Setting Expectations and Measuring Results of GTM Motions with Shivina Kumar

Michael Hartmann: [00:00:00] Hello everybody. Welcome to another episode of OpsCast brought to you by powered by the MoPros. I’m your host, Michael Hartmann. Join today. By Mike Rizzo, Naomi is out and about, so Mike.

Mike Rizzo: Tis the holiday season and we are here. We

Michael Hartmann: are, we are. We’re recording this in between Christmas and New Year’s 2023.

And we’ve got an exciting episode, and I have two reasons for that. Mike, do you know what the first one is? Yeah, I do. It’s our hundredth episode. It’s our 100th episode. So this is so cool. Yeah. So, yeah, you may see more than a hundred in your feed. That’s because, you know, Mike has been sort of putting other stuff into, into the feed.

But, uh, this is our hundredth episode of the official Opscast. Is that, would that make sense?

Mike Rizzo: Yeah, I think that’s worth. Yeah, I think it’s worth calling it the

Michael Hartmann: official OpsCast. Yeah, there we go. So anyway, but pretty exciting when I was getting ready for this. Um, yeah, I was, I was pretty excited [00:01:00] though. And I was like, Oh wait, I’ve been tracking this a hundredth episode.

So, um, that’s a big deal for those who, who don’t know, right. Doing this podcast thing is hard and there’s lots of them that don’t make it to 10 episodes. So feeling pretty good about that. So congratulations, Mike.

Mike Rizzo: Yeah. Congratulations to you, Mike. And you know, I’d say a job well done. We’ve. We’ve managed to do more than 99 percent of all the podcasters

Michael Hartmann: out there.

Absolutely. So, well, and then the second one is that we get a privilege today to talk to, uh, Shivina Kumar about the importance of setting and measuring results and go to, go to market motion. So Shivina is currently director of brand and communications at CompStack. Prior to CompStack, Shivina has held various leadership roles in marketing, branding, and operations.

She’s a guest lecturer and has published multiple papers about the marketing ecosystem. So Shivina, thank you for joining us today during the holidays.

Shivina Kumar: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. I know we’re slipping it right in between the three days people are at work. So this is awesome.

Michael Hartmann: [00:02:00] Yeah. Yeah. So it’s all good.

It’s all good. And we’re in hump day too. It’s even Wednesday. Even better. Even better. Almost a Friday. I did. My think about like having a glass of bubbly or something for this one. Wine

Shivina Kumar: Wednesday, whiskey Wednesday, whatever. Sure. Yeah. Whatever you

Mike Rizzo: like, right? I was in that camp. Uh, it is only one o’clock here.

So I do

Shivina Kumar: have to get some work done today. We’re closer to the end than you guys

Michael Hartmann: are. Yep. Yep. Anyway, well, good. Well, let’s get into this. I’m looking forward to this. But one of the things that we like to do on these episodes is just kind of learn more about our guests and their career journeys. And so one of the things I noticed when I was prepping for for our conversations that you hold, you hold a patent in it.

And so in addition to all your other accomplishments, I’d love for you to share a little bit about your career journey and the patent and anything else you want to share for our audience.

Shivina Kumar: Yeah, yeah, I think I’ve had a interesting journey, definitely had a wide variety of interests and pretty diverse from my early days in high school [00:03:00] I’ve written books, both in the fictitious sense and plays, and then also more focused on, you know, the emerging technology market and ways to think about marketing, obviously, when I was younger, startups weren’t like they are today where it’s You know, it’s booming now, but even then, you know, startups interested in that, um, in regards to my patent, which is interesting.

People have not asked me about this in a while, but this was actually from my high school days when I was on the debate team and the model UN team. Um, I started to get interested in startups pretty young, relatively young, I guess I would say. Um, and I saw how hard it was to have specialized arguments online about certain topics.

So even if you think about today, people have. debates and arguments on Twitter, on TikTok, on Instagram, on Facebook, but there’s not really a collective forum for targeted debates about certain topics. Uh, so the patent was around that, basically allowing you to Have conversations or target debates about a certain topic, the owner could open and close it, it could be private, it could be public, so [00:04:00] you could debate with your friends about what’s, you know, the best item at a fast food restaurant, or you could have an open debate about politics, um, and I, I guess it’s kind of relevant still today, because a lot of arguments still take place in comment sections, and they’re kind of hard to follow, so I guess the, the theory behind it still holds up a little bit, Um, but that was, that was, that was sort of the idea.

I think when I thought of it, uh, forums were also really starting to take off. So it was, it was sort of like the next step. I would say, um, but yeah, it was, it was a cool thing that I did. I’m, you know, I’m glad I did it. It was, it was interesting and actually got me interested in the tech market. Um, so after that, I wrote a few papers about ecosystem marketing.

So essentially the premise was that everyone should think in terms of ecosystems and that everything is connected through the networking effect. So. You have suppliers, products, consumers, and there’s a lot of dependents at each level, uh, that you have to satisfy the requirements of, um, every element in the network in order to survive.

And the [00:05:00] reason I thought about it was Amazon was starting to take off, and when Amazon would show you product, it would also show you things that you might also be interested in, right? So Amazon was actually already starting to connect. different elements of its network, which in the paper, I called it nodes, uh, to start to make their entire network that they existed within.

Um, and I think that that way of thinking, although is, is more maybe focused on the B2C side, uh, actually kind of influenced what led me to be so interested in account based marketing. After college, I spent most of my career in B2B marketing. And the number thing that would come up even from an early age was how do we close more deals?

How do we get more revenue? Obviously, right? That’s the age old question. And how do we become more focused? So even though the ecosystem was more focused on the b2c side, I think that way of thinking You know, not mapping just one person in the firm, but the entire way it operates, right, you know, about count mapping and creating personas is sort of the foundation to account based marketing, a lot of the theoretical part of it.

And so that’s, [00:06:00] I think, kind of led me to where I am today, too, in my career. And kind of a nice segue, I guess, into our discussion today.

Michael Hartmann: That’s great. Uh, I, I think, uh, my first thought about it when you were describing your patent and what it was about is I think you’re being way too gracious about the kinds of conver conversations in quotes, right, that are happening in online.

Yeah. I’m not sure that I would call them debates.

Shivina Kumar: Yeah. Very, very nice way of saying, uh, just sometimes random conversation, sometimes a bit of nonsense is in there, but

Michael Hartmann: I think we have those kinds of debates in, on marketingapps. com slack and other places. Yeah,

Shivina Kumar: I actually think slack has become a slack and discord.

I would both say have become really powerful ways to do that because. I think debate is also really integral to where you have your community, right? So even if it’s not just your friends and your family, like what’s your second degree, third degree of connections, generally you find that in Slack through a networking or community or professional base.

And then I think Discord also, you know, there’s pretty large communities around certain topics where people [00:07:00] have those conversations. It’s so,

Mike Rizzo: it’s, it’s so fascinating to around, um, this, this idea of like debate and like healthy debate, right? Correct. And arguments and those kinds of things. It’s like, it’s wildly different, uh, what happens in like, what is perceived as the, the like public forum, right?

Correct. The, whatever, Facebook, the LinkedIn, whatever. Um, and how, I mean, obviously we as a organization, community, we want to try to, um, Um, balance the health of what we’re working on. Right. And so naturally there’s going to be a little bit of a tendency as, as the culture of our community has evolved to try to be a little bit more protective, but still say like, Hey, like you can still share your opinion, right?

Like, come, come have healthy debate here. But what’s fascinating is like, you won’t. Like, at least not in our community, knock on wood, but like, we haven’t really seen anything get unhealthy, right? And [00:08:00] what blows my mind is, yes, thankfully, um, what blows my mind is like how, how different it is that like the trigger mechanism between a public forum, quote unquote, which is still like a closed ecosystem, right?

Like, LinkedIn is, is still a protected closed ecosystem. You have to sign up for an account. Generally, it’s about, you know, you know, work and professional, whatever. Right. Uh, but like that debate that maybe like less interesting stuff happens there. Um, and, and it doesn’t really happen in those discords and the slacks and stuff.

Right. Um, unless that’s how it’s been, you know, uh, set up, right. Like if that’s what they want, then I guess, although I don’t know that I would enjoy that.

Shivina Kumar: Yeah. Yeah. I don’t think the public, the public hate might not be for me either. Yeah. Yeah. Might not be the place I want to spend my time. Yeah. I don’t know if I, if I need that for myself.


Michael Hartmann: No kidding. Interesting stuff. No, I, that’s fascinating. So, all right. Well, let, yeah, let’s get [00:09:00] into, let’s get into this. And so. I think, um, it’s been a while since you and I talked, uh, initially. Um, so I’m going, I’m going a little bit off the memory here, but if I remember, right, you know, we, yeah, one of the things that I think a lot of us, you know, we could talk about attribution in general, right.

All right. So let’s, let’s get back to this. So one of the things that when you and I talked before you mentioned, or, you know, I, I, my assertion was that branding has historically been qualitative and harder to measure. And your assertion is that there are now ways to do You know, get better attribution, if you will, or for branding and other kind of similar for things.

Talk us through what you mean by that and how you think that we would go about doing something like that. Yeah,

Shivina Kumar: I, I do think that branding has been a little bit more qualitative in the past. It’s been more about, you know, the look and feel of things and It’s changing now. I think there’s also just a higher demand for being able to report on anything that you do for success.

But I do think there are ways to track your campaigns and, and see [00:10:00] attribution, be a little bit more granular with your insights and how you define success and what success means to you. So for all marketing teams in general, I think there’s quite a few tools out there which kind of allow us to analyze our performance, automate future campaigns, and then also predict success.

And there’s attribution models that can kind of be built off of that to see how well you might be performing um, I personally Think that scoring is is really helpful when thinking about branding and thinking about How you might be successful with the different campaigns that you are doing? um in in general finding ways to Assign a numerical value Of high impact and low impact marketing actions and then that kind of lets you know if a prospective client has shown intent And has been able to meet a threshold where we would say, okay.

Yes, they are ready for sales. They are a hot lead They’ve done Enough on our marketing content, you know website events direct mail [00:11:00] Whatever to show that they might be interested in buying the product Um, I know that typically demand gen is is very diligent about this and they have a very clean process of how They they think about different marketing campaigns in their purview and how they think about that Leading to intent and I think branding should follow that and should take on that methodology Um, there’s obviously some it’s a little bit harder.

I think when you have Things that are way more traditionally branding, like if you think about billboards, for example, right? That’s, that’s a little bit harder because it’s offline,

Michael Hartmann: right? Literally, like, like yesterday or the day before my, my freshman in college was asking me like, Dad, you’re in marketing, do those billboards actually do anything?

Yeah. I’m like, uh,

Shivina Kumar: well. Yeah. So that, those are the things where it gets, uh, it gets hard because you, you can’t really, it, it, it’s sort of random attribution in a sense, right? Like you might say, okay, this billboard went up for these 30 days. We saw a huge spike in website traffic. Is that related? It’s really hard to say because you’re probably running other marketing campaigns at that [00:12:00] point as well, right?

So those things I think Those are still a little bit more difficult But for everything else, especially like in the digital sense or even events or direct mail All these companies are helping you understand At each stage of the funnel, how much conversion happened, right? And then on top of that, you can augment with other metrics, right?

So website traffic, content engagement, uh, you know, we, we’ve also like heat mapped website performance, right? When you do product launches or campaign launches to see where it’s a drop off. And you just in general want to be able to score as much as you can. So we can show intent. From as many branding campaigns as we can.

Michael Hartmann: So, I, a couple of things. Um, one, do you, do you think that, are you talking about things that are like proxies for future, like, funnel movement? Or are you talking about, like, hard metrics for campaigns where Maybe they’re broader in nature, early, like early funnels. So they’re less likely to be, maybe [00:13:00] you can’t tag it to a specific person, but there’s some general, like you mentioned, website traffic surge, right?


Shivina Kumar: I think those are more proxy metrics in general to understand, like if we, you know, do paid ads with a certain partner, does that bring us more traffic? Right. And then I think when you look at more focused things like gated content or events, we can say, Okay, did we move from a marketing qualified lead to a sales qualified lead?

Did we were there opportunities created based on this gated report that we put out based on this executive dinner that we did? And those things are still brand campaigns But those are where we can really relate to hard metrics that are actually at a company level,

Michael Hartmann: right? Gotcha. Okay, and do you think Do you think this applies as well or is it harder?

If you’ve got a, maybe not a B2B SaaS thing where, especially if it’s a product led kind of thing where it’s a little more, you know, the, the conversion right to, to that, it might be a little faster than say a long. [00:14:00] Yeah, large scale, large deal size kind of business, right, where you’ve got a long sales cycle that’s 6, 12, 18 months or more.

Shivina Kumar: I think that PLG companies are a little bit different where your qualification criteria is probably more flexible in the sense of it’s not really being led by the marketing and sales team, right? You’re just looking for people to adopt the product, to use it, and hopefully grow into enterprise products.

I’m sure. You know, companies like notion, for example, where it could just be, I am downloading that from myself or task management versus if, you know, the company is actually trying to buy notion as a, as a project management tool or different sales processes. I think we would probably also funnel into different sales funnels though, to be honest.

Right. Um, and I, I still think. For, for companies that have product led growth, eventually you will get to a point where you will probably start to map out, Okay, here are the kinds of people that I think would [00:15:00] buy my product, right? Here are the kinds of personas that they might be. It might be a little bit more general than on the B2B side.

But you’ll still, I think, start to see some sort of aggregation happening that can allow you to still be focused with, with numbers, perhaps in a different way.

Michael Hartmann: Mike, do you have something there? I, I was, I was

Mike Rizzo: just gonna, I mean, I don’t want to totally

Michael Hartmann: tangent us necessarily, but That’s never happened here on our show. Well, it,

Mike Rizzo: it, so, I think What’s interesting about, I don’t know, I would love to hear your, your thoughts, um, on this, Shavina, um, When, I’ve been working with a handful of clients lately and I’m working on one, one particular project with another, um, individual from our community.

And I really appreciated, I can’t pretend to take credit for the idea, but I appreciated his idea [00:16:00] around life cycle stages, um, specific to, to these different motions, right? Um, you’ve got a. Sort of, uh, I don’t know, traditional discovery buyer journey, journey through sales. Um, sales led and then P. L. G. Um, through this company that we’re working with.

And, uh, the life cycle stage, you know, at least at the outset, executive leadership leadership team was like, Hey, um, we need to have like pretty distinctly different sort of funnels for this. Right? Um, and you were sort of talking a little bit about that just now. And, and, uh, the recommendation to, um, Just sort of cut to the chase on it was, well, actually the sort of status of, I want to, I am now ready to speak to a sales rep is really like, you know, what, what we would in B2B marketing, we would refer to often as an MQL, right?

Like we would say, Hey, we now need to pass this across to. The sales [00:17:00] team, uh, and that status really at the end of the day is still MQL. It’s just a matter of like what derived the action for them to be ready to talk to sales. And so they’re not really distinctly different funnels with different lifecycle stages.

It’s just derived from, from like a different source. And so like the, the simplification of the model went from like trying to figure out how to manage the measurement of. different parts of the funnel, right? Like PLG versus sales and completely bespoke lifecycle funnels to hey, let’s just have, like their relationship with our brand is one person trying to buy a product, they’re just choosing to go one path or the other and so therefore we should think of this as like one path, like one journey that they’re going to go through.

They’re going to start as a lead, they’re going to end up as an MQL. They’re either going to want to talk to sales or they’re not. And if they do, we’re going to call those an MQL and behind the scenes and the [00:18:00] data layers that we’re looking at, we’re going to try and understand what triggered that change.

Right. Um, and so like more of a bunch of statements to say, I don’t know, does that like resonate

Shivina Kumar: with you? I think, I think that is a fair, that is a fair assessment. I, I, I think about this too, because I remember a few. Uh, companies ago when I was at a startup actually like one one company before Comstack um, we individually had all started using notion as a project management tool and Within a few weeks.

We were like the company should just use notion as a project management tool, too So I I actually do think it is fair that Whether it’s one person has a demo or multiple people have a demo, especially in these like smaller companies or smaller startups, it kind of is the same sales process, right? Like eventually you just ladder up to a client, right?

And you eventually it just becomes sort of more of a land and expand ideology of we got one person in this company. Let’s just get more people in this [00:19:00] company. And it’s, it’s sometimes it’s, it’s a better way actually, because it’s a very self service. Sales model in the sense of it actually doesn’t even really require That much oversight from a sales rep until you get into the complexities Of okay.

We need some custom work done But a lot of traditional even b2b selling is not that complex, right? Like smb selling is you get the product out of a box. We sell it to you. You take it I think plg can kind of Do the same thing for a while, too. So I, I, I do think that’s fair that you can simplify into one marketing funnel.

And until you’re moving really so upmarket where it’s completely different, um, it is kind of the same selling process.

Mike Rizzo: I think it falls on these brands to figure out how to simplify that experience, right? So if I, you know, how, I guess the question back to you on that, right? How did you find out that you, each of you independently were using Notion?

You just like, were like, you pulled it up one day and you’re like, oh yeah,

Shivina Kumar: I use Notion too. Like, what happened? It was, it was, it was a [00:20:00] small, you know, there were only a few people, but we all independently were doing, you know, all hands, and we’re all talking about our task management, and we all have notion, so it was kind of like, well, maybe we should just have a company account at this point, you know, there’s no point in each of us independently having this anymore, um, which is maybe not the best way to figure it out, but I do think often That is kind of just how it shakes out where you, you kind of find out, I think in general, I’m sure companies are looking at how many users do they have from one domain, right?

So I’m sure they can see if there’s five people on five different accounts. I’m sure eventually they’ll probably think it’s only a matter of time before they reach out to you and say, hey, do you want to just

Michael Hartmann: consult? I’d like to think that. I’ve got the, I’ve got the similar experience where we’ve had multiple, like at larger companies where multiple teams are using the same thing and not really coordinating.

So you’re not getting the benefit of, say, product price discounts and things like that. Yeah. And honestly, in some cases, when I talked to a rep, I’d, one of the first things I got in the habit of doing when I [00:21:00] figured out that that was happening was like, are you working? It was like, is there anybody else already in the company who’s got a relationship?

Yeah, exactly. Because there’s really no incentive. Sorry, again, to all the sales people out there. You’re following what you’re incented to do, right? There’s no incentive for you to try to consolidate those separate licenses. So, but it is,

Mike Rizzo: you know, it is the responsibility, I think it’s the responsibility of the company that owns the product that’s selling the product.

Yeah. To start thinking about, uh, yeah, well, just to look at like creating a better customer experience, right? Like, um, it’s. You know, we, we openly recognize that there’s a, if I was, if I was the executive at Notion and I heard this story, right, I’d be like, how do I create an experience that says. Looks like there are 15 of you, right?

Did you know? Yeah. Yeah. And how do I make that an easy transition from individual to multi, you know, multi threaded? [00:22:00]

Michael Hartmann: I mean, I love this idea of simplifying this. I think I’ve seen in my own experience, right? Places where I’ve, one in particular I think of where I came in and, nearly the end of a marketo implementation it had I don’t know, 15 final stages right.

There wasn’t multiple funnels, but there was like, and I was like, why in the world are we doing this? Right. It’s just adding complexity to our ability to measure, which by the way, took, by time we could get metrics out, we were a month past, like we were a month behind. So being able to react was like Ridiculous.

So one of the first things we did was just like, get down to like a much simpler funnel metric, you know, funnel, funnel stages. And in particular, there was a lot of tracking of individual sales stages. And I was like, I, I care about sales efficiency and their effectiveness, but I don’t need to track that.

In detail in Marketo that is a sales leadership’s role. I don’t need to do that. Um, so they need to be accountable for the overall conversion rates. But other than that, like we don’t need to track it to that level of detail. So [00:23:00] some of it was pretty easy to eliminate, but. Um, that’s interesting. Um, I, I, I wanted to get us back on track here a little bit because I do, I think I could, I could, no, no, I could easily go down a rabbit hole here.

But, um, I do want to pick up on one thing you and I talked about earlier is that you, and you mentioned it here earlier, is that you’ve had your, like when you’ve had branding teams, like you’ve had them lead with numbers or full funnel metrics and the kind of metrics. So in those cases. So first off, I’d say kudos, because I think one of the things I see in a lot of marketing companies that they say they want to, or marketing organizations, they want to be, uh, in quotes, right, uh, data driven at the same time, one of the things they’re doing, they’re only looking backwards.

They’re not anticipating what they, they’re not setting expectations for what they think they’re going to get as a result. Um, and I would argue that in the case of some branding things, like Kyle Lacey, who was a guest on our podcast, [00:24:00] uh, a while back, who’s. Marketing leader I admire. I think one thing I’ve, I’ve liked about what he does is he’s always sort of carved out as a marketing leader and he’s earned the right to do this race.

I’m going to take a portion of my budget. I’m just, we’re just going to try crazy shit and we’re not going to measure it. We’re not going to measure it, right? Yeah. You know, and that, like, I think there’s some value in that because it keeps the creativity going. It’s not. Just short term return focused and I think there’s some value there that said, right?

I do think it’s been important I think it would be really valuable for most marketing teams to set goals On their campaigns, tactics, whatever you want to call those. Right. So how did you do that? Like, what did you do as with branding teams, what kind of metrics do you do? And then how did you set those targets?

Shivina Kumar: Yeah, I think, and I, and I do agree. You should have the testing mindset. Always marketers are supposed to be creative. We’re supposed to come with new ideas. So I think it also goes back to the 80, 20, right? Like 80 percent of your work is. Driving these goals that are more company wide and [00:25:00] organization wide, and you can save that 10 20 percent for testing in quarters, perhaps when you have, you know, less time intensive or pressure intensive things to get out.

But in general, obviously, I think every organization, the obvious answer is they’re worried about conversion, right? So how many opportunities can we get to close as clients? I think for branding specifically for things like events or webinars or gated content we we look quite a bit at benchmarks to focus on conversion so from any general content campaign we do how many mqls do we create what’s the conversion from mql to sql and then opportunity to close i think it’s really important to focus on the conversion rates because A lot of times I’ve seen that, well, marketing is awesome.

We brought 2000 leads this month. It’s great where, you know, we are really killing it. I actually don’t think that that means that if we don’t see the conversion and very few of those have converted That means we’re just doing a bad job of qualifying. Um, another thing that i’ve seen is let’s just buy [00:26:00] lists, right?

Let’s go to an event. Let’s sponsor it. Let’s buy a list.

Michael Hartmann: Please. I don’t like if I never hear that again I’ll be yeah

Shivina Kumar: Let’s let’s buy a list with 500 companies. Boom. We got it sales. You didn’t close it. Um, whose fault is that? It’s our fault Because if out of the 500, only two were qualified, that means we did something wrong, right?

We sent the wrong lease to the sales team. So it’s important to look at those conversion metrics. And I think it’s also important to have, as a company, I think this is across marketing and sales and finance and operation. What are the goals for velocity versus volume, right? That ladders up to the company goals.

Are we trying to close as many deals as we can this quarter? Are we just going for the SMB deals? We get as many as we can through the door, highest conversion rate possible. And that means as many leads as possible. Or as a company, are we moving up market? Meaning we may have less deals that we’re working on, but those are larger and strategic deals.

I think that helps set the tone for, [00:27:00] okay, how many MQLs, SQLs can we expect to bring? I think that that helps set the goal for what’s the conversion we’re looking for. Having the historical data obviously helps here, right? So I can say, last year we went to this event, we sponsored it, this is how many MQLs we had, this is how many SQLs we had, this is how much revenue we made, right?

We can use that to forecast this year. How much can we expect to do, right? And forecasting doesn’t just mean we can use it to say how much can we expect. It also means iteration and optimization, right? If we get a 20 by 20 booth and we have a very low conversion rate, but we have to be there because it’s an industry led event, fine.

Maybe we expect similar metrics, but we go down, right? We do a much smaller sponsorship. So forecasting is more than just the metrics. It’s also What are we going to do with that information in the future? Um, another thing that I think I’ve seen and I’ve run into sometimes, which is interesting, is when we start looking at metrics and you start going deeper than the conversion rate But the actual accounts, especially starting to look at an account list, a tier one, tier two list.

[00:28:00] Sometimes, I’ve seen that we’re engaging the same accounts again and again. And that also becomes a problem, because it means that we’re spending a lot of money to engage the same people again and again and again, and there is a such thing as a time decay, right? If they haven’t closed in a year, maybe we shouldn’t be doing things for the same clients or prospective clients again and again and again.

So I think more than also just setting here. Hey, here’s how many leads we’re going to bring to the table. And here’s how many qualified leads we’re going to bring also looking at diversification, right? Is our goal as a company. To close these very few, like I said before, it’s our goal as a company to get as many as possible, or is our goal as a company retention, right?

There’s been, there’s even been quarters where a high percentage of our marketing campaigns were engaging clients, right? That’s not, I mean, it’s recurring revenue, but it’s not new revenue. So that’s another thing to think about for organizations is, I think in the last few years, the name of the game was retention, right?

With, with the market just suffering in general, it was [00:29:00] retention, retention, retention, keep everybody. So that changed the metrics a bit too, right? It wasn’t even about new leads, it was just, let’s try to keep everyone we have. But I think based on that, you can make these benchmark metrics that you share out to the organization, and then you develop everything based on that.

Michael Hartmann: Yeah, I think you make a really good point about, like, being explicit as an organization about the goals of It’s the three that I’m picking up, right? Retention, right, is an important one. And probably overlooked in a lot of places where I’ve been. There’s no focus on that and what that customer experience is like after the sale, regardless of what kind of product it is, um, then you’ve got, you know, the sort of two categories, maybe even three right of adding new clients or logos.

Um, one being like large. Large deals right versus small deals and maybe you have maybe depending on what what kind of product you have right maybe there’s some intermediate stuff But and what that mix is because I think that is [00:30:00] really important to inform how you go to market and I don’t I’ve I’ve seen places that have tried to do that and been fairly successful and then others that haven’t what I think is I’ve seen it has been sort of a The miss, I guess, is from that, they’re using these historical conversion rates, so, you know, like if you think about conversions, all the different steps, right, I agree with you, right, those I’ll call micro conversions, right, if you can improve one, two of them, now you’re multiplying the effect downstream, but what they’re doing is they’re sort of Backing into this very linear funnel, right?

The old, the serious decisions Forrester, right? Model. Um, which I think is, even from my own experience as a buyer, right? I don’t think it’s real anymore. Like, I don’t think that that, I mean, sure there are going to be some cases where you get, you get somebody’s attention, they move through the funnel in very linear steps, in the time frames you expect, but there are going to be other people [00:31:00] who do what I did, which I was like, I go around through the community and I start asking questions before I ever engage with that company.

By the time I’m there, if I’m interested, I’m already at a point where like I need very specific information, you know? And so I like, that’s why I’m struggling with like, it feels like there’s needs to be a whole revamp of the whole funnel concept.

Shivina Kumar: I think so. So I think that actually Harvard has this interesting piece that they’ve published, which is about the consensus sale.

And they essentially talk about the six buying jobs that you go through as a buyer. So you identify you have a problem, you do solution exploit exploration, you may compare different solutions, etc. But these six steps that you essentially take before you buy a product. And the big thing that they talk about, which I think relates to your point, is that this entire process is cyclical.

So the buying process, especially in B2B, is not really sequential. It’s more simultaneous. I may revisit any of my [00:32:00] buying jobs before, right? I might change the problem I have in mind. I might find new solutions that I didn’t really know about before. So I think this is kind of related to, I think we talked about it before, but like the ABM impact graph as well.

When you create a marketing strategy, especially for those one to one accounts that you’re really strategically focused on closing. It’s not supposed to be just a linear strategy. It can’t be like, we’ll show you one blog, and then one ebook, and then we’ll have one event, and then you’ll close. Right, I think you have to think of this in mind of, we have to continuously nurture you at every step of the buying process, no matter how far along you are, because there’s a very good chance that you revisit earlier steps.

Or someone on your team revisits earlier steps, right? Like, we’re not only just selling to one person, there’s multiple people on these firms. So, when I, when I think about the funnel, I definitely think, yes, there’s probably some details that need to be revisited, but especially when you actually think [00:33:00] about doing ABM in your company, you have to think of it as a cyclical process on the marketing side.

Michael Hartmann: Well, I mean, I think, I almost think of it as, like, it’s like surges, right? Correct. So, they’ll, they’ll be like, hey, I’ve got, I’m planning, so I’m doing a bunch of thinking about, yeah, five or six different things I might consider doing strategically. I narrow it down. It’s one or two, you know, so I’m heavily looking at those two options, but then I go with one and I can’t do the second one because I just don’t have the resources or time.

Right. Um, and so I may, but then I may come back to it, right? Like it’s still something I’m interested in, but we need to be successful with the first one. Yeah. Or try it out and come back. Yeah. Yeah. Or to your point, the problem we’re trying to solve might have changed.

Shivina Kumar: Correct. And I, and then also with attribution models, even with scoring, for example, something I always think about is time decay, right?

So the way that we would have sold to you the first time that you’ve heard about the product and maybe you rejected us and you come back two years later, the way we should sell it to you is really different. We shouldn’t be doing all this brand awareness work, right? For example, [00:34:00] you know who we are, you’ve been through this process before.

So there’s also things like that, that I don’t think. Every organization builds into their attribution model, but also looking at proxies for engagement, like time, right, is, is also good because it shows the cyclical nature of the selling

Michael Hartmann: process. Yeah, well, and I think it going back to my, one of my earlier questions, right?

I think the, the, the, your average, your typical deal size and the time it takes to close comes into play here too, right? Right. Um, if you’re right, if it’s decaying, but you may have, in fact, I was at a place like we knew that there were deals out there that were potentially really large, right on the kind of big whale type deals that would take longer than the typical deal size.

So, but they were kind of the. They appear to be sort of stuck, right, in say a sales qualified or something in that area, kind of in the sales side. It’s like, the point is not that that’s necessarily bad, that they’re in the stage for 100 days, 200 days, 300 days. It’s the fact that like, is there [00:35:00] the appropriate level of communication that’s happening?

Yeah, to get this through. Right, to keep that interest there, right? Engaging whether or not it’s real. So that if they anticipate a closed data two years from now, I think that’s the thing I, like, where it is, that’s the part that I think is missing in a lot of places. Um, and at the place I was at, yeah, where that was happening, right, there was some recognition of that happening, and trying to then reinforce with, Both marketing and sales, right?

What role does marketing play in supporting that? What role, you know, does the sales team have and make sure that they’re doing the appropriate follow up, um, especially if there’s turnover, right? You know?

Shivina Kumar: And I think when you do, you know, when you do your monthly and your quarterly pipeline review and your forecasting reviews, those are the times and those, I think those meetings should always have marketing sales together, right?

Where you can identify problem accounts. So every month you’re like, okay, these few accounts haven’t moved. What can we do for them? Right? Sometimes it’s as easy as making an event. Sometimes it’s, It’s an executive visit. Sometimes it’s a dinner, right? I mean, you can [00:36:00] figure out what it is, but having a consistent cadence and knowing that there’s probably going to be accounts that are stuck every month and every quarter and having both teams there together makes it better, right?

It makes it easier to actually move things along. Otherwise, yeah, you get to the end of the year and you’re like, we have this many accounts that didn’t close. Why’d that happen?

Michael Hartmann: Yeah. So, um, you, you mentioned right, sales meeting. So I’m curious now, like how. How have you used these metrics, especially the ones that I think have historically people who weren’t like give up on measuring brand kinds of things, right?

How have you used those metrics to have conversations with the sales teams or sales leadership and maybe even finance? Because I think that’s the other part of it. piece, right? I mean, finance should be, should and probably is questioning, right? Every dollar spent on marketing, like what’s the impact?

Shivina Kumar: Of course, of course we are.

I think I’ve always been pretty transparent with success doing monthly and quarterly reporting, which is shared out just to all the leaders in the team, [00:37:00] specifically sales and finance to really set expectations, right? So this quarter, these are the amount of things that we spent money on. This was the amount of revenue that’s already closed.

This is the projected amount of revenue that’s going to close by the end of the year. And what we’re going to do next quarter and what we’re going to do next year. I think you have to be really, really transparent, almost on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis of marketing performance. And this doesn’t just mean main metrics of your tummy MQLs, SQLs, opportunities and revenue we brought, but also it’s good to share proxy metrics for people to understand.

So for example, if. We did a paid ad campaign with a few outlets. It’s, it’s good to be able to show, okay, on the days that these ads went live, this was a spike in website traffic. This was the spike in, uh, content downloads. This was the spike in gated content, et cetera, right? Able to say that, okay, there’s also other kinds of, this would be more on the branding side, awareness happening by these things that we’re spending money on and dollars on.

So even if [00:38:00] All the ad money isn’t going, you know, 100 percent into, you know, X amount of new leads in that day. We’re still seeing all these other spikes that indicate that the general brand and the company is growing and we’re able to hopefully convert that into a sales opportunity. I also think that planning, that means planning together.

So sitting with sales, with finance, with ops, what’s the target list we’re going to work on? What’s the account list? What is the ideal customer profile? What’s the persona and where are our priorities? If, if, if sales is working on 1000 accounts and that’s their tier one list, that’s what marketing is working on, right?

I think I always say this. Marketing is air cover for sales. Our role, our goal is to help sales close deals however they need us to do that. So a lot of, I think, planning and forecasting should also be done together. I’ve definitely seen where those are done in silo and marketing is working on something and sales is working on something else.

And then. There’s not that, that collaborative kind of overhead focused, which is the point of ABM, right? We’re all supposed to be working [00:39:00] the same deals and planning together, working together, and then also reporting together, and that reporting should be done. In front of the hopefully the company, but at least in front of all the teammates.

Michael Hartmann: Yeah, that makes sense. Um, what’s that? I agree with all of that stuff.

Mike Rizzo: Yeah, I think I think that’s an ideal, um, scenario to be in for sure. Uh, I think. Just my experience has taught me that some of the, you know, uh, metrics that you’re talking about that, um, I think I, I, I agree with you completely, right?

They are important to share. Uh, you should be able to show, uh, spikes in attention to whether it’s your website or your social media followers are growing or, or whatever, like all of that stuff is relevant and it’s important. Um, they are. I’m, I’m happy to see a shift toward, uh, what, what we’ve referred to, um, as vanity metrics as being [00:40:00] important again, uh, because, uh, organizations are starting to recognize that, you know, while it’s not a direct correlation to revenue, it is a, uh, certainly an important thing to pay attention to, uh, but I do think it’s important to preface anytime we’re sharing those types of, Metrics, right?

With, as a reminder, as

Michael Hartmann: a reminder, we are going to share

Mike Rizzo: the metrics because here’s why, you know, here’s what we’re doing, right? We’re, we want, we are not saying that this is the reason we are getting net new sales in the door or that we aren’t getting that. But what we are saying is that we need to pay attention to these because they are important to us as an organization, not just as a team, but literally at the entire organization level.

And, um, and I think as you mature that conversation, you might find things like I, I personally have implemented, uh, like growth hacking [00:41:00] methodologies where you say, Hey, we intend to do this activity. We’ve scored these different tests as our priority and, uh, the outcome and expectation of this next test that we’re going to run is that X, Y, Z will happen.

And maybe that’s an increase in traffic or something. And so. You know, while we’re unable to show that revenue actually grew, uh, month over month from these tests, we are able to show that our intent was to test that this would happen. Uh, and, you know, just, just be aware of the fact that we’re, we have an approach to this.

We’re not haphazardly spending money and, you know, those kinds of things. Right. But like, it just gets really scary. I’ve, I’ve been, I’m so glad they’re like, executive leadership teams have been around long enough in the digital era that they’re, they’re. They’re not gonna rabbit hole on on some things as frequently, but I still Some will still run into it all the time, right?

We’re like, if you pulled up a thing where you’re like, hey, look, um, [00:42:00] you know, website Traffic was down month over month, right? Oh that could so quickly spiral into like, well, what are you doing? What is that? You know, it’s like that is not the reason we’re having this conversation, right? We don’t bring this up Because we need to rabbit hole on some random issue because, because the traffic happened to go down, right?

Like we need to stay focused on the fact that we’re measuring it, that there’s methods, right? And so we’re trying to get better. Yeah, we’re always

Shivina Kumar: trying to get better, right? We’re always trying to optimize it.

Mike Rizzo: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And also my, my humble opinion is month over month metrics are terrible, like don’t ever look at them.


Michael Hartmann: at most,

Mike Rizzo: maybe quarter over quarter, look at your metrics, but definitely go like, uh, once you have enough timeline and history, right, look at that point in time year [00:43:00] over year. Right?

Shivina Kumar: Yeah. Historical evidence is tough month over month. Especially with things like events where, you know, something doesn’t, I mean, something’s not going to close 20, 30 days out, right?

But that spend is there. So it’s, yeah, it’s important to also just set expectations, right? Like if, if we’re doing really large campaigns, you won’t see that. Usually I know people say 30, 60, 90, it’s usually at the 90 that you can actually give a good retro of if something worked or not. I mean, sure.

There’s things like if you do an ad campaign for two weeks, you can see that performance, right? You know what happened, but there’s still the long tail of it. Um, but a lot of branding campaigns, you don’t really see it come to fruition for a while. And I think that’s just, that’s just the nature of. Kind of how marketing is sometimes.

Right? Um, and so it is, I think it’s important to set expectations to like when you send reports. I know I personally do like quarterly just to keep people, you know, aware of what’s going on. But I think if you get into, like you said, the rabbit hole of doing monthly, and there’s not that monthly [00:44:00] growth month over month, that expectation is really hard to keep up.

Michael Hartmann: So two thoughts, and I think we’re gonna have to wrap up. But one, I mean, I agree with that month to month. Um, it’s really irrelevant. I, I’ve always liked doing a rolling 13 month kind of view of things, right? So you have same month as previous year as a starting point. And just, I think you’d get to see more of the, the flow.

And if you really want to get, if you, if you have a, uh, a business that’s cyclical, right, you need even more than that. You need two years worth, probably at a minimum, just to see if there’s a seasonality to it. Um, The other, the other thing that I’m kind of walking away from this, and this is, it’s reinforcing what I’ve believed for a while, which is I think the myths and attribution reporting in general has been, that it’s complicated math, um, and therefore most people who are not familiar with how the sausage is made just don’t believe it, particularly if there’s No reason for them to buy into it, right?

So marketers tend to default to, well, we can call them vanity metrics, or what I see a lot is [00:45:00] activities. Like this is all the activity we did, right? Again, no one gives a shit. Um, but what I do think is, is it would be valuable in, in bringing these metrics back is the explanation on, Why they, we think they’re important, why we’re still reporting on them.

And I think the way that maybe that, that I’ve been talking about this for a while is like, I think instead of just attribution reporting, going to especially senior leadership or outside the marketing organization, I still think there’s value in it for marketing marketers to help with like making strategic decisions about where to place bets.

Right. But outside of marketing, I don’t think it carries a lot of weight for most places, but what I do think carries weight is stories. So what I mean by that is like a deal that was won. If we can track back and we’re tracking all the activity interactions that happened, including things like they responded to a campaign we did two years ago, they showed up at our booth, like all these different sales people touched, reached out, all that stuff, then you reinforce the [00:46:00] need, like, this is why we care about these vanity metrics.

It’s not so much that we’re trying to avoid accountability. It’s more about like, we know that part of what defines the health of our funnel is all of these things kind of going in the right direction. And here’s why, right? Here’s an example of, you know, when we’ve won, when we’ve lost, right? And the storytelling part of it is helping build that case.

Shivina Kumar: I completely agree with that. I think it’s important to go through deal stories, see how we actually get an account to close, right? Oftentimes, I think we go back to the consensus sale, right? People are going to go through multiple parts of the buying process, probably multiple times, it’s going to be a simultaneous process.

And As marketers, we have to be ready to give them the piece of content that they need every step of the way, right? And this goes way more than just attribution or scoring, but understanding how we actually, how the buying process actually works, right? And I think the deal story also will show you how the buying process actually works.

You know, you’ll see that someone [00:47:00] didn’t interact with us for a really long time, and then they just happened to random, randomly download a report. And then they happened to talk to sales after that. I think that’s a great, great thing. That’s kind of like a red sign for marketing to be like, okay, maybe we’re spending way too much money on events.

And maybe what we should be doing is a lot more, you know, research heavy reports or data reports. Maybe that’s bringing people back, but you have to go through these deal stories to understand that. And I think. This also goes back to time decay and, and building that into an attribution model to where we can look at sources and aggregators, right?

If someone’s been dormant for a while and they come back, we need to understand why. But simply just looking at score, right? It doesn’t tell us that, right? We need to be able to see what are the sources and what was their process and Also, what is the firm’s process, right? Like the account, it’s not just a person, but the entire company, like, how are they thinking about working with us and buying from us?

And that’ll help us kind of understand, like, where do we place our bets in marketing, right? Sometimes it’s, it’s actually not where we’re spending the money. A [00:48:00] lot of times it is organic content. We need to know that.

Michael Hartmann: No, I totally agree. So I’m done with my TED talk now. So, uh, we are, I think we’re running out of time.

Shaveen, I’m sure we could have continued this for another. I don’t know how long. Hours? Um, many hours. So thank you. Thank you for this. If folks want to keep up with what you’re doing, where you’re writing, publishing, you know, what’s the best way for them to do that? Probably

Shivina Kumar: LinkedIn. Uh, it’s just my name, Shivina Kumar.

I was lucky enough to get my full name. So it should be easy enough to find.

Michael Hartmann: Nice. I wasn’t, I couldn’t do that. And I was a relatively early adopter on LinkedIn.

Shivina Kumar: So Shavina is a pretty, uh, it’s a pretty rare name. So I’ve got Shavina at Yahoo, Shavina Kumar at Gmail, Shavina on Instagram. That’s a big one.

That was, that’s, that’s hard. That’s hard to get. No numbers in any of my emails or social handles. Yeah.

Mike Rizzo: I’m very consistently Mike D. Rizzo. Yeah, there you go. You could type that [00:49:00] into pretty much every social handle and that would be me.

Shivina Kumar: Yeah, that’s me with my first name. You can find me pretty much anywhere.

But LinkedIn, I

Michael Hartmann: would say. Fantastic. Well, this has been a fun conversation, Chavina. I’m sorry we ran out of time because we No worries. I think it was a good conversation. Mike, thank you as always. And congratulations again on 100 episodes, buddy. Yeah.

Mike Rizzo: Congrats, yeahs, you guys congrat to all of us. Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun.

And Shaina, thank you for letting it, you know, you get to be the, uh, the, the, the number 100.

Shivina Kumar: So I love it. I love it. The perfect New Year’s

Michael Hartmann: gift. There you go. Awesome, . Well, thank you also to our, our listeners who continue to support us and, uh, listen to us and, uh, send us ideas and topics and, and, uh, and good guests like Shaina.

So thank you all. Until next time, we’ll talk to you later. Bye. Thanks, Gus.

Mike Rizzo: Bye.