B2B CMO GTM Strategies with Sangram Vajre
Oh, do we love any and all conversations with Sangram Vajre! At the heels of co-founding his new venture GTM Partners and co-authoring the WSJ best-selling book MOVE: The 4-Question Go-To-Market Framework, we invited Sangram to join a CMO Huddles Bonus Huddle (re: a private Q&A) to help B2B CMOs rethink their GTM strategy and wow…
He did not disappoint. Tune in for a fantastic episode with a seasoned marketer-at-heart that covers the CMO’s role in GTM, signs your GTM strategy might be broken, which metrics matter in the world of GTM, and a whole lot more.
What You’ll Learn
- The 4 key parts of a successful GTM strategy
- The important rule the CMO plays in GTM
- The key signs that your GTM is broken
- LinkedIn Top Voices in Marketing & Advertising
- MOVE: The 4-question Go-to-Market Framework by Sangram Vajre
- MOVE: The Go-to-Market Podcast (includes 1000 episodes of Flip My Funnel)
- Bloomberg: Tech’s High-Flying Startup Scene Gets a Crushing Reality Check
- MOVE Templates (includes the GTM executive scorecard)
- Drew’s 2015 Q&A with Beth Comstock: Part 1 | Part 2
- Renegade Marketing by Drew Neisser
- Share Your Genius
- [2:09] Meet Sangram: From Nagpur, India to Tuscaloosa, Alabama
- [6:17] Behind M.O.V.E. (Market, Operations, Velocity, Expansion)
- [11:08] Signs your GTM is broken
- [14:23] Where does product-led growth fit into GTM?
- [18:33] The Enlightened CMO’s role in GTM
- [33:08] GTM building = constant experimentation
- [35:00] “Clarity is more important than certainty”
- [36:21] The GTM executive scorecard
- [39:06] “GTM is not a project, it’s a product”
- [42:15] It’s all about expansion
- [45:53] CMOs, align around one of these 3 metrics
Highlighted Quotes“You can have a great product, but if you don't have the motions working from a go-to-market perspective and you don't have an effective and efficient business model around it, you’ll die.” —@sangramvajre Click To Tweet
“CMOs are the future CEOs... CMOs are more strategic because they’re not building a product or a sales team, they’re building a story & narrative for the business, thinking about where it needs to grow further.” —@sangramvajre Click To Tweet“From a board perspective, CMOs are looked upon as the most strategic leaders in the organization.” —@sangramvajre Click To Tweet
“There's nobody else in a better position than the CMO and the marketing team to impact each and every one of these four go-to-market questions. I couldn't be more bullish about it.” —@sangramvajre Click To Tweet“Go-to-market is a daily iterative way of changing things.” —@sangramvajre Click To Tweet
Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 301 on YouTubeFull Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Sangram Vajre
Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. I’m guessing that as a podcast listener, you also enjoy audiobooks. I know I do. Well in that case, did you know that 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? You can find Renegade Marketing on Audible or your favorite audio book platform. And if you enjoy the book and write a review, let me know about it and I’ll send you a hard copy of the book for free. Now, speaking of podcast before we get into today’s show, I want to do a shout out to the podcast professionals at Share Your Genius. We started working with them about 4 months ago to make this show even better and have been blown away by their strategic and executional prowess. They’ve helped us improve the show in big and little ways—I hope you notice—so much so that our monthly downloads have doubled. 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. Alright folks, you’re about to listen to a bonus huddle, a specially curated huddle from CMO Huddles that we run once a month with experts sharing their insights into the topics that are most important to our huddlers. The expert at this particular huddle was Sangram Vajre, who is the Co-Founder of Terminus and Co-Author of the book MOVE: The 4-question Go-to-Market Framework. Sangram is a fellow marketer at heart, having lead marketing at Pardot when it was acquired by ExactTarget. And then ExactTarget when it was acquired by Salesforce. Sangram was most recently named one of the top 50 voices on marketing by LinkedIn—Oh, what a great group by the way—and host the top 50 business podcast called Flip my Funnel. And he started a new venture called GTM Partners as in go-to-market partners, which I’m sure we’ll be hearing about. I’m delighted he’s agreed to join us today to share his thoughts on how to rethink your go-to-market strategy. Welcome, Sangram. How are you and where are you?
Sangram Vajre: Drew thanks for having me. I’m so glad we actually get to do this. I’m based out of Atlanta. Quick story on where, like on Friday, me and my family we’re leaving for a month to India because I’ve not been to India for like 6 years. So looking forward to make that travel. So in the world of work from anywhere, I’m literally going to be working for a month from somewhere else.
Drew Neisser: Wow. Good for you. That’s exciting. But so before we get too deep into the topic at hand, I’m curious because I know you went to Nagpur University in Maharashtra—I don’t think I pronounced that right—in India. But then you ended up at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. So how does that happen?
Sangram Vajre: That might take the whole time Drew so I don’t know how far everybody’s interested in it. But yeah, a lot of people said, “that’s a culture shock.” I’m like, “No you got that wrong. that’s a culture culture shock.” Because you know, you go from India, all the way to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It’s just a completely different like football is a religion over there. Like you just—it’s a very different place. And for me to go in there—I’ll share just one quick story on this. This was like my first week I was in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 2002. And yet english is not my first language. I’m just walking in, I haven’t even started the school. I haven’t even gotten my master’s program yet. So I’m going there looking for assistantship, you know, or get paid for the assistantship for the rest of the year didn’t have a plan for that. So I go around, I go to this chemistry department and this elderly Southern woman—just picture this in your mind again, like this conversation happening from somebody who just came off from India. And I’m having this conversation with her and she could hardly understand me, I could hardly understand her. The very first conversation. And then I can over by Indian type resume, which totally like to like where his what what’s going on? And I’m like, “Hey, look.” I was literally doing hand motions after this because we couldn’t communicate. It’s outside it says you need an assistant for your IT work. I can do that. Like, can I do it? She looked at me, looked at the resume, looked at me, looked at the resume. And then she said this, she said, “I’m not the sharpest pencil in the box.” And I’m like, “I don’t see a pencil in the box!” Like I was afraid it was a way of saying it. And she laughed and I laughed and I’m like, “Oh my gosh.” And then my friends took me—this ass 2002 VHS files were still like, I don’t know how many of you guys remember, we’re just like big VHS tapes were still in motion. They took me to the library and they said we will we will tell you everything about America. They got me with a full set of VHS files for Everybody Loves Raymond, Seinfeld, and Friends. And they said watch this. And you will know everything you want to know about America. And I’m like, I was binge watching before binge watching was cool.
Drew Neisser: Oh, that’s hilarious. Oh my gosh, that’s a perfect setup, for talking about go-to-market because this was go-to-market at a university where you might as well yeah—foreign country, essentially a foreign language. amazing, wonderful. And of course, in 20 years, you’ve come a long way and done some incredible things. I want to get right into the book, because, first of all, I really enjoyed it. And I loved MOVE as an acronym. As you know, I’m a fan of acronyms. I’ve got the CATS in my book, and you use MOVE. So let’s start there and maybe you can explain what each of those letters mean.
Sangram Vajre: Sure thing, it literally is helping companies figure out what their next move is. So when you think about go-to-market, a lot of companies think about go-to-market in a way of a product launch. Saying, “We’re going to launch a product, so we need to think about—” or a marketing thing because it has go-to-market, so it’s a marketing thing. Or maybe a sales channel. Again, we are going to go-to-market, we’re going to have a new sales channel to do this. So everything that I could read on this topic of go-to-market was very much focused on either a product launch or a sales channel or some board for marketing might do and very little about the holistic view of what go-to-market is. So I ended up interviewing a ton of people and you have the book that I interviewed like Brian Halligan, who was the CEO of HubSpot, Mark Roberge, who’s teaching at Harvard right now, Nick Mehta CEO of Gainsight, many CMO, CEOs, VCs who had over 200 exits, and as I was asking them and interviewing them around go-to-market. And that’s literally what led to these 4 things and what I’m about to share. And what’s interesting about this is we started with about 51 questions or so that we asked each one of them and it came down to the 4 questions, which is what led to the acronym MOVE. So M O V E, the first one M is Market, O is for Operations, V is for Velocity, and E is for expansion. So you think about those 4 questions are literally the questions that Brian Halligan was the CEO of HubSpot at that time, over 100,000 customers, public companies asking, all the way to an early stage startup, a million dollar company, they’re all asking the same questions. But the answers are different. So I’ll just give you a quick rundown of that, as you think about it, market who you should market to. While an early stage company might say, “Well, anybody who has a pulse, right?” Because you’re just trying to get a value and you’re trying to see if you can sell it. But as you move forward and have let’s say, you’re $20 million—$50 million company, you’re now after going specific segment, you’re still asking the same question. But now you’re focusing on something different. You think about operations, which is what do you need to operate your business effectively? In the early days, I remember at Terminus, when we started, we were like 3 co -founders starting it like we were running our own numbers. And then we—I added a marketing operations person or finance person who’s running all the operations. But as you move forward, 2 years ago, we’re right as we crossed 50 million in revenue, we hired somebody who run RevOps for us, Revenue Operations. And some of you might be familiar with that role as it has merged now really runs that she literally would come in every Tuesday morning for executive meeting, she will put a go-to-market dashboard, and she would say, “Alright, here’s a marketing, sales, CES, product usage, expansion, everything is. Here’s whatever ARR, NRR looks like and here’s where we should focus on.” And she would do that for 15 minutes and it’s probably the best part of my meetings when I was at Terminus, because I’m like, “Wow, now we know where businesses and where we need to go.” And now that my understanding of operations, or where we should focus on was very helpful, we’re able to make business decisions. The 3rd question, the last of these, which is, when can we scale our business? That is a common—most common question. Everybody’s asking when can we scale our business? And so in the book, we go about specifically people ramp, which is how quickly can we get people productive? And then the other part of the ramp is the enablement ramp. How do I make my go-to-market team? Which is marketing, product, sales, customer success. All of them together, how can we make them enable faster? So those are the two RAMS. Once you get these RAMS together, you can figure out and answer the question, how can we scale our business faster? And the last one E is where can you grow the most? Talking to Scott Dorsey was the CEO of ExactTarget. He’s the one who introduced this one. Initially, he was experienced and then it became expansion because when he said look the thing that kept him up more than any other question, the market operations velocity was E. He’s like if I can’t figure out where I can expand and grow the most, I don’t know what the next year or two years will look like when you think about where you want to grow. So it could be do I need to acquire a company? Do I need to do an agency partner? Do I need to hire more salespeople or marketing people? Do I need to go in a different region like North America to Europe or whatever? Those are all expansion questions. So hopefully, as you think about market operations for lasting expansion, you can see that most—as I stated earlier, people are thinking about go-to-market as a product launch or a marketing thing, or a pure sales channel. It’s really not it’s much more holistic than that.
Drew Neisser: You covered a lot of ground. And I think I am going to throw a softball one at you here, which is how do you tell when go-to-market is broken?
Sangram Vajre: Oh, this group seems to be a good bunch. So you guys can drop in the chat, how do you know because we can pick on something like that’s a—drop in the notes. As Drew asked the question, “How do you know your go-to-market is broken?” I go pretty deep in it. Drew you can tell me my chat box is not right in front of my screen.
Drew Neisser: I got it. We’ve got churn, we’ve got team loses focus, top of the funnel is not growing, marketing is not involved in product discussion, sales marketing and product groups have different goals, sales and marketing not aligned, ad customer experience issues. Wow, that’s a lot.
Sangram Vajre: Wow, constipation, that’s what I see highlighted on my channel. That’s a good one. These are all real challenges, real challenges. So you know, it’s truly a softball. And if you’re taking notes, this is the product thing, maybe the most worthwhile part of the book is to figure out how do I know my go-to-market is broken? And where is it broken really. Because that really becomes the crux of the situation, because you could sense it most of you in your organization. Like something is not—the gears are not clicking yet. Like I think we got this going. But this thing seems to be constipated, right? There’s something going on, that just doesn’t work. And in the book, we go through these 5 different areas. Number one, you can create but can’t market. That’s your first valley of death, you have a great product, but somehow your marketing is just not creating more and back. So create, but can’t market. The second one is market but can sell. Obvious your marketing is awesome and I’m assuming everybody on this call is an awesome marketer. So you can get a ton of demand, or a number of people more eyeballs, but somehow your sales is not converting them. So it’s very important to isolate where the gears are not working so you can fix it. The third one is sell but can deliver. This has happened to me a number of times where you sell—the salespeople are selling everything under the sun and then the product team is like, “Wait a minute, we don’t have that enterprise function, we don’t have sought to sort of forget, we don’t have this that in the other end.” You got an issue between and this is important. The teams, the sales and product like that’s why the teams that is very important is marketing sales, customer success product all together. The fourth one is deliver but can’t renew. This is where the churn issue that kills most businesses is that oh, we’re delivering product. But as soon as the end of the year where your customer is saying, “Sangram we love you!” That’s the most dreaded sentence anybody could say to somebody because you know what’s coming next. “We love you, we love your team, we love your product. But we just don’t know how to show ROI of this do get more budget.” So deliver but can’t renew. And the last one, which is renew but can’t expand, which is really where the NRR, the net retention rate, becomes the bigger the best companies in the world are going to have better NRR as we’re all recognizing it so: great but can’t market, market but can’t sell, sell but can’t deliver, deliver but can’t renew, and renew but can’t expand.
Drew Neisser: Interesting.
Heidi Bullock: Hey, Drew, can I ask a question that I think would be an interesting one for this group?
Drew Neisser: Sure!
Heidi Bullock: I feel like we hear a lot about product lead growth right now where everyone’s like, “Hey, if you have product lead growth, that’s amazing. And you actually don’t need marketing.” I’m curious if that might be an interesting spin on some of these topics. Because I think there’s like this real trend in the market where hey, if if that’s what you have, you don’t really need marketing, in a lot of cases, even sales. It just is so magical. And I have thoughts on that. But I’m curious what maybe the team thinks or what Sangram thinks.
Drew Neisser: Yes, where does PLG fit into this?
Sangram Vajre: And another thing is you’re thinking about it is in our research that we did—this is again a two year plus research—is that you have typically more than one of these valleys of depth. Like you not just want one—and it’s never the case that you’re done with it. For example, you might say, “Well, yeah, we got our marketing, right,.” Guess what, as soon as you when you launch a new product, all of a sudden, you have to reimagine who your target audience is your ICP is and you have to go back to the drawing board system, more circular motion than that. So many—all the research that you have done, you typically are in at least more than one value depth. That’s one. Two, on the PLG. Hi, that’s a great question I saw post yesterday. And I think Sastra posted recently about it. Like all these PLG lead companies have massive marketing budget, like massive marketing budget, you would think about like HubSpot that just use them. Because I’ve extensively talked to Brian and dimension. And many would think like the 60% of their new business they get best based on what they have reported, actually is a PLG, because they’re getting inbound and people are turning into and stuff. So it’s 60%, it’s a public billion dollar company. And they have a massive marketing budget, they have a 20,000 plus people come to the inbound conference that they run every year, the budget is over 20 million just for that. And then on top of that they have a massive sales army, working on figuring out how do we create sales motion. And as a matter of fact, their CS team is also part of the sales team, because they have to continue to create How To Remove from SMB to mid-market or sell them different tiers and all those things. At a minimum, from my experience, I’ll be curious to hear the group’s reaction to it. I’ve seen that they have a bigger marketing budget than actually other companies that don’t have PLG. And the reason I think they have a bigger marketing budget is because you’re expect to have a bigger inbound machine coming in, you can’t really have a big inbound machine coming in without a bigger marketing. So if you actually go in a company that believes in a PLG motion, marketing is actually going to get more budget than a typical traditional sales driven company. The second point to this as I was reading Bloomberg, and I posted about this a couple of days ago, Bloomberg wrote that—the weekly Bloomberg that came out, it had a whole article around, I forget the name of this VC and he said this thing, it says that companies don’t die, because their product stops working. Companies die because they run out of money. And that’s a very sobering time to think about it like you can have a great product, but if you don’t have the motions working from a go-to-market perspective, and you don’t have an effective and efficient business model around it, you will die. And this is a Bloomberg article and he had a whole bunch of VCs and whole bunch of companies and CEOs, but all of their valuations, he had to pick up the call, tell all of the founders and CEOs that the valuation that we gave you, which was over a billion dollars, now you have to raise another round, and it’s going to be lower than a billion dollar. And all of the CEOs and founders were freaking out, and some of them had PLG motions. And he’s like, “No, no, you’re gonna die if you don’t raise another round, because you’re not a profitable business. And therefore great product doesn’t equal you surviving.” Which actually it hurts to even say that, it’s having a more effective business model is what’s going to help you survive.
Drew Neisser: Interesting, I want to go back to—so we’re talking about go-to-market. In your book, you say the CEO is the one who really needs to own GTM. I totally get that, but we’ve got an audience of CMOs here, what role do you see the enlightened CMO who understands your playbook for GTM playing in all of this?
Sangram Vajre: I have a big, big notion on this, that the CMOs are the future CEOs, like each one of the CMOs—
Drew Neisser: Wait! Say that again, I just want everybody to hear it. The CMOs are the future CEOs, okay!
Sangram Vajre: CMOs are the future CEOs. And some of you already have probably seen this, like I’ll just say at Terminus, Tim Kopp, who’s running it, he was a CMO of ExactTarget, John Mueller, he was a CMO at Marqueto became the CEO of engagemedia, Jeff Perkins, who I believe is not like he was a CMO, and now is the CEO. They’re like tons of examples that are actually brewing up. And in the next 3 years, I imagine they give a lot more and use a reason why it was literally the fact that CMOs are strategic. Most people think, well, the Chief Revenue Officer should be the CEO, because they got the numbers, they got the mallet, they got the whole thing. And you know, and they have a number on their back and stuff. But here’s the problem with that, they’re not as strategic as CMOs are. CMOs today have such a broader view of everything that’s happening, you’re touching every part of the business than any other business function for that matter. Plus, if you have RevOps, and part of that comes in, I think you just make yourself really good. But the most important thing is that you are a strategic leader, more strategic than any other business leader that goes into a business. You’re not building a product, you’re not focused on just product. You’re not building a sales team. You’re building a story and narrative for your business. You’re thinking about where you need to grow further, you’re literally your CEOs best friend. And that’s what I asked most CMO friends of mine, like, just go because I’ve been involved me, y’all will have probably a bunch of board meetings, board meetings are nothing but a storytelling, right? You’re snapping the story and saying that, alright, this doesn’t work, but we know this is gonna work. And you have to have the conviction to do it. It’s a CMOs, wheelhouse elements. So I think the CMOs are gonna be the future CEOs. And I feel the reason I said in the book, and it came out of the research is because like, again, all these interviews, every single CEO I interviewed, they didn’t even blink their eyes when I asked them, so who wants to go to market, and they said, “Oh I own it.” Every CEO. And every CMO, I talked to the CMOs like, “I’m not sure, I think more CRO owns it. Or maybe I own some part of it.” But you ask the CEO, they will tell you straight up, they own go-to-market.
Drew Neisser: I get the CEO saying that they own it. And obviously they need to own it, because it’s all aspects of the business. I mean, it is fundamental. What’s interesting, as I’m thinking about the CMO as the future CEO, first a lot of the CMOs I talk to don’t want that. They don’t want that job. That’s part one. But those that do the way the role is defined today, the good news is, as you describe it, they’re touching everything. The bad news is they’re touching everything. And so it makes them vulnerable, because there’s so many things that could be measured on and the only one they’re being measured on is revenue.
Sangram Vajre: Well, let’s do this. Maybe in the chat, just do plus one, if you want to be a CEO, let’s see in this group, how many of the CMOs want to be a CEO one day.`
Drew Neisser: Oh, they’re coming in! Boy, they’re coming in fast. All right. That’s not all of them. That’s not that many. Okay, interesting.
Sangram Vajre: And this might be a great conversation point, if you want to open up because a lot of times the idea of CEO is like, wait a minute, I don’t know, to me, that is the most exciting time for the next year, because we all see this post like, “Well, my CEO doesn’t get marketing. And I’m not saying well, you should never work for CEO who doesn’t get marketing. Well, whose fault is it? I think it’s our fault as marketers that we haven’t done a great job of getting CEOs to understand our value beyond the leaves and beyond the events and beyond all the other things. And I think the new modern leaders and CMOs are actually starting to see that and they actually have more control in the boardroom, if they want to. I’ll share a real quick story on this one. Being part of, again, bunch of boards and as an investor as well, there were 2 specific instances where the CEO was an operator and wasn’t a marketer. And he was talking about a point of view of selling to marketers, the board stopped him and pointed all of their attention to the CMO. And as the CMO, what do you think, and the CMO for the first time felt like they literally had the power and that CMO started talking about like, here’s what I would think about, here’s where how we need to be empathetic towards them. Here’s how we would go about it. And here’s what I would do. If I had a, you know, bigger opportunity beyond the budget that I have, the board unanimously decided that that’s what they should do gave more budget to the CMO, like literally is part of the board conversation. And it changed the whole rhythm of that company. And I watched that, and I witnessed that. And I looked at that. And like this is the part where I think more CMOs need to be vocal in their board meetings around this or get their story heard, because the board is aching to hear that story from the CMOs.
Drew Neisser: The fact that CMOs could very well be in position to become the CEO because they are in the most strategic role. I still want to step back for a moment and say, these are CMOs right now. And we’ve got the four the market, operations, velocity, and expansion. And then we’ve got the valleys death, where should a CMO right now, when determining GTM strategy? What do we want these folks here to do? Other than understanding what GTM is, and they can’t own it, because the CEO is supposed to own it—even if they don’t. What did they do in this circumstance to make sure because let’s face it, if the GTM is wrong, they lose they’re probably the first one out the door, then the sales guys out the door.
Sangram Vajre: That is so true. Well, so the two things that in the book, we there is a whole chart that I put there for like what is the role of CEO, CMO, & CRO. And for CMOs based on all the interviews, we identify like they are the galvanizers. You are all the galvanizers of it going back to again, CMOs are very strategic. So the best thing you could do for your organization and you’re actually looked upon as like yeah, they are distributors of business is to set conversations to have go-to-market conversations. Right now what’s happening is everybody’s just reactionary in their mode. “Oh, this doesn’t work. Let me go fix that.” But the CMOs every time CMOs trying to do like it’s hearding the cats like I think everybody probably feels like it’s part of your job is to bring people together. Alright, we don’t have the right target. Like some market. We are not going after right ICP needed to figure out we cannot put all our furniture in SMB and mid market and enterprise all together. But guess what, who is going to make that conversation happen with the go-to-market executive leadership team is the CMO. Because they get to help them. It’s like, “Hey, look, tell me where do I need to drive appointed gustu? Do we need to go after this or that?” And they can bring things together. Who is responsible for them to create the right ICP? Who they’re responsible to create and bring them? So it ends up becoming the CMOs role as a galvanizer of bringing these conversations together, where the CRO and others they’re now hitting, there’s “Okay, we’ll go there, we’ll do this, we’ll do this.” But I think CMOs a strategic role. And if there’s anything that I can part on this group is that you are the strategic leaders like literally from a board perspective, CMOs are looked upon as the most strategic leaders in the organization. And so I think more CMOs need to just accept that and own that.
Drew Neisser: This helps me a lot the book which outlines how to think about go-to-market strategy, what I love it is I can wrap my mind around it, my brain can understand what you’re talking about, which gives it a pretty good shot of other people can’t do because I like things simple. And this I thought was simple. So if you understand the framework and you drive it, but recognize the CEO is the decider, your job is to sort of lay it up there, get the teams together, get focused, and recognize that if you’re in one of these valleys of death, you got to say, “Hey, we’re in a valley of death, we got to fix this and here’s how.” And recognize sort of these four things. But it’s funny because then number two, which is operations, CMOs really only touch part of that, obviously, there’s a whole nother aspect of it, that they’re not touching in velocity and expansion. So the really the most strategic part of this will be in market, right? Defining ICP, adjusting ICP, deciding when to expand all of those things. That’s the core strength.
Sangram Vajre: That’s gonna be the starting point Drew. I would again, encourage and challenge everybody is that that’s the core strength. That’s probably the most obvious area for all of us, as from a marketing perspective, and you’re expected to do it, but I will throw this out is like, let’s think about the one that you may think, “Oh, I’m not sure how we would do it. Like it’s probably velocity.” Well, how can we scale our business? Like how can marketing help? How CMOs can do this. And I’ll give you a clear example on that one. Velocity is about as I was saying earlier, two ramps. People ramp and enablement ramp. People ramp is like how quickly can we get everybody in the company productive meaning how quickly a marketer can create new demand? How sales reps can get quotas or an engineer can you know ship a product a feature like all those things. An enablement ramp is that how can my go-to-market team be on message, on target, and be able to drive the outcomes so that we appear to the outside world in unison and what we are trying to do? So you got these two ramps were important ramps in organizations to scale. From a marketing perspective, I’m seeing that the people ramped includes onboarding. And more and more of the marketing team is starting to have the onboarding part of the employee relationship, employee culture, hiring of that part is actually starting to become more of a really strength of marketing. Because marketing, we can help create great culture, talk about what the culture we have, and attract the right talent and then create a great onboarding ao everything is on point. So they can be instrumental, you can be instrumental on the people ramp. Now let’s talk about enablement ramp. Enablement ramp, like, gosh, how many times marketing gets to say, “Give me more leads, because we will not closing fast enough”? Well, that’s where marketing can come in and say, “Well, let’s just look at how are we enabling the first call DAG, the second call DAG, the positioning around and listening to all those calls, and figuring out what content needs to be created. Marketing has a huge role to play on that. So even the one that you might think not sure, I think marketing is best position, I would actually say there’s nobody else better position than the CMO in the marketing team to impact each and every of these 4 go-to-market questions. I couldn’t be more bullish about it.
Drew Neisser: I’m with you. I totally agree. We’ve had lots of conversations in huddles in the last 3 months over the importance of onboarding, particularly when you’re going through a brand refresh, or you get a values or any kind of other sort of major brand shift. But also, particularly in this moment of retention issues and recruiting issues. Suddenly having a stronger brand seems to matter a lot more and the CMOs are definitely the keeper of that. And we also spend a lot of time talking about enablement. It’s funny because we talked about pipeline issues most of this month. It was the first time in a while where I heard a lot of sales is in closing. We ended up with a lot of mid funnel and lower funnel conversations. Sales isn’t closing and so the answer from sales was give us more leads. And Marketing’s response was no close the ones that you have. And so I felt like this tension is going up and I think there are market forces outside of all of this where I think deals are closing slower. You may be starting to see that in general in the market. But I’m just curious in your mind, God forbid the sales and marketing divide resumes the way it was 10 years ago, but I feel like that’s starting to creep into the conversation and that matters. And that’s where this enablement part really, I think you’re talking about comes out
Sangram Vajre: What is truly inspiring, honestly, I think I’ve gotten to a point where I can say all day long sales problems or product problems, the reality is my job is on the chopping block. And I hope everybody recognizes that your job is on the chopping block at the end of the day, because I’ve never seen a company actually have given marketing more budget when the revenue numbers have dropped. Never seen in the history of like 15-20 years of it. But at the same time, I’ve always seen marketing get unprecedented or more budget than the previous year when the revenue numbers have gone up. I’ve just never seen him to action. “No we’re going to take money out of marketing, because our company is doing good.” No, it’s actually the opposite marketing just gets more budget. As soon as the revenue numbers go up. So point being I’ve just learned started companies were sales and marketing from a VC perspective is also one number. It’s literally sales and marketing, but we are tied to the hip you like it or not you want it or not, it is what it is you have to live with it. So once you get through the S curve of like, denial, shock, and all the issues that go through, and then come on the other side of the S curve, and say that, “Okay, I got to deal with it. So what do I do?” It is not a sales problem is your problem, the sooner you can bring it to the forefront? And because if it’s your problem, what you need to do is not say their problem is like, go back to the same thing. You are a strategic leader. So what do you do as a strategic leader? You bring this as a key conversation, a strategy, call a conversation at the executive level. Hey, what are we going to do that? Because we can keep pumping in but do we need more sales enablement people? Do we need more less AES? Do we need to pull a product thing? What do we need to do? I think CMOs are the best position to make those conversations happen, because you’re watching this in front of your eyes. And as matter of fact, I bet if you’re really a number CEO who’s looking at the numbers, not just the messaging part of it, but also the numbers, you probably have an early indicator on what’s happening in the funnel before even sales looks at it. I know some of you actually have seen that, like, I know, this is this, I’ve seen this movie before. I know how this is good. So get ahead of it and start working it and create that strategic conversation. I think that’s why the CMOs are the future CEOs too.
Drew Neisser: So we’re gonna open this up for questions, man, I see at least one question about changing your GDM strategy. Deidre, you want to come on?
Deidre Hudson: Hi, hi, I’m doing this. First of all, I was looking forward to this, like all day, we are changing our strategy, we are going up market, we’re looking to attract a larger seller than we have historically served. And I am building out that strategy. I’m freaking out a bit, because I’m like, where do I start? Funnel? Well, you know, all these things. And I’m wondering, number one is building that strategy out when you are not launching a new product, you’re just kind of changing who you’re going after? Is that a different strategy? Or is that a different exercise? And then number two, when you’re building a plan, how granular do you get? I mean, do you want to include in your plan, like these are the tactics I’m going to use? Or are you going to—should this plan be a lot more high level, you know, kind of maybe addressing the traditional four P’s?
Sangram Vajre: My view on this one is I’ve loved and used this word over and over. And the more I’ve used it the better it has gone for me as in my career, which is experimenting, we are going to experiment this for the next two weeks, and see what works, and then come back and report and adjust. And then we’re going to continue to experiment, you have just tried to use that word. And the day when I have given the full plan, the very next hour, things have changed. And I’m like I don’t want to do this ever again. So what I do is I have a high level template of plan ideas of like, here’s what we might do. But I will constantly pushing the conversation. Hey, we’re going to experiment this for the next two weeks, we’re gonna go and do these two things that I know for sure we’re going to test and we’re going to try a couple more things. And I’m going to report—because that’s the most important part is report two weeks in what happened, what did we learn? What are we gonna do try next? And that keeps the conversation going. A lot of times having the plan has been the biggest challenge, the biggest problem often because now people are holding you to a plan when you know that okay, that’s not working, then why do you do it? In most cases, if you go with an idea of like, “Alright, we have these two things going on under excrement these two things here, and these two things here, then I’m gonna report I’m going to communicate every two weeks how that thing is going until we get to a point where everybody’s on the same page.” That’s how I’ve gone about it.
Drew Neisser: And by the way, I mean, we talked about this and I know Caroline Tien Spalding is a big fan of it, you know, getting 10-20% of your budget always in experiments because the experiments could be your full budget if things change it happened at the beginning of the pandemic when suddenly events were off the table. So having experiments always helps, but I love that idea too. Because the assumption is we have a go-to-market now we’re looking at another go-to-market you don’t just sort of pivot because you don’t want to give up what you already have is the interesting thing. So you’re just you’re building and trying to make it additive as opposed to sort of leave the last one behind.
Sangram Vajre: One other thing I’ll add you to that is something that I’ve said this and seeing is that clarity is more important than certainty. I’ll just say that, again, like being clear is way more important than being certain. Like nobody can guarantee certainty outside of taxes and some of the things like you really can’t guarantee anything in life, right? So certainty is not really what people are looking for. If you really peel the onion a little bit, you’ll see that people are not looking for certainty what people are really looking for is clarity. Like, what do you think? How clear are you about the next two things you’re going to do? Because if you are clear about the next two things you’re going to do, then in some ways, there is certainty that you are going to get there. I don’t know how I don’t you don’t know how but there is a clarity on a path to get to the certainty. So I default is like, let me be as clear as possible, as quickly as possible, and see what we’re experimenting on. And let’s be so good. So clear about that. Just the next two steps we’ll figure out the rest of it. And I think that’s what the executive team is looking from us.
Drew Neisser: Thank you for this observation to challenge on if you’re moving up from say small business to enterprise, you really have to have this question. And that’s one of the your valleys the death is the product right for enterprise? Is it ready? Because you could say, “We want to go after them.” And then find out you can sell but you can’t deliver, which was one of the valleys to death. Okay, we had a question from Jen Houston.
Jennifer Houston: Hey, Sangram, how are you? Thanks so much, it’s been a great conversation. So my ears perked up on operations, because I think often, a marketer doesn’t always think about as such a huge part of their job as operations. But I am in totally intrigued. What were your indicators to be able to go through a full scale left to right, go-to-market in 15 minutes with the exec team? Because that’s what we always struggle with there, what are the best indicators to demonstrate the progress of the—and you mentioned, this was across 5 or 6 different parts of the business? So give us your?
Sangram Vajre: Well, let me show you exactly what we did. The executive scorecard that we showed was literally the 15 mins of the best 15 minutes and everybody knew what was happening in it. There was no question I was like, “Well, you know, I don’t know how you pulled together. So here’s a template”—that’s on the movebook.com, by the way—so it’s called the go-to-market executive scorecard. So it has the net retention ARR expansion all the way to the product usage. But it literally gave us okay, where are we forecasting wise from net retention, because at one point, that became the most important thing for us as a business. Now you as a business today, ARR might be the most important thing for you. So you just did make it there’s freedom within framework, all of it. But for us, we put the most important thing for this quarter at was net retention rates. So we started thinking about that. And then we’re looking at where we are forecasting wise, not only that we started looking at at the bottom, this so you can see the leads and all the other information really get to the bottom of it. And you’re starting to look at where we are even you you think about the product line. So leading new ARR by product line. So every single product line had an ARR number assigned to it. And we’re starting to look at it by product, we’re looking at our funnel efficiency and seeing that well how fast are we closing now? Then here are all our segments or a we already had a definition what A-type account engage looks like what B-type looks like? And what are our top 100 accounts look like? These are the most important metrics, because we know 70% of our revenue was coming from these accounts. So how are we doing with these engagements across the board for top customer and accounts. We’re looking at whatever product in 10 trends, how many of the new customers that are coming in that we know are seeing in 10. This is an example where in within 15 minutes, we knew we’re not where we need to be on NRR. We’re good on some of these metrics. And we’re not even talking about the ones that are green, we’re talking about the ones that are yellow, or getting to borderline red. And that gave us the next 45 minutes to really focus on so every person on the team started becoming a business leader specialize in marketing or product or sales. Nobody on that call was a marketing leader, or a sales leader or a product leader defending their numbers. And even everybody was a business leader specialized in marketing. So that allowed everybody to be better.
Drew Neisser: So you mentioned in the book that GTM is not a project and that we should treat it more like a product. Can you explain what does that?
Sangram Vajre: Drew, I’m so glad you asked. That was the funnest conversation of all that we had with some of the CEOs and one on the back of the book, you would see a quote from like—I’ll just use Brian now. As Brian Halligan again at that time he is the CEO, public companies here again. That’s it. All right, who owns go-to-market? That was a common question of the 50 question we asked. And he said, “I do.” Come on, Brian, you’re a CEO of a public company. You have many other things to do. I understand that the buck stops at the CEO, if you’re saying it from that perspective, but no no no who in your organization owns it? It’s like, you don’t understand Sangram there’s only 3 things I own. I own the vision for the company, where we’re going after it trade that to the investors, to my team, to the partners, to the market, to the employees. I have to do that every day 10X a day after understand after the greatest advocate of our vision that’s number one. The second, culture. If I can attract, if we can attract the right people no matter what our dreams aspirations are, we’ll never get those are the sexy parts of my job is that those two everybody knows I own. The third that nobody gives me credit for like that’s his way of saying like, “Yeah, I do this work, but nobody gives me credit” is go-to-market. And his point was I think about go-to-market as a product. This is different than strategic vision for the company. That’s what you do offsides for. You go on off site, you create a strategic what we’re going to do? Where are we gonna end up? All that stuff. That’s not go-to-market. Go-to-market is a daily iterative way of changing things. For example, He was telling me like last week, we made a decision on are we going to go the agency route, or we continue to go through that, or we’re going to go and hire more salespeople to go enterprise, he’s like, who’s going to make that decision, I have to make that decision. Because I have the view and all the data around this thing. I can get recommendations from everybody. But as a CEO, I have to because you’ve got to have tremendous implications on the business outcomes of it. So that’s what go-to-market is much bigger. But his point was you made that every day. It’s like a price of bug fixing, right? Your bugs there, you’re fixing them, then you are your features, there are some works, some don’t. So it’s an iterative process. It’s not a strategic vision casting or a QBR that you do every quarter of sight, it is something you do every single day. And Drew I thought that was just a very novel way of thinking about go-to-market.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, that’s hard. Because if particularly for CEO, because if he really does have to look at it every day, it’s so problematic. I mean, let’s set the vision, hire the people, and distribute the money, right? To me, those are the three things that a CEO really does, because it’s where they spend the money is the decision that really makes, you know, those are ultimately the decisions that drive success or failure, right?
Sangram Vajre: Yes, some people might go now to negative one, if they want to be a CEO after hearing my Brian does, they would say, “Negative one. I don’t want to be a CEO!”
Drew Neisser: There’s so much that I wanted to cover.
Sangram Vajre: Question there.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, you want to go ahead? And what about customer experience?
Alan Gonsenhauser: Hey, great to see you. Again. It’s been a long time. Congratulations on your book and all that, you know, and I think go-to-market is very important. I agree with everything you said. But I think customer experience is equally as important. I get asked a lot, you know, who’s responsible for customer experience? And I think that’s an easy question. It’s the CEO, he or she can delegate it to someone. And I also believe that CMOs when they’re responsible for customer experience, that’s another trip to the CEO. I mean, that is so important. That’s future valuation, that’s ROI, that’s everything. So I think the customer experience is equally as important as go-to-market strategy, then—
Drew Neisser: Whoa and what do you say? Is it Sangram?
Sangram Vajre: Whoa, okay, so E, as I shared earlier, in the MOVE framework was for experience, I truly thought like. Well, that was the key like, oh, I mean, it sounds so good too, right? like, like, experience, ultimately, we want to have this connected, frictionless experience, like we had all these definitions put together. And then I have a conversation with CEOs. And they’re like, “Are you kidding me?” Yeah, of course, it’s important, but it’s not on their on their list of the most important things that makes or breaks the business to them. That’s table stakes. That’s like almost having like, you will not survive as a company if you don’t have that anymore, well put together, you will burn and go away. So to them, it’s not that it’s not important, to Alan’s point it’s very important. But to then that’s table stakes, you got to have great culture, like that’s why culture is not there, you gotta have great vision, you got to have a great product that works. All those things are almost table stakes. Now, it’s like so important that if you don’t have that you may not even survive. But if you want to thrive, if you want to break through, and you want to have an outsized impact on your business, then E based on all the CEO research conversation, I had said that you gotta constantly think about expanding either through products, to services, through verticals, to regions, to partners, whatever that is, or through different markets going up market, down market, whatever it is, you have to constantly channel your company, you have different experimentation going on on the growth factor. And that’s why we put an expansion but out and I don’t agree it’s important.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, what I’m thinking when hearing this is CMOs could try to fix it customer experience. And they be okay. CMOs who drive expansion of the business are going to win, period, end of story all day long.
Sangram Vajre: All day long
Drew Neisser: And what that means is if you’re the CMO who says, “Hey, we’re going to expand overseas because we’ve done our homework and we think we can do it” or “We’re going to have a new channel partner, or we need a new product line or we need a new vertical.” That’s a winning formula. To say that we’re going to improve the customer experience is really nice, but it’s another soft thing like brand that doesn’t show up in the bottom line right away. So I feel like that conversion, that insight that you found a moving from experience to expansion is like, boom! That’s it. That is like the ultimate sort of big message here. If you want to be a CEO, if you want to really be in the driver’s seat and drive the thing, you’re getting past these first three things, of figuring out the market, getting the operations to think get the velocity going, but expansion, I’m thinking of Beth Comstock and GE Imagination and GE Health Imagination and what that was. That was a whole new marketplace, it was a billion dollar proposition that is expansion that can come from marketing. So it makes it very exciting to me. We are running out of time, is there anything else in your mind that we should as CMOs be thinking about when it comes to go-to-market?
Sangram Vajre: The parting thing that I don’t have in the book, which gives me the ability to think about the next book, or when I write on go-to-market is what I’m learning through all the work that I’m going doing right now to go-to-market partner says, “Marketers need to start aligning around one of these 3 metrics, maybe 4, but at least 3. Either they’re given the ARR number, and most marketers are aligned to that. A few are aligned to the GRR number, the Gross Retention Rate, which is really making sure that your churn retention that Heidi was talking about earlier. But the best, the next gen, the modern, where the CEO, Pat, really is true for it is the NRR. Is really attaching yourself as like, “How can I create an IRR value?” Because lasting companies are going to have NRR as one of the greatest metric. And it’s just as true for the business to be surviving or not. They can have great ARR but you can have the flames and gone flames and gone there too many companies like that. GRR is kind of starting to say that, “Okay, we are legit, like we can survive.” But thriving, lasting companies are going to be having great NRR. The CMOs who attach themselves and understand and question and facilitate conversations around that are going to win big in their organization.
Drew Neisser: And just to be clear, just in case there’s someone who doesn’t know what NRR is—
Sangram Vajre: Yeah, its Net Retention Rate. It is really how you expand your business from one product to multi-product or one-region to multi-region. It essentially saying that, can I sell more of the existing product to more people within the company so we can expand existing customer value? And the more companies you do that, and the more customers you do that, the better the valuation for the business.
Drew Neisser: Yeah and I have to say, if we are headed into a recession, which is quite a possibility, everything’s going to flip. And that’s going to be even more important than ever. So getting that on everyone’s radar. Well Sangram, thank you for an incredibly vigorous, interesting conversation. So appreciate you being here. Yeah, we could have gone on—we’ll have to do this again really soon.
Sangram Vajre: Thank you so much for the exciting conversation. And we can continue that on LinkedIn or any other places. Thank you so much for the time Drew.
Drew Neisser: If you’re a B2B CMO and 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. Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser, hey that’s me.! Audio production and show notes are by our friends at Share Your Genius. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins. And intro voiceovers Linda Cornelius. To find all the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about my new book and the savviest B2B marketing boutique in New York City visit renegade.com. I’m your host, Drew Nisser and until next time, keep those renegade thinking caps on and strong!
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Renegade marketers. Unite is now a production of share your genius. Melissa Caffrey is our content director. The music is by the amazing burns twins and intro. Voiceover is Linda Cornelius to find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about them. And the savvy is B2B marketing boutique in New York city.
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