CMO Insights: Brad Gillespie, Chief Marketing Officer, Octiv

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Written by Pamela Muldoon

June 27, 2017

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Brad Gillespie, Chief Marketing Officer for Octiv.

In this video, Brad discusses

  • Marketing’s role with other departments to drive business; not just with the sales department, but product and finance
  • How he is developing a marketing team with diverse skillsets, not just strictly a background in marketing
  • His approach to ABM and connecting more strategically to persona and buyer’s journey stages.

Learn more about Brad from his LinkedIn profile and follow both Brad and Octiv on Twitter.

For more great CMO interviews like this one, please check out our CMO Insights Playlist on our YouTube channel.

Full Transcript

Jeff Pedowitz:

Hi, welcome to Revenue Marketing Television. I;m your host, Jeff Pedowitz, President and CEO of The Pedowitz Group. Today on our CMO Insights series, we have Brad Gillespie, who is Chief Marketing Officer of Octiv. Brad, welcome to the show.

Brad Gillespie:

Happy to be here, Jeff.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Awesome. So tell us a little bit about what Octiv does.

Brad Gillespie:

There’s a lot that is in the sales enablement space at the highest level. The side of that space that we’re really attacking are the time consuming, inefficient processes that we’re asking sellers to engage in for sales documents. So presentations, proposals, scope of work contracts and that really extends from the acquisition life cycle on, into the customer journey for things like cross sell upsell renewal cycles. So all of those time consuming processes that require documents we’re trying to bring some efficiency to those processes and give time back to sales, to do more important things than work on documents.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Okay. So you’ve had a couple of different CMO roles over your career. What’s changed the most for you over the last few years? What are some of the challenges you’re facing in 2017, and say you didn’t have a couple of years back?

Brad Gillespie:

Yeah, so it’s actually fun to go back to maybe, I don’t know, 2008, 2009, the first time I bought and implemented map and to think about how much has changed the starting point today for data and technology is just so much further along than it ever has been. And so what that stands to be able to do is accelerate a lot of initiatives that marketing has. So I can think about the cycles that I went through to just get to the starting line with a decent set of data and a decent process and the right tools. And whereas back in 2008, that might’ve taken a year literally to take it to a real starting line today that can be achieved in a handful of months and the quality is better.

And the expectations that marketing can then set for your organization should be kind of in line with that getting to a better starting line, faster, having, having impact in a shorter timeframe. Do you think that marketing is being run more like a business today than it was years ago without it out? That said there’s plenty of room for for growth. I think alignment has come, you know, leaps and bounds. The expectation today is that sales and marketing will have a good productive relationship. The expectation is that product marketing will have a good relationship and that finances involved and as been discussed ad nauseum everywhere, marketing truly has a seat at the table today. And so the expectations are there and it’s time you know, the, there’s no reason why the expectation shouldn’t be in a marketing to be a revenue contributor earlier in the book.

Jeff Pedowitz:

What’s the size of your team now?

Brad Gillespie:

So I have a team of six. Small team but you know, right where we probably should be at this stage. I have the traditional setup of coms demand gen. We own the BDR function within marketing here at Okta. So I have someone that runs that team. I’ve got a field marketing manager and I’ve got a, a product marketer. So again, based set of capabilities to grow from, but we’ve obviously got to continue to grow that team.

Jeff Pedowitz:

What do you look for when you hire, I mean, what are some of the important attributes and what kind of culture are you trying to build there?

Brad Gillespie:

It’s interesting. So Octiv is in Indianapolis, Indiana based organization. And for the most part where you are located is kinda determined what options you have 15 years in Atlanta, for example I had seemed like much more depth and availability of candidates, whereas in a smaller market or competitive market like Indianapolis, and especially in a, in a young company where I want that team to be here on the ground at headquarters, I have to be much more flexible in terms of what we’re looking for. And so, for example, I have two pure marketers on our team right now. I have the rest that have come from different backgrounds that we are, we are making into marketers.

And so it’s been an interesting experience because I’m having some good success and luck converting other backgrounds to become marketers. And as part of that, part of that storyline of what the available today to do those kinds of things perhaps couldn’t have done that in years past, but today I can train and equip and give a set of tools to someone who may not have a marketing background and, and they can do a pretty good job for what we’re asking them to do. So flexibility, hard-working, positivity as our mentality, I think outweighs some of the, the marketing experience that we would typically look for today.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Okay. And then what are some of the processes that you’re working on to scale?

Brad Gillespie:

Yeah, great question. I’ll say all of them. We’re, we’re really focusing on scaling our demand gen processes. We’ve been working on the brand and working on awareness and we’ll always be doing that in parallel with everything else, but really got to ramp our demand gen engine. We’re going up market here at Octa. And so that means kind of forays into the enterprise that means selling to the it buyer. And so those are new audiences for us. And so accumulating data and building personas reaching aside of the audience and market that we have not reached before. All of that’s new for us here. So there’s a lot of work to do and a lot that we need to be scaling into. Accordingly,

Jeff Pedowitz:

Let’s talk a little bit about technology. So everyone has a different staff, I guess, these days, what’s your assault client and how are you using technology to get, get faster at it?

Brad Gillespie:

So I’ll say that again, like everything here, a work in progress, but our core is Marquetto for marketing automation. We’re building a lot around that, where we’re going, we’re going deep and broad and account based marketing. And so that’s, that’s a requires a little bit more work on both the marketing automation side, as well as the CRM side, we’re a Salesforce shop. And then we’re, we’re doing a lot of experiments right now with intent based with predictive with all of the listening side of digital. And so there’s a few, a few tools that we’re trialing right now to really see what’s going to be the best fit for us. But that’s kind of our core.

And we’ll be adding some in the coming months around attribution primarily is where we kind of next on my hit list and make sure that we’re, we’re, we have the right tool there, as well as some lead to account matching. As we get into the full on account based marketing, that’s gonna be a a limiting factor for us, unless we can do that at scale. So we’ll be adding some data tools in that direction as well.

Jeff Pedowitz:

You think are some of the, I mean, because everyone’s talking about ABM, right. But what do you think are some of the prerequisites that the company needs before they can really successfully start using MapR

Brad Gillespie:

Gotcha. You and I go back a ways where we know ABM by some other definitions and the other uses is like same. So I think what’s been missing in the discussion as you just kind of look at the, the tremendous buzz around ABM is you know, what, what made a strategic account or named account selling a thing to do back in the day historically was really the opportunity to go very deep in your understanding and knowledge of the account. And for that reason there were fewer accounts that you work that way and not surprisingly those accounts were typically larger. They were typically enterprise. They typically had the most perhaps lifetime value of any of the, that an organization could sell into. So I think what’s been missing so far is a similar level of approach and strategy in depth and understanding of what a account-based should be able to do. 

Clearly we can target better. We can reach more of the right profile of the account. We can add into that, the contact side, I think what’s been missing. And as a prerequisite I can think of well is to really have a good sense of what is the strategy you’re going to take on an account by account basis, persona by persona, getting customization and personalization of message all the way down to the right level, and then having the commitment to work that range of personas and contacts kind of in concert to move the entire account along.

And I think that a lot, a lot of marketers kind of jump into the idea of ABM because of the, the near term benefits. It lets us target better accounts more quickly at scale, but can we fall down in the conversion of accounts because we’re perhaps not thinking quite deeply enough about how to really move the entire account forward across, across lines across personas.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Now, I know you have a, more of a younger company at Octiv, but how are you and marketing approach the customer life cycle is most of your efforts right now focused on top of the funnel because you need a lot new customers, or do you have a portion of your time and resources allocated to, you know, full life cycle across the upsale loyalty advocacy renewals, et cetera.

Brad Gillespie:

Yeah, that’s a great question. So our base that really got us here as a mid market to SMB base, and that is the economic engine. That’s going to allow us to have longer sales cycles and to the enterprise, we don’t have enough history in the enterprise right now to really predict what those cycles are going to look like. So we can’t completely walk away from the customer base that got us here. So we’re absolutely doing everything we can to protect and grow that base. And that’s allowing us some, a little bit of flexibility to market and sell into the enterprise side where we’re having three, four times the, the overall acquisition cycles to acquire a new account. So our time is being split right now. Pretty evenly between helping our enterprise sellers reach and create demand with the enterprise.

We’re also doing some, some nice mid funnel you know, moving opportunities through the process, because again, we just don’t have enough history right now to suggest there is a proven way to do it. So it’s an all hands on deck approach to move the enterprise accounts through the process, but we’re also spending time staying in front of creating engagement making sure that the base of accounts, our economic engine as well, protected and, and wherever we can growing. So I think we’re pretty well distributed, probably more so than I’ve ever been as a marketer.

Jeff Pedowitz:

That’s fantastic. So what about outcomes? You know, what are you being held accountable for from your boss and your six people? What are you holding them responsible for?

Brad Gillespie:

Yeah, so going into our first year and this is one of those to that earlier discussion earlier accountability to bigger things. So we, in our first year, we have a sourced pipeline, objective of 50% of the, kind of the net new logo pipeline across the business and that split between the enterprise and our mid market. So that’s our number one objective. Should it be higher than that lower than that? We’re really not sure here, because again, especially since we’re now focusing on the enterprise, we’re not exactly sure what that’s gonna look like, but I felt competent enough that 50% is a good place to start. And then we’re going to be influencing a greater percentage 80% class influence of both the enterprise and the mid market. And then we have a couple of additional goals for, we have a strategic accounts group, which there’s only about 10 accounts the, and we’re going to influence and be supportive of that team.

And what they’re trying to do, we have a goal to influence about 25% of the, of the pipeline for those 10 strategic accounts. And then last but not least is our influence on cross sell up, sell. So we have a number that we’re trying to reach there. Our goal for this year is not the source pipeline for that group. It’s really an, a equal that team influenced the pipeline or the cross sell upsell in a customer base. So those are the four key numbers that we’re driving towards, but the most important one is that 50% new business acquisition pipeline.

Jeff Pedowitz:

That’s fantastic. So you’ve been through the rodeo a couple of times. So what would you say to a CMO that’s just beginning his or her transformation? What advice would you give them?

Brad Gillespie:

Yeah, I’m great. This is my fifth time. I think doing this from, you know, start starting from scratch. It’s it starts with the environment you’re walking into what is the CEO’s expectations of marketing and how do you need to perhaps shape or influence what the CEO is, what their perceptions are, what their expectations are, so that you’re in line with the CEO. You have to be in line with with the CEO before you can really drive alignment with sales. And that’s that second is really having tight alignment with your peer and sales and could be seen as a partner in that effort and really have a numbers based approach to your contributions, nothing soft, nothing philosophical down in the, in the weeds of how, you know, business gets converted and pipeline gets created, and your contributions there and alignment with your product period as well.

The earlier stage you know, what I’m seeing here is the product marketing function here at Okta. And the role that we’re playing in sales enablement is perhaps the most high impact thing that we’re doing right now and translating voice of customer and persona based insights into content that is usable not only by marketing, but by sales. And those are some of the key areas and then is as quickly as you can, without skipping steps, getting to a discussion where data drives the discussion. And so I usually describe this as there’s levels of alignment that have to occur. And there has to be that philosophical alignment between the CMO and the head of sales and the CEO and the head of product and marketing is going to play the role that you intend for it to play as a marketing leader.

Then there’s gotta be process alignment, which a lot of times it’s gonna require some behavior change on some number of individuals are mostly sales. So there has to be enough philosophical alignment to drive the process alignment marketing process has to be built. It has to be aligned with sales, sales behaviors may have to change when all of that happens. We can have systems alignment and get the systems connected so that the data can start flowing. And I think there’s those three levels that anybody, wherever you are, you can think in those three, three levels, but all three have to happen for the data to be meaningful data and to be good data. And once you get the data flowing, it’s been an interesting, we’ve just had good data flowing here for about 60 days.

The conversations change, you can start to focus on really important things and start to see things that you haven’t seen before. And getting to that point where you’re starting to run the organization based on that data is, is getting there as quickly as possible as important, but you can’t skip steps. And in my experience, you, you do have to think in those three layers of alignment for the data to work and to be meaningful,

Jeff Pedowitz:

Great advice as always, Brad. Thank you. Very, very comprehensive. So thanks again for being on the show today, and as always your insights are very valuable. Good luck over at Octiv, and thanks again.

Brad Gillespie:

Thanks Jeff, my pleasure.

Jeff Pedowitz:

You bet.

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