January 11, 2024

Pipeline Playbooks for Peak Performance

Ready, set, drive pipeline! 

That’s the battle cry for B2B CMOs, where driving growth from day one is a given—and consistently delivering on that promise is non-negotiable. This episode zooms in on the tactical prowess of three CMOs who have turned pipeline playbooks into a science.

Tune in to hear wisdom from proven pros: Kathie Johnson of Sitecore, Joshua Leatherman of Service Express, and Gary Sevounts of Malwarebytes. They’ll delve into the critical assessment of a company’s current state and how to craft dynamic pipeline playbooks that not only meet targets but exceed them.

Expect to walk away with a playbook of your own, filled with actionable tactics and hard-earned wisdom. Are you ready to escalate your pipeline strategy? Get this conversation in your ear buds! 

What You’ll Learn 

  • How 3 CMOs design their pipeline playbooks  
  • Real world plays that work
  • How to define targets, opportunity stages, ++

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 379 on YouTube

Resources Mentioned 


  • [3:36] Kathie: Annual pipeline playbooks  
  • [6:20] Defining targets, incentives, opportunity stages  
  • [11:02] Playbook updates   
  • [13:12] Josh: Pipeline planning at Service Express  
  • [15:22] Does “Marketing-Sourced” matter?   
  • [18:09] Sequential plays (that lead to revenue)  
  • [22:45] Gary: 3 pipeline playbooks at Malwarebytes  
  • [24:42] No two company playbooks are the same   
  • [32:17] CMO Huddles: Rip-off & Duplicate, Enable & Empower   
  • [35:46] Real world plays that work   
  • [40:23] Targeting the $1M-$3M revenue space  
  • [42:23] Test, test, test!   
  • [45:47] Finals words of wisdom on pipeline playbooks 

Highlighted Quotes  

“If we’re not constantly learning, testing and growing, then we’re automatically already behind.” —Kathie Johnson, CMO of Sitecore 

“As CMOs or marketing leaders mature in their demand generation, they should not just be looking at the quantity that they’re bringing in, but the efficiency of conversion through the funnel.” —Josh Leatherman, CMO of Service Express

“It’s critical to get all of marketing to understand that the outcome is pipeline and revenue. If we’re doing something that’s not focused on that—unless it’s a critical function like brand building—it has to be focused on pipeline building.” — Gary Sevounts, CMO of Malwarebytes 

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Kathie Johnson, Josh Leatherman, & Gary Sevounts

Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. I’m excited that you’re here to listen to another episode of Renegade Marketers Unite. And if this is your first time listening then welcome. This show is brought to you by CMO Huddles, the only marketing community dedicated to inspiring B2B greatness. And that has a logo featuring penguins. Wait, what? Yeah, well, a group of these curious, adaptable and problem-solving birds is called the Huddle. And the B2B marketers and CMO Huddles are all that and more, huddling together to heat up the coldest job in the C suite. And now that CMO Huddles has three membership tiers, we’re ready to inspire B2B Greatness at all levels. To learn more, check out CMOhuddles.com. Now before we get to the episode, here’s a shout out to the professionals at Share Your Genius. We started working with them over a year 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: 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 Huddles Studio, our live show featuring the CMOs of CMO Huddles. A community that’s sharing, caring, and daring each other to greatness every day of the week. This time we’ve got a conversation on Pipeline Playbooks with Huddlers, Kathie Johnson of Sitecore, Joshua Leatherman of Service Express, and Gary Sevounts of Malwarebytes. Let’s dive in. I’m your host Drew Neisser, live from my home studio in New York City. While many aspects of being a B2B CMO can and are debated in the C suite, there is one that is not subject to argument. And that’s the need for marketing to contribute to pipeline. If brand is the fluffiest word in marketing, pipeline is the opposite. This is not to imply that brand exposure and demand generation are mutually exclusive activities. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just that only marketers believe this. As such B2B CMOs are faced with a clear mandate. From the day they arrive, demonstrate contribution to pipeline and subsequent revenue, or find yourself another chair and perhaps a different building. So in this episode, we are exploring this, deliver-or-die mindset. And the plays that these three CMOs have deployed to drive pipe. 

With that. When Kathie joined Talkdesk in 2019, that company ranked 66 on Forbes Cloud 100 list by 2022, and 2023 Talkdesk had climbed to number eight. Now the last time Kathie was on the show it was to discuss organizational design. And we’re delighted to have her back. Hello, Kathie, how are you and where are you?

Kathie: Hey Drew, it’s so great to be back. I am outside the Bay Area in California.  

Drew: So, you’re the one who initially recommended this topic and you shared that Talkdesk marketing team writes a yearly pipeline playbook. Can you share what this entails? 

Kathie: Sure, I’d love to, and thank you so much for doing this Drew. And I’m so excited to be here with the other CMOs. One of the things I want to say first is just to give it context. We all know that every CRO and every CMO has come through different experiences. And as it turns out, they have a different understanding sometimes. So one of the things that I did every year at Talkdesk and a prior company with the marketing team is to write a pipeline playbook. How many times have you worked with someone, Drew or anyone on the call, where you actually had a different definition? Some of the elements or chapters within the playbook that we always included. We started with definition so that we all started from the same foundation. We also defined all the stages for sales and for marketing. We talked about what are the Pipe Gen targets for net new for matching across anything that’s important to you. Sources, industry geography. We also document lead flow, routing, SLA, what are those service level agreements, that marketing has that CFM tab as it pertains to pipeline. And then we always include a snapshot of prior year results. Because we all know that if we’re not talking about the same data, then the conversation is really difficult. And the last thing I’ll say Drew is that not only do we create the pipeline playbook, but we then also build a forecast plan that showed how we will build toward those targets that are in the pipeline playbook. 

Drew: So much to unwrap, I wish that you could share with everybody what this thing actually looks like. But love the fact that we start with definitions because I know even in Huddles, we talk about marketing, qualified lead, or even if we’re not using that terms anymore, what a sales-accepted opportunity. What is that? So talk about the more subtle definitions in your experience, where you wrestled a little bit with sales, perhaps to define those?

Kathie: Honestly,  it does come down to some of the very basic ones. If you have targets by source like marketing, sales or partners, define those, put that down on paper of what it means and what needs to have occurred for it to reach that state of being qualified. Stage definition, opportunities, what a true opportunity, what are the sales segments that you’re actually targeting, basically anything that is relevant and important to what you’re trying to accomplish. And start with their foundational belief that you may not have the same definition until you write it together. 

Drew: So, you may have this deal where sales is going to drive 50% of pipe and marketing is going to drive 30% of pipe and partners are going to drive 20%, some kind of ratio like that. And do we even have to define what it means when we say it’s a marketing-driven? Or is it marketing source? What does that actually mean, when we start with target by source that they came in through SEO or the website or a lead program and how did you define it? 

Kathie: One of the things I found in one organization is that there was a misalignment initially that if any SDR had touched the lead, it then became Salesforce, right? At that time, I’ve had them work in marketing as well. So that’s how fundamentally different our definitions can be. So we tend to decide on whats the marketing touch that counts. How many days prior to it becoming an opportunity, does it count? Some people do 45 days, some people do 90 days, some people do 180 days. What are you going to decide in your organization with your CRO?  

Drew: That’s really helpful and one of the things that occurs to me is incentives matter in the scheme of things because the story that you told of an SDR who reclassified a lead, they get paid and incentivized to do it. So there can be shenanigans, if you will, of reclassifying. And I know that a lot of marketers, and this has come up in Huddles a lot, complain about it. At the end of the day, who cares because it might end up being revenue but it is one of those things where who’s getting compensated? How do you get around that issue so you don’t have folks reclassifying what was clearly at least initially a marketing source lead?

Kathie: That is such a valid point, Drew and one of the things that is so important is to look at the behavior that you’re going to drive. And make sure it’s the behavior you want, and ensure that the compensation ties to it. One of the things that we had at Talkdesk was that SDRs are not only compensated on net new pipeline, and by the way, I want them to make that money. But they were also compensated when the lead progressed to a sales stage three for us with path technical review and business review. So there was a desire because we knew that if we progressed a deal from sales one to sales three within X number of days, our percentage to close went up drastically more than two times. So our incentive program was built to help support that data. But you’re right, they all have to be tied together.

Drew: You mentioned stage one, stage two, I think it would be helpful to actually go through those, and in your case, what was an opportunity? Where did you land?

Kathie: We really were looking at a few things in marketing. One of the primary things we were looking at, that I don’t think everybody does, but I highly encourage is what percentage of your pipe closed one, right becomes one deal. And looking at the sources, and the triggers, what has made that happen? That’s really important. So one of the things we would measure that, then, as I mentioned, we discovered through analysis, that if we could progress deals to sales phase three, which as I said, would be truly qualified, post STR qualification, post technical review, right, that we had a target for that too. And we knew that if we progressed them to that stage, within X number of days, as I mentioned, we had two times improvement in close rate. You just need to know your data, and then figure out what are the levers that are really important along that lead process, that you need to drive the right behavior for.  

Drew: Right. So if you know that you’re going to close to x higher at this, then everybody also knows that were on your team, the STRS, we need to get them do that tech check. But the other side of this is there’s obviously buyer intent and buyer behavior and they’re only going to those stages because they want to go to those stages. So as we sort of wrap up a little bit, my last question on all of this, and we could go much deeper here and I hope the audience has some questions, too. But you did this on an annual basis, how often did you have to update it and evaluate was this playbook working?

Kathie: The full thing was rewritten from the beginning, every year. So if we thought a change in behavior needed to change and FMLA, or if we were changing an overall tactic or strategy that had an impact on what we were doing, we would update the playbook at that time. And then the playbook is accessible and needs to be communicated and shared with everyone across the organization. So everyone’s speaking the same language, following the same process, and of course, targeting the same recall.

Drew: You’ve mentioned SLAs, a couple of times, and this is one of the places where things break down, sales says they’re going to do something, it doesn’t get done. And given the importance of timing and all these things. And I’m imagining you learned over this time, that speed of response, and these commitments really mattered. So I guess the question in there is, how did you make sure that people actually delivered on their agreements?

Kathie: Yeah, so a few things. One, obviously, we have the documented and agreed-upon SLA. Then we actually had a report developed that aligned to that that could be shared. And then every week, we had pipeline reviews with each region around the globe. And in that, we would review not only how we’re performing, what’s working, what’s not working, getting feedback back and forth, but also sharing any SLA that aren’t being achieved with the data in the shared dashboard. 

Drew: Nothing like a little shame. If everybody else is doing it and you aren’t, that might get folks. All right. Well, thank you for that, Kathie. We’re going to now bring on Josh Leatherman, who is the CMO of Service Express and has been since 2011. He’s helped grow the company from 30 million in annual revenue to over 300 million. That’s a 10x. He’s graced our stage before to delve into the topic of brand and recession-proofing your marketing. Hello, Josh, wonderful to see you again. How are you? And where are you?

Josh: I am wonderful. Good to see you again, Drew. I’m in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Love it.  

Drew: I love it. So, you heard what Kathy had to say and I’m curious how your approach is similar and/or different. What were some of the things you are doing in terms of your overall pipeline planning?

Josh: Yeah, first of all, I love what Kathie said about SLAs. I think there are a lot of teams that kind of do just demand generation, and they forget about capturing demand. SLAs are the most critical way that you capture demand and by the way, it’s the most critical way that you become a good partner to your CRO, and your board of directors, and your CEO. It is difficult if you’ve not gained agreement on what a marketing-sourced opportunity is to be able to say this is what marketing did. In fact, oftentimes what it does is it creates kind of competition between marketing, sales dev, sales. We’re all in this for one reason to grow revenue to make the sales team more efficient. And getting agreement in advance is critical. SLAs are critical, not just writing and agreeing on what the SLA is, but systematic accountability on the SLA, what are the specific handoff points? When does demand hand it off to sales dev and demand comes off the field, and when does sales dev hand it over to sales, and when does sales staff come off the field and exception reporting is gold. Like if a company is not doing exception reporting within Salesforce or whatever their CRM is, saying, this was the SLA, this person’s not doing it right, and their leader isn’t reviewing that with them in their weekly huddle, you’re getting it wrong, and you’re literally losing. 

Drew: I wanted to touch on a couple of things that you mentioned, and we’ll go through them in order. One, you talked about marketing outsourced opportunities, that was the thing. And there’s a lot of debate in Huddles on whether or not we should be even referencing marketing sourced as a thing, when the company doesn’t care where it comes from, for the most part, they just want revenue. So some CMOs have gotten to the point where it’s only company opportunities, it’s like, if it was your case, it would be Service Express opportunities. And we don’t say it’s sales, or we don’t say it’s marketing. There’s also a mindset that sort of suggests this isn’t a handoff anymore. And I wonder, by calling it marketing sourced opportunities, at that point in time, does marketing just say, Okay, we’re done. Thank you over to you, your job? What are your thoughts on that?

Josh: Yeah, I think first of all, marketing, generally speaking, both people who aren’t in marketing, people who sit on boards, CEOs, CFOs, they don’t understand what marketing is or how it impacts business growth. And they are less inclined to give marketing decent budgets to go after demand if they don’t understand how marketing is moving the needle. It’s critical if they’re gonna give you a million dollars or $10 million, that you as a marketer are able to articulate the return on investment. And if the return on investment is greater with opportunities that are sourced from demand. And remember, demand has better tools and technologies, and resources to bring in people who may already be in the buying process as opposed to a sales team who really should be working opportunities, but they’re cold calling and they don’t have the intelligence that we have in our fingertips, to be able to understand. My estimation is you’ve got to be able to articulate in an authentic and unimpeachable way to a CFO and board of directors and private equity firm or whoever you’re working with shareholders, you’ve got to be able to articulate whether you’re providing value for the dollars you’re receiving. And if those dollars are more efficient, and go further with marketing or not. 

Drew: In essence, what you’re saying, and I really debated this in my mind, because I love the notion of one team going after and just closing business. But because of the perhaps ignorance and the misunderstanding of the role and the suspicion of the role, marketers just need to have that marketing source opportunity as a metric to demonstrate, hey, not only our marketing source opportunities, a percentage of pipeline, but they’re closing faster, or they’re closing bigger, or they’re closing with higher satisfaction. So all of those things make sense. The promise of the show was a playbook and some plays. And I’m curious because Kathie set up the framework of we have a whole playbook, we have a lot of definitions. I’m curious about your plays and are they executed simultaneously or sequentially? And talk a little bit about what a play really looks like.

Josh: Generally speaking, most are not simultaneously, they’re sequentially. Because typically, you got to look at the buyer journey. You typically don’t want your sales team working prospects, which are a lot of prospects that are too early in the buyer journey. You want them working people who are in the consideration stage, people who are ready to close. Demand should be doing that, they should be building demand, and helping people through education and awareness, enter that sales cycle for sales. So you don’t want teams tripping over each other at the beginning of the buyer journey. So most of ours are sequential.  

Drew: Okay. And by the way, Lee, thank you for your comment, which is on the screen. What she mentioned was from a cost of sales perspective, companies do care to Josh’s point, it’s about ROI, and efficiency of lead gen. Okay. Hard to argue with that. So thank you for that comment, Lee. Now I’m curious. So we do them sequentially. How are you evaluating this playbook? I mean, what are you doing to make sure that you’re in theory delivering more marketing-sourced opportunities that in fact, actually lead to revenue?

Josh: Yeah, I think a couple of ways. One is we are not just looking at the quantity that we’re bringing in. We’re looking at the efficiency. And I think that’s important. As CMOs or marketing leaders mature in their demand generation, they should not just be looking at the quantity that they’re bringing in, but the efficiency of conversion through the funnel. At Service Express, we know that opportunities that are sourced from demand have 5%, higher close win rates, they have half the cycle time, they close, typically in six months compared to 12 months. And they have two times the revenue. And so if we have opportunities coming from demand, our sales team is able to work less and be much more productive and efficient. And so we don’t have to have as large a sales team. In the sales team that we do have in place, they get to make more money and close less deals. So I think efficiency metrics are as important, maybe more than quantity metrics when you’re measuring demand.

Drew: Yeah, I mean, if you are closing two times faster, you want more of those kinds of deals, because right now that’s everything, right? Because deal cycles have lengthened for so many people and I would love to dig in and why that is or what marketing is doing. And then two times larger is another huge thing. And are you able to sort of understand why that’s the case?

Josh: Yeah, a couple of reasons. One, we do behavior scoring, but we also do account grading as well. So when marketing puts more resources, you get higher account scores, and account scores are based on lookalike prospects accounts from our customers, we know demographically, within certain industries, with certain equipment types, which are better profile targets to go after. Marketers have that information at their fingertips, we should be leveraging that in our opportunity sizes and efficiency metrics should be better. We also have access to intent. Resources in intent is a wonderful thing, not just third-party intent sources, but your ability as a marketing team to build behavior scoring and an intent scoring with how people are interacting with third-party websites. Your website, you can build a scoring model in Marketo or your marketing automation platform, you can use Bizible to track a lot of that information. Like we have the technologies at our fingertips to understand intent and probability of accounts getting more revenue.  

Drew: Yeah, so many good points. And, I’m just thinking in the old days, I remember a conversation I had with John Miller back in his Marketo days, literally 10, 11, 12 years ago, they were doing a demo on our website, they were a real prospects, its like 10x. get on them and it feels like there’s just even more sophisticated data. You’ve seen them on a review site, you’ve seen them go to a pricing page, you know that they’re qualified.  

Let’s welcome Gary Sevounts, who is a highly accomplished full-stack growth CMO at Malwarebytes, who has previously joined us on the show to shed light on the intricacies of growth marketing. Hello, Gary, welcome back.  

Gary: I’m excited to be back for this pipeline.  

Drew: Yeah. So where are you today? 

Gary: I’m dialing in Los Gatos, California near San Jose.

Drew: Well, we’ve got two on the West Coast, one in the Midwest, and here, representing New York City. So now you’ve heard from Kathie and Josh, how does this compare or contrast to what your approach is at Malwarebytes?

Gary: Let me start with a comment that throughout different companies, what I’ve learned is the approach to building demand, building the playbook is very different from companies that focus on small medium businesses, to midsize businesses to large enterprises, and to partner types of businesses. So I’ve seen playbooks in each one of those areas, and they have very different plays. But what unifies them, what is what we discussed today, the concept of the playbook, the concept of the SLA’s, and different types of plays. In Malwarebytes, we focus on partners, we’re a partner-first company, we work with a lot of managed service providers, a lot of partners, and our target here is small medium businesses. So from that perspective, we, from one side are focused to generate more interest with partners. There is a lot of Account Based Marketing type of stuff, a lot of enablement. What’s also interesting is we do create playbooks in a box for our partners to generate their own pipeline, which is sort of like enable the enabler. And we also use inbound marketing, for generating direct demand from SMBs to help to give it to our partners to accelerate their pipelines. 

Drew: And that’s an interesting twist. So first of all, there was a corporate decision to use the channel if you will, as your primary growth driver. And so then your target is your partners, obviously, and of course, and users as you described, so it’s like you have probably two different playbooks. One is the playbook, that it’s supporting partners. Maybe there’s three playbooks. There’s the playbook that you give to partners and then there’s the playbook that you do to help drive leads to partners. So talk a little bit about the differences in managing those and what you’ve sort of learned that’s working for you all.

Gary: Absolutely, you’re right, there are three playbooks. One playbook is on getting more partners, new partners. And that’s more around Account Based Marketing around inbound marketing. There are a lot of SLA’s around that, we’re growing really, really fast with that playbook. The second playbook is around enabling our existing partners, like many service providers and VARs, to grow their business. And within that, we’re educating them, we’re providing them, like demand gen in a box basically how to use marketing to generate pipeline for their end using our products. So that’s making a big difference for them. The third playbook is around inbound, direct demand generation with SMBs because we have a well-known brand that is really liked by a lot of IT professionals, and they’re coming to us, the playbook is around turning that interest into requests for contact or trials or other things, then we qualify that and then we give most of that to our partners to accelerate their growth and help them grow as well. Because as they grow, we grow. And the beauty of the partner model is you scale much faster in SMB environment than you would directly.

Drew: I think that’s so interesting, and so different than what we’ve been talking about with Josh and Kathie. And so the third playbook is obviously a wonderful thing. Because when you’re just handing a deal to a partner, and all they got to do is write it up. They’re loving you for the third one. But I would imagine the second one is pretty complex because you’re telling them, here’s how to market our products for you to get more sales. And the hard part must be how do you know if what you’re recommending, well, I guess you would know, because sales, but wouldn’t you want to look under the hood in their thing to make sure they’re executing as well as they can?

Gary: Yeah, absolutely. Think about it, almost like CMO workshop in a box, where you’re working with them on elements of demand generation, for example, you want to do email nurturing, let’s say twice a month, and here are emails that are going to work best for you because we have done A/B testing with those emails for a year. And we have a stable of emails and topics that are performing well. And we have metrics around that. So when we give that to them, we know that those are performing well. And we’re also training them on, okay, here’s how you do things in here. So you don’t do thing. things here are the SLA’s that you want to follow up. For example, if you get somebody requesting a quote or contact, you want to respond within five to 15 minutes, max, right? And then with select partners, we’re having full-off sessions when we look at their metrics and what’s working and what’s not working and adjusting. And then of course, we’re seeing results from partners, and what’s working for what’s not in our Salesforce.  

Drew: Now, I’m thinking about it, let’s just say there’s 100 partners, I know there’s probably lots more but typically there’d be the 2080 rule, like 20% of the partners are delivering 80% of the things. I wonder, Is this about helping the good partners be better, or bringing some of the laggards along? I don’t know. I mean, just feels like sometimes there are folks that simply won’t listen, and you can help them if they won’t, you know, yeah, you can bring the horse to water but if they don’t drink, what do you do?

Gary: Absolutely. And now, think about that. Also about two different playbooks. One playbook is around enabling the best partners to grow and grow faster and working more with them. So in our case, we have what we call the precious metal partners, there is like platinum, gold, silver. And then there are the folks who are just regular partners. So of course, you want to spend more time with platinum gold, silver, because those are the folks that generate more revenue, and you give them more personalized time, personalized enablement, spend more time with them. The second playbook is around upsell, and not just on the customer side but on the partner side. How do you get the regular partners to become silver, silvers become gold, and gold to become platinum? So those playbooks work in parallel and really make a difference they’re.

Drew: Interesting. It’s so different. It’s such a different structure than the first two. Is there any sort of lessons learned from some of these playbooks that you’ve done in the last year that really struck you as “Oh, wow. I didn’t see that coming.”

Gary: Yeah, absolutely. So what’s interesting is in a previous role, we sold to large enterprises like gigantic banks like top 10, top 100, financial institutions, and others. So we were extremely successful there, we achieved over 100% growth for several years in a row. Here, it’s a completely different place. So some strategies that work in larger enterprises like for example, Account Based Marketing, it works really well. personalized content works really well. AdWords worked really well, well, in SMB world, in many cases, that does not work, for example, AdWords, if you look at security space, let’s say your regular cost per click is for sake of example, $50, then you have 60 clicks per conversion, which we define as MQL. So now you’re talking about $3,000. If you have five MQLs turn into a deal, now you’re talking $15,000, right? That would be fantastic. If you have an average sales that is like $200,000, that’s fantastic return on marketing dollars. But if you’re in an SMB space, that does not work, because just the CAC on the marketing side does not work. So some of the playbook elements that work really well, like, for example, AdWords, in previous companies, or a certain type of events, they don’t work in SMB space. So things that work are SEO, content marketing, or inbound marketing, and things along those lines. So again, I’ve done this now, I think this is my sixth CMO role. And one thing that I do all the time is when I start consistently with the first presenter, I look at the playbook. We come up with our own playbook, work with sales work with finance, with customer success team and define all the processes in place, and keep rigorously running. We typically run like a lab like 10-15 different plays in parallel, and then we find the winners and kept scaling those as we try new plays in parallel.

Drew: Right. That’s a great summary. Thank you, Gary. It’s time for me to talk a little bit about CMO Huddles. Launched in 2020. CMO Huddles is a close-knit community of over 200 highly effective B2B marketing leaders who share, care, and dare each other to greatness. Given the extraordinary time constraints on CMOs these days, everything about CMO Huddles is designed to help leaders save time and empower them to make faster, better decisions. If you’re a senior B2B marketer and need a shortcut to B2B greatness, take a second to sign up for our free starter program at CMOhuddles.com. So Kathie, Josh, Gary, you’re all incredibly busy marketing leaders. I’m wondering if you could share an example of how CMO Huddles has helped you. 

Josh: I’m happy to start Drew, I would just say, I’ve said it before, on your shows, and podcast, I preach it to my team all the time, and I think it’s worth repeating. I really do believe to develop and grow as a marketer, I can’t be the same CMO for $300 million company as I need to be for a $500 million company. I believe in the concept of R&D, which is rip off and duplicate. If you desire to have a better partnership with sales or sales development, there are other marketers who have done that, who have strong relationships, many of them are in CMO Huddles. If you want to have a stronger operational side to your business, you don’t have to recreate the wheel, go find a marketer who’s built that. There are marketers in CMO Huddles, who have done that. I’ve desire to learn more about Account Based Marketing, international expansion as it relates to marketing. Drew, you have connected me or I’ve connected myself with other colleagues in CMO Huddles, who have that experience. So I don’t have to reinvent the wheel for my company, I can do it in 200% of the time because I can find somebody who’s built that and they can mentor and teach me.

Drew: Thank you and I gotta remember, rip off and duplicate. So, Kathie, any thoughts?  

Kathie: Yeah. I love what you said, Josh, love your little acronym there as well. I would say I’ve gotten so much out of CMO Huddles, mostly from talking to other CMOs who have different experiences, different learning. I agree. We’re always on a learning journey every day and we can learn from everybody. So I love the ability to connect with others. I love Drew how you connect. I often get emails connecting two people together on a topic that we might be interested in talking about. So to me thats something very special.

Drew: By the way. Thank you. I just sent you one yesterday, so but I think you’ll have a great conversation. And Gary, any thoughts? Last, but not least here.  

Gary: Yeah, absolutely Drew. Thanks, Joshua. have to come up with my own acronym. And that’s E&E, which is enable and empower. CMO Huddles to enable and empower my teams because there is so much collective knowledge on every single subject. There is so much practical advice here that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel all the time. And there are so many tidbits in these videos, as well as in your emails that summarize things. And oftentimes I share with my key leaders, some tidbits, and really that made a huge difference over the years over several companies  

Drew: Amazing. All right, well, I appreciate the three of you and those comments. And if you’re a B2B CMO who can share, care, and dare with the best of them, do yourself a favor and check out CMOhuddles.com. Thank you. Okay. So we’ve talked about general playbooks, and Gary you talked about how you do something, you figure out what works, and then you keep testing and keep getting better. And this is learning that you can share, I’m curious, can you give us a specific play or a series of plays that will help the audience understand what we’re talking about here? Let’s start with Josh. 

Josh: Yeah, I think we have a survey campaign that has worked out very well at Service Express. One play is we have a demand marketing team that literally pays top prospects based on account craving, gift card dollar value to tell us a little bit about their infrastructure, environment, buying decisions, things like that. And we take that information, we digest it ourselves, we build some content in nurture campaigns around that, then we hand that off to sales dev. Sales dev leverages that to have more valuable conversations with the prospect so we’re not just cold calling them and we understand their environment and then they schedule a meeting, we’re able to get that over to sales, they have a great one-pager cheat sheet that tells them exactly what the pain points in the buying factors are in the buying decisions for the buyer. And they’re able to be a whole lot more efficient because they’ve got that. So that’s just one example.

Drew: Great. And it helps me see through the process, but most importantly, because so often, you’ll be on the phone with somebody talking to him about the business, then you’ll have to “Oh, well, let me connect you with this person.” And they have no history. And so all of that information, and you’re starting cold, and it’s so frustrating. So the fact that the information comes along. Let’s see, Gary, how about a specific play?

Gary: Yeah, absolutely. The play I want to share with you is called Treasure Ops, we developed that in previous company where we were targeting large enterprises, and we had tons of leads, tons of MQLs and downloads, and lots of intent signals, right, and turning that to sales was helpful. But the scoring alone did not help. So what we did, we came up with a treasure ops program where we trained one person at this was our Treasure Ops leader, she would go through the leads through our intent signals, third party, and other intent signals through our scoring, right, and find out the top golden nuggets that were ready to move forward. And then she would work with the SDRs to develop specific plays to reach out to those and then she would work with sales to follow up in the right way and with content to develop some purpose-built content that would go into blog or email, and then be used by salespeople. And that was like a hyper-targeted Account Based Marketing. Within I would say six months, we built about $80 million pipeline, and that was an extremely useful model.

Drew: Got it. Okay. That’s a great example. Kathie, specific play.  

Kathie: Sure. I’ll share one that was called Quota Crusher. It was brought together from a leader on my team, Susan Asana, she was trying to accomplish a particular situation in which we had individual targets for sales, marketing, and partners. Although ultimately we wanted all of the targets to come together, right, regardless of who made it up, but the AE-driven source leads were down. So she built this program called Quota Crushers that was a marketing integrated program that was based on a particular theme that was resonating, going to particular audiences that the sales team needed to target. And there were marketing plays tied to it or marketing campaigns tied to it and then there were calling list days. So for the AEs around the globe, everyone had the same day. And then there was a call to action for a webcast. So it was a fully beautiful, integrated program that was so successful that she ended up running it every quarter because the spike in the lead generation to collaboration between sales and marketing was just magical.

Drew: And I think I heard so many different things but I just want to put a punctuation point on. This was a collaboration between sales and marketing. This was something that you ended up being able to repeat and the fact that there was like Game Day, the fact that everybody was focused on one thing on a particular day just makes so much sense to me. And I’m not surprised that it was that successful. I do want to sort of raise the question from Jason Kramer, if anybody has any tips for B2B targeting all-size businesses, but you know, with a one to $3 million dollar revenue space, I mean, is this more focused on leadership adoption as an approach, and I don’t know if that’s enough information for you all, to offer an opinion. Anybody want to take this one?  

Josh: I think leadership adoption is table stakes, like you’ve got to have that if you don’t, then forget about it, you’ve got to be able to have that cast the vision, but I just think two would be think about the key roles you need. One is demand generation, another is a great marketing ops person who can build systematic accountability into how the flows through two different things. And I just say the one other role that’s been critical for us as this sales dev rep role, we found that passing leads directly to the sales team. It just wasn’t working. We knew if we followed up with a lead within five minutes, they were 850% more likely to pick up the phone and we were able to schedule the meeting. So don’t discount the support roles for demand that you need to have on the team in order for demand to be captured and successful.  

Drew: And just to be confirmed, because I’m such a believer in this. I’ve certainly proselytized on the notion of this team that you’re talking about that got the lead and responded within five minutes. This was reported into marketing, right? These were the equivalent of BDRs. 

Josh: Exactly. 

Drew: Got it. And so this is one of those things that if marketing is held accountable for a certain level of pipeline, you need to have control over qualifying to get it to pipeline, because if you don’t, then there’s so much more competition between sales and marketing and the and distrust, but here what’s like, we’ve all agreed that if we do this and this and then the future customer responds this way, you can take this handoff, and there’s no debate. But if you don’t have that the debate continues. Okay. Josh, you mentioned having a marketing ops team that can help measure and evaluate. I’m curious, Kathie, how much testing is involved in these pipeline playbooks? 

Kathie: You absolutely need to test all the time, the market is not static. And I always say to my team, that if we’re not constantly learning, testing, and growing, then we’re automatically already behind. So we need to always test and test in a way where we can define the results, like really understand the result, and then move forward and continue to test. So absolutely a key part. And I completely agree with Josh, the operations team is critical to your success.

Drew: Gary, I’m going back to something that you said where you guys did all this testing on emails, it worked for you, when you hand it over to the partners and said, “Look, these emails are working.” I’m curious if the partner when they did implement it, did they work the same way?  

Gary: Yeah, absolutely. For some folks didn’t work the same way. Some didn’t. A lot depends on the amount of names they have in the database, and how they can customize that. And they how can they measure that? But Drew, if you don’t mind, I would like to really quickly return to the question of one to three-million dollar companies because one of the companies, a few back, I joined a company that had a 600k a year in revenue, and the model sales model was failing, right, we were running out of money. So we had to completely revamp the model from like outbound marketing to inbound marketing. We went with virtually no marketing budget and went from 600k to $15 million arr within two and a half years, it was a huge transformation. A lot has to do with focusing on truly understanding where the customers are coming from, what is the demand partner with sales, but we put some specific plays around. And again, email marketing was a huge part, we developed a playbook by itself. And then we focused on the website on SEO on SLA s with sales, which are within five to 15 minutes. And again, we’re able to get to $15 million and reduce the marketing CAC from $20,000 per deal to $1,800 per deal within like, a year. I know we have limited time here, but if the person who asked the question wants to reach out directly to me, I’ll be happy to have an offline conversation. 

Drew: That’s great. Definitely appreciate that. So it reminds me of the early days of HubSpot when you are a small company, creating an inbound motion is a lot cheaper with email, right? Either outbound email or email as a follow-up is a lot cheaper than it is hiring big Salesforce, spending a lot of money on demand generation advertising, and so forth. So that is a perfect segue into what Ben Franklin would say. And of course, we always ask that question on the show, because I look at Ben Franklin as America’s first Chief Marketing Officer. Without him, we don’t happen, that is the United States. So let’s say what Ben would say is “energy and persistence conquers all things.” And certainly the case that the three of you have described, it is very much setting the play, and then it’s about the persistence of following through. So. All right, we want to have some final words of wisdom for other CMOs that are listening when it comes to pipeline. I think we’ll start with Josh. Okay, final words of wisdom for getting those pipeline playbooks up, running, and improving?

Josh: Yeah, I would just say, I’ve mentioned it before. Number one is a lot of companies focus on demand generation, focus on demand capture by building out a strong operational team who can build systematic accountability that converts MQLs, which is demand generation to sales, qualified opportunities. Number two, focus on efficiency metrics, you know how are opportunities in leads, converting through the entire funnel, be able to articulate that, I think, is just critical. 

Drew: It’s so important, because going back to what you said, during the show, one of the things you discovered the source of the lead could determine a 2x in terms of deal size, which means you need half the number of deals. And so the efficiency metrics are important. And again, you could get sort of excited about sheer volume and really make a mistake right now where it is about the size of the deals that you’ve been closed and the speed of the deals you can close. Okay, Kathie, final words of wisdom.

Kathie: Start with your alignment, for sure. Across the organizations that touch pipeline, documented, as I talked about with the pipeline playbook. Ensure you’re always testing what you do, always on a learning journey. Analyze constantly, understand what’s impacting velocity, what’s impacting conversion to one. Be ready to make amendments on what you’re doing and then just do it all over again, keep repeating.  

Drew: In the brilliant words of a copywriter one day, rinse and repeat. All right, Gary Sevounts, what is your final words of wisdom? 

Gary: I have three words, focus, focus and focus. Something I learned over the years is focus on demand generation of pipeline building, we have so many different functions and in so many different areas as CMOs, and it’s critical, in my experience to get all different parts of marketing, understand that outcome is pipeline, that revenue, whatever we’re doing is focused on that, if we’re doing something that is not focused on that, unless it’s critical function, you know, like rock brand, building, whatnot, it has to be focused on pipeline building. So I joke with my teams that all of us, including myself, report to the head of demand generation.  

Drew: Interesting, and I love that. And when you say demand generation, you’re really talking about using Josh’s term of demand capture as much as you are, where are you talking about both getting more into the pipeline and then capturing it through and there’s a distinction, right? Because demand generation is perhaps selling the category or it’s a broad net to get someone interested, whereas demand capture is about, I’m in the market to buy the service that you’re offering, you’re just making sure that you know that my brand is a good choice. So help just in terms of your comments about focusing on demand gen. 

Gary: No, that’s a good question. It’s very simple. In my definition, demand equals revenue. So it’s truly revenue generation and that’s how I define my demand themes, that what matters is the revenue and we are hand in hand with sales through every single stage and the end goal is revenue generation.

Drew: The end goal is revenue generation and what a perfect place for us to wrap up this show. That’s why we’re here. As marketers, we are here to help the company grow. It may not be the only thing we can do but if we don’t do that we don’t get to keep a seat at the table. All right. Well, thank you, Kathie. Josh, Gary, you’re great sports and so informative. Thank you, audience for staying with us.

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!