Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 149: Q&A with Tiffani Bova @Tiffani_Bova

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By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

Late in 2015 we started producing a weekly radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which is 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’ve featured an impressive list of guests and will continue to do so with awesome content going forward. We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into and throughout the year. We’ll publish similar highlights here for upcoming episodes. You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.

We were thrilled to talk to Tiffani Bova, Growth & Innovation Evangelist, Salesforce I Author, Growth IQ in an episode called, What’s Your Growth IQ? What it Means and Why it’s Important to Your Success

Tiffani is the author of the recently published book, Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business.    

She discussed with Matt the reasons behind her Wall Street best seller and why she wrote it.

She said that the number one thing CEOs and executives are focused on is growth.  Bova found the Growth IQ is how we get smarter about the decisions we make. What she would consistently see and hear were, we’re having softness in our sales numbers or we’re finding it more difficult to grow than we have in the past, and it would tend to pull the same levers. 



“Spend more marketing dollars, hire more sales people or cut costs, and that just couldn’t be sustainable over time because we now have so much more data as we were just talking about the CRM systems and technologies is far advanced is where it was five or even 10 years ago.”

There were patterns, Bovi said, that she was hearing in high performance organizations and it she found she could sort these into specific patterns and she outlined 10 in the book.

She and Matt talk  about what she learned about the combination and sequences of a growth pattern and the importance of implementation.    

Our advice? listen to Tiffani Bova’s Podcast.  Buy the book.

Matt:  Thanks everyone for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. Always excited to have you here. If you’re listening live on the Funnel Media Radio Network, thanks for joining us at work. Hope your 2019 is off to a strong start already. Paul, can you believe that, I guess it’s the 10th, we can’t quite call it mid July or mid January, but we’re certainly well into the first month of the year. If you’re listening to the podcast, listen to Sales Pipeline Radio on demand. Thanks so much for subscribing, very humbled by the numbers we continue to see on the podcast. Thanks for joining us there.

And every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio is always available past, present, and future on salespipelineradio.com. We are featuring every week some of the best and brightest minds in B2B. Sales and marketing today is absolutely no different. Very, very excited to have her joining us. I know she’s crazy busy. I’m not sure today, Tiffani, if you’re in LA or Hawaii or yourself in a hotel room somewhere on the road. But very excited to have joining us today.

Tiffani Bova, she is the Global, Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce. Former Distinguished Analysts Research Fellow Gartner and the author of the, I’m still going to call it a new book. The book, Growth IQ. Tiffani, thanks so much for joining us.

Tiffani:  Oh, thank you for having me. Thanks for having me.

Matt:  Are you somewhere warm, are you in one of the two normal locations or where is Tiffani in the world today?

Tiffani:  Yeah, I am in one of the two normal locations. I am in Los Angeles, California, and it’s, not a cloud in the sky, but it’s a little brisk today here for us. People that have a winter much colder than us may laugh at this, but when it’s in the 50s here, everyone freaks out. So, it’s a little cool for us today.

Matt:  You got a thumbs up from Orange County centered, Paul, our producer here. Well, I appreciate you joining in. I mean, there’s a million things we could talk about here. I definitely want to talk about the book, but I think you’ve been now at Salesforce almost three years?

Tiffani:  Right.

Matt:  In the three years since you joined Salesforce, a lot has changed. You think about the internet years or the SaaS years relative to that, and I know your big focus now is on the customer experience side. What have you seen the last three years that you think is a particular trend or maybe even that surprised you in the growth or acceleration of the market in that time?

Tiffani:  Well, what’s been interesting for me is coming from the, I can only get so close to customers right from when I was previously with Gartner because we were talking at sort of a 40,000 foot level like, “Hey, what are you trying accomplish? How are you trying to grow? How are you trying to go to market? What are you trying to do from an organizational standpoint where there are points of pain that we can try and help minimize that you can improve performance.”

And now in the past three years being here at Salesforce, I’ve been coming from sort of the sales operations and product side, almost disconnect between the actual doers and users of technology and those that are deploying and enabling sales and how utilization, usage, value, understanding why they should be using the technology, and really the business benefit and individual benefit for them has been an area where I spent a lot of time trying to get the people who are deploying the technology to understand the day to day life of a seller and what they’re really looking to get out of whatever technology they’re using because it isn’t necessarily only one, the stack has gotten very big. So, it’s been really fantastic to see it from both sides over the last couple of years.

Matt:  I appreciate you saying that because I think, from a technology provider there’s sort of two perspectives that are really important. There’s what the technology does, which is clearly important, but then there’s what people do with the technology, how they use it, and then what problems it solves. We’re telling our clients all the time, technology is not your strategy, it’s the implementer of your strategy. It may be a critical one. I mean, I’m not saying this just because you’re on the show today, I’m in Salesforce every day. I probably use less than 10% of its capabilities, but it’s just as important, just as vital to my business. How do you advise clients to think about, what a technology can do versus what they need it to do and what they need to do with it?

Tiffani:  Yeah, I almost flip it on its side a little bit because I like to say that I don’t believe we have a technology problem. There is no shortage of a tool that can solve some pain point. Is it getting quotes up faster, is it responding to email faster, is it social listening, there are a plethora of different options from a tool perspective and a services perspective that is out there. So, I don’t believe we have a technology problem, I believe we have a people process problem.

So, from seller specifically, I’d like to call myself a recovering seller because I don’t carry a quota in that way anymore, but because I vicariously get to sell through and with and alongside our global Salesforce but as well on our customer side as well, I’m pretty close to what our customers are doing. Ultimately, I would say that for sales people, we are comfortable in the way we’ve always sort of, how we sell and build relationships and how we manage our calendar and our tickler files, how we’re going to follow up and all those things. So, getting the sales individuals to actually change behavior is much more difficult than what technology can actually do for them. So, one of it is sort of a people side.

The other I’d say is the process, and this one kind of is one that I continue to talk about, which is this wonderful kind of sales funnel illusion that it very easily goes from one phase to the next phase to the next phase and then miraculously closes at the end of this beautiful waterfall of activities. Well, we all know that’s not reality. The customers go back and forth and they’re making decisions very differently than they have in the past. There’s team buying, all kinds of dynamics happening on the social side and mobile side. There’s all kinds of things that are disrupting.

Matt:  Awesome. Talking today to Tiffani Bova. She is the Global, Customer Growth Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce, but also the author of the fairly new book, Growth IQ, getting smarter about the choices that will make or break your business. Tiffani, I want pivot a little bit to the book. I think this is good in the context of what you’re talking about in terms of the choices people make. Not making it about the technologies we’ve been talking about, but just making better choices that actually drive growth. Talk a little bit about where this book came from. I mean, you’ve covered a lot of topics in your years in the field and at Gartner and now at Salesforce, why this book, why this topic and why now?

Tiffani:  I think it was the number one question I got asked as I was meeting with people in my previous role and now the number one thing that CEOs and executives are focused on is growth. Hence, so the Growth IQ was how do we get smarter about the decisions we make. What I would consistently hear is, we’re having some softness in our sales numbers or we’re finding it more difficult to grow than we have in the past, and it would tend to pull the same levers. Spend more marketing dollars, hire more sales people or cut costs, and that just couldn’t be sustainable over time because we now have so much more data as we were just talking about the CRM systems and technologies is far advanced is where it was five or even 10 years ago. What were the patterns I was hearing on high performing organizations and it really came down to sort of using these very specific growth path, and I outlined 10 in the book.

But more importantly, it wasn’t about those growth path. It was absolutely about the combination and sequence in which you do them. So, combining multiple paths in which order based on your particular customer set and product suite and sales capabilities was the winning combination. As I started to socialize it, people really liked the simplicity, yet sort of logical nature that they hadn’t yet deconstructed the ways that they had been growing in the past and so, thankfully, the book has really been resonating with those that have been reading it and as you said, it’s kind of newish. It was launched in August. So, I still feel like she’s a toddler at this point. She’s not grown up yet but the early feedback has been really, really positive.

Matt:  Yeah, that’s great. I mean, I know a number of people that have not only read it but read it many, many times just to make it something that they can use. I’ve seen people, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish. People see that as a blueprint for growth, and I think people see your book the same way.



I’m curious, as you evangelize this topic and as you found organizations that use it, but also organizations that like it but have not been able to adopt it. What are some of the challenges companies have or things when they try to apply this kind of a methodology to drive growth?

Tiffani:  I think the number one thing or the very first quotes I use in the book is from Ginni Rometty the CEO of IBM which, “Growth and comfort never co-exist.”

Matt:  Right.

Tiffani:  I think the hardest part of this is that it makes people uncomfortable really changing the way they pursue growth. Now, how do they do that in an organization especially as you get into larger organizations, there’s a lot of moving pieces, and so going back to the people process side, that’s really one of the hardest things. Successes allows the teacher as Bill Gates had said, and so even if companies are growing now and they’re feeling very secure in what they’re doing, it’s highly likely and it’s actually a burn statistic that some 80% of companies will hit a growth stall at some point in their history, and only a small percentage will ever recover.

So, you have to be aware of the fact that growth is going to continue to get harder and even if you’re growing now, this is the absolute perfect time, if you’re growing, to make investments in to the future growth engines for the business. And if you are seeing that it’s getting soft and even harder to grow, try to not make the same moves you have in the past, which is cutting costs because the moment you start to cut costs, you stop investments, you stop investments, you have to let go of people. It just becomes a vicious cycle that you can’t get out of. So, if you’re in a place where you are growing, this is the best time to make those investments for growing into the future.

Matt:  I would agree. Well, get your copy of Growth IQ at Amazon or wherever good books are sold. So, definitely check out Tiffani’s website tiffanibova.com, go to /Growth IQ. You can watch her talk about why she wrote the book and learn more about the book and also get a lot of other great content from Tiffani. Well, she’s got some videos, she’s got podcast, she’s got a ton of great content I encourage you to check out.

We’re going to take a quick break here and pay some bills, but we’ll be back with more with Tiffani Bova. We’re going to talk a little more about the intersection between sales, and marketing, customer success, the entire customer lifecycle, the complexity, but benefit and potential inherent and putting those things together and doing all right. We’ll be right back on Sales Pipeline Radio.

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Matt:  We got a few more minutes here on this episode of Sales Pipeline Radio with Tiffani Bova and I want to talk a little more about sort of the implication. So, the book was written probably about a year or so ago, published last August. Things continue to evolve and I know you talk a lot about not only having a customer centric approach in your business, right on your LinkedIn profile it says, “That the most important reason to do anything is both the customers you serve and the employees who work.” So, can you talk a little bit about Growth IQ and the process of driving growth from an employee standpoint and how you manage the culture shifts required to do that well.

Tiffani:  This has been a journey for me as well. I mean, I had been speaking about customer experience being the new battleground and a lot of the work that I’ve done in my previous role, I was part of the team that made the prediction that the chief marketing officer was going to sell more than the CIO by last year or two years ago now. One of my colleagues was on the spot on and that prediction and it really sent off a flurry of acquisitions across the market by all the big software vendors and I kind of came at it from a customer experience standpoint. Everything should be oriented around the customer, customer first and the decisions that you make. What’s the experience when they engage with your sales people, or your customer service teams? What does your brand represent?

And over the last couple of years, it has really come to the forefront. The more and more I sort of socialized that, that you’re only going to be as successful, and this is not a Tiffani Bova thinking you know, it’s come from a lot of conversations I’ve had with very smart people on saying that, like, your customers are only going to be as happy as your employees and culture playing such an incredible role, how innovative a company will be, but also performance of the individual employees and the way that they will ultimately treat your customers. There’s no coincidence where I work now, from a Salesforce perspective, we’re one of the most innovative companies in the world, but we’re also one of the best places to work. Like, that’s not a coincidence.

So, thinking more about the role of the employee and making that pivot towards customer experience really is a culture conversation which ultimately is a leadership conversation. So, I started to touch on that in Growth IQ but it’s almost a book in and of itself. But ultimately I used customer experience at the very first growth path and the foundation for every other decision made. And throughout the book I consistently said, look, your people need to understand why you’re doing things, what the vision and mission of the company is, and why you’re deploying new technology, why you’re making the decisions that you’re making so that they understand their role and to always have the company’s best interest in mind, and ultimately that plays itself out of making sure that the customers are always served and served well.

So, I think that those two things can’t be separated. That’s why I’ve started talking about that more and more where it used to not be part of my talk track at all, and so that’s really something that has really flourished in my thinking since joining Salesforce.

Matt:  Yeah, I love hearing you talk about that. I think the more we work with companies that are trying to create a more customer centric culture, or they’re trying to better integrate customer facing teams into a coherent approach in the customer, sales, marketing, biz dev, customer success, account management, that culture shift becomes critical. I’ve noticed more CMOs and more marketing leaders think beyond just the sales funnel now and really think, especially B2B, think about the entire customer lifecycle. What are you seeing in the field? Are you seeing more, sort of, a broader approach beyond just the buying journey into the customer lifecycle, and how does that get operationalized inside organizations as well?

Tiffani:  I’d say that this is a slippery slope for me. I always worry that I feel like since digital marketing became big conversation sort of seven years ago-ish, and really elevating the amount of technology and solutions and tools that the marketing department was following customer journeys and ecommerce and social listening and social selling and kind of all of that, that I worry that the gap between sales and marketing has actually gotten larger because of it, because there was already naturally, this rift between the two. And you sort of layer in more and more to your point that marketing is taking over more purview on things like owning customer experience, which is one of my hot buttons. Like, I don’t think anybody owns it. I think the whole company owns it. I think the only person who owns the customer is the customer. It has to be that everybody understands from sales, marketing, and customer service, what their role is in delivering a powerful and engaging experience.

And so marketing needs to enable customer service as they enable sales, sales needs to understand that customer service is actually going to be generating much larger percentage of revenue and “lead the CRM system” going forward because they’re taking much different kinds of engagement calls, whether it’s chat, whether it’s online, whether it’s email, whether it’s phone, whether it’s on social, whatever it might be, and so to your point, the connection between those three. But I always worry about taking over more purview and that kind of command and control and I own it. So, this is what we’re going to do, versus going back to what we were just saying. It’s starting with the customer working backward into a customer. And I know personally, as a consumer, when I have a good or bad experience, I don’t turn around and go, “I’m going to call the product marketing manager or I’m going to call the brand manager.” No. it’s, I’m calling my sales rep, or I’m calling customer service.

The front line for a customer is not the marketing department. Making sure that those things stay connected, and it isn’t about marketing versus, it’s an end statement and so I think everyone needs to think differently about the different roles that the groups play today.

Matt:  Love it. We got just a few more minutes here with Tiffani Bova. She is the author of the book Growth IQ. A couple more questions for you just, one, I’ve heard you say before that the backbone of corporate growth is actually personal growth. Can you explain what you mean by that and talk about, for anyone listening to this podcast, whether they’re a CMO or whether they’re an intern at an organization, what do they do about that?

Tiffani:  This is all about personal disruption, and this came from a conversation I had with Whitney Johnson who’s sort of one of the foremost thinkers in that. She’s written books about it, and it’s sort of what she is best at. I would tell you that when I started talking with Whitney and understanding this personal disruption has to happen before you’re ever able to be willing to disrupt the business and the things that you do. And even something as simple as changing your staff meetings from Monday to Wednesday, driving a different way to work. You have to start to think that I can’t be so comfortable in my day to day and the way I work and approach work, that if you’re so comfortable, and going back to Ginni’s quote of growth and comfort never coexist.

If you’re not a little uncomfortable in what you’re trying and doing, then you’re not pushing yourself enough. So, it’s really about, how can you be uncomfortable, not reckless, but just uncomfortable so that you can really start to not only transform yourself, but ultimately transform the teams around you. How you collaborate, how you work with, and more importantly, hopefully in the end the customers start to see a very different type of brand engagement because you’re willing to do things differently.

Matt:  Love it. Just last question for you real quick that we ask most of our guests. Would love to hear, I mean, you had a very distinguished career, you speak all over the world. Curious to hear, who are the people that have inspired you? Who are the people that you’ve read and learned from over the years? They can be professors, managers alive or dead, but who are some people that you might recommend other listeners seek out or recognize as well?



Tiffani:  Yeah, that’s a great question because I would tell you that when I went down and began this journey on the book, I reached out to a very tight knit group of people that I looked up to, and whether it was a Seth Godin, or a Dan Pink, or a Whitney Johnson, or Arianna Huffington. There’s a handful which all of those particular people endorsed the book, but I reached out to them as I’ve had the wonderful pleasure of being able to meet them and do things with them both on stage and off, and in prep for the book I read, I don’t know, I re-read 75 or so business books. It’s sort of the classics that everybody has read from a Clayton Christensen to Jim Collins to Tom Peters, et cetera.

I’d say that there are so many that inspire me, but my podcast is really that inspiration engine for me. What’s Next with Tiffani Bova, and that’s my conversation with those that inspire me every day to really push to disrupt myself and be uncomfortable with what I do and what I say like we were just talking about. Like, I had never pivoted towards culture until I started having these conversations in this new role, and it’s really opened my eyes and expanded my thinking. That’s really what it’s all about. Always being curious and being a student of what you do every day. So, I’m blessed to get the opportunity to do what I do.

Matt:  I love that. Always be curious and embrace uncomfortability. That is not something that is easy, but I think you’ve proven that it’s something that can certainly lead to success.

Want to thank our guest today, Tiffani Bova. If you’d like to learn more about the book Growth IQ, you can get a copy at amazon.com. If you want to learn more about her podcast and other interesting, if you’d like to have her come speak at a future event definitely check her out at Tiffanibova.com, we’ll have links to that in our podcast.

Thanks everyone for joining us today. We unfortunately we’re out of time. We’ll be back next week at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern. I’ll figure that out one of these days, Paul. Any episode, do you want to find a Sales Pipeline Radio including this episode, if you want to share it with your colleagues as well as every episode past, present, future, open salespipelineradio.com. From my great producer Paul, this is Matt Heinz. Thanks for joining us for another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.

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