Brewing a Simple B2B Brand Story with Tealium
When CMO Heidi Bullock joined Tealium in 2019, her mandate was to grow the company from great to greater. Tealium already had a solid standing in the customer data management space when she arrived, having reached over $100 million in ARR with no plans of slowing down.
Heidi dove in immediately, directly reaching out to customers and partners to figure out how to level up the brand. Tune in to hear Heidi spill the tea on how Tealium simplified its brand story, infused it into the organization, and brought it to market with a flourish. This episode is a remarkable lesson in B2B brand strategy—you don’t want to miss it!
What You’ll Learn in This Episode
- How Tealium simplified its brand story
- How Tealium certified its employees on the new story
- Key brand metrics: engagement, pipeline, velocity
Renegade Thinkers Unite, Episode 235 on YouTube
- RTU Episode 157: How Simon Schaffer-Goldman Helps Case Paper Cut Through
- Useful marketing technology tools:
- The CMO’s Periodic Table by Drew Neisser
- [0:28] How Keep Growing Business After the First $100 Million in ARR
- [7:13] How Tealium Simplified its Brand Story
- [14:23] Using the Brand Ladder Structure
- [18:53] Why Brands Need to Get Internal Buy-In First
- [24:35] Rolling Out Tealium’s New Brand Story Internally and Externally
- [33:03] Measuring Tealium’s Brand Campaign
- [40:50] Lessons Learned: Simplifying Tealium’s Brand Message
Transcript Highlights: Drew Neisser in conversation with Heidi Bullock
[0:28] How Keep Growing Business After the First $100 Million in ARR“When I joined Tealium we were just over $100 million in ARR, so my mandate was to grow the business.” —@HeidiBullock @tealium Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Thinkers! Now, I’ve been known to harp about the need for simplifying your brand story. Harp is probably an understatement. Ideally, the goal is to get it down to eight words or less.
At Renegade, we tend to think of these words as public-facing, dubbing them your “purpose-driven story statement” like, say, “On the Case” for Case Paper, which expresses its enduring commitment to customer service and customer satisfaction. If you want to study that one you can go back to Episode 157 with Simon Schaffer-Goldman.
Anyway, these phrases can be the umbrella that ties all the marketing together to all your targets from employees to customers to prospects and partners. This focus on simplifying your brand story can actually predate these carefully crafted phrases. I was reminded of this in last week’s Super Huddle by entrepreneur David Friend. Friend has started six companies, including Carbonite and Wasabi. Before he invests a penny, he makes sure he can describe the company in the space of a billboard headline. For Carbonite, before he put money into it, he only needed two words: easy backup. For Wasabi, the company he’s chairing now, he needed three words: hot cloud storage. Again, two technology companies, incredibly simple stories.
The power of having such a clear positioning cannot be underestimated especially if you operate in a tech space that is usually filled with speeds and feeds and jargon that only engineers can understand, which brings us to today’s guest, Heidi Bullock, the CMO of Tealium, who promises to share her messaging simplification journey and more.
Before joining Tealium in October 2019, Heidi was the CMO of Engagio, and before that, the Group Vice President of Marketing at Marketo. So welcome, Heidi.
Heidi Bullock: Thanks for having me.
Drew Neisser: How are you doing? How are things in California?
Heidi Bullock: They’re great, I have no complaints.
Drew Neisser: Before we dig into your journey, at Tealium, I noticed you were a molecular biology major in college. How come you’re not in a research lab working on genetic engineering?
Heidi Bullock: I actually love people, so I found the lab to be a little bit—you’re isolated—but I would say that I feel like marketing is the science of people. A lot of what I feel like I studied and learned in college, I actually apply a lot today, to be honest.
Drew Neisser: Certainly, it’s got to give you some creds with the dev team.
Heidi Bullock: Absolutely.
Drew Neisser: Right, because marketers don’t always have the reputation for really understanding how this stuff works or even being curious about it, so that’s a leg up for you. Okay, we’re going to fast forward to October 19th, when you arrived at Tealium. What was your mandate?
Heidi Bullock: My mandate was really simple when I joined the company. It was, “Hey, we’re doing really well, but we want to grow, and we want to grow more efficiently than we have historically.”
As you know, for a lot of companies, what takes you from $0 to $10 million, $10M to $40M, they’re different things. You can be really lucky, have a great product-market fit, and things can happen relatively organically, but I think when I joined Tealium we were just over $100 million in ARR, so my mandate was to grow the business. As many of the folks listening today know, there are different approaches you can have to that, and today I’m going to walk through some of the key ones that I took a look at right away to help do that.
Drew Neisser: So you’re at $100 million and the goal is, I’m imagining, half a billion or something like that. Where do you even start? There are so many different ways of growing an organization, where did you start?
Heidi Bullock: I started with two things. And I agree with you, it could be very overwhelming because there are a lot of levers, but I really focused in on two. I focused in on who we were selling to today, currently, and was that the best for the company, meaning: Was it the most efficient? Were those the best bets? Was our sales team relying primarily on inbound or did we have a nice target account focus? That was one.
Two is making sure our story made sense and was simple because, in a lot of cases—and you touched on this earlier—at many tech companies, you can meet somebody in an elevator and if they’re talking to you for 10 minutes or more about what the company does, that’s just not where it needed to be. It was really around making sure we had an efficient go-to-market model and really simplifying the story. That’s where I focused on.
Drew Neisser: Got it. Alright. We’ve got who and what do we say—those two components. Let’s reverse those for the purposes of this and start with story. What was that process? Where did you begin?
Heidi Bullock: The process that I followed was, I came in, and I always start with “Let’s not assume everything is terrible.” In most cases, if you got to that level of growth, there’s something that has been working well. I took a look at the website; that’s a great place to start. I asked a lot of people within the company—partners, customers—”Walk me through what Tealium does and what you get excited about.”
What I ultimately looked for is, are there common themes, are people consistent? What I was expecting and what I saw was there wasn’t consistency. A lot of people couldn’t really tell me succinctly what Tealium did. It was like “Oh well, Tealium has a CDP. Tealium has a great history of tag management. They help us with data management. They help us with customer experiences.”
It was all over the board, so I knew right away that I needed to come in and have a great story externally, of course, but also equally important is the internal marketing and making sure that our sales team, our revenue team (customer success included) had a really good story that we all felt comfortable telling.
[7:13] How Tealium Simplified its Brand Story“Don't make the assumption that customers know everything about your company.” —@HeidiBullock @tealium Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: Totally agree with the need to get it right, get it simplified as we started at the top of the hour, but how? How do we do this? Where do we start?
Heidi Bullock: I basically took a look at—I like starting with customers because, again, they’re the ones that buy the product and I really just like doing interviews with them first. Saying, “Where do you find value? What do you use the product for every day? What is the pain that this product helps you address?” Just starting with some of those key questions.
What I did is I looked at probably a series of—I think I talked to about 30 customers. Different verticals, different sizes. I started to pick up on some key themes. Now of course with a technical product they’re going to get into some nuances, but across the board, I started to see that certain levels of conversation would float to the top. That’s really what I wanted to do. And to be fair, as I said, I also would speak to partners in addition to customers. Internal folks too, like some of the sales consultants and people that just had a lot of engagement in the sales process.
I was really starting to look for themes and then taking a step back and saying, “What is the story that I want to tell and what makes sense?” I really like seeing what people come back with first. This is something that I think—no one is ever going to tell you the perfect story. As a marketer, you have to say, “Okay, great, I have the clay and now how am I going to form that story?”
At the highest level, we really centered on how Tealium connects data so you can better connect to your customers. There’s nothing better than that, right? All of us want to have those one-to-one personalized conversations, but most of us can’t do that at scale, so we really do that through data.
That was the high-level story. Then basically I structured different tiers and that story would ultimately be a little bit different depending on the level of person you’re speaking with and also how long you knew that relationship or had that relationship with that person for. At the high level, if I’m speaking to you, I can say that, but if I’ve known a customer for a long time, we can get into more detail.
Drew Neisser: It feels like you condensed a lot there, which I appreciate, but I want to make sure—so you went from 30 customer interviews.
Heidi Bullock: Yep.
Drew Neisser: Are you doing this on your own? Are you working with an agency?
Heidi Bullock: I would love to say that I work with an agency on it, but for me, again because I was new, I really wanted to do it myself. I wanted to hear what people had to say. We recorded that information. I also worked with my product marketing team. They helped me out on that as well.
I’ll say that. for some people, they use different tools. I know a lot of the listeners probably use a tool Gong, and you can even use something like that or even with your SDR team. There are different ways. You don’t necessarily have to spend tons of money and time with an agency. It’s great if you can do that, but I actually really wanted to hear what people had to say myself.
Drew Neisser: I totally get it. I think it’s great because, first of all, those potentially are testimonials later on. These are relationships that you can adopt. They’re the beginning of a customer advisory board if you don’t have one. There’s a lot of reasons for a new CMO to directly speak with their best clients because you just don’t know what they’re going to say. And because you’re in marketing as opposed to other areas, they may actually give you the truth.
Heidi Bullock: That’s right, and what’s nice is, who doesn’t want to have somebody from a company where you spend a lot of your time and day in their products reach out to you? I think people were really happy to hear from me, and that was actually exciting. But you’re right—other things would surface as well, just getting their sentiment around if they felt that we were a proactive company. Did they feel that we had a good roadmap? A lot of other conversations come out of it, so I personally think it’s a really good thing to do yourself or with your immediate team, and then go over those conversations.
Drew Neisser: Was there an “aha” moment for you?
Heidi Bullock: Yes, there was an “aha” moment because I think what I realized is that a lot of the customers that had been customers for a long period of time thought of us one particular way where within the company, we thought of ourselves very differently.
I found that they thought, “Great, we’ve used Tealium forever for great tag management systems,” but not everybody was aware of all the other solutions and capabilities that we had. I had a feeling about that, but these conversations really solidified that fact.
Drew Neisser: It’s so interesting. That is such an interesting challenge and one that became so important during the pandemic when it was so difficult to get new clients. You really had to lean into your current clients and hope that you could upsell them on that because they weren’t taking advantage of all the things that a product could do so. Again, probably very timely given the fact that you started just pre-COVID, but being able to identify the fact that your customers don’t know all the things that your products can do.
Heidi Bullock: They don’t. I love that you said that. If people take away one thing from today, that is so important. Don’t make the assumption that customers know everything about your company. Stay up to date with it and know all your products because it evolves fast, and they have day jobs. They don’t wake up thinking about your company soup to nuts, so I think it’s a really important reminder for marketers.
Customers—I always equate it to a marriage. It’s like the work kicks in once you’re married and you almost have to try harder. You have to try harder to communicate, be interesting, be engaging, and that’s something that really surfaces in these conversations.
We’re going to take a quick break while I babble on—babble is the wrong term—while I spend a little time talking about CMO Huddles. We launched CMO huddles in 2020. It’s a subscription-only, invitation-only service that brings together an elite group of CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness. One CMO described the huddle as a cross between “an expert workshop and a therapy session.” We just had our semi-annual Super Huddle recently featuring three different CEOs and talked about that CEO-CMO relationship and how important that is. Anyway, if you’re a B2B CMO that can share and care with the best of them, visit CMOHuddles.com.
[14:23] Using the Brand Ladder Structure“The brand ladder is pretty cool. It really starts with an emotional benefit going all the way down to product benefits and then product attributes.” —@HeidiBullock @tealium Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: We’re talking about how you went through your own discovery process and the power of doing that and talking to your customers. We talked about the “aha” moment of realizing that your customers don’t know everything that your product can do.
Once you recognized that they didn’t know it, how do you go about saying “Well gee, this guy doesn’t know about this, and this guy does know about this,” and narrowing the focus of the conversation?
Heidi Bullock: I think that it starts with being able to tell a compelling story. Clearly. I really like following the brand ladder structure. Also, I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek and really addressing the “why” first. That was probably something that I spent a lot of time doing internal marketing on, talking about it at company meetings and really explaining—I think all of us can fall in love with technology and the nuances of it. I myself love it, but I think at the end of the day, your customers and potential customers have a problem they’re trying to solve. It’s making sure that story is compelling and clear. That’s part one.
Then two, your question, how can they be aware of it? That’s just a marketer’s job, right? It’s making sure that we’re engaging with them at the right time, so they become aware of those things. That’s something that I think a lot about, and really creating these kinds of customer moments so it’s not necessarily as interruptive.
I’m a big fan of marketing in-app as an example. That’s something that we’ve really started doing more of at Tealium. That way, when somebody is in their workflow and I want them to know about something, I can highlight it when they’re logging in versus sending them a barrage of emails just as an example. I think that’s our job. To have the data on customers and know when they’re ready for something and when it makes sense to tell them that story.
Drew Neisser: I want to go back to a couple things that you said. Clarify the brand ladder.
Heidi Bullock: The brand ladder is pretty cool. It really starts with an emotional benefit going all the way down to product benefits and then product attributes. That’s the simplest way of describing it. What’s interesting is how a consumer or a customer feels about your brand. What is that emotion? Do they feel safe? Do they feel educated?
For me, one of the things I thought about Tealium is, I want people to feel like we’re the smart, trusted friend. It’s almost like that friend you picture in college and you’re like, “I need help with my physics lab,” and that’s the friend that you go to. They help you and you get the answer and then you’re on with your day. I think it’s really important, really homing in on what that emotion and feeling first because you want your story to convey that.
Then ultimately you can go down the ladder. What are the product benefits that support that? Does your product make something faster? Does it make it easier? Does it make it cheaper? Then, you can get into the specifics of the product.
With that ladder, a really great thing for people can do is map. At the highest level, it’s probably the executive that you’re speaking to that may care about the quick or the emotional answer: “Look I just need to save time. I need to improve my bottom line. I need to make sure that I’m improving retention this year.” They care about that and as you move down in who you’re speaking with, people will care about different things.
I love this exercise because often internally I find that people—especially the sales team, or CS team—could have questions like, “What do I talk about when?” I think that this kind of framework is very helpful because each ladder, each rung matters. It’s a clear structure to know, if I’m speaking to an executive, I don’t maybe need to get into little product features. I need to really talk about the value; I need to talk about the things they care about. But if I’m talking to the senior manager of IT, that’s going to be a different set of things I’m discussing, so I think that’s an amazing framework that people can use.
[18:53] Why Brands Need to Get Internal Buy-In First“You can't skip the step of the buy-in, taking people along in the journey with you, and making sure that people are certified internally.” —@HeidiBullock @tealium Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: I have several things to break down and hopefully I’ll remember them all. Let’s go back—you’ve mentioned talking internally, and I want to understand the process here. So you get to this point where you have the insight and what you believe is the what right story, if you will, on the highest level. What point are you involving your internal audience with your hypothesis and beyond that, once you’ve settled on it, how much time do you spend with your internal audience, your employees, getting them up to speed on the story?
Heidi Bullock: That’s a really great question and something that is one of the most important things CMOs can do in making sure that the story is clear internally. Once we got a draft of our updated pitch deck, our story, we felt good about it, I also reviewed it with analysts. I like doing that, as well, and some trusted partners. Just again, so it’s not just like “Hey, Heidi and her team put this together in a vacuum and this is what we’re going with.”
I like to have evidence that shows, yeah, it resonates, it checks out. Then my process was meeting with my executive team and reviewing it with them, collecting their feedback. Once we got it to a place where they felt bought in, they liked it—my chief revenue officer was like “Yep, this works for me.” My CEO, my CTO. Then ultimately, great, now how are we going to roll this out?
We have a really great process at Tealium where we have what’s called sales enablement training every week. We rolled it out on that call. I presented it for the first time, so it’s almost like people are hearing it and becoming “Wow, this is the story, this is exciting!”
Then, we made sure to really certify people on the story. That’s actually something people have to go through. They pitch it and they ideally pass telling the story, or they get to do it again. It’s just the most critical thing because, as you know, people don’t necessarily remember facts, but they remember a story, so we’ve got to get this right.
I think a lot of people, once you get it as a marketer, you’re ready to run off to the races, but you can’t skip the step of the buy-in, taking people along in the journey with you, and making sure that people are certified internally. I’m going to tell you that doesn’t happen in a week. This was a quarter—just so people have that—to really get the story bought off, making the changes, and really making sure it was adopted.
We continue to make modifications and we continue to make sure that people are certified because this is something that’s really important. As you know, it’s a dynamic environment. Little things can change but the core is staying the same and it’s I think it’s worked really well.
Drew Neisser: Listeners, Renegade Thinkers, I really want to pause and put some punctuation points on several things. You may recall I’ve talked about research where we interviewed some 130 odd CMOs in mid-2020, and 80% said that internal communications were essential before launching a new campaign. But the average allowed for an internal campaign was way less than a month.
What we just heard here was, three months to do it right. We also heard the word “certify.” I want to ask you all as you’re listening to this, when you’re rolling out a new brand story if you will, are you certifying your employees? Do they actually have a micro-course if you will that they have to learn and understand and be able to play it back in a way that that would allow them to talk to a prospect or customer about the brand in the same way as every other employee?
I want to just put the largest punctuation point in the world on that point right there. If you skip that step, chaos ensues. If you skip that step, you have different messages coming from every single employee. It’s not a choir anymore, it’s a bunch of soloists singing something different.
[24:35] Rolling Out Tealium’s New Brand Story Internally and Externally“Anybody that is interfacing with the customer needs to be able to tell the story.” —@HeidiBullock @tealium Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: We’ve been talking about getting to your brand story, getting it simple and clear on the highest level with an emotional hook if you will, and then internal training and selling to get everybody to understand and be able to play it back. You mentioned the term “sales enablement training’.” The words feel magical to me. I want to understand what that really means. How far are we going beyond getting the language right?
Heidi Bullock: When I say sales, I really mean the entire revenue organization. So sales, if you have an internal sales team, SDRs, and also your customer success team. Anybody that is interfacing with the customer needs to be able to tell the story.
As far as sales enablement, this is something that is so critical because your sales team, your SDRs, anyone that touches a customer, that’s a brand moment, right? That is a touchpoint where somebody walks away either liking your company, feeling neutral, or actually not liking your company. It’s so critical to make sure that people, if they’re customer-facing, I would even say even if they’re not, it’s really important for people to have some version of the company’s story that they feel comfortable telling.
Sales enablement across the board, there’s a lot of facets to that, as you know. That could cover a new content release, a new product release, but it needs to be ongoing. Something that I really am a big fan of is learning it’s not set and forget it. To be good at all of our jobs, it’s something that’s continuous, so having a process in place where sales and revenue-facing teams can continue to learn and be certified, to your point, it’s a lovely choir and it’s not some terrible band that nobody wants to listen to.
Drew Neisser: We’ve got the message, we’ve got internal buy-in, you’ve got analysts as proof of concept, and you’ve got executive teams. How did you roll this out?
Heidi Bullock: I rolled it out as a very simple slide deck. I had several slides in the beginning that were almost as if somebody needed to put a one-liner in an email, things that were very, very simple and very basic. Then, the next section of the deck just went into the story.
I’m a big believer that everyone should be able to tell a story, and it makes it just more fun, too. The rest of the deck was really the story. It was what has evolved today in business that makes us have to think about customer data differently and making sure that we have a great strategy so that we can create wonderful experiences for our buyers so, as companies, we grow and we keep our customers. I think it was having that slide deck that people can refer to.
I will say—every slide’s annotated so people can learn to tell the story, and then they have to practice it. Then as I said, they get certified on it. That was really it, and then we made sure that certain aspects, of course, are consistent across all our marketing.
We use a tool called Highspot. We keep all our resources there and it’s wonderful because we can make sure that our sales team is accessing it and it’s in a consistent place. Because, you know, at many companies, if something’s in a Google Drive or no one knows where it is, no one’s looking at it. That’s a big part of enablement too—making sure people always know where to go.
Drew Neisser: We’ve got our sales guys, everybody’s geared up. How do you bring it to market?
Heidi Bullock: As far as bringing it to market, we had a date and everybody, if they were in a deal moving forward, that’s the story they tell. I worked with my PR organization on making sure we led with certain things. For any outward-facing activity, there were steps in this document and that’s what people operated with. We updated our website, all the customer-facing areas had this new statement that we connect data so you can connect to your customers.
We looked at social, all those key elements. So really website, social, working with our PR organization, our revenue teams. Those were the key ones, and I guess what I would tell people, we had a really nice process. Almost like if you’re launching a new product, that was the process that we followed. There was a long list of things we checked and made sure we’re consistent. It’s overtime having that diligence. I just don’t want people to feel scared. There are always things that you can miss, but you find them and you get it fixed right away.
Drew Neisser: Let’s do a time frame. From your research, you’re doing the 30 customer interviews—how long was it before you knew you had the brand story you wanted to tell?
Heidi Bullock: For me, I feel I was very lucky in that it was clear. I would say I knew in about a month and a half.
Drew Neisser: Okay, so let’s just say two months. From there, you have to develop all the stuff in order to sell it in. When did you launch the campaign internally?
Heidi Bullock: Internally, I did all the work, it was about the second quarter. The first quarter was doing the interviews, building the materials, getting the buy off. I think the thing that took the longest honestly was scheduling the interviews and connecting with customers. That took the longest.
After that, I felt like we just wanted to make sure everybody is really, really focused and we moved on this fast. My CEO is really funny. He’s like, “This is important, get it done quick.” At the end of the first quarter, we had it, we felt good, and then the rollout and launch was really the beginning of the second quarter. One thing that I think worked well for us was our sales kickoff. I joined in October and our sales kickoff was the first week in February, so we wanted everything ready for that.
Drew Neisser: Right, so having a deadline was a good thing there. We do the sales kickoff, and then COVID hit.
Heidi Bullock: So great. So easy.
Drew Neisser: Did that have a material impact on the customer and prospect rollout?
Heidi Bullock: What Tealium does, at the end of the day, it’s all around creating great digital experiences. For us, it almost in some cases made it easier. Because again, a lot of our customers, that’s what they’re trying to do and they’re trying to do it better.
I think the areas that we did see that it was what was tricky was more in like certain verticals. Travel and hospitality, that was tough. They were just seeing all this immense change, but I think the folks that had been Tealium customers and using our CEP, they were in a great position. Then there were folks that—if people hadn’t gone through a digital transformation and were relying on older systems, or did a lot that wasn’t digital and done in a personal way, that was tough. To be honest, it didn’t impact our rollout.
Drew Neisser: You just happened to be on the right side of the digital divide in this sense as a company that enables others to work better efficiently online. That’s where the world went. You were better positioned than, let’s say, Delta Airlines or Hilton hotels who, no matter what they did, were not going to get people to travel or book.
[33:03] Measuring Tealium’s Brand Campaign“A good story reduces friction.” —@HeidiBullock @tealium Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: It’s been, gosh, quite a while now since that language and campaign went out there. How are you measuring and monitoring performance?
Heidi Bullock: I’m measuring performance in a few different ways. The first is, I really like talking to my sales team, and I think if your sales team finds that the story works and they’re seeing success, that’s probably one of the best things.
You can say, “Well, how do I do that?” I do it two ways. I talk to them. I spend a lot of time talking to our sales leaders and making sure, does the story work, are there tweaks that we need to make? Also, as I mentioned, I have a lot of nice data. I can see what people access through our tool Highspot, so I know if people are using our materials or not and what they’re finding successful. That’s the internal side of things.
Then externally, I think that there are ways that you can see your stories resonating. I do appreciate and like talking to analysts because I think that a lot of them will be very straightforward and they’ll say, “Hey, this sounds like everybody else” or “Wow, this is a nice distinction that you’re making.” I do talk to them.
I also talk partners that I trust to get their sense of things, and then I look at data. I really try to see where we place our stories, and is it getting engagement, or is it not? Is it falling flat or am I noticing that when I post a particular story, whether that’s on our blog or somewhere else, I see engagement?
I think that there’s a lot of different ways that you can see if a story is working or not, but the easiest thing is, is it making your sales process easier? At the end of the day, that’s really what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to make it so our story is consumable, so a customer knows what we do great, and it makes the sales process easier, and less friction. A good story reduces friction.
Drew Neisser: Got it. So, a lot of B2B marketers look at metrics from—we’ll just call it inbound for a moment—the percentage of qualified leads that they are putting into pipeline. Pipeline is the term that comes up as a reflection of the effectiveness, not of the story, but of the marketing. Pipeline always comes up and I’m curious—are you able to actually see a difference that this story is having on pipeline? How would you even assess that other than saying, “Hey, marketing is contributing 50% of pipeline or forward revenue” or whatever it is. Is that, for you, an important metric?
Heidi Bullock: Pipeline is a very important metric for me. Getting back to how I can understand if our new story, what the impact was, there were a few things that I looked at as far as numbers. I looked at our SDRs with the new story—did they get meetings easier? Did we see more meetings?
The other thing that I looked at very closely was velocity. Especially in a lot of B2B and specifically enterprise deals, if your average sales cycle was say, 100 days, and you can get that down to 50, that’s a big change. That was a big one that I looked at. I really wanted to see, is it easier for SDRs to tell our story, so we can get more meetings, which I saw.
Then, again, reducing friction, I wanted to see the number of days that it takes ultimately improve. I wanted to see “Great, we had a meeting and we were able to create an opp and close that deal in less time,” so I really look at velocity.
Drew Neisser: Were you able to say, without revealing numbers, that you were able to get more meetings and increase the velocity?
Heidi Bullock: Yes.
Drew Neisser: There we go. Those are easy conversations to have then. More meetings, more velocity. The nice thing about the velocity one is it includes that aspect of close, right? It’s like, “We got this deal closed.” The problem with pipeline of course is it’s not closed business, it’s just pipeline.
Heidi Bullock: It does. That’s right.
Drew Neisser: Velocity has a nice measure in that if you were averaging, as you said, 100 days, and you were able to cut that in half, it means that you are getting a lot more efficient. Although that would be incredible to increase the pipeline velocity by 50%. But, nonetheless, that makes a lot of sense, because now you’re talking bottom line revenue to the organization.
Heidi Bullock: One important thing for people to think about is making sure that they have a baseline first. That was something that we thought a lot about. With any initiative, whether it’s like, “Hey I’m telling a new story. I’m launching something new,” I always like to make sure that I know where velocity started in the beginning. How many meetings on average was I seeing a week?
That way I can look at those improvements. What’s hard is sometimes people think about it later, and then it’s like, oh, going back in time to get some of that data is not always as easy as you’d like to think. I think that’s just one thing that I want to tell your audience. I think that’s a really critical thing to do.
Drew Neisser: When we’re baselining, again, what are the key questions or things that we need to make sure we are baselining?
Heidi Bullock: I look at our average number of meetings that we are getting right now with our SDR team. What does the current velocity look like through different stages of our journey? Can I make improvements on any of those?
I have all that. We use a tool called Clari, so I have all the stages. You can use different tools to do this, but then having benchmarks, where I’m starting with, how can I make improvements there? I think for us, again, because these are larger enterprise deals, any amount of time we can shave off the process, trust me, that’s a really important thing for me.
Those were mine, and I think for some people, it could be an improvement in web traffic. It’s like, “Great, I want to see more engagement or more conversions.” Maybe it’s a shopping cart. I just need better conversions. It’s just taking a look at the things that matter for your business and for mine that’s velocity, retention, improvements in quality pipeline, not just pipeline. I think when I came to Tealium we had a lot of pipeline, but I want it to be pipeline that we can close, that’s good.
Drew Neisser: This is the big thing that’s so important and that’s why sales qualified leads is important, but even beyond that, at the end of it—what’s so tricky in this is it takes a long time to close the bigger deals, right? The bigger the deal, the longer it takes often. To be able to remember that this was a marketing-sourced lead that actually closed and it was bigger, yee-haw—life is really good.
[40:50] Lessons Learned: Simplifying Tealium’s Brand Message“Talking to customers early was a good decision just because it gave me a sense of their perception.” —@HeidiBullock @tealium Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: As you think about this journey of going from looking at the brand and saying, “You know, I think we can have a clearer message out there,” what would you say are some of the biggest lessons learned for you over the course of this last 16 months, 18 months?
Heidi Bullock: Gosh, just specific to the story, I would say that sometimes it’s your first impression coming in and taking a lot of notes when you first join a company because often you’re coming in with such a fresh perspective. People haven’t talked to you yet; they haven’t filled your head with their perspective. I think that’s a really special time. All of us have a sense of like, “Hey, does that message make sense? Is it distinctive? Is it answering a pain?” Often, your first instinct is pretty right, so I think taking notes on that is really important.
Talking to customers early was a good decision just because it gave me a sense of their perception. It doesn’t matter what our perception is internally. Actually, it doesn’t really matter. It’s what they think, and I think that was a good thing. I think something that was hard but very important was taking people along in the journey. Sometimes I think a lot of marketers, you know the right thing, and getting the CTOs buy-in or whomever, it may feel overwhelming, but it’s essential. People don’t like surprises, and I think if folks feel that they’re part of that journey and they’ve given their input, that’s something that I think takes time, it slows things down, but you have to do it.
Then I think my last learning was articulating when I felt certain milestones would be hit because, as you said, you’re not going to come in and redo the entire brand or a story in two weeks. I don’t think that’s going to happen. If somebody’s done it, that’s amazing but, for me, I tried to be very clear around “We’re going to start with customer interviews, we’re going to be done with that in month one. Month two, we’re going to build the materials. We’re going to roll this out by our kickoff.” That was my deadline and I had to hit it. I think by setting those expectations then people trust your process and that’s something that I’ve seen in a lot of cases with so many different projects. If you don’t do that, it’s rough.
Drew Neisser: It’s so true. That’s great. It’s a really good summary. It’s funny, the first chapter of my first book, The CMO’s Periodic Table, is “Manage Expectations.” If you don’t, it’s game over. It’s so true for any CMO. You’ve got set and manage expectations for what you will and will not accomplish, how long things take, and what metrics are going to matter because if you don’t have that, it’s a very difficult climb.
This has been amazing. I’m so grateful that you would spend the time with us today. So much to digest, I can’t wait to look at the transcript. Lots of great things. I love, by the way, the insight of paying attention to those first few days as you’re drinking from the firehose because you may have an insight that’s really helpful. Just circle it. It’s happened to me so many times during the journey that you’re describing. I circle it. I don’t share it necessarily because you curse it and you need to build an argument around it, but definitely pay attention because you’re absolutely right; that’s when your senses are at their spidey-est if you will. Thank you very much for being on the show.
Heidi Bullock: Thanks, Drew.
Renegade Thinkers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Audio production is by Sam Beck. The show notes are written by Melissa Caffrey. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro voiceover is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about quite possibly the best B2B marketing agency in New York City, visit renegade.com. And until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.