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 marketing spark, the podcast that delivers insight from marketers and entrepreneurs in the trenches in twenty five minutes or less. Successful marketing happens for many different reasons, but I would suggest that one of the keys is a strong partnership between the CEO and the head of marketing. It's an area that I'm excited to explore with the DITCHYA put Theda CEO of a Boma which delivers insight to salespeople and marketing by recording, transcribing and analyzing conversations at scale with Ai. Welcome to marketing spark. I'm some marking. This was a really great introduction and excited to video as I set off the top. One of the keys to marketing success is a partnership between the CEO and the head of marketing. Now, you recently hired a new director of marketing. Can you give me some insight about the recruiting and hiring process? How did you do the search, how long did it take and how do you see creating that windwind partnership? A loaded question, many different assets, but I would be really interested in learning about that whole journey from having no head of marketing to having a new head of marketing. It's a loaded question and it was also an interesting journey how we hired Yug and it also came based on a lot of mistakes I had made in my previous attempts of hiring. So this is it would be unfair to say this was the first time we tried to hire. There were fewer attempts I had done in the past and they did not work out. And the number one lesson I had learned back then, based on those experiences, was you need too hire for the fit for the company of the stage where you are at. And it was not about the reason that sound the previous candidates did 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 at certain stage of the company and where we...

...are at. So one of the goals that I had was to find someone who is hustler at this early stage company, who can have more journalist approach other than a specialist approach. So look 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 is was I think three years ago to two years ago, when Yag was working at his previous company. It was a phrase chat where he was in the heading or in the marketing department there, and I was using intercom back then and 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 me explain, try to address my concerns that I had with Intercom, and I remembered that conversations two years ago and I was like, this guy is in marketing, 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 as a customer? Since then we got connected on linkedin twitter. So but and I kept watching him all his content. We kept engage for the last year and a half and so the more we started knowing each other, I realize that we need to bring him to push our brand, explain customers what we do, which we were lagging. We were not doing great job of doing that, and so that's kind of how it was unique process but I realize that he's the perfect fit for the stage that we have and that hustler mindset was 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 to build community for what we're building. So those are the reasons we had to up bringing in young. To your second part of the question and how you have 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 told him, look, you have certain strengths and I would love to learn from those and I would want to have you continued to drive and teach me what you're doing and what you're passionate about. If I try to step in and try 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 one thing 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 continue to do that. We will continue to her other resources in other areas or with the Peter, but that's kind of how I'm trying to play by hip strengths. Support him for the things that he's not great at or he doesn't probably 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 a good at all the Peter, though, it's interesting because I think an important element of that partnership creation is establishing the rules of engagement and so both parties 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 a becomes a blame game more than a partnership. What went wrong? Why do you do the job? Why aren't you doing your job better whereas it should be? How can we do better? How can we as a team and prove going forward? What do we need to look at? What kind of different approaches do we need to take? Do you take that into consideration when you're going to be establishing a new partnership with Yagg absolutely, and this is a great point that you wrote, mark, one of the things that the way, when Yah came on world, we had not work together in the past. So the first thing I said, look right now, you look up to the world in certain way,...

...you have certain role models, you have built your own philosophy. Is your value system based on what you're observed red 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 maybe there's a mismatch right now. So what we need to do, the first thing in the first few weeks is to help us understand each other. What you will how you get inspired from what you like, to follow more in the 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'm instead of thinking that, oh, this is yaks feedback, and then that's very sent point center kind of thinking that you think about it. But now, if I have a little bit more context, why did Yach suggested this thing? Oh, because he followed these principles, because he believes in these kind of value systems. Now I have better understanding and better context where he's coming from. Same I say, I actually suggested, yeah, that this is how I think about it, these are the things that I believe in. These these are my value belief systems and more he has understanding about those. Now we don't have to do explanation when we give feedback. Yah knows that where I'm coming from. That's kind of one of the things that we started aligning ourselves to really be going back and put you also talked about goals 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 is where we want to go. What do you think? So there is a combination of bottom up. We're getting inputs from him. This is where we are at and if you want to jump to this level, how much of this is accomplishable? Can we do this? And I might have a very high expectation as a CEO, but I want to make sure that when he come on board he doesn't get scared away because of those ambitious goals or lock two 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 the ecosystem or competitor large scape or products nuances, then he would be able to build up. Giving these Ambi shows goals for the first few weeks or first months or quarters is going to be...

...failing him or setting up some for failure itself. So that's kind of how I also think about the goal setting itself. Is a collaborative process. You can just say that hey, this is 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 was interesting that earlier this week Spencer Stewart issued a study looking at the lifespan of the typical cmou and it actually fell by one month to forty months. So they barely last a little more than three years, whereas the average tenure for CEO six and a half years. Curious, given that you've been an entrepreneur for a long time, is why do you think that Cmus don't last very long? It's they're almost higher to be five aired. Is that a lack of patients, a lack of understanding of marketing? The pace of businesses so fast? How do you explain that honestly, I would be. It would be difficult to say that I know it all in this particular area and the way I still think about it. I've also worked at larger companies where these situations have happened. So, considering those lenses, the way I think about these things is that it's less about if the CEOS or the CMOS are great at 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 general founders, 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 they feel 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 thinking about product, that thinking about sales, customer experience and all of those things. So when they're thinking about a company positioning story, the Vision, they have 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 those perspective as well, have their context as...

...well. When you think about the alignment happens, the Miss Element happens because when the CMO is trying to put some agenda that they might have or personal agenda that they're trying to bring in verses trying to put the company first, try to understand the concept of the context, of the end to a vision that the CEO has. Once you understand the CEO's visions really well, then you can still take the ownership and start executing those as well. When you see that friction, that gap is there between the vision that the CEO has and if the marketing leader is not executing based on that context, that's when I feel that see you eventually be figures out that hey, maybe this is not working. I'm trying to communicate these things and then I'm not seeing the results, but the results are not being seen sometimes because of these lack of the understanding itself, and that's how I still see. But honestly, there are a lot many factors could go wrong as well, but at least what comes top of my mind this is something I would say. Let's shift gears a little bit and move to the idea 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 companies not listen to customers? And I think about quote by Henry Ford, who once said if I'd ask people what they want and they would have said faster horses. So, as you develop your product and move forward, how much do you weigh what customers tell you versus what your vision is for the company and the product? Excellent question. The Way I think about this is mark is. 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 into strategic level and then at the tactical level. At the strategic level, vision level, you got to have a point of view as a founder, as a company. You cannot dictate that, do that based on what competitors are telling you, what customers are telling you. So you have to have your not start point of view. This is why the world is broken. This is why the world needs to be better...

...in four or five year. This is 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 you need to listen to the customer. So you have to have vision at from your founder point of view, for the product point of view, but then when you're trying to deploy that strategy and try to deploy two in the hands of the customers, that's when, if you don't listen, you're going to find so when the customer centric thing is about, if customer gives a feedback, is still aligned with your vision? If yes, listen to it and try to implement that feedback into your existing vision and, as long as it's part of the vision, you make that experience based on how they're going to experience the product or service that you're providing. But on the other hand, if it's off that reason that you have, then you don't need to listen to their feedback and that's when I would say that you need to take this from a two different lenses point of you, and I've seen this. This also helps. To be honest, the way, I might be biased here, I came from a product management experience and background and I do believe that having that product mindset does help you. If you're coming from just purely from the series experience backgrown, it might be a little bit of challenge because you're going to over emphasize what customers are telling you and you have to have that habit of being curious. When customers are that I need this, you need to bring that extra level of curiosity. Why do you need this? And you 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 to agrestom need in some other point of your other solution that you might have which fits into your vision. That's another way of kind of finding the balance between what customers are saying and still trying to make sure that you have will the vision centered view as well. One of the reasons why you, I believe why you hired Yagg, is to raise the company's profile, to become more embedded in the community, to have a...

...very high profile evangelist to can talk about a Voma and your category. But I'm also curious about the challenge is facing companies in competitive market places to break through two prospects, because process are being in the dated with marketing and sales and all kinds of other content these days. One of the way areas that I wanted to ask you about is cold 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 company if you're building something, in educating something. And I also think about its less of 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 that you're doing and directly trying to reach out to somebody's inbox. At the end of the day, it's an ad kind of a concept, but to think about it, I get literally fifty emails every single day. Somebody's trying to 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 without me having to do anything. Only probably four or five emails are reaching to my impax. Why is it happening? Because we are starting to do a lot more this personalization automation and all of that stuff, but at the end of 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 have also 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's the standard. That's what we have seen...

...in the industry works. And I said that's ludicorous. I mean it's you cannot operate. We're trying to burn these bridges, trying to reach out these people. Think about it, if you're only thirty forty person people are who are opening your emails, then the funnel starts from their only few people are going to be interested and all of that 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 implemented was that every single subject line needs to be unique to the prospect that nobody else that subject client should not resent it with someone else. That simple hack change our open rates from thirty, forty person that the expectation was, to eighty percent to ninety percent. It is unheard and this is not once in a while. We've seen it consistently. We get open it for holy email to eighty person, ninety percent, and then once people open the email, they see that get all the whole personalitation the way we do. They get delighted experience and they see that they reply to us that, hey, this is one of the best coal email I've seen. Again, when we hired selves reeps, they had never seen is, they told me. I then the of we've never got responses like this because it was executed badly in some other organization. That's what people do. That that's what the world we expect and 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 say hundreds of emails every day, but we are able to send thirty forty emails every day. I would rather take that shot than trying to send too many emails and have only less kind of automated responses or automated emails and not get any responses. So that's how I think I mean, I still believe in the value of code. We have book deals, were close deals purely from the 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 to control. Who are you going after in bound? I don't control WHO's coming to in bound to me. Yes, we might educate through the marketing messaging, but if you want to go up to larger customers, if you want to go after increase our average contract value,...

...we know who are those customers and we will rather better control that journey rather than we waiting for inbound leads to come to us. So that's how I still think. I extremely believe in coal, email, call outreach. It just that it needs to be done right. Curious about whether you using templates to do cold outreach or whether every single of those thirty too, for the emails, is completely personalized. We use templates, but the way we do it those templates do have custom variables where and the personalization is not that I saw you on Linkedin or just adding your first name tag and the company name tag and try to make that as a personalized thing. We try to do the research there is a prospecting research 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 variations of different observation that we have done into spreadship. We try to give at least four or five minutes to each of these research and then, through that research, then obviously those fields map to the actual templates that we have so that 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, they find 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 at what initiatives are happening in their company and then anticipating, Hey, you have done these things recently. You've announced these features in your blog, you've announced 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 even started conversation? We are also not trying to book meeting in the first meeting it's a no no for me. You try to get on fifteen minute called right 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 in information and asking information, and then after those warm of face then we go hard selling phase, in the cold email, in the sequences. We do use sequences, 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 hand you'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 sales and marking clad or how do the two departments work together? Because in many organizations they operate as silos. Marketing doesn't talk to sales, sales doesn't talk to marketing. Sales complains that marketings leads are crap, marketing complaints at sales can'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 to a Voman oh absolutely, I had this lived with this pain in my previous companies 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 that when it's too late, when the problem is already there, and if it's too late, it gets even harder to fix it. So the best way is 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 bullet that will fix this problem. There are the way I think about this problem is threefold. There's people, it's olf other crux of it. Then there'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 tools that you're using? So, when you think about it, first of all, people itself. You got to identify what are the motivations of these individuals who are there at the leadership level, how connected they are with the company's mission, Companies Vision, when they operate, when there's propose some ideas you can sense that are their self centric,...

...or are they trying to put the company as a first center. The more people are self centric and have their own agendas, that's when the more silos starts happening. People try to operate in their own ways and you identify people who are thinking about these things at a company level. Put the company first. Then you would see more collaboration happens. So that's the first thing. I continue to observe. What kind of people are we bringing in? How do they operate and if they're not doing at the same level, then you give feedback to them. That's the number one thing I would do. Obviously. Then processes comes in as well. What processes have you implemented? Are they defined documented? If they're not an early stage company, we struggle with that too much as well, because these process are being built as we go as well. But if you don't put a little bit of thought out of time, then you're going to see people are working ad hoc in any manner that they want, and so documenting certain 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. We review 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 discussed here. is about identifying who made mistake. It's about how do we improve upon the next what do we need to do as a change? Is a company, so having those retrospectives is extremely important for us. So we try to have those conversation so that every one gets a line. That's another process that we do find different mechanisms, meetings, documentations, all of those things could happen. Lastly, it comes down to platforms as well. Most of the problems I've seen happens because people are trying to access information and they don't have access to that information. So marketing is living in one different tool and sales in living is different tool, and both of them are not able to access the information easily without unless marketing has to chase sales people. Let's meet and then share only that information, then it becomes extra work. If you let people access information by themselves and have...

...tools, adopt tools which are collaborative in nature, you would see even more people start sharing information which of each other. So to me, one of the reasons we started a womer was exactly that that we felt that customer facing conversations are being only held into sales person or only or they were only having access. What we wanted to do was to Democrat as that intelligence that sales people are having and have Martin people to listen to the voice of their customer firsthand rather than listing it from the subjective opinion that the sales person might bring in. We also let that information to hurt by product people and other engineering teams. That's how we're trying to believe that the more tools and platforms you have, this collaborative platforms, you would see more collaboration between these two teams as well. I do a lot of 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 that a Woma has investige in physician in a message. Is something that you thought about while you've moved the company forward? Why you've tried to improve your marketing in sales? This is a such an excellent question. I actually think about this pretty constantly and there's a reason we did struggle for a while to define ourselves who we are, what we want to do, and because it happens right. So if you don't define your own point of view, what you're trying to build as your positioning, someone else will start building it for you and then that might be too late for you as well. Then you get fusion 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 things that we think about. So do we create our own category or do we try 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 own category. Who doesn't want to create their category and be number one in that category? But can you support it from...

...a resources point of your financial point of it's not just you come up with a name and tag for your company and then suddenly becomes a category. You have to invest in that you are to educate the world, do you have resources financially team Whi is every single thing to educate the world and or analyst on all of those things. So to me it has been a challenge for us, where we wanted to explain ourselves differently, but we were struggling to do that, and that's why I do keep constantly see you how we are evolving as a company, how competitors are 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 positioning is extremely, extremely important for me. It's how we are able to explain customers who we are, why we stand, and I'm not saying that the positions goal is not to please everyone, it's to attract customer who believe in our vision. We will say no to a lot of customers and they'll go to our competitors. Totally fine, because that's what they believe in and that's what competitors do. We don't have those things, we will stay away from that positioning and we will try not to convince our those customers to buy us and eventually get disappointed. So it helps for me to convince our team because then 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 my thinking to explain them. Okay, we have these sets of customers. How does alboma fit into all of this thing? So it helps me to communicate to my team, have them alignment and that alignment is helpful when we make the product decisions, when we make what aid as we need to decide to invest. So again, positioning is extremely important. It's not just for the marketing copy, but it goes beyond that marketing copy of landing pagepy to how you an execute as well. A final question, just for fun. Have you read a great book recently? I...

...did. The recent book I've read and I'm learning right now tennis, and one of the books I've read called Inner Game of tennis. Now it sounds like it's about tennis, but the book is about in hindsight, it was all about the business learning. The book was about how do you perform at tennis when you are at a peak performance? And the Dada was that it's not just falling the routine that you have, but trying to think about your inner game when you're your that level of peak performers is achieved only when you're not forcing yourself and you're letting it happen. And what it means by that. As you do more and more these things, it becomes a habit, it becomes natural to you. If you start observing the hay out to play forehand this particular way and if you put more emphasis on putting the forehead, then you're not really executing your making it 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 do you run company? How do we do these things? What are my strings are? There are a lot of tasks. I don't enjoy doing it and I'm forcing one so to do that and I don't end up doing the best 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 that and I would rather do something that I'm based on, and that's kind of that book was. It's a short book. I really loved it and I'm going to actually read that book one more time just to again comprehend, because I'm initially, when I started reading it was about tennis coaching. One I at day I'm like wow, there are a lot other lessons here. How do we run life, how do we run business? That I need to read that book again. I'm also an avid tennis player and I have read the book by Timif He Galway, and it is interesting because he started off as a tennis pro in this little country club and develop this methodology or this process of teaching people how to play tennis...

...and then he got hired by companies around leadership and motivation and corporate culture and it is a great story and for anyone eat if you're not a good tennis player or you're not a tennis player period. It's a mess. Read One. Ask you if people are interested in learning more about you and a Voma, where do they go? My email dress 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, a Ditia at Abomacom, or find me on Linkedin. That's a detail Qataria on Linkedin. Just search men, you should be able to find me well. Thanks, for listening each other episode of marketing spark. If you enjoyed the conversation, leave a review and subscribe by Itunes, spotify or your favorite podcast APP for show notes of today's conversation and information about a Didya Visit Marketing Spark Dot Cola blog? If you'd like to learn more about how I help bb SASS companies as a fractional CMO, strategic advisor and coach, send it an email to mark and Mark Evans Dot C A. I'll talk to you next time.

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