July 29, 2021

Being a Groundbreaking B2B CMO

No two CMO playbooks are the same, but in all of them, agility is a prereq for success. The best CMOs are able to recognize the unique challenges of their organizations in the context of their growth stage and brand identity (or lack thereof), then develop the foundation for marketing-led, organization-wide success.

CMO Celia Fleischaker is an expert in the custom build, with previous stints at Epicor and PROS and now taking on a new challenge at Verint, a $1.3 billion company that recently completed a massive spin-off of its cybersecurity services, cementing itself as a pure-play customer engagement brand. Tune in to learn how Celia moved from her past experience for her current one, adapting along the way as needed to deliver a resonant Verint message to inspire employees and customers alike.

What You’ll Learn in This Episode

  • Celia’s CMO career trajectory
  • How Verint redefined its positioning
  • How Verint rolled out its new messaging

Renegade Thinkers Unite, Episode 251 on YouTube

Time-Stamped Highlights

  • [0:26] On the Value of Product Marketing Experience
  • [6:28] From Epicor to PROS to Verint
  • [11:00] Verint’s Marketing Mandate
  • [16:20] How Verint Defined Its New Messaging
  • [22:38] Rolling Out Verint’s New Positioning
  • [27:53] Verint’s Go-To-Market Strategy
  • [31:48] Verint’s Key Campaign Metrics

Transcript Highlights: Drew Neisser in conversation with Celia Fleischaker

[0:26] On the Value of Product Marketing Experience

“You really learn the market and the product and how to speak to the market and your customers. That serves as a foundation for anything you might go on to do.” —@CFleischaker @Verint Share on X

Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Thinkers! My guest today is Celia Fleischaker, the CMO of Verint, a company that works with more than 10,000 organizations in over 175 countries including more than 85% of the Fortune 100! In the customer engagement space—and we’ll be spending some time talking about customer engagement, but we’re also going to talk about Celia’s career and how she navigated into situations where the company hadn’t really been broken in, if you will, in the CMO role. Celia, welcome to Renegade Thinkers Unite!

Celia Fleischaker: Thanks, Drew. I’m excited to be here. Appreciate you having me.

Drew Neisser: Oh, my pleasure. So how are you?

Celia Fleischaker: Doing well, enjoying summer, and starting to get back to travel, which is great.

Drew Neisser: Awesome, awesome. Have you been on a plane?

Celia Fleischaker: I have been. And it’s crowded, which I guess is good but yeah, it’s been nice.

Drew Neisser: Right? It’s absolutely crazy. I mean I was on a plane a couple of weeks ago and the airport was packed. It was like it was a holiday weekend.

Celia Fleischaker: Yeah, exactly. People are excited to get back, I think.

Drew Neisser: I always like to ground the folks who are listening or watching—where are you?

Celia Fleischaker: I am just north of Atlanta. I’m based in Alpharetta.

Drew Neisser: Alpharetta, Atlanta, so you are dealing with a toasty summer. I learned yesterday that Augusta actually closes for the summer—I had no idea—just because it’s too hard on the course.

Celia Fleischaker: It is warm here. I’ll say I moved here from Houston, which was even hotter, so this isn’t so bad.

Drew Neisser: See, nothing like Houston to make a lot of other towns—apologies to the folks from Houston—make them all look good. Let’s look back a little bit at your career. Before you spent the last almost year at Verint, you were at PROS. And before that, you were at Epicor.

Let’s go back to Epicor where you spent 17 years, which is a really huge chunk. Just talk for a second about some of the things that you learned and your progression at Epicor.

Celia Fleischaker: It was a great time. I kind of, I would say, grew up there. I was part of a smaller startup that was acquired, came into the organization, really went from being part of a 15-person startup to being a billion-dollar organization. And through a series of changes and acquisitions, you got a new experience every couple of years.

From a marketing perspective, what was great was being able to move around marketing, so starting in product marketing, having time in field marketing and corporate marketing and really getting the experience, so that eventually when I became CMO, I spent time in the shoes of each of those roles.

Drew Neisser: What’s so interesting as I listen to it—because in huddles this comes up a lot—the fact that you had product marketing experience is really helpful because that’s a really hard role to fill. Can you talk a little bit about what it is that makes a good product marketer and why that’s such a good stop along the way?

Celia Fleischaker: I think it’s a good stop along the way, it’s a great place to start. I know whenever I’m mentoring and talking with other people in marketing, I’m always recommending, if you haven’t had a stint there, it’s so important.

That’s where you really learn the market and the product and how to speak to the market and to your customers, and I think that serves as a foundation for anything you might go on to do in marketing or in other areas in an organization.

Drew Neisser: Now, one of the things I’ve noticed is there are often ex-engineers in that role because you also have to translate product and technology and make it understandable to the target audience. Was that at all part of what you had to do in that role?

Celia Fleischaker: Absolutely, I had early in career product management and product marketing, so you do tend to spend a lot of time with that R&D side understanding that piece of it. You see a lot of people in there that experience it from a solution engineer, sales engineer, pre-sales role—really good in there because it’s the people that are great at understanding here’s what it does and here’s why it matters. That translation bit is so important.

Drew Neisser: Last thing on that role is, you really do have a huge impact because if you’re the person that’s guiding where the product is going, you’re getting feedback, you’re guiding the marketing, you can have a profound impact on the success of the company.

Celia Fleischaker: Absolutely, I do think that’s a great place. You learn so much, and if you do it well, like you’re saying, and you understand the market and you’re talking to your customers, it sets you up to drive a lot of impact.

Drew Neisser: It’s funny because it’s just this yin yang thing. There are a lot of companies that are almost driven—they’re product marketing-driven—and then there are our folks that are, we’ll just call them demand-driven. And if they’re demand-driven, they want to be product marketing-driven, or if their product marketing-driven they want to be demand-driven.

It’s funny how that always seems to be this push-pull thing. But I think the point of product marketing is they’re hoping the product will sell itself.

Celia Fleischaker: Yeah, it will help sell itself, and I think it just sets you up for success. If you position it correctly and align it to what the market needs, then your demand will be successful.

[6:28] From Epicor to PROS to Verint

“Understanding what people's perspectives are and what marketing is going to deliver and then getting alignment there is really critical.” —@CFleischaker @Verint Share on X

Drew Neisser: We’re going to fast forward. You end up as CMO of Epicor and at some point, 17 years into this, you decided to go to PROS. What inspired that move?

Celia Fleischaker: A couple of different things. It was just a good time. We’d been through a few iterations as a PE-owned company. Great owners, but after a couple of changes in ownership, I was, as a CMO, very interested in having public company experience.

PROS was a public organization. It was an organization that had done a fast transformation really well. It was cloud, it was very heavy on AI, and then it was right on that customer side. It just presented a lot of opportunities to take what I’d learned but do something new at an organization and really test things out and have an impact.

Drew Neisser: So funny, you and I talked in the pre-show. In fact, Paul Stoddart, who is the CMO of Epicor, and Katrina Klier, who is the CMO of PROS, I know them both. But it occurs to me that, at least with Katrina, you guys should connect yet it’s so rare that the former CMO will connect with the current one. I’m not quite sure why that is.

Celia Fleischaker: You said that, and I love the idea of it because there’s so much to learn back and forth. Not only sharing what I might have learned at the organization but sharing what she found when she came in like, “Hey, this would have helped.”

I think one thing you know as a CMO is—shortest tenure in the C-Suite. We tend to change over for various reasons, and having that opportunity to connect with the successor, I like that. I think that’s a great thing for the company and for the new CMO and old CMO.

Drew Neisser: Well, since both of them are in CMO Huddles, we just have to make that happen for you and then that’ll be easy. Anyway, so then at PROS, you make the move to Verint. Let’s talk about that. What was it that inspired you to join Verint?

Celia Fleischaker: Verint, this was cool because it was coming to an organization that combined the best of both worlds for me. I’d had experience at PROS and at Epicor, and then here’s Verint. Similar in size and scale to Epicor, recently are undergoing a cloud transformation like PROS.

And then, just the space itself, I love the idea—I think as a marketer, you love working with customers and customer touchpoints. This is what Verint does, it drives customer engagement, so being able to bring that to what I’m taking to market was exciting for me.

Drew Neisser: As an experienced CMO, sometimes you come into roles where the folks in the organization are not so sure about exactly what a CMO does. You could be the first or second CMO. Let’s talk a little bit about what it takes to break in an organization and some of the things that you do and what foundations you lay in the first 90 days to get folks aligned with what the role can and should do.

Celia Fleischaker: That’s right. Everyone has a different idea of what marketing brings to the table, and I think you also have different types of CMOs. Whether you have a CMO that’s very data ops-driven, strategy/message-driven, demand-driven.

One of the first things I’ve done coming into PROS and certainly in Verint is understanding what people’s expectations are and what they believe the role of marketing is. From definitely my peers understanding that, and from my team too because sometimes people in marketing have a different perspective about what the most important thing is. Understanding what people’s perspectives are and what marketing is going to deliver and then getting alignment there is really critical.

[11:00] Verint’s Marketing Mandate

“Building a brand is tough—changing people's perception of a brand that's been around for 20+ years is not always easy.” —@CFleischaker @Verint Share on X

Drew Neisser: Let’s be specific here. If we were looking at PROS, what were the expectations and were they different than when you went to Verint?

Celia Fleischaker: At PROS, it was really important to drive recognition around the company. It had changed on cloud but had also really broadened the portfolio, so making sure people understood who we were today in the market and driving the pipeline to support the growth—they were going through really high growth. To keep pipeline up with that growth was really important.

At Verint, a little bit of a different mandate. I came in well, one, during the pandemic, which is always a different experience. But they were in the midst of a pretty big spinoff of a big chunk of the business, so they were moving to pure-play customer engagement. Getting that spin right was the priority for the first six to nine months and that’s really where the focus was.

Drew Neisser: Right, so Verint was other things. This company spins out, takes the name, and has this new sort of dedicated CX, which is interesting. It’s almost, at that moment, like you’re building a brand from scratch.

Celia Fleischaker: You’re right. Redefining the brand because you’re about $1.3 billion, you’re going to spin off $500 million that was cybersecurity, and the remaining company still under the Verint brand is really focused on the customer. I think it’s almost harder—building a brand is tough, changing people’s perception of a brand that’s been around for 20 plus years is not always easy. That was really the focus. Getting people to know who we were post-spin as a customer engagement company was really critical.

Drew Neisser: And doing that during a pandemic.

Celia Fleischaker: Yes. [Laughter]. Always a bonus, yeah.

Drew Neisser: This is interesting because you used the word “mandate.” I love that term. What specifically did the CEO say to you what success looks like?

Celia Fleischaker: Success was getting the message defined. Step one, right? Understanding who we were as an organization for employees, but also for the market.

I thought it was really nice that there was a big emphasis from him put on an employee understanding and starting inside and making sure people realized who we were going forward, defining what we stood for and what we believed.

And then, at the same time, for investors, for analysts and customers, making sure they did as well. The focus really was on the message and how we defined our go-to-market.

Drew Neisser: I love that, and longtime listeners know that this is what I preach on this show and in my upcoming book. It’s so wonderful to hear that started with a CEO. Again, your employees are your first target audience when you’re thinking about rebranding because if they don’t buy in, you got nothing.

It’s so refreshing to hear that your CEO recognized that. And then number two, to say your customers are in fact your second target. Because if they don’t buy into this transition, again, what do you have? You have no testimonials, you have no customer advisory board, you have very little to sell against.

[16:20] How Verint Defined Its New Messaging

“They were using our terminology and that's when you feel like you've hit it, right?” —@CFleischaker @Verint Share on X 

Drew Neisser: You’re the new CMO. You’re helping reposition, if you will, or reestablish what a company does. We’re talking about it first to employees and second to customers. Let’s talk specifically about the process you went through and where you ended up with defining the messaging, particularly to the employees.

Celia Fleischaker: Again, I came in in the middle of this. There’s a big team of people that worked on this together and a lot of research went into how we define it. It was important that it be credible to our employees and that they really bought in, so the team had identified a handful of, I’ll say influencers in the organization. People that really knew the organization. A mix of people that have been there a while in different functions, some that were newer to the org.

They were used as touchpoints along the way, gathering upfront in the early process what they saw as our differentiators and how we could go to market, and then as that messaging got developed and the visualizations that went with it, going back and testing against them.

There were a series of meetings throughout this to brief and get feedback from not just the employees—it started with employees—but customers. You had mentioned having case stories, having them talk.

It was really interesting. We have briefed some customers and then recorded some videos with them asking them about these different pieces of customer engagement. They were using our terminology and that’s when you feel like you’ve hit it, right?

When your customers and your employees start talking back to you about their experience and the value they’re getting and they’re actually using “boundless customer engagement” or “the future of work” and talking in our language, which is exciting.

Drew Neisser: One thing that’s interesting—in all the episodes of all the shows, never heard a CMO talking about having this super employee group, which is such a good idea.

So often you go out to all the employees through a company-wide survey and then you have an executive team that is in there as the guidance. But having this middle group of super employees, super influencers is really smart. Getting them involved, because they’re the ones that will turn around right and teach everybody else.

Celia Fleischaker: The ambassadors. Right.

Drew Neisser: Really smart idea. You had these various ideas, you narrowed it down. You used the term “boundless customer experience.” Is that the language that you ended up with?

Celia Fleischaker: Yeah, our top-line message was around this idea of boundless customer engagement. We identified a problem that went with it that we were solving and did primary research around it.

It’s an engagement capacity gap, but really relating it to the struggles that companies are facing as they’re looking at—especially with the pandemic—how they effectively engage with customers.

They saw digital went through the roof and all these interactions, and at the same time, they’re limited on budget and resources. There’s this pull, this tug of how they effectively engage with what they have. There’s a gap typically.

Drew Neisser: Engagement capacity gap. You named the problem.

Celia Fleischaker: Yeah, we named the problem.

Drew Neisser: And you were able to quantify this problem through primary research.

Celia Fleischaker: Yeah, we went out globally to a large group of people in our target markets asking them about: what are they seeing, are they facing challenges here, what are those challenges, how prepared do they feel.

This we did the back half of last year, so you’re six months into the pandemic and it was interesting—most people came back and said, yeah, it’s challenging.

We do see this gap and by the way, we think it’s going to get even bigger and more challenging in the next year, which we didn’t necessarily expect. We thought coming out of the pandemic people would think it was going to get a lot easier and that wasn’t the feeling.

Drew Neisser: Oh, that’s interesting. Why not? Why did they think it wouldn’t go away?

Celia Fleischaker: I think because of the changes, the pandemic pushed in with the acceleration of digital and how much for people initially it was a necessity during the pandemic but really became a preference for a large amount of consumers. Getting the tools, the infrastructure, the pieces in place so you can effectively engage through the new channels—an increasing number of channels—is tough. They need help.

Drew Neisser: The notion that when things get back to normal, really there’s a new normal and this is what it is and it’s heavily digital and there’s no going back.

Celia Fleischaker: Exactly.

Drew Neisser: That’s so important. There were several things in this part of the conversation that I just hope, to the folks who are listening, I’m going to put a punctuation point on it.

Lots of research. Customer research. Naming the problem in such a way that you are the company to solve it. That is part of the playbook but it’s a really good one, and what I like about the way you named it is, “Oh, I get it. I can see the problem right there. Engagement capacity gap. Yeah, okay.”

So then from there, I mean I’m just riffing here, but I’m sure you could create a tool that measures it. You could go to the website, and you could measure what your engagement capacity gap is and then start having all sorts of cool things. We can brainstorm right now on what to do with that.

Celia Fleischaker: There you go. Help me out! [Laughter]

[22:38] Rolling Out Verint’s New Positioning

“That push has to be more than marketing. It needs to come from every area of the org.” —@CFleischaker @Verint Share on X

Drew Neisser: We have this research; we have this positioning of boundless customer engagement. Let’s talk about how you got the word out.

Celia Fleischaker: I think a couple of different ways. For us, we did previews with employees. We made a conscious decision—we’ve talked about the importance of employees here—but we rolled it out internally first.

They saw it before the market saw it—before anyone else saw it—and really got a sneak peek at, “Hey, you’re going to see this in the market, this is how we’re going to roll things out. We’re going to be talking about this with our content, but you get it first and we want you to understand it.” So that was a big piece of it.

Then we rolled it out with our different constituencies, with analysts, with investors. Then with customers, we rolled it out, I would say over—you know, it’s still going on, but we did have our customer conference in May and we’re really able to push at that, with our customers, which was great.

Drew Neisser: When thinking about this rollout, what went according to expectation? Were there any surprises in the rolling out in terms of the feedback you got or anything there?

Celia Fleischaker: A couple of things. One was it never goes 100% as planned. We always hear from people about what we could have done better, so I think going back,

I would have put maybe a little more emphasis in a few places really pushing the ambassador side of it more.

That push has to be more than marketing. It needs to come from every area of the org.  One of the things that went really well was, we did have really good uptake from the leadership team, which was really nice to see.

All of a sudden I’ve got my CEO, the President, they’re all talking about boundless customer engagement when they’re on their quarterly meeting. Those pieces went well.

We also found—and I think this is important—you know, you button it all up, you’re packaged and ready to go; we found a couple of small pieces we needed to tweak after we rolled it out.

We had some flexibility there. You don’t want to go back and revisit everything, but recognizing that it’s not always perfect and you might have some changes to make—we did make a few adjustments after the fact.

Drew Neisser: One of the things from some research that we did for the book where we found a gap: most CMOs believe that the internal audience is really important. But most CMOs allow less than two weeks for the internal rollout. If you’re talking about, as you were describing, having your ambassadors, getting them on board, and then having them communicate. Beyond that, train the trainer kind of program, that takes weeks.

One of the things that’s interesting to me is, often, with these—I’ll call it a rebrand or reposition—there’s something newsworthy here. There’s something new for the company and therefore there may be training required. It’s not just words. There are actions that back up this thing.

As a company that’s talking about boundless customer engagement, I’m imagining that you had to look internally and say, “How are we doing on boundless customer engagement?”

Celia Fleischaker: Absolutely. That’s true. And we did—not formalized training, but we did push things out, and then we have a community platform that we used and gamification to get employees involved in providing feedback all along the way. But also, you know, sharing their thoughts of how, exactly what you said, tell us with how you’re engaging with your customers and how that relates to what we’re providing.

Drew Neisser: Cool, so we have to drink our own champagne here when we’re talking about things like customer engagement.

Show Break

Drew Neisser: If you don’t mind, I’d like to plug CMO Huddles for a second. Launched in 2020, CMO Huddles is an invitation-only subscription service that brings together an elite group of CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness.

One CMO described Huddles as timely conversations with smart peers in a trusted environment while another called it a cross between an expert workshop and a therapy session. If you’re a B2B CMO that can share and care with the best of them, visit CMOHuddles.com or send me an email to see if you qualify for a guest pass.

[27:53] Verint’s Go-To-Market Strategy

“There was a lot of focus on, not surprisingly, content and using it as an opportunity to really solidify that content strategy and how we go to market.” —@CFleischaker @Verint Share on X

Drew Neisser: I want to make sure as we break it down—we found our positioning, we found the language, we roll it out. Talk a little bit more about the go-to-market of this campaign and what sort of things you did that worked particularly well.

Celia Fleischaker: There was a lot of focus on, not surprisingly, content and using it as an opportunity to really solidify that content strategy and how we go to market. We knew we needed a lot of new content that would get used in the global campaign. The primary research that we talked about earlier served as a foundation for a lot of that content, and then we also worked with a number of influencers and analysts to create content as well.

How are we going to talk about customer engagement? What do they think the pieces are? So, developing… whether it was e-books, infographics, research, and studies—we did a lot of that. Then that really fed the global campaign, which was newer for Verint. But across all the regions, really coming out strong globally with a campaign speaking to a lot of the new messaging.

Drew Neisser: And when we say campaign, what are we specifically talking about?

Celia Fleischaker: We’re not a company—and I think a lot of companies can identify—that has a ton of budget from a pure advertising standpoint, so this campaign was designed to fill the pipeline and to engage prospects and our customers with our portfolio and matching up with challenges they were having with customer engagement with what we could deliver.

It went across digital channels, email, social, the website—all the different pieces you’d expect. There’s some tweaking by region as well for the regional differences.

Drew Neisser: This is interesting. You have all this fabulous content. You have somewhat of an awareness issue because we know you as various things.

When you say digital, I’m assuming we’re talking about some form of digital advertising, whether it’s programmatic or ABM or something, there’s some spend somewhere. Because if you don’t have reach, you can’t get the funnel started. Unless you’re just doing targeted accounts and ABM. You have all this fabulous content; it isn’t all going to get a score on the front page of Google search terms.

Celia Fleischaker: That content was used in a couple of different ways. We did do some at an account level in very targeted spend, through some social channels, through digital channels. There was also, I’d say, broader reach from a social perspective and just getting out there in front.

There’s a lot we had to do with respect to—you talked about the first page—but SEO. Just making sure that, for those customer engagement terms, for everything that we were working on, how do we rank and make sure we’re top of mind?

[31:48] Verint’s Key Campaign Metrics

“I care about top of funnel, but most people outside marketing really care about pipeline.” —@CFleischaker @Verint Share on X 

Drew Neisser: Let’s get to results. I don’t know what you can share with us, but from a metric standpoint, what were the key metrics for you?

Celia Fleischaker: There are some that I’ll say I want to go back and things I would do differently. But in terms of key metrics, we looked at what we’ve added to that pipeline and looked to quarter-over-quarter, year-over-year from an influence perspective. We saw engagement on our social channels and how that was impacted. We looked at, overall, some of your basic web. We saw a huge lift in our web traffic and people coming to the site.

We did look at a lot. For me, the one that tends to get the most notice is how much pipeline are we developing—what’s coming through the marketing funnel, what’s dipping into the pipeline, and really making an impact. That’s where, especially outside marketing, you tend to get the most interest.

Drew Neisser: Let’s just make sure we’re clear on language, because in huddles, a lot of pipeline definitions vary by company. When you say marketing-influenced pipeline, are we talking about sales saying, “Yes, this is a real legitimate lead”—that kind of pipeline? Are we talking about marketing qualified leads? What does pipeline mean to you and your organization?

Celia Fleischaker: We’re looking at both of what you talked about, so that top-of-funnel. But what I was talking about—when I say marketing-influenced pipeline—sales has qualified it. It is in the pipeline. They are working the deal, and that to me is so important because, I care about top-of-funnel, but most people outside marketing really care about pipeline.

Drew Neisser: Right, and so that means that they’ve done a demo. It’s been agreed upon that this is a real business opportunity, there’s at least one contact if not more in the system, and sales is getting meetings.

Celia Fleischaker: Exactly. They are talking with that prospect, moving it along. We’ve got resources against it.

Drew Neisser: Right. Just to be clear, that’s what pipeline is, and I think that’s fairly consistent across companies. In fact, we had a huddle the other day where the conversation was about—we’re just going to stop looking at MQLs because they’re stupid and they emphasize the wrong thing no matter what.

You can’t stop there, and even SQLs to some extent are useless. But pipeline—of course, there are always issues with pipeline and what is pipeline. I asked that because there’s this thing called “multi-streaming” where you need five contacts in an organization before it really is an opportunity, but that’s a nuance.

You were saying, by the way, that you wish there were some other metrics?

Celia Fleischaker: We didn’t do—and looking back, I would do it. We’re planning to do at the end of the year—a brand study. I think getting that baseline on brand when we were looking at repositioning was really important and think, in hindsight, a mistake on my part. I should have pushed for that so that we had that baseline. Going a year in, we’d be able to say, “Boom, we moved the needle here, here, and here.”

Drew Neisser: It’s funny you should say that. We’ve been doing a lot of market research studies like the one you’re describing for some of our clients at Renegade. One of the things that we always add now is an aided and unaided category awareness question because, why not?

You’re doing the research anyway; you’re talking to prospects and customers. Assuming your list is representative of your target, why not do that? It’s easy to add and in most cases, if you’re fielding the research, adding two questions like that is easy.

Got it. That makes sense. To the extent that you can talk about it—you mentioned the website traffic got a huge lift—how has the campaign performed?

Celia Fleischaker: We just had a meeting the other day doing a retrospective. It’s gone well. For us as a company, just running that global campaign and getting that experience as a team, it was a newer experience for the organization, but we saw a lot of good top-of-funnel activity, and then we saw a lot of influence and pipe. We were pleased with it. It can always be stronger and better, but it was a good experience.

Drew Neisser: You had success with this program. You drove a certain percentage of pipeline into the organization. Pipeline is gold. That’s the number that the organization can work from.

Is there a conversation to be had and how does that conversation go with a CFO to say, “You know what? We spent this amount of money, it achieved this amount. If we doubled, can we work on a formula to show that we could drive this up?

You mentioned that you didn’t have a big budget, but the value per customer is pretty darn high. Talk a little bit about how you could go about it and what it would take to get more money.

Celia Fleischaker: I think that’s right. Modeling it based on return is so important. The CFO—that’s where you’ve got to take it. How am I going to impact bottom line? I think we will get to that point, and I think right now—I’ve been here 9, 10 months—and the measurement, we’re getting there. We’re really getting a good baseline and seeing the impact of certain programs. I think there’s a little bit more we need to do to where I’d feel comfortable.

Right now, I could do it based on: “Okay, past history when I’ve done this, here’s what we’ve added from a company perspective or in a past role.” But getting to that point where you can model, “If you spend this much or if we do this much, here’s the increase in efficiency we’re going to get.” So, I’m going to see that cost for qualified lead go down by this amount with these programs, and I’m going to see this level of impact and lift on two levels. The pipeline in general, but also, for us, a good measure is looking at the expansion opportunity as well because we’ve got a pretty wide portfolio.

Drew Neisser: Right. We haven’t really talked about what retention and upsell and cross-sell could mean to your organization, but given how many customers you have, it sounds like that would be a big opportunity.

Celia Fleischaker: Exactly, exactly.

Drew Neisser: While we’re talking about that, and before we wrap up, do you look at a customer campaign—upsell, cross-sell—as a different activity and a different stream of activities? And does that fall even into marketing?

Celia Fleischaker: It’s definitely part of the remit. We definitely have to do that. You’re very much, especially in a SaaS world, partnered up with customer success and different parts of the organization.

But retention is so important, expansion is so important, so we are looking at that, looking at expanding what we do there because it’s really the critical piece. Especially when you look at, as you said, you’ve got 10,000 customers. That’s a lot of opportunity. You want to take care of those customers and then you want to continue to grow that relationship.

[40:06] Two Dos and a Don’t for Breaking an Organization into the CMO Role

“For marketing itself, every company is so different. It's custom build a lot of times.” —@CFleischaker @Verint Share on X

Drew Neisser: We’ve covered a lot of ground here. We started with some research, we got our employees very heavily involved, we had this sort of SWAT team of super ambassadors to help test it and evolve the messaging. We rolled out that messaging to employees, then to customers and analysts, and then finally on a global level.

We made sure that we had metrics in place. We knew what those were. Pipeline is a metric that almost every organization will embrace, but it would have been nice if we could have had some brand awareness baseline. Always a good thing to do. Then, beyond that, there is thinking about customer success.

What is on the horizon for you in the end of 2021 and 2022 in terms of new things that you’re going to be considering or want to do to fill the gaps?

Celia Fleischaker: For us, the focus is on the digital piece, so we were in the process of rebuilding, redesigning the entire digital—the website—we’ve brought on a new SEO agency because that piece, I think, is the foundation for the future. We spent a lot of time in that first six months really getting the messaging right, but digital has to be there. We’ve made improvements, but we need a bigger leap there.

Drew Neisser: Right. As you think about the process that you’ve gone through and in some sense, helping to break in the organization to the role of CMO, give us two do’s and a don’t for other CMOs who end up having to break in their organization to having a CMO. Two do’s and a don’t.

Celia Fleischaker: Two dos. One would be listening. Typically, most CMOs are planners; you come in with your initial plan. Making sure that you’re listening to your team that you’re coming in to manage, to your peers, to your customers, and things like that. And then being open to change. I think perceptions during the hiring process versus when you get in the seat—you learn so much more, especially in those first few weeks and months.

A don’t. I think, the change piece. Just because you had a successful playbook in the last company or role, every role is different, and I think being willing to go in there and not throw out the playbook that you may have had starting out, but really, don’t get stuck with it. Adjust and learn. For marketing itself, every company is so different. It’s custom build a lot of times.

Drew Neisser: I love that. We’ve got to listen, we have to be open to change, and we have to be adaptable as we move forward. Well, this has been terrific, Celia. Thank you so much for sharing your journey at Verint.

Celia Fleischaker: Thanks, I appreciate you having me. This was great.

Drew Neisser: And to the listeners, as always, first request—if you enjoyed the episode, go to your favorite podcast channel, give us a five-star rating, and recommend it to a friend. We appreciate that.

Show Credits

Renegade Thinkers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Audio production is by Sam Beck. Show notes are written by Melissa Caffrey. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro voiceover is Linda Cornelius.

To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about quite possibly the best B2B marketing boutique in New York City, visit renegade.com. And until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.