graphics .But it was interesting. I was in a board meeting one time. And one, one when the sales person got up, he was talking about this amazing deal that had just closed. And it was one of the deals. It was a huge, one of our biggest deals ever. And it closed in under a month and everybody's like, yay. Sales is amazing. And I was like, Oh, you know, actually, let me tell you a little bit about that sale.
We just made in a month that actually took eight months to get to where it was so that we could actually sell it. It was like some, you know, a junior person in the organization that saw this at a trade show, they signed up for the trial and then it kind of, they started, you know, internally you know, championing this product of ours and then somebody else got wind of it. And then they started getting more information. They came to webinars, they did all this, that was an eight month process. But what happened was the person who actually purchased it a month earlier, went and finally saw a webinar sign up for a trial and then told his team to buy it.
And so I was like, you know, this, it wasn't a month. It was eight months. And it was eight months of marketing's really hard work and nurturing that got us here. And, and everybody looked at me like I was crazy.
Christina (08:18): They're like, no, sales made that. And I'm like, no, no, no. So again, we just really have to learn how to show all of that. Then again, what you were getting into a little bit about these touch points that I talk about, but help people understand how to identify these touch points. And then again, explain to everyone all throughout the organization, along that customer journey, all the different areas that marketing impacts.
Kathleen (08:41): So let's start out by kind of laying a foundation here of, of shared understanding in terms of like terminology, because you talked about a marketing map of influence. Can you explain what you mean by that?
Christina (08:56): So that was my own terminology. And basically what I did was I wanted to personally understand how I could have more influence and build more trust within an organization and then help my team understand how they could do that both internally with our marketing organization and then externally to the rest of the company. And then even beyond that becoming thought leaders in the industry. And so what I did was I literally, and I have a picture of my map of influence and basically what it is is it's looking at what, again, I'll call touch points and I'll define those in a second, but all the different touch points that marketing has and how we can either get better at identifying which ones we can have more influence over. And then how do you share those results with the rest of the organization? Because again, that's, what's missing, it's not just the executives that don't understand what we do.
Christina (09:47): And a lot of people within an organization don't don't understand what it is that we do. So the map of influence that I build out basically goes along the entire customer journey. So starting with product development, going through the area that marketing definitely owns lead, you know, the lead life cycle and then looking at it from the buyer perspective and the component that sales is working through all the way through to customer engagement and how people are onboarding and adopting.
And I mean, it was their turn, that sort of thing. There's all of these tiny little areas that marketing touches every single day. And we might not recognize it as, you know, something marketing does or not necessarily you know, part of our, our daily responsibilities, but, but it's in there. So for example, if you're thinking about, you know, the product team, the product team is developing products that marketing can influence what is being developed.
Christina (10:40): They, because we understand you know, what features or functionalities we might be able to actually, you know, sell, sell for sale separately and have a different pricing structure around it, that sort of thing. We might be able to help product keep on, on brand with whatever it is that they're developing. Sometimes they come up with these, you know, features and it's totally different color and the logos are wrong or it's not there at all. And so really these are areas that we can influence.
So the product is just doing a better job, but the marketing is definitely involved in that, that piece of it the life cycle, that's all of our programs and the webinars, all the different inbound and outbound programs we already have. But even within that, are there ways that we can think about them differently and have more influence over what we're doing, looking at it from the standpoint of the go-to market strategy, right?
Christina (11:27): So we can definitely, we can do a ton of events, but if events aren't bringing in the right kinds of leads that we're looking for over the next 12 months then, is that something we should be focusing on or should we be focusing on something that's going to bring in less leads, but more quality leads and qualified leads. And so there's just some things that we could be thinking about a little smarter. And again, there's plenty of things we can, we can help with sales, we can help them write scripts. We can basically help them identify which you know, prioritization of leads that they follow up on. So, and we do this stuff every single day. We just don't think about it as part of our marketing job or part of how we're influencing again, the overall success of the company.
Christina (12:07): And then from a customer engagement standpoint, there's a lot of things we can do. We can help with, you know, how to videos to get. We just wanna make sure that they're being that the customers are being onboarded and adopting properly. So, you know, can we produce a best practices webinar, or, you know, can we somehow build out some reports that would be useful for customers? And again, we, we do these things already. We just don't think about them.
Again, as ways that in ways that we can use them and leverage them to have more influence. So those are, again, those are kind of some of the touch points and that's kind of how I build my map with influence. It really does go along the entire customer journey in the lines of the go to market strategy and the overall company performance that we're looking for and ultimately helps guide me in terms of which things I want to prioritize. Cause I know, you know, everyone in marketing meet me, get interrupted every day with all these tiny little things, right?
Like, Hey, I'm going into a meeting. Can you pull a report for me? Or I've got a presentation tomorrow. Can you build a graphic for me? Or, you know, I have some customers coming in. Can I get some t-shirts all of these things that we do on a daily basis are part of our jobs and it's, but we just need to think about them a little smarter and, and actually prioritize those.
Kathleen (13:20): So you talked about how kind of step one is identifying all the areas that marketing might touch or have influence on. And you just kind of, I feel like you gave a really nice overview of that. And as I was listening to you talk, what was going through my head is, is, you know, that's, that's a lot, and I know this from my experience, like that's what I experienced now. I mean, I'm not even in that big of a company, but really it's almost like every piece of the company, there's something that marketing can touch, whether that's the employee, the employer brand customer marketing, lead gen you know, product development, there's truly, you could have your hands in everything.
And so I guess this is a two-part question, really, which part one is what is the best way to have a voice in those things for two is what is the best way to do that in a way that like doesn't become completely overwhelmed and eliminate your ability to focus on, you know, the things that are going to move the needle from a revenue standpoint.
Christina (14:23): Oh, right, right. No, and that's a, that's a great question. And in my mind, and this is a little bit controversial, but I really feel like marketing should own the go-to market strategy because we literally do. We are the foundation of everything that's happening. Again, along that customer journey, what kinds of products are being built and developed and how they're getting sold and how much they're being sold for them, what they look like, all of that, you know, are things that we, we do have a hand in.
But, but to your point, we can't do everything. You know, I'd like to think that I could, but I can't. And, and we have limited resources and limited personnel. So what I generally do is when I, when I build my map of influence, I look at all of the touch points and, and again, there's, you know what I mean?
Christina (15:04): There's probably like a thousand. I might be exaggerating, but probably pretty close to that. And then what I want to do is I want to prioritize those and I always want to prioritize those based on a couple of things. One thing is our overall corporate goals. Like what, what is our overall objective? What is the revenue objective that even beyond the revenue objective is the objective to get more logos or more recognizable logos. Like you really need to kind of understand what this go to market strategy looks like. And so I want to map it to those and anything that's going to help me with that or things that I want to focus on. The other areas are looking at things that are important to the customer, right. Because, you know, while it's great that, you know, we have a plan is this going to align with what the customer is looking for and what the customer's needs are?
Christina (15:48): I've been in many, many product meeting where, you know, they're discussing what features and functionalities to develop. And some of them are just amazing, right. But is this what the customer needs, or even, you know, wants or anything like, are they willing to pay for it? Because if not, then we need to think about, you know, should we be developing this, if it's something that they don't even want, then, then, you know, we just need to kind of consider that. The other area that I want to look at is the expertise of my team. Like what who's on my team and what works, what skills do they have? What skills gaps do we have and what can we can we easily do? Like, what are some of the low hanging fruit things that we can, we can do easily? So I want to look at that and if, if I'm missing some skills on the team, is there a way to either train them?
Christina (16:31): If it's, you know, if this is a really critical thing that I want to focus on or do we need to potentially hire in or bring in some contractors. And then the final thing really is, you know, sort of what are the levers that I can easily pull, or my team can easily cool, right? Because again, we don't want them doing everything and we, we do want them to be laser focused, but we want them to just sort of think about things a little differently, right? So you know, again, this has been aligned with what our corporate goals are and what the customer's needs are, and it's something that we can do easily. And we have we have the means the technology tools, resources to, to put in place. Then those are the types of things that, that's how I would basically prioritize those.
Kathleen (17:08): So there's a couple of things you just said that, that stuck with me. One was when you talked about it being sometimes controversial, that marketing owns the go to market strategy, and then you also talked about like, we're, we have all these potential features for our product. And do we know if people will really pay for it? That one struck me because we literally had this conversation last week at my company. And I am in the middle of doing pricing interviews with customers and I'm having them force rank features, which is a fascinating exercise to go through. But again, those, both of those kinds of comments allude to the fact that we're talking about collaboration across departments, about who should own the go to market strategy. Is it marketing, sales? The question of what features should we build in our product? Is it, is it your engineering slash product team or is it marketing or sales, right? A little bit about just internal communication and how you handle that. Because I do think that very often when we go into these conversations, at least because of historic perceptions about marketing, we don't necessarily, we're not necessarily thought of as having the same kind of not, I don't want to say power, but, but influence in those conversations perhaps.
Christina (18:29): Right. So.
Kathleen (18:31): I don't know. I'd love to get your thoughts on that.
Christina (18:33): Great question. And that really is what the map of influence is supposed to help you do. Right? So for example, if you are if you're a little more focused on, on the product side of things, or you have the you know, you have a really good understanding of what customers are looking for and you want to have influence on what features and functionalities are being built out then looking at all of those touch points that we talked about earlier that you have you basically, you know, you take a couple of those and you kind of test the water with it, right? So for example, if you, if they're coming up with this amazing feature, but it's not within it, you know, sort of the brand or, or what your core mission for your company is, then it's really easy to go and talk to somebody and say, Hey, you know what?
Christina (19:21): I know you guys were looking at this feature. You know, here's some, here's some data and here's some interesting anecdotal information that I have about that kind of a feature and why it might not be the best feature for us to, to focus on right now. So you're, you know, you're not saying this is what we need to do and, you know, don't, don't do that feature or that feature you're, you're going in. And you're saying, you know, I I've done some background. I recognize what our customers are looking for. And it just at least opens up the door to start having, having some conversations. I'll give you an example. When I when I was working at, at Autodesk, there was a, there was a feature that I needed to be built out and have it ready within a year.
Christina (20:02): And what it was going to do is going to exponentially increase our revenue. But you know, a year later, if I'm going to a, you know, an engineering team or product team and saying, I need this feature developed now, so that it's ready in a year, it's really hard for them to say, Oh, sure, let's just reprioritize our entire roadmap for you. Right. So, so basically what I did was I had it mapped out to say, if we do this feature, you know, by the time that it's ready, and this is a year, these are the programs are going to do, and the campaigns are going to have to promote it. And this is actually going, it was really going to exponentially increase our revenue. It's going to increase our revenue by like 25%, which would net out. Let's just say I'm making up numbers, but like $30 million.
Christina (20:41): Right. And so I was talking to the head of engineering about it and he was like, wait, are you telling me that, that my team, by doing this feature for you could help our company bring in $30 million? And I'm like, yes, exactly athlete. So it really is. So he was like, Oh my God. And he like, starts telling his team's like, Oh my God, we, you know, we can bring in revenue if we do. So it was this really helping them understand. So, you know, not only that I needed this and then I had a plan to execute it and that it was going to be successful. And if it's successful, this is what it was going to bring in. It really helped. It gave them context for why they should want to reprioritize. And I think that again, context is missing from a lot of our conversations. You know, you can collaborate, but if you're not helping people understand why it's significant then, then that's a problem. And you really do need to have, sorry, sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt you. Go ahead. No, no. I was just going to say, you really do need to have a clear understanding of what you think the results will be for some of these things so that you can articulate that to, to folks so that they buy into what it is that you're doing.
Kathleen (21:47): So that's actually the perfect segue. You mentioned that you went to the head of engineering with kind of a map. You had things mapped out. You had a plan. What if somebody is listening and they're thinking, in principle, this sounds great. Like, how do I actually do this? Like, what are the components of, of this type of map or plan?
Christina (22:10): So the, at the end of the day, and again, it kind of goes back to marketing owning the go to market strategy and really beyond that, truly owning revenue. I mean, oftentimes sometimes, sometimes I've given a revenue target and sometimes I'm not. But at the end of the day marketing again, especially if it's sort of a foundation across the entire customer journey ultimately has whether they're responsible for it or not. They should have a huge revenue target that they're trying to, they're trying to reach. And, and some of the programs that you're focused on are going to work backwards from that revenue and, and, you know, how are you going to get to this revenue? So, and in some cases you don't know, you don't know how much truly, I don't know that it was going to bring in 30 million or whatever number I had there.
Christina (22:58): But at least I have a starting point in a, any point of conversation. And, and I think that that's, you know, really key. It's just helping, you need to understand why you're doing this program, how it aligns with the strategy and what you think the outcome will be before you kind of go into some of these other, other conversations. And in some cases, it's, it can be hard, some cases you don't. I mean, there've been times when I have zero data, so I'm just like going on my gut or past experience. In some cases you have the data, you know, how much you know, a similar feature functionality might bring in, for example, from a revenue standpoint. So you might have some, you know, some data, and this is, again, this is a, it's a process. You, you, you know, you haven't mapped with influence, but you're not going to implement it all at once.
Christina (23:43): And it's going to take, you know, months or years to actually get to the point where you're kind of have full coverage of that map. But again, it's really important to understand those end goals and kind of work backwards from back. And again, I think the context is, is, is important for people to understand. I think this happens with events. A lot of people are like, why do you, why are you even doing an event? Because, you know, we get bad leads and they go nowhere. And, and so you have to help them understand that, that it's it's a longer sales cycle, you know, you're trying to weed out the quality leads, but there's also a component of, you know, branding and messaging and some other things that you're trying to, to you know, get across, you have other objective objectives for that. And just helping people understand what those objectives are sort of helps them again, align with you, or at least again, open up the conversation so that you can figure out how you can collaborate or, or make some compromises as well.
Kathleen (24:38): So what does this mean for you? Especially somebody who's coming in. A lot of my listeners are either the senior, most marketer in their company, or darn close to it, or they own a certain component of marketing. What does this mean for how that person should approach a relationship building with the leaders of the other parts of the organization?
Christina (25:00): Yes. I think that there's a couple of things for those, for those folks. And I've, I've done this with my teams as well for those folks, their peers are the ones that they need to influence and collaborate with. Right. But I think it's also really important for the folks underneath them to start building those relationships. So generally what I'll do with my team is I literally assign you know, somebody, you know, you, you need to build a relationship with somebody in sales and product and you know, customer success and I'll even, I will even assign these people. And sometimes it's a known relationship like, Hey, you know, product, you know, head of product, I'd love for my team to be more engaged with yours. So I'd like to pair up some of our folks together so that they can collaborate and, you know, they can just start going out and having some coffee and that kind of thing.
Christina (25:45): And just, again, just, it builds the relationship, but it also builds empathy as well. And I think that that's really critical. So I do that with with all levels of my organization, with all the other organizations. And then again, I think that the, it goes back to the results as well, because the results aren't just there, they're not just marketing, they're not just sales results. People need to understand that they also were involved in that, in having that impact on the company and the company performance as well. And so, and again, there's, there's a difference between like giving credit to somebody like, Hey, you know, sales made that great sale, right? That's, that's nice, but it's not getting to the point where, you know, the, this, this revenue came in because, you know, product builds the product or feature that we needed. Marketing did an amazing job of building campaigns to bring in qualified leads. And sales did an awesome job of shortening the sales cycle by nurturing their leads a little bit better. And then the onboarding was executed seamlessly by customer success. And that's why we have the successful revenue that we, that we reached. And so it really is just a matter of helping people understand the impact that they're having along that customer journey that you're building out and the go to market strategy as well.
Kathleen (26:58): So let's break down that topic of, of communicating and reporting. I'm, I'm, I'd love to know, just sort of from all different angles, like how often are you reporting? What are you reporting on? Who's it going to, what format does it take?
Christina (27:13): That is a great question .So in terms of that, the sort of peer to peer relationship building that I have my team do basically I want to make sure that at least once a month, they're getting together, not on a work-related project and just like, you know, building, building that relationship and friendship. And again, it could just be like half hour coffee or zoom call or whatever, whatever it is that we're doing in this day and age. So sort of, sort of starts with that in terms of then engaging I often will, it's hard to integrate or sort of embed yourself in some of these other organizations. Right. but I like to get to a point where we're invited to their meetings, but I initially do that by having my own meetings, my own Brown bags.
Christina (28:07): So let me think about it, you know, there's four weeks in a month. Each week, I'll do a Brown bag with one of those different organizations and just kind of get them engaged and understanding what it is we're doing in terms of the programs we have. And again, helping them understand context for them. At one point I used to have these big open Brown bag meetings, and then, you know, engineers would be falling asleep cause I'm talking about programs. And so I'm like, ah, that's not going to work. So now I do that individually.
Kathleen (28:35): Yes, a full belly and a brown bag talk is not a good combination.
Christina (28:38): It's amazing. But, so I started doing them with the individual organizations and they did one with an engineering team once. And it was interesting because, you know, they were actually, they were told to go to the Brown bag, which is fine. So so they were at the Brown bag and they, they were kind of, you know, they were just, aren't sure why they were there or, you know, what this meant. And they were a little bit disengaged. But at one point I started talking about like how important it was to truly understand the data behind, you know, the customers on the back end of things. What were our customers experiencing? You know, when did, was there like a peak, like we knew that like Fridays were, you know, the biggest day for customers to sign in or whatever, whatever it was.
Christina (29:22): I was looking for information so that I could you know, go back and get writes the best practices or, you know, understand like what a good case study might look like. And an ROI might look like, and this guy who I literally felt was checked out, he looks at me and he goes, he goes, wow. You know, we have industry data for the last 10 years on all of our and it shows their usage numbers. And and a bunch of other things it's like, would that be helpful for you? I was like, Oh my God, that would be amazing. And then everybody else started getting engaged at like, Oh we can totally pull that and we can do this. And, and so I started to tell him like, this is why we do case studies, and this is why we do these best practices.
Christina (30:03): And this is what an ROI means to our customers. And so they took all of those definitions and sort of some of the content programs that we're developing. And they're like, you know, this is great. We're going to go back and discuss this because we think we have a lot of data that we can interject into your reports and your case studies. And so we're gonna, we're going to go think about it and then we'll get back to you on how we can help. And so just like that engineering has completely engaged. They, they have a much better understanding of what it is that we do. They feel like they're part of this entire program of marketing and selling and really making the company successful. And so that the, those monthly, or however, however, it works for you, Brown bags make sense, but I would recommend you do them by the individual department or organization you're looking at because they're, they're looking for, for different things.
Christina (30:51): And then in terms of the reporting, the results I usually do a monthly report out in terms of, again, what it is that we've done and why we did it. And I try to keep them, you know, I don't want to write 15 different reports to make everybody happy and make everybody in their own sort of you know, mindset, understand what it is that we're doing. So about 80% of it is a pretty standard report. And then 20% of it is specific to whoever that organization is. So, so we do things like that. One thing that was interesting when I, when I worked at intact, we would have these monthly sales calls. And the point was to say like, this is what we did this month. And this is, these are the results we have. This is how many MQL, this is kind of going on down the funnel.
Christina (31:39): And then to set the stage for what was coming in the next month, so we could get help from them. And over time, like I was there for like a couple months when I realized that the sales team is just completely checked out. Like, again, they're told to be at this meeting, they were not enjoying it. They're not getting anything out of it. And they would rather be, you know, grocery shopping at Costco for all I know. But what I did was I recognize that they're what they were interested in most was understanding the pipeline and how much revenue. And so if you think about a funnel, that's like the very last slide we had. So what I told my team to tell him, like, I literally am like reverse the slides. I'm like, I might just change the order. I'm like, literally take the last one and put it first and just go, like, literally just flip the entire, flip your entire presentation.
Christina (32:25): So they started with like, this is how much revenue we brought in, and this is the pipeline we brought in. And that was as far as we got, we never even got to the rest of the slide. So then everybody wanted to have conversations and they had questions. They wanted to know like, this is great. Was there something we did differently? You know, can repeat this. And so just starting to have those conversations and understanding how they want to understand the data that you're bringing to them and what's meaningful to them really, really helps a lot.
Kathleen (32:51): Well, and you've said a few times I've noticed that marketers should be more focused on like revenue results than MQL calls or leads. And that I just could not agree more with because I feel like very often we're pushed to report on the lead gen. But what happens is when you, when you get stuck in that rut of being measured, having your value measured by leads, you're no longer strategic to the organization. And that is why we wind up being pushed into the back seat behind the sales team
Christina (33:25): Or whoever.
Kathleen (33:26): You know, because we're, we're commoditizing ourselves.
Christina (33:30): Absolutely. And, and that's, and it's an, it's a known, it's a known factor to them. So they get it like, okay, you brought in leads, but they still don't really even know what that means. Right. Like I, you know, I did a Salesforce Dreamforce conference and we brought in 1200 leads, but only 200 of them were qualified enough to send a sale. So this feels like, well, what happens to the other thousand leads? I'm like, Oh, why I can give them to your sales team? They're just going to hate me. So I'm not going to send those.
Kathleen (33:57): I think if we report on leads, we are kind of cheating because it is a backdoor way of absolving ourselves for any responsibility or elite quality. And honestly, for building good collaborative relationships with sales teams and supporting them in the way they need to be supported. And I could rant on this for a very long time. I've actually worked in a sales role before, which I've always say, I think every marketer should do at some point in their career. And it's, it's certainly changed, you know, my attitude and approach for how I should work with sales teams. And I just, I think there still are a lot of marketers out there who are like, well, you know, I just delivered the leads. No. What sales did with them going home for the day . And they think about like SLA plays as like, I fulfilled my part of the bargain. Now it's your turn. Just like, it really breeds this very antagonistic relationship.
Christina (34:59): Right. And I think that when you if you're just, if you're just passing them off as well, and again, I'm not saying you need to explain every single lead, if you're just passing off a bunch of leads without an explanation it doesn't help the sales. It doesn't enable them to do their job well, because you can say again, I have 200 leads, but just recognize that these are from a trade show. So they're going to take longer for both of us to nurture. And we also know that at the end of the day, they are a smaller sales. So maybe we should look at your seek list and rearrange it so that, you know, we know that these more leads that are coming from the webinars are people who are sending up for trials. You'll have an opportunity to engage with them or fully sooner rather than later, you know, because you don't want to, if you're calling like webinar leads for, you know, 500 webinar leads that that might not be the most effective use of your time.
Christina (35:53): And we have, we in marketing, we have details like that. We understand how long these leads are going to take me know what that, again, what that path looks like, how many times we have to touch them before they actually become more engaged or ready to go. Are there times and I've set this up in our sales force instances before where if somebody comes to our website and then and it could be gone for a while, or they can sort of have, you know, a little bit of interest over time. But if suddenly there's a lot more activity on the website and then multiple people from the same company have multiple, you know, more and more activity on the website. Then I know that that company is at the point where they're, they are looking at us, right. They've gathered a committee or a team together, and they're looking at it and the folks who just went to our website. So I'm going to tell my sales person again, automatically via Salesforce to go reach out to those people. Now's a great time to reach out. They just had five people on our website yesterday. Like, go, go, go get them. And those are things that are gonna help the sales person and that's our job, right? Our job is to help enable the sales team to sell better, faster, and, and with with bigger deals. And so any insight we can help them with is just gonna help them significantly.
Kathleen (37:07): Well. And I think also the corollary to that is that not caring about lead quality or, or, or allowing yourself to be measured by lead numbers can backfire on you as a marketer in the sense that I'll give you a great example. I was, I am sort of new in my role and I'm lucky that in the company I'm with now, I am very well aligned with the sales team on what does constitute a good lead in the sense that like, if somebody just downloads an ebook, the last thing I want is for myself to call that person. And I have worked in places where that is exactly what happens. Any, anybody with a pulse gets a phone call and that's terrible. There's no faster way to turn somebody off and to damage your brand. And so if you're a marketer who's being judged on lead numbers, you're incented to pass every one of those very, very top of the funnel leads on when they really shouldn't be passed to sales yet, versus you're a marketer who's judged by revenue. You're more likely to only pass on the hand raisers and to be motivated, to find more hand raisers. So, you know, and, and then that aligns you better with your sales team on the followup action.
Christina (38:19): And, and I think, you know, to take that, I totally agree. I think that just a step beyond that, it's important to educate everybody on that you're going to get fewer leads, but they're going to be higher quality leads, right? So, so it's funny. I have a chapter in my book and there's a story in there and it's called 17,000 leads please. And this is a true story. I was in a board meeting and I had this beautiful presentation. It'd be met all of our goals. It met our lead goals, our revenue goals. And I was super excited to tell the board about it. And this guy just stands up. Like I barely started talking because 17,000 leads, that's what we need. And I was like I'm, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, what? He's like 17,000 leads. You need to go get 17,000 leads.
Christina (39:05): And I was like, what is that? I'm like, did you just pull that number out of like, what is 17,000 leads? Why not a hundred thousand? And then I'm like, you know, I can, I can get you 17,000 leads in about two minutes. I can go buy them from, you know, D&B, not a problem. But the question is what, what is the objective and where do you think 17,000 leads is going to get us? Because that's what I want to understand. What are your expectations from those 17,000 leads? And then let me go figure out how to meet your expectations. And it's not going to be 17,000 random weird leads.
Kathleen (39:41): Exactly. Oh my God. I feel like there's a thousand stories that if you talk to any marketers out there but we are getting close to our time. So I want to make sure that I shift gears now, because I always ask all of my guests the same two questions, and I want to hear what you have to say about this. The first one is, you know, we're all about inbound marketing on this podcast. And I feel like the conversation we just had is like, so related to that, like, it's not about spamming. It's not about calling everybody. It's about educating your audience and, and then following up with the right people. So is there a particular company or an individual that you think is really kind of exemplary for what it means to be a great inbound marketer?
Christina (40:25): That's a, that's a great question. I feel like I work a lot in the B2B space, but there's a bunch in the, in the D2C space as well. For me, HubSpot has always done an amazing job. And even when they first started off, I don't know if you remember before they had their platform and it was built out, they were just this amazing plethora of content for marketing people. And I was like, this is amazing. I love this. And I was eating it up. And like, in the back of my head, I'm like, why are we doing this exactly. And call from a sales guy? And that's exactly what happened. They came out with a platform, but by then, they'd already had like, you know, millions of marketing people you know, downloading their information. So they were familiar with you know, with your name and everything.
Christina (41:09): And they did it by educating us and giving us and helping us be better marketers. So they built up this trust over time. So I thought they did an amazing job with that. There's a company, they do video hosting called Wistia, and they're doing a great job right now. They're, you know, with, with COVID and everything and everything, just a little bit crazy. What they started doing was they they have their employees just doing random videos from their home or walking a dog or whatever, and they're posting those on Instagram. And so it's just kind of getting real and trying to get, build relationships with people and show empathy and just be like, this is, this is where we are. We're walking our dogs with masks and, you know, we're going to have Thanksgiving dinner by herself, so whatever, but, and maybe that's okay.
Christina (41:55): But you know, it's just one of those things where I think they're doing a good job of is kind of making it real if you will. And then from a, from a, you know, direct to consumer standpoint, which I don't necessarily focus on as much. I think Chobani yogurt has done an amazing job from day one. They have been thinking about, you know, even if it meant losing revenue, how they can help how they can help people who aren't, who are less fortunate during these times. You know, whether it's just, you know, throwing up a pop-up stand with yogurt or making sure that, you know, kids that were in school that were on the school meal programs are getting food. They've done a lot of things around that. And to me, that's just, it's always, really, I think, you know, it's I think often companies kind of get away from what their mission is or really understanding their customers. And, and I think that you know, in, in times of in times, like I'm in the middle pandemics it really helps people remember like why we're here and, and how, how we can be innovative and, and stretch our thinking so that we can, we can help others, but still be profitable. That's okay too.
Kathleen (43:02): I love those examples. I, and I followed Wistia for years, but I have to admit, I haven't been taking as close a look at them in the last few months. So you've given me a good reason to go back and check out their Instagram. It's pretty funny. Second question. Digital marketing changes so quickly. And I always hear marketers saying like, Oh my God, I can't keep up with it. So how do you personally stay educated and keep up with it?
Christina (43:26): Yes. And for me again, I've been doing this for 25 years, so it's changed dramatically, you know, from a spreadsheet to these amazing, you know, automated tools to AI that's out there now. But some of the things that I follow. Rand Fishkin, who I know you had on your, on your show, both you know, Moz is amazing and his new company SparkToro is pretty, pretty fascinating. So I like to see what he's coming out with. And he does a newsletter. I think it comes out weekly or every other week. And then the other folks that I really like are Neil Patel and Eric Siu's Marketing School podcast. Basically what they do is they just take a ton of questions and, and that's why it's like real it's up-to-date information because people are asking like, what is this tool and how do I do this?
Christina (44:09): And, you know, what does it mean to, you know, when your budget's completely gone? What are some options that I have? So they spend a lot of time answering you know, sort of ask me anything type style podcast where they're answering questions about strategy and tools and the technology that's out there. And it's just, it's really, it's really useful. And they're, they the tape it I think like every Friday, and then they have these little, like seven minutes, seven to 10 minute podcasts that they release every day and they're always really useful.
Kathleen (44:38): Fun fact. I've had two of the, three of those people on the podcast. Not just Rand, Eric Siu was my guest. It was my first episode, I think, of 2018.
Christina (44:49): Oh, that's awesome.
Kathleen (44:52): I haven't head Neil Patel on yet. So maybe...
Christina (44:54): You should definitely, for sure.
Kathleen (45:00): Hey Neil. Come onto the podcast.
Kathleen (45:01): Awesome. Well, this has been so much fun. If somebody wants to learn more about, you know, the stuff that you've written about and talked about today, or they want to connect with you or ask a question, what's the best way for them to, to get connected with you online?
Christina (45:16): Best way is you can find me on LinkedIn. Christina Dell Villar. And hopefully we can spell that out for you. And then also my website is Christinadellvillar.com. And then in about early 20, 21, my course will come out that will help people. It basically teaches people how to build a map of influence. And then I have a book coming out in summer of 2021 called Sway.
Kathleen (45:42): You have been busy. Congratulations on all the upcoming releases.
Kathleen (45:49): And I will put links to all of those things in the show notes so that everybody can find them really easily. And if you're listening and you enjoyed this episode, or you learned something new, please consider heading to Apple podcasts and leaving the podcast a review. That's how more folks find out about us and get to hear our great guests like Christina. So thank you so much, Christina. This was a lot of fun. I appreciate you coming on.
Christina (46:12): Thank you so much.
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