Isaac Wyatt – Exploring the Outer Perimeter of Sales & Marketing

Isaac talks about the challenge of managing more than 30 tools in their stack, making the sales organization as efficient as it can possibly be, and aligning the stack with the buyer’s journey.

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John Wall: Hello, and welcome to Stack and Flow. I’m John Wall.

Sean Zinsmeister: And I’m Sean Zinsmeister.

John: Here today we have a special guest with us, Isaac Wyatt, the Director of Marketing Strategy and Operations at New Relic is here. Isaac, thanks for joining us.

Isaac Wyatt: Hey, thanks for having me, guys.

John: Again, back to the news here, just things that have happened since we talked last. I’ve got a link in the show notes to an article about Pardot actually end of life-ing a bunch of connectors. Sean, you were surprised to see this news come out. What’s going on with this?

Sean: Yeah, it’s really interesting and I think everybody now in the sales and marketing community is also trying to forecast towards what’s going to be the big theme over at DreamForce that’s coming on really hot in October. It’s interesting to see that they’re raising the walls of the garden where they don’t want all these other CRM systems to play with the marketing automation.

What does this mean in terms of innovation for the marketing cloud at Salesforce? Are they going to make Pardot really strongly and closely connected to CRM? Is this just another defensive move against Microsoft coming on the scene? We talked a little bit about that in the last show where we definitely see Microsoft as getting more and more into the race with the big acquisition of LinkedIn and some of the things happening there. It’ll be interesting to see really where they’re carrying that. An interesting move to move from being more open to shutting things down.

John: Yeah, and I was surprised that there’s different ways to do that. One is to just stop development and stop extending in integration, but it’s another thing to go out and say, "Okay, we’re actually going to pull the plug on these as of specific date," and drop it. Isaac, have you worked with Pardot at all? Have you ever been caught in a shutdown like this?

Isaac: I have not been caught in a shutdown, but that’s exactly why so many marketing technology clouds operate well in being as a component of an overall ecosystem rather than a holistic and monolithic stack. I think that having the optionality to take something that is currently part of your technology stack and swapping it out for something that’s better is actually a net competitive benefit to most organizations. I’d hate to be on the other side of that swap though, that’s definitely going to be a painful experience for some people.

John: Yeah, definitely. How about Sean, have you ever been cut off or cut dry?

Sean: Man, I think with smaller tool sets, definitely when I was using a lot of the social media tools, there was stuff, for example, Twitter when they closed the door that really shut some of the data flow to some of these tools that I was using, that’s far less painful than say, "Hey, your marketing automation system’s going away." That’s far more intertwined, but no, you’re talking about at least that they’re giving some heads up on this because and I’m sure Isaac can attest, is that this is months and months of work potentially depending on the complexity of the systems that you’re dealing with that a vendor is essentially saying, "Hey, this is coming and you better get your people in gear."

Isaac: Yeah, absolutely. I think that as practitioners of managing technology stacks, we need to be proactive in thinking about what the life cycle of each component of our technology stack looks like and monitoring what could potentially happen in the future. There are certainly some risk assessment involved not only from how the vendor chooses to manage things like integrations, but just the overall health of companies. When I select vendors for New Relic’s technology stack, I like to think of it more as building a partnership than just a vendor-client relationship. When you take that approach, you develop a deeper relationship where you can be much more proactive in assessing these types of potential risks so that you can be on the leading end of it rather than reacting to it.

Sean: That’s interesting. Isaac, to play off that, do you almost take a portfolio approach when you think about choosing technologies? By that I mean you’re always thinking about diversifying risk because so many of the tools that we’re using today are so new, it’s like if you paint your stack with one particular logo, are you thinking about that risk management and how do you structure that thinking?

Isaac: Yeah, that’s certainly one of the factors. I really think about managing a portfolio of technologies with a set of factors and certainly, managing risk is one of them. We operate with probably 30 or more technologies here at New Relic and there’s a certain core set of technologies that we’re not going to swap very frequently. Their life cycle is going to be measured in terms of many, many years, but there’s other technologies that are at this cusp or this boundary or perimeter of what’s core to our business versus what’s a little bit more experimental. As you get towards that outer perimeter, those types of technologies are more experimental in their life cycle as part of our technology stack, maybe a little bit shorter. We hope that every technology we bring in will become part of a core technology, but just because there’s so many new things coming up all the time and some technologies do get sunset, it’s hard to say how long all technologies will be with us, but keeping your marketing technology and sales technology competitive definitely requires a growing and pruning process.

John: Isaac, let’s take a step back here, too. Tell us about what you’re doing at New Relic? Who are your customers and what problems are you solving?

Isaac: Yeah, New Relic is the first best place for software engineers and business developers to really understand what’s happening in their digital business. We serve real-time software insight into how an application is performing so that business leaders understand how their users are engaging with their product.

Sean: Now I love. What’s interesting about your title is Director of Marketing Strategy and Operations. I wanted to hone in on that strategy portion, and how does that differentiate than what you might find in some of your maybe more traditional marketing operations roles? I’d love to unpack that.

Isaac: Yeah. Thanks for asking. First of all, I think that many organizations still operate by hiring a marketing operations person. Usually, this starts out as a demand generation function or digital demand generation function, and that has been the operating procedure for probably four, five years now within the marketplace, at least within Silicon Valley.

More and more as B2B sales becomes even more complex in the channels, in the cadence, in the flow of driving leads to a sales organization, it becomes so much more important to assure alignment with sales from a marketing standpoint and also, for marketing to be aligned with product. Because operations is something that spans across the entire organization and often times, you find expertise within the operations function around analytics and data, they are in a best place to be a strategic adviser to not only the CMO, and in some cases other parts of the organization, how to take a dollar invested in the business and turn it into multiple dollars in revenue.

Nowhere else within a marketing organization do you find someone who’s as close to the data and who understands the potential trade-offs of alternative investments than in marketing operations. It’s become a much more strategic role within New Relic and within the marketplace overall. For that reason, I wanted to be much more closely aligned with our sales organization and also, signal that marketing operations contributions to New Relic overall are strategic in nature and so, we changed the moniker or the title to Director of Marketing Strategy and Operations.

John: Speaking of strategic use of data, that plays right nicely into the SiriusDecisions case study that you guys recently put out and how you’re using predictive analytics. Tell us more about that, how did that all come together?

Isaac: Yeah. Oftentimes with marketing, we’re charged with figuring out and really being the leader of how to find more qualified leads that’s generally in B2B sales how we get asked and a charge that we’re given. One of the ways to drive more qualified leads, not just quantity, but also quality is using very sophisticated tools to sift through all the potential names and prospects that you could potentially get and looking for the signals that really help a sales organization pick apart how to best spend their time. Sales given no other leads can still go out and outbound, but that may not be the most effective use of their time. Driving efficiency and effectiveness is really key when you’re hiring a sales organization. Using tool like predictive analytics really helps you make that sales organization as efficient as it can possibly be.

When I came on board to New Relic, we were just starting to talk about predictive. We were looking for ways to really accelerate the growth curve of New Relic even beyond what it was and this is in 2014, we were still pre-IPO at the time. By really getting into predictive, we were able to accelerate our sales velocity, create a much more efficient and effective sales organization by focusing on the right leads that are going to convert and we were actually able to increase our visibility and understanding about what will convert and change our behavior around that in terms of marketing motions as well so that we could spend more effort on reaching out to the types of people that are interested in New Relic and less time bombarding people with messaging that wouldn’t have a use for New Relic at this point.

Sean: Isaac, just to zoom out a little bit and look at your stack and also not just the way that predictive analytics weaves through your stack and what that signal flow looks like, how do you also strategically think about … A lot of marketing technologists today look at their stack and they say, "Okay, I have my system of record with CRM and marketing automation and now, I think predictive is finding a way into that sweet spot." Is there a way that you zoom out and divide that pie that is your stack and where the different sections are and then, how do you think about how things flow together?

Isaac: Yeah, that’s a really great question. I think about parts of the technology stack in terms of three things, the buyer’s journey first of all. Secondly, what is the process that someone needs to enhance? Then, who are the people that need to be interacted with, whether that’s an internal person at the company or a prospect or a client or some other external person? Laying out the buyer’s journey and figuring out what technology you need in order to effectively communicate and give your prospect what they need at that stage of the buyer’s journey is the first most obvious cut and that’s going to be technologies that allow you to reach out to them on display ads or via email or within your software product.

The next layer down is some of what I think of enhancement or productivity tools. These can be tools like data enrichment or they could be literal productivity tools like a task manager. Then I think about the more infrastructure and platform tools that’s more the connective tissue between all these different things. To provide a very specific example, I’m thinking of tools like Zapier and other work flow management tools that connect the various technologies with each other so that they’re sharing data with each other.

When you take a customer first view with your technology by focusing on the buyer’s journey, it tells you what you should be doing and it helps eliminate some of the types of technologies you don’t need to focus on right now. By focusing on productivity or your internal organization, whether that’s tools like a CRM or that’s some sort of data enrichment or just a task manager, those tools really help facilitate transition in each stage of the buyer’s journey and how all members of the company and organization interact with the customers in a productive way.

Then, the platform tools or the connective tissue type tools, they help you maximize the value you get in investment of each of the different technologies that you may roll out. I frequently say that all software technology tools either generate data or consume data. Most of them do both, but if that data’s siloed, then you’re not maximizing the value that you could be getting out of capturing the data within that tool. Getting all that data shared into the appropriate systems really allows you to maximize the value that you get out of your investment.

Sean: Isaac, you had talked earlier a little bit about this idea of pruning, which I think is an exercise that a lot of sales and marketing technologists are going through. How do you measure performance with some of these systems? I know some of them are definitely going to be relative. There’ll be performance metrics that you’re probably specifically looking at, but how do you locate the underperformers? Is it just based upon what are people on your team actually using and adopting? How do you structure your thinking around that?

Isaac: Yeah, it’s not based on the number of complaints I get about a technology on a weekly basis. There’s certainly some types of technologies that people are more comfortable with than others, but if they’re serving the business well, just a complaint isn’t necessarily the right way to evaluate it. We take a much more structured and ordered approach. I’m an operations guy so I like having a methodology for these types of things.

We leverage a little bit of the thinking from SiriusDecisions, specifically a gentleman named Jay Famico, and we put together a process where on a semi annual basis, we survey the constituents of all the various marketing technologies and we ask them one, if they’re getting value out of a particular tool or even whether or not they use the particular tool. Then, we ask how often they use that tool.

What we find by measuring on these two questions or these two dimensions is we can put together a map of high performing technologies. You could think a magic quadrant type of thing where technologies that score highly both in terms of engagement and in terms of value, they get scored in the upper right based on an average across all surveyed answers. In the other quadrants indicates either low amount of value and so, we have to work with a vendor to figure out how to increase value or we see a low amount of engagement and we have to work with the marketing team to figure out if they need training, if they need access to more features, what have you. If a technology scores low in both value and frequency of use, that’s usually a candidate for reconciliation or consolidation or to use the word I used earlier, pruning.

We hope not to have too many technologies in that quadrant. We try to make informed decisions about technologies that we introduced to our portfolio, but sometimes things that we test out, it’s just the wrong time for us to bring it on board. Occasionally, we do have a little bit of consolidation there. It’s a great practice to look at on a semi-annual basis because the business changes. It grows. It enters new markets.

Some technologies that other parts of the organization adopt may make one of your own technologies in your part of the organization somewhat obsolete. That actually alludes to another point I should mention is that having a shared technology road map across your entire organization will help you identify areas of overlap and potential consolidation and cost savings as well. Putting together a forward looking road map will help you align resources to a successful deployment of potential technologies that you would want to bring into your organization.

John: That’s great. How about the rest of the stack? Tell us about the other tools that you’ve got in the mix and where’s everything coming together?

Isaac: Yeah. Specifically, when I think about some of the key components of our marketing technology stack, obviously, we need some sort of communication tool that’s traditionally been your marketing automation tools. Those primarily provide for email communications. You also need a type of content management tool that allows you to get content posted quickly and easily without involving very, very expensive web developers.

I think that having an analytics technology stack as a subset of an organization’s tech stack is super critical to understanding the data that you’re collecting and helping inform the business on how to make quality investment decisions.

I also think that a key technology is having a connective tissue technology and so those were the tools like Zapier or other types of data extraction, transformation loading type tools. There’s no shortage of other types of niche vertical type of technologies and tools. Website chat tools, I’m a fan of Olark. We use Olark here at New Relic. Website chat is a great lead generation type of tool with very high conversation rates.

There’s also other industry specific and vertical specific type tools. I think of tools like Evite. You just need a registration mechanism to get people towards events. There’s a very, very broad category on the types of tools that’s out there, but your primary technology types, those are going to roughly be approximately the same business between different types of businesses.

Sean: Isaac, as we see sales creeping up the funnel with some of the trends and more sales adopting these technologies, and one of the things I always think about is this rise of sales development automation where now sales reps almost have many marketing automation systems at their disposal, how much overlap do you see and how much alignment do you have with the sales team when it comes to the technologies that you’re choosing? How do you fuse that partnership? What are some maybe best practices that you might be able to offer people to start thinking about bridging the gap?

Isaac: Yeah. That is an excellent question. I think sales tech is becoming very, very prominent and the realization that productivity and efficiency in sales is the name of the game and scale is extremely important. My recommendations for folks that are potentially seeing that type of ownership within maybe SDRs or even inside sales organizations is to collaborate across the organization not just with marketing, but also with product as well. With more tools that allow more people to touch more customers at various points of the funnel necessitates having a transparent and open dialogue about who owns what part of the buyer’s journey and how to orchestrate a quality user experience that’s focused on the customer needs rather than an SDR making some outreach number or marketer delivering a certain number of leads, but having a unified view of what touch points each organization or each function puts on the customer at what point in the buyer’s journey.

We had an example recently within New Relic where I found out about a sales tech that allowed to send emails exactly as you described. I was very curious about how it managed email opt out preferences and unsubscribes. It was a very good conversation to have because I was able to get educated on that and understand what it was doing and make sure that it was honoring our unsubscribes and also, sinking back any new unsubscribes to our other platforms so that we could ensure quality customer experience. Collaboration and orchestration and having a unified view of the customer is key.

Sean: In terms of trends that you’re seeing out there in the industry today, Isaac, are you seeing the sales buyer becoming more and more important as those conversations internally and those alignment meetings that need to happen? Just looking at the industry broadly, is that the trend that you’re seeing and do you expect that to continue?

Isaac: Yeah. Actually I’m extremely excited about sales tech becoming a bigger thing. I think that on a much longer term time span, I think that sales tech and martech could potentially converge, but then I think that also product tech like if I think about product, marketing, and sales working together for a unified customer experience, I already see some technologies on the horizon that are thinking about a holistic customer journey that are trying to let various parts of one organization work together to create that unified customer experience. I’m very excited about sales tech. I’m very excited about some of these business operations tech that will allow for a better customer experience.

One example I’m not a customer of, but I’m very excited about is one called Usermind based in Seattle that really allows a business leader to orchestrate all parts of their customer journey with this one tool so that it’s very clear what touch points will be placed at what point in the buyer’s journey by whom. I think it’ll create a much more effective go to market motion where marketing and sales and product are aligned in not only the communication, but what message they’re communicating as well. I’m very excited about the growth of sales tech and all parts of the tech that are gonna create a better customer experience than what we have with these siloed technologies today.

John: How about on the horizon for other tools and technologies? Are there other areas in the stack that you’re looking to optimize? Is there something that you wish for as far as a new tool, something that could solve a problem we’ve got today?

Isaac: Yeah. One of the more specific tools that I’m a huge fan of and getting an opportunity to speak on this show, I’m a huge fan of Infer. What they’re doing with predictive analytics and the way that they’re going to market and expanding their tool set and really providing us deep visibility in how to find the best customers for New Relic and how to let us prioritize not only which prospects we should be reaching out to first, but which prospects for which product in which geo in what type of communication potentially that we would want to bring out there. I can’t speak to Sean’s product line, but in my conversations with Infer, I think they’re doing some very exciting things that I’m very much looking forward to using here at New Relic.

John: All right. That sounds good. How about if someone wants to learn more about you or New Relic, what’s the best way to get in touch?

Isaac: Great. I would love to follow up with anyone who has questions about how to use predictive, about marketing technology, and analytics. Tweet at me. I’m @isaacwyatt on Twitter and follow me on LinkedIn where I get to share a lot of different blog posts and podcasts like this one.

John: All right. Sean, of course, set you up as perfectly as you possibly could, where should people go for more on Infer?

Sean: Sure. You could just head over to www.infer.com or obviously, feel free to Google Sean Zinsmeister or on Twitter @szinsmeister and I’m open to chatting about anything predictive or marketing technology and all that good stuff.

John: All right. I’m John Wall. You can find out more about me over at marketingovercoffee.com where we talk about marketing and tech. That’ll do it for this week and thanks for spending time with us in the Stacks.

John Wall

John Wall

John J. Wall speaks, writes and practices at the intersection of marketing, sales, and technology. He is the producer of Marketing Over Coffee, a weekly audio program that discusses marketing and technology with his co-host Christopher S. Penn, and has been featured on iTunes.

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