CMO Insights: Shane Lennon, @VirtualCMO

November 19, 2018

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Shane Lennon from @VirtualCMO.

In this video, Shane talks about:

  • Not only aligning sales and marketing but also aligning with the product team
  • Focusing on the customer as a product goes to market and studying the customer life cycle journey
  • The lifetime value of customers and how we can continuously to deliver value to them

Learn more about Shane from his LinkedIn profile and follow @VirtualCMO 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 Edwards group. Today, we have as our guest Shane Lennon. Shane’s about a 25 year veteran. He has done everything in marketing; he’s ran product, he’s ran digital, he’s ran social, he’s aligned with sales. He’s done a lot of fascinating things, and we’re so lucky to have him on the program today. Shane, welcome to the show,

Shane Lennon:

Jeff, thank you very much. I look forward to greater admirer of what your team has done over the years. So glad we finally got to connect.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Thank you so much. Appreciate it. So yeah, we were, we were talking just before this and we’re talking about how the conversation for the last 20 years has been aligning sales and marketing, but you have a different perspective not only aligning sales and marketing, but aligning it back to and with a product focus. Yeah.

Shane Lennon:

As well. Sure. So you know, by accident kind of found us because when I’ve been head of marketing you’ve read 80% of the time I’ve ended up running products, particularly at the startups and even in larger organizations, I usually get involved certainly in the roadmap strategy for the product. I actually worked as hard in mobile blog consumers because Greg leveler ever, when it comes to customers, you’ve got one attempt at they better click download, click, okay. To start using the products. And you know, I think some of us, so you, you learn fast about touch points and stuff like that. So when I’ve worked in the B2B side and SAS particularly I’ve sat in that room a few times with the product marketing hat on and we will be presenting stuff with sales development and the product team. And all of a sudden I will hear, but we’re not building that Ash.

We’re not selling that. I’m like, wow, this connect. I think what I find many times, particularly with technology companies is people are building out what they think the visionary wants. And I know that’s great for the first iteration or maybe even the second, but now you’re starting to get feedback loops. Some customers are, hopefully you are. And you find that not all the things in the product are really what customers needs are you go try it out. So I often find that first and foremost, we just keep adding features. So to say so you become the Jack of all trades, which is not really what you need in any company. I would say to be honest, under under million revenue, you gotta keep a focus share it when you get bigger. Yes. Different. And often they’re building for one user on my own experience with B to B and I’ll use MarTech as an example.

And there’s three sets of users. I think there’s the COO who will want the nice dashboard. We felt like the lipstick on the pig approach know, but yeah, they need that stuff because they need to show what’s working. What’s not, and this is typical with the bigger platforms. I mean, similar tools, there is the director or VP who owns that operation of that piece of technology or groups of technology who may be is product marketing, our lead gen and whatever, who will be users on a daily basis, but not actually in their property, managing others. And then there’s the actual users, the marketing managers who, if you’re in a SAS model there to keep people, because if they’re there, if they’re not using a daily to improve, whatever it is, they’re doing their job, you fail miserably and you get to the scenario with a SAS product where, you know, you’re having to acquire as many customers as you’re losing.

We all know that’s not a longterm model. So I’ve sat in there on more and more. I’ve taken a look, a product on, start a prioritize and build some priority index around, you know, what is the key things that are different for us and that we didn’t have these features, we’ll be reading these customers. And then do we understand what we’re building for Dimitri personas? And I can send the customer experience and features and stuff like that when as you move through that and you work with build out of a customer journey for life cycle, which we’ve collaborated with sales and other people in the organization. And that starts to get in the line of just sorts. And again, less of the widget of the week needs. We get less of the developer disappearing for three months building a beautiful piece of knowledging, which nobody’s going to pay for it.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So very great, elaborate answer. Yeah, you mentioned also in there focusing in and around the customer as you go to the market. And as I talked to a lot of marketing executives, I mean, everybody talks about the customer, but a lot of the marketing still is company focused, a solution focused top of the funnel focus. We’re not really seeing that much effort to get customer focused and, and taking a life cycle approach. What’s been your experience.

Shane Lennon:

Yeah, I would say the first thing I do in every single organization is begin a full customer life cycle journey, maybe at a very high level. In some organizations I’m doing that on my own and maybe one or two other people almost skunkworks like in other organizations, maybe because there’s an appetite flourish involving more people usually do a quick iteration of that. You know, it can go from five simple touch points to, you know, 30, 40 very quickly. I do get very involved in the post sale, close aspect of this because too many organizations forget that I’m a firm believer on the concept of lifetime value as the way to drive success in the business. You know, whether it’s SaaS version, different versions. So, you know Landon expand models. So I usually start out with the management team and, you know, we don’t for champions.

I often run into what I call people love the menu, but the second we start serving the appetizer, they pushed back. So I’ve got to get a feel for the culture the speed they move at those kinds of things. So I usually surface up something. The probably the first time anybody really sees anything is probably to what we’re doing in marketing, which is providing say better qualified leads, whatever terms you want to use broken up, maybe by the tree persona types. And then all of a sudden, certain salespeople are like, wow, this is interesting. Some organizations buy into it immediately. That creates a whole set of butter childhood kits, because what happens is it’s the inside out what happens. It is not a comfortable exercise anywhere I’ve gone, Ash, except where the CEO said, just go do it. You have my full support. And that’s kind of happened once to be honest.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Well it’s hard. And they say that until, you know, the quarterly numbers come in and then the company’s behind. Well now we’ve got to stop spending. We out, we have to hold, hold up there.

Shane Lennon:

You know, we can agree to disagree in a room, but we’ll walk out of that room alone and that’s actually been pretty good. And I think I bought and that CEO look, hopefully you look to me at the beginning of the quarter and you look to the head of sales at the end of the quarter. And you like what you see from both of us. And it’s a mind easier said than done.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Wow, it’s hard to know. I think that it’s been a fallacy, right? Technology is supposed to make things easier, make it scale. But I’d say over the last 10 years, marketing, Scott and hornier than I’ve ever it’s ever been, which really requires executives to be, I think, multifaceted and mans multiple areas at once.

Shane Lennon:

Yeah. And I don’t, I have had, I think maybe we’re at a little bit of advantage at times is having the fingers on the product PI directly or very indirectly. And if I can get that team very focused on what we’re needing to build on, you know, product to me, we hear this term customer experience a lot now. So I would show product branding all in under batch. We honest and I think I’ve seen the first customer experience roles where the COO and they had a, product’s actually reporting into that person, which is kind of interesting. But those things come in on verse. I tried to use the customer journey, the mop while wherever it is to focus people. The other thing I look for and I know I’m having a level of success is the no list. And this is important. And boss grow companies are companies going through transformation. And if we can start to build a no list, I know we’re starting to get into a good place. I suppose the biggest challenge

Jeff Pedowitz:

There’s no list is that basically it lists the things you should stop doing or don’t do.

Shane Lennon:

Yeah. I’ll put it on hose. Yeah. Cause he didn’t even have the resources. You know, if you’re, if you’re a double digit growth you’re moving fast, you know, they’re single digit, that’s fine. It’s a different organization. You may have a boss, there’s too many things to do. You know, using the football sports analogies, you know, you focus on the strengths, not the weaknesses. So you know, there’s these shiny objects. So in startups, it’s usually the big Claire’s customers come be shiny objects there’s, you know, particularly if you’re building markets and I tend to use a concept of hero lighthouse strategy, let’s go, you know, the did JP Morgan’s or the Nike’s or whatever, where it goes because a lot of people follow them. The great use cases, whatever I have had experience where some of those customers drag the company down a pot that ultimately distracts us and among case we almost run out of cash because of it, because we took it so much resources towards there’s you know, challenge of do we sell to soft, sell online mid market accounts enterprise.

That’s a pretty tough business, even the IBM’s and the articles of the world outsource products so that, you know, so, you know, just hit update to my PM at the being the best at us, you know, over the years, their account to top 200 and all that resellers. So, you know, you can’t do all those things well and you gotta make some decisions there and that’s tough. And that’s usually where you really run into the issues. Cause what you’re saying is we’re going to cannibalize some of our ideas and visions. I’m potentially somewhere revenue and there’s a lot of chicken and egg here. And this is why I like the concept of lifetime value because hopefully over time you can get the picture of what is a good customer for the company and what is a bad customer. And that’s not just revenue, there’s other things in there. And if we understand the cost of sale, I’m cost to sale, meaning every Goss, you know, the marketing acquisition costs, the soft costs and sales on marketing and the hitting stuff. And, you know, under some great examples of models out there of this and David, Scott and matrix,

Jeff Pedowitz:

I don’t think companies spend enough time. Or if you met by the time dieting, I think they spend a lot of time looking at acquisition, top of the funnel, getting an X logo. Yeah, of course that’s important for longterm growth, but I think it’s the other things you have to look at besides how many new customers are we getting, right? How much, how many of those customers are we keeping and then how much revenue are we growing per customer? I think if you will get that in totality that kind of then covers the spectrum of whether or not you’re really delivering value to your customers.

Shane Lennon:

You know, hopefully I can get to a stage. It will be nice within the first six, nine months where I’m going to begin to see some pictures of that. You know, what a customer looks like as, you know, by the way, I know there’s lots of figures out there to, you know, acquire new customers is five times more than expanding an existing, whatever it is. We know it’s X more anyway, you know, and if I can begin to tell that picture, because usually what I find is unwrapping that I can, there’s some organizations who are really good at that. And as we well know over some that are terrible laddish and you know, that’s an area then where I can begin to show progress. And all of a sudden I talk about, can we get the client running quicker, we get them running. And the more we’re going to see the opportunities.

And then David becomes the champion son at the end of the day, word of mouth is still the biggest number one influence in sales and marketing. So I put a lot of effort into those kinds of programs, customer programs, champions, sometimes people want big results too fast, too quick. You’re a soccer manager in England at the moment, if you don’t win the primary league, the first two seats you’re far, and there’s a lot of that going on. And actually that’s a classic example, how I’m ultimately, this is all about culture and people and that’s where I’ve landed in the last maybe 10 years. You know, it processes process. We can do agile hybrids, all this kind of stuff is technology. And the I’ve worked with CTOs can build anything, integrate anything. But it is the people aspect. Having run a couple of millennial teams, which are love.

So I’m a huge fan. Millennials has worked very well for me. The stuff that works well with the millennials does not necessarily work well when my peers on boomers. And I think that’s, I personally think that’s corporate America’s biggest challenge going forward is how do you bring that? And particularly now millennials are becoming CMOs and C-suites, they have a different approach and there’s things they can improve. But they are good on execution the right ones. And so it is the people aspect. And I go up and said, Joe, can you, when I’m looking at a transformation, I’ll talk to the CEO and we’ll go to we’re ready. We’re going to do this. And you know, I think I see a lot of digital lipstick as against transformation. I said, good. I said, so what if we have to get rid of your head to say, Oh, hold on a second.

Well, I said, well, what if transformation means we’re going to go to a total sell, sell online model and your head of sales is an enterprise builder and that’s not the way we’re going to go. And there’s a realization that transformation’s really around doing business, probably differently. Lots of companies can do it in the backend, but I think more and more where it’s really a hit now is in the front end. But the customers, you know, the experience that you have with your iPhone or your gaming machine, and you want that same experience when you walk up and said like, you know, the network engineer to plays doom and whatever else. And as 50 apps doesn’t suddenly want to become, you know, the doke on parental, the terrible UI experience in shell scripts all the time when he walks into work or she does whatever.

So there’s a lot of that going on. And I think that picture around LTV and customer journeys, critical and iPod, a lot of challenge there. And I would say, you know, it’s got me into trouble because maybe it doesn’t play well. But then I realize, you know, I am an early adopter, I suppose I am somewhat of a disruptor. And that’s hopefully why you brought me on. And if you didn’t, we find out pretty quickly. And you know, when I do consulting work, I usually find out by day 90, you know, when you’re working full time, you hit that. And usually towards Sandy year one. And I think that’s a big challenge for those of us who like to push as against those maybe who are, we’re not going to say more status quo, but are slower moving. And so for me, you know, there’s certain environments that works you know, and I would advise more, let’s say the single digit or the double digit is about, you know, the MTV.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Thank you so much for all your great insights today. Great career, keep up with bike racing and wll, cheer for me. And you, you know, that that’s a, it’s a temporary situation, right? I’ll be right back on top, but thanks again for being on the program today and we’ll be in touch soon.

Shane Lennon:

100%. Thank you.

Jeff Pedowitz:

You bet.

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