April 15, 2021

Servicing a Well-Oiled Demand Gen Machine with Service Express

by Melissa Caffrey

If you can attribute a majority of net new business pipeline to marketing, it’s safe to assume that you’re running a seriously efficient demand gen operation. CMO Joshua Leatherman of Service Express can confirm, having grown marketing-attributed, net new pipeline from 0% to 70%. Not to mention, Leatherman helped grow revenue from $30M to $130M, and the brand has an NPS score of 90.

He attributes the brand’s measurable successes to its data-fueled demand marketing strategy. Check out the below Q&A (pulled from his interview on Renegade Thinkers Unite) to learn how Service Express built its demand gen machine, aligned sales and marketing teams, and got results that could easily convince any investor to jump on board.   

Where did Service Express start with building its demand gen engine?

The top priority was first and foremost getting a website that was optimized for form fills and lead conversion, which we did not have at the time. Second, it was getting a CRM that worked for us. We had a home-grown system at the time, and it was an electronic Rolodex for our salespeople. If you truly want marketing and other teams to be on the field helping the sales team, you really need a system that integrates well with MarTech, other sales technologies, and one where sales and marketing can mutually contribute to the buyer’s journey.

How did brand awareness factor into your demand gen strategy?

Our primary competition is the OEM, the big guys, and there’s very little awareness that there is a company like Service Express or a category of companies out there that do what we do. If you took North America and put all the third-party maintenance providers together, we would be less than 7% of the total addressable market

The first thing I wanted to do was work with the team to build valuable content that we could share and educate our buyers with. We didn’t want to just spam them with e-mail, so we built content and then we leveraged our marketing automation system at that time to create a strong outbound marketing program that got the content out there.

What was one of the biggest roadblocks at the time and how did you solve it?

We had a top-of-funnel problem and knew if we invested a little bit in demand marketing, we could front-load the top of the funnel and help the sales team out since they were having a difficult time following up on the leads we gave them. They weren’t sure which ones were good or bad.

After learning that our prospects are 800% more likely to pick up the phone if we call them within five minutes of the lead coming through, we created a sales development team to field those inbound leads and a revenue operations team, which is sales ops and marketing ops rolled into one.

How does Service Express manage its MarTech stack?

We have a very robust technology stack. CMOs are spending more money on technology than anyone else in the organization, but too often its marketing teams are responsible for the deployment, implementation, and integration of those systems when they shouldn’t be.

So, we have a dedicated rev ops team who is, as I like to call it, Switzerland. When sales and marketing are fighting in a healthy way about the quality of leads or a process, the rev ops team objectively looks at the systems and the data. They have a dotted line of responsibility to me and to our Chief Revenue Officer.

What does the revenue operations team do?

One of the most important functions of our revenue operations team is the idea of this solutions architect. We try it before we buy it. Once we articulate the need that we have, they are responsible for going out and finding the best solution for sales and marketing. We’ve got a robust tech stack of probably 20 or so technologies—sales enablement tools, cadence software, pipeline management, and deal management tools.

Technology is only as good as the quality of data that you are using behind it, so our revenue operations team also focuses on qualifying that data so that our sales dev, sales teams, and marketing teams don’t have to.

Which key metrics does Service Express focus on?

When we started, the metric for success for us was the number of meetings scheduled. How you measure people is how they’re going to drive performance and fill their days. That was a great place for us to start but we had to move the ball because we found that we had great people who ended up scheduling lots of meetings with unqualified people. We had to start looking at how much sales qualified pipeline those meetings were driving to the sales team instead.

There are two different ways we use numbers. There’s the way we look at numbers to drive our business and to execute on strategy, and then there’s the way we use numbers to report up to investors and the executive team. A lead from one channel is going to be very different than a lead from another channel, so we have to simplify it for our audience and understand and recognize that we have multiple audiences that we’re speaking to.

Was net new pipeline the most important metric for marketing-led initiatives?

For our organization, that is the right number because we have such little market share compared to what’s available. We have very strong teams who, once we get a customer in, build wallet share and come alongside our customer. We are starting to get into more wallet share and customer marketing if you will, but I think for us, in a market with such little awareness, that is really the holy grail for us and that’s where we started first.

How do you get investors to buy in to the business?

At the end of the day, I want to be able to articulate to my investors that, if they give me $1, how many dollars in pipeline am I going to be able to give back to them? How many dollars in monthly recurring revenue am I going to be able to give back to them? We know our lifetime value, we know how long we keep customers, and we’re able to understand how we can say to investors, if you give me a dollar, I’ll give you this back in pipeline.

 What’s your process for handling marketing leads off to sales?

Every single prospect or customer in our CRM has a systematic way that they progress. No one can progress through and get lost in a black hole and that’s so important because, in a silo, marketing hands off to sales and somebody gets lost in that funnel.

Our rev ops team ensures that every account, every prospect, has an owner. It starts in marketing, goes through sales development, goes through to our sales team. Sometimes we win them, sometimes we recycle them and send them back to somebody else, but there is always an owner and a next step in that sales funnel.