Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 328: Q & A with Lauren Vaccarello

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If you’re not already subscribed to Sales Pipeline Radio or listening live every Thursday at 11:30 a.m Pacific on LinkedIn (also on demand) you can find the transcription and recording here on the blog every Monday morning.  The show is less than 30 minutes, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.

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This week’s show is entitled, Right-Sizing Your Tech Stack Amidst Economic Uncertainty and my guest is Lauren Vaccarello, CMO at Salesloft.

Tune in to hear more about:

  • The importance of getting data and insights right.
  • How sales enablement can impact customer facing teams.
  • How companies are leaning in and using platforms as their core marketing mechanism moving forward.

Listen in now for this and MORE, watch the video or read the transcript below:

Matt:     All right. Welcome everyone to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. My name is Matt Heinz. I am your host here every week, Thursday, at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern. Thank you so much for joining, for watching. If you’re watching here in Seattle, watching here live, stay inside. The weather is fine, but the smoke is real bad. We were just talking about that before we came online. But if you’re watching live, thank you very much for joining us in the middle of your workday. You can be part of the show if you’re watching this live on LinkedIn, feel free to make a comment, ask a question, a rebuttal. We take all types for our guests today, as well as for our topic today, all around sales engagement and supporting sales teams, especially into the headwinds of different economic conditions. So, definitely look forward to making you part of the show. Feel free to comment and ask questions. If you’re listening or watching on demand, thanks again for downloading, for subscribing, for watching every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, past, present, and future, always available at salespipelineradio.com.

Every week we feature some of the best and brightest minds in B2B sales and marketing. We have a repeat guest today. Last time I think we had you on, Lauren, we were talking about account-based marketing. Today, I’m very excited to have Lauren Vaccarello, she is the CMO at Salesloft. Lauren, thanks very much for joining us.

Lauren: Oh, my God, thanks for having me. I was so excited to come back on the show with you, Matt.

Matt:     I appreciate that very much. There’s so much we can talk about. I’ve been a huge fan of Salesloft for a very long time. We can talk about the sales engagement opportunity and how it is expanded and changed over the years beyond just like automated email drips, and what it’s doing now to support an entire sales organization. At some point, whenever I think about Salesloft, I also think about culture. I think about great companies, I think about companies that are values driven and purpose driven and have a great culture. We can get there as well.

But let’s start with the basics and talk about what… And I don’t want you to make this a commercial, but what is Salesloft? It’s changed over time. I was an early customer when it was a prospector, when it was giving you access to lists, and it has now evolved into a full platform to support sales professionals. So, real goal is to make sure people are grounded in what is Salesloft today.

Lauren: So, Salesloft is the leading sales engagement tool. We help sales drive revenue. So, how I like to think about is, I’m going to move my teacup, so I don’t spill tea in the middle of this. How I like to think about sales engagement reminds me a lot about back in the dark ages when I used to be a seller, and I was the equivalent of an SDR, and you would get your list of leads and you were like, “I can call 50 of these people, and this is what I can do, and everything is going to be pure ad hoc.” So, it started off with, “There’s a better way to do that now.” So, it’s not just like, “Here’s the list, and I’m just going to randomly do this.” So, with one of the basic parts of the platform around cadence is really going to be how do you automate a lot of that activity? But not just pure automation, but how do you add real personalization? How do you also add that level of predictability within a seller’s day?

So, whether it’s how do I prioritize? Who’s the hottest lead to call down on? What do I do? Should I call? Should I send a LinkedIn invite? Should I send an email? That’s the basics where when I was a seller back in the dark ages, this would’ve completely revolutionized how I sold. I would’ve driven more leads, more opportunities, and more revenue. And then, the platform has really evolved to say. It’s not just about that initial outreach, it is about what we’re going to do to improve forecasting, how do you improve coaching, and really thinking about the entire revenue motion for a seller, whether you are an SDR, an AE, an SA. I even have cadences setup as the CMO.

Matt:     Oh, I do as well. I use it for prospects, for partners, I use it for members of my entrepreneur group. You really think about it – like people think, “Oh, this isn’t just sales enablement.” Yeah, there’s a whole account management side of this that gets really, really interesting. Fundamentally, for as long as I’ve been doing B2B marketing in general, there’s this fundamental… there’s two questions, right? Who do I call, and what do I say? And who do I call or who do I contact? Who next and why? And I think about the broader answer to that question that isn’t just pre-made sequences, it’s also incorporating the right data in the right moment to help me adjust what that looks like day to day, even within the day. Talk about the answers to those basic questions, but how important data and insights are, to getting it right.

Lauren: It’s critical. It’s the most valuable asset we all have this time. Insights determine how you decide to follow up on this lead or call this open opportunity, and what you’re going to do. You could do things like… So, I think of 6sense as an example and how you can pull in intent data. If I know that Matt has a high intent to buy, he’s on the website, he’s paying a lot of attention, he’s highly engaged, shouldn’t I surface that? So, I call Matt and follow up with him right now. And then even with… Yeah, I think about coaching, there’s great data points that I’m totally going to be directionally correct, but not 100% correct, which is why I’m in marketing, not in engineering, where it’s something like reps who get coached are 60% more effective. So, then I start to pull in different data points and then I say, “Okay, Matt is talking about these particular things with this rep or with this potential customer, but you know what, if he talks about this instead it’s actually going to have a better chance of win rate. Additionally, Matt sends this many emails, he really doesn’t like calling. So, how can I take that data, and go back and say, Matt, you’re not quite hitting your number. And to be perfectly honest, only like 60% of AEs hit their number and 40% don’t and in no other profession is a 40% fail rate a good thing.

But what if I can say, “Matt, I’m looking at what you’re doing. You don’t seem to like calls. You tend to lean into emails. When you’re talking on the phone, you’re not bringing up these different things. We’ve seen that your peers who bring up these points are actually more successful. And if you call customers at the moment of interest that you can see over here, you’re going to hit your number.” Giving you that information means we’re taking the guesswork out of your job. You’re getting real effective coaching. And then you have the tools to actually go and execute.

Matt:     Where this has evolved and the information that’s available, the insights that’s available, the coaching that’s available, it is helping… To me, it’s helping to enable leaders of these sales organizations even when they haven’t been traditional sales leaders – as we see more marketers and CMOs own the BDR function. So, we’ve talked about how sales engagement can impact any number of customer-facing teams. But for marketers that are now managing customer-facing people, not just programs, that is a different function, a different role, and there’s a learning curve for a marketer to learn how to manage salespeople. But having those insights into that coaching opportunity makes it feel a little closer to a marketing channel where you can evaluate data and can make adjustments. Talk about where the similarities are there, but then also just given the people factor where the similarities may end. And what are some things that marketers and other leaders need to do to manage the people side of making a platform like this work.

Lauren: Completely. So, I have to say, I love managing BDRs. I love seeing it in more and more companies, the SDR or BDR or whatever you call it, function moving into marketing. First of all, all great B2B marketers care about pipeline, care about revenue. If you only care about leads, we’re going to have a different conversation. As a marketer, we are so focused on pipeline, and your CRO tends to be more focused on close as he or she should be. It’s closing your number; it’s hitting your number. I have been obsessed with pipeline literally my entire career. And now, in the last several years, having the BDR sit in marketing, it’s a great advantage for marketers because we can dig into the data, and hyper focused on it. We can look at not just your call recordings, but what the different activities and actions that reps do that lead to increased output. We can look at all those things.

As marketers, we also have a little bit of subject matter expertise, where a BDR will focus on, this is what the sequence looks like or this is what the email looks like. Marketers tend to have a degree of expertise in – this is a really good subject line, and to provide that level of insight, the things that are really different is you can’t treat a BDR like you treat a marketer. It’s different. It’s different skill sets. It’s different functions, it’s different motivations. So, how we look at it is… Okay, how should we be thinking about motivation and compensation for a BDR versus a marketer? It’s going to be in a lot of ways. We just did disc profiles and insight profiles. It’s also a lot of different personality types that tend to gear towards that role. If you have that knowledge, it’s a different personality type, a different motivator, you can start to gear your comp planning and your outcomes planning to that, and then we just dig into the data with them. And a lot of how we run our teams is, here’s the numbers, here’s the insights, here’s the data. Okay, now tell me your side of it. Because there’s only so much, you’re going to get from the numbers, so what are the insights that you all have?

Matt:     Awesome. We’re talking today with Lauren Vaccarello, she’s the CMO at Salesloft.
And these tools continue to evolve, the entire tech stack continues to evolve. And I think what used to be table stakes has really changed. I don’t know if this is a hot take or controversial, but I’m seeing some companies that are maybe in industrial markets, we see manufacturing clients that don’t have a tech stack and are saying, “Okay, what is the modern set of tools that we need?” And depending on the finite nature of their market, they’re saying, “I need a CRM, I need a lead engagement tool, and I need an ABX platform. I need something with intent signals to help me understand who to sell to. I need an implementation tool to help my sellers go to market, and I need a CRM to organize all that together.” What’s missing in that list is marketing automation. And so, I’m definitely seeing some companies say marketing automation in the right market may be either a nice to have or a no longer necessary, given the capabilities in a platform. Just curious if you’re seeing any companies or seeing any direction where people are leaning in and using the platforms as their core marketing mechanism moving forward?

Lauren: That’s a great question. It’s funny, I was just on a marketing leaders’ Slack thread last night, where there was a conversation and a question that was like, “I have Pardot. Do I need Salesloft?” Or “Do I need this?” And my initial take was, “These two, totally different things. Your Pardot, your marketing automation is going to be great at the big ticket. I’m going to send a large email. If you want to do real personalization, you need something like a sales engagement platform to do that one to one. It also goes beyond just email, where your marketing automation platform, this is what it’s geared for.”

I’m starting to see more, especially for companies that are just starting, to your point, you have to have a CRM, you have to have a sales engagement platform because how else would each individual go to the next individual, when marketing automation starts to become less of a day one technology where a CRM and a sales engagement is. But what is still critical is, what are you doing for your lead routing? What are you doing for your big marketing communication? We are starting to see the smaller personalized communication is having a better efficacy than the big marketing communications. But this is going to maybe be controversial, but everyone needs a newsletter. You’re still going to send that out.

Matt:     I would agree with you. I think a lot of companies still say it’s the EFN, it’s the email effing newsletter, that is foundational for a lot of companies. But I wonder moving forward, for many companies that is just a one size fits all. Hand-Raiser like ours is, right? Once a month, we send out a newsletter, but throughout the month, we have more specific personalized emails based on things that just happened, based on intent signals that just triggered, right? And I would argue that those messages, the right message to the right person at the right time is far more interesting.

Now, if we want to do a newsletter, shouldn’t that newsletter be automatically personalized, customized to each person versus just programmed once for however many people? And that’s where I start to get into thinking about what does an intent signal tell us? What does the information, the data that I have in my CRM and my sales engagement tool tell us? And these may not be things we can do today, but those newsletters don’t need to be one size fits all, the way they have. And so, I think we’re moving into a direction of saying, “Yes, sometimes bigger audiences, yes, newsletter, but more intimate, more specific, more personalized.”

Lauren: And it’s just about having a degree of relevancy to everything that you get. If you’re going to send me this giant newsletter, and I’m a customer, and I’m a small business customer, and you’re telling me about all of this functionality that’s candidly not related to what I do, I may stop paying attention. So, I do think there is a place for big, but you have to tailor it to your audience.

Matt:     And then if they step back and think, “Okay. So, are there some people that moving forward? They don’t really want the email. They prefer the text. They prefer the WhatsApp. They prefer snippets of information, even on a TikTok. Last week at a conference, someone made the most compelling case I’ve seen so far about maybe not TikTok, but TikTok format of content and for different audiences. And if that’s how they’re engaging, and if that’s increasing the frequency and attention they give you, what is the role of that newsletter? Or has it already naturally replaced it for some people?

Lauren: I think what you’re bringing up which… I feel as marketers, we intend to remember, but we forget, it’s the, it’s not about us, it’s about them. It is about the customer first. What do they care about? What are the problems they’re trying to solve? How do they want to receive information? And it is up to us to communicate with them in that vehicle.

And I will tell you my funny quick aside. I do some advising work for a few different companies, and there are moments where I remember being the hip cool young marketer that knew all the things and was cutting end, and then 20 years passed, and that’s not me anymore. So, I was talking to a marketing leader for a company that I was advising, and they were like, “No. We have everyone put in their telegram.” And she’s talking about Telegram. And I kid you not, I was googling what Telegram was, and I was like, “What is this?” And there’s this whole generation, and it’s specific to the industry that they’re in where they really care about Telegram. And I would have never seen that or thought about that. But what she’s really good at is, she’s like, “I know my audience. This is what they care about.”

Matt:     I’m 100% with you. I just made myself a note to go look up what Telegram is, to make sure I understand. And even last week, I get that everyone’s on TikTok, but again, maybe this is old people, and I’m getting too old now. But anyway, it’s such a fascinating conversation and I know we’re going to run out of time here in a minute. I did want to get back to just talk about, not just Salesloft and the technology in the category, but the company.

So, you had a long successful career in a lot of companies. You’ve run marketing at Salesforce, at Fox. You’re on the board of directors of a bunch of companies. You can pretty much go work where you want. You chose Salesloft. What about the company? What about the culture? Especially, in this time and place was interesting to you?

Lauren: Totally. I will give my 22nd table stakes for any company I’m willing to consider. The things we can’t control as marketers, is this a big market opportunity? It doesn’t matter how good you are, if the market opportunity is not big, it’s never going to work. Is this a good market opportunity? Do I believe in this product? And I loved sales engagement before I joined Salesloft. This is a revolutionized “how you do sales”. The amount of opportunity, and I’ve seen this in past lives, we went from… In a past life, when I was running SDRs, we went from six opportunities per month for a rep to 15 by implementing sales engagement. And I was like, “This is insane.” The increase in productivity I’m getting on a per rep basis. So, I loved the space, I loved the product. Salesloft was the clear leader from a product perspective. And then I met Kyle, the CEO, and I was like, “This guy is interesting.” And I met the team, and they were so interesting. And I’ll never forget it. During my first interview with Kyle, and the normal, tell me about you, get to know you interview, which typically is, just press play. Here’s my background in 15 minutes. I don’t even need to pay attention. He’s like, “No. I really want to get to know you as a person.” And I laughed and joked, and I was like, “Who I was in kindergarten?” He’s like, “Yeah, that would be great. Tell me about you.” And I think we spent two hours.

Matt:     Oh, wow.

Lauren: And he’s like, “Well, who were you in high school?” And I was like, “The weird kid in high school and I had pink hair and went to punk rock shows.” And he’s like, “Really? I would’ve never expected that about you.” And I’m like, “That’s just the company in a nutshell is they just want to go deep.” They want to know you as a person, and they genuinely care about each other in a way that I just… It’s not like a platitude on a wall that a lot of companies have. It’s just so innate.

Matt:     Yeah, I love that answer. And I think the way you’re thinking about criteria is so important for everybody and people get. They get excited about compensation, they get excited about title and role, and there’s ego involved. Just looking at the potential growth opportunity for a company, is there a market here? Is their growth room in this market to take it exponentially beyond where it is today? Really important to be able to come in and be successful. But also, things get hard. In good markets, things get hard. In recession, non-recession, inflation, whatever the hell we’re in right now, things get hard. Who are you going to war with? Who are you going to market with? And as things work and don’t work, and as you’re trying to figure out answers to hard problems, are these people that are going to align with your values and align behind a purpose that matters? I’m glad to hear that you were engaged in those. I’m not at all surprised. Kyle is such a great guy. It’s just not a surprise at all that he’s thinking that way, and kudos to you guys.

I know we’re out of time here. Lauren, thank you so much for joining us on Sales Pipeline Radio today. Definitely encourage folks to check out Salesloft. If you are not yet using sales engagement, not yet working on managing and building out that messy middle that sometimes exists between demand, and your sales team and sales execution and closed deals, definitely take a look. And we’ll be here again next week and every week, 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern. Thanks very much for watching and listening. We’ll see you next time on Sales Pipeline Radio.

Lauren: Thank you.

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I interview the best and brightest minds in sales and Marketing.  If you would like to be a guest on Sales Pipeline Radio send an email to [email protected].

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