June 8, 2023

Beyond Pipeline: Aligning Marketing with the Business

Navigating a potential spinoff of a megabrand. Moving to enterprise. Going public. These are massive business initiatives where marketing can play a key role—and it’s up to the CMO to prove it.

In this episode, three such CMOs share how they’ve cemented marketing’s seat at the table when it comes to propelling business forward (with impressive stats like 60% year-over-year growth and marketing bringing in 80% of the pipeline, for example).

Tune in to hear the strategies and tactics behind these powerhouse CMOs:  

What You’ll Learn

  • How to align marketing with the business  
  • How to establish marketing as a strategic partner 
  • Which metrics matter to non-marketers

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 348 on YouTube

Resources Mentioned


  • [3:32] Toni: EY at the Golden Globes   
  • [4:59] On splitting a business into two   
  • [7:31] B2B spin-off heroes  
  • [8:46] Evaluating branding challenges   
  • [11:57] Jamie: Lessons from HR tech & sales  
  • [15:41] Moving into enterprise   
  • [18:28] Product-led Sales motion  
  • [21:29] JD: From West Point to CMO  
  • [22:54] Tigo is going public  
  • [23:40] Refining marketing strategy YoY  
  • [25:54] When marketing pays for itself  
  • [28:16] On CMO Huddles  
  • [32:02] Ensure marketing is a strategic partner  
  • [38:36] Metrics that matter to the CEO + CFO   
  • [46:28] When everyone thinks they’re a marketer  
  • [51:45] Align marketing with the business

Highlighted Quotes

“Be mindful of how the business run is and your contribution to it, then be astute to figure out how else the macro economic landscape might be impacting those decisions.” —@Toniclaytonhine @EY_US Share on X 

“Marketing should become that connective tissue. Otherwise, you're just selling piece parts.” —@Toniclaytonhine @EY_US Share on X 

“We have built a product-led sales motion. Think about that as this powerful combination of an incredible product—the foundation of PLG—with a strong marketing and sales motion.” —@jamiewo @SproutSocial Share on X 

“Customers. That is the most important word, dare I say even more important than revenue and pipeline.” —@jamiewo @SproutSocial Share on X 

“It's important to be tactical to drive strategy.” —JD Dillon @TigoEnergy Share on X 

“If you drive collaboration as the Chief Marketing Officer and put the customer at the centerpiece, good things will result.” —JD Dillon @TigoEnergy Share on X

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Toni Clayton-Hine, Jamie Gilpin, & JD Dillon


Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. And I’m guessing that as a podcast listener, you will also enjoy audiobooks. Well in that case, did you know the audio version of Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands, was recently ranked the number one new B2B audio book by Book Authority. Kind of cool, right? Anyway, you can find my book on Audible or your favorite audio book platform.

And speaking of audio before we get into today’s show, I do want to do a shout out to the professionals that Share Your Genius. We started working with them several months ago to make this show even better, and have been blown away by their strategic and executional prowess. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast or want to turbocharge your current show, be sure to talk to Rachel Downey at shareyourgenius.com and tell her Drew sent you.

Okay, let’s get on with today’s episode.

Narrator: Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, possibly the best weekly podcast for CMOs and everyone else looking for innovative ways to transform their brand, drive demand, and just plain cut through. Proving that B2B does not mean boring to business. Here’s your host and Chief Marketing Renegade Drew Neisser.

Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Marketers! Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite the top rated podcast for B2B CMOs and other marketing-obsessed individuals.

You’re about to listen to a recording of CMO Huddle Studio, our live show featuring the CMOS of CMO Huddles, a community that sharing caring and daring each other to greatness every day of the week.

This time we’ve got a conversation with Huddlers, Toni Clayton-Hine of EY Americas, Jamie Gilpin and Sprout Social, and JD Dillon of Tigo Energy on aligning marketing with your business goals. One thing to note in this episode, at the time of the recording, EY, which is represented by CMO, Toni Clayton-Hine, was planning to split into two, something that ultimately didn’t happen. But Toni’s insights into the decision-making process. And important branding opportunities, however, are extremely relevant for all B2B brands considering a big change. You’re gonna want to listen so let’s dive in.

Welcome to CMO Huddles Studio made possible by our friends at Restream. I’m your host Drew Neisser, live from my home studio in New York City. Most of the B2B marketers I speak with want to be perceived as strategic thinkers fully capable of aligning marketing with the objectives of the business as a whole. Yet, it’s not that simple. Many marketers don’t get a seat at the strategy table, and even fewer are represented on boards of directors. In fact, less than 20% of public boards include someone with high level marketing backgrounds. So in reality, many B2B marketers are expected to have a single minded focus on pipeline generation drive leads or go home. Which begs the question, how does a B2B CMO align marketing with the business? A question we’ll be answering in detail on this show.

And with that, let’s bring on Toni Clayton-Hine, CMO of EY Americas and star of episode 18 of the predecessor to this show Renegade Marketing Live. Hello, Toni, how are you? And where are you?

Toni Clayton-Hine: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here. I am great. And I am coming to you from my home office in Westchester, New York.

Drew Neisser: There we go. All right, we’re so far representing the East Coast. We’re going to work our way West in this show, I just want you to know. So I noticed that you’ve shared a post about the Golden Globes and that you’ve been part of that for 50 years. I’m curious, was that kind of cool to be part of?

Toni Clayton-Hine: It’s amazing just the number of things that we get to be part of because we act as the auditors are different ways that we contribute to these different types of programs has been really fun to see.

Drew Neisser: And do you have a favorite nomination or winner from this year?

Toni Clayton-Hine: You know from the movie category, obviously, Elvis was unbelievable. So that seems so well deserved and then everybody’s fan favorite Jennifer Coolidge in White Lotus and you know, just her entire nomination, or, sorry her acceptance speech was amazing. If you didn’t love her before you have to love her now and probably more people saw White Lotus because of her than anything else at this point if they hadn’t already.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, no, it’s funny. I love White Lotus and Elvis but Abbott Elementary which just continues to just crack me up. So if you haven’t watched that, put that on your list, okay? EY, as we talked about before, the show is in the process of splitting its audit and advisory arms into two. And I’m imagining this topic of aligning marketing with the needs of the business suddenly becomes even more front and center for you. This must be a really interesting challenge. And what’s your approach to this big change?

Toni Clayton-Hine: It should be noted that first we are talking about it as a strategic decision. But the partners vote on that. And that vote hasn’t happened yet. As well as thinking through what is the regulatory environment, all of those things are driving the conversation. And what that means, though, from a marketing standpoint, is aligning to the business really doesn’t change from the standpoint that we still have the same offerings, the same portfolio, the same people delivering those offerings. So when you talk about building pipeline and demand generation, that sort of lower funnel activity based on what we deliver, is the same. What it does present is this incredible opportunity to look at the brand, creating brand permission grant consideration, in addition to preface services level.

There’s a lot of people working on this every single day in terms of scenario planning and figuring out what would need to happen. So the good news is that the assurance tax and advisory business would still be EY. So that part of the business, really what EY is largely known for, would still retain the EY brand. And that allows that to be a focused conversation, focused entity and really align to how does EY continue to build confidence to help people make better decisions, the impact on the world that it makes, etc. And then on the “new co” side, as it’s affectionately referred to, it is all of the things that you talked about. Which is, how do you identify the brand purpose as its own entity? How does it show up in terms of tone? Everything from visual identity. How does it show up across the board from what we promised, what we say, what we position, and what we do?

Drew Neisser: And I want to talk about that, because suddenly, in theory, if this happens, and the partners vote on it, suddenly you’re kind of brandless. And you have to sort of start again, talk about that as, where do you begin to think about it? And knowing how long it takes to come up with a name and clear it on a global level—oh my god, you can’t have enough time for something like this.

And as I’m thinking about it—there are a lot of examples out there, both from your industry and others. And I’m curious, who do you look for when you sort of say, okay, they did this really well, or that were the lessons are for you.

Toni Clayton-Hine: I think that there’s some amazing examples across the board, obviously, in our industry, the way Accenture has built, that brand is unbelievable. And just the way they double down, leaned in, and really took ownership of that space as they modified and move their business. I think that the work that somebody like Kendrell is doing relative to IBM, they spun out about a year ago. And that allows them to evolve their value proposition. So we look at them, we look at so many different examples, not just from the tech and consulting industry. But then when you look at what GE just announced in terms of splitting, or what Kellogg is looking at when they’re looking at splitting off their business, for better or for worse now is spin city, right? So many different companies are looking at this. And so being able to look at what’s working, and what would we change and how would we create ownership in that space, in the minds of the clients and our people is critical.

Drew Neisser: One of the things that this show is about we’re getting a seat at the table, at the strategy table, and often brand, particularly in a case of a consulting company that you’re selling in big consulting projects, probably a lot of IT things, people took EY for granted. Right? Suddenly NewCo has no equity. And I wonder how you educate non—marketers to, suddenly brand is not only front and center, it is really, really critical to get right in terms of the value proposition in terms of expression of something new.

Toni Clayton-Hine: CMO Huddles has a lot of startups. So even though we’re talking about it as a “new co” brand, a lot of startups are also—how do you own a space in the minds of your clients or your potential clients? I would say we certainly have an advantage because we have smart people who are talking about smart things in smart ways every day. So that gives us that opportunity to continue the conversation and the relationships that we have. So starting from the ground up would be, we have case studies, we have the work that we’ve done, we can stand behind that. And then we stand behind the work and the people and the way that work gets done. So much easier than a startup. And then also, looking at the partnerships and alliances that we can and will form so we have a huge alliance already with the Microsoft, the SAPs, the Adobe’s of the world. And then you know, what gets added to that in a “new co” construct, which will also help all, what do they say, “all boats rise when rising tide floats, all boats,” that type of thing.

Drew Neisser: I think three years ago, I interviewed Norman Guadagno who was the CMO at the time at Acoustic, which is another IBM a billion dollar spin out. And what he talked about is, they had to build up marketing, they had to build everything from scratch, including their tech stack, including their go to market. And for him the key partnership, because he had arrived at the same day as the head of HR, because this is internal marketing too, right?

Toni Clayton-Hine: The amount of time that we spend at this point on internal marketing and education and discussions with our people. Because without it, right, you don’t have a business. So especially when you’re in our space, so it’s really important to look at what you’re going to say and how you’re going to engage them. And the value proposition, whether you are staying at EY or whether you’re going to new co or whether you are with the EY you will be with new co becomes a really different thing. Because one is being able to leverage all the goodness that the brand has and be really focused. And the other is getting to create something net new, and doing that with some momentum behind you. Because again, unlike a startup, you already have all those clients, you have the people, you have the infrastructure.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, it’s an incredible moment, my head is spinning to think about what your to do list might look like. All right, we’re gonna come back to that and what we’re gonna bring the whole group back, but let’s bring on Jamie Gilpin, who is the CMO of Sprout Social, and star episode number six of Renegade Marketers Live. Hello, Jamie, wonderful to see you again.

Jamie Gilpin: Nice to see you Drew. Thanks for having me. I am just outside of Chicago, in my home. So it’s very nice.

Drew Neisser: Very, very cool. As I said, we’re working our way West on this show. So you worked for over a decade in HR tech. And I don’t know, but was there something you learned there that has helped you in your current role at Sprout?

Jamie Gilpin: Yeah, that is where I cut my teeth, so to speak, I started in sales actually, in HR tech, and then moved into marketing. And I love to HR tech, and I will say I didn’t like totally leave it because social media is actually still a big channel for recruiting and employment brand. We were just talking about that. But if I reflect on that, you know, part of that I think is just like the early stages of your career, but learning—and I have to relearn this constantly—that I’m not our customers. Selling to HR leaders, that was obvious, I have never led a people team, but even marketing to marketers, which is what I primarily do now, I have to remind myself that I am a marketer, but I am not necessarily our primary persona. So under relearning, understanding the industry how our buyers are changing, I feel like that’s probably the biggest thing I learned.

Drew Neisser: The words out of a CMO mouth that start with, “Hey, I was talking to a customer the other day” is like a full stop. You want someone’s attention in the C-suite, start there. And the fact that you are not a customer and can’t be necessarily, I think helps you because if it keeps you curious. I want to go back though, you mentioned that you were in sales at first and a lot of CMOs don’t have that experience. And I feel like it’s you know, having sold encyclopedias door to door in college, I kind of get a lot of that. Talk a little bit about how that has been helpful to you.

Jamie Gilpin: Yeah, this was not an intentional path. My degree is in PR, like public relations. So my goal was to get into marketing, when I graduated was a very bleak time in terms of recession in the earth, 2001. So, that was not necessarily an option for me. And so the role that was available was sales, but I loved it. I loved talking to customers. To your point just now about like the last time I talked to a customer, I still love doing that. I loved understanding their needs and connecting our solution or product to those needs and helping them actually do better. Like I loved all that, hated cold calling. There was a lot of cold calling back then, we had rolodexes, I could talk about this forever, we did not have CRMs, like we did not have Salesforce. We literally had a physical card catalog that I would go through. I was not good at cold calling. I wasn’t great at thinking on my feet. But then when I got into marketing, so important, that experience created such empathy for me. And it still is that for me today, that my partners in sales, we are truly partners. There’s not a lot of finger pointing in any of the roles that I’ve ever had, especially here at Sprout.

Drew Neisser: Amazing. You just reminded me of my days before I sold books door to door, I spent one summer selling time life books over the phone, literally dialing for dollars. So yeah, that’s fun and something glad I don’t have to do. Again, it was good money. And you felt really good when you made a sale. So marketing you and I talked about this over the years on various shows, marketing drives an extraordinary amount of pipeline at Sprout. And that speaks to your self—serve, freemium model that you really were the roots of the brand. I’m curious about the changes that have been required, as you moved more into the enterprise space.

Jamie Gilpin: We drive a significant amount, like 80%, of our revenue comes from marketing. And I am very proud of the team. I honestly can’t take credit here, Drew, you mentioned like this was from the beginning, right? This inbound strategy that we talk about drives the majority of that revenue, it was built when the company was built, like over a decade ago, and our team continues to fuel it. I think if I put this into context, here’s what I’ll say about sort of our strategy self serve, or what’s commonly discussed in SaaS, if you’re not in the software as a service market, we talk a lot about product led growth, PLG. And the question when you start is a PLG company like Sprout Social did, the question always comes on the executive plate—when do you move to enterprise? Or when do you move to sales led? Another way to think about that. And we said, why does have to be either or? Because I think another way to look at it—and I think what we have built—is a product lead sales motion. And so think about that as this powerful combination of an incredible product, which is the foundation of PLG, with a strong marketing and sales motion and that has served us really well, especially actually with enterprise market, which is a very healthy part of our business. And this is, we were just talking about brand earlier with Toni, this is actually a big brand perception opportunity, I’ll call it, maybe it’s a challenge, for us on the marketing team, which we’re very focused on in 2023. Because in reality, roughly a third of our revenue actually already comes from the enterprise segment. So we share this in our Q3 earnings, the next one is coming out. But what we share then, is that 76% year over year growth actually happens in our customers who spend over $50,000 with us. So it is a perception gap. And I share all of that because I think what is most powerful is that, Drew you ask what do we had to shift? Or what do we had to learn? The inbound model actually reaches all segments and personas. And so it’s really about not a shift or a pivot, but a yes and. We have to grow here more, right. So to get in front of more enterprise buyers, we have to as you would imagine, do more campaigns, events, outbound marketing plays, right, ABM as an example to to get in front of them. But it’s absolutely complimentary to our strong inbound foundation.

Drew Neisser: When you say ad marketing drives 80% of pipeline, I just want to pause and revel in that moment. And also, your peer group of CMOs are like going, oh my god. Because it’s such a high number. I also think there’s something interesting about what you said in terms of, so much of—and I don’t think it matters whether I’m an individual or an enterprise—when I’m going and looking and considering a purchase, I want to do a lot of it myself. I don’t want to talk to a salesperson despite how great you are as a salesperson, or you’d rather go in and find out and the time you want to talk to a salesperson is really when I can talk to a product expert. It’s a sales motion, that is the customer gets to drive. Hopefully they get to try it and figure it out. And then they finally talk to a customer when we have to negotiate because it’s an enterprise. Is that sort of the way this works.

Jamie Gilpin: Yeah, exactly. That’s the kind of product lead sales like they’re in the product first. And then they move over to the sales side when they need to understand more. And this obviously becomes even more important for enterprise because there are more people involved in the buying process. I think the latest data, which actually I think it’s higher than this, but 12 people, right 12 buyers are involved in an enterprise sales motion. And so some of those people will come in through inbound the users absolutely the champions that you absolutely need to kind of usher the the opportunity through the organization. But then where are the ABM or the BDRs, business development reps or SDRs outbound sales folks, play such an important role is getting in front of the others. The 8,9, 10 other buyers what you didn’t necessarily hit with that product lead motion.

Drew Neisser: I think when I had Brent Adamson on the show, gosh, when he was still like a Gardner it what he was saying it was up to 14 on average for enterprise purchase, which seems absurd to me. And I’m trying to imagine, why would you need that many people to be involved in decision like Sprout? You know, you need a social management tool, you know, you’re going to look at competitive tools. Come on, really?

Jamie Gilpin: Yeah, it is. And I think this actually comes, I think that number actually grows when you have more use cases. And so this is another opportunity, a brand awareness opportunity. And this is actually more on the category for social, social is like kind of relegated to the marketing team, our organic social absolutely sits on marketing today. But customer care is a big use case for social, right. And so now you’ve got not just the VP of marketing or CMO, you’ve got the social media team, you have the VP of Customer Care, you’ve got procurement, you probably have HR that’s going to be involved in it because of social as a channel, so you start to see very easily how it can become very complicated. And kudos to our sales team, because understanding every single one of those functions, and how social, and more importantly, like the platform actually enables them.

Drew Neisser: That makes sense. All right, we’re gonna keep going. I’m gonna bring JD Dillon, CMO of Tigo Energy and star of episode number 16 of Renegade Marketers Live. Hello, JD Welcome back. How are you? And where are you?

JD Dillon: I’m doing well, part of the dad joke, but the future of solar is bright. And I’m here in California at Tigo Energy.

Drew Neisser: There you are. Well, it certainly is bright. Oh my gosh. So I noticed you got your your BS in Electrical Engineering, speaking of not punning, electrical engineering from West Point Academy, and I didn’t know that about you. So help me get from there to CMOing.

JD Dillon: I transitioned from the military, way back before the Earth cooled, with a company called Cameron Brooks. They specifically take junior military officers and put them out into corporate America. And it turns out that competing against competitors, the enemy, and serving customers, the country, in order to accomplish the company mission kind of dovetails very well from the military into marketing. So I took off the uniform put on a suit. But I still follow the personal motto of the US Armed Forces, which is, “Mission first, people always.”

Drew Neisser: I love that and on behalf of all the listeners or viewers of this show, thank you for your service.

JD Dillon: My pleasure.

Drew Neisser: So okay, now at Tigo, which as you mentioned at the top of the show is a very hot space. As we think about going beyond pipeline, talk a little bit about the evolution of your business over the last couple of years.

JD Dillon: Great. Well, in 2020, the company went from being tied to a specific partner to being more open source, and compatible with other equipment vendors. Revenues doubled each one of the years for the last two years. We anticipate to double yet again, this past December, we announced that we’re going public. So the company is deep in the throes of going public and I’m doing what I can to help that effort. Like you said, the future is very bright.

Drew Neisser: First of all, congratulations on that. Second of all, I don’t know if you remember, but we recorded an episode way back when with a couple of CMOs who had done that. It’s worth reviewing, because one of my conclusions was that every CMO should actually think about going through this experience whether or not they go through it or not. There’s so much wonderful prep that has to happen. How has the marketing adjusted and kept up? I mean, 60% year over year growth is amazing. And you know, you’ve said in some of these other Huddles where a lot of the B2B community is really suffering. So anyway, how are you keeping up with it all?

JD Dillon: Right. When I started, I started with a two pronged strategy that I called thunder and lightning. Thunder was a loud awareness campaign of branding. And lightning was focused sales enablement. And now in 2021, I evolved the sales enablement to a more direct involvement with solar installers to get demand generation. So I went from enabling sales to more directly driving business, the funnel, as we all know and love. And that has become my mantra and in 2022, I’ve now refined that a little bit more to focus on more customer orientation and also pricing in another area. So I have four strategies now.

Drew Neisser: First of all, several thoughts come to mind but one is that you have a lot of pricing experience way back when, right. So that’s one of your secret weapons.

JD Dillon: Absolutely, because pricing is what you charge, but values what the customer buys. And if there is nothing more marketing than value, so it manifests itself in the price. So it’s pretty seamless.

Drew Neisser: I also have to just sort of go back to thunder and lightning as the metaphor the two prong strategy. And I’m immediately thinking of Thor in the Marvel movies, I don’t know why. But somehow or other, I feel like you need one of those big hammers, just like sitting in your office if it feels appropriate. Talk a little bit about growing 60% revenue is up, I’m imagining that marketing budget is going up, how are you connecting the growth of the company and the growth of marketing?

JD Dillon: Oh, absolutely. Well, last year, marketing paid for ourselves. So I originally was looking at as a percentage of revenue, which I still do, but we made enough profit from sales generated from the lead generation techniques that we use, to pay the bills. So all of the brand awareness came, quote, free. And what I mean by that is we had website, trade shows, and webinars as our three methods, and each have their own dynamics as to what works and what doesn’t. But in the end, we paid for ourselves. And this year, we’re adding roadshows and matter of fact, we already have, we’ve done three in Italy already. So we’re adding roadshows into that mix. So we’ll have four kind of demand generation methodologies. It’s been fun sales loves it, we pay for ourselves, and we get the word out there.

Drew Neisser: The lead is generated by marketing, whether it’s at a trade show, for example, or from a webinar, and then are you closing the deal on the website? Why would you call that marketing generated revenue?

JD Dillon: Actually, the websites a little bit different, the website is more inbound. Okay, so just getting the word out and somebody send it an email to his saying, “Where can I buy your product? How much did it cost for this? I have a commercial installation, where I have 180 panels, and I need optimizers. What’s next?” So that is the generation and in standard sale, SEO, and all the other things to get inbound traffic, and then we farm it out either to a distributor to our salespeople. That’s the marketing generated in webinars is just what it sounds like and trade shows just from sales.

Drew Neisser: I would think the CMO would need to go personally to help with those road shows, don’t you?

JD Dillon: I have not yet been to our office in Italy. I have somebody there. I’m going to Germany in three months.

Drew Neisser: Italy is absolutely my favorite country. Plus better sun, better for, frankly, better for for solar. Let’s face it. Okay. Really interesting conversation.

So let me tell you about CMO Huddles, launched in 2020. It’s an exclusive community of over 100 highly effective B2B CMOs, who share, care, and dare each other to greatness every month. One CMO describes Huddles as a cross between an executive workshop and a therapy session, and given how hard things are getting out there who doesn’t need a little reassurance that they’re not alone? Now everything about CMO Huddles is designed to be a force multiplier, helping you to make faster better and more informed decisions. Since no CMO can outwork this crazy job, CMO Huddles is here to help you outsmart it. All right, well, let’s bring back Toni and Jamie. Hello. So question, are you on the therapy side or the executive workshop side when it comes to what CMO Huddles?

Jamie Gilpin: I can jump in, it’s both for me, and which is why I love the CMO Huddles so much. Sometimes I just need to like, listen, and just nod my head and like, “Yes, I deal with that, too. I deal with that, too.” And then other times, we talked about the enterprise market just a little bit ago, like that’s an opportunity for me to learn what is working and what is most efficient and effective across different companies when it comes to getting in front of those buyers. So it’s both for me.

Drew Neisser: Very cool, Toni?

Toni Clayton-Hine: For me, yes, both. I would say I love this whole idea of being able to connect in a way that I learn something every single time. My favorite part is learning from the different types of industries that are represented. And I even mentioned earlier in the startup space, there’s a lot of people that are in new spaces with new companies and really breaking new ground and they can often be so incredibly creative and scrappy and ingenious about how they approach something because I’m lucky and so far as we have have a big brand, which often comes with a bigger budget. But it doesn’t mean that we don’t have the similar challenges. And just being able to hear how somebody’s approaching, it has always been my favorite part, plus the recap. Because if you can’t make it, and then you send us the recap of everything that was covered, you can feel like you don’t get the therapy side, but you do still get the information.

Drew Neisser: I love that, you reminded me once you’re farther along with your spin out, definitely remind me to connect you with Norman, who went through this at Acoustic and is a Huddlers at his new role at Mimecast. So I’m curious JD, wondering if you could share a specific example of how CMO Huddles has helped you in your day to day efforts.

JD Dillon: Great. Well, I love CMO Huddles because I can shamelessly steal ideas from the smartest marketers in the game, specifically demand generation. So I’ve never been in a SaaS company or in a direct B2C environment. So frankly, my skill set with lead management was a little bit lacking, you don’t get that in semiconductors, you just do it differently. And in the military, we call it a force multiplier, which is a factor that you can use that allows a fighting force to compete with larger forces. Well, frankly, that’s what I do with CMO Huddles, specifically, in the area of lead management. All of the great CMOs is there from a SaaS environment to make up for my lack of background in lead management.

Drew Neisser: Amazing. Thank you so much for those really great kind words. And yeah, I really see it that way, as a force multiplier. And I love to hear those stories. Well, thank you both for that input. If you’re a B2B CMO who can share, care, and dare with the best of them, check out CMOhuddles.com.

Okay, so we’re continuing on. So let’s talk about this issue of how do you make sure that marketing is seen as a strategic business function, as opposed to a source of leads and pipelines? And I’m gonna go to you first, Jamie, because you’re such a high source of leads and pipeline. So how do you make sure they say, we should talk to her about business strategy too.

Jamie Gilpin: That is a great question. Because, yeah, this is something I think about all the time. And clearly I just talked all about how we drive pipeline and revenue. So I believe the closer a marketing team is to driving revenue, and proving that the better that’s good for budgets, especially in times like this, etc, and especially for you know, a company like Sprout Social SaaS like platform, right? Marketing is typically a very critical part of the overall go to market. Our role in acquiring keeping growing customers is really critical. But that is like the most important word, dare I say, even more important than revenue and pipeline, because I believe one of the roles that I take responsibility for, and I believe is one of the most important for us as CMOs and marketers, is being the clear mirror for our organization, on how well we are serving our customers. What are we doing well? Where are we falling down? And it’s important for us and I think where—sales has some of that information product has some of that information—but where a marketing leader is uniquely positioned to be that true clear mirror across the entire customer experience, is that we have the voice of customer at scale. And so that’s personas, right? We should be updating those, sharing those across the organization educating, most of the time educating, sometimes reminding if you’ve got a really well tuned organization to the customer, but what are their needs? How do we meet those needs? What’s our differentiation? And that can be everything, you know, from a tactical perspective, that comes through and things like surveys, listening to sales calls. But as we look at this, and our customers look at this, the way that we’re really serving the voice of customer at scale for our entire organization, we can leverage social listening, right? That’s a big part of our strategy, we glean insights, we understand what’s top of mind for buyers, how that shifting, and we share those across the organization.

Drew Neisser: There it is. Okay, now JD, talk a little bit about the kinds of things that you’re doing to make sure that marketing is seen as a strategic business function as opposed to driving pipeline?

JD Dillon: Well, first and foremost, I believe customers are strategic. So it’s a great place to begin with, but I’m gonna be a little bit counterintuitive. I believe it’s important to be tactical to drive strategy. Now, this is gonna sound kind of funny. I organize our executive off sites and our internal quarterly visitor views and a lot of cross functional initiatives. I have found that he or she who drives the agenda and captures the actions can drive the company. Jeffrey Pfeffer, a business professor at Stanford, does this series on power, and he often discusses how influence in an organization can come from different areas and agendas and action items do just that. So you capture an action item, and people do it. That’s how you drive the strategy.

Drew Neisser: I hope young marketers are listening to it because so often, they’ll let someone else do the agenda or let someone else create the lead, I think that’s that’s such an interesting thing. So, because you were there, because you were taking the notes, because you set the agenda, if you will, you’re naturally leading, because you have to be talking in terms of the business, right? This isn’t about marketing, if we’re having our strategic planning meetings or quarterly business reviews, your CEO must appreciate it.

JD Dillon: He loves it, it’s less work for him.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, exactly. And also, there’s something about having someone who is thinking about communications, be responsible for that kind of thing, as opposed to say someone else, perhaps someone counting the dollars coming in? I so appreciate that notion. And I can imagine it, because it probably isn’t necessarily the case in other places, but taking a hold of the agenda at the executive committee, great suggestion, leading with customer information. And I’m gonna let Toni talk a little bit about the same question and topic and then we’ll keep going.

Toni Clayton-Hine: To me as the opportunity to make sure that we are looking at that customer, voice of customer as you’re talking about, and really aligning that to the broader strategy. So I look at what’s the bottoms up view, which usually comes from the demand generation, what do we want to sell? Who do you want to sell it to? How much do we want to sell? That’s sort of a bottoms up accounts level view, and then marrying that with the broader opportunity that’s in the market. So the proverbial bubble chart that shows you know, where are you positioned? Where are you going? How big is the bubble in terms of the size of revenue opportunity? We are in a situation where we have a very large portfolio. And so in each business unit or service line, and industry market has their own ways that they look at and drive the business forward. So the requirement for marketing to be able to synthesize what is the account level view with the broader market opportunity and align that to how do all of these different business units or products, if you’re the product, business, or services, cohesively solve for the customer, becomes really important. And usually people are sitting at the table from a product standpoint, looking at their individual P&L or their individual requirements. Or functionally, how do we look at how the people are engaged if you’re in a CHRO fashion. Or how much is it gonna cost if you’re in the finance group? And so, the idea that dot connecting for a marketer to be able to say, how do all of these individual activities are one make a fist, right, so that we can have one voice to the market so that we can cohesively be talking about the different perspective, we have the different ways that we can look at problems, the different problems that we can solve with our audiences. And the bigger the firm, the bigger the company, the more complex that is, which is why marketing becomes that connective tissue or should become that connective tissue. Otherwise, you’re just selling piece parts.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, which brings us back to this whole challenge, because if you don’t drive revenue, if you can’t connect the dots to revenue, it’s difficult to sort of maintain your seat at the table. We’ve got the CEO who in theory has a vision, we have the CFO who determines how money gets spent. And I’m wondering as you think about those two audiences, how you look at metrics that matter to those folks? And are they the same? And we talked a lot about customers at this point in time. Talk a little bit about the metrics that matter outside of marketing and how you frame them. Let’s start with you, Jamie.

Jamie Gilpin: Sure. So the other piece of marketing and being a strategy and former influencer and then hopefully leader, I go back to the clear mirror and being that ability to see around the corner, right? Like it’s like the short term, whether that’s a sales marketing strategy, go to market strategy, product strategy, like everything that goes around how you serve the customer. If you are seeing that across the entire organization for us, that’s very critical because we’ve got over 30,000 customers, and where you’re starting to see dissipation or a neglect, probably across the experience like that should inform strategy. Then there’s the other piece that the surveys or the listening insights that you have from social and seeing what is top of mind for our customers like chatGPT is blowing up right now across the marketing organization, right. AI, ML, as you start to see those things happening, what are we doing in product to address some of this? That starts to become really important to the future strategy, if you will, that you were talking about Drew and the metrics around this. And this is where part of my role in the executive suite but really what the board is yes, revenue, I talk a lot about, that our board is very interested in our funnel very interested in like all of the KPIs that we drive towards revenue. But beyond that, the metrics that I also share aligned to our company priorities. If your initiative or strategy is moving up market, or moving into a different segment, or a different buyer persona, or launching a new product, how is marketing impacting that and how are we measuring it? Share of voice or brand awareness, which, in some circles can be sort of that like, you know, fluffy type of metric, it’s actually very powerful. When we’re talking about share voice or brand awareness and a new buyer set or segment that we’re not reaching today, that is really powerful information. Launching a new product, and understanding product adoption and awareness in the market is very powerful for your team to understand if this is actually being adopted. So I do think when you tie your traditional marketing metrics to those priorities, that’s when they become powerful. That’s when the proverbial seat at the table is much more clear as to why you’re sitting there.

Drew Neisser: Right. So we’re not going to lead with those metrics because they are perceived as fluff even though we know they’re really important. But providing a context as you grow. Okay, so Toni in terms of metrics, you’re at an interesting point, because there’s the existing business, and you gotta keep going. And then there’s the new one or the new co, but let’s just focus for a second on metrics that align with the business full stop there.

Toni Clayton-Hine: I think that Jamie and I have a similar view on this. First, we have metrics for marketing, right to say, are we doing marketing as efficiently as possible? Are we making an impact and difference? Those are looking at our traditional marketing metrics in terms of click throughs, and engagements and things like that. And then oftentimes, that’s not the same as the business metrics which need to have a different flavor. And then within the business, as Jamie saying, there’s certain products or pieces of the portfolio that are looking for margin enhancement, there are certain they’re looking for brand awareness, they’re certain that are looking for consideration. So based on what that particular segment is looking for, we are known for tax and audit. So it’s not about measuring brand awareness, right? It’s about measuring the value that we’re delivering, and how does it continue to evolve and be innovative and relevant going forward in a world that has things like blockchain and chatGPT, changing everything, right. And then very different from the strategy business where EY Parthenon is a sub brand that competes directly with McKinsey, Bain, and BCG, who is really looking to show this is why our people and services and solutions are credible, very, very different set of metrics that we would look at. So we want to make sure that my team is having all those conversations, and they’re looking at how do they interact and interface with their business stakeholders based on their objectives, so that they don’t end up talking about click through rates when they want to talk about margin enhancements, they don’t want to talk about brand positioning, when you’re wanting to talk about different things. It’s also having that kind of internal client mindset to be able to think through what does my internal client want to know want to hear so that we can be considered and positioned in that way and relevant to their broader objective as well.

Drew Neisser: Okay. JD? So how do you develop metrics that matter to the folks outside of the marketing function?

JD Dillon: So the most amazing answer, ask them. I have a very rigorous set of one on ones with all of my peers, and the executive staff and you can ask them. Now the interesting thing is, some of them would surprise you. Their areas of interest to them as a professional, that might not be their function. They’re just curious about it. Somebody may be interested in branding, somebody may be interested in leads, even though it’s operations and you wouldn’t think it, so the short answer is just ask them and then you can’t deliver everything they want. But a couple of metrics to appease them generally pays off in the long run.

Drew Neisser: It helps to have those conversations and really listen to what they’re saying. I’m also wondering how having done that when you get these different, because they’re one on ones, you’re getting different input, as you said, someone says brand and other person says leads, the salesperson says “Can’t we get higher awareness because my sales guys are knocking on doors, and nobody’s heard of us.” That kind of thing. So how do you  sort it all out then and everybody talks about, we have to use the language of the business. Well, you know, the language of the business is revenue maybe restated as customer acquisition. But it’s hard to link every marketing activity to every dollar of revenue generated.

JD Dillon: That is true. But what you can do is link it to common sense aspects of the business. For instance, how many people looked at our press release, that’s a metric. Now it’s called something different and sales accepted lead, SAL, I’ve never said that, that’s foolish. Appointments, that’s something that they know, they want appointments. So speaking their language, and I have found if you clearly define the process, on when you’re going to involve them, when you’re going to take inputs when you’re going to define outputs, and have deadlines. And then if people don’t provide the inputs, and you just move forward, but telling them “Hey, it’s due it 4pm today. At 5pm, you published a memo, it’s done.”

Drew Neisser: And I’m marveling at appointments as really the metric it’s certainly the metric that, assuming after a week, your close rate and the deal size, you can pretty much from there, go to revenue projections, and make a lot of people in the organization pretty happy. Okay, one of the challenges that we hear a lot and Huddles is that everyone thinks they’re a marketer. And you know, they’re what’s the Superbowl “I know what marketing is,” and so they have no problem weighing in on almost all aspects of marketing. And I can imagine the similar thing with CMO saying, “Oh, I balance my checkbook. So I’m gonna weigh in on the CFOs, where they’re going to spend their money.” So how do you manage that aspect of it, either they’re dismissive, and it’s all it’s all fluff or I know marketing and this is how it goes. I’m just curious, Toni, how do you deal with that?

Toni Clayton-Hine: With such a large organization, we have a lot of people who are have a lot of opinions about marketing and marketing assets and creative and I just have always taken the view that it’s coming from a good place, right. So usually people are weighing in because they’re excited, and they want to contribute. And if they have an idea, they want to make the idea better, or put their fingerprints on it or something is better, and a better way to articulate that. So I love that actual participation in the process. I have colleagues that hate it, I just have always had a different mindset about it, I think that it can make the work better. The other piece is really trying to, and this comes with some convincing sometimes, which is trying to ferret out the tactic versus, or the input versus the output. So I love this particular tagline. I love this event. I love how this does this better. And so just trying to dig in a little bit. Why do you like that? What are you trying to get at? I think that we should add the word complexity. Why? Because things are complex. Okay, well, let’s talk about that. It’s not necessarily about this word complexity, but it means that we may not be showcasing how hard it is to do some of this work. Okay, let’s incorporate that. Maybe not as a campaign line, but in a lot of different ways, or is that the event you want to go? Do you need a ticket? Or do you need a sponsorship? Do you need a sponsorship? Do you need to speaking, what are you trying to get out of it? So I just really sort of try to get to the end game, and say, what’s the impact or the reason that you’re saying this, so we can abstract the actual word from the context, and then sort of celebrate it and say, thank you, because I like that people want to participate in the creative process, and nine times out of 10. If you don’t listen so literally and you listen in a more abstract way, you’ll probably end up with a better ultimate result.

Drew Neisser: I admire your generosity of spirit. This is one of the reasons why I could never work at a large organization and the company is called Renegade, because I just don’t have time for all this value add. And the reason I can go back to that is, if you know the customer better, and you do have that information on there. And that’s a really big if and you have that insight, then you have a defendable position and this notion of you ask for my opinion, I’m going to add value. I don’t know how this happens, but somehow or other there are a few out there who were able to inculcate the notion that you don’t need to add value here. You can let it go. But in your type of organization, I don’t think that’s possible. So one of us is suited to be renegade at a small focus and one of us is to be at a much larger corporation because I couldn’t deal with that. But JD how do you evolve your fellows in the executive? Have committee or C-suite appropriately to tap into their knowledge and get their buy in. But don’t create extra noise for yourself. Right? What’s the trick?

JD Dillon: So I have found three steps. Give me three steps. I’m a huge fan of Senator Skinner, you start with brainstorm, and have everybody there and you have pretty clearly defined ways to brainstorm, everybody gets a chance, everybody says there, fill, you take the notes, back to the note taking, and you have the brainstorm, then you capture everything. And then you send it around for review. And that review period is defined. You can’t do it in like an hour, but you can’t do it in like weeks, either. It’s like four business days, or something along those lines. And then at the end of it, you’re going to capture it, and then you’re going to act. And I have found that involves people in the brainstorm, the review, and then you act, and you spell it out and you follow a timeline and you stick to it religiously. The CEO gets a little latitude, but everybody else follows the timeline and it works well.

Drew Neisser: I think that’s really the key is that you’re recognizing, you are giving him a chance to have a voice. You’re also kind of saying, though you didn’t explicitly say it, you’ve expressed your opinion, we’ve listened to you to the extent that we can now we’re marching forward, are you with us? Right? In some sense, you’re getting their commitment. And obviously, once the CEO buys in, then everybody’s got to move forward. Okay. All right. Well, this is the moment in the show where we ask, what would Ben Franklin say to all this? And I think he would be thinking about our opportunity to enhance our organizations. So he would say “We make these times better if we bestir ourselves.” Okay, thank you, Ben, nice to have you on the show with us today. All right, we’re gonna wrap up. And we’re going to start with Toni, and its final words of wisdom, audience of CMOs, one or two things that they can do to align marketing with the business.

Toni Clayton-Hine: Know all the components of the business. So what drives revenue? What goes into the cost of goods sold? What does a fully burdened cost of goods sold look like? How can you impact SGNA? Just sort of being able to have a business conversation and then understand how that business conversation is also modulated by short term, long term, market dynamics, individual business results. So you’re not having a conversation about hyper growth and triple investment in a time when inflation is high and everybody’s talking about recession. So just being mindful of how is the business run? What is your contribution to it, and then being astute to figure out how else the macro economic landscape might be impacting that those decisions.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, and I thank you for that know, the business of the business, know how they make money. And one of the things we talked about in Huddles is how you, as a CMO, need to help your whole team share that and understand that knowledge. Okay. Jamie, what is your final words of wisdom for this?

Jamie Gilpin: Yeah, I’ll connect this to the conversation that we were just having around everyone’s a marketer, and the focus group of one is a good input, but not always the absolute direction that will go and connect it to your comment, Toni, I think, just as everyone’s a marketer, I think we as marketers also have to be finance informed maybe not experts, right, we have to be sales informed, we have to also, just like they have an opinion on marketing, we have to have an opinion on their functions. And as a member of the executive team, I think we all feel this, as CMOs, like we should be able to push and we should be able to ask the questions and open and I’ll agree with you, Tony, that, that and be open to their feedback on the marketing side of it, because it’s a collaborative, hopefully, functional discussion around the entire business itself. So know the business. The other thing that I will just add on, we’re in a different time right now and kind of adding to the conversations we are having about knowing our customer, all of us in marketing have to take a real different approach a different mindset to this year, the economic climate reduction, overall budgets, like the changing landscape like the rapid innovation from a tech perspective, we have to really lead our teams and our organizations into understanding what our role is in that what our product in our solutions role in that and how we can be real value added partners to our customers.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, all great, really, really great stuff. The one thing that novice CMOs going under the board for the first time tend to just stick to their knitting, which is fine In the first meeting, but really the expectation is that you’re going to weigh in on the whole business, so really appreciate you saying that. Okay, JD bring us home final words of wisdom on aligning marketing with the business.

JD Dillon: Words of wisdom. Well, my electric car is named Franklin, after the founding father, I know that’s near and dear to your heart. So I see the Ben Franklin quote on your wall, and I’ve often seen it. And here’s the words of wisdom. “We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” That is a great Franklin quote, I recently wrote a piece and submitted it, about the whole solar industry. That right now solar gets a bad name sometimes is the industry we need to pull together. Well, within our company it’s even more important. Small companies and large companies. I call myself the chief collaboration officer, which sounds a little cheesy, but in whatever organization you’re in, if you drive collaboration as the Chief Marketing Officer, and as you pointed out, put the customer at the centerpiece, good things will result.

Drew Neisser: I love it.  What a great way to wrap it up. All right, Toni, Jamie, JD, you’re all awesome. Thank you for staying with us.

If you’re a B2B CMO, and you want to hear more conversations like this one, find out if you qualify to join our community of sharing, caring, and daring CMOs at cmohuddles.com.

To hear more conversations like this one and submit your own questions while we’re live. Join us on the next CMO Huddles Studio. We stream to my LinkedIn profile, that’s Drew Neisser, every other week.

Show Credits

Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me! This show is produced by Melissa Caffrey, Laura Parkyn, and our B2B podcast partners Share Your Genius. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro Voice Over is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about B2B branding, CMO Huddles, or my CMO coaching service, check out renegade.com. I’m your host, Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade thinking caps on and strong!