CMO Insights: Jennifer Haney-Crowe, VP of Marketing, Forecast5 Analytics

May 30, 2017

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Jennifer Haney-Crowe, Vice President of Marketing for Forecast5 Analytics.

In this video, Jennifer discusses

  • The importance for marketing of embracing innovation and new ideas, and how that influences how sales and marketing interact
  • How choosing marketing technology is not only based on what the company needs to move forward, but how well her small team can implement and use it
  • Although she leads a small team for her young company, she does have to balance the generalist and specialist needs to ensure all tasks are covered

Learn more about Jennifer from her LinkedIn profile and follow Forecast5 Analytics 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:

Good afternoon and welcome to Revenue Marketing Television, the CMO Insights Series. I’m your host, Jeff Pedowitz, President and CEO of The Pedowitz Group. Today, we have Jennifer Haney-Crowe, who is Vice President of Forecast5 Analytics out of Naperville. Jennifer, welcome to the show.

Jennifer Haney-Crowe:

Thank you for having me.

Jeff Pedowitz:

You bet. So tell us a little bit about Forecast5. What do you guys do?

Jennifer Haney-Crowe:

Yeah, sure. So we are about 85 year old company, so still growing very young with about 80 plus employees. We market a data analytics and budgeting and forecasting software to the public sector. So we work with about a thousand plus clients across primarily the K through 12 market, but also have a number of the municipal type clients of cities or counties or township type clients that we’re supporting as well as some community college clients. And we’re looking to be growing into those markets here in the next couple of years. We’re owned by PMA financial network, which is our primary parent company who basically had a product similar to our forecasting product. And it just kinda took off into what we offer today as software, as a service. And we’ve introduced a number of other products in our lineup for our clients. So we’re really helping to shape a lot of new insights and decisions and more strategic thinking within the public sector space.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Very exciting. So I think you’re, you’re relatively new to the role, right. So how would you describe your three major challenges? What’s what are you dealing with predominantly?

Jennifer Haney-Crowe:

Yeah, so I’ve been in my role for about 90 plus days now. So since they added October of 2016 I’m just really the first marketing leader in the organization. They didn’t really have any formal marketing teams, so I’ve been able to really come in. And the first challenge was really kind of shaping the team and creating an organizational structure with the existing team members that were here, as well as thinking about any types of other team functions that needed to be moved in. So that was probably the first challenge, right? Besides just learning the business and the product from a general standpoint of what am I going to be marketing? The second challenge was that I started the first day as a VP of sales as well. So a relatively new function there as well. We had an SVP of sales who was overseeing a lot of different broad functions across the business from sales operations, to our accounting, to our client relationship managers.

And they decided to hire my counterpart, my VP of sales as a person to come in with me and kind of set now this new demand generation or revenue marketing and sales type of structure and organization and process and strategy. So that was another challenge, right? As new leadership on that part as well with sales, he has started a relatively new young team in of an, in what we call our inbound prospecting, our Hunter team that works with our outside team. So a lot of new faces, a lot of changes happening very rapidly and quickly over the last 90 days, a lot of new faces just learning the product, learning the internal processes. So that was probably, you know, another challenge at the same time, right, is keeping the business going while still learning and putting in new structures and processes and technologies.

And then I think the third challenge in the last 90 days has been that this is all very, relatively new in terms of implementing a revenue marketing and sales organization. In terms of those six components of strategy and process and people and technology. I’m very, very new to this company as a whole, not really part of their culture. A very, they were very much more a traditional conference and advertising type of culture. So to move to this different strategic approach of looking at content marketing and nurturing and engaging across the customer life cycle and using different technologies to do that, it was, has been relatively new. And so there’s a lot of education. That’s had to be done across the business to help folks understand the value and the potential impact that this could have to help us meet our demands.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So it’s very exciting. Now do you find, because you guys are all new and going through this together, is that easier to get alignment about some of the things that you’re trying to do?

Jennifer Haney-Crowe:

Yeah, it’s actually quite refreshing compared to my previous life where we were part of a much larger organization and that company that, that had been around for very much longer, right? So they were their processes and understandings and things were much more institutionalized if you will. So coming into this environment, it’s been a lot, there’s been a lot more I’m an embracement for innovation and change and flexibility, and having that autonomy as a marketing leader and a sales leader to come in and, and start doing these things because they understand that that that’s why they hired us. That’s what they liked about our previous backgrounds and working in revenue marketing was being able to come in and, and bring that in. So that’s just, it’s been very refreshing to have that kind of flexibility and freedom to kind of do these things without too much resistance along the way. So,

Jeff Pedowitz:

So given that you did come from a big enterprise before, and now you’re the small one, I’m just curious, your approaches to technology and the staff components you pick the scale, are you finding you’re making different choices based upon just your business, the size industry and upsells. So what are they, I mean, and, and you compare the difference, I guess, between the two.

Jennifer Haney-Crowe:

Yeah, absolutely. And it’s kind of, that’s a great question and a very interesting question. So coming on board there were some existing technologies or softwares that the company was using in terms of their customer relationship management software and their email marketing software. And very quickly, I was able to find that what they were using was not robust enough or easy enough for the people that we have on staff or any future team members to come in and use. And so obviously I started to look at all the major players in the marketing automation world in terms of moving to that type of technology, as well as I was looking at different content management systems to move our website onto, we were working off of of, of you know, three words of Joomla as for our content management system, which was very not user friendly, very clunky, just very scary.

I didn’t even want to get in there compared to the content management system I was on before. So I came in and I actually have, I’m not using any of the existing technologies I was using in a previous life, but I’m using technologies that are really more fit for the size of business that we’re in right now. And actually have been very pleasantly surprised with, with the technologies that we’re using in terms of their usefulness the user friendliness for the newer people here in the organization that are very new to these types of technologies. And so decisions have been made quite differently based on the types of people we currently have today and the size of the business in our model.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Let’s talk a little bit about results and outcomes. Obviously it’s still early, but what is your boss measuring you on, and what are you measuring your team on?

Jennifer Haney-Crowe:

Yeah, so it’s a really great question as well. So from my bosses perspective, you know, my counterparts in sales, they’re really looking at the amount of activity coming into the pipeline and how many demonstrations of the product they’re being able to secure it in any given day. And so I’m closely trying to align the amount of activity in terms of what I’m doing and bringing in marketing qualified leads, tied to how many webinars and demos and things that they’re scheduling. I’m very fortunate right now. They don’t necessarily have any specific numbers that I’m being held to. But I’m kind of setting that standard for myself and bringing out those kinds of metrics, you know, building those KPIs and metrics in place for myself, as well as the team.

So that within a year or two, we can be at that more of a specific performance or KPI type of level with, with what we’re trying to accomplish. I didn’t have a lot of benchmarks to start from either which would have been ideal. So a lot of it’s kind of evolving and building and processes. We do different campaigns and things to kind of see where we need to you know, gauge where we need to kind of start and how, how much we need to improve upon that. If that makes sense.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Yeah, no, absolutely. It does. So you mentioned a couple of different products that you were coming out with. So I’m curious as your approach to the customer life cycle. So how much of your time is focused on top of the funnel and then you dominion versus doing lifecycle marketing. So onboarding adoption and cross sell up, sell and so on.

Jennifer Haney-Crowe:

Yeah, that’s a great question right now. I would say it’s being divvied out pretty equally amongst those different, those different phrases in the life cycle. Primarily over the last couple of months, we’ve been strictly focused on trying to bring our sales team into our marketing automation technology. So we’re using the HubSpot platform. So a lot of what we’ve been doing from a process and procedures standpoint, and building out the technology towards integration with and use with our sales team is spent on prospecting. But now we are also, they are responsible for cross selling the different other products we have in our lineup. So it ties very nicely into that part of the funnel. And so we’re also, so not only just starting prospect campaigns, we’re also starting our cross selling campaigns as well to our current customers who might not be using one of the other products.

Even just this week, we’re going to start to have conversations with our customer success team about how now we move them onto the platform as well. And what are the types of activities we want to do out of the platform, the data that we’ll need. So we have a lot of great ideas. There’s never a loss, right, these around here and the different things we want to do when it comes to the full customer life cycle. But luckily we do have the flexibility and the ability to also just move very quickly and do these things. So it’s really very exciting to start these programs and everyone’s really excited, people are asking, Hey, can we be on those cans? We can maybe copy on those campaigns and different things you’re doing because they want to see all the great stuff that’s coming out. And we’ve already had a lot of brief feedback and already a lot of marketing qualified leads come in as well from those campaigns.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Awesome. So in a newer team like this, as you’re scaling, what are some of the more important processes that you’re putting in place?

Jennifer Haney-Crowe:

Yeah, so number one was our lead management process and how, how that integration and process was going to work between our dynamics, I’m running for stuff that dynamic CRM instance and our HubSpot technology that was really important for Mark the marketing team, the sales team, as well as our operations team who administers our CRM to make sure that there was a defined process, right. And in place that not only just looked at how the lead was moving across the funnel and those stages and what they were being classified as in terms of criteria. But also looking at what types of automated other processes and other stages needed to be put in place dependent upon the business model we have. So lead management has been the number one process type of process, I should say that we’ve put in place. I expect that to evolve though after time, in terms of all the different parts of the business, but that affects lead management has been by far the number one process that we put in place with our sales team for using it. And I expect that we’ll also look at that as well as in terms of how it affects the client success team or her touching current clients for other reasons.

Jeff Pedowitz:

That’s great. Another comparison question for ya. So now your last company was pretty big, so there was more specialization and some of the people that you hire and work with do, what are you finding unique with a smaller company? Do you need more of a generalist or do you still try and hire the best of something? I was just curious as to how you’re approaching it.

Jennifer Haney-Crowe:

Yeah, that’s a great question. I would say right now we have a couple of specialists in, and then not their own function in terms of people supporting the overall ball team, right. You know, your traditional graphic design. And we have a, now a video production specialist who’s responsible just for our video content. But right now I think myself, as well as the other marketing team member, we’re kind of functioning more as generalists in the capacity of managing all of our digital operations and campaigns and everything from A to Z. And then we also have one function that’s dedicated to events.

I do, I am constantly kind of evaluating that function though, in terms of how much more expertise will I maybe eventually need on the team to support that. Because it, it definitely inquire, or it requires a person that not only has some experience and knowledge of best practices and students, strategic thinking ability, but also kind of that general business abdomen to be able to think about the right questions to ask or things to do. And we have some very younger folks in our company right now. And so they’re not, they’re not being taught these types of things right. In their MBA classes or their, their bachelor programs. And so it’s, it’s very much a learned skill set at the same time. And so I’m kind of monitoring it if you will try to have somewhat of a generalist experience, but also monitoring it so that I as the business grows, I can evaluate it and perhaps put in a little bit more expertise.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So where do you want your team to be a year from now?

Jennifer Haney-Crowe:

Oh, that would be great. I would like to have a couple more team members to support the business. I feel like the HubSpot experience and the embracement of it and just excitement around it is really going to take off. We’re obviously building on our sales team, so we need to build on our kind of supporting things as well. So I hope that we’ll have some more marketing team members who if not specialized within the area of marketing and trends and marketing with content marketing or revenue marketing, at least have people that can perhaps support the different markets that we’re going after, whether it’s our municipal market or for K through 12 market, but some expertise in those areas to help kind of guide more of the content development and messaging. I think that’s that’s always an evolving challenge in an organization, right? Is, is building enough content to support your programs. And that’s also a big culture change within the organization in terms of the subject matter experts here. Some of them don’t even know what a blog is, right. So there’s a lot of education still to be done there. So, you know, I hold that site, you know, within a year or two, we’re going to have some more experienced marketing folks on the team in some capacity or the other

Jeff Pedowitz:

Great stuff, Jennifer. We’re out of time, unfortunately. I could talk to you all day, but thank you so much for joining us on the show today and we’ll talk soon, okay?

Jennifer Haney-Crowe:

My pleasure, thank you.

Jeff Pedowitz:

You bet.

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