CMO Insights: Wes Durow, Chief Marketing Officer, Mitel

August 1, 2017

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Wes Durow, Chief Marketing Officer for Mitel.

In this video, Wes talks about

  • Going back to the basics of understanding the buyer’s vision and connecting that to marketing efforts
  • Building trust with your audience and focusing on the little data vs. the big data
  • Investing resources to ensure current clients are a specific focus to increase loyalty and retention.

Learn more about Wes from his LinkedIn profile and follow Mitel Networks 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, the CMO Insights Series. I’m your host, Jeff Pedowitz President and CEO of The Pedowitz Group. Today, I am pleased to host Wes Durow, who is Chief Marketing Officer of Mitel Networks, Wes, welcome to the show.

Wes Durow:

Hey, thanks for your time, Jeff. It’s great to be here today.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Oh, awesome. Thank you. So a lot of change going on in your world with my talent, some of your competitors over the last couple of years. So tell us a little bit about that, and then what’s your role as CMO driving that>

Wes Durow:

That’s a great question. You know, Mitel is, is pretty unique because what we do every day is, is really try to make how businesses, whether large or small whether they compete locally or internationally, communicate and collaborate seamlessly. And from a business standpoint, our biggest competitors are Cisco and Microsoft. So really big companies that we’ve got to fight and, and compete with every day. And we are, this is all we do every day. So we’re a top three brand in North America. Number one, brand, for example, in Europe. And as you look at the marketing function, we miss world and you have to differentiate it it’s really important that marketing be an extension of strategy.

And that’s, that’s the fundamental thing that’s probably really changed is the evolution of marketing from a a functional role where it’s cranked me out a new piece of collateral, or I need a, another data sheet on this to an advisory role where, Hey, what do you think about this problem that we’ve got to solve to now? Really, it truly is a strategic role, which is, you know, which segments do we go after? How do we drive margin or share expansion here? And where do we put our resources? So, so that’s, that’s probably the biggest fundamental shift that we’ve had at Mitel is the role of marketing has moved from a, like I said, a, a, a functional role to an advisory role to now really a a strategic role.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So in addition to it being a strategic role, because you’ve, you’ve held several up positions over the years, are you finding that you’re having to run it more like a business than you ever did before?

Wes Durow:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean when I started my career marketing was more art than science, but we’re now in a world where the ability to track data in and really understand the outcome not just across marketing, but the whole of the organization is, is far clearer. So if we go and hire a sales person, I know for a fact that an average performing Salesforce and will probably generate 10 X their salary in terms of revenue. And so when we think look at an investment in marketing, you know, our cost of capital, whether it’s an R and D investment, whether it’s a new sales rep is about eight to 12 X. So really leads us to a point where we’ve gotta be able to make sure that we live within that kind of framework in terms of marketing investment, whether it be people program dollars, what have you, and that’s been the biggest change really over the last 20 years,

Jeff Pedowitz:

This is definitely a big change. What about, what about on the talent side? Are you finding the skillset you need today to compete globally is changing. And then how are you addressing that? Both from an organizational design perspective, as well as the type of people that you’re recruiting to help you lead?

Wes Durow:

That’s a great question. If I think about talent and people coming into the workplace, there, there are a few things that are really, really important. One, you still have to have people that are what I call insanely curious, and that means that they want to always learn and learn something new because more worked two, three, four, five years ago may not work today. And frankly, something that worked five, six, seven years ago, may all of a sudden work again today. So you take, for example, for us, we’re seeing a return to a direct mail, direct marketing people are almost tired of the digital delusion that they face every day and are actually inspired me to actually get something on their desk, which is a big ship. So you have to have people that are really open minded and curious, number one, number two, the people that come in have to think of themselves as business owners, if they are willing to put up with inefficient systems, or if they’re willing to put up with obscure or not clear strategies or right to market structures, you’re going to have suboptimal marketing results.

And so, because you have this ecosystem that fits together people that, that, that the best marketing people understand how that works, or at least want to understand that. And so that really forces them to be business people first. And you’re looking for people with athletic skills. So yes, there’s there’s room for somebody that may be a PR communication specialist or a digital specialist, but the best folks that are even in very functional roles like that are the ones that can expand and lift themselves beyond that. Understand what does that mean to our channels? What does that mean to an end customer, especially in this world where, where, where folks by the time they reach you there? Well, through the decision making process.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So Mitel global organization, is that a lot of talk about centers of excellence over the last couple of years, what are you doing globally to optimize performance?

Wes Durow:

Yeah, that’s a great question. You know, it, it is it’s tough. Our business is about 50% outside North America, and we’ve gotten big centers, particularly in the UK, France and Germany. You’ve got different adoptions of technology in different places. You also have different, very different cultural ways that people make decisions. If you look at Germany or Japan or India, people make very fact based decisions. If you look at the U S Australia, UK emotion still matters, people make it’s not just a pure quality, a quantitative backed based decision. There’s a quantitative qualitative to that. That’s, that’s unique. So making sure that you have a balance of that is really important. The key thing is how you get people to work as a team across blended boundaries. And fortunately, you know, we make collaboration tools, which includes things like video and this, that, that really make that easy and not just depending on email and that’s a big part of it. So as you developed centers of excellence, talent comes from anywhere, and we’ve had to be flexible enough to realize that and smart enough to know which of which ideas can apply in one geography versus another.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Okay. No, that makes a lot of sense. And obviously it’s, it’s a great advantage that you have such a good technical capability for you to bring your people closer together. So from a process standpoint, what are some of the bigger initiatives that you and your team are working on to scale?

Wes Durow:

Well, I think the biggest thing we’re working on right now is, is just the next phase of our website and web experiences. You talk about unique differences by, by by types of buyers. And you think about, you know, if you look at the latest CB research, buyers are 60% of the way through the decision cycle. By the time they reach out to a vendor, I believe that to be true, but I also think that a lot of the stuff that’s been done and said, and built around buyer’s journeys, there’s some in personas, there’s some good in that. And there’s some nonsense in that people don’t go from a, to B to C, they may go from a to C back to B, even back to eight and then all the way from a to C. So it is a mixed up muddled up world that we live in.

 

And from a digital standpoint, you need to be able to understand that there’s a lot of things, a lot of work around multipoint attribution, which is great. I think the biggest thing to really focus on is going back to basics, you know, what’s the buyer vision that you’re creating that, that it still comes back to how do they make more money or save more money? It’s it’s the Pirate’s code is the Rubik’s cube is not that complex. So going back to the simple pieces there, and then the notion of hyper personalization. So when somebody comes to our website, if they’re from Germany and they’re interested in contact center solutions, I want them to feel like the second time they come there, they know that we are talking to them. We’re using case studies that are in German that are contact center oriented, and we can continue that narrative and help them if they end up going back to an awareness piece of content versus a consideration piece of content versus a purchase piece of content, help make sure that they can go in and out of that, that their unique buyer journey.

There’s not one path. We look for patterns, but there’s not one path anymore. And so we’re doing a lot of work on our website to build, build that and make that hyper personal.

Jeff Pedowitz:

I hear a lot of executives talking about, they want the Netflix experience for their customers, right? So go in and it’s already recommending things you should look at. It’s constantly changing and updating. And then of course, you know, if you have multiple people in a household it’s by persona, right? So my wife logs in, she sees one set of recommendations. My daughter says something else. So it sounds like you’re trying to do something similar with your website.

Wes Durow:

Yeah. And people make the mistakes.

Jeff Pedowitz:

They all talk about the notion of big data and big data is it can be overwhelming. And, you know, I think when we spend time with our customers, they talk about little data. So if you first start thinking about, what’s a piece of data that tells you what the temperature is, if you get that right, then you can go on to windshield humidity and other factors. And so we’re trying to be just really practical and not lose sight of the basic things that have to be executed well, which are you know, trust has been fundamentally broken in our society. So the notion of third party endorsements, those sorts of things, and having other people tell your story for you is really important. So the problems you solve, that buyer vision, let’s get that right. Make sure you attach that. And like you said, at a Netflix tech type experience, and that would go a long way. So how, how are you going to extend what you’re doing with the website through your other channels?

Wes Durow:

Yeah, the biggest channel to extend is, is through our Salesforce directly. And one of the best things you can do that we’re trying to do is include them as part of that process. So we spend a lot of time on basic storytelling capabilities. So and it’s, it’s, it’s a lost art form, particularly as we talk about new graduates and so forth, you know, we’ve, we’re, we’re raising a generation that communicates in 140 characters. And so the artist storytelling becomes really important. And, and again, it’s, it’s, it’s not that difficult. It is, you know, what’s the setting, what’s the complication, what’s the turning point. What’s the resolution. It’s just like when you watch a movie only we try to condense it into 90 seconds. And so we spend a lot of time arming our sellers and having them share their best stories of how they change how we’ve changed the way a customer does business, but use it really in customer language, make the customer the hero.

So we take those stories back into the website, back into the case studies and flip that. So that’s been a big piece of it. And then from there you know, similarly arming our channel partners that do that with that, and probably the biggest piece of this because we are a challenger brand, you know, like I said, we’ve got really big companies we have to compete with. We have to have what we call a unique commercial insight. So for us, we did a study the other day that talked about how the average business, regardless of size. And this was really a Western Europe, North America study wastes about $11,000 per employee on inefficient communications. You know, me trying to set up my next appointment, me trying to find somebody that can answer a question, me trying to find a common meeting time for everybody. And we’re using more team collaboration tools to break that down, but you’ve got different technology platforms that don’t work together. So $11,000 per employee, you don’t have to have that many employees to realize, wow, that’s a lot of money. Even if I only got 20% of that back, that’s a unique commercial insight that then we can go and show how we solve that the arms, our sellers arms or channels in different way. So there’s a couple different things we’re doing there. Jeff.

Jeff Pedowitz:

That’s great. Thank you. So, you know, a few years ago, Gardner made its famous prediction, right? That by this year marketing’s going to be spending more money on technology event than it. And we’ve certainly seen that wave of it, but what’s your take on, on MarTech? Do you think it’s too much, just enough, not enough. And how are you using technology to scale at Mitel?

Wes Durow:

You know, that is an interesting prognostication. I think, I think, again, it goes back to the role of marketing. Overall marketing has moved from being a, kind of a functional role to an advisory role, to a strategic role in more companies, particularly the B2B space, which I started my career, you know, doing airlines and soap and the Connie sauce and banking. And I couldn’t go back to that now, but because in B2B it really has become a strategic, I think marketing technology investment that is absent a really close tie to the overall strategy and the strategic technology investments is a mess. The world of siloed kind of, of investments is wrong. So it’s hard for me to say, is it enough? Is it too much? Or is it just right? I think that’s, it depends on the organization. If it fits in, extends the strategic vision of the company and pays back, then I think you’re in good shape what we’ve done. When I think of, you know what we’ve done from a marketing MarTech active, it really has fit with the investments we’ve made in digital transformation around our ERP systems is fit with our CRM systems, it’s fit as part of a broader framework. And part of that kind of hyper personalization that we’re trying to drive from a customer experience perspective on the web and how we touch them, whether it’s an event you know, at our user group conference, any number of venues.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So what’s your investment trajectory look like? Are you spending more state and even reducing the amount of budget being allocated towards tech?

Wes Durow:

I’d say we’re pretty flat. And, and I’d say that only because we’ve gotten more efficient with where we’re spending the money, which has been, which has been a good thing. You know, where we are spending a lot more money is probably building databases from all sorts of different sources. So, you know, we’ve done this for some time, but we’re getting even better at pulling data from other parts of our organization, you know? So we really know again, it goes back to the Hypertech personalization. So we really have behavior in terms of how a customer, how an account interacts with us in so many different ways that allow us to do unique things. So if we know that somebody is a really good at ping their you know, really good at, at, at at, at, at consistent customer, how we reach out to them maybe different than somebody that’s got a really long sales cycle, for example. So it puts you in a different motion that you don’t traditionally think of from a, from a marketing standpoint.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Okay. so you mentioned earlier about 50% of marketing or 50% of your activity is done outside the U S from a customer life cycle perspective, though. What, what percentage is allocated towards net new acquisition versus full lifecycle marketing? You know, and I mean, and do you have teams and resources are dedicated to driving loyalty and advocacy?

Wes Durow:

Yeah, that’s a great question. And this is, you know, if I had a, you know, I will have been here two years in may, and if I made an early mistake, it was over rotating towards all net new and in our category, there’s maybe six to 7% of the market up for grabs in any given year. And so we still go hard after that, but we make our quarter by really building on our installed base and helping grow that business building reference customers out of that install base, and we’ll beat our quarter with, with net new. And so we do have pretty well-defined TeleQual nurture paths for both you know, some with channel partners, some that we do directly and then hand back to channel partners. So if you had asked me to, to put a, to put a number on it, I would still say that probably just the cost of acquisition is so high, probably more than half of our money is spent still on net new, but we have gone back and particularly through our channels reinvested in our time and energy in terms of really extracting the value from our install base, especially as our, our databases get more robust as our other kind of ways to track behavior, get more robust,

Jeff Pedowitz:

Not very insightful. So what ultimately the, whether you’re being held accountable for it. And what’s your, what’s the president expect from you? And then what do you expect from your team?

Wes Durow:

Yeah, that’s what it comes down to at the end of the day. Our CEO at the end of the day, I it’s about revenue. He will look me in the eye and say, you’ve got to drive revenue. You have got to be the guy that helps put fuel in the tank. So our sellers and channels can be successful. So, you know, my variable compensation 70% of it is purely based on revenue. There, there are some other things, you know, hidden budgets and other kind of MBO type things that make up the balance of it. But you know what, I’d be okay if he made 90% of it revenue accountable. A lot of my colleagues don’t believe that. But again, when, when, when, when you know what you’re held accountable for and you’re in line with the sales guys, it really it frees you because when I look at our, how we do lead generation, for example, we, when we hand off a lead to a channel or a seller, it is a warm lead.

And it only counts when it’s handed off, meaning that we have the TeleQual rep, the lead gen rep on the phone with the customer, with a sales rep or with the channel, then it goes into Salesforce. And, and by the way, the nurture path doesn’t stop until that deal is closed. And then we’ve got a post sale nurture path for the next sale. And that’s it, it has to be that way, the way the decision making process works, trying to try to shorten those sales cycles. It has to happen that way, and I’m, I’m completely comfortable with that type of model.

Jeff Pedowitz:

All right, love it. You know, we’re gonna, we’re going to have to get you on the road and advocate for that more variable comp for the CMO tied to revenue, that’s awesome. But Wes, thank you so much for being on the show this afternoon. Great insights, wonderful to hear all the success that you’re having at Mitel, and best of luck with your ongoing success.

Wes Durow:

Hey, thank you very much, Jeff, for having me on. It’s been terrific.

Jeff Pedowitz:

You bet.

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