Episode 4

A SaaS CMO’s Formula for Successful Scaling

It's not in our nature to move slowly as marketers. We like to act, move, go, and grow, especially when there’s a scale mandate. But there’s wisdom and value in assessing first, like just pro athletes surveying the field of play to let the game come to them. We discuss the formula for successful scaling:

  • Aligning on what scale means to your CEO and Board
  • Avoiding overselling what marketing can do/determining what you are capable of achieving
  • Assessing the resources you have at your disposal, both within and outside marketing 

We also discuss:

  • How the 10MM-15MM scale-up is different from the 50MM-100MM scaleup 
  • Key questions to ask the Board before saying yes to the marketing leadership job
  • How to lead your board on a journey of where marketing is taking them 
  • How to not get offended by Board members who don’t understand marketing
  • “Moneyball” hiring
  • Embracing the fact that your team members may only expect to be with you for a defined amount of time 

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Key Links

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Hiring great marketing leaders is not easy. The Get is a podcast designed to inspire smart decisions around recruiting and leadership in B2B SaaS marketing. 

We explore the trends, tribulations, and triumphs of today’s top marketing leaders in B2B SaaS.

This season’s theme is Solving for the Scale Journey.

The Get’s host is Erica Seidel, who runs The Connective Good, an executive search practice with a hyper-focus on recruiting CMOs and VPs of Marketing, especially in B2B SaaS. 

If you are looking to hire a CMO or VP of Marketing of the ‘make money’ variety - rather than the ‘make it pretty’ variety, contact Erica at erica@theconnectivegood.com. You can also follow Erica on LinkedIn or sign up for her newsletter at TheConnectiveGood.com

The Get is produced by Evo Terra and Simpler Media Productions.

Transcript
Erica Seidel:

Hi, you're listening to The Get, the podcast about finding and keeping

Erica Seidel:

great marketing leaders in B2B SaaS.

Erica Seidel:

I'm Erica Seidel, your host.

Erica Seidel:

About eighteen months ago, I got a call from a SaaS fintech company

Erica Seidel:

in Nashville called Ncontracts.

Erica Seidel:

They wanted a new marketing leader.

Erica Seidel:

I was a bit nervous about doing the search because my network in Nashville

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is not huge, but I'm so glad I did.

Erica Seidel:

I ended up placing Guy Weismantel into that role; he

Erica Seidel:

transplanted himself from Seattle.

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The company has doubled since then.

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Guy joins us today.

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You'll hear some great lessons about scaling, like when to

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fight the urge to move too fast.

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You'll also learn two questions that you can ask as a CMO candidate to diagnose

Erica Seidel:

how the board views marketing and how not to get offended when board members

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don't understand what marketing can do.

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We talk about the Moneyball hiring approach for a scale-up

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and Guy shares what I think is my favorite quote so far: "Pipeline

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doesn't pay the bills; ARR does."

Erica Seidel:

Let's get to it.

Erica Seidel:

Guy, it's great to have you on the show.

Erica Seidel:

Welcome!

Guy Weismantel:

Thanks, Erica.

Guy Weismantel:

Thanks for having me.

Guy Weismantel:

I'm really excited to talk to you today.

Guy Weismantel:

This is fun.

Erica Seidel:

I'd love to get right into it and ask you maybe to talk about

Erica Seidel:

a few mistakes to avoid when scaling a marketing function for a B2B SaaS company.

Erica Seidel:

So if somebody is a little bit earlier in their CMO journey than you have been

Erica Seidel:

in your career, what kind of mistakes or hard-won learnings can you share that

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stick out to you from your experiences?

Guy Weismantel:

Yeah, I've certainly made a few along the journey and

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anything I could pass along to someone that can avoid I'm really happy to do.

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One of the things that I think is just an impulse for all of us that take on

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marketing roles and, you know, see a big opportunity in front of us is a little

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bit to try to do too much too soon.

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And that sounds a little bit counterproductive because when

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you're trying to scale, you are trying to get a lot done.

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There's always an interesting analogy like a caterpillar can only move

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as fast as its back legs, right?

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Like the front legs make one move really, really fast, but it can only

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go as fast as the back legs are going.

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And I think there's a tendency, I know I've certainly had it, to think,

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oh, I'm here, we need to invest in a ton of tech and invest in a ton

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of people and really start to scale.

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And, in a lot of cases, the org is not quite ready or can't

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handle that much change that fast.

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And so you have this idea of scaling means more or bigger or faster

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and could actually mean doing more things under the waterline

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to allow you to move faster later.

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And so, the bright, shiny object to get the new toys and get the things

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that help you get better attribution - you just want to start doing all

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these things so you can go faster.

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But in my experience sometimes, you know, they can fall over, like you

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don't have someone to implement those tools or who's going to administer those

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tools, or is the data even actionable out of these things that you buy?

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Or, you want to invest in a person, but do you have enough for them to

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do or the right thing for them to do?

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And so I think that's a mistake I've made where you just go, okay, I get

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it, let's go, but sometimes taking a breath and kind of assessing, you

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know, what is going to work in this org, in the structure that I'm in and

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what can I be effective implementing?

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That's kind of one.

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A bigger one, and it'll sound cliched, but making sure you're aligned on

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scale, what scale means to your CEO, to your CRO and even to the

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board, I think is super important.

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Because again, we can attach ourselves to, I need to double growth or triple

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this, and I go, okay, great, let me go put a plan together to do that.

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But I think when I hear that, like I've learned to just take a beat and go,

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okay, well, what does that really mean?

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Like how do we think about doing that and how are we beyond

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marketing resources to get there?

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Because it's client services, do we have people to implement the product?

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Do we have people to support the product?

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And so I, you know, sales and marketing can maybe grow, but if the rest of

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the org isn't aligned with that, I mean, you can get yourself in trouble.

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And I've seen that where you oversell, you over promise, and then you can't deliver.

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And so scale is not just about how many new marketing campaigns or ads we get

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into the market to try to generate leads.

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It's about can the organization keep up and are you all

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aligned on what that means?

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You know, what I've also found is that as marketers, we tend to want to move

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fast, but the rest of the org maybe has a little bit different expectation.

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And so doubling the growth, it might not mean in the next year, maybe

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it's over the next eighteen months.

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So really understanding what that looks like.

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And then, I think that the last is, really, what you're capable of achieving.

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Again, we feel like we're super men, super women, that we can kind of do it all, but

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there are just some things that a scale involves that we're not resourced for.

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We don't have the things in place that are gonna allow us to achieve those things.

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I know I've gotten in over my head by over promising, thinking I can do it

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all, when actually there are just other pieces that I don't have access to or I

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can't get in place that inhibit scale.

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So I think those are some learnings that I've picked up along the way.

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But I think that tendency to want to, almost like tortoise and hare,

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like just run, you know, you start going after the scale, right away.

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Slowing down a little bit and understanding, okay, what do

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we need to put in place now?

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What can we live with?

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A lot of times it's almost smarter to survey the scene and kind of

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go, okay, what people do I have?

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Maybe there's people not in my org, but they're in the

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organization that can help me.

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What tools are maybe we not utilizing that are sitting on the shelf that I

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can repurpose and use rather than just buying another license for something?

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And I think that's where I probably got smarter in my job is, you know,

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allow myself to, even with aggressive goals and aggressive targets, to kind

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of take a step back, take a breath, almost let the game come to you.

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Like a lot of veterans sports people, they don't rush out.

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They go okay, what am I seeing here?

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And the ability to assess that I think is going to ultimately help

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you scale faster going forward.

Guy Weismantel:

That's what I've learned.

Erica Seidel:

I love that.

Erica Seidel:

I love this kind of go slow to go fast, almost.

Erica Seidel:

And I like what you're talking about aligning on what scale means.

Erica Seidel:

Can you double click on that?

Erica Seidel:

Like how should a marketing leader tackle that conversation or set of

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conversations, most likely, within the company on what scale means?

Erica Seidel:

Because it's the marketing leader is often the chief diplomat of the

Erica Seidel:

organization, you know, aligning everybody like a shuttle diplomat.

Erica Seidel:

I always like to think of a CMO that way.

Erica Seidel:

What do those conversations need to look like for them to be successful?

Guy Weismantel:

I think it's a really interesting point because

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scale means different things to different people, right?

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And so, we may say, hey, we want to double our ARR in the next twelve months.

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Maybe there's new products that are going to come to market and help us grow faster.

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Is there a new part of the addressable market that we're not in right now

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that we've got to develop awareness and give it air cover to sales

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so they are able to sell easier?

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There's a lot of variables that go into scale and I reference in just

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what we were saying, you know, what's the rest of the organization, how

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are they going to support this scale?

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Our NPS starts tanking and we have to start having a lot more churn, that's

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as big an issue as growing the top line that our board's going to care about if

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stuff's falling out the bottom as well.

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So I think the key is you're going to be part of that executive team, like

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really all understand what it's going to take or what do we have at our

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disposal that can help us achieve the scale that maybe the board is saying,

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hey, here's what we want to have you guys go do in the next 12-24 months.

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As a newer person on the team, where I came into a team that was together for

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awhile, it was in my best interest to listen to their experience on what they'd

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been able to achieve before I got there and leverage that a little bit more.

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And I think the other, you know, it's not a mistake, but it is a learning

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that goes with this is, again, there's a tendency to if you're the

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new person you've got to prove that you can scale with everybody else.

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But I think kind of taking out that hat a little bit and going, okay, well,

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how can I leverage about of things that have already being done that I

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can either do better or more of, or just let someone else take the lead

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on some of these things and sit in the passenger chair and help them drive scale?

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And I mentioned product specifically because in many cases on marketing,

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it's our job to, you know, whether it's getting a product in market or to

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find a new market and push the pedal down on getting more opportunities

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in the hands of the sales people, but in many cases, the product team has

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done a lot of this thinking already.

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They already have the roadmap that you don't have to build

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something from scratch.

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They've already identified who the ICP is and the customer feedback as they're

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going through the development process.

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And instead of me creating that from scratch, we can scale faster if I

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leverage the work that this team has been working on for the last twelve

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months to get this product out.

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So there are lots of little examples and I think making sure everyone

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is aligned on how we go achieve it and not just the CEO going, hey,

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we're going to go make this number.

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That's the worst case, right?

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You've got to have everyone bought in and as a marketer, to

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your point, our work touches all these other different departments.

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And so if we can get everyone to understand the gives and takes and who's

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going to be lead, and who's going to be second chair of how we help scale because

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marketing will be the lead sometimes and helping other times, supporting.

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That's super important to get everyone on the same page.

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Again, it is a little bit more like, hey, let's take a beat and make sure

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we all know what this looks like, and then we're off to the races.

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I think sometimes there's a tendency to just be like, hey, I figured out the

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plan of how we're going to go do this.

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And it has nothing to do with, you know, what everyone else is thinking.

Guy Weismantel:

And that was something I certainly did early in my career as well.

Erica Seidel:

You also had this great analogy when we talked before about

Erica Seidel:

scaling being like Tarzan on a swing where you're going from one edge of the river

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to the, I don't know if it was a river, but like this idea of sticking with,

Erica Seidel:

you know, sometimes this is the theme of going slow to go fast, but sticking with

Erica Seidel:

the tools and processes of yesterday and stretching them as far as they can go.

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Then, you know, that might be some people, some tools and processes versus

Erica Seidel:

jump to the next iteration of them.

Erica Seidel:

And I think that's just an interesting way to think about it.

Erica Seidel:

Do you think that's common for people to think about it that way?

Guy Weismantel:

You know, I don't know.

Guy Weismantel:

I must have been watching the Jungle Cruise with my son or something and picked

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it up, but I'm like, it's an interesting cause I think it's our tendancy, with

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10,000 marketing tools out there and, you know, a lot of different best practices

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that we're, oh, we should do that.

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Oh, they ran this campaign.

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Let's run this campaign too and try it.

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The shiny object syndrome in marketing is as great as it has probably ever been in,

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in the history of the discipline, right?

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So there's always a new thing to go try or to go do.

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And I just learned, like Tarzan, you can't stay on the branch too long, right?

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Because your arm gets tired.

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The goal is to get to the other side of the river, but I think there's some

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wisdom and value in not just grabbing the next branch that comes along.

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Because I think, then, I won't torture the metaphor any further, but I think

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sometimes doing that, you actually end up farther off the path than you would

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if you just waited a little bit longer.

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Because the way that, not only marketing, but business changes so quickly that

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sometimes making too many short-term decisions just to show advancement or

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show progress or "see I'm doing my part to help scale" actually gets you in a

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corner where you've got to back out and now I've got to rehire, I've got to

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retool, or I've got to revert back to what we were doing, cause this didn't work.

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And so, I've seen that, you know, certainly friends and

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peers that that's happened to.

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I've done it myself.

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And I think there is some benefit to hanging back a little bit.

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And not, again, you need to get to the next branch, but it's not just

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the next one you've got to go grab.

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And that's not, the next email you get from some tech vendor that

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says we can improve this by 25%.

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It's like, oh yeah, we want 25%.

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Let's go do that.

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And that's how I try to think about these things and evaluate them with

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the eye on yeah, I've got to get across that river at some point here.

Erica Seidel:

Yeah.

Erica Seidel:

It's so funny.

Erica Seidel:

At the risk of killing this metaphor, it's like sometimes you swing up the riverbank

Erica Seidel:

as opposed to across to the otherside.

Guy Weismantel:

Yeah, or you just miss it altogether.

Guy Weismantel:

And that happens, but it's not in our nature to go slow as marketing

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because marketing moves so fast.

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There's so much data.

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There's so much insight that we should be able to glean, but

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trends are different - think fads.

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Like fads are like the supernova just happens and you're like,

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oh my gosh, look at this thing that's happening, let's pivot.

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A trend is something that just happens a little bit over a

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longer period of time, right?

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So if I can not just overreact to the thing that just happened, but okay, let's

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see if it happened again and then twice, maybe it isn't a fluke and then three

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times, okay, now we've got something here.

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Now let's go do it.

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And I can back that up with data.

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And if it's me going to my CEO saying, hey, I need another X number

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of dollars to go fund this, I'll have the data points cause I'll have

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waited to see yep, this is something I think we can really go exploit and

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that's going to help us go faster.

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That's a conversation that any CEO or board is going to want to have

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with you when you can show up having waited and seen it through, and

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maybe done some testing to get there.

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But you are confident in and you're backed up by what you saw

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and then they're going to want to pour some gas on the fire for you.

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And that's the best part.

Erica Seidel:

Can you talk about how the board questions marketing change

Erica Seidel:

as you go from, say, fifteen million all the way up to a hundred million?

Guy Weismantel:

They do change.

Guy Weismantel:

You know, you have a different, I want to use this word carefully,

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but a different type of investor.

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I was going to say quality, and it's not that people aren't smart at any level,

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but why they're on the board, the return they're looking to get, the holding

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period they're looking to get, the pace at which they want to scale, all those

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things can be very different as you are at companies of different levels.

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I've been lucky enough in the career that I've been able to build to have some

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experiences at these different levels.

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Part of the change that you tend to see is in the depth in the strategic nature of

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what the board's actually looking to do.

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Of course earlier stage, assuming you've proven out the product

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market fit and you've got a market and you have some infrastructure.

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I'm not talking about maybe you're the first marketer of a three-person

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company, you know, but going concern.

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We said fifteen million, that's a going concern company.

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That's a product that's growing fast, but that's still a little bit

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more tactical in terms of how we take advantage of a new market that

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we're in that we can get market share and get to the top of the mountain.

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And as you get farther up, what I've noticed, is you have

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a different type of investor.

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You tend to get out of the VC world and into the private equity world.

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Those folks are holding for a different reason than a VC that's trying to get

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maybe a little bit shorter return.

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And so they're going to care about shorter return metrics.

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If a P firm is in the typical five, three to five-year holding period,

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they're going to want to see what's the progression during the time that

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we have ownership of this company?

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If it's longer, shorter, whatever, but just average.

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How are you guys building to help us hit the ultimate goal?

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We've got some time to get there.

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We don't have to get it all in the first twenty-four months.

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But that's also, as you get in the higher end, you know, for marketers

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looking to take advantage of those opportunities or get into those

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opportunities, the expectation of the CMO is also very different as well.

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Again, at an earlier stage, they are looking for someone who tactically can

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help get the programs in market that can help achieve that growth, partner with

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sales, and really go grab marketshare cause that's really what you're all about.

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But when you get into that 50 to 100, you know, they're looking for marketers

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that are going to come with some sort of a playbook, some sort of a vision,

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some sort of a way to know, hey, here's how you do scale this organization.

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It's not just putting more campaigns and more ad dollars in marketing.

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It's the integrated process of how you use all the marketing engines at your

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disposal because by 50 million you should have most of them at your disposal.

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You may not be running Dreamforce type of events, but you're going to

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have opportunities to engage with your prospects and your customers,

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and in many, many different ways versus when you're really small,

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you've just got a few channels.

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Then, you know that you're probably going to be able to

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afford to get in front of them on.

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So having this ability to get in sync, in alignment with your CEO,

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with the board, of what this growth looks like and how you can lead the

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marketing organization to help achieve it becomes increasingly important.

Guy Weismantel:

At a smaller level, they're not going to ask you to detail the

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playbook and present out the plan.

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At a larger level, like where I've been placed and, you know, other

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companies, they want you to arrive and they want to see your thinking.

Guy Weismantel:

They don't necessarily care about the answer.

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It's like the teacher who wants to see your work and they don't care as much

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if the answer was a little bit wrong.

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But they want to see how do you plan to help them get there?

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And again, it doesn't have to all be in the first six weeks of you

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arriving, but they want to see how you're going to be able to do it.

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And that's the big difference as you get a little bit bigger, you've

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got to, you know the cliche, you've got to have seen the play before.

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You don't have to know everything about everything.

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It's impossible in marketing.

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But you do have to know where you've got blind spots or weak spots.

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And if they happen to be areas that you think are going to be important to the

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growth of the company and to the scale of the company, how you hire people

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around you, how you fill those gaps, how you think about addressing them.

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Because we all come to these roles if we're interviewing

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as imperfect candidates, very, you know, none of us have every

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single thing and check in the box.

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There's always something that they're going to want to do that we haven't

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done before, we haven't done for awhile.

Guy Weismantel:

So part of this scaling exercise is showing them how you fill those

Guy Weismantel:

gaps and how you can take advantage of them as well going forward.

Guy Weismantel:

They'll want to see that.

Guy Weismantel:

Once they see that, then you've got that adherent alignment once

Guy Weismantel:

you're on the other side of the fence in the role to have them help

Guy Weismantel:

you implement it because this is the plan that you kind of laid out.

Guy Weismantel:

This is the approach that you think you want to take.

Guy Weismantel:

Now, when they see the tactics behind that, it's going to make a lot more sense

Guy Weismantel:

and you'll have that buy in right away.

Guy Weismantel:

And that expectation is there when you get it to a higher level, it's

Guy Weismantel:

something you can kind of work concurrently with the board, you

Guy Weismantel:

know, in smaller type of companies.

Guy Weismantel:

You're not making it up as you go along, but you are developing

Guy Weismantel:

it as the company grows.

Guy Weismantel:

Versus as you got to scale from like 50 to a hundred that's way

Guy Weismantel:

different than scaling from 10 to 15.

Guy Weismantel:

And so that playbook and that background in that the understanding

Guy Weismantel:

of how you help the company get there is super, super important.

Erica Seidel:

That's so interesting because I've been thinking a lot about

Erica Seidel:

the playbook versus adaptability and how I think there's this sweet spot.

Erica Seidel:

And you're right at different points and from different investors, you know,

Erica Seidel:

you have a different expectation for that playbook, but you also want to

Erica Seidel:

show that adaptability to the situation because every situation is different.

Erica Seidel:

And one question that I heard from somebody which I've started asking

Erica Seidel:

myself before I take on a search and also I suggest candidates ask this

Erica Seidel:

is what are the questions that came up at the last board meeting about

Erica Seidel:

marketing that you struggled to answer?

Erica Seidel:

Because that way, if you're a CMO candidate interviewing with a CEO,

Erica Seidel:

you get a sense of what the level of discussion is and what the big

Erica Seidel:

question marks are and you can kind of fill in the blanks and go from there.

Guy Weismantel:

I love that.

Guy Weismantel:

I think that's so true.

Guy Weismantel:

I think at a level where you're coming into these roles, you're going to be

Guy Weismantel:

interviewing with the board anyway, right?

Guy Weismantel:

You're going to be in front of the board and the CEO.

Guy Weismantel:

So I think getting in that head of the CEO of what role marketing needs to play

Guy Weismantel:

in the growth of the company is super important as you think about joining.

Guy Weismantel:

I'm very lucky that I work for a CEO, hasn't always been the case, but it

Guy Weismantel:

certainly is here, someone who really views marketing as a part of our

Guy Weismantel:

growth story and the growth engine.

Guy Weismantel:

It's not in support of, you know, does it roll up to sales or roll up to the CEO?

Guy Weismantel:

It's got a seat at the table.

Guy Weismantel:

It's a full partner in how we scale our organization.

Guy Weismantel:

I think that's super important to look for.

Guy Weismantel:

But the corollary to that is as you talk to the board, or the CEO, same

Guy Weismantel:

thing, what are you looking for?

Guy Weismantel:

Like, what questions do you look for the CMO to be able to answer?

Guy Weismantel:

Or what do you expect from marketing in this role?

Guy Weismantel:

And those could be scary cause, you know, I've been in some areas where I'm not

Guy Weismantel:

sure I know how to answer that question.

Guy Weismantel:

That's not a question I've actually had before.

Guy Weismantel:

So how would I answer that?

Guy Weismantel:

And that can be like, yeah, maybe I just want to stay away from that question.

Guy Weismantel:

And I would say no.

Guy Weismantel:

The opposite.

Guy Weismantel:

You've got to lean into finding out what is on the minds of the key board people.

Guy Weismantel:

If they have those board people interviewing you, that's who's going to

Guy Weismantel:

be questioning you in the board meeting.

Guy Weismantel:

Because that's the person who's going to be closest to marketing,

Guy Weismantel:

they may be a marketing expert.

Guy Weismantel:

They may have past experience being a marketer.

Guy Weismantel:

So they're interviewing you for a reason.

Guy Weismantel:

So really getting into their heads and understanding how do you know

Guy Weismantel:

that marketing is performing?

Guy Weismantel:

What does good look like?

Guy Weismantel:

What about your other portfolio companies?

Guy Weismantel:

What does a great marketing presentation look like?

Guy Weismantel:

Kind of get into their heads.

Guy Weismantel:

And then, to your point, what has been missing?

Guy Weismantel:

You're obviously hiring for this role for a reason.

Guy Weismantel:

What are you not getting from marketing that you are looking for this role to

Guy Weismantel:

help fulfill and actually exceed on?

Guy Weismantel:

If you can get that, that's going to be part of, you know, hopefully

Guy Weismantel:

if you get to present to the board, or present to the management team,

Guy Weismantel:

incorporate that into your presentation.

Guy Weismantel:

But even more importantly, if you're going to put together a 30-60-90 plan as you

Guy Weismantel:

get onboard, making sure that you know how to go answer those questions, or you

Guy Weismantel:

have the prioritization to go get those questions or those metrics answered.

Guy Weismantel:

So you can at least establish a baseline and then go, okay, we're here, I know

Guy Weismantel:

we've got to get here, now let's put the plan together cause we know that this

Guy Weismantel:

is actually what we need to go measure.

Guy Weismantel:

And sometimes scale is about just understanding the starting

Guy Weismantel:

point or what hasn't happened.

Guy Weismantel:

And again, going back to what I started with, sometimes we've got these grand

Guy Weismantel:

visions of what we've actually got to achieve and once you do the math, it's

Guy Weismantel:

like, oh, actually we're not that bad.

Guy Weismantel:

We just aren't showing it the right way.

Guy Weismantel:

Or we just haven't thought about this in the right way.

Guy Weismantel:

We don't have to increase by a hundred percent, we have to increase by thirty,

Guy Weismantel:

and that's still a lot, but it's not as impossible as you might think.

Guy Weismantel:

So I think that alignment with the board is hyper-critical.

Guy Weismantel:

We all know that, we read the stats that CMOs tend to have a shorter

Guy Weismantel:

tenure in the executive suite than some of our counterparts.

Guy Weismantel:

But I think one of the ways we can overcome that is by getting on the

Guy Weismantel:

same page before we come in the door with the CEO, to your point, and

Guy Weismantel:

the board to understand what those expectations are, and then make

Guy Weismantel:

sure we're going to be resourced to actually achieve those expectations.

Guy Weismantel:

And then that allows us to scale.

Erica Seidel:

So a question, say you have that conversation with the board

Erica Seidel:

members and you say, what's your expectation of marketing and what

Erica Seidel:

you get back as something absurdly, tactical or absurdly, you know, 'make

Erica Seidel:

it pretty' department, or what have you.

Erica Seidel:

Do you recommend that a CMO candidate should say, pardon my French, "Screw

Erica Seidel:

that, I don't want to do this job because their vision is not mine?"

Erica Seidel:

Or, do you recommend they try to evolve that perception in the interview process?

Guy Weismantel:

That's a really interesting way to think about that

Guy Weismantel:

because there is a strain of thought, which is if you're just wanting a

Guy Weismantel:

good-looking website and you think our brand colors should be, you know, red

Guy Weismantel:

and green instead of blue and gold, then that may not be the job for you.

Guy Weismantel:

Right?

Guy Weismantel:

And so there are jobs like that.

Guy Weismantel:

But again, that goes back to what role does marketing

Guy Weismantel:

actually play in the growth?

Guy Weismantel:

And if it's those types of questions, then the board maybe isn't thinking

Guy Weismantel:

of marketing as this growth engine.

Guy Weismantel:

But I do think there is also this other side, which, you know, I

Guy Weismantel:

will speak in generalities here.

Guy Weismantel:

We shouldn't expect, sometimes I think we do expect, as marketers, the board to know

Guy Weismantel:

everything about marketing, like they're in-depth on what all these metrics are.

Guy Weismantel:

And they're not, and they shouldn't be.

Guy Weismantel:

They're in charge of the whole company, not just marketing, even though there

Guy Weismantel:

may be someone on the board who has the background, they're thinking of the

Guy Weismantel:

company as a whole entity, not the parts.

Guy Weismantel:

So it is our job to say, hey, you're looking at this metric and I want to talk

Guy Weismantel:

about that metric, but also here's why we actually are not emphasizing that.

Guy Weismantel:

We're actually emphasizing this.

Guy Weismantel:

And this is why we think this is more meaningful to us.

Guy Weismantel:

I think it's a both-and type of answer.

Guy Weismantel:

Yeah, if they just care about how many NQLs are you generating for sales.

Guy Weismantel:

Like, okay, it's up by 10%, check the box, Mark Green's doing his job.

Guy Weismantel:

That's not marketing these days.

Guy Weismantel:

We all know that.

Guy Weismantel:

But I do think there is an opportunity to increase our own stature, increase our

Guy Weismantel:

credibility with this audience, extend our tenure by leading the board on a journey

Guy Weismantel:

of where we're scaling, where we're taking them, and what metrics we are able to

Guy Weismantel:

demonstrate are actually contributing to the growth of this business.

Guy Weismantel:

And we shouldn't be upset or offended that they may not know those

Guy Weismantel:

metrics to the depth of the level or be thinking of them like we are.

Guy Weismantel:

That is our job to educate them and not be like, "Well, of course you would

Guy Weismantel:

look at this metric or this metric."

Guy Weismantel:

Or, "Why are you looking at that metric?

Guy Weismantel:

That doesn't matter."

Guy Weismantel:

They're bringing their own biases, their own experiences, what happens

Guy Weismantel:

at their other companies, you know, to this discussion and part of our

Guy Weismantel:

job is to help bring them along on our journey and show them what this number

Guy Weismantel:

means and the impact of this number on the pipeline or on the ARR or whatever

Guy Weismantel:

the metric is that we're going after.

Guy Weismantel:

I think it's both.

Guy Weismantel:

Sometimes we don't do a good job of that as marketers because we get offended that

Guy Weismantel:

they don't understand our discipline.

Guy Weismantel:

And then you kind of have this chasm that develops between the board doesn't

Guy Weismantel:

think marketing is doing a good job, marketing is working their butts

Guy Weismantel:

off to go ahead and be successful.

Guy Weismantel:

But I think there's a middle ground that we can both achieve.

Erica Seidel:

Can you talk about budgets and, you know, has it ever been hard to

Erica Seidel:

get more budget to support the marketing to itself support greater scale?

Erica Seidel:

And any hard-won learnings about that?

Guy Weismantel:

Probably more just battle scars on budgeting.

Guy Weismantel:

I think we all are, you know, there's just an inherent marketing

Guy Weismantel:

as cost center type of mentality that exists in a lot of places.

Guy Weismantel:

There's marketing should only get this percent of revenue because

Guy Weismantel:

that's what, you know, some analyst firm says it should be this percent.

Guy Weismantel:

I think that is part of our job as leaders to educate CEOs, executive

Guy Weismantel:

teams, boards on what it's going to take to actually help marketing achieve

Guy Weismantel:

the growth goals of the organization.

Guy Weismantel:

There's not a hard and fast rule if you are a $10 million company

Guy Weismantel:

versus the $100 million company, like you're going to spend differently.

Guy Weismantel:

Are you in a growth mode?

Guy Weismantel:

Are you in the last year of the private equity company owning you

Guy Weismantel:

and they want to show more profit?

Guy Weismantel:

Like guess what?

Guy Weismantel:

You're getting a budget cut guys.

Guy Weismantel:

We're going to be on maximum efficiency in that last year of ownership.

Guy Weismantel:

That's just how the cycles go.

Guy Weismantel:

So I think that that's where data plays a huge, huge part.

Guy Weismantel:

And again, if the cliche understanding is well, marketing I know I throw money

Guy Weismantel:

in, but I don't know how it comes out.

Guy Weismantel:

I don't know what we're getting for this.

Guy Weismantel:

Our ability to associate and get down into the channel and understand, not

Guy Weismantel:

just vanity metrics like impressions, even leads, like even pipeline.

Guy Weismantel:

Pipeline's great, but actually what turned into ARR?

Guy Weismantel:

Like what actually was a booking?

Guy Weismantel:

Because even I see people now where it's like, you know, I get we don't

Guy Weismantel:

want to just do leads and it's not, you know, how many clicks, it's pipeline.

Guy Weismantel:

I'm like, yeah, it is, but actually pipeline doesn't pay the bills.

Guy Weismantel:

It's only ARR that pays the bills.

Guy Weismantel:

And ultimately, if I can show by investing here, this is what does actually come

Guy Weismantel:

out the other side, not just in pipeline, which is also around sales efficiency and

Guy Weismantel:

effectiveness, it's not, you know, far less on marketing, but part of a revenue

Guy Weismantel:

team, if we want another 100K to invest, I can put it in another sales rep or I

Guy Weismantel:

can put it in these marketing programs.

Guy Weismantel:

What's the best ROI that actually results in a closed one opportunity?

Guy Weismantel:

An ARR, like our ability to trace that through and be able to say, I'm going

Guy Weismantel:

to put 50K of it in this, I'm gonna put 25 here and 25 here, and here's what

Guy Weismantel:

I know is going to come up the other side with reasonable certainty, that's

Guy Weismantel:

going to help you in budget season.

Guy Weismantel:

It's going to help you if you want to go after more and not just be stuck

Guy Weismantel:

with, oh, you only get X percent cause that's what we always do, and it's

Guy Weismantel:

also going to protect you from other people poaching your budget from other

Guy Weismantel:

departments because it guess what?

Guy Weismantel:

They need more developers.

Guy Weismantel:

They need more, you know, success people.

Guy Weismantel:

They need more, they're always going to need other people.

Guy Weismantel:

And marketing, because we tend to have big numbers in big buckets

Guy Weismantel:

like events and advertising.

Guy Weismantel:

And it's like, we'll just cut 10% from advertising and we can - No,

Guy Weismantel:

if you do that, this is what's going to happen to the lead flow.

Guy Weismantel:

This is what, the more you can understand the data and the impact of the levers you

Guy Weismantel:

can pull, that's going to make you - You know, we're in budget season right now.

Guy Weismantel:

So it's the time where I come armed now with information.

Guy Weismantel:

And yes, I want to be a team player.

Guy Weismantel:

Yes, we have trade-offs.

Guy Weismantel:

Yes, I can't get everything that I put in my first draft, which is just the

Guy Weismantel:

kitchen sink, but I know how to defend and what, you know, what is very meaningful.

Guy Weismantel:

If we're going to make a trade off, this is the impact of that trade off.

Guy Weismantel:

And I think as CMOs, heads of marketing, we've got to know the data because

Guy Weismantel:

otherwise marketing is just this glob of money that people go, well, let's just cut

Guy Weismantel:

marketing because we don't, you know, we don't know what we're getting out of it.

Erica Seidel:

Let's pivot now into org and hiring.

Erica Seidel:

Now, you are in a situation where you guys have acquired multiple companies,

Erica Seidel:

as I recall, since I placed you there.

Erica Seidel:

Yeah.

Erica Seidel:

Can you talk about maybe an org decision that you made that worked

Erica Seidel:

out well as you went through the scaling and acquiring climb?

Guy Weismantel:

You know, when you're a fast-growing company

Guy Weismantel:

but still pretty small, we just crossed 300 people at our company.

Guy Weismantel:

So we're not huge, but we're growing really, really fast, partly by

Guy Weismantel:

acquisition, as you mentioned, and just organically as well,

Guy Weismantel:

just our business is growing.

Guy Weismantel:

One of the things that I think I've gotten better at is not just

Guy Weismantel:

having an eye for talent, but setting up a talent or an org model.

Guy Weismantel:

I think that there's, you know, again, a tendency early in the career, it's

Guy Weismantel:

like, I want an all-star team, right?

Guy Weismantel:

I want five Michael Jordans.

Guy Weismantel:

I want people that are just the best at what they do.

Guy Weismantel:

And when you're a smaller company, I mean, heck when I was

Guy Weismantel:

at Microsoft, you don't have the budget to hire five Michael Jordans.

Guy Weismantel:

But especially, you know, in this fast-growing B2B SaaS world, I think one

Guy Weismantel:

of the biggest things I've learned is to really place some chips on some people

Guy Weismantel:

that can be with you over the longterm and understand that that's going to eat

Guy Weismantel:

up a good part of your people budget, your personnel budget, and be willing to live

Guy Weismantel:

with some role-players or people earlier in their career who are going to be

Guy Weismantel:

more tactical and just more functionally focused and kind of fill them in.

Guy Weismantel:

You know, the analogy, I think we've talked about this in the past that I

Guy Weismantel:

love the book and the movie Moneyball, and I think as CMOs for this size of

Guy Weismantel:

company that's growing really fast, but is still not huge, the analogy really

Guy Weismantel:

applies because I don't have the budget to hire five rockstars who have fifteen

Guy Weismantel:

years of experience and, you know, want a ton of money and all the things.

Guy Weismantel:

I can hire a couple of those people.

Guy Weismantel:

And so I need those people that can help you scale faster and who know how

Guy Weismantel:

to hire and have a good eye for talent as well as super, super critical.

Guy Weismantel:

Because I think we've done a pretty good job, pat myself on the back, I'll

Guy Weismantel:

hurt my arm by trying to reach over.

Guy Weismantel:

But, you know, finding really great people who are more tenured and then

Guy Weismantel:

finding hungry people who want to make a mark and want to learn something.

Guy Weismantel:

Like one of the realities of our labor market these days, and the tech market

Guy Weismantel:

in general, is just very few people last at a company their whole careers.

Guy Weismantel:

That's not a reality anymore.

Guy Weismantel:

So, you know, we really focus a lot more, especially when we're finding

Guy Weismantel:

people early in their career, what is the experience you're looking to get?

Guy Weismantel:

What are you looking to get out of this experience?

Guy Weismantel:

What does this experience help you do better?

Guy Weismantel:

And if you can find someone who's hungry to learn, who knows something about a

Guy Weismantel:

particular area, they might be really good at digital marketing and they really

Guy Weismantel:

want to get into the demand gen side, but they want to leverage those skills.

Guy Weismantel:

I love those people.

Guy Weismantel:

I can coach them, I can teach them.

Guy Weismantel:

We can have the director-level people kind of mentor them and scale them up.

Guy Weismantel:

I'm lucky enough to have a bunch of those people on the team.

Guy Weismantel:

But I also know, and we're very upfront with each other, like, hey, we're going to

Guy Weismantel:

be together for a portion of your career.

Guy Weismantel:

You've got a long career ahead of you.

Guy Weismantel:

My goal is to make this experience a really memorable one for you.

Guy Weismantel:

One that you look back and go, that was a fun team.

Guy Weismantel:

I learned a lot.

Guy Weismantel:

I really had a chance to try a bunch of things and it helped shape me to

Guy Weismantel:

be a marketing leader of the future.

Guy Weismantel:

I try not to be too sappy about it, but I do think there is merit when you

Guy Weismantel:

get to be a marketing leader, like one of the things I do is coach and give

Guy Weismantel:

references for people who work for me, who are getting to that level now.

Guy Weismantel:

And so I try to put the team together in such a way where I can invest in some

Guy Weismantel:

really higher talents, more experienced people who can help me with that

Guy Weismantel:

coaching and then fill in with people who have that ambition but are team

Guy Weismantel:

players that want to help the team win.

Guy Weismantel:

And as they spin out, and sometimes I'm having that conversation with them,

Guy Weismantel:

like, hey, you're going to get out of the nest here in the next six months,

Guy Weismantel:

so let's work on what that looks like.

Guy Weismantel:

Or they come to me and go, hey, I found this great opportunity.

Guy Weismantel:

I gotta go do it.

Guy Weismantel:

And I'd be like, yeah, you've got to go do that.

Guy Weismantel:

I would do that too.

Guy Weismantel:

That's great.

Guy Weismantel:

But we know that we're going to have this time together, so

Guy Weismantel:

how do we make the most of it?

Guy Weismantel:

I think getting those questions up ahead of time will help you

Guy Weismantel:

put the right pieces in place.

Guy Weismantel:

And it doesn't always work.

Guy Weismantel:

You know, especially with acquired companies, like you're inheriting

Guy Weismantel:

talent you didn't really have a say in it, and if that's the case,

Guy Weismantel:

your job is to do a few things.

Guy Weismantel:

Like, first of all, have empathy for them coming into a brand new situation.

Guy Weismantel:

They didn't ask for this.

Guy Weismantel:

They didn't have a say in it.

Guy Weismantel:

So now they've got to adjust to a whole new process and

Guy Weismantel:

team and boss and expectations.

Guy Weismantel:

But I think in those cases, just being transparent, being consistent

Guy Weismantel:

between the acquired people and the team that you have so they see this

Guy Weismantel:

as there's no special treatment or there's not anything different about it.

Guy Weismantel:

And then, you know, as fast as you can, get them up to speed on what

Guy Weismantel:

the team's expectations are, is a great way to evaluate if that talent

Guy Weismantel:

can come along for the ride or, you know, in some cases they're just

Guy Weismantel:

not culturally or just not hardwired how you are going to run your team.

Erica Seidel:

I love a lot of these points.

Erica Seidel:

You know, it makes me think of that book, The Start-up of You by Reid

Erica Seidel:

Hoffman, who talks about the tour of duty and how it's okay to not be at

Erica Seidel:

a company for ten or thirty years.

Erica Seidel:

And I like this idea of creating a nice nest because I think what

Erica Seidel:

candidates are looking for these days, it's really different.

Erica Seidel:

It's like you hire the whole person.

Erica Seidel:

In a sense they want a family, you know, everybody's looking more at culture.

Erica Seidel:

And I've been thinking about, maybe I should start writing job specs where it

Erica Seidel:

starts about the culture and the kind of values of the company, and then gets

Erica Seidel:

into what the company actually does.

Erica Seidel:

Because I think that's what people care about more.

Erica Seidel:

And I think I could just picture you with all of your personality and

Erica Seidel:

oomph, you know, just saying hey, like really earnestly, I want to be the

Erica Seidel:

place that gives you what you want for the next phase of your career.

Erica Seidel:

That alone is huge as opposed to "Tell me why we should hire you," you know?

Guy Weismantel:

Yeah, exactly.

Guy Weismantel:

Like my dad used to hire, right?

Guy Weismantel:

We're redesigning our career site, our current web page, so we're meeting

Guy Weismantel:

with the HR team yesterday, and I would say 75% of that hour was on how do we

Guy Weismantel:

communicate how important culture is and the great culture we have here?

Guy Weismantel:

Everyone is just genuinely excited to be working with each other

Guy Weismantel:

and it really is a place where no one's going to stab me in the back.

Guy Weismantel:

Everyone really is out for the right reasons.

Guy Weismantel:

Like, it's great.

Guy Weismantel:

It hasn't always been, you know, I've worked at places where it hasn't

Guy Weismantel:

always been that way, so I'm very appreciative, but I think you're right.

Guy Weismantel:

Especially today, where there's another job, there's eight jobs you could take.

Guy Weismantel:

Like it's not, there's a - it's a very candidate friendly right now.

Guy Weismantel:

And a lot of CMOs in my role, I'm not going to be able to compete with Amazons

Guy Weismantel:

and the, you know, the Oracles and the Microsofts, like that's a different job.

Guy Weismantel:

If you want to get that experience, I'd say go get it.

Guy Weismantel:

I got it.

Guy Weismantel:

And I'm glad I have it in my background.

Guy Weismantel:

So you should go do that.

Guy Weismantel:

Cause that's not who I'm going to, I'm not going to worry about it.

Guy Weismantel:

If that's really where you want to go, then you go try that.

Guy Weismantel:

But I do think more and more it is about what does this experience look like for

Guy Weismantel:

you and how does this help you achieve what you want to go do in your career?

Guy Weismantel:

Because that is really what we're about here, and we're

Guy Weismantel:

going to have fun doing it.

Guy Weismantel:

We're going to make some mistakes.

Guy Weismantel:

We're going to learn a lot.

Guy Weismantel:

And again, the goal is, and this is self-serving, but I've probably been

Guy Weismantel:

on, I know I can count on three amazing teams in my career that I was a part of,

Guy Weismantel:

not necessarily leading, and it's people I still go on vacations with, you know,

Guy Weismantel:

I'm in text strings with, and we still share information with cause we had this

Guy Weismantel:

really great shared experience together.

Guy Weismantel:

And that's what I try to create for my teams as well.

Guy Weismantel:

And I think people today, especially, whether you're here in Nashville, where

Guy Weismantel:

I am, or, you know, I'm interviewing you in Seattle, and you know, and

Guy Weismantel:

you're still interviewing for the job, I want you to feel like you

Guy Weismantel:

are going to be a part of the scene.

Guy Weismantel:

You're a full member, no matter where you are, you don't have to be

Guy Weismantel:

in the office to feel like you're going to be a part of the experience

Guy Weismantel:

that we're going to create together.

Guy Weismantel:

And I think that's important for how you feel about filling your team as well.

Guy Weismantel:

Do people respond to that?

Guy Weismantel:

Are they in that for the right reasons?

Guy Weismantel:

And then you have to take all that in consideration before you hire as well.

Erica Seidel:

Awesome.

Erica Seidel:

This has been fabulous.

Erica Seidel:

I've learned so much, so thank you so much for being on the show, Guy.

Guy Weismantel:

I loved it, Erica.

Guy Weismantel:

Thanks for everything you do.

Guy Weismantel:

And I love this podcast and the community that you built, and I

Guy Weismantel:

really just feel thankful on this day to be talking to you today.

Guy Weismantel:

So thank you very much.

Erica Seidel:

That was Guy Weismantel, the chief marketer from Nashville's

Erica Seidel:

fintech SaaS darling Ncontracts, sharing some great tips on scaling.

Erica Seidel:

Next time on The Get, you'll hear from someone who did a marketing

Erica Seidel:

transformation, a rebranding, and an IPO process - all at the same time.

Erica Seidel:

Join us next time to hear from Justin Steinman, the

Erica Seidel:

CMO at Definitive Healthcare.

Erica Seidel:

Thanks for listening to The Get.

Erica Seidel:

I'm your host, Erica Seidel.

Erica Seidel:

Hiring great marketing leaders is not easy.

Erica Seidel:

The Get is designed to inspire smart decisions around recruiting and

Erica Seidel:

leadership in B2B SaaS marketing.

Erica Seidel:

We explore the trends, tribulations, and triumphs of today's top

Erica Seidel:

marketing leaders in B2B SaaS.

Erica Seidel:

This season's theme is Solving for the Scale Journey.

Erica Seidel:

If you liked this episode, please share it.

Erica Seidel:

For other insights on recruiting great marketing leaders, what I

Erica Seidel:

call the 'make money' marketing leaders rather than the 'make it

Erica Seidel:

pretty' ones, follow me on LinkedIn.

Erica Seidel:

You can also sign up for my newsletter at TheConnectiveGood.com.

Erica Seidel:

The Get is produced by Evo Terra and Simpler Media Productions.

About the Podcast

Show artwork for The Get: Finding And Keeping The Best Marketing Leaders in B2B SaaS
The Get: Finding And Keeping The Best Marketing Leaders in B2B SaaS
Your inspiration from the best marketing leaders in B2B SaaS today... from hiring, getting hired, leading, organizing, and more!

About your host

Profile picture for Erica Seidel

Erica Seidel

Erica Seidel recruits the marketing leaders of the 'make money' variety – not the 'make it pretty' variety. As the Founder of The Connective Good, a boutique executive search firm, she is retained to recruit CMOs and VPs in marketing, digital strategy, marketing analytics, and marketing technology. She also hosts The Get podcast. Previously, she led Forrester Research's global peer-to-peer executive education businesses for CMOs and digital marketing executives of Fortune 500 companies. Erica has an MBA in Marketing from Wharton, and a BA in International Relations from Brown. One of her favorite jobs ever was serving as the Brown Bear mascot.

You can find her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/ericaseidel/, or on her website/blog at www.theconnectivegood.com, or on Twitter at @erica_seidel.