Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 113: Q&A with Mike Braund

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By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

I hope you’re “tuning in” to Sales Pipeline Radio, live every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific.  It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.  We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into and throughout the year.  You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.

When you miss it, you can always find the transcript and recording here on our blog, every Monday morning.

This episode:  Marketing Operations Exposed! The good, bad & ugly with Mike Braund from Tableau Software

Mike will touch on:

  • Current focus: Cross channel orchestration is a focus for us (usermind, lytics)
  • Current focus: Marketing data story from impression to closed deals
  • Current focus: Refreshing our approach on predictive lead scoring with 6Sense
  • Product promotion and operational tips: We will talk about how Tableau uses a product day-to-day as a marketing operations team
  • Tips and advice: Learnings from the last year of building out center of excellence
    • Process, cross department accountability, how I’d prepare if I were starting today with the experience I now have
    • Thoughts on centralized approach vs decentralized
  • Marketing technology and teams like marketing operations teams have allowed marketing departments to transition from the perceived “cost center” to being able to paint an end to end story of all measurable engagements throughout the buyer’s journey and what sources those engagements.

More about our Guest:  Mike Braund Director, Marketing Operations at Tableau. I’ve worked at Tableau for six years. I’m newly engaged, and getting married out in Chelan this summer. I proposed on top of Table Mountain in Cape Town last September while visiting my Dad’s side of the family. I’m a huge Seahawks fan and golf addict (though I’m not good at golf yet).

If data visualization is new to you or you have interest in learning more about Tableau check out Tableau.com. Also check out Tableau’s annual conference– a one of kind experience bringing together over 15,000 data enthusiasts worldwide every year.

Matt Heinz:  Thank you for those who are joining us on Sales Pipeline Radio live as we record every Thursday at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern. Recording today live, from Heinz Marketing World Headquarters in Redmond, Washington. It is a beautiful day. It is going to be 80 degrees. The nice thing about living up here in the Pacific Northwest is the summer days and the late spring days, they just kind of keep going. We are going to have daylight until about 9:15-9:20 today. So it should be a nice day. So wherever you’re listening to Sales Platform Radio today, hope you’re enjoying your Thursday. If you’re listening to us through the podcast, thank you very much for subscribing. You can catch us, every new episode through, at the iTunes store and Google Play, and as always, every episode of Heinz, or excuse me, every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, is available past, present, and future, on salespipelineradio.com.

We feature every week, from the best and brightest names in sales and marketing, and B2B, today is no different. We are very excited to have with us Mike Braund, he is the Director of Marketing Operations at Tableau Software. Tableau, many of you know, doing some really innovative things on the marketing side, and Mike has been there for quite a while, and talk a little about marketing ops, marketing tech. Mike, thanks so much for joining us today.

Mike Braund:  Thanks for having me on Matt. I know we’ve had a connection through a common employee, Nicole, over the years but now it seems like more recently we’ve had other people trying to connect us, whether that’s vendors or other past colleagues, so excited to be able to do that via your radio show.

Matt Heinz:  Yeah, I appreciate it, and I think you know some of the notes we were looking, talking about before the show and things you guys are working on, I mean you have one of the more I think ambitious agendas for a marketing operations team I’ve seen with some of the things you guys are doing. And so I want to spend a little time digging into those, and learning what you guys are doing, to help give other people that are trying to raise the game of their marketing operations team a little bit.

One thing I know we talked about is what you guys call cross channel orchestration. And I think I interpret that as the idea of taking what you’re doing in marketing and ensuring that there’s better, tighter integration of messages and offers across channels. Talk a little bit about what that looks like for you, and what you’re doing to get there.

Mike Braund:  Yeah, I think this has a lot of movement in it right now, and you see a lot more technology popping up to try and support this idea. For us, cross channel orchestration means a couple things. One, just that trying to make sure that the different channels we’re marketing across are going to be coordinated, delivering a similar message feel. So that could be something that looks like the same experience messaging on the website, from our emails, from our display ads, and would be a good example there.

And then I think the other thing that is related, and kind of falls under that same bucket for us, is with the giant mar tech space and stack that a lot of people are operating with, it’s making sure that these tools are talking together. So you’ve got tools like Usermind and Litix, and different things that are allowing these SaaS platforms to kind of centralize in a hub, and either action off of, or create segments for and deploy out into those channels, and so just a lot of focus there in making sure that, we’re allowing systems to talk to each other, and channels to talk to each other, wherever we can.

Matt Heinz:  And how hard is that to do, if you’ve got a larger marketing team, and you’ve got different siloed channels? Is that something that is, does that have to be driven by the top? Does that have to be driven by someone like yourself who can span across that, or sort of how do you do the orchestration when you’ve got a matrix organization to begin with?

Mike Braund:  It’s a good question and honestly we’re trying to figure it out as we go right now. We don’t have this thing solved, we’re in the middle of working this, but with the example of what we’re talking about, marketing through display and email, it is an effort being driven kind of out of our marketing operations team, and then just really partnering closely with the digital marketing teams, for example social teams, and trying to get them on board. Everybody’s aware of the advantage and the experience that, that’s going to be able to improve for our customers and prospects, and now it’s just trying to organize that. And then a lot of the data work behind the scenes to actually make the connections work.

Matt Heinz:  And I know we’re talking about orchestration across channels, but I think there’s a coordination effort required as well to tell a real story of the marketing, of the influence marketing’s having across the entire buying journey. So talk a little bit about what work you guys have done to tell a story from impression to close deals, like how are you tying all of those parts of the buying journey together, to create a complete story of what’s working, but also to create a complete story of marketing’s impact?

Mike Braund:  Yeah, this is really cool for us. You know we’re able to achieve a lot of this stuff just because of the bright people we have on our teams. So we’ve got a marketing engineering team, with some database engineers that really make this work. But our website is built on Drupal. It will capture engagement from the website, both where they have come from, from a lot of the times your URL parameters, as well as the information about the offer they’re landing on. Store those interactions in almost like a Google Analytics style database, so you can really have that full anonymous visitor view, and we’re an Eloqua shop, so Eloqua provides us a GUID which is essentially a cookie ID, that’s associated to all those interactions.

And then as conversions happen, move into your marketing automation platform, and then move into your CRM. We’re starting to associate that past that GUID through to those contacts, all that data to be joined there, and then through campaign membership in our CRM which is Sales Force, and tie those to our leads and contacts. And then as those leads and contacts become part of opportunities and deals in the CRM database, we’re able to tie that whole picture together. So you’ve really got this website visitor database, you’ve got your conversion database in terms of leads and contacts, and then you’ve got your deals that are closing, and you’re able to tie those three phases together, through data points provided along the way.

Matt Heinz:  So a couple follow-up questions, I think a lot of people trying to make this attribution story end to end work. A lot of people say, “Easier said than done.” What have been some of the challenges you have faced or road blocks you faced along the way of building that journey, and that other people might want to be aware of to try and avoid?

Mike Braund:  I’d say, one of the biggest learnings is, trying to get the whole ad impression part there, and we’re still working on that part. That’s a tricky part. And we’re looking at creating almost a total repository of every single ad that we have to be able to track that. Some other learnings that we’ve had and somethings to try and avoid, I’d say just understanding the limitations of the systems that you’re working with, where something like Drupal is open source, and you’ve got developers to be able to operate there. Something like a Sales Force or Eloqua has some limitations, so a lot of planning and mapping out, all the data scenarios is invaluable before you really get started in the execution phase, so we definitely had a couple bumps in that area, but have learned and are making some good progress in this area.

Matt Heinz:  And it’d be a lot easier if everything our prospects and customers were doing was done on digital, right, but there’s interactions that are happening offline as well, whether it’s through events, through the sales organization. How do you account for some of those offline interactions, and is there a clean way to include those as part of the attribution story?

Mike Braund:  Yeah I think there is, it’s a good question though. The offline channel I guess you’d call it, needs to be a part of those different data centers that you’re mapping out. And the way that we make that happen is, by providing another ID, so we just have IDs all over the place to make this work, that is associated to a campaign level effort. So as those new leads get imported and associated to events, they also have an ID that then is tied back then to campaigns so we can understand attribution to a campaign level effort, as well as to the offline channel of an event itself.

Matt Heinz:  Awesome, well we’re talking to Mike Braund today. He’s the Director of Marketing Operations for Tableau Software. Got just a couple more minutes before we’ve got to take a quick break, but wondering if you can also talk about what you guys are doing with predictive lead scoring. Predictive has been a frothy topic for a lot of B2B marketers the last couple years. Has been a difficult nut to crack for a lot of companies as well. I’m just curious, what’s your approach to lead scoring, as well as sort of predictive account selection for more of your named accounts?

Mike Braund:  Yeah, I’m excited about this area, we’ve been long time users of predictive for about four years. Really using it as a mechanism to drop out low level quality leads. Has been really valuable for us, so we produce a lot of traffic, and new leads through our trial experience. We have operated with the belief of just allowing people to use the product freely, without validating email address or anything like that, so the product will sell itself. What that ends up doing is, just creating a lot of leads where there’s junk data, and so predictive lead scoring has really allowed us to scale out the identification of junk, and really remove 10% of our lead volume globally, while touching virtually zero revenue, through predictive lead scoring which has been really cool.

And we’re really excited to start a new partnership with Sixth Sense, who is starting to play in the side of predictive on the behavioral side, and we’ve just signed on with them. We’re getting started with data intake, and we’ll begin our modeling journey here shortly. And I’m real excited at the potential they offer, because if you think about the old lead scoring way, you have the explicit and implicit score, where a lot of people would have that Matrix style score that would come out, A1, B2s, et cetera. Predictive in the past has really been around that kind of like fit side, and Sixth Sense has started to introduce predictive on the behavioral side, which I think has a lot of power. And a lot of the times, your most successful triggers for sending leads to sales are on the behavior themselves and not just the fit.

Matt Heinz:  It is that behavior that is being observed in your own environment, is that behavior externally? Is it combining the two together?

Mike Braund:  It’s combining the two together and that’s what makes it really powerful. So it’s taking the first party data that we’re going to have on our CRM, Eloqua, and on our website, as well as external data that they’re going to be able to provide to us through search intent, outside in the B2B web as they call it.

Matt Heinz:  Mike, how many vendor pitches do you receive every week?

Mike Braund:  Very few because I just don’t pick up the phone a lot of the time.

Matt Heinz:  I’ve got to imagine though, in addition to the phone, you must just get, I mean emails and everything else, and I know we got to take a break here in a second, but I mean each one of these focus areas, I mean obviously there is usually a solution, sort of an external solution that helps with that. But when we come back from the break here, I want to talk a little bit more about not just what you’re looking for with vendors, but also sort of how do you decide what goes into your tech stack? How do you manage it, how do you optimize it over time?

Going to have a lot more here, we gotta take a quick break, pay some bills. A lot more with Mike Braund from Tableau after the break. You’re listening to Sales Platform Radio.

*Break*

Matt Heinz:  Thank you very much. If you like what you’re hearing today, I got a ton more questions for Mike here. Talk about marketing operations, and revenue ops in general. If you like what you’re hearing, you can definitely check out this episode, share it with your friends by going to salespipelineradio.com, here in a couple days.

Coming up over the next couple weeks, on Sales Pipeline Radio, we’re keeping it in the family. We’ve got Mike’s boss, Elissa Fink. She’s the CMO of Tableau. We’re gonna be focusing most of the conversation on what she thinks of Mike, and what she wishes he would be doing better. I’m kidding, we’re not gonna be talking about that. Elissa’s been at Tableau since almost the beginning, and so she’s seen a very early stage start up get very big and very successful. We’re gonna talk about what it takes to manage a marketing effort in different stages.

Week after that, we’ve got Dave Gerhardt, he’s the VP of marketing at Drift. If you’re not familiar with Drift, they are attempting to eliminate the landing page. Eliminate forms as it relates to B2B marketing. They’ve got an innovative approach they’re using to get there.

And then on the middle of May, I’m gonna be out, but we’ve got Brian Hansford, he runs our marketing performance management group. He’s gonna have a special guest talking about attribution, and how to manage marketing in a more strategic way. But today, we’ve got a little more time with Mike Braund, he’s the Director of Marketing Operations at Tableau Software, and before the break I kind of asked the question about vendors reaching out to you, and you may not pick up your phone, but you definitely have an email address. And I imagine you, like me, are seeing both good pitches and bad pitches. I’m curious, as someone who I’m assuming receives plenty of pitches in the mail, what are things that stand out to you, both good and bad?

Mike Braund:  It’s a good question, and most of it does reach me through email at this point. It’s important to really understand though, like as a marketing operations person, part of my job is to continuously be examining the mar tech space. And so, marketing technology gets brought up to us through two ways really, I think of. One, need, and two, opportunity, and I think we’re talking a little bit more about the opportunity side here. And so while it’s part of our job to be aware of what’s happening in the space, figuring out where we have opportunity comes along with that. And then as we start to get the sales pitches our way, emails and calls, being able to speak to how we can realize that opportunity is what will catch my eye, so maybe it’s something about, as simple as enriching data. How that’s gonna affect the rest of our story.

We just talked a bunch about predictive modeling and the health of your data is so important there to really be able to have a strong model, and so if they can kind of expose lots of use cases and ways that their products’ gonna be able to have impact in there, as well as something I probably already had my eye on, from examining the mar tech space, is where I’ll usually latch onto and start to engage.

Matt Heinz:  Yeah that makes sense, I was not expecting you to say you print out a copy of the marketing technology landscape of 6800 products and just start circling companies you wanna hear from, right? I think and focusing on where your need is, is what most companies do. How do you balance, and I know this can be tricky, if you look at your operations, you can say, where are we weak, or where are we manual, or we need to be automated. Where are the constraints in our funnel that we need to sort of make better. I mean there’s opportunity there, but how do you balance that with also realizing you don’t know what you don’t know. And knowing that some vendors clearly are gonna come in, and maybe have some insights or a reframe that can help you as well. You could spend all day long taking those meetings, but you can’t do that, so how do you balance those two, the push and pull of that?

Mike Braund:  It’s a good question. I don’t know if anybody’s perfect at that, or has that part mastered. I mean because honestly a lot of it, a lot of what we do ends up getting brought up through need. It’s need from our marketers, need from sales, you know brought up, “Hey we need to do this, how can we do this? I’ve heard about this.” You get a lot of it that way. And that’s usually where you kind of end up prioritizing.

The fun stuff is where you get to recognize opportunity, and then propose some business value and make moves that way. But I’d say, a majority of the time, it’s coming through need of the business, and then kind of diving into where mar tech might be able to fulfill that need.

Matt Heinz:  So Tableau continues to grow. The reach of Tableau and the size of your business and your customer base continues to grow. With that the sales numbers continue to get larger and more complex. You know a lot of companies as they grow have different ways of managing their marketing operations. Some continue to have a centralized effort, some start to break that up and have managed efforts, more locally or based on certain divisions. It seems like the Tableau approach has been more centralized. I know you spent a lot of time in the last year building out a center of excellence. Talk a little bit about how Tableau has approached and centralized marketing operations to drive performance.

Mike Braund:  Yeah this has been an interesting topic for me. I don’t know if anybody follows any of the other podcasts, but about a year ago I was on with the Relationship One Podcast, as we were really staffing this center of excellence 12 months ago. So this is actually a new approach for Tableau. For a long time we took a decentralized approach. We had the marketing managers themselves executing campaigns in Eloqua, but again like you said, with the growth of Tableau that was a different shop. That was a much smaller operations where you had generalists in positions, and as Tableau’s grown, you have specialized people coming in and really being experts in certain areas. And part of that drove a lot of the decision to start centralizing the execution of marketing campaigns through Eloqua, and so that’s what we did.

We build a centralized team. We’ve had this team for about 13 months as I say, I’ve learned a ton. I mean if I could go back, we’d do so many different things a different way. And I think some of the most important things and learnings that I’ve had out of that, is really understanding accountability throughout the process from beginning to end. And this might be a little bit extreme, but I think a good way to kind of paint the picture is, you have marketers that are kind of like the Don Draper style marketer out there, and it’s like, how do you hold a Don Draper to a process, because that’s ultimately what you have to do to have a work flow that’s successful in a centralized model. You have to have well defined requirements and requests at the beginning, with a timeline that’s gonna allow the shared resource teams to execute.

So that’s been an interesting challenge for us, and it’s led us to starting to begin to staff a project management team here within marketing operations to help us manage that whole work flow actually.

Matt Heinz:  So as Tableau grows, how do you manage the need for process and discipline, sort of scalability with agility, right, I mean I think a lot of companies as they grow and as they necessarily create sort of process and systems, it can also slow things down, and actually hurt the ability to be nimble and agile. How do you strike that balance and what are you guys doing to allow your marketing teams to continue to perform in an agile environment.

Mike Braund:  Yeah that’s another one that we’re right in the middle of. So we took this big swing in the last year towards centralization, and to your point, that slows a lot of things down. So in recognizing that, a lot of the things that we’re focusing on this year is, figuring out where some of those lesser tier campaigns can be brought back into the hands of the program managers themselves, and allow them to be self-sufficient in the way that they execute.

And so, we’re adopting some different tools to allow us to do that. One that I’ll mention is Campaign Launchpad from DemandGen team, where it’s basically a UI that sits on top of Eloqua, and offers some additional governance that you wouldn’t have inside of Eloqua. You can lock down different parts of templates, you can say you can only send to a certain amount of people, and that allows us to put some work back into the hands of other folks, so they can be more agile and nimble like you said, and then execute within templated workflows. And then our big tier one through tier three campaigns as we identify them, things like big product launches like we just did for Tableau Prep and our role based offerings, we’re still gonna manage that whole, big, huge important execution from our centralized team.

Matt Heinz:  That’s awesome. Got a few more minutes here with Mike Braund. He’s the Director of Marketing Operations at Tableau, and you know you mentioned earlier the things you wish you knew when you started some of these processes, so let’s take the hypothetical, and let’s assume that in a couple months, you’re no longer at Tableau and you’re sort of member number one of a new marketing operations team at another B2B tech company. What are the things you prioritize first?

You know, I think I look at Tableau as one of a handful of companies that are really, sort of the leading edge of doing great marketing operations. Most companies are a lot further behind in the maturity curve. So let’s say you join one of those companies, what are the things that you focus on that you look at, to get done and to get built first?

Mike Braund:  Definitely the CRM solution, and then the data model that needs to be put in place to capture everything from the lead side, to campaign side, to opportunity side, and really making sure that there’s a solid data structure there. And that’s gonna get you started on the right foot. Normalized plain data where you can control it. It really starts with the data for me because a lot of these efforts are all pointing back to data. They’re all pointing back to the need to have structured data, and data that you can use, whether it’s fragmenting or modeling like we referenced before. That’s definitely the first steps I’d take and making sure that whatever system we’re using first year in, is able to support that.

Matt Heinz:  Awesome. Well when Paul’s starting to give me the scissors sign, I know we’re out of time. We could keep going for a long time. I’ve got a bunch more questions I’d love to ask but, really appreciate our guest joining us today. Mike Braund, he’s the VP, or excuse me, he’s the Director of Marketing Operations at Tableau Software. If you like what you hear today, definitely get a replay of this episode on salespipelineradio.com here in a couple days. We will also post a highlight Q & A from this conversation, up on heinzmarketing.com.

Join us next week, we’re gonna have Mike’s boss. We’re not gonna talk about Mike, but we’re gonna talk about the evolution and growth of marketing with Elissa Fink. She’s the CMO of Tableau Software. And lots of great episodes still to come. Definitely join us next week and every week. For my great producer Paul, this is Matt Heinz, thanks for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.

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