CMO Insights: Kirk Crenshaw, CMO, Traackr

August 2, 2018

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Kirk Crenshaw, CMO of Traackr.

In this video, Kirk talks about:

  • The next big trends in marketing: Strong ABM strategies and a more empathetic understanding of the customer journey
  • Becoming a partner to the customer and driving that thinking in sales and MarTech as well
  • Why quality (not quantity) changes everything about your raw leads and SQLs

Learn more about Kirk from his LinkedIn profile and follow Traackr on Twitter.

For more great CMO interviews like this one, please check out our other CMO Insights Videos or our YouTube channel.

Full Transcript

Jeff Pedowitz:

Hi, 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 with us, a long-term colleague and friend Kirk Crenshaw, who is Chief Marketing Officer at Traackr. Kirk, welcome to the show.

Kirk Crenshaw:

Excellent. Thanks for having me.

Jeff Pedowitz:

You bet. So well let’s say you, and I know each other from back in the day, you know, fighting her way up, right through the ranks and learning and learning the ins and outs of marketing

Kirk Crenshaw:

The early days of marketing automation, the early days

Jeff Pedowitz:

We say that fondly, although, you know, it’s getting back, it’s almost a generation now, right? So despite 18 years,

Kirk Crenshaw:

It’s crazy. I tell the story of being told numerous times by a number of VCs that marketing automation would, would never be a thing. And I think it’s a thing.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Yeah, it’s funny. You know, I just, I wrote an article last month and I, cause I, I found something online, like all the stupid things executives have said about trends, right. When they said it about Google or the personal computer or the car, you know, electricity. So yeah, I would say that you’re going to probably prove them wrong about that too. So by that fast forward, now we’re halfway through 2018 and what’s, I think what’s w from your perspective, what’s the biggest change that’s happened in what’s coming next on the horizon?

Kirk Crenshaw:

Well, there’s a, there’s a lot of things happening right now in the, in the world of marketing particularly for me in the MarTech world even our own team we’re experiencing a lot of changes for on customer journey and that focus, right. We’ve gotten to a heavily focused ABM strategy. We’re spending a lot of time thinking about the customer journey from the customer’s perspective and how we should engage and kind of change the way we engage become more empathetic, become more understanding of their journey. Take the time to really get to know them rather than this kind of spray and excuse me, pray and spray mentality that had been going on for, for many, many years. I don’t know how many times I still get that annoying email, you know, are you the right person? Well, if you spend some time to get to know me, maybe you would know I’m the right person.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Or first name, right?

Kirk Crenshaw:

Yeah, first name. So it’s like, it’s thinking about how to change that and you know, become a partner to that prospect or, or partner to that longterm customer where we help them along the way and making their decision. And you know, it takes, it takes a lot of time and understanding to sit back and say, how, how would I like to be treated in this instance, how would I react to this engagement? And, you know, taking time with not only my team, but also the sales team to also drive that thinking and that concept. And it’s really changed the way we work as a company. The we’ve also been doing a lot of thinking in terms of like, what does that do in terms of impacting the current marketing stack? You know, do things look very different in the way that people are engaging and the technologies they use are they you know, spending more time focused on the message and spending more time, maybe even doing some manual work in that whole process to get deeper into understanding who the customer is you know, tweaking messages before they go out, instead of just sending out this generic message to everybody. 

So those are the big, those are the biggest things that I’m seeing, and I’m seeing it, our customers as well, where they’re struggling with, Hey, how do I engage with customers and understand them and engage them in a way that they understand and that they, and at the end of the day, it’s all about trust, right? It’s becoming more and more about trust. And, you know, the big thing at the end of this week is GDPR. And everybody’s talking about how that’s going to impact the way we engage with prospects. We engage with customers. And so there’s a lot of thinking in terms of those privacy rules, but how that impacts the way I’m going to engage with somebody as well.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Yeah, I think we’re a lot of people probably have been deferring on that, waiting to see if the other shoe is gonna drop, right, how much it’s going to get forced. I think they’re going to find the AMEA is pretty serious about it, but yeah,

Kirk Crenshaw:

I expect we’ll have some, some form of GDPR in North America, you know, it just I know you know, that’s what a lot of the companies are thinking about, how’s this going to impact North America as well, which is, you know, it’s going to be a significant change in the way we operate.

Jeff Pedowitz:

I given, I mean, for years, right. Even just doing double opt in the classic responses, do you know what that’s gonna do to my list? Yeah. You know, it’s really not about the size of your list, right? It’s about respecting your customer, but Hey yeah, Diane, I totally got it. So one thing I’m curious, cause everyone’s talking about this become more customer focused, put the customer in the middle. We gotta do more ABM and there’s a lot of software vendors out there, but can you walk us through like how you’re doing it? What are the steps that you’re taking week after week with your team to actually literally change your marketing, to be customer customer focused and be more ABM centric?

Kirk Crenshaw:

Okay. Well, the first step is basically what you just touched on is getting people to understand that it’s not quantity anymore. It’s all about quality, right? These massive top of the funnel numbers. Aren’t things that always translate into real revenue and, you know, as a company we’ve been for what the company is about 10 years old. The company was bootstrapped for most of that time. We just raised about $9 million to accelerate our efforts. But in that time of being bootstrapped, do you think about how do I become efficient in terms of my outreach? How do I become efficient, efficient in terms of my my resources and my tactics. And you spend a lot of time thinking about you know, who your really, really good customers are, you know, what does that profile look like? And that, and that, and getting over the barrier with the sales team of saying, Hey, you’re not going to have a million leads coming in or a million suspects, I guess I should say, coming in. 

It was kind of intimidating to them. But you know, the biggest thing is spending time and educating and talking through that process of, Hey, when somebody comes through and they end up in front of you the probability that they will become pipeline is so much greater than they were in the past. And we will be having more quality conversations rather than just doing basic qualification. And that for us was step one is just getting the sales team comfortable. And that rolls up all the way to the CEO as well in terms of understanding that strategy. And I think people need to understand what ABM too, it’s not a tactic, it’s a company strategy and it’s become who we are as a company as well. Right. We, we quit doing the you know, the, let’s still the top of the funnel with everybody’s mother, brother, sister, and cousin, right. 

To become super focused in the way we operate. So that’s, that’s a big step one. And once he got past that, I think things become much easier. It’s not the simplest journey, but it, it changes everything in terms of the way people are thinking about how to operate, what events to go to, how to engage. So that’s step one is, okay, things are changing. We’re going to go for quality over quantity. The focus here is getting more real at that’s for you, and that changes everything. And that really, really helps to bring the sales and marketing team together as well. So that connection is super important. And I’m lucky that I have a SVP of sales that you know, we get along incredibly well. We spend a lot of time together you know, talking about these things and the changes and that flows all the way down through the organization as well.

And so kind of the next step is okay, who, who is our, who is our ideal customer? And, you know, that obviously takes of that intense collaboration with the sales team, as well as defining what do they look like? What are their characteristics? What do we want in terms of company size industry what personas are we going after, who within the company do we need to make contact with to make this decision? And then from there we start building you know, I’m going to steal the, a Engagio, I think Engagio created this, but the idea of plays right, as like, how are we going to engage with these different personas and the process and who is going to engage with them? You know, will it be me, will it be our CEO? Will it be our head of sales?

Will it be our AEs? And then building up those flows and plays collaborative collaboratively with the sales team. And then we have an interesting assets that we use. We use our, we use our own product to sell our product, which is kinda neat. So the, what we do is we create these state of influence reports that when we’ve picked our ideal profile and our vertical we’ll create these reports that essentially give these brands visibility into how they’re performing in terms of share of voice and the influencer world. So just to backtrack, we’re an influencer marketing platform and we expose data to these target customers and kind of peak their interest in terms of engaging with us like, Hey, did you know that you have, you know, double the amount of engagement with this particular group of influencers, or did you know, your competition is beating you up in the, in this particular space?

And so having that asset and driving driving that focus around a particular vertical, even to the company level, within that analysis gives the prospects and our customers visibility into like, Oh my God, these guys actually put some time into engaging with me. And they took the time to build this report. They want to take some time to talk me through it. And that engagement level is amazing versus, you know, I, you know, if I went out and said, Hey, I got an influencer marketing platform. Is that something that you’re doing? Are you the right person,

Jeff Pedowitz:

As you guys have been putting this process in over the last year how have your, your numbers changed? So are you seeing a significant…?

Kirk Crenshaw:

So as you would suspect, the Raleigh number has dropped, but we expected that, but the conversion of something that you would consider a Raleigh to MQL is easily doubled. And then from that MQL to a sales ready lead as almost tripled, and then our pipe to close has gone from around 28% to closer to 50%. Wow. So all these things, you know, the, the, the discussion, I have a lot with our SVP of sales and even the CEO’s like, what are the little levers that we can move to just make this adjustment? And the thing you need to really realize is that a 2%, 1%, 2% change from Raleigh to MQL changes your world. It makes such a huge difference than you just gotta think about, like, what does that little either message tweak or what piece of content can we create that gives individuals you know, it gets them to raise their hand and say, Oh, I want to engage, you know, engage with you and talk through this. 

And it’s never a like we always try to avoid what we would, what we would consider it, a salesy message. Like we want to present the information and talk them through this. And usually what happens is when you talk the prospect through the information and they go, wow, how did you get that? And then that leads into kind of a natural transition into, okay, here’s, here’s the platform, here’s the information that we can provide you. And this is the process that we can pull you in plead through. And it completely changes that relationship with the prospect to that of like I’m trying to be sold to, to, no, this is really interesting. I got to bring some more people in, and we’re going to talk about this because for us, we sell to a lot of fortune 1000 brands. And you know, the, we try to spend a lot of time as a company elevating that influencer discussion to a more strategic level, rather than a tactic as well.

And, you know, taking this approach around, providing this data, providing this you know, area for thinking in a kind of a kind of extracting pain points from that, you know, completely changes those conversations. So it’s much more about them and much way, way, way less about us. And you know, the sales team has been seeing that outcome, the marketing team has been seeing that outcome. And it actually you know might I was at an Amazon prior to Traackr and they always have this idea about the flywheel, like, how do we create this flywheel of motion and everything just kind of feeds on each other. And that’s what we’re saying internally at Traackr where, you know, the marketing team is creating this information. The sales team is becoming engaged and excited about, you know, when is the new state of influencer report coming out and where are we going and where, you know, who can I go after?

And it’s this excitement that it generates that I rarely experienced and rarely see, but it’s fun to, you know, having a marketer saying, I like to spend time with my sales team is super rarity. And I really do enjoy spending time with my sales team and talking through these things and seeing them get excited about what we’re producing and because at the end of the day, you know, we’re, we’re both we all want to be successful. We all want to drive revenue. And you know, if you take a step back, ABM was kinda that, that spark, that, that got us to rethink how we operate and how we do things

Jeff Pedowitz:

Well, very easy to see why you’ve been so successful all these years, and definitely successful at Traackr. So what a great story. Kirk, thank you so much for being on the program today and sharing all the great results. And we’re definitely going to be looking for more of that good stuff from you in the future. So thank you.

Kirk Crenshaw:

Thank you. Appreciate it.

Jeff Pedowitz:

You bet.

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