Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 96: Q&A with Dan Frohnen

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Late in 2015 we started producing a bi-weekly radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which runs live every other 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 already featured some great guests and have a line up of awesome content and special guests into 2016. Our very first guest was Funnelholic author and Topo co-founder Craig Rosenberg.  Next we had Mike Weinberg, incredible writer, speaker, author, followed by Conrad Bayer, CEO & Founder of Tellwise.  Recent Guests: Jim KeenanJoanne BlackAaron Ross; Josiane Feigon, Meagen Eisenberg, and Trish Bertuzzi.

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.

Listen in or read our conversation below entitled:  Sales/Sales Development/Marketing: The Trifecta for Successful Pipeline Development

Trifecta: any achievement involving three successful outcomes

Pipeline development is not a one department job. In order to succeed in this day in age, modern marketers need to take a seat at the revenue table and own the revenue number along with their Sales peers. That means driving pipeline, owning successes and misses, and continuing to up the game to beat competitors in this noisy world we now operate in. What’s better than one team winning … three! Join Matt and Dan as they discuss steps you can take to up your pipeline game and build the ultimate trifecta.

More about Dan:  

Data-driven Marketing Executive. Focused Team-Leader skilled in consistently delivering innovation, visibility, and sales for on- and off-line marketing and demand programs. Expert in building strong organizations with a 360-marketing mix / demand generation programs including market research, social media, trade shows & events, digital, direct marketing, public relations, advertising, e-mail, analysis, CRM, marketing automation, SEO / PPC, creative brainstorming, sales / market development strategy and partnerships.

Passion for conceptualizing and implementing marketing strategy, exceeding targeted projections, and leading teams for both B2B & B2C programs. Strengthens organization with out-of-the-box thinking and an entrepreneurial spirit.

Specialties: Large Team Leadership, Lead / Demand Generation, Problem-Solving & Optimizing, Account Based Marketing (ABM), Business / Sales Development, Strategy & Analysis, Go-To-Market Strategy, International Marketing, Tactical Execution, Marketing Mix Integration, Start-Up organization, Growth, Turn-arounds, and Operations.

Matt:  Thanks, everyone, for joining us in another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. We are here every Thursday at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern. Thanks for joining us live. I know a number of people are joining us live on the Sales Lead Management radio network. We are also available through podcasts anytime. You can catch up on all our episodes through the iTunes store and Google Play, and every past, current and future episode of Sales Pipeline Radio is available at salespipelineradio.com.

We are featuring the best and brightest minds in sales, in marketing, B2B sales and marketing every week, and today is no exception. I’m very excited to feature today and welcome to Sales Pipeline Radio Daniel Frohnen. He is the vice president of marketing at Skedulo, and Daniel, thanks so much for joining us today.

Dan Frohnen:  Absolutely. I’m really excited to be here. Thank you so much.

Matt:  Absolutely. Right within your LinkedIn is a description, the LinkedIn profile. The first thing it says after your name and title is it says “Sales-focused CMO.” What does that mean to you? What does it mean to be a sales-focused CMO?

Dan Frohnen:  To me, it just means that I’m keeping my eye on the prize, that cash is king or queen at the end of the day, and that everything that I do needs to somehow be contributing to that revenue. I try to support my sales teams as much as I humanly can with everything that I do as a marketer.

Matt:  Clearly as a marketer, to have a level of revenue responsibility is becoming more and more important for B2B organizations. You talk about this trifecta sometimes of successful pipeline development. Can you talk about those three components and why you think they’re so important?

Dan Frohnen:  Yes. To me, in every organization I’ve been in, in order to truly be successful at developing that pipeline and dominating the markets that they’re going after, you really need to be on the same page with your sales team, your sales development team, and then your marketing team, and everyone needs to know what their goals are that are associated with that. If that trifecta is in place, then you’re going to have pretty successful outcomes, so if the three functions are growing towards the same goal and those goals all align, then you’re going to win. That’s been my approach in B2B marketing since I joined the game.

Matt:  Let’s talk about alignment for a second on this. Saying that sales and marketing have the same objective, that seems like the easy part. Actual operational alignment between those organizations can be elusive. What are some of the keys you’ve found in your career so far to drive that operational alignment?

Dan Frohnen:  Yeah, I think a lot of it has to do with … you know, there’s a saying in business, the “open kimono,” meaning just putting everything on the table and not being afraid to have hard conversations and have a magnifying glass on yourself. I think that when you walk into a room with your sales people and your sales leadership, you just need to say, “Everything that I might be proposing to hit these joint goals might not be right, and I need to be able to hear some criticism, but coming from a good place that ultimately is going to drive the business forward,” and be willing to pivot and change things a little bit and give a little bit. I think, like any successful relationship in life, if you can hear the other side and then either make your case and move forward or compromise a little bit, you’re going to be better for it.

Matt:  Let’s talk about the cultural implications of that. I think when we look at companies that are trying to integrate what sales and marketing are doing, whether those teams report to the same person or not, you still have to take into account the historical roles that sales and marketing have taken for themselves. I think especially on the marketing side, where at worst marketing has been seen as sort of a glorified arts and crafts department, but at best marketing’s been focused on a goal like an MQL, for example, that may not necessarily align with what the sales team needs to convert.

Driving alignment around that from a cultural standpoint, so that you’ve got not just executives buying into it and metrics tied into it, but also have everyone down the line leaning in on it and executing on a daily basis. What have you seen working, and what are some of the things even that you’ve struggled with to try to drive that kind of cultural movement as well?

Dan Frohnen:  Yeah. I mean, it’s an interesting point. If you look at the trends in B2B marketing, particularly in the tech space over the past few years, it has been very top-of-funnel. Fill it with leads, get MQLs, and then churn and burn and move on to the next thing. I think over the past year or two you’ve seen a lot of sales development and BDR teams actually start to report in to marketing, and even if not reporting in, the tech stack typically, if you start to look at some ABM tools, are very much integrated with marketing, and that conduit between sales and marketing is that sales development or BDR team.

I actually think that the more aligned you are with your development function, the more you’re on the same page, the more you’re treating that as an extension of your demand generation, the better off you’re going to be, because ultimately that’s feeding the pipeline into sales and is aligned usually to an individual AE or group of them. If you can get that right and make sure that you’re sending the right pipeline their way, then it goes a long way in smoothing out what could be some rough water.

Matt:  We’re talking on Sales Pipeline Radio today with Daniel Frohnen. He’s the vice president of marketing at Skedulo, a self-described sales-focused CMO. Certainly if you look at the work that they have done in the work he has done, he certainly has actions to stand behind that as well.

I think it’s interesting to look at marketers taking a seat at the revenue table, embracing a level of revenue responsibility. What does that mean in terms of both the compensation and just broadly reward and attribution, clarify how does that get muddier when you’ve got marketing now taking ownership, or at least some level of responsibility, for a metric that they don’t have complete control over?

Dan Frohnen:  Yeah, that’s definitely interesting. I’ve always made it very clear to leadership or boards of directors when I come into a business that marketing does not create pipeline. On a chart that shows what group is going to bring what exact pipeline dollar to the table, you’re not going to see marketing, but what I will show you is a percentage attribution number. I like to keep a percentage attribution number at a healthy level, but I also like to see a fair amount of prospecting, things coming in from alliances channels as well.

In terms of actual compensation, I believe very strongly that a marketing organization that does have a variable part to their compensation, that they are tied to that pipeline number, and ultimately the revenue achievement as well, to have some skin in the game and make sure that they are doing the right things that are going to drive the success on the revenue side.

Matt:  Is that different than just changing what their bonus is? I think there’s some organizations that are making steps toward this. I’ve seen them simply say, “Listen, marketing, no longer going to get measured on MQLs, we’re going to get measured on SQLs,” and at least that’s a step in the right direction. Is this about changing what’s measured to get their bonus, or is there a commission play here? This isn’t just what’s going on today, but what are you seeing as options, as viable options, heading into next year?

Dan Frohnen:  For me, I don’t think a commission model necessarily works for a marketer. I think typically a lot of the variable compensation is lower on that marketing side, so to me it might not be as exciting and they might not try to work towards it in actual closed business. If you actually do tie an actual quarterly bonus to your variable compensation, and it’s tied to a pipeline number or at least an SQL number, moving it further down the funnel, I think you have something there.

Matt:  I think you’re right, and I have a premise on how the compensation just ties into getting attribution and credit. I think a lot of the attribution concerns between sales and marketing comes down to credit. It comes down to people wanting to make sure that they get credit for the work that they did. If marketing is no longer measured just based on lead volume and leads coming into sales, if they’re focused more on getting sales converted, how do you measure that credit? Is that something that you guys face at all, and what are some ways that you’re doing or that you recommend companies do to handle the issue of attribution and credit across what is clearly a far more complex buying journey?

Dan Frohnen:  Yeah. To me, I try to make it extremely clear to leaders that I report in to and boards of directors at companies that attribution is really just a tool for me to measure success in a marketing program, and see if I should take the dollars that have been entrusted to me to grow the business and put them into the right spots. When it comes to credit for pipeline, I want the BDR or SDR team and the AEs to take full credit. They actually picked up the phone, did a social selling play, met someone in person and did the hard work to convert that into pipeline, and they should have that glory the entire way.

Matt:  Interesting. Yeah, I think that’s a really interesting perspective, and I agree that from a marketing perspective, ensuring that sales feels like their work is rewarded, that marketing recognizes how hard that work is, is really important.

I want to go back, before we have to hit a commercial break here, to the idea of sales versus sales enablement, and you think of this as this trifecta of sales, sales development and marketing, as opposed to sales and marketing. Talk a little bit about how you’re separating out sales and sales development. Is that because sales development is that middle ground between sales and marketing and it’s owned in different places, or why is it three versus two?

Dan Frohnen:  Yeah. To me, a sales development team is really… they’re kind of picking up that MQL and making it sales-qualified before a selling organization should really even be looking at it and trying to develop it further. To me, that’s a natural extension of your demand generation function. Again, if it’s aligned properly, then I think it feeds the right things to the sales organization.

For me, sales then being a separate function, I strongly believe, and I think a lot of sales leaders would agree with me, that salespeople need to be hungry. They need to always be prospecting, whether that’s into their existing accounts for cross-sell/upsell opportunities, or big whale accounts and strategic accounts. To me, if you look at each area as a separate contributor to that pipeline, I think that’s where that trifecta comes in.

Matt:  Who should own that middle piece of sales development? Is that a marketing function or is that a sales function?

Dan Frohnen:  It’s been a marketing function for me for the past couple years. At the end of the day, as long as it’s aligned between sales leadership and marketing leadership, we’re so commingled in terms of what a tech stack is. If you are following an ABM approach, it’s a target account with a BDR and an AE assigned to it, so to me it’s tomato, tomahto. It’s probably who’s the most passionate about the function, who’s got the time to nurture it and pay the most attention to it.

Matt:  Right, I agree with that. I really like that answer because it’s not, “Well, this is a lead qualification issue, this should be marketing.” It’s not, “Oh, well, this is a sales function, it’s in sales.” I think there’s all kinds of precedents and best practices out there, but you have to pay attention to your organization, your culture, what makes sense for you, to get that right.

Boy, we are covering a lot of ground here with Daniel Frohnen. He’s the vice president of marketing to Skedulo. We are going to be back with more discussion. We’re going to talk a little more about org chart between sales and marketing, where that should report, how to best manage that. We’re going to get into some of the biggest questions facing B2B marketers heading into 2018. We’ll take a quick break, pay some bills. This is Sales Pipeline Radio.

[Commercial Break]

Matt:  Yeah. Well, thank you very much for coming back here to Sales Pipeline Radio. We are covering a lot of ground today. We’re going to get back to our guest, Dan Frohnen, here in a second. Make sure you do join us every week. We are reporting every week and are available both on demand at salespipelineradio.com as well as through our podcast.

Next week we’re going to feature Guy Weismantel. I’m going to get that name right. He’s a VP of marketing at Marchex, so we’re going to be talking about the offline blind spot for marketers in an omnichannel world. We’ve got such great measurement and reporting on a lot of our online efforts, but offline sometimes is a little more difficult. We’re going to be talking with Guy about that.

Coming up later in December, Paul, this has gone so fast. I feel like we barely know each other and we are at our 100th episode.

Paul:  Oh, my goodness.

Matt:  At the end of December, we’ve got our 100th episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. We’re going to have cake, we’re going to have streamers. We’re going to have none of those things, but we are going to have Joe Hyland. He is the CMO of ON24, and we’re going to be talking about doing a post-mortem for 2017, how to think about and plan and ensure you are hitting the ground running after the streamers and champagne on January second, into the new year.

I want to get back to our guest today, Dan Frohnen. He’s the vice president of marketing at Skedulo, and I want to talk a little more about org chart. You know, you’ve got, Dan, sort of … it’s payoffs now from an org chart standpoint. Sometimes you’ve got marketing reporting in to a CRO or a head of sales because it’s a, quote/unquote, sales-oriented culture. We talked a little bit about sales development sometimes reporting in to marketing. Is there a best practice? Is that another thing that is really just tied to organization?

I think some companies worry that putting those together, depending on what the background is of the person at the top, means that you’re a marketing-centric or sales-centric organization, and that means the other team, quote/unquote, lost. What’s your thoughts on overall sales and marketing org chart and how that works best?

Dan Frohnen:  Yeah, it’s interesting. I’ve worked in multiple scenarios. I reported in to a COO before. My last company, Apttus, we reported in to a CRO and then I reported in to an SVP of marketing, and then here directly to the CEO and in past a couple times directly to the CEO. I think it has to be organization-specific, and I think it has to be based on the people. If you do have a revenue leader who has a marketing background and a sales background and that’s what feels natural for the business, then I think that makes sense.

I think if you’re a startup and the board wants to have exposure to all of the functions, then typically you’ll see it flat, but I think it’s partially the business and the people that are there. I think it’s partially the maturity of the business, and I don’t think there’s really a right or a wrong answer. I really do think it’s company- and people-specific.

Matt:  We have now spent most of this conversation talking about the sales pipeline and the way sales and marketing work together, which is important, but for heads of marketing like yourself and for CMOs running organizations, it seems we are collectively spending 90-plus percent of our time talking about acquisition, talking about the funnel. What about retention? What about lifetime value? How do we balance the customer management side of this, and how do you think about that in your role?

Dan Frohnen:  Yes. I mean, I’ve been at a few different companies, and it really depends on who the leader is of their customer success function in the organization. I think, luckily for me at Skedulo, we have an extremely strong leader in that function, so it’s easy for me to sit down and say, “Okay, how can I support you in terms of better communicating product releases, making sure that we have events like Dreamforce, that we’re actually having events that are catered around men, that we’re starting to create community and make ourselves as sticky as possible and as big of a part of the business as possible?”

To me, marketing can and should always have a role in just the retention, but then also the cross-sell/upsell, so making sure that we’re tactful in how we’re communicating to customers and letting them know if there’s product innovation, or even just keeping our brand on their radar so that they constantly think about us and make sure that they’re utilizing it to the fullest, and able to expand if they’re going to do that as well.

Matt:  I would agree with you. I think one of the other elements that sometimes gets forgotten or at least put on the back burner of the traditional marketing function is brand. I think it’s interesting to see a lot of organizations focus on next Tuesday’s email and focus on growth packing their landing pages. Obviously we still have to make the number this month and this quarter. Sometimes brand’s put on the back burner, and brand is forgotten as a way of building sustainable, repeatable, predictable pipelines. How do you balance the need, or is there a need I guess, to build brand while you’re filling the funnel?

Dan Frohnen:  Yeah, I think that there absolutely is. Brands, and I even wrote myself a note for this show today that just because you care about revenue does not mean that you don’t care about brand. Brand to me is that top-level strategic thing that you’re constantly looking at. You should be revisiting your brand moments at least once a month, whether it’s with a PR company, your creative agency that you’re either using internally or externally.

To me, brand is your go-to-market message. It’s everything that you say. It’s the look and feel, and it should be reflective of your company’s personality and the last thing you want to leave in someone’s mind, whether they’re a prospect at the top of the funnel, someone that you’re actively engaged with or a customer. It’s definitely got to be paid attention to constantly.

Matt:  That’s right. All right. Well, wrapping up a little bit of our time here with Daniel Frohnen from Skedulo, vice president of marketing. We’re recording this right before the beginning of December. The Starbucks cups are already red, so I’m sure you guys have also been planning more for 2018. What are some of the biggest questions you’re thinking about and facing for your organization and for your marketing team as we look at the new year?

Dan Frohnen:  I think more than anything, it’s just how to be as thoughtful as possible in our communication, how not to do what I think is so natural for people, which is just to kind of churn and burn, but slow down a little bit. Make sure we have the right content, the right channels, and that we’re doing the best possible job that we could do to communicate our value out to our potential audiences, so that we can win them over and help them transition their businesses and be more successful.

Matt:  Well, all right. Last question I want to throw at you that we ask everybody, who are some of the people you have learned from? Who are some of the people that either you’ve worked with or that you’ve read? Who are some people and resources that you would recommend others check out, or that have made a significant impact in your growth as a marketing leader?

Dan Frohnen:  For me, I come back to the motivational thing, so to me, Zig Ziglar, obviously. Tony Robbins, I love just the kind of motivation behind that. Then there’s all these young up-and-coming guys, like Morgan Ingram, I just can’t say enough about that kid, or guy at this point. He just started doing the Barrows and he’s just amazing. Then to me, the person who gave me my chance here in the Silicon Valley, Maria Pergolino. I love watching what she does and her thought leadership.

Matt:  Absolutely. Great, great people. It’s amazing, Paul, how many times we hear people like Zig Ziglar come up. It’s like sales and marketing, no matter who it is, Zig’s the man.

Well, anyway, we are out of time, as happens way too fast, but I feel like we covered a lot of good ground. I want to thank our guest, Daniel Frohnen, the vice president of marketing at Skedulo. If you want to check them out, I certainly would encourage you do that. They are at skedulo.com. If you want to share this episode with other people on your team, share some of Daniel’s thoughts on the future of marketing and how to organize your team for success, you can check us out on the podcast. Download this episode on demand at salespipelineradio.com, and we will have a summary of the highlights from this episode on our blog at heinzmarketing.com in just a couple days.

That’s it for today. For our great producer, Paul, this is Matt Heinz. Thank you for listening to Sales Pipeline Radio.

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