Allison Munro - Adriel Sanchez -  Kristin Fornal
September 23, 2022

B2B Marketers Overcoming The Great Resignation

Guest: Allison Munro - Adriel Sanchez - Kristin Fornal - CMOs, Vena Solutions - WalkMe - Brand pH LLC

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The Great Resignation, The Great Renegotiation, The Great Reshuffle… whatever you want to call it, recruiting challenges are alive and well in the B2B world. That’s why we brought in 3 savvy, inspiring CMOs to share their approaches to attracting talent via Great Cultures, Great Experiences, and Great Brands… all while the world adjusts to a new hybrid reality. Don’t miss this one, featuring:   

What You’ll Learn  

  • How to tackle today’s recruiting challenges 
  • Tips for optimizing hiring practices 
  • How to build winning culture without office 

Resources Mentioned 

Highlights 

  • [2:30] Allison Munro: Recruiting is a company motion  
  • [8:47] How Vena is building exceptional employee experiences 
  • [11:23] Adriel Sanchez: Lean into your purpose 
  • [15:28] How to hire faster AND better 
  • [18:03] Kristin Fornal: The T-Shaped marketer 
  • [21:52] Recruiting via culture and community 
  • [25:02] CMO Huddles testimonials  
  • [27:32] Managing budgets during The Great Renegotiation  
  • [32:47] Building culture without office 
  • [34:59] Better brand, better recruiting 
  • [40:07] CMO-certified B2B recruiting tips

Highlighted Quotes  

“The real challenge is to prioritize your people experience with the same rigor and enthusiasm and focus as your customer experience across the business.” —@yomunro @Venasolutions Click To Tweet “Being able to pay people at fair market value is important. The added value goes beyond that. It's built on belonging and transparency and inclusion and culture.” —@yomunro @Venasolutions Click To Tweet

“Hiring is not an HR or a people problem. It is a leader’s problem, an opportunity to disseminate your vision, show up where your community is, & really advocate for the opportunities at your organization.” —@yomunro @Venasolutions Click To Tweet

“We've been extremely deliberate about each member of the interview panel, focusing on a specific area so that we are not asking the same questions over and over so that we can accelerate time to offer.” —@Adriel_S @WalkMeInc Click To Tweet 

“Always be hiring. Talk to every single person that someone may bring up as an interesting person, even if you don't have a role open, and make the time to talk to that person.” —@Adriel_S @WalkMeInc Click To Tweet

“Instead of looking for a specialist in one area, the T-Shaped marketer lays out foundational marketing knowledge and key areas that you need to know, and then you go deep into a marketing vertical.” —@kcfornal Brand pH LLC Click To Tweet 

“Hire for the specific and technical marketing skills, then teach the industry. That’s easier than really looking for that needle in the haystack.” —@kcfornal Brand pH LLC Click To Tweet 

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 311 on YouTube 

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Allison Munro, Adriel Sanchez, & Kristin Fornal

 

Cold Open: 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 Renegade Marketers Live, 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. 

In this episode, we’re airing a really valuable and timely conversation about recruiting in The Great Resignation with Allison Munro of Vena Systems, Adriel Sanchez, who was CMO of Newsela at the time and is now at WalkMe, and Kristin Fornal, who was at IAM Robotics and has gone on to found marketing agency Brand pH LLC.  

Now, let’s dive in. 

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: I’m your host, Drew Neisser, live from my home studio in New York City. Now when we gather a group of CMOs, as we do almost every week with CMO Huddles, one challenge seems to rise to the surface a lot. Like right now, every single session, it’s recruiting. It is a flat out nightmare for CMOs. Right now, finding experienced talent is hard enough and then when you do a bidding war ensues. I was talking to a CMO literally last week who had hired a potential VP of Marketing who had accepted the job who was a day away from starting and then rescinded because their current employeer had countered with a raise that was $30,000 over the CMOs highest budget range for the role. There’s no easy solutions to this gross imbalance right now between supply and demand. But it is such a hot topic that we thought it would help even just have a moment of empathy with the other CMOs because you’re probably facing the same challenge. But we’re going to talk about what you could do right now to recruit talent despite the obstacles. And with that, let’s bring on Allison Munro, CMO of Vena Solutions. Allison, how are you?

Allison Munro: I’m good, Drew. How are you?

Drew Neisser: Awesome. Awesome. First of all, where are you?

Allison Munro: I am in the forest just outside of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, thanks to remote work.

Drew Neisser: I love it. All right, we’ll see this brings an international notion to Renegade Marketers Live. Let’s talk about how real the recruiting challenge is for you right now both, you know, either within marketing or as a whole for Vena.

Allison Munro: Yes, Drew. And I think as you said, it’s real. It’s not only real for us as an organization, I think it’s real for the market at large. Like we’ve just survived—and dare I say survived or come out of the other side of a global pandemic that has forced us to arrive in the digital era. And now remote work is finally here more broadly, as a benefit from today. And so who people work for, who they work with, what they work towards, and if they work at all, for someone else is all to be considered in the employee market and so it should be. And so I like to think working professionals have been liberated from dissatisfaction and that’s a tremendous swing of the pendulum generally speaking. Funnily enough, Simon Sinek today just sends out a note that reminds us in the context of work, “Fulfillment is a right not a privilege.” Which I thought was super interesting. And so when we think about recruitment, and to your point, it’s not just a people team problem and it’s not just a marketing challenge, it’s a company motion. And I think more than ever, it’s actually a brand building challenge. Which, you know, when I say “brand” is to deliver your promise and your experience at every interaction, and then to operationalize that. And I think it’s not just at the stage of recruitment, so I know you call that tactics, but I think more holistically, if we think about how we recruit, how we onboard, enable, and grow not just your business, but your people. You know, that’s always been really important, but I think now more than ever, it’s really making a difference in who professionals are choosing to work with even in those competitive situations of either a retention play or a low supply in a market of high demand. And it can be beyond, you know, some of that salary game if you think about it around people wanting to be a part of and to belong to something. So, you know, a little bit of a monologue on the upfront but what I would say is the real challenge is to prioritize your people experience with the same rigor and enthusiasm and focus as your customer experience across the business.

Drew Neisser: You know, you’re preaching to the choir, you know that I talk a lot about this, and I talk to CMOs in huddles a lot about this is that marketing can play a profound role in employees both in the way they feel about the company that they work for, the pride that they have in the company. I would love to hear proof of that right now. Because if you are a company that in theory has a great brand story, and you are delivering a fulfilling culture and all of these things that in theory, it should be easier for you to recruit right now. Or you should have a higher, maybe you might be able to pay less. And I’m curious, where are you on the spectrum of, you know, would you consider your company is at the place where you want it to be from delivering this kind of experience that will allow you to recruit employees based on the notion they could be fulfilled? Versus they’re going to make another $30,000?

Allison Munro: Yeah, no, I think it’s, you know, the disclaimer is that I would always say it’s a better, never best, but fortunately. And when I started at Vena 2 years ago, and it does come from the top. Our CEO had a very strong commitment to building that employee experience in that employer brand experience. And I do, Drew, think it makes the difference in being able to not pay people less by any means, I think it’s really important that people get the compensation they deserve, especially with high skilled professionals that are in high demand. But then how do we think about giving them more, and I really believe in our value of creating a space where people belong, and where they can grow as individuals, not just start in that beginning stage. And that really is, for us, something that I think has made the difference in our recruitment. It’s being able to speak about the organization and the promise and life at our business, but also how you will grow as an individual, which, you know, we know from human resource reports or other surveys, that $30,000 in a year, you know, is forgotten, and is not actually the retention strategy. What people might want, initially, can be outpaced or not supported by what they have to gain working with your team and your organization. I think over, you know, the many years that you’d like to keep them in your organization.

Drew Neisser: I wonder if we can get to an example of a situation where either in your department or in another department where you were actually able to recruit recently so that folks can feel it. Because again, you know, I believe in this deeply, deeply, and I’ve seen it work. But right now, we’re at such an extraordinary imbalance. It’s unprecedented for B2B, at least, there was no recession, if anything, all the stimulus money just created all sorts of growth in demand that didn’t exist. So businesses, a lot of B2B companies are growing. That’s why they have all these openings, and the supply went down. So what’s happening in your specific case, and maybe there’s a story you can share?

Allison Munro: Yeah, sure, let me go right into the marketing team. We’re growing our marketing organization, as you said, quite significantly this year. And for the first time, we are now able or motivated as an organization to hire outside of our headquarter city. And so we’ve been recruiting on a more global scale with our offering of a 3 tiered approach, which is you can be a resident, you can be hybrid, or you can be remote. Now layer that in with a level of inclusion and making sure that every employees experience is the same. We in the last just 3 weeks actually have hired 3 senior marketers, 2 from San Diego, 1 from Austin, which is a new sort of motion for us. And again, I think part of it—well, I know part of it, even from their feedback was really committed to the opportunity for them to grow. But also, I’m gonna go a step further and say, as a marketer who’s been focused on building a customer product experience, again, that employee experience is so important. So we brought on a new director of demand-gen, she connected with us and became aware of our brand and a community. So think about the responsibility of leaders or other individuals in the business to show up wherever your brand can be. Going through LinkedIn, reaching out, inquiring about the opportunity, learning about our culture. Fascinating thing when she accepted the offer, her message was to our recruiter that said, “My experience with you was so exceptional that it was really part of my decision making process. And so that’s where I go back to marketers who have been focused on the customer experience. Being in a business where you’re focused on the employee experience with the same rigor and commitment is equally as important for the long term and also in your recruitment strategy to bringing in high performance, key players that are going to help change your business.

Drew Neisser: I love the story. I wonder in like one minute if you could give a couple of things that made the experience exceptional?

Allison Munro: Yes, I think from let’s go to at scale being able to go to Glassdoor and seeing feedback and seeing I’m gonna go digital there for a second. Being able to see our Chief People Officer show up in every comment, whether good or bad. Being able to discover other colleagues in the community at marketing in the marketing team in the community she was a part of. Reaching out and having a direct response interaction, managing in a timely basis, not long gating the process because their time is just as valuable as the recruiters. Showing up with the same enthusiasm that the candidate has in speaking with you. You are trying to build a relationship and a connection here, not necessarily weeding people out of the process. And I think one of the biggest pieces is, again, we can’t do 4 and 5 week interview processes anymore, that’s just not acceptable. Just like you wouldn’t do a 4 or 5 week discovery process with a prospect. How do you again, show up with that same commitment of a potential new employee as you would a potential new prospect and deliver that every single interaction. I think it’s very key in today’s market.

Drew Neisser: Amazing. So we’re going to stop there, we’re going to bring on Adriel, I just want to put a punctuation point on a couple of things that you said, one, this is a really thought through careful experience, if you want to compete just like you do for your customers, you’re competing for employees. And so that means thinking through every step of the way. All right, Allison, thank you for that. Let’s bring on Adriel Sanchez, the CMO at Newsela. Adriel listening to what Allison had to say—first of all, hello!

Adriel Sanchez: Hey, Drew, how are you?

Drew Neisser: And where are you? 

Adriel Sanchez: Like you, I’m in New York City. I’m in Long Island City to be specific in Long Island City.

Drew Neisser: When you were listening to Allison, and the comments that she had, did it make you say, “Oh, are we doing all those things, too?”

Adriel Sanchez: Yeah, I mean, I think some of them for sure. I mean, I think one of the things that has been really successful for us is to Allison’s point about how are candidates assessing options today? And it’s not just cash. A lot of it is am I joining a company that I really believe in? And am I going to do work that makes me feel rewarded every day? Is the company a good culture can I fit in here? That’s one of the things that we’ve always leaned into. Newsela is a company that sells instructional content to K through 12. Schools, I won’t get into much detail, but the mission is kind of built in, you’re helping teachers and students every single day. That over the last 12-18 months has been extremely helpful for us in recruiting candidates that may not otherwise have considered a company such as ours. So we’ve leaned into that heavily. What Allison was saying about collapsing the interview cycle, we’ve been extremely deliberate about each member of the interview panel, focusing on a specific area so that we are not re-asking the same questions over and over and trusting that the other member of the interview panel has that piece covered so that we can accelerate some of those, you know, time to offer. So once we’ve got somebody on the hook, we’ve been very intentional about how to collapse that timeframe.

Drew Neisser: Yeah. And boy, I want to just double—I mean, if companies aren’t doing what you just described there, it seems like such a lost opportunity. Our company was guilty of this for years, you’d have 5 different interviews, everybody had the same sort of questions, and then you would come together, and they heard the same answers. And you didn’t get this sort of Venn diagram, look at the individual. And because speed is such an issue, I wonder, are there different questions that you’re asking, because you’re recruiting, but you’re selling like crazy as well, right? I mean, you’ve got to get this person excited about working for you, yet you somehow or other between the resume, the references, and the questions you ask, you have to make sure that they are in fact right for you the job?

Adriel Sanchez: I mean, I think you’re right. I mean, I’ve always believed that interviews are too wet, right? Like, and I am very explicit about that with candidates upfront, I say, you know, “This is an opportunity for us to see if you’re the right fit for the role, but also an opportunity for you to see if this is the right fit for you. We don’t want to bring somebody on that isn’t sure about that. So this has got to be mutual.” I certainly leave space and room for candidates to assess that throughout their process. I will say that, you know, when we find somebody that is in later stages, and somebody who we really like one member of the interview panel may be doing more selling than they are asking, you know, it depends on where you are in the process and that’s where we adjust as we go along. 

Drew Neisser: Got it. And so what’s recruiting looking like for you right now? I mean, open slots and how long is it taking to fill them?

Adriel Sanchez: It is tough. I would say that across the—I mean, I think the same challenges a lot of people are facing across the entire business we have about 150 open roles. We’re hiring a lot into sales. We’re hiring like wildfire into technology and engineering some product. The marketing team had about 5 roles open as the beginning of the year, I think we’ve got 2 of those filled, 3 of them are still open. And it’s taking longer. I mean, it’s taking longer. Now we are aided in the fact that we have offices, but we really have no preference in terms of location, at least not in the marketing organization. So it allows us to really recruit anywhere to some of the things that Allison was saying that helps. But still, when we find somebody we like, we have to be extremely fast and getting to offer

Drew Neisser: That’s just a new as Allison used the word motion that everybody has to get used to is we’re just going to make these decisions. Now one of the things is, can you make hiring decisions faster and better? Because you can always make them faster.

Adriel Sanchez: That is good question. You know, like the it’s funny, the old adage, fire fast, fire slow, I think some of that is getting, like really flipped on its head, you have to take a chance in some places. And maybe it’s not somebody with, you know, the exact profile that you were looking for, but somebody who can grow into the role. One of the things that we’ve prioritized over the last 12 months is adding diversity of thought into the organization. So where there are people who have different experiences from the people that are currently in the organization. As a company that sells into K-12 we try to keep a nice mix of people with classroom experience, and people with experience outside of classrooms that bring in best practices from other industries. So is there a role that for instance, a former educator that can join the team and do effectively. We are being creative about the profiles that were welcoming in.

Drew Neisser: And I wondered about that. Because certainly bringing in someone who may not be an exact fit for the specs, but could be a great fit for the company. But then you have training challenges, and you have managerial challenges, right? Because they don’t know how to do the tasks that you need them to do. This is one of the things that I noticed is some folks would hire a more junior person and then sort of train them into the role. All that means is it’s either more pressure on you or more pressure on your direct reports, because they have to do more training, right, there’s more hand holding. So how do you manage that in the mix of things?

Adriel Sanchez: You got to do it eyes wide open, I say to my managers all the time, “If you hire this individual, that is not the exact profile that you’re looking for, and it isn’t perhaps the level of experience you’re looking for. So think about the things that you are not going to be able to do yourself, because you’re going to be spending more time bringing this person on board, think about that and just go into that eyes wide open, you’re going to need to dedicate 15% of your week to bringing this person up to speed.” It’s a good investment. But it does mean that you don’t have that time to do other things, right? Like and I don’t want you burning out either. So just prioritize your workload to accommodate for that. 

Drew Neisser: Which is a really good thing for you to do. But it also means that your priorities are gonna have to change, you’re gonna have to settle for getting a little bit less out of your direct report.

Adriel Sanchez: That’s right. And you know, if you look across the organization, we say, “Okay, are we okay with that? Can we absorb that impact?”

Drew Neisser: Right, really interesting. We’re going to talk to Kristin, next, so stay with us. So let’s welcome Kristin Fornal, CMO at IAM Robotics. Hello, Kristin!

Kristin Fornal: Hi, Drew, how are you doing?

Drew Neisser: Good, and so first of all, I’m doing great. But where are you?

Kristin Fornal: I am in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

Drew Neisser: All right. Well, we’re heavily east coast. We’re all on the eastern time zone. And I know in our pre conversations that recruiting is a challenge for you. And that is what we’re talking about. For there’s a lot of CMOs out there right now who are going, “Just tell me it’s as bad for you as it is for me.” So talk a little bit about what’s going on and how you’re recruiting challenge—what it looks like, right now.

Kristin Fornal: Recruiting is a challenge for us, we have 3 open roles that have only been out for about a couple of months. And finding these specialized talent within our industry is what really is proving to be hard for us in helping to curtail this and make the hiring process better for the marketing department at least. I like to use—Brian Balfour came up with the T-shaped marketer. And instead of looking for a specialist in one area, the T-shaped marketer kind of lays out foundational marketing knowledge and key areas that you need to know and then you go deep into a marketing vertical that you either have developed over years of experience or you were trained professionally or went to school for. I found this to be great, especially for team building, because then you’re able to build more of a cohesive team where everyone can better understand how they’re contributing to the entire marketing strategy. You’re not just getting hyper specialized talent, they’re more of a marketing generalist with knowledge that’s deep in one area.

Drew Neisser: I’m wondering what you heard resonated with you with Allison and Adriel.

Kristin Fornal: Absolutely. So Allison’s point about and Adriel reinforced this, it’s the experience of the candidates that are coming through. I know a lot of people think that culture fit is a little cliche, but it really isn’t. The great resignation or great renegotiation. However, you want to spin it people are looking at that purpose driven work life balance. Companies, it’s harder and harder, because you do need to still stand out in a digital world, even with remote work, bringing in the different tools to be able to support a remote environment or a hybrid environment. So I definitely agree with that, and experience for candidates coming through the process. And then two is Adriel had mentioned collapsing that interview process as well. So that T-shaped marketer structure kind of lays out the foundational knowledge that the marketers need to have. And then the deep vertical spaces also identified and that helps the other people in the interviewing panel, who know where their questions are going to fall. Because all of the departments when you’re pulling together candidates, we provide questions, whether it fits within the culture, or it fits directly to technical knowledge or industry knowledge to kind of help get different viewpoints and aspects. And then there’s Adirel also mentioned providing that time for the candidate to ask you questions is really important too.

Drew Neisser: I want to get this opinion of everybody but we we’ve heard the word culture a lot. Now, just as it is difficult in an interview process really assess the human on the other side of the Zoom conversation where you’re having the interview. How is the individual seeing your culture come through? And what are the signals that in the case of IAM Robotics, what are the cultural signals that you want them to see? 

Kristin Fornal: A lot of it is how our team works together. And the different departments across department communications, a lot of people they always ask like, what the culture is like here? And people aren’t just looking for those tangible results of, “Yes, we get lunch every day catered or free snacks or standup desks.” All of that is nice but like Allison mentioned earlier, culture drives from the CEO down, and when you have a CEO that cares about the team as a whole, and we’re all working towards the same goals and direction that comes through in the discussions that you’re having in the salesy part of the interview.

Drew Neisser: It’s funny, I mean, I have never been very good when people asked me, you know, “So what’s the culture of renegade like?” I always say, “Go ask an employee. I don’t know.” And that’s probably a weakness on Renegades part. But it’s just it’s a curious thing. And we know it’s important. And we’re going to also talk about, I think, how do you build culture when you don’t have an office anymore. And so much of you know, culture was driven by the physical setting, the people being able to interact. So I think that’s another difficult challenge that’s been added to this mix, right? You used to be able to go, oh, there’s a ping pong table in the gaming room and in the food room and look at all these great places where people can meet casually. If half your workforce is never in the office, in fact, you might even not meet them for 6 months, then you have all sorts of different culture building challenges. Is there anything as you look ahead, that you might do differently from a recruiting standpoint, help fill those empty spots right now? 

Kristin Fornal: Networking is really key. That is going to be where a lot of people really find their jobs in the right fit a lot of the different areas where we go, we have a great robotics community here in Pittsburgh. We’re able to go and attend different events and talk with other robotic employees and see if they’re happy or interested or looking. Our ecosystem here is pretty supportive. And I think a lot of people it’s all about referrals and recommendations. People like to work with people that they know and have worked with in the past.

Drew Neisser: Exactly. Yeah, I think that’s right. I mean, it’s funny because Allison mentioned that as as well. It’s about being part of a community, in your case the robotics community. All those Carnegie Mellon people. And I know there’s even a chapter that there’s a youth high school group of robotics things that was started by the guy who founded segways. I’m forgetting the name of it, but I imagine they have a pretty strong Pittsburgh chapter. We are going to take a break at this second I want to plug CMO Huddles for a second, that’s what I want to do! It was launched in 2020, CMO Huddles is an invitation only subscription service that brings together an elite group of CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness. One CMO described huddles as timely conversations between smart peers and a trusted environment. While another call that a cross between an expert workshop and a therapy session. So Allison, Adriel, Kristin, you all been huddlers, feel free to share how this might align with your experience or your experience in huddles.

Allison Munro: What’s been awesome about huddles versus dare I say some other C-level or marketing communities is there’s such a diverse representation of folks from different industry, different stages that really share and care together in a way that I think is very unique to CMO Huddles. So if you’re not a member, I don’t know what the CTA is Drew, but I can tell you that it really is unique, again, because of that sort of uniqueness of folks coming together that is not from sort of the same investor or the same industry per se. So that’s been great.

Drew Neisser: Oh, I love that. And I really think it’s so important, because—and sometimes we have big companies and small companies although we try to there’s so much learning to be had from just different approaches in B2B land. Adriel, anything to add?

Adriel Sanchez: I would just say that what is different about CMO Huddles is just how thoughtful and committed Drew specifically is to making sure that everybody is getting value out of this experience. From the very first time that I expressed interest in joining the huddle, Drew made sure that he had an individual conversation, “Well what are you really trying to get out” and like, “Here’s some advice on the types of people you should connect with.” And made the introductions and gave me some recommendations on the kinds of huddles that I should really prioritize being a part of. So that from the start was just different than some of the CMO groups out there.

Drew Neisser: Thank you for that. And I also am excited to get you to lead our product lead growth bonus huddle, so I appreciate that. Kristin, anything else to add to this love fest?

Kristin Fornal: It has been a great experience. And I love being able to tap into like minded people to ask for commentary, whether it be on the recent ones MarTech, or just small issues that you might be having day to day and having a channel to be able to ask for advice on or recommendations.

Drew Neisser: Love it. Let’s talk about a couple of things. One, you know, I mentioned at the top of the show that salaries have skyrocketed like crazy. Are you all seeing that in real time? And how are you get used to dealing with? I mean, is it just a question of you have no choice, you have to match everything

Kristin Fornal: I know for us, we try to plan out our hires as best as we can. So during our budget and corporate goal planning sessions, we also look at how many more people we need to hire to get to that point. And so we build it into our budgets. And we look at them to forecasts from sales, to then be able to support that growth in that movement.

Drew Neisser: Right, but I’ve been hearing—and again, I would love Adriel and Allison to weigh in on this. What I’ve been hearing is that the numbers are budget busting. They’re needing evidence, a lot of CMOs have asked and this has come up on Slack and other things. It’s like, “Drew, is there anybody out there that is showing that this level like product market or is just absolutely now at this end of the spectrum that was so much higher than it was where you started?” And this is just wreaking havoc with budgets? 

Allison Munro: Yeah, I can jump in and say that I think, you know, when you think of a leveling of an organization, and Kristin to your point of doing all that great planning and even being agile in your read forecasting. There is no precedence, I think, for what Senior Product marketers are demanding and getting right now in market. And so that can create tension, not only in the budgeting process, but in your people person negotiation and with your recruiters. I actually heard a story of a fellow CMO who ended up hiring a VP of Product Marketing and dare I put this out into the universe, but that actually received higher compensation than they were. And that was a choice they had to make in order to do what was right for the business. Now, I think that employee, what does that mean for your future? You know, there’s a lot of, I think, unprecedented space fair, and how do you grow and what do you do next? So, you know, thinking about what they can do and their potential go forward has to be part of that mix. Otherwise, it’s a short term fix that will have a challenge in your modeling.

Drew Neisser: What I imagine here is you bring in somebody at a replacement role, and it’s 30 to 50,000 hours more than what that person got before. Then you have to go back to every single employees at the same level and you either level set or you know you’re going to lose that employee and have another problem. But once you do the level set, then your budget is just chaos. And of course, and I can make this worse because then you don’t have the budget and then you don’t hire and then the people that you have burnout. So what are you doing? I mean, are these conversations that you’re having with your CFO and your CEO that saying, “Look, this is just the reality of the marketplace right now. And we have a choice, we can either hire more junior people and try to make a work, or we can pay top dollar to get the talent that we need is—I mean, is that the conversation, Adriel?

Adriel Sanchez: It’s certainly the conversation is happening. We certainly pay competitively, we are being extremely thoughtful about the implications of just throwing massive amounts of cash at people. And what that does to the equity implications for the other members of the team. I am not going to bring someone in at 25% more than what their peer making the same job makes. Now we got to figure out whether everybody in the organization is at market or close to market, right? So we’re having those conversations as well during salary planning. But I think we all have to be extremely careful with it because sometimes the companies that are offering the 30%/40%/50% more aren’t going to be around in 12 months. So…

Drew Neisser: I mean, let’s face it, there’s a lot of funny money chasing. These aren’t businesses that are making money, and you know, they don’t have real P&L is they don’t have ARR that supports the talent. So it’s a artificial market, but you still have to get through it. I mean, we heard in a huddle, you know, someone with a year of 6sense, you know, experience was asking for—I mean, a year…was asking for, you know, $150,000/$175,000, because they knew how to do this one tool, that CMO made the decision not to use it, because they couldn’t afford to hire the person. So they went with a different ABM provider that had just broader base of an installed base of talent, because that is the whole cost of operation. Anyway, it is an interesting part. And I know Allison, we started the top of the show talking about culture as sort of a difference maker. But you also said no matter how good culture is a culture, just as tie goes to the culture, you still have to be competitive on a salary and benefits basis period right?

Allison Munro: Yeah. And absolutely. And I think, you know, being able to pay people at fair market value is important. And the added value is yes, there’s ping pong tables and lunch, but it goes beyond that. It’s built on blogging, and transparency and inclusion and culture, I think is is a richer definition of what people need in order to thrive. In my experience, that’s as important as how much people are making and how much potential they have to make into the future.

Drew Neisser: Let’s talk about building culture without office then. And I’m just wondering, how does that come through? You know, I started to talk to you about that with Chris—and Allison, you’ve mentioned it several times now. So how do we get to how do we build culture, when you can’t physically show it?

Allison Munro: I have a lot of thoughts there. Because I’ll give you my example. I started at Vena an organization who was largely working side by side in hundreds of hundreds of folks. And then 6 weeks later, we went to lockdown. And I would say most of my team, I’ve hired, you know, during a state where we can’t be in the same room safely. And so it’s a continuous challenge of what is culture. So I think initially, you lean into let’s do a bunch of zoom games, and let’s spend time with each other and get to know each other. I think we’re really has netted out it you know, it’s about building alignment documented across the business. So we have our core values defined, we use our core values to build our plans by department, those departmental plans align across the business, they cascade down to every individual, you know, we bring our values into our conversation of customer trust. One team, it’s part of how we operate every day. And it’s a fabric that connects individuals who are working together to do really special things, whether that means, you know, everything’s going amazing and we’re growing, or we’re running into bumps and challenges as you do in business. And I think it’s that fabric that allows us to connect to do great work together, regardless of where we are in the world. And that’s been a 2 year process of a bunch of extra zoom socials that I think really come down to the way you work and the way you connect and the way you communicate. 

Drew Neisser: Adriel, anything to add to that in terms of culture building in this new hybrid, remote world?

Adriel Sanchez: Yeah, we had one of our board members that said something interesting a few weeks ago, you know, it used to be that you went to the office for work, and then you went off site for culture. Like now you’re going to the office for culture and you’re going home for work. But like in terms of how to build it, I don’t know, I think the culture of our organization as being extremely respectful, professional, collaborative, challenging. I think that comes across in your interactions with people regardless of whether you are at home or remote. And I think people appreciate that.

Drew Neisser: Okay, well, this is the moment in the show when we ask, “What would Ben Franklin say?” And if you wonder why I keep referencing and why I’m so obsessed with Ben Franklin, I am not alone, Ken Burns’ new documentary was just announced on Franklin, it starts on April 4, who could be more excited about that than me? So Ben would say, “If you want to convince speak of interest, not of reason.” And that’s what we’ve been talking a lot about. It’s not about the money, it’s about the culture, it’s about the experience, it’s about the things that you will be able to do when you get to the company. Where I want to sort of get this back to is because we could have a recruiting conversation with an HR person. But there’s something interesting about doing it with a marketing person, because you’re thinking bigger about the way the brand is perceived among employees, customers, and prospects. And so let’s just talk about this intersection now. And are you feeling it more than you might have in jobs earlier, where suddenly recruiting as an issue for everybody, right? In every department, including your own. So the role of brand… And are you having more conversations internally in this intersection of marketing and recruiting? Go ahead, Kristin!

Kristin Fornal: We’re definitely working on sharing what our culture is, and highlighting people through our website and social platforms, different events that we go to the networking events I mentioned, we definitely allocate marketing time to help our recruiting efforts.

Drew Neisser: Allison? 

Allison Munro: Yeah, I think one of the things I mentioned when we first started chatting is we’ve actually built it into our business priorities. So we have dedicated time and resource to building what we’re calling our employee, internal and recruitment brand. And I think like Kristin, that shows up on social media through recognition. We actually just launched our webpage “Life at Vena”, which is entirely dedicated to recruitment and what it means to join our organization with our current team and people at the forefront of that. So I know product lead growth was an earlier conversation, how do you lead with not just marketing claims, but social proof? And in this case, that social proof are the people that currently make up your organization?

Drew Neisser: How does the employer brand connect to the Vena brand that goes out to the world to get, you know, customers prospects, and how is there an interlinking? There,

Allison Munro: I would say, our core values and our promise. So our core values are actually core, customer trust, one team, respect and authenticity, and execution excellence. And that is, again, consistent throughout everything we do, whether it’s our product, whether it’s our marketing, whether it’s our employee experience, that is the connective tissue. When you layer in our promise, and our promise is to help you grow personally, professionally, and your business oriented goals. That’s true for what we promise our customers, that’s true for what we promise our people, and it’s true for what we promised each other. And again, when I speak of the fabric, it’s not something to document and kind of put on a wall. It’s something to live and breathe every day. And we hold ourselves accountable to that in our operational rhythm. In all we do.

Drew Neisser: And I love that. So it’s so interesting, because you could say, “Help you grow.” And you could do full stop just as an employer brand, right? That’s—we’re here to help you grow. What’s so interesting about if that was it and that was the only marketing promise that you had to employees help you grow, is that customers would feel that because your employees would feel good. I’m thinking about an insurance company, someone I interviewed several years ago, and their marketing was about it was simply this, “Happy employees = happy customers.” That was their whole marketing program. Everything was about employees and the quirkiness of employees and them being happy. How long is that promise have helped you grow been in place?

Allison Munro: It’s actually our plan to grow, which ties into our product is a complete planning solution for organizations. And so we really with Hunter Madeley, our new CEO coming in 2 years ago—or 3 years ago now, just ahead of me. That was a big part of our exercise is who are we? What is our promise? And what are our values? And how do we bring that out in everything we do? What’s interesting is to your point, Drew, it’s the same message we take to market to our prospects and customers as it is, you know, to our team. And even something as simple as, you know, when you think about your company plans, our CEO requires the number 1 sort of MVP or OKR, or whatever it is, you want to call it, we start with our people, then we move to our customers, right? So we prioritize our people with our profits if I were to summarize that way, because what is our business without our team, and again, I’ve been really fortunate being at Veno because that’s been a unique experience for me as a marketer, as well as a colleague and an employee. And it’s been incredibly refreshing. That’s definitely been new for me.

Drew Neisser: It’s yeah, it’s music to my ears. And as you’re listening to this show and digesting it, if you can draw through line from what you’re promising to employees to what you’re promising to customers to what your promising prospects life is a lot easier for you as a marketer, it just is. Okay, so a lot of interesting things have come up in this show and other things. So Adriel as were wrapping up, some final words of wisdom, if you will, for CMOs in the recruiting strategy, a couple of takeaways for them.

Adriel Sanchez: Always be hiring, talk to every single person that someone may bring up as an interesting person, even if you don’t have a role open, make the time to talk to that person. I’ve hired so many people that I just had a conversation with years ago. And also, as you go through your career, keep a bench of contractors, consultants, people with unique experiences that can come in and fill gaps until you have a full time hire on board. Those are the two things that have worked very well for me over this period.

Drew Neisser: I’m so glad you mentioned both of those; always be hiring. Yeah, it’s a rhythm and it’s not just for this moment. And this is sort of the question of, there’s going to be this gap right now because it’s so hard to recruit. Even if you speed up your process, it’s just there aren’t enough qualified candidates out there. So the way you fill in those gaps is probably going to be through outsourcing some of it at least on a temporary basis. And if you have a list of contractors, it’s a lot easier. Okay. Kristin, final words of advice.

Kristin Fornal: I think sometimes it’s better to hire for the specific and technical marketing skills and then teach the industry. I find that to sometimes be easier than really looking for that needle in the haystack.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, I mean, I think you can teach anybody in the industry, but it’s sometimes hard to, you know, if you don’t know product marketing or you don’t know demand generation motions, it just is the learning curve is higher. Okay, that makes a lot of sense. Okay, let’s see, Allison, your tips?

Allison Munro: I would say my tip, and probably where I started as hiring is not an HR problem, or a people problem. It is a leaders problem, a department level challenge and opportunity to disseminate your vision, show up where your community is, and really sort of advocate for the opportunities at your organization.

Drew Neisser: Thank you for sharing that and I so agree with you. And it is part of one of the reasons, you know, marketers, as a rule, tend to be out more than some of the other departments. You tend to represent your brands more than other departments. But right now, everybody needs to be out there representing their company, if they are particularly in the communities that you all three are describing. I want to share one other sort of tip that we heard in a huddle this week that just cracked me up what this person is doing for every role that they have open is they are offering 2 people the job. Every time. You know, and this is exactly how everybody else reacted, “what?!” And they have made the decision because generally about 50% of folks are actually showing up, but if both of them did show up, they’d be fine with it. So I thought, oh my gosh, there it is. Hire two, to get one. Or to get two because it’s such a crazy marketplace right now. So I thought that was it. All right. Well, thank you, Allison, Adriel, Kristin, you’re all great sports. I loved the conversation today. Thank you, audience for staying with us. To hear more conversations like this one and submit your own questions while we’re live. Join us on the next Renegade Marketers Live. We stream to my LinkedIn profile, that’s Drew Neisser, every other week.

Drew Neisser  

Renegade Marketers live is produced by Melissa Caffrey. Our intern is Laura Parkyn. Our botanical expert is Nicole Hernandez. For shownotes, past episodes, and the latest on my new book Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands, please visit renegade.com. I’m your host, Drew Neisser, and until next time, keep those renegade thinking caps on and strong!

Show Credits

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 Neisser. And until next time, keep those renegade thinking caps on and strong!

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