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Upgrading From Incremental Growth to Transformational Growth
Episode 817th March 2022 • The Get: Finding And Keeping The Best Marketing Leaders in B2B SaaS • Erica Seidel
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Sydney Sloan is a scale savant! I talked with Sydney as she wrapped up her CMO role at Salesloft, contributing to a huge scale-up. She has since joined Zoom as Head of Product & Industry Marketing.

Sydney had so much insight to share. It was hard to pick out just a few highlights. I asked her how a CMO can balance "getting oars in the water quickly" while managing expectations that "Rome wasn't built in a day." You'll hear about achievable goals versus aspirational goals and when to use each. You'll also learn about how to build organizational excitement around your vision.

Highlights:

  • "Be a true market leader, not just a marketing leader."
  • Look at your budget as "buying outcomes."
  • Balance achievable goals and aspirational goals when you are scaling. The purpose of an aspirational goal is to remove barriers from what you're doing now and think differently about how you might achieve results. "Transformational growth is different from incremental growth."
  • Design your org charts 18 months out: The org chart for the 100MM business is different from the org chart for the 250MM business.
  • Resist the default of having only your direct reports be on your marketing leadership team. Rather, look for emerging talent or people taking on special projects to join the team and get exposure.
  • Surface red flags when hiring and talk to the candidates about them; you can then have a development plan for them in place on day 1.
  • "Everyone says marketing and sales should be aligned, but no CMO wants to report to sales."

 

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Key Links

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Hiring great marketing leaders is not easy. The Get is a podcast designed to inspire smart decisions around recruiting and leadership in B2B SaaS marketing. 

We explore the trends, tribulations, and triumphs of today’s top marketing leaders in B2B SaaS.

This season’s theme is Solving for the Scale Journey.

The Get’s host is Erica Seidel, who runs The Connective Good, an executive search practice with a hyper-focus on recruiting CMOs and VPs of Marketing, especially in B2B SaaS. 

If you are looking to hire a CMO or VP of Marketing of the ‘make money’ variety - rather than the ‘make it pretty’ variety, contact Erica at erica@theconnectivegood.com. You can also follow Erica on LinkedIn or sign up for her newsletter at TheConnectiveGood.com

The Get is produced by Evo Terra and Simpler Media Productions.

Transcripts

Erica Seidel:

Hi, you're listening to The Get, the podcast about

Erica Seidel:

finding -- and keeping -- great marketing leaders in B2B SaaS.

Erica Seidel:

I'm Erica Seidel, your host.

Erica Seidel:

Sydney Sloan is a scale savant.

Erica Seidel:

I talked with Sydney as she wrapped up her CMO role at Salesloft.

Erica Seidel:

There, she played a key role in their huge scale-up.

Erica Seidel:

She has since joined Zoom as Head of Product & Industry Marketing.

Erica Seidel:

Sidney had so much insight to share that it was hard to pick

Erica Seidel:

out just a few highlights.

Erica Seidel:

I asked her how a CMO can balance getting oars in the water quickly

Erica Seidel:

while managing expectations that in marketing things can take time?

Erica Seidel:

You'll hear about when to set achievable goals versus

Erica Seidel:

aspirational goals for your team.

Erica Seidel:

You'll also learn about how to build organizational

Erica Seidel:

excitement around your vision.

Erica Seidel:

And you'll hear about organizing your marketing team and hiring with an eye to

Erica Seidel:

where you want to be in eighteen months.

Erica Seidel:

If you want to upgrade from incremental growth to transformational growth,

Erica Seidel:

you've come to the right place.

Erica Seidel:

Let's go.

Erica Seidel:

Sydney Sloan, it's so great to have you on the show.

Erica Seidel:

Thank you for joining!

Sydney Sloan:

Thank you, Erica.

Sydney Sloan:

I'm so excited to be here.

Erica Seidel:

Well, I'm glad that we have all this fun stuff to talk about and

Erica Seidel:

you have such great experience to share.

Erica Seidel:

So let's get right into it.

Erica Seidel:

I want to talk about CEO advising as pertains to CMOs first.

Erica Seidel:

You have led marketing in multiple situations.

Erica Seidel:

You've been an advisor to multiple companies.

Erica Seidel:

What is one piece of advice that CEOs need to hear most to have their

Erica Seidel:

CMO be successful in a scaleup?

Sydney Sloan:

Well, we're just going to get right into it.

Sydney Sloan:

So, Hey, I love how you do this.

Sydney Sloan:

We're going to get to the good stuff right away.

Sydney Sloan:

How do you work with your CEO as a CMO?

Sydney Sloan:

I think that's a great question because I think there's certain expectation setting

Sydney Sloan:

and I've been in all sizes of companies.

Sydney Sloan:

I've advised like two guys in a garage to, you know, billion dollar companies.

Sydney Sloan:

And there's certain things that I find are consistent regardless of company size.

Sydney Sloan:

And that is that marketing is, as we know, right brain, left brain, science and art.

Sydney Sloan:

And so there's two facets.

Sydney Sloan:

It's like either they're looking for the unicorn, the person that has absolutely

Sydney Sloan:

everything in their resume has done absolutely everything, or they're

Sydney Sloan:

just looking for a demand gen person or just looking for a brand person.

Sydney Sloan:

And both of those are probably the spectrums from which to work within.

Sydney Sloan:

And so in my experience, on the scaleup side, I believe that marketing

Sydney Sloan:

is part strategy, part execution.

Sydney Sloan:

And so when I say that, then I'm thinking of how does this person set

Sydney Sloan:

the go-to-market strategy alongside the other leaders in the company?

Sydney Sloan:

That's the most important thing first because if you can decide what you're

Sydney Sloan:

going to go after and what you're not going to go after, then you can

Sydney Sloan:

organize the company against that.

Sydney Sloan:

And that doesn't matter what the company size is and I've never seen a

Sydney Sloan:

company be more successful than three.

Sydney Sloan:

I remember when Adobe had like five business units, they went down to two and

Sydney Sloan:

that's when they hyperscaled like in 2015.

Sydney Sloan:

And so that power of focus is real.

Sydney Sloan:

So I would say, you know, really helping to understand what the

Sydney Sloan:

strategy of the go-to-market is.

Sydney Sloan:

And then the execution.

Sydney Sloan:

You actually have to have demand gen chops as a marketer.

Sydney Sloan:

If you can't create demand and create inbound activity or connect with

Sydney Sloan:

an account-based strategy, that's a skill then you would need to learn.

Erica Seidel:

Right, because often there are people who come up only through one

Erica Seidel:

angle of marketing, whether it's demand gen, product marketing, or branding.

Erica Seidel:

And then sometimes they'll say like, oh, but I can lead the rest.

Erica Seidel:

But what I'm seeing now is more companies saying, well, in order to

Erica Seidel:

lead something, you'd have to be able to challenge the people that work for you.

Erica Seidel:

And so people who have kind of migrated around to multiple activities

Erica Seidel:

within marketing will do best.

Sydney Sloan:

When I was younger, I always thought I had to do every

Sydney Sloan:

job before I could manage someone.

Sydney Sloan:

That was a fallacy because basically then you're asking to micromanage.

Sydney Sloan:

I think, as you continue up in your career, then it's, what's the right

Sydney Sloan:

questions to ask versus how do I do?

Sydney Sloan:

And you can learn that by being part of projects.

Sydney Sloan:

I remember maybe it was eight years ago, I was leading customer marketing at Jive.

Sydney Sloan:

And I volunteered to be part of this awesome project that

Sydney Sloan:

our president was running, Jay Larson, and they hired McKinsey.

Sydney Sloan:

I had no right to be there, but I raised my hand and said, I would love

Sydney Sloan:

to project manage this so I can get that experience of the research they were

Sydney Sloan:

doing, how we were going after plays.

Sydney Sloan:

There was a customer marketing angle to it, but it wasn't the whole thing.

Sydney Sloan:

And so, you know, you can gain that experience, even

Sydney Sloan:

if it's not in your title.

Erica Seidel:

I like that, this difference between how do you do it versus what are

Erica Seidel:

the right questions to ask and how you can kind of rise up from being a micromanager.

Sydney Sloan:

Yeah.

Sydney Sloan:

I don't think you have to have done every job in order to be able to

Sydney Sloan:

do it, but you have to understand how all the pieces fit together.

Sydney Sloan:

And yes, what are the right metrics?

Sydney Sloan:

So if you don't know, then ask your network, like what are the right

Sydney Sloan:

metrics to hold my demand gen team accountable to their return on investment?

Sydney Sloan:

What should I expect in terms of show rates?

Sydney Sloan:

And what are those things that, you know you want to be in the swim

Sydney Sloan:

lane, if you're working for a venture VC-backed or even PE-backed, a lot

Sydney Sloan:

of them do have these indexes that within ranges they're a guideline.

Sydney Sloan:

They're not exact.

Sydney Sloan:

I've had CEOs put the chart in front of me.

Sydney Sloan:

It was like a science - what did they call the, where you have the

Sydney Sloan:

elements, the science elements?

Erica Seidel:

Oh yeah, the Periodic Table of Elements kinda thing?

Sydney Sloan:

Periodic Table chart.

Sydney Sloan:

And he put it in front of me and he's like, this is what you should be doing.

Sydney Sloan:

And I'm like uhh, you know, and I looked at some of their results and I'm like that

Sydney Sloan:

doesn't have anything to do with this.

Sydney Sloan:

We're an open source developer company.

Sydney Sloan:

Maybe if we were something else that would.

Sydney Sloan:

So, I think you still have to be smart enough to be able to challenge.

Sydney Sloan:

But every, you know, those kinds of things are just guidelines and at least

Sydney Sloan:

that you know an equation that you could look to, then you can benchmark

Sydney Sloan:

yourself and say, am I improving?

Erica Seidel:

Mmm, that's great.

Erica Seidel:

So that gets into another question I have about setting expectations with CEOs.

Erica Seidel:

So, sometimes CEOs hire CMOs and expect them to build Rome in a day, and it's

Erica Seidel:

like, oh, I want somebody who can, as one of my clients says, get the oars

Erica Seidel:

in the water fast and start rowing.

Erica Seidel:

But then sometimes I've had marketers that are, that say well, but this

Erica Seidel:

is going to take a long time.

Erica Seidel:

And so both things are true.

Erica Seidel:

And I'm wondering, what's your advice on how to build confidence in

Erica Seidel:

marketing when the reality is that some things do take a long time?

Sydney Sloan:

I'm a planner.

Sydney Sloan:

So I always want to know where I'm going.

Sydney Sloan:

I remember when starting at SalesLoft, like we ran quarterly OKRs.

Sydney Sloan:

And so it was like one quarter, we're doing this.

Sydney Sloan:

And one quarter, we're doing that.

Sydney Sloan:

And when you're a hundred person company, maybe you could adapt that fast.

Sydney Sloan:

But when you grow to a thousand person company, your

Sydney Sloan:

company can't shift that fast.

Sydney Sloan:

And as a marketer, and I think this all marketers would resonate with this, you

Sydney Sloan:

can't execute on a quarterly rhythm.

Sydney Sloan:

It takes a quarter to figure out what you're doing and then a couple

Sydney Sloan:

of quarters to execute and test it.

Sydney Sloan:

And then, so I think in six month cycles.

Sydney Sloan:

But where I like to sit is where do I want to be eighteen months from now?

Sydney Sloan:

And create the plan for the future.

Sydney Sloan:

Not just even the twelve-month, your annual plan, but look a little bit

Sydney Sloan:

beyond that and say here's where I think we can be in eighteen months.

Sydney Sloan:

And then I look at phases.

Sydney Sloan:

And then it's going to take us, you know, crawl, walk, run, or

Sydney Sloan:

phase one, phase two, phase three.

Sydney Sloan:

And so here's where we're going to start, but this is where we're going.

Sydney Sloan:

And so if you can set a really good vision of where it is we want to go,

Sydney Sloan:

and then here's how you get started and identify those milestones along the way

Sydney Sloan:

to show progress on the ultimate goal.

Sydney Sloan:

That's how I think of it.

Sydney Sloan:

I remember one time that I was at Alfresco, I got there and I think

Sydney Sloan:

I was there for maybe three months and sales kickoff was coming.

Sydney Sloan:

And so, our team worked really hard on, here's what we're going to do.

Sydney Sloan:

Here's two campaigns and here's our go-to-market and this is, we're

Sydney Sloan:

gonna run a competitive campaign.

Sydney Sloan:

And then these are the verticals we're going to go after, and we're gonna do

Sydney Sloan:

this one and we're gonna do this one next.

Sydney Sloan:

And I did not set proper expectations.

Sydney Sloan:

On Q1, we're going to do this.

Sydney Sloan:

Q3 is when you can expect that.

Sydney Sloan:

So as soon as sales kickoff was over, everybody was like, well, where is it?

Sydney Sloan:

You said it was going to happen.

Sydney Sloan:

Like, why aren't you executing on it?

Sydney Sloan:

And it took us longer to get the campaigns together and in market.

Sydney Sloan:

We'd just bought Marquetto.

Sydney Sloan:

We didn't have a database and we had a lot of work to do.

Sydney Sloan:

And so you make sure that when you're casting these great visions

Sydney Sloan:

of the future, that you are setting expectations on timing.

Sydney Sloan:

Because if you do a really good job at it, people are going to want it the next day.

Sydney Sloan:

So, just be careful.

Erica Seidel:

Right.

Erica Seidel:

And it sounds kind of obvious to set the future goal and then

Erica Seidel:

work backwards and communicate.

Erica Seidel:

Why do you think it is that some marketers get tripped up in that?

Sydney Sloan:

Well, you have to have the conviction.

Sydney Sloan:

I mean, sometimes it's hard, right?

Sydney Sloan:

Cause you want to test and test and test.

Sydney Sloan:

And so make sure that the vision that you're setting is high enough that

Sydney Sloan:

there's multiple tacks to get there.

Sydney Sloan:

And multiple plays that you could run to ultimately get there, but

Sydney Sloan:

that you have this big vision that you can rally people towards.

Sydney Sloan:

And fail fast, I would say, too.

Sydney Sloan:

Don't get hung up on it.

Sydney Sloan:

You know, these are all learnings.

Sydney Sloan:

Okay, we learned that's not the way.

Sydney Sloan:

Then we can try Option B, or we'll pivot here, we'll dial this.

Sydney Sloan:

So like I said, when I've seen companies set multiple strategies,

Sydney Sloan:

regardless of the size, it's like three, maybe even two that matter.

Sydney Sloan:

So if you have three strategies and one really hits it, then that's okay.

Sydney Sloan:

You can say, well, we learned on this side, this strategy one is growing 50%.

Sydney Sloan:

Strategy two is growing 5%.

Sydney Sloan:

We all agreed that those were the right strategies, but let's

Sydney Sloan:

drop the 5%, put more in the 50% and get it to grow at a hundred.

Sydney Sloan:

So placing a couple bets towards that vision it might be a way that

Sydney Sloan:

marketers and CMOs can manage with their counterparts is to how do we get there.

Erica Seidel:

Yeah, that makes sense.

Erica Seidel:

So let's talk about the CMO side now that we've talked about the CEO side.

Erica Seidel:

Can you share a few key mistakes for a SaaS marketing leader to

Erica Seidel:

avoid when they are scaling up?

Sydney Sloan:

Well, the first one, I think it just, it drifts off of what we

Sydney Sloan:

just said, which is pivoting too fast.

Sydney Sloan:

If you've done the research, if you've done the work - I remember

Sydney Sloan:

we did this course pragmatic marketing years and years ago.

Sydney Sloan:

And it was actually in product planning and engineering.

Sydney Sloan:

It wasn't a marketing one.

Sydney Sloan:

I went with our head of engineering to this course, and they were

Sydney Sloan:

like, the most important phase is the first phase of research.

Sydney Sloan:

So you really do understand what not to do versus trying five things.

Sydney Sloan:

So if you tried five things, you put 20% effort into it, three of

Sydney Sloan:

them fail, why not try and cut two or three out and put more effort

Sydney Sloan:

in the ones that statistically, if you've done your research properly

Sydney Sloan:

have had better chance of succeeding?

Sydney Sloan:

I think that's it.

Sydney Sloan:

If you really do assess your market opportunities properly, then make sure

Sydney Sloan:

that you take the time to work it through.

Sydney Sloan:

And maybe the first time out it doesn't work.

Sydney Sloan:

Maybe you're too early in market, maybe there's a little bit more

Sydney Sloan:

education that needs to be done.

Sydney Sloan:

Maybe there was a piece of the operational execution engine that

Sydney Sloan:

didn't get its piece in order and you need to go back and fix it.

Sydney Sloan:

So I just would say don't pivot too quickly when you've done

Sydney Sloan:

the research on a strategy.

Sydney Sloan:

The second one I think is super important, and it's to align with your CFO.

Sydney Sloan:

Pronto, right out of the gate, right?

Sydney Sloan:

You've got your leadership team and you want to have all those

Sydney Sloan:

relationships and you're head of sales, absolutely, is a strong relationship.

Sydney Sloan:

Head of product, as well.

Sydney Sloan:

But don't forget the CFO for many reasons.

Sydney Sloan:

Matt Heinz dropped the greatest knowledge bomb a couple of weeks

Sydney Sloan:

ago in the CMO group I'm in.

Sydney Sloan:

And he said the marketing budget is not an expense budget.

Sydney Sloan:

You're buying outcomes.

Sydney Sloan:

He probably said it more eloquently than that.

Sydney Sloan:

But you, the purpose of the marketing budget is to buy outcomes.

Sydney Sloan:

And if you were in partnership with your CFO over what outcomes you want to

Sydney Sloan:

achieve, and what's the right investment strategy to get those outcomes and you

Sydney Sloan:

partner with your CFO, that is going to build that trust layer that's going to

Sydney Sloan:

help you make those bigger bets later on.

Sydney Sloan:

And I remember coming into to Salesloft, and this was an important conversation.

Sydney Sloan:

And as I was leaving Salesloft cause I've left now.

Sydney Sloan:

He reflected, my CFO reflected on the importance of that

Sydney Sloan:

conversation when we first started.

Sydney Sloan:

And I sat down and I told him like how much I care about fiscal responsibility.

Sydney Sloan:

I balance my checkbook every month.

Sydney Sloan:

I don't have credit card debt.

Sydney Sloan:

I pay, you know, and like I want him to trust me.

Sydney Sloan:

And my goal was to be with plus or minus 5% of my targets, just like

Sydney Sloan:

sales has to be with their targets.

Sydney Sloan:

My commitment to him was that I believe that I have the fiduciary responsibility

Sydney Sloan:

of how the marketing budget is spent and I'm going to do it wisely.

Sydney Sloan:

And there are many times we had extra money that I said, you know what?

Sydney Sloan:

I'm not, I don't want this money because I don't think we can

Sydney Sloan:

spend it in an effective way.

Sydney Sloan:

And that's important to build trust too.

Sydney Sloan:

And so, we would run, we had a monthly check-in with our controller and my

Sydney Sloan:

finance business partner, building models, looking at things, I would

Sydney Sloan:

explain why we're investing in certain things and what my expected outcomes

Sydney Sloan:

were, and we educated each other.

Sydney Sloan:

And it was the healthiest relationship I've ever had.

Sydney Sloan:

To the point where maybe six months ago we were going through a big brand project

Sydney Sloan:

and we did a Shark Tank investment.

Sydney Sloan:

We wanted to really build the brand, this beautiful brand that we had

Sydney Sloan:

just created and, you know, put extra emphasis at in the market.

Sydney Sloan:

And we wanted another million dollars to spend on advertising just for brand.

Sydney Sloan:

So it wasn't going to be a demand investment.

Sydney Sloan:

It was just a brand investment.

Sydney Sloan:

And so we created this whole Shark Tank pitch for the team and they

Sydney Sloan:

gave us the money and it worked.

Sydney Sloan:

Better than, it worked very well.

Sydney Sloan:

To the point where we've continued to get more.

Sydney Sloan:

That wouldn't have happened I don't think if we wouldn't have

Sydney Sloan:

consistently performed, had built that trusted, that was there.

Erica Seidel:

That's great.

Erica Seidel:

There was another person on this podcast, Justin Steinman, who talked

Erica Seidel:

about with a marketing budget you never say, it's my marketing budget.

Erica Seidel:

You say it's our marketing budget.

Erica Seidel:

And so he says he's the steward of the budget, that is, the company's

Erica Seidel:

budget, which I think this aligns great to what you were saying.

Erica Seidel:

I say the steward, too.

Erica Seidel:

I say the same thing.

Erica Seidel:

The steward, yeah, it's great.

Erica Seidel:

Yeah.

Erica Seidel:

So you said you had three, was there another one floating around?

Sydney Sloan:

Oh, the third one is partnerships.

Sydney Sloan:

And, you know, sometimes you come in and you go, oh, the

Sydney Sloan:

marketing team, my marketing team.

Sydney Sloan:

And I think as a CMO, your job is actually to be a leader of the company.

Sydney Sloan:

And the function you run as marketing and you hire great people to do, you

Sydney Sloan:

know, to lead the different teams.

Sydney Sloan:

But if you spend time with their sales leader, your product leader,

Sydney Sloan:

making sure that those groups are aligned, then that's going to

Sydney Sloan:

make it easier for all your teams.

Sydney Sloan:

And when that doesn't happen, you can feel it right away.

Sydney Sloan:

Like when there's tension that, uh-oh, that means the leaders aren't aligned.

Sydney Sloan:

If we're aligned, then everybody else should also be aligned.

Sydney Sloan:

So it really is what I call team one, and team one is your peers.

Sydney Sloan:

And so if you're a C-level executive, your first job as a leader of the

Sydney Sloan:

company, and not the leader of marketing.

Sydney Sloan:

And hopefully, if your peers feel the same way and you have that trust,

Sydney Sloan:

then you can have open dialogues about the right strategy and the different

Sydney Sloan:

pieces of the organization that, you know, may need focus or help.

Sydney Sloan:

And I mean, there's so many examples I can think of where it's like, oh, I

Sydney Sloan:

remember just recently, the SDR team.

Sydney Sloan:

I have like five of them was not performing as well.

Sydney Sloan:

And I'm like, how about if we get some training?

Sydney Sloan:

Like I'll pay for it.

Sydney Sloan:

I shouldn't have to, the sales enablement team, but if that's going

Sydney Sloan:

to help, like fine, I'll do it.

Sydney Sloan:

I'll take money and I'll pay for it because that's important for that

Sydney Sloan:

part of our equation to function.

Sydney Sloan:

And so I did.

Sydney Sloan:

I took 20K and one of our product marketers, and they ran the project

Sydney Sloan:

with John Barrows and it was awesome.

Sydney Sloan:

They were so appreciative and, you know, invited us to attend.

Sydney Sloan:

And that's part of building partnerships is giving support when needed.

Erica Seidel:

That's really cool.

Erica Seidel:

I like that.

Erica Seidel:

And it makes me think about the trend that I'm seeing of people

Erica Seidel:

thinking about sales and marketing as one go-to-market function.

Erica Seidel:

And so, is that a trend that you're seeing?

Erica Seidel:

And if so, is that different than marketing being in alignment

Erica Seidel:

with sales and, you know, obviously other functions as well?

Sydney Sloan:

Well, it's a great question because I think there's

Sydney Sloan:

a lot of talk about revenue teams.

Sydney Sloan:

And the revenue organization and where do the operations people sit?

Sydney Sloan:

And so everybody nods their head, yes, absolutely, revenue alignment.

Sydney Sloan:

Would you have the CMO report to sales?

Sydney Sloan:

Absolutely not, no, no way.

Sydney Sloan:

I'm not gonna report to sales.

Sydney Sloan:

Then I'll just be a demand gen engine.

Sydney Sloan:

And so, I think there's a, you have to keep that healthy tension

Sydney Sloan:

between investing in the brand and demand and aligning on the strategy

Sydney Sloan:

of your true market leader, not marketing, but market leader.

Sydney Sloan:

And so I do think that looking at holistically the customer experience

Sydney Sloan:

through the lens of the operational side of a revenue makes a lot of sense.

Sydney Sloan:

Shared dashboards, common nomenclature, one pipeline meeting

Sydney Sloan:

where everybody is at the table.

Sydney Sloan:

It's not marketing saying this and SDR saying this and sales saying this.

Sydney Sloan:

Like we're all together looking at the pipeline creation and upsell, cross-sell,

Sydney Sloan:

and so bringing those folks together.

Sydney Sloan:

So, I think it's a revenue process, revenue engines, but I don't see

Sydney Sloan:

very often the CMO or the head of marketing reporting to head of sales.

Sydney Sloan:

Sometimes the president might have it, but then they're almost

Sydney Sloan:

like a quasi- CEO at that point.

Erica Seidel:

Yeah, I'm seeing some CMOs report to CROs, but hopefully

Erica Seidel:

those are people that are not, you know, they're kind of like a GM

Erica Seidel:

as opposed to just a salesperson that's called a revenue officer.

Erica Seidel:

Can we talk about goals?

Erica Seidel:

You had this framework around the achievable goal

Erica Seidel:

versus the aspirational goal.

Erica Seidel:

Because I imagine when you're a CMO in scale-up mode, you want to be

Erica Seidel:

able to set achievable goals so you don't over promise and under deliver,

Erica Seidel:

but at the same time, you might want to be aspirational for your team.

Erica Seidel:

So that like setting these aggressive goals that they can reach for even if

Erica Seidel:

you know you're not going to get to them.

Erica Seidel:

How do you think about that?

Sydney Sloan:

You know, I think there's a time and place for each, or even a mix.

Sydney Sloan:

I subscribe to the OKR system, so I think that's a really strong

Sydney Sloan:

framework to allow for top level goals, but still organic goals to

Sydney Sloan:

come from within the organization.

Sydney Sloan:

And they do use this framework of aspirational versus achievable.

Sydney Sloan:

And I think there's another one that starts with a C.

Sydney Sloan:

What I see on, if you go too aspirational, if it doesn't feel achievable,

Sydney Sloan:

then it's not worth writing down.

Sydney Sloan:

It's just not, right?

Sydney Sloan:

And so I've, there's so many times where I'm like, well, my BHAG is this.

Sydney Sloan:

And I think you can have that from time to time, but it can't be every quarter.

Sydney Sloan:

It can't be every goal.

Sydney Sloan:

If you want to pick one to like, say, Hey, this, cause if we do this really

Sydney Sloan:

well, like this is what we expect.

Sydney Sloan:

So you might have a couple there that are truly aspirational.

Sydney Sloan:

I think the purpose of aspirational goals is to really remove the barriers of what

Sydney Sloan:

you're doing now to think differently about how you might achieve it.

Sydney Sloan:

Versus incremental growth where you want to do transformational growth,

Sydney Sloan:

that might be the time that you throw down an aspirational goal.

Sydney Sloan:

But you allow your team the space to realize, you know,

Sydney Sloan:

that it was an aspirational.

Sydney Sloan:

But I find with Type As, if you put an aspirational goal down,

Sydney Sloan:

they're still going to go for it, and if they don't crush it, then

Sydney Sloan:

they're going to feel defeated.

Sydney Sloan:

So you have to be really careful that it doesn't become a demotivating

Sydney Sloan:

factor when you set aspirational goals because they're unachievable.

Sydney Sloan:

Or that people are like, I can't even get that.

Sydney Sloan:

Like why bother?

Sydney Sloan:

If you've got people with quotas that are so huge that they don't

Sydney Sloan:

see a path to it, they're not going to be motivated to meet it.

Sydney Sloan:

So I think that's a good example of achievable goal where you allow them to

Sydney Sloan:

overachieve and maybe you change your comp plans allowing for overachievement

Sydney Sloan:

if that's what's necessary to get the momentum going in the organization.

Sydney Sloan:

Or if you're doing a new product group or a new team, let them achieve the

Sydney Sloan:

goals and get that momentum of success versus some crazy BHAG that your

Sydney Sloan:

financial model tells you, but your gut tells you - Your financial model

Sydney Sloan:

tells you that you need, but your gut tells you it's not the right thing.

Erica Seidel:

And you talked about bonuses and motivating people financially.

Erica Seidel:

Are you starting to see marketers getting compensated more like salespeople

Erica Seidel:

with higher variable compensations?

Erica Seidel:

It's something I've been starting to see in pockets here and there.

Sydney Sloan:

I have not.

Sydney Sloan:

I mean, I see the CMOs you know, we're responsible for company

Sydney Sloan:

revenue, I see company metrics where the revenue achievement is part

Sydney Sloan:

of the overall bonus structure.

Sydney Sloan:

So it's like, did we meet our revenue goals?

Sydney Sloan:

Did we meet our churn and retention goals?

Sydney Sloan:

If it's net or gross.

Sydney Sloan:

And then some operational efficiency targets.

Sydney Sloan:

That's pretty common.

Sydney Sloan:

I actually was on a thread today on LinkedIn.

Sydney Sloan:

Carilu Dietrich started on compensating SDRs.

Sydney Sloan:

I think that's one that's a little bit different where you have so

Sydney Sloan:

many different kinds of SDR teams, you can have an inbound team,

Sydney Sloan:

you can have an outbound team.

Sydney Sloan:

You could have a hybrid blended team, you know, supporting SMB versus enterprise.

Sydney Sloan:

So there's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to SDRs and BDRs, but there

Sydney Sloan:

is this idea of quality over quantity.

Sydney Sloan:

And I see that where, if they're creating all these SQLs, but they're not

Sydney Sloan:

converting, should they still get paid?

Sydney Sloan:

I don't think so.

Sydney Sloan:

I think it does have to be a quality and quantity.

Sydney Sloan:

The quantity is proof to the formula.

Sydney Sloan:

The quality is proof to the person's ability to properly qualify.

Sydney Sloan:

And the sales rep, right?

Sydney Sloan:

It's a responsibility between both of them.

Sydney Sloan:

And so I do like giving that second kind of mix on the variable to quality.

Sydney Sloan:

Now, does that mean they get paid on closed one?

Sydney Sloan:

Well, it depends on the timing of the sales cycle.

Sydney Sloan:

Maybe they get paid when it hits another sales stage where it's further

Sydney Sloan:

qualified, and that's good enough and it's a little bit quicker so they see

Sydney Sloan:

the compensation coming back to them and they stay motivated in their job.

Erica Seidel:

Makes sense.

Sydney Sloan:

I haven't seen that in though in other places

Sydney Sloan:

like advertising return on investment or anything like that.

Sydney Sloan:

So I haven't seen that yet.

Erica Seidel:

Okay.

Erica Seidel:

Interesting.

Erica Seidel:

So let's dive in deeper on org and hiring.

Erica Seidel:

I'm wondering if in all your experience you have made an organizational

Erica Seidel:

choice that most other marketers haven't done or wouldn't do?

Erica Seidel:

Like a really unique organizational choice.

Sydney Sloan:

So I like to design org charts, same thing, you'll

Sydney Sloan:

see the same eighteen months out.

Sydney Sloan:

So it's like, what am I designing for in the future?

Sydney Sloan:

And then what is my revenue target at that point?

Sydney Sloan:

So what is a $250 million marketing organization look like versus

Sydney Sloan:

a $50 million organization?

Sydney Sloan:

If you're growing that fast.

Sydney Sloan:

I think it's like a hundred to 250.

Sydney Sloan:

But you know, they absolutely change and adapt and like people's skills

Sydney Sloan:

and experience have to change.

Sydney Sloan:

That's the hardest part of the job, is making sure you've got the right people in

Sydney Sloan:

the right roles with the right experience.

Sydney Sloan:

Or that you can teach them to do that.

Sydney Sloan:

And when I first arrived and we were 15 million, I was the

Sydney Sloan:

smallest company I'd worked for since I was right out of college.

Sydney Sloan:

That's different because you're working with a lot of people

Sydney Sloan:

that are first time in job.

Sydney Sloan:

I looked at my management team, I'm like everybody that is on my management

Sydney Sloan:

team this is the first time them ever doing any of their jobs before.

Sydney Sloan:

Wow.

Sydney Sloan:

Ok, so how do I manage those folks and how do I, how can I give direction,

Sydney Sloan:

give training and enablement, still hire and balance where there's people

Sydney Sloan:

that are being promoted while you're hiring in more experienced talent?

Sydney Sloan:

And that equation continues as the company continues to grow.

Sydney Sloan:

During those periods, I have people report to me for different reasons.

Sydney Sloan:

Sometimes I've had field marketing directly report to me, but the reason

Sydney Sloan:

is because I wanted to stay close to what was happening in the field.

Sydney Sloan:

And if they had been reporting to the head of demand gen, I wouldn't be

Sydney Sloan:

hearing kind of first party insights on, okay, what are the sales teams saying?

Sydney Sloan:

How are they executing?

Sydney Sloan:

How are they feeling about the sales plays?

Sydney Sloan:

What else are they asking for?

Sydney Sloan:

And so that was the reason that I, at that point, put field

Sydney Sloan:

marketing reporting to me.

Sydney Sloan:

Recently, I had customer marketing reporting to me and

Sydney Sloan:

she had analysts relations and customer marketing, same thing.

Sydney Sloan:

It was like, I wanted to have direct insight and I believed I could help

Sydney Sloan:

coach this really talented person to - Sunshine, I'm talking about you if

Sydney Sloan:

you're listening - this really talented person to stretch into a new role.

Sydney Sloan:

And I told her at some point you'll likely go into the comms and that did happen.

Sydney Sloan:

But for this period of time, you know, let's do this.

Sydney Sloan:

And I think when you're looking at your leadership team, it doesn't

Sydney Sloan:

always have to be your direct reports.

Sydney Sloan:

And so if you have emerging talent or people inside the team that are

Sydney Sloan:

taking on special projects, let them be part of your leadership team.

Sydney Sloan:

Give them that exposure to how you lead and manage and start

Sydney Sloan:

cultivating them as a future leader if you see them in that hiring path.

Sydney Sloan:

So that might be other time too.

Sydney Sloan:

It's like, well, why is that person going to your leadership team?

Sydney Sloan:

It's like, oh, that person's a future leader and I want them

Sydney Sloan:

to learn what's going on here.

Sydney Sloan:

So when it's time for them to be promoted, or if I'm kind of getting a

Sydney Sloan:

backup person just in case, or if I have my plan, like I'm going to expand this

Sydney Sloan:

team and this person's going to come out into a new role, then I want them

Sydney Sloan:

to understand what it's like to be a leader, the kinds of challenges we're

Sydney Sloan:

faced with, how we run our business, you know, give them opportunities to take on

Sydney Sloan:

new projects that are cross-functional.

Sydney Sloan:

That's not necessarily org structure difference, but it's

Sydney Sloan:

how you run the team different.

Erica Seidel:

Is there a particularly risky bet that you

Erica Seidel:

have made on a hire in the past?

Erica Seidel:

And maybe it's somebody without SaaS background coming into SaaS or hiring

Erica Seidel:

a B2C marketer into B2B or hiring a totally different function to come in

Erica Seidel:

and run product marketing or...you know.

Sydney Sloan:

You know, I've hired people outside of SaaS.

Sydney Sloan:

Our company SalesLoft was based in Atlanta, so we just didn't have the

Sydney Sloan:

same pool of talent to pull from.

Sydney Sloan:

And so, we were pulling people out of consumer, but for, they were smart

Sydney Sloan:

choices, you know, advertising, brand, demand gen, not the core strategy pieces.

Sydney Sloan:

But I hired an engineer out of GE who had been a hardware product

Sydney Sloan:

marketer before and he's awesome.

Sydney Sloan:

He had really good super skills and project management and he

Sydney Sloan:

understood product launches.

Sydney Sloan:

So I think you can absolutely do that.

Sydney Sloan:

I also think that finding talent within your organization and bringing them in.

Sydney Sloan:

So I've hired from recruiting.

Sydney Sloan:

I've hired every chief of staff that we ever had.

Sydney Sloan:

I love office managers.

Sydney Sloan:

They're great field marketers because they're organized and

Sydney Sloan:

they can work well with people and they know how to plan events.

Sydney Sloan:

And so I think there's some really easy talent pools inside

Sydney Sloan:

the organization to pull from.

Sydney Sloan:

I think the one piece of advice I would give here that I learned was a

Sydney Sloan:

couple of times where I felt really strongly about a candidate that had

Sydney Sloan:

yellow flags in the interview process.

Sydney Sloan:

And so, you know, sometimes I've taken the risk on that and learned my lesson,

Sydney Sloan:

and sometimes I've taken the risk and it ended up being perfectly fine.

Sydney Sloan:

And the advice that I got was if people raise a yellow flag and you still feel

Sydney Sloan:

strongly, you have to go back to that person, acknowledge the yellow flag.

Sydney Sloan:

When you're doing your background checks, address that with as many people as

Sydney Sloan:

you can talk to and learn, and then be very clear with the candidate,

Sydney Sloan:

hey, this was a yellow flag, this is something we're going to work on.

Sydney Sloan:

And before you hire them, get agreement that yes, that is

Sydney Sloan:

something they want to work on.

Sydney Sloan:

And you start, you know, it's almost like you're working on your development

Sydney Sloan:

plan as they're coming in and helping them continue to work through that.

Sydney Sloan:

If you feel strongly, you can take that risk, but just be,

Sydney Sloan:

make sure everybody is aware.

Erica Seidel:

My last question for you is one I ask I think almost

Erica Seidel:

everybody and that is, do you have a favorite interview question?

Erica Seidel:

So something that you like to ask that is really surprisingly revealing?

Sydney Sloan:

Kyle Porter asked me this question one time, and so it's become

Sydney Sloan:

my favorite question, which is "What is the one thing that you hold true

Sydney Sloan:

that others would challenge you on?"

Sydney Sloan:

And, you know, it's a deep thinker.

Sydney Sloan:

You have to like, that's a level three, we call it, like

Sydney Sloan:

that's a level three question.

Sydney Sloan:

And so I ask that one from time to time.

Sydney Sloan:

But what I would highlight is this notion of topgrading as an interview style.

Sydney Sloan:

And so rather than a question, I think it's more of a method.

Sydney Sloan:

And what I love about the topgrade process is you really learn about

Sydney Sloan:

the person in their journey.

Sydney Sloan:

Not the jobs and the accomplishments, but how they work, how they

Sydney Sloan:

work with people, how they make decisions, looking for patterns,

Sydney Sloan:

who influenced them in their life.

Sydney Sloan:

And so if you're not familiar with Topgrading, look it up, read it.

Sydney Sloan:

Send me a message on LinkedIn if you'd like a little coaching.

Sydney Sloan:

It's an amazing way to do a really deep-dive.

Sydney Sloan:

And it takes a while.

Sydney Sloan:

So it's an hour, hour and a half-long interview, depending on how long

Sydney Sloan:

the person's career path is.

Sydney Sloan:

But it's super insightful.

Sydney Sloan:

And you learn a lot about the person.

Erica Seidel:

Yeah, I once did a topgrading interview for a company.

Erica Seidel:

I did not get the job, but it entailed flying from Boston to Philly, going

Erica Seidel:

to the airport, like, Hilton and sitting in a room with somebody.

Erica Seidel:

And it was like maybe a six-hour interview.

Sydney Sloan:

I think mine was three.

Sydney Sloan:

I think we had to take a break and come back.

Sydney Sloan:

But I'm a talker, you know?

Sydney Sloan:

It's like, oh, you want to know about that?

Sydney Sloan:

Well, yeah, I know.

Sydney Sloan:

I mean, if you've been to it, I mean, I would say it's an hour per

Sydney Sloan:

ten years of experience, right?

Sydney Sloan:

At least, depending on how deep they want to go.

Sydney Sloan:

I think if you're a good interviewer, once you see a pattern,

Sydney Sloan:

you can kindly move them on.

Sydney Sloan:

So I learned, you know, you don't have to make it that long.

Erica Seidel:

Well, Sydney, thank you so much.

Erica Seidel:

This has been fabulous.

Erica Seidel:

I've learned so much.

Erica Seidel:

And I think that the listeners will, too.

Erica Seidel:

So thank you.

Sydney Sloan:

It's been my pleasure, Erica.

Sydney Sloan:

Thank you for having me.

Sydney Sloan:

Happy '22.

Erica Seidel:

That was Sydney Sloan, sharing lots of do's and don'ts about

Erica Seidel:

how to scale in a transformational way, not just an incremental way.

Erica Seidel:

Now that you've listened, ask yourself how can you be not just a marketing

Erica Seidel:

leader, but a true market leader?

Erica Seidel:

Thanks for listening to The Get.

Erica Seidel:

I'm your host Erica Seidel.

Erica Seidel:

Hiring great marketing leaders is not easy.

Erica Seidel:

The Get is designed to inspire smart decisions around recruiting and

Erica Seidel:

leadership in B2B SaaS marketing.

Erica Seidel:

We explore the trends, tribulations, and triumphs of today's top

Erica Seidel:

marketing leaders in B2B SaaS.

Erica Seidel:

This season's theme is Solving for the Scale Journey.

Erica Seidel:

If you liked this episode, please share it.

Erica Seidel:

For other insights on recruiting great marketing leaders - what I

Erica Seidel:

call the 'make money' marketing leaders rather than the 'make it

Erica Seidel:

pretty' ones, follow me on LinkedIn.

Erica Seidel:

You can also sign up for my newsletter at TheConnectiveGood.com.

Erica Seidel:

The Get is produced by Evo Terra and Simpler Media Productions.

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