How to Hire a B2B Saas Marketing Leader

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Hiring a marketing leader is not just about someone's skills and experience but creating a partnership between the CEO and the head of marketing.

Avoma CEO Aditya Kothadiya provides first-hand insight into the process that he recently took to hire a director of marketing.

Aditya says one of the keys to success is hiring the right person based on a company's growth stage. 

Once a marketing leader comes on board, Aditya said it is important to align around expectations and goals so the rules of engagement are established.

I'm Mark Evans and welcome to marketingspark, the podcast that delivers insight from marketers and entrepreneurs in the trenches intwenty five minutes or less. Successful marketing happens for many different reasons, butI would suggest that one of the keys is a strong partnership between the CEOand the head of marketing. It's an area that I'm excited to explore withthe DITCHYA put Theda CEO of a Boma which delivers insight to salespeople and marketingby recording, transcribing and analyzing conversations at scale with Ai. Welcome to marketingspark. I'm some marking. This was a really great introduction and excited tovideo as I set off the top. One of the keys to marketing successis a partnership between the CEO and the head of marketing. Now, yourecently hired a new director of marketing. Can you give me some insight aboutthe recruiting and hiring process? How did you do the search, how longdid it take and how do you see creating that windwind partnership? A loadedquestion, many different assets, but I would be really interested in learning aboutthat whole journey from having no head of marketing to having a new head ofmarketing. It's a loaded question and it was also an interesting journey how wehired Yug and it also came based on a lot of mistakes I had madein my previous attempts of hiring. So this is it would be unfair tosay this was the first time we tried to hire. There were fewer attemptsI had done in the past and they did not work out. And thenumber one lesson I had learned back then, based on those experiences, was youneed too hire for the fit for the company of the stage where youare at. And it was not about the reason that sound the previous candidatesdid not work out. It was not about they were not great candidates,but because there were probably mismatch in between the expectations or they were great atcertain stage of the company and where we...

...are at. So one of thegoals that I had was to find someone who is hustler at this early stagecompany, who can have more journalist approach other than a specialist approach. Solook for that kind of personality as well. The story with rgus unique enough.It happened in a way where one of the things that at this iswas I think three years ago to two years ago, when Yag was workingat his previous company. It was a phrase chat where he was in theheading or in the marketing department there, and I was using intercom back thenand hired some concerns about intercoms pricing. So I complained about it on twitter. Yag Ping me on twitter individually and try to book a meeting with meexplain, try to address my concerns that I had with Intercom, and Iremembered that conversations two years ago and I was like, this guy is inmarketing, he needs to worry about scaling, bringing more traffic at a scale.Why he's hustling at an individual tweet level and trying to convert me asa customer? Since then we got connected on linkedin twitter. So but andI kept watching him all his content. We kept engage for the last yearand a half and so the more we started knowing each other, I realizethat we need to bring him to push our brand, explain customers what wedo, which we were lagging. We were not doing great job of doingthat, and so that's kind of how it was unique process but I realizethat he's the perfect fit for the stage that we have and that hustler mindsetwas important to me. And also he's just too nice of a guy.Has Been Building Great Brand for himself working with a lot of the community leaders, and I felt that also is a value that I would learn how tobuild community for what we're building. So those are the reasons we had toup bringing in young. To your second part of the question and how youhave the win win situation, it's a we're still early in our journey,but the way I felt was when I...

...started chatting with you, I toldhim, look, you have certain strengths and I would love to learn fromthose and I would want to have you continued to drive and teach me whatyou're doing and what you're passionate about. If I try to step in andtry to give him more chores or task and not play by his strength,I'm going to add more halder. So I told him that the number onething that you should do is play by your strength, which which is content, brand building, evangelizing. That's what you love. So what're telling continueto do that. We will continue to her other resources in other areas orwith the Peter, but that's kind of how I'm trying to play by hipstrengths. Support him for the things that he's not great at or he doesn'tprobably want to do a lot more work. Will Continue to work through that process. That's how I think about it. We'll see how it gets like agood at all the Peter, though, it's interesting because I think an importantelement of that partnership creation is establishing the rules of engagement and so bothparties know what the expectations are, what the journey is going to be like, how you measure success, what the feedback process is going to be like, because a lot of relationships between CEOS and marketers fall apart when you're misaligned, when the CEO has certain expectations and they fail to materialize and it's abecomes a blame game more than a partnership. What went wrong? Why do youdo the job? Why aren't you doing your job better whereas it shouldbe? How can we do better? How can we as a team andprove going forward? What do we need to look at? What kind ofdifferent approaches do we need to take? Do you take that into consideration whenyou're going to be establishing a new partnership with Yagg absolutely, and this isa great point that you wrote, mark, one of the things that the way, when Yah came on world, we had not work together in thepast. So the first thing I said, look right now, you look upto the world in certain way,...

...you have certain role models, youhave built your own philosophy. Is your value system based on what you're observedred so far. I have done same. I have some different role models.I've looked up into what I believe in the concept, and so maybethere's a mismatch right now. So what we need to do, the firstthing in the first few weeks is to help us understand each other. Whatyou will how you get inspired from what you like, to follow more inthe world and share those stories with me so that I will understand his context. I will under when he recommends something, when he provides a feedback. I'minstead of thinking that, oh, this is yaks feedback, and thenthat's very sent point center kind of thinking that you think about it. Butnow, if I have a little bit more context, why did Yach suggestedthis thing? Oh, because he followed these principles, because he believes inthese kind of value systems. Now I have better understanding and better context wherehe's coming from. Same I say, I actually suggested, yeah, thatthis is how I think about it, these are the things that I believein. These these are my value belief systems and more he has understanding aboutthose. Now we don't have to do explanation when we give feedback. Yahknows that where I'm coming from. That's kind of one of the things thatwe started aligning ourselves to really be going back and put you also talked aboutgoals and all of those things. There's also there is a point of that. I told him this is what the company needs to go, this iswhere we want to go. What do you think? So there is acombination of bottom up. We're getting inputs from him. This is where weare at and if you want to jump to this level, how much ofthis is accomplishable? Can we do this? And I might have a very highexpectation as a CEO, but I want to make sure that when hecome on board he doesn't get scared away because of those ambitious goals or locktwo goals that you might we might have and there's a path also to product. You can get aggressive goals later on, once he understand the rest of theecosystem or competitor large scape or products nuances, then he would be ableto build up. Giving these Ambi shows goals for the first few weeks orfirst months or quarters is going to be...

...failing him or setting up some forfailure itself. So that's kind of how I also think about the goal settingitself. Is a collaborative process. You can just say that hey, thisis what we want to go go figure it out. That's where, again, you're going to set up the leaders for the failure itself. It wasinteresting that earlier this week Spencer Stewart issued a study looking at the lifespan ofthe typical cmou and it actually fell by one month to forty months. Sothey barely last a little more than three years, whereas the average tenure forCEO six and a half years. Curious, given that you've been an entrepreneur fora long time, is why do you think that Cmus don't last verylong? It's they're almost higher to be five aired. Is that a lackof patients, a lack of understanding of marketing? The pace of businesses sofast? How do you explain that honestly, I would be. It would bedifficult to say that I know it all in this particular area and theway I still think about it. I've also worked at larger companies where thesesituations have happened. So, considering those lenses, the way I think aboutthese things is that it's less about if the CEOS or the CMOS are greatat the skills that they are at. It goes back to to me,it's the alignment between the CEO and the CMO, where CEO's or even generalfounders, when you think about it, they have a lot of ownership mindset, that they are basically carrying this a class shrug on their shoulders and theyfeel like the whole weight is on their shoulder to make the company successful.And so that end to an ownership mindset is what CEO things about their thinkingabout product, that thinking about sales, customer experience and all of those things. So when they're thinking about a company positioning story, the Vision, theyhave a lot bigger perspective and bigger context. If a CEO has that perspective,the question is that how the other leaders in the company would have thoseperspective as well, have their context as...

...well. When you think about thealignment happens, the Miss Element happens because when the CMO is trying to putsome agenda that they might have or personal agenda that they're trying to bring inverses trying to put the company first, try to understand the concept of thecontext, of the end to a vision that the CEO has. Once youunderstand the CEO's visions really well, then you can still take the ownership andstart executing those as well. When you see that friction, that gap isthere between the vision that the CEO has and if the marketing leader is notexecuting based on that context, that's when I feel that see you eventually befigures out that hey, maybe this is not working. I'm trying to communicatethese things and then I'm not seeing the results, but the results are notbeing seen sometimes because of these lack of the understanding itself, and that's howI still see. But honestly, there are a lot many factors could gowrong as well, but at least what comes top of my mind this issomething I would say. Let's shift gears a little bit and move to theidea that many companies need to be customer centric, more customer centric than ever. How much should product and market listen to customers, and when should companiesnot listen to customers? And I think about quote by Henry Ford, whoonce said if I'd ask people what they want and they would have said fasterhorses. So, as you develop your product and move forward, how muchdo you weigh what customers tell you versus what your vision is for the companyand the product? Excellent question. The Way I think about this is markis. It's not a one, single and so simple answer for every situation. This is also where I feel that you have to break it down intostrategic level and then at the tactical level. At the strategic level, vision level, you got to have a point of view as a founder, asa company. You cannot dictate that, do that based on what competitors aretelling you, what customers are telling you. So you have to have your notstart point of view. This is why the world is broken. Thisis why the world needs to be better...

...in four or five year. Thisis what the ideal state I would want to see in the world exists.You got to have that. But at the tactical level, that's where youneed to listen to the customer. So you have to have vision at fromyour founder point of view, for the product point of view, but thenwhen you're trying to deploy that strategy and try to deploy two in the handsof the customers, that's when, if you don't listen, you're going tofind so when the customer centric thing is about, if customer gives a feedback, is still aligned with your vision? If yes, listen to it andtry to implement that feedback into your existing vision and, as long as it'spart of the vision, you make that experience based on how they're going toexperience the product or service that you're providing. But on the other hand, ifit's off that reason that you have, then you don't need to listen totheir feedback and that's when I would say that you need to take thisfrom a two different lenses point of you, and I've seen this. This alsohelps. To be honest, the way, I might be biased here, I came from a product management experience and background and I do believe thathaving that product mindset does help you. If you're coming from just purely fromthe series experience backgrown, it might be a little bit of challenge because you'regoing to over emphasize what customers are telling you and you have to have thathabit of being curious. When customers are that I need this, you needto bring that extra level of curiosity. Why do you need this? Andyou ask your full level of questions to truly understand the need and then,once you understand the true need what they have, you would be able toagrestom need in some other point of your other solution that you might have whichfits into your vision. That's another way of kind of finding the balance betweenwhat customers are saying and still trying to make sure that you have will thevision centered view as well. One of the reasons why you, I believewhy you hired Yagg, is to raise the company's profile, to become moreembedded in the community, to have a...

...very high profile evangelist to can talkabout a Voma and your category. But I'm also curious about the challenge isfacing companies in competitive market places to break through two prospects, because process arebeing in the dated with marketing and sales and all kinds of other content thesedays. One of the way areas that I wanted to ask you about iscold outreach because it gets a bad rap. Cold email, called telephone calls,almost surprising prospects rather than approaching people who are warm or have brand awareness. What are your thoughts about the whole idea of cold, cold marketing,cold sales? Honestly, it became bad rep because how we have executed it. I don't think it's you cannot not have cold outbound strategy as a companyif you're building something, in educating something. And I also think about its lessof a sales problem. It's more of a marketing problem as well.I think about cold marketing or code email, is nothing but a free ad thatyou're doing and directly trying to reach out to somebody's inbox. At theend of the day, it's an ad kind of a concept, but tothink about it, I get literally fifty emails every single day. Somebody's tryingto do selling me code email. What you know what? What's happening?Forty five out of those fifty emails are going to Google spam box automatically withoutme having to do anything. Only probably four or five emails are reaching tomy impax. Why is it happening? Because we are starting to do alot more this personalization automation and all of that stuff, but at the endof the day we're just doing automation at scale and people are not being thoughtful, research or reentered, trying to not get personal as much. We havealso as a company, we have started implementing coal out one strategy as well, and when we hired few folks the earlier on their expectation was Aditya.We're going to get thirty to forty person open red for code email. That'sthe standard. That's what we have seen...

...in the industry works. And Isaid that's ludicorous. I mean it's you cannot operate. We're trying to burnthese bridges, trying to reach out these people. Think about it, ifyou're only thirty forty person people are who are opening your emails, then thefunnel starts from their only few people are going to be interested and all ofthat stuff. We've implemented some framework strom strategies where we said, okay,how can we make it personalize? One of the simplest hack mark we implementedwas that every single subject line needs to be unique to the prospect that nobodyelse that subject client should not resent it with someone else. That simple hackchange our open rates from thirty, forty person that the expectation was, toeighty percent to ninety percent. It is unheard and this is not once ina while. We've seen it consistently. We get open it for holy emailto eighty person, ninety percent, and then once people open the email,they see that get all the whole personalitation the way we do. They getdelighted experience and they see that they reply to us that, hey, thisis one of the best coal email I've seen. Again, when we hiredselves reeps, they had never seen is, they told me. I then theof we've never got responses like this because it was executed badly in someother organization. That's what people do. That that's what the world we expectand we should live in. But if you put a bit of personalization,and these are also we are able to scale it variable to not probably sayhundreds of emails every day, but we are able to send thirty forty emailsevery day. I would rather take that shot than trying to send too manyemails and have only less kind of automated responses or automated emails and not getany responses. So that's how I think I mean, I still believe inthe value of code. We have book deals, were close deals purely fromthe cold out one. So I cannot control or convincing of that. Hey, why you have to continue investing coal because that's how you are able tocontrol. Who are you going after in bound? I don't control WHO's comingto in bound to me. Yes, we might educate through the marketing messaging, but if you want to go up to larger customers, if you wantto go after increase our average contract value,...

...we know who are those customers andwe will rather better control that journey rather than we waiting for inbound leadsto come to us. So that's how I still think. I extremely believein coal, email, call outreach. It just that it needs to bedone right. Curious about whether you using templates to do cold outreach or whetherevery single of those thirty too, for the emails, is completely personalized.We use templates, but the way we do it those templates do have customvariables where and the personalization is not that I saw you on Linkedin or justadding your first name tag and the company name tag and try to make thatas a personalized thing. We try to do the research there is a prospectingresearch phase where we do hey, these are the things that we have observed. Customers Linkedin page, their company page and we try to put that variationsof different observation that we have done into spreadship. We try to give atleast four or five minutes to each of these research and then, through thatresearch, then obviously those fields map to the actual templates that we have sothat we were not spending way too much time in sending his personal as emails. But when prospect receives those email they find it very research heavy, theyfind it very personal to what they're doing and we're also not stalking people.I like saw you like rugby or football, and try not to get too personal. That's not really personalization to me. It's more about relevancy, looking atwhat initiatives are happening in their company and then anticipating, Hey, youhave done these things recently. You've announced these features in your blog, you'veannounced these hiring requirements. Based on that, we anticipate you might have these needs. Is this something that you would be open to learning more and evenstarted conversation? We are also not trying to book meeting in the first meetingit's a no no for me. You try to get on fifteen minute calledright there in the first meeting. We have a concept of warmup face.First Week or two we just try to...

...warm up the lead which share ininformation and asking information, and then after those warm of face then we gohard selling phase, in the cold email, in the sequences. We do usesequences, we use use templates. That's what the scaling comes in.But we want to make sure that we don't lose the touch of the personalization, the relivance when we are reaching out to these prospects. So one handyou've got sales doing called outreach and other forms of connect in with customers,and then you've got marketing, those in community, creating content, developing salesand marking clad or how do the two departments work together? Because in manyorganizations they operate as silos. Marketing doesn't talk to sales, sales doesn't talkto marketing. Sales complains that marketings leads are crap, marketing complaints at salescan't close and an ideal world they're sitting side by side, they're comparing notes, they're working together. Is that something you think about when it comes toa Voman oh absolutely, I had this lived with this pain in my previouscompanies and I want to make sure that when we are building this organization,this doesn't become an afterthought. A lot of the Times what happens is thatwhen it's too late, when the problem is already there, and if it'stoo late, it gets even harder to fix it. So the best wayis to start when you're already starting from the day when itself to me,mark the way I think about these things. There's no one single against silver bulletthat will fix this problem. There are the way I think about thisproblem is threefold. There's people, it's olf other crux of it. Thenthere's a processes that you're built in the company to collaborate and work and lastly, I call about this as a platforms as well. What platforms are toolsthat you're using? So, when you think about it, first of all, people itself. You got to identify what are the motivations of these individualswho are there at the leadership level, how connected they are with the company'smission, Companies Vision, when they operate, when there's propose some ideas you cansense that are their self centric,...

...or are they trying to put thecompany as a first center. The more people are self centric and have theirown agendas, that's when the more silos starts happening. People try to operatein their own ways and you identify people who are thinking about these things ata company level. Put the company first. Then you would see more collaboration happens. So that's the first thing. I continue to observe. What kindof people are we bringing in? How do they operate and if they're notdoing at the same level, then you give feedback to them. That's thenumber one thing I would do. Obviously. Then processes comes in as well.What processes have you implemented? Are they defined documented? If they're notan early stage company, we struggle with that too much as well, becausethese process are being built as we go as well. But if you don'tput a little bit of thought out of time, then you're going to seepeople are working ad hoc in any manner that they want, and so documentingcertain process and then it should not be a lot of policies or restrictions.Then you're again adding more fiction. But as long as you talked about it, hey, this is the expectation between the collaboration. Every week. Wereview these numbers every week. We talk about the winds and failures here,and it's not about pointing finger. If you say that, nothing gets discussedhere. is about identifying who made mistake. It's about how do we improve uponthe next what do we need to do as a change? Is acompany, so having those retrospectives is extremely important for us. So we tryto have those conversation so that every one gets a line. That's another processthat we do find different mechanisms, meetings, documentations, all of those things couldhappen. Lastly, it comes down to platforms as well. Most ofthe problems I've seen happens because people are trying to access information and they don'thave access to that information. So marketing is living in one different tool andsales in living is different tool, and both of them are not able toaccess the information easily without unless marketing has to chase sales people. Let's meetand then share only that information, then it becomes extra work. If youlet people access information by themselves and have...

...tools, adopt tools which are collaborativein nature, you would see even more people start sharing information which of eachother. So to me, one of the reasons we started a womer wasexactly that that we felt that customer facing conversations are being only held into salesperson or only or they were only having access. What we wanted to dowas to Democrat as that intelligence that sales people are having and have Martin peopleto listen to the voice of their customer firsthand rather than listing it from thesubjective opinion that the sales person might bring in. We also let that informationto hurt by product people and other engineering teams. That's how we're trying tobelieve that the more tools and platforms you have, this collaborative platforms, youwould see more collaboration between these two teams as well. I do a lotof work with EVS ASS companies around positioning, help them tell a better, stronger, more empowering narrative, and I'm curious to see how much effort thata Woma has investige in physician in a message. Is something that you thoughtabout while you've moved the company forward? Why you've tried to improve your marketingin sales? This is a such an excellent question. I actually think aboutthis pretty constantly and there's a reason we did struggle for a while to defineourselves who we are, what we want to do, and because it happensright. So if you don't define your own point of view, what you'retrying to build as your positioning, someone else will start building it for youand then that might be too late for you as well. Then you getfusion hold into one sum of some sort of competitors are out there as well, or some sort of category that's being created, and a lot of thingsthat we think about. So do we create our own category or do wetry to stay in existing category and try to differentiate in the same category?And there's also a notion of okay, you have an ambition to create owncategory. Who doesn't want to create their category and be number one in thatcategory? But can you support it from...

...a resources point of your financial pointof it's not just you come up with a name and tag for your companyand then suddenly becomes a category. You have to invest in that you areto educate the world, do you have resources financially team Whi is every singlething to educate the world and or analyst on all of those things. Soto me it has been a challenge for us, where we wanted to explainourselves differently, but we were struggling to do that, and that's why Ido keep constantly see you how we are evolving as a company, how competitorsare evolving. Where do we compete? where? What are our strengths?Just because our competitors started positioning themselves in some way, is that our strength? What are our strengths? Do we play by our strengths or not?And so those are the things I cause me to think about, and positioningis extremely, extremely important for me. It's how we are able to explaincustomers who we are, why we stand, and I'm not saying that the positionsgoal is not to please everyone, it's to attract customer who believe inour vision. We will say no to a lot of customers and they'll goto our competitors. Totally fine, because that's what they believe in and that'swhat competitors do. We don't have those things, we will stay away fromthat positioning and we will try not to convince our those customers to buy usand eventually get disappointed. So it helps for me to convince our team becausethen come and ask me this yere. We compete with these these days.What do we do exactly? And so have to have that clarity in mythinking to explain them. Okay, we have these sets of customers. Howdoes alboma fit into all of this thing? So it helps me to communicate tomy team, have them alignment and that alignment is helpful when we makethe product decisions, when we make what aid as we need to decide toinvest. So again, positioning is extremely important. It's not just for themarketing copy, but it goes beyond that marketing copy of landing pagepy to howyou an execute as well. A final question, just for fun. Haveyou read a great book recently? I...

...did. The recent book I've readand I'm learning right now tennis, and one of the books I've read calledInner Game of tennis. Now it sounds like it's about tennis, but thebook is about in hindsight, it was all about the business learning. Thebook was about how do you perform at tennis when you are at a peakperformance? And the Dada was that it's not just falling the routine that youhave, but trying to think about your inner game when you're your that levelof peak performers is achieved only when you're not forcing yourself and you're letting ithappen. And what it means by that. As you do more and more thesethings, it becomes a habit, it becomes natural to you. Ifyou start observing the hay out to play forehand this particular way and if youput more emphasis on putting the forehead, then you're not really executing your makingit happen. The book was telling let it happen, just let the hand. You tell your brain and your brain will go and make those actions,and there was a lot of great learnings. I started learning about. How doyou run company? How do we do these things? What are mystrings are? There are a lot of tasks. I don't enjoy doing itand I'm forcing one so to do that and I don't end up doing thebest work of my in that particular area, for example, the whole community building, I might not be the Bris person. That's exactly I knew.We need to hide someone who's best. I died. They enjoy doing thatand I would rather do something that I'm based on, and that's kind ofthat book was. It's a short book. I really loved it and I'm goingto actually read that book one more time just to again comprehend, becauseI'm initially, when I started reading it was about tennis coaching. One Iat day I'm like wow, there are a lot other lessons here. Howdo we run life, how do we run business? That I need toread that book again. I'm also an avid tennis player and I have readthe book by Timif He Galway, and it is interesting because he started offas a tennis pro in this little country club and develop this methodology or thisprocess of teaching people how to play tennis...

...and then he got hired by companiesaround leadership and motivation and corporate culture and it is a great story and foranyone eat if you're not a good tennis player or you're not a tennis playerperiod. It's a mess. Read One. Ask you if people are interested inlearning more about you and a Voma, where do they go? My emaildress is the best one. As long as you send a personal email, I will always recoply like so it's a detail at a Bomacom, aDitia at Abomacom, or find me on Linkedin. That's a detail Qataria onLinkedin. Just search men, you should be able to find me well.Thanks, for listening each other episode of marketing spark. If you enjoyed theconversation, leave a review and subscribe by Itunes, spotify or your favorite podcastAPP for show notes of today's conversation and information about a Didya Visit Marketing SparkDot Cola blog? If you'd like to learn more about how I help bbSASS companies as a fractional CMO, strategic advisor and coach, send it anemail to mark and Mark Evans Dot C A. I'll talk to you nexttime.

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