The New Age of Marketing-Driven Sales: Shiv Narayanan


At a time when conferences are not happening and salespeople can't meet with prospects, marketing has become a key revenue engine.

A growing number of B2B and SaaS leaders are realizing that marketing can effectively attract, engage, and nurture prospects.

Marketing is no longer supporting sales but driving sales.

And, in the process, marketing is getting more respects and budget.

In this episode of Marketing Spark, Shiv Narayanan gets into the different roles that marketing is playing.

We explore the growing importance of content marketing and how CMOs and CFOs need to establish close working relationships.

You're listening to market is part, thepodcast that delivers insight tools and tips, marketers and entrepreneurs inthe trenches in twenty minutes or less. It's been well an interesting year forbt and SASS marketing and marketers conferences have disappeared, content,marketing, grand positioning and branding or back big time in manyrespects. Marketers have re, forced to reload and rethink and re focus, toconnect and engage with prospects and customers to provide some perspective,and hopefully, guidance on what a head I reached out to ship Narana, CEO ofhates, a management, consulting firm that works with private equity firmsand their portfolio companies to help them scale their marketing and growth.Welcome to marketing spark hey mark thanks for having me, so one of the things that we weretalking about before this interview was how busy you are, and unfortunately,how busy I am. You said something that resonated, and you said this is theyear for marketing. What did you mean by that yeah? So I think, what's interesting ishistorically, companies have been built on sales right so and what I say when Isee built on sales, most organizations, if you think about how they start, theyusually start with a subject matter expert who has some inroads. They havewhat's called like an earned thesis, they've learned something about amarket or a pain point that people have and then they built some level ofexpertise and then they see a problem and they decide to start a company tosolve that pain, point or problem, and then they end up becoming the firstsales raps of the organization, and so as time goes on the way theorganization grows is by the founder leading sales. It's called founder,lead sales and then, as time continues to progress. The founder starts toreplace themselves and hire people to grow the organization and the firstroles that they replace our sales rules. And so that's why you know a founder'sfor us to hire my pens and they continue to be the a as time goes on.Then they'll hire an account executive and pull themself out of that and thenbecome like the sales lead and so they'll be managing three to four hallsraps and before you know, you've grown past ten, twenty thirty even hundredmillion in revenue, and you have a massive sales organization of fifty toa hundred people, and in that time marketing is kind of looked at us as asupport and supporting cast member. It marketings primary role inside of a lotof these sales. Lat Organizations is to do everything it needs to do to supportthe sales motion and give sales a supported need, so that could be in theform of sales and ableman content in terms of creating decks or one pagersor battle cards, and things like that. It could be in the form of productmarketing to educate, existing customers and drive. Some up sells tocontent that the sales team can then close, and it could be event marketingwhere you're going to these straight shows and helping sales people buildrelationships by getting a booth and having your CEO or somebody speak onthe stage and then collecting badge cans. As people walk by your booth andthen, if you look at a year like this, you have no more conferences and sales has farfewer venues to build relationships outside of the digital realm. Andmeanwhile, marketing is still in that supporting cast member role. And thenyou have CEOS and boards wondering well. My pipe line is slowing down. How am Isupposed to ramp up pipe line in a market place where people can't meeteach other and sales was the only rainmaker inside my organization. So Ithink that's the big shift. It's a long winded way of getting there, but thisbig shift is marketing needs to be a revenue. Driver CEOS, recognizesinvestors and recognize his and marketers have been trying to beat thatdrum for a long time, but they just haven't been taken seriously enoughinstead of an organization and a big part of that is marketing's fault, andwe can dive deeper into that. But now that people that have power andauthority over budget buying into that more investment is going into marketingthis year than ever before. And so that's why it's a great time to be amarketer. I've been thinking a lot about conferences,... fact the disappearance ofconferences, because the companies that I've worked for and worked with haveallocated bt companies allocate a lot of money to conferences. The lastcompany I was at, they probably spent seventy five percent of their marketingbudget going to attending sponsoring speaking at conferences. But whenconferences disappeared, a lot of marketers lost their go to channel theability to engage and connect and meet with prospects suddenly disappeared,and I think my thinking is that a lot left a lot of marketing, marketers andorganizations exposed the marketing the other marketing that they were doing.Maybe wasn't that effective or they weren't doing enough of that. Do youthink that that is sort of the lay the land these days? Is that withoutconferences, without that ability to easily connect with prospects andcustomers that that organizations now realize that there's other types ofmarketing that need to happen and then and that and in turn has raised theprofile and value of marketing? Well, I think a big contrbution to the theproblem being described is generated by marketing if you really dig under thehood of F B to be companies- and you look at these conferences that they'regoing to you- begin to notice some patterns around where marketing spendis going, especially, those trade shows that you alluded to and in most ofthose organizations sales is excuse. Me Marketing is going to these conferencesand eighty percent of those conferences are not delivering any revenue orbarely any revenue at all, and meanwhile marketing gets to an all hands meeting and talks aboutthe three hundred badges they scanned at a particular conference right, andso it loses a lot of credibility as it starts to do things like that in frontof the sales team, and so if twenty P, let's say, fifteen twenty percent ofsales of trade shows inside most companies drive eighty to ninetypercent of the actual pipeline that comes from that channel. That meanseighty percent of your trade shall spend is actually being wasted and notonly your traitor spend but the time you spend organize that thing. The thepeople you had to fly down the the dinners, the the meetings that you havewith potential clients that that all this money is going into this specificchannel. Meanwhile different channels, it can generatepipeline just as effectively, if not better, things like content marketingseo something as simple as google ads or paid social ads or organic contenton social. All of these things are completely ignored, and so I think whenyou it's almost like, you purposely become you, you lose. You lose an armright and you're like well. What do I do, and so you kind of have to use yourleft hand and and that's kind of where you're looking at all the othermarketing tools in your tool box and finally, people are starting to noticethat hey content market can be a big lover for us, we're not out thereproducing enough thought leadership, content we're not producing enoughWeben, ars or video or leveraging content for our sales conversations.Our sales team only sends out messages to book Demos. They don't send anypieces of thought leadership to prospects with their engaging with andthose prospects have. The same problems that we would encounter at a trade ship,but we speak of that trade show and we have brushers and we're actuallyhanding out content that probably generates that pipe line, but on thecontent, side or sales, an ableman side or or so or paid social or all theseother channels we're not putting the same line of effort and we're givingthem the marketing team a a small marketing budget in order to be able togenerate the pipe line that they are ultimately accountable for yeah, lack of better analogyconferences have been the drug that many markers have been addicted to fora long time. Conferences are easy, their high profile. If you can get yoursenior executives on stage, they feel good, you can you can pay to win anaward and then those awards, those locos- can go on your website. It'sit's an easy game to play. So what I'm wondering about is going forward nowthe companies haven't been able to go to conferences and they've been they've,been forced to explore different...

...channels and opportunities. What doesthat say about the future of conferences? Do you think that a lot ofbbis companies will snap back to their old habits or do you think they'll bemore selective? Maybe they'll go to fewer conferences? Maybe they'll maybeevolve into virtual events. What's your take of what could happen nine monthsto a year from now, you have to be more selective. In fact,people should have been selective before they were forced to not go tothese conferences in the first place, that's not to say all conferencesaren't worth doing, because in every industry there might be two or threelandmark events that a company has to be a part of, and that makes sense, butin most cases you do not need to go to most trade shows and on the flip side,the question is what, where else, could that budget be going? That's a questionthat this opportunity, Consequenti that has been omitted for more than a decadenow as be to be has been building into this massive category of companies, is:where else can you deploy five six seven, eight hundred thousand dollarsof your budget that you're investing into these trade shows that aren'treally that good at driving pie plan in the first place. Where else can that goand how much value is being lost if you're not investing in of thosechannels, like that's one of the biggest questions we've been asked byinvestors in CEOS this year as like, we had, we were investing. You know onepoint two million in the trade shows. Now we have that marketing budget atour disposal. What can we do with it on link in what can we do with it on facebook? What can we do with it on on in terms of content, and that's one of thequestions we've been answering for them that previously they never stopped toask themselves and they gave up that opportunity cost to other companies whodid notice that and if you look at every software category or be to becategory there is there are usually one or to three eight hundred poundguerrillas in the room that have dominated that market, not just becausethey're going to the conference, but they're also investing justice heavilyin these other channels and being present across all of them, with theright content, with the right offer, with the right nurturing path and theright strategy and the right message to be able to get those people to convertright. So now now is the time better than ever to just refocus and restart,and we think how you're going to allocate your budget more effectivelythe capture that opportunity cost. I agree. I think that was one of themost interesting things that happened in in March April and May, whenconferences evaporated. A lot of markers didn't know what to do, andwhat I saw was a lot of panic, because this tool that they had been using thischannel was no longer available in their tool. Kids, so they had torethink and they had to reload, and some of them have reloaded quitesuccessfully and others are still scrambling to figure out how they movemarketing forward, which is a nice segue into content. Marketin, and youtalk a lot about content on linked in where you have a really great presence.I'm trying to maybe get your thoughts on what is the right approach that Sasscompany should take to content market. I know it's a load, a question, becauseit's all about education and thought leadership and really trying to engageprospects and customers. What are the some of the fun fundamentals thatcompanies should be thinking about if they want to allocate some of thoseconference dollars to things like content marketing yeah? So we beatcompanies all the time that are in the process of getting a digitalmarketing motion going and when they think about content marketing, theyusually have one or two content writers on staff that start to produce these random blogposts as a form of thought leadership right, so something that their audience mighthave some sort of a pain around they'll write a five hundred word post aroundthat- and that's that's helpful, that's better than not putting on content atall. But one of the things that that mass is about content marketing istruly understanding. What are all the different roles that content marketinghas to play inside an organization that... trying to scale its marketingefforts? So when you think about content, it plays so many differentdifferent roles for for an organization one. It helps you get discovered ifgets, customers discovered and helps them find your platform or solutionnumber two: it helps nurture prospects and existing customers three and itenables the sails team, for it helps customers get on board and under theunder the platform. Five, it helps increase the usage of your product six.It helps cross, sell and up sell other products to existing customers. Seven,it helps you increase your prices and so that you have more expansion.Revenue from existing customers, aided provides education to your customers tobuild loyalty and retention and advocacy and nine. It positions yourbrand as a publisher and a thought leader in the space. So it Contin hasall these different roles to play. The problem is inside most companies. Youhave one two, maybe three content marketers who are responsible for doingall of this. So now, if I were to create a content, road map and productteams are really good at creating road maps because their entire function isabout road maps and the function and condon is very close as a function toproduct, but it doesn't operate like that. So if I look at all thesepriorities, they kind of conflict with each other, because they all requireresources, and so content has to look at all these priorities and say whatgoes on my road map first, because I don't have infinite resources and Ithink that's the first path to success, and so based on that, then you say:Where are the biggest opportunities, because that's where I would like tofocus my efforts inside most companies. Usually the answer is in finding peoplewho are ready to buy or are in a buying window and getting them through to thatclosed one state, whether it's an existing customer or whether it's a newcustomer. If it's a new customer, do you have enough collateral out there tosupport buyers across their buyer journey if there are major gaps, forexample, if you're selling membership management software and you don't havea guide on membership management software for your prospects? Well,that's a mistake. You better have that type of a guy, because if you don'tprovide them with that guide, somebody else will, if you're selling e commercesoftware- and you don't have a place where people can look at online storesoftware reviews like shop. If I does, and a big commerce does in some ofthese other e comme spot forms, do you're going to be left behind. So Ijust start to work down that road map thought leadership. Content shouldalmost come a lot later in your content, road map, but that's kind of wherepeople start right. They go. I want to do the cool thing and I want to writefun articles that make people look at me as this big resource that they canrely on. The key is, as you start, to go work backwards from highestopportunity down to lowest opportunity and by our journey people that areready to buy back towards people who are almost unaware over time. Youslowly build that whole engine out and it's about doing it in the right order,because once you start doing that and working down that priority listovertime we do emerge is a great content marketing organization, becausethe unique thing about content is once you create an asset it. It paysdividends forever. So if you do create that customer guide or pricingcomparison page or a late, funnel solution asset or a Weben or podcast ofwhatever that is, it lives in perpetuity and it can be leverage inperpetuity for a nurture stream or or whatever else so you're trying to usethat content for whereas other things like one off marketing programs. Assoon as you finish the program, you got to start the next one and then oncethat one is finished, you got to start the next one building those evergreenassets that can live and support your entire customer journey from when theyare becoming aware of you all the way, through the advocacy and everywhere inbetween and my opinion that mean, if you go about in that order, you'regoing to have success. When you look at the assassin bt landscape, are therecompanies that jump out that do content? Well, not just in terms of the type ofcontent that's created, but how they play in different stages of the funneland as important, how they distribute content...

...yeah. There are a bunch of companiesthat do a really good job. Here, fresh books comes to mind. Jopley comesto mine, Walapai Company, I was a Sein, comes to mind like there are peoplethat have figured out how to do content really well across all the differentstages of the journey right and it's understanding all the pain points ofyour customers and truly trying to help them. I think that's the other thing,it's more of us as subjective lens to think about it as if you're justcreating self serving sales enablement content. That'll only get you so far,but true content is about helping resolve those pain points right, and Imean, if you look at Jimmy Champi the gold standard. If you look at all thecontent shop, if I creates it's truly about helping entrepreneur succeed, and then thatfinds its way through into content where they hold a build, abusiness competition which is more for PR purposes through to how to optimizeyour online store for so and which is a piece of content, they might have right-and it's very tactical and specifically helpful to an all my store owner.That's trying to figure out that specific problem, so I think, lookingat it from that type of a lense can go a long way, especially for B to bcompanies who aren't used to thinking about content from the perspective oftheir client and what they need help with today. In a recent Linkin Post, you talkedabout the alignment between the C Mo and the C F O, and this is somethingthat was very interesting to me, because I talked a lot this year aboutalignment between the C Mo and the C E O and why they need in many respects,to be partners, because if they don't see the world in the same way, theydon't have the same priorities. They don't have the same vision. Movingforward marking is not going to succeed, you're going to have two differentperspectives, two different sets of priorities. If you're not sinked, it'snot going to work so maybe a little perspective on your thoughts about c e,O c Mo, and then talk a little bit about that Co. Co Alignment, becausethat's something I hadn't hadn't thought about before. I think the keyto really understand there is that all executives are aligned around twothings. I would say primarily. The first thing is vision and strategy,which is we have this vision for this business and we had to figure out theright strategy in order to get there and you need to have alignment acrossnot just the executive team but the entire organization in order to be onthe same page, to build the right product, the right sales motion, theright marketing materials, the right customers, success experience all ofthat stuff needs to kind of go hand in hand. A good example, as I kea there'sa reason: the furniture there is super cheap, but at the same time they haveself assembly right. So these do things go hand in hand and somebody at ahigher level somewhere decided we're going to have a self served furniturestore where all the furnitures on hand- and you have to self transport it alsothat the price is lower and it's more accessible world wide right, and Ithink I kit consumes like one percent of the world's lumber as a result. Sothat's business strategy and the executive team ees to be aligned onthat. The second part is resorcin and resorcin comes from everything to fromfunding to profitability, to assets on hand to cash flow. All of these thingsare are interconnected and everything else flows from those two things. So,if you think about sales, sales is a subset of business strategy. How you goto market is a subset of where or were what the strategy iswhere you want to penetrate the market in the first place, and marketing is nodifferent than that right, because it's the same question really. We have thisideal set of customers. This is their profile of this. The vertical personaindustry use case whatever that our product or solution is a great fit for,and in the flip side of it, which I think for some reason, people seem tounderstand that sales and marketing obviously correspond to overallstrategy, but the part that they missed it misses that t. The other side ofthis is there are limitations in every... in terms of how much cash youhave on hand and what profitability targets you have and how much fundingyou have access to and how many people you can hire. These are financialdecisions and the more executives are connected to understanding thefinancial landscape of their specific organization, the more success they arelikely to have because you're more likely to understand what you'redealing with right. So if something is simple, as your personal finances, well,you wouldn't go, buy a five million dollar house. If you only have twentydollars in your bank account well. Similarly, if you only have a marketingbudget of eight hundred thousand dollars, you wouldn't try to run asuper bowl, commercial and and so that alignment with the CF and I'm obviouslyusing extreme examples here, but that alignment with the CF becomes critical.The aline with the CF is the path to finding alignment with the CEO, becausethe CEO is constantly having meetings with the C fo or or her investors toconstantly say hey. These were our targets. Here's how we're trending!Here's not much off where, where we are based on our projections, here's howprofitable we are. We might need more funding. We might need more investors.I think you know we might run out of money. HERE'S OUR BURN RIGHT! These arethe conversations constantly happening between the CEO C fo and the investor,and, if you're not plugged into that conversation, if you're just pluggedinto the strategy, you're almost like trying to balance on one leg, you don'tunderstand the other side of what what is happening inside the organization,so the more the the C mo or the marketing leaders working with the C foon the different financial statements, understanding. What's on the boundsheet understanding, what's in the income statement and from aprofitability, standpoint, understanding what's happening withcash flow and how that impacts, the funding realities of the company, themore likely that smat succeed and your c Mo should really be your best friend.If you're, a cment at's the person, that's telling you how much money youhave to work with and and the more you can communicate to them. Hey. You gaveme a hundred thousand dollars for this thing and I brought protus back ahundred and fifty K and here's a data to show you that the more that personbecomes your best ally in explaining that to the board, explaining it to theCEO, I'm convincing them to give you even more budget. The Path to marketingmaking more of an impact is whatever budget you have show how it's impactingrevenue use that to communicate it upwards to the CEO and the Board andbased on that lobby, for where you would deploy additional budget and whatthe potential Roi expectation from that can be, and then repeat the cycle allover again and there's no way to do that without being truly connected withthe C fo one other question in terms ofmarketing budgets: What, if you're an early stage company that doesn't havemuch of a budget? How do you determine where to spend limited resources? Howdo you figure out what your priorities are, and I guess how do you generateenough empirical evidence that you can go back to the CO and say? Okay, I wanta little more money, not not a lot but a little more money. What is thatoverall approach when you, when you're working with very limited resources? Ithink the answer is the same: Whether your marketing budget is five thousanddollars or five million dollars is whatever budget. You have that you haveto work with use that to run initiatives that are most likely tofind you revenue first, and so, if you have only five thousand budgets, fivethousand dollars in budget to work with your best bet to deploy that budget isin a place where sale cycles will be shortened. You can validate the spendas quickly as possible and you can generate a return as you go throughthat full cycle, and you can show case the value to your board or your cf oryour CEO. Then you can ask for seven thousand, then nine thousand, thentwelve thousand and fifty thousand you slowly skill that up and that ithappens a lot faster than you would think, because most boards actuallythere's not a board on this planet that will say no to a channel or an area ofan of investment. That's that's generating a return. The more youcommunicate that the faster those loops...

...can go and the market organizationkeeps getting more funding. As a result, the same thing happens with sales. Theonly thing is because you started sales organizations. You end up getting morebudget faster, but until one sales, REP deliverers, you don't have enough moneyto hire a second sales rap or a third one or a fifth one and so marketing ees,to think of it to the exact same way. Five sand dollars a month is a prettygood budget to validate something with marketing and that's enough to get youten and then twenty. It's just doing the same process over and over and overagain until that budget is making enough of an impact on the organizationto have a much bigger seat. At the table, well, she if this has been amazinginsight. The question I would want to ask you and I think now the answer is:If people want to know about more about you other than going to link in whereelse should they go just check us out on our website, wwhile, usually workwith companies that are doing north of five million to upwards of a hundredmillion. We work with several companies in the SASS or B to b space, and wehelp them figure out their strategy for marketing and how much is t a rightbudget for specific business. In one final question, you have developedquite a reputation for these little creative cartoons on Linkin. What'syour secret? How do you do that? Is that something you do yourself or ifyou have like some minions in the background that created for you now I do that myself. Thank you forsaying that. I think I think, if somebody who said that this that justyou know, if you have it, takes a lot more effort to create something, that'ssimple than something that's long, winded and, and so that's. What I tryto do with those drawings is: Take really complicated marketing orstrategy or growth concepts and boil them down to the one single diagramthat is easy to consume, easy to understand and hopefully can change theconversation. So I appreciate you saying that if you're on linked in andyou haven't, checked out shivs drawings, you should really do that. He reallydoesn't. It does say quite accurately, it does take the complex and make itamazing. Only simple thanks for this show and thanks everyone for listeningto another episode of marketing spark. If you enjoyed the conversation, leavea review and subscribe by, I tunes or your favorite podcast AP. If you likewhat your herd, please rate it for show notes of today's conversation.Information about ship visit marketing spark do cos. Last blog. If you havequestions feedback, ud like to suggest a guest or want to learn more about howa health companies as a fractam insultat advisor and an email to markmarketing, PARCO TATINE.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (75)