Eric Stockton is the VP of Demand Generation at Constant Contact. Previous to this role, Eric successfully led SharpSpring through an acquisiton by Constant Contact as a VP of Demand Generation. Eric has over 20 years of leadership experience, and he is an expert with startups, SaaS, and venture financing.
“Once you have that established credibility with the C-suite and you’re making headway towards aligning more of your marketing efforts to pipeline and revenue, you want to solidify that progress to stay there by staying top of mind internally within the organization”
- How to keep the attention of leadership.
- Marketing goals need to be aligned with your companies business and sales goals.
- KPI’s need to be established and reported on with leadership from all departments.
- How to get a bigger seat at the table as a marketer.
Everyone thanks for joining my session. I’m Eric Stockton, the VP of Demand Generation over here at Sharp Spring from Constant Contact. And as a marketing leader, I guess you could probably say that I’m practicing what I’m about to preach for maybe the last 12 years or so. And, you know, so most of, you know, constant contacts. It’s a well-known leader in email marketing for years and now what you might not know is that constant contact is a lot more than just email.
Last year, Constant Contact acquired Sharp Springs sales and marketing automation platform and connected CRM. And so now we provide an entire suite of additional tools for businesses and agencies that are looking to increase pipeline and revenue for themselves and then also for their clients. And so, as part of my job I work with marketing leaders every day and I see a lot of the same challenges that tend to pop up regardless of what industry or niche that they’re in, and if I sort of stack ranked them, the number one recurring theme that I hear from marketers is really being unable to keep the attention of the C-suite when reporting on all of their marketing efforts and what they’re doing, which translates obviously to getting more budget and credibility within the organization, having a larger seat at the table, that sort of thing.
And so that’s what we’re going to talk about in this session. And and I think, you know, for a lot of you, it might feel familiar, right. You know, and it’s really never a good feeling. But how many times does that happen to you as a marketer, head of a marketing team and an organization where you start talking in a CBR setting or a monthly reporting session about your campaign tactics and results and the CEO’s eyes, or to immediately glaze over, right?
They start to tune out a little bit, and I think it can be extremely frustrating to try and communicate. Your team’s very real impact on the business to a leadership team who seems disengaged or, you know, like they don’t feel like marketing is really a major contributor to the overall organization and it sort of takes a backseat to all of the other departments, especially obviously sales. And I think that that’s really true to the point where we sat down and said, okay, well, like how many marketers really feel this way? And and we partnered with Ascended to Research, which is a research firm, to go out and conduct a study of about 172 marketing professionals and found that only 41% of the marketers that they surveyed really felt like marketing’s efforts and processes are really well communicated and frankly appreciated inside of the organization, especially by the C-suite. And so as marketers, you know, I think the stat probably rings true for a lot of you who are watching today because, you know, it really illustrates that larger issue behind what I’m about to talk about in the session, which is, you know, how do you really get a larger, more strategic place inside of the organization to help direct in and have a have a bigger seat at the table? And so, you know, what we’re going to talk about is is really just three things. It’s number one, you know, what can you do to start communicating and connecting your marketing teams efforts to set goals in to the to the business outcomes at within your organization that really matter to the CEO and the CFO. Right. It’s particularly the things that they themselves are going to be reporting upwards to either the board or the investors.
And, you know, really what it boils down to at the end of the day is really pipeline and marketing’s contribution to pipeline and then ultimately revenue. And so that’s sort of number one. Number two is really the steps that you can take to align your marketing team directly to the things that they care about, like pipeline and revenue and and really get things, things lined up so that you can do number three, which is communicate and frankly I think is probably the most important or one of the most important things is communicate how you’re consistently lining up to, you know, building, you know, building your value, you know, keeping marketing top of mind within your organization and ultimately sort of get that bigger seat at the table and becoming part of the part of the strategic conversations that are happening inside the organization. So let’s jump in. You know, and I think the first way that I can do that is really to to start by saying that, you know, I’ve really found that the best way to start getting the marketing team on the same page as the leadership team is to really find out, especially as you come in as a brand new leader, you know, what are those desired business outcomes that they are themselves taking to in reporting up to the board or the investors?
And, you know, what are the, you know, sort of the main things that the leadership team is really focusing on and what are their goals and what are the outcomes that they want to see, you know, in the year, you know, that sort of thing. So that when you are talking in a meeting, the conversation is really about those things, right?
Because that’s the thing that they care about the most. And ultimately what they, you know, connects well with, you know, how they’re thinking, you know, throughout the rest of the time that you’re not meeting with them. Right. You know, these are the things that they’re they’re typically reporting on. So how do you do that? And so, you know, at the end of the day, the best advice that I can sort of give is, you know, if you head up your marketing team or you oversee marketing efforts in your organization, really to set up a regular meeting with the CFO or the CEO, you know, and and probably the head of sales. I think it probably goes without saying to ask them what their particular goals are. Right. And then just get an outline of what those things are and then find out, you know, how those particular desired business outcomes that they are, that they’re meeting to hit, you know, those, those key metrics, those things that they need to really hit are connected to where marketing fits it, right?
So if you sort of think about it like a big diagram, these are the things that they care about and then you want to have your marketing efforts is is probably overlapping on that circle in the Venn diagram as much as humanly possible. And there are things that are a little bit more squishy, like telling the brand story and, you know, value proposition and you know, things like that that are a little bit softer.
Like a lot of your circle around marketing ought to be tied to those key those key performance indicators that they themselves are carrying. So, you know, how you do that is, you know, really to figure out like where marketing lines up, you know, you literally have a list of their key metrics and then, you know, how this marketing particularly contribute or reinforce or empower those particular business goals.
You know, what you don’t want to be doing is talking about things like the vanity metrics that we are as marketers are sort of known to no one to hone in on, you know, things that we immediately live in, day in and day out. And I don’t want to say that those things aren’t very important. They are.
Right, you know, CCR, you know, engagement, downloads, you know, tactics, things like that. But if you if you start doing that in that particular meeting, in that particular setting, you’re really going to lose your audience. So instead, start by coming up with two or three solid examples of where your marketing efforts directly tie to those business outcomes that they, you know, they care about.
That’s where you start building your credibility with the C-suite. You know, when you start really sort of honing in and and focusing on those, sharing those, and then building on those over time. And then so once you’re sort of in the routine of meeting with the executives and, you know, kind of going through and then you establish sort of what those KPIs are, you know, it’s really, you know, identifying on a pretty consistent basis, on a regular basis, the where you are hitting the numbers that you set out you said you were going to do.
Right. And so, you know, I think in in that in that particular scenario, you know, just continuing to build credibility over time by saying you’re going to do something and then going and doing it. And of course, we all fall short. And so where we fall short, you know, you’re showing exactly first of all, you’re not hiding it or obscuring it.
You’re sort of leading the conversation with where you fell short because that builds credibility to you know, you just lean in to that and you say, here’s where we fell short. Here’s our plan to get back to sort of close the gap. And you start doing that and again, consistency is key. Doing that over time is key because it does a couple of things.
One is it establishes credibility for you because you know what’s going on and you know the executives not wondering when they’re not meeting with you. You know, what’s marketing doing, how are they doing it, etc., etc.. But also because they know that you are caring about the things that they care about, right? And you’re doing that on a consistent basis and you’re sort of, you know, for lack of a better word, training in to non marketing executives, how to think the way that you’re thinking.
Right. And as long as they know and they trust that you’re thinking about the right things, then you can start tying, you know, to the you know, to the specifics. So this is where it’s going to be key to really have your marketing team work in tandem with sales, you know, especially if you’re in B2B or, you know, any kind of SaaS environment, you have to know that this is where sales and marketing, you know, if they’re not on the same page, you know, you are just sort of setting yourself up for disaster, right?
Really when I say setting or we’re going to see saying on the same page, it is really going to organize around most often as well or pipeline creation because that’s what sales understands. And if you can, the more often you can talk about pipeline creation and ask you, well, the more aligned you’re going to be in, you know, in meetings or in conversations.
So SQL is kind of that single source of truth that says this is where sales and marketing need. And so in order to do this, you know, you kind of have to think about, okay, well, if skills are really that connective tissue between what sales wants and what marketing can deliver that, you know, it becomes that lowest common denominator between the two teams.
To really get that sales and marketing alignment, you know, the way you want it to be because the last thing you want to do is go into a QBR or a monthly reporting meeting where sales are saying one thing and marketing is saying another. And, you know, most leaders will probably tell you CEOs, CFOs, especially, you know, like if you’ve ever heard this common, you know, I think I hear it a lot.
You know, it’s like, you know, the CFO will say, I always feel like the target is moving. Right. You know, sales are saying one thing and it’s because of this or they’re pointing to some reason they think that the issue they’re falling short or they’re not hitting quota, you know, and then on the marketing side, they’re doing the exact same thing, but they’re pointing at something else, and so the target feels like it’s really well established at the beginning. And then you go into, you know, the month or the quarter or you come out at the other end of the quarter and you’ve all you know, you’ve missed your number and everybody’s sort of saying, okay, well, we think this is what it is. And they feel like the target has has shifted and moved. SQL’s is kind of that one metric that makes it hard for the target to move around too much.
So if marketing is saying this is how many wells we need to be able to hit this SQL well and we focus on high quality conversion ads and you know, and volume obviously to be able to hit the SQL well target. Then at the same time, sales is looking at it and saying, we, you know, we need this many wells and we, you know, we know what our win rate is and we know what our velocity is.
So we know that this is the number of deals that’s going to come out. The other end, that connective tissue in the middle is the school. So really focusing on that and reinforcing it. And then, you know, if you think about the one thing that we sort of miss on as marketers, which is it’s kind of ironic knowing that, you know, marketers are typically communicators, is typically, you know, data driven.
People who are communicators and being data driven, we really don’t do well as internal marketers, right. You know, we focus on numbers. We focus on, you know, producing results. But then we sort of forget that, you know, those results need to be communicated outward or it’s like a tree falling in the woods. And so like that’s the that’s the big thing is like getting that once you have that established credibility with the C-suite and you’re making really headway towards aligning more of your marketing efforts to pipeline and revenue, you really want to solidify that progress to stay there by staying top of mind internally within the organization and within the leadership team. So really on a regular basis, you know, being able to point things out that are working, you know, and in why they’re working and how marketing is contributing to that. So, you know, really what you’re what you’re going to be talking about, you know, sort of ad nauseum is, you know, the key, you know, the key metrics that drive those business outcomes in knowing how to effectively report and reinforce the things that you want the executives to be aware of about marketing and what it’s doing and what your team’s contributions are to the overall business outcomes that they care about.
You do that by actively showing those results very clearly. And, you know, you can do it in the form of a flash report. But honestly, as simple as it sounds, I find the most easy and nicely sort of digestible way to do it is just send an email either on a Monday or on a Friday that says, This is what our metrics are, this is what we’re doing and this is how we’re doing it.
You know, the one piece of advice that I would say is stay away from the vanity metrics like we talked about earlier, but then also make it real. Right. You know, don’t just give them a you know, just don’t throw up a bunch of numbers in front of somebody. Nobody has time for that. Really. What you want to do is add color commentary around it and say, this is what we did, this is how many MQL’s and this is why and this is where they came from.
This is why you should care. Right. And, you know, when you do it that way, it makes it makes it easier to understand and sort of just very quickly digest. And I think that’s super important. So at the end of the day, just to sort of, you know, pull all of that, you know, together as a marketer, if you really want to begin, you know, having that bigger seat at the table, you know, talking the language of the C-suite and illustrating to them the tie in between your marketing efforts and what you’re doing and how those things can directly impact pipeline and revenue and the business outcomes that you’re that your CEO cares about. And then also doing that in a reliable way where you sort of drop the vanity metrics and you’re able to speak instead to the key metrics like skills, pipeline creation, pipeline velocity, win rates, you know, those, those types of things. And you do this consistently and you’re meeting with the team regularly and you’re showing where your gaps are and what your plans are to close the gap.
And you’re able to show that over time, you really do start building that credibility that you’re looking for, you know, to the to the CEO. And that’s really how you, as a marketer, you know, come in and earn the trust and build that reputation within your organization of having the knowledge and the skill set to be able to make that impression and really start being listened to inside of the organization. And, you know, it’s not a magic process, right? You know, there’s nothing tricky about this. There’s nothing special about it. But if you really kind of hone in and you do those three things, you know, you start to really build back, you know, and you do it consistently, frankly. You know, you start to reach that goal of getting your marketing team, that larger voice, that larger seat at the table.
I think at the end of the day, you know, those are the things that I would point to, you know, and, you know, if I’m thinking about it in my own career and what I’ve been doing over the last 12 or 15 years, that’s really where I could kind of point to that has really helped me over the years.
So hopefully this will help you. Thank you for, you know, listening to my session. I really enjoyed it. Obviously, if there are any questions or anything that I can help with, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn or you can visit us at ConstantContact.com/CRM. Anything that I can do to help, I’m happy to do so.