CMO Insights: Robby Gulri, Chief Talent Officer, ENGAGE Talent

August 28, 2018

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Robby Gulri, Chief Talent Officer at ENGAGE Talent.

In this video, Robby talks about:

  • The key attributes they look for in their team members, as well as the attributes their customers are looking for
  • The enormous challenge of keeping up with the ever-evolving MarTech landscape
  • The biggest challenges many companies face in the marketing universe today

Learn more about Robby from his LinkedIn profile and follow ENGAGE 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 as our guest Robby Gulri, who is Chief Talent Officer, Chief Evangelist at ENGAGE Talent.  Robby, welcome to the show.

Robby Gulri:

Thank you, Jeff. Nice to have you. Let’s try this again. I know we tried this before, and I think this time it will be successful at it.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Well, we did. I mean, while, cause there’s, there’s three things that most marketers want to talk about. They want to talk about content, talk about technology, talk about their people. So you’re certainly an expert, probably all three of those, but today we’re going to talk a lot about really engage and and why it’s so important to find the right people. So in 2018, going into 2019, how have the skills changed? I mean, what, what kind of people are you placing today than you did five years ago?

Robby Gulri:

I mean, I can talk about it both from an internal and external perspective, you know, internally we’re looking for people who are flexible and frankly fit in with the right sort of culture mode that we’re trying to build with the company. You know, pedigree is obviously important, but what’s more important to me. And our management team is really people who are gonna sort of go the extra mile and, and really be able to adapt to a growth in a hyper growth company. You know, we’ve gone from a, you know, a very successful business to a much more successful business, and there’s a lot of growing pains with that without process. So we’re looking for people who are not afraid to change, and there’s simply a, you know, kind of internal leaders and that can not only lead kind of their day to day activities, but also lead the group that they work with them from an external perspective, you know, kind of marketing as a general.

You know, I think it’s the same, you know, I, I spend a lot of time with CMOs and I and other leaders across here in Atlanta or really across the country. And they tell me flexibility over and above anything is the most important skill that they look for beyond flexibility is integrity, you know, and I know a lot of us talk about integrity and a lot of us try to practice integrity, but that’s important, especially these days, given that regardless of if you’re in marketing or sales or products or operations or engineering, you’re touching the customer in some capacity. And if you don’t have integrity and if you’re not authentic with your conversations and you can’t necessarily deliver, you know, a core message in a short amount of time, you know, that’s a tough, that’s a tough sell. So we’re looking for people who are good communicators, regardless of what position they’re in, they’re integral in the organization, they have integrity. And if you will, authenticity.

Jeff Pedowitz:

I like that a lot. Integrity is one of our core values. Our first one, actually, so it definitely speaks to my heart. So tell us all a bit more about, you know, running marketing at your company. What are some of the challenges that you faced in the last year or so?

Robby Gulri:

Yeah, you know, marketing as you know, Jeff has evolved and continues to evolve literally week to week. You know, if you look at the latest MarTech stack, you know, a Bessemer report that comes out there’s over 6,000 companies and technologies that marketers can use to be effective. So I’ve always felt that, you know, the shiny coin syndrome is where a lot of people fail, you know, trying to adopt the latest and greatest sort of technology.

Hopefully, you know, that’ll answer the problems of the things that we’re trying to solve, which is connection with our customers lead generation and actually closing some real business. So my focus in marketing is really threefold. One is culture, gotta have the right culture within the organization. So when I’m a, and that, that crosses internal, external our messaging or brand anything that we do to, to, to to, you know, communicate what it is that we do and how we solve those fundamental problems, we try to come in with the right tone and sort of the right approach.

And that requires, you know, a bit of alignment on culture. Number two, you know, from a marketing standpoint, what I try to do is sort of automate as much as I can without losing the authenticity. And I think that’s the key. So, so, you know, outside of culture the, the tools and the automation of marketing is quite important. It’s you know, there’s a lot of organizations think that building Marquetto or putting the HubSpot in place is the answer. But often it’s just one tool to an overall approach, which is you know, it basically aligning and, you know, sort of making sure your, your customers are or are hearing you, and you’re, they’re connecting with you and basically engaging with you. So it’s a balance. So as a, as I said earlier, between automation and and that engagement, and thirdly, from a marketing standpoint, when I look at is velocity I want to make sure that we are on top of mind, the decision to buy our solution may not be today.

It may not be tomorrow, but at some point when people are basing the problem of talent and talent acquisition, and they’re looking for a much more efficient way to do things I want to be in top of mind. So velocity to me is important and that’s across every channel, whether that’s social mobile, online, offline, anytime I go to an event speak, I talk about all the different things that we’re working on, but ultimately it goes back down to the simple thing of making sure that people understand that we are thought leaders and experts in the area of AI powered sort of talent acquisition

Jeff Pedowitz:

Love it. That makes a lot of sense. So it sounds like you’re using technology both internal right, to help with the talent? And then you’re also using technology to help you market and deliver your messaging, I guess, through multiple channels.

Robby Gulri:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. You know, the marketing tech stack is, is comprehensive. As I said earlier, 6,000 different and technologies and tools that I can use to help me market better. So I pick and choose, you know, I’m a small shop, so I can’t afford to to spend all my time picking the right tools to do the job. So it’s all about making sure that those tools we use are strategic to the overall mission of the organization. So to give you a little bit of example you know, we use a content management system, it’s WordPress. We use a little bit of Wix as well.

So we create landing pages, you know, based on certain content that we’re trying to distribute. We’ve got MailChimp in place for some of the outbound on automation of mail. We’ve got a lot of analytics and metrics kind of tools. I use SIFE to create the dashboard of any given day. I use buffer to automate some of my social posts. So we got a lot of stuff in the mix, but we are all trying to, and I think all CMOs are trying to find that perfect blend of, of tools to strategy, to scale, to make sure that, you know, it’s sort of a, you know, kind of that three legs to a stool, if you will.

Jeff Pedowitz:

That makes a lot of sense. So what are you being held accountable for at your company and then what do you hold your team accountable for?

Robby Gulri:

Yeah. you know, for us, it’s, it’s the number one thing on top of the pyramid or, or I guess the, the, the bottom of the pyramid and everything kind of builds upon that is MQL. You know, marketing qualified leads. Now, every organization has a different definition for what that means, but, you know, we want to make sure that anything we do, whether it’s an event, whether it’s a promotional line, whether it’s a campaign, whether it’s a webinar or whether it’s a podcast it’s being re sort of reported the metrics are being generated and then translated into a sort of accountability and and sort of connection to those particular events that we do to make sure that we’re generating the right you know, the right sort of marketing qualified leads. So me, I measure myself on the number of leads that are generated on a monthly basis. I measure my teams, or if there’s anything that we are doing, whether it’s a white paper, whether it’s a you know, a data sheet, I always try to go back to the simple question of how is this going to help us generate interest and awareness and ultimately traffic to our website, which hopefully leads to a request for demo to our, to our platform, which then obviously leads to a potential opportunity for our sales team to close the deal.

Jeff Pedowitz:

It’s keeping it real, right? Just, you know, Staying on it.

Robby Gulri:

Keeping it real, you know, the days of, you know, one of the things I think that’s helped me in my career, Jeff, is is I don’t come to marketing from a traditional sort of brand or or a product marketing background. I actually have a degree in electrical engineering and mathematics. So I have a hardcore technology background and that kind of methodology and process education and sort of early on in my career work that I did has really helped me in marketing because ultimately it’s all about accountability. A lot of this activity then ultimately it goes on measure or the measurement is inaccurate, which does not go back to, you know, producing the appropriate ROI.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Yeah. And as a bonus, you can wire the building, right? Or,

Robby Gulri:

Yeah, that’s a long time ago. I guess I could, I could pick up a electrical engineering book and try to figure it out, I guess.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Alright. Well, there you go. So, because you do recruit a lot of people, you talk to a lot of people, what are some of the challenges you see marketing executives facing now that maybe they didn’t have a couple of years?

Robby Gulri:

Yeah. So there’s often misalignment between the company and the individual that works for that company. And what I mean by that is how many people do, you know, Jeff that are in positions that they both, they don’t belong. It they’re frustrated. They have a tough time waking up in the morning and actually being productive that day. Not that they’re bad people. In fact, they’re very smart, educated, and effective individuals. Unfortunately, there’s a misalignment. So why we’re in the business of engage is to make sure that we can help with the leveraging of data to eliminate some of that, or hopefully all of that misalignment. And so I think marketing executives just like other executives face the same challenges. I don’t want to get the right people in my organization to help me accomplish the goals that I’ve set out to accomplish in a way that is scalable and reproducible. And I think over and above anything in short MarTech is, is complicated. And there’s like huge ecosystem there. But over and above anything, I think, I think talent is is the number one issue that a lot of marketers face

Jeff Pedowitz:

And probably will continue to face, right? For us, for quite some time, I would think.

Robby Gulri:

Yeah. I mean the job market today and the reports came out, we added another 235,000 jobs. Unemployment rate overall is at 3.8%. The lowest it’s been in a long, long time for information workers. I read this the other day by the Bureau of labor statistics, the information workers they’re a, a sort of unemployment rate is in the 1.8, 1.9% range below two. Right? So you know, there’s not a lot of good talent out there. The good talent is already employed and they’re very productive. So helping identify the right talented organizational fit individuals with the right culture mix is a, is a huge, huge challenge. And that’s ultimately what we’re trying to do.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Yeah, absolutely. So if you were going to give advice to a younger marketing executive on the rise that wants to become a CMO someday, what would you tell her or him?

Robby Gulri:

You know that’s a great question. And I often get approached by younger marketers who want to be a CMO or be, you know, sort of a marketing leader of some kind. And my advice is very simple to be authentic, do not try to change yourself to try to fit in with some kind of, you know, a value system of the company, marketers who are not authentic. You can tell from 500 feet away that they’re not authentic. So be authentic. Also number two is don’t get sidetracked trapped by the shiny coin syndrome. As I always like to say, there’s a lot of tools, tricks and tips, and you know, a content and all kinds of stuff that’s out there. That can be a, that can kind of take you away from your four mission. So stay on that path and make sure that, you know, and again, those missions that may mission may change.

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