This week our host Brandi Starr is joined by Meagen Eisenberg, CMO of TripActions. Meagen has spent over 20 years in high-tech, previously at MongoDB (Nasdaq: MDB) and on the board of G2, Terminus and Reactful. Before MongoDB, Meagen was VP of Demand...
This week our host Brandi Starr is joined by Meagen Eisenberg, CMO of TripActions.
Meagen has spent over 20 years in high-tech, previously at MongoDB (Nasdaq: MDB) and on the board of G2, Terminus and Reactful. Before MongoDB, Meagen was VP of Demand Generation at DocuSign (Nasdaq: DOCU).
Named Top 25 for B2B Marketing Influencers, Meagen has advised over 30 tech companies such as Loom, Branch.io, CoreOS, and Productboard, 7 of which were acquired in the past few years. Meagen has an MBA from Yale SOM, and a B.S. degree in MIS and a minor in CSC from Cal Poly – SLO. In this week’s episode, Brandi and self-described builder, Meagen, tackle Growth & Scaling. With 17 successful exits since 2011 as an operator and advisor, including 3 IPOs and 14 mergers and acquisitions, CMOs will get the blueprint for Achieving a Successful Exit as CMO directly from a proven expert.
Build your network! Meagen shares that you need to get out there, go to conferences, meet with peers. These connections can be a source of discussion, hires and opportunities.
Meagen’s Buzzword to Banish is the expression ‘technology is broken’. Technology is what you make it, she says. Instead, refer to ‘user error’, don’t blame the tech.
Get in touch with Meagen Eisenberg on:
Learn more about TripActions
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Welcome to Revenue Rehab, your one stop destination for collective solutions to the biggest challenges faced by marketing leaders today. Now head on over to the couch, make yourself comfortable and get ready to change the way you approach revenue. Leading your recovery is modern marketer, author, speaker and Chief Operating Officer at Tegrita, Brandi Starr.
[0:33] Brandi Starr:
Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to another episode of Revenue Rehab. I am your host Brandi Starr, and we have another amazing episode for you today. I am joined by Meagen Eisenberg; Meagen has spent over 20 years in high tech and most recently is the CMO of TripActions previously MongoDB and on the board of G2, Terminus and Reactful. Before MongoDB, she was the VP of Demand Generation at DocuSign and named Top 25 for B2B marketing influencers. Meagen has advised over 30 tech companies such as Loom, Branch.io, Core OS and Product Board, seven of which were acquired in the past few years. She has an MBA from Yale and a BS degree in MIS, and a minor in CSC from Cal Poly. Meagen, welcome to Revenue Rehab. Your session begins now.
[1:37] Meagen Eisenberg:
Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.
[1:40] Brandi Starr:
I am excited for our discussion today. Your background is super impressive and so I believe that we have a lot to learn from your experience. But before we jump into our topic, I like to break the ice with a little woosah moment I call buzzword banishment. So tell me what industry buzzword would you like to get rid of forever?
[2:11] Meagen Eisenberg:
I'd have to go technology is broken. I think technology is what you make it and what we build. I love technology.
[2:22] Brandi Starr:
Yeah, I would definitely agree. And in most cases, someone is blaming the tech when the strategy or the way that they configured the tech is usually the problem, the
[2:33] Meagen Eisenberg:
User error, right?
[02:35] Brandi Starr:
Yes. Sometimes you might need just a little Control, Alt, Delete, and the tech is not broken anymore.
[02:42] Meagen Eisenberg:
[02:44] Brandi Starr:
Well, I love it. I'm a tech gal myself. So I definitely believe in the power of the technology, so you won't hear me say that it is broken. We will put that one in the box and throw it away.
[02:58] Meagen Eisenberg:
[02:58] Brandi Starr:
Awesome. So now that we've gotten that off our chest, tell me what brings you to revenue rehab today?
[3:07] Meagen Eisenberg:
I'm excited to talk about achieving a successful exit. When I look at my career, I've had 17 exits about to be an 18th. But three IPOs and 14 M&As.
[3:20] Brandi Starr:
That is amazing. And I've got some key questions around what is the secret sauce. But before I jump into that, I believe in setting intentions, it gives us purpose, it gives us focus and most importantly, it gives our listeners and understanding of what they can expect from our discussion today. So what do you hope that people take away from our conversation?
[3:45] Meagen Eisenberg:
Just what it takes to build a successful team. It's not just product, it's your team, it's execution, it's how you align. So really, what it takes to have an exit?
[4:00] Brandi Starr:
Awesome. So thinking about your career, I know you have worked with a lot of companies that were in various phases of start-up on into growth mode. Has that been purposeful for you? Have you chosen those companies to take them to exit? Or has it been more happenstance? Give me a little insight into your background.
[4:26] Meagen Eisenberg:
I'm definitely a builder. So I would say my excellence is in execution and scaling teams, and that's bringing in the right people, the right technology and process. And when I've looked at companies like DocuSign, MongoDB, and TripActions, I wanted to know there was a massive market that needed to be disrupted that they had Product Market Fit early. They were built around the users and loved by their users and basically, they needed someone to come in that could bring in the right people, right technology and process to help them have that predictable cadence to go public or to get acquired.
[5:06] Brandi Starr:
Awesome. I definitely am a believer in people process technology. You got to tackle all problems from all angles. So let's talk about when you're looking at companies that you feel are poised for a successful exit, are there key things that you've identified? I know you said good market fit, and a good base of people that love the product, any other advice if someone is evaluating companies to be able to say this is someone that I really can get over the finish line?
[5:44] Meagen Eisenberg:
Sure. I think you're looking at the competitive landscape, you're looking at the market, the investors matter a ton. I think that you can look at who's on the board, their track record, the current incumbents and I really look a lot at the customers and I look at G2. I read the reviews, I look at Glassdoor, the people are happy, the users are happy, I think all of that combined is a good way to hone in on what we would call the NPS, the Net Promoter Score of those customers. As a CMO, there's nothing better than happy customers because customers beget customers. And you're only going to scale and have a successful exit if you can show that growth and lack of churn. So I'm looking at those signals, and the leadership team. Are they able to execute? Can I figure out who's on the team? What are they good at? Are they executing all of those matters.
[6:46] Brandi Starr:
Yeah, and I have seen in talking to different CMOs, whether through the podcast or just casual conversations, I have seen the frustration of lots of conversation but no action, almost like they keep ideating or wishing for where they want to get to, but collectively, as a leadership team, there's not the forward motion to actually get things done. Have you experienced that or have you been lucky in choosing the right people to work with?
[7:22] Meagen Eisenberg:
I mean, I think I've been lucky in choosing art of this success is choosing the people to work with, and just a bias for action. If anything I'll act before anything else, just to move things forward. And so I think it needs to be a balance of strategy and action. But no, I've been fortunate enough to work with very talented people that are executing. We put the goal out there, we execute to get us where we want. And to go public or get acquired, it's all cylinders firing. You need engineering building, you need product aligned with engineering and marketing, you need a sales team with a go-to market engine, finance that's making sure you have a sound business and have the right insight on what's going on around the business operations. A good people team; you're only as good as your talent. So you've got to make sure you've got really strong talent that's executing on it. And there's going to be challenges along the way. So problem solvers that are going to dive in and fix it. Nothing's perfect. So what are you going to do to go fix it and go compete in the market?
[8:27] Brandi Starr:
Awesome. So let's talk about kind of the first one hundred days. So we talked about how you choose your companies. When you are coming into a roll, what's your approach to getting started and really figuring out where the problems are, and where you need to lean in most?
[8:47] Meagen Eisenberg:
I am doing a lot of interviewing, even when I'm in the company. I am meeting with all levels across the board. Not just the marketing team. I'm meeting with sales, I'm meeting with product, engineering, and I'm getting feedback. I'm collecting, I'm kind of doing a diagnostic, really running through everything, and collectively asking for what
does everyone think. And you start to see patterns and similar feedback, and you start to align it and can very quickly see where you need to focus first. But I would say that 30 days to do that audit. And it's critical because those relationships that you build in the 30 days are going to make you successful or not in the next 2-3-4 years. Because they're also going to look to you. You ask them what needs to be solved and if it's the right things and you don't go solve it, you lose credibility. So your job is to understand what needs to be done, prioritize it, go execute on it, and then go back to them and say, I heard you and here's what we're doing about it. Here's early results and make progress against that.
[9:50] Brandi Starr:
I think that feedback loop is important to make sure that you're coming back because that does happen where you get asked for all this feedback you put your in pull it and then it's kind of crickets. You don't know if anyone listened, if there's anything happening, so I love that in really focusing there. The other thing that you hit on that I think is also key and if you look at any of the industry articles about how to do what you've done 17 times over, they talk about the alignment especially in the C suite in what those goals are so that everybody is hitting on all cylinders. If that's not happening, where do you think that CMOs can lean in to support making that happen?
[10:38] Meagen Eisenberg:
You have to make the relationships, you need to spend time with the other execs, they're your first team. And when your team sees you so well aligned, it aligns everyone below. So it just matters, you need to build the relationships with the CRO, you need to build them with the CPO and the head of engineering and finance, of course. You need to be able to prove your return on investment and that you're a good steward of the company's funds. And when you align and you may disagree, but then go have that healthy conflict and figure it out. But you are the one team that's going to go execute and I'm telling you it will go much faster, and it'll be a lot more fun if you build those relationships. I think that's one thing we've done a great job at TripActions is the alignment across the executive team spending time, getting to know each other, aligning on what we need to do, and then going and executing and supporting each other in that execution.
[11:33] Brandi Starr:
Okay. And then we talked a bit about technology that we know is not broken. In thinking about the marketing technology, and the tech stack to support that revenue engine, what are your priorities and what do you look for? What are your key things in building the tech stack?
[11:53] Meagen Eisenberg:
I'm a huge advocate for the MarTech stack. I would say, maybe I had 20 MarTech at DocuSign, I had 30 at MongoDB and we have 46 at TripActions. And so you don't need technology just for technology's sake. But there are a bunch of things you can do across the business, optimizing your website, analyzing and improving, understanding what's going on in the business, how do you tweak it, how do you shift funds to what's working and stop where it's not working. So there's a lot of great software out there that you integrate a third of it into your website, a third of it into Salesforce, and their collaboration tools, their design tools. There's just a lot that we do in marketing and we can take advantage of technology to innovate, to understand what the data is telling us and to act on it quickly and that's a competitive advantage.
[12:46] Brandi Starr:
Being able to actually glean insights and pivot is something that a lot of companies aren't really able to do successfully. Things take a whole lot longer, changes in the market, they recognize them and their revenue engine kind of turned like a cruise ship. We're going to get there eventually but by the time you get something in market, things have all changed again. And so I know in some cases, the big challenge is investment of both time and people to actually get there to have the tech stack that is that robust. Any advice for securing it and being able to have the right people to manage it?
[13:32] Meagen Eisenberg:
You definitely should hire a technologist in marketing. I think it's very powerful to have someone who understands how to integrate software and embed it into your website, integrate it into Salesforce, your marketing automation platform. Whether that's Marketo or Eloqua or HubSpot, understanding those tools. So invest in the technologist. That's why I've always been able to move fast, I've been able to hire deeply technical people that are focused on marketing, I don't think it works if you're borrowing engineering resources. It's never going to be the top priority. It needs to sit within marketing, someone that understands, that can help integrate. You have to have a champion in your team. You can have 46 technologies; nobody will use them. They need to be owned by someone, you need to evaluate if they're effective or not, you need to sunset the ones that aren't driving return for you, you need to monitor them. And so there's a bit of maintenance with that. But if they're giving you a return and the power and it's giving you advantage in the market, then they're definitely worth it.
[14:31] Brandi Starr:
Okay. Yeah, and I agree wholeheartedly. I think that consistent evaluation is is this tech align to what we actually need it to do and what the current business strategy is, is really important. And you're definitely preaching to the choir when it comes to making sure that you've got a technologist within marketing because I do see those borrowed resources from engineering or from IT. And the struggle really is how do we get things prioritized? So shifting and talking about the people a bit. You talked about the importance of having a good team who can execute. When you're coming in and inheriting a team, how do you approach figuring out how to best work with the resources you have, and where you have gaps there.
[15:25] Meagen Eisenberg:
It's the same thing. You're understanding their current role, what they want to do in the future, what the business needs are, and what you need to grow into. When I joined TripActions, I had 10 people on the team, and I had 24 open headcount. So in about six weeks, I hired 20 people. I hired leaders of functions, I hired people under the leaders of function, so when they started, they would have a team. We were growing very fast. And I needed product marketers, I needed demand gen and growth, our website was outsourced, we didn't have the technology we needed so I hired web developers in front end and full stack and UX designers. We were going to Europe and so you look at the needs of the business. We need to hire marketers in Europe, we need to hire marketer in Asia, that was sort of what I was looking at. And then just like a players on a team, you've got ten that you have what's the best position for them? And making sure that you're taking care of what they need and the needs of the business and aligning that.
[16:27] Brandi Starr:
Awesome. So we've talked about all the good things, I'm going to shift and talk about the challenges a little bit. I know that working with PE firms or VC firms or the different boards, sometimes there can be conflicting priorities, or a little bit of friction in terms of the way that they work. How have you managed any of that, and those dynamics between the business and essentially, the pocketbook?
[16:59] Meagen Eisenberg:
I've been fortunate enough to work for really good CEOs that manage that. The CEOs are setting the direction, the agenda, the goals, we align on budget at the beginning of the year and as long as you work within the budget, and you're giving the return it's not going to the board. It's really a partnership between you and the CEO, and the CFO and aligning to those priorities. So I've just been fortunate that the boards have been very supportive of the CEOs and the CEOs have been great at running the business.
[17:33] Brandi Starr:
Okay. And when you get to the point of preparing for being close to M&A or IPO, what sort of challenges have you run into or things do you need to be conscious of? Talking to the CMO who may be going through this for the first time, and they're trying to drive their first organization to IPO or acquisition, what are some of the watch outs that you can offer?
[18:05] Meagen Eisenberg:
Definitely, you spend a lot of time with legal and understanding all the roles of the quiet period and not hyping the market. So educating yourself on what that means, understanding as long as it's what you've done prior, you're not doing something new to hype the market. So having clear direction and educating your team. I think it is one of the most amazing marketing moments for a company if done right. So you're lining that up, you're going to get a ton of coverage, you're validated, you get a lot more customers that say, wow, they see you on the market. So there's a lot of great things that come out of listing and going public. So making the most of that. Because you go into a quiet period, and then you get one, you have your roadshow. So of course, as the CMO you're working on that video and the story, but then you have this amazing wedding on the day of where all day long you can talk to press and you set up those 15-minute, can you get 25 pieces of coverage. You align your execs across the different pubs that are out there, you do TV, it's an exciting moment for your employees to align and have been part of it. And then you got to make those numbers. It's not the end, that's just the beginning. Most companies’ majority of their wealth comes after they go public. And so it's continuing to scale to the numbers you need quarter over quarter and being consistent with what you've said you would do for the market or beating it a little bit. So it's a very exciting time. It's a lot of work, you're writing it as one and you're getting customers bought in and they're doing videos but it's so worth it. I would say it's one of the most exciting times at a company.
[19:51] Brandi Starr:
I like the analogy of comparing it to a wedding because that is kind of how it is. It's like there's all the work, and all the logistics and details, and all of the things and then you have that really beautiful moment that you really don't ever forget.
[20:09] Meagen Eisenberg:
[20:10] Brandi Starr:
I know sometimes when it comes to being acquired or merging with another company, sometimes that's not quite as easy because you're trying to put two entities together. You've got counterparts on both sides. Any thoughts or challenges that you'd give someone who is going through their first merger acquisition?
[20:36] Meagen Eisenberg:
I've been acquired a lot, and I've acquired a lot. So I've seen it, ArcSight got bought by HP. We bought three companies at TripActions in really the last year and a half, and they were really headquartered all in Europe to enter the German market with Comtravo, the Sweden market with Reza, [inaudible 20:54] a very high-end bespoke brand out of the UK and really worldwide. And what I would say is there's a lot of due diligence, there's a lot of understanding of the talent, there's a lot of thought that goes into how the companies are going to come together, the timing of that, are you keeping a brand and they're running separately? Are you merging them together? Will you inherit marketers from the new company? And so all of that really gets discussed and fleshed out before it happens. And so being organized, then also the communications around it. There's a ton of FAQs, understanding and talk tracks and alignment across all the executives, and how they'll talk to their teams, there's a bunch of press usually around it. So preparing for press outreach, and a press release and announcement. But it's exciting. Because usually, they have either customers you desire or they have some sort of product that complements your suite of products or your platform. And so a ton of work has gone into before acquiring or being acquired, and then know your excellence on executing on that will really determine the success of the acquisition or not.
[22:14] Brandi Starr:
Okay, and so my last key question is any advice on how the CMO can be a more effective partner or play a more significant role in moving their organization to IPO or merger and acquisition?
[22:32] Meagen Eisenberg:
Know your story. It's a huge branding moment, so making sure that you're aligned on your story, what you're bringing to the market, the potential of the company and what's coming, it's an awesome time as you're building out teams and recruiting. So I mean, I think the number one thing is knowing the story and making sure everyone at your company is aligned around that story.
[22:59] Brandi Starr:
Okay, awesome! Well, talking about the challenges is just the first step. And so I like to make sure that we always give our audience some clear action items. So for anyone that is listening, can you give us our one thing, what is our one action that you would like our listeners to take?
[23:24] Meagen Eisenberg:
Build your network. If you have not been out and about in the last couple years, you need to get out there. You need to go to conferences, you need to network with peers, you need to invite people lunch, to dinner, build that network. That is a huge part of my successes of people I've met along the way, whether I go and work for them again or they come and work for me, whether I go to them with challenges and seeking ideas, whether I advise them in the future. All of that stems from your network. So one, give more than you get, and go out and build it and meet people.
[23:57] Brandi Starr:
Awesome. I love that. I think talking to people has been a recurring theme in our one thing, action items over a number of the last episodes. So this really is kind of a different flavor of that. Well Meagen, I have enjoyed our discussion, but that's our time for today. Thank you so so much for joining me this was extremely helpful and I know beneficial to our audience.
[24:29] Meagen Eisenberg:
Thank you for having me, it's great to be on.
[24:31] Brandi Starr:
Awesome. And thank you everyone for joining us today. I hope that you have enjoyed my discussion with Meagen. I can't believe we're at the end already. See you next time.
You've been listening to Revenue Rehab with your host Brandi Starr. Your session is now over but the learning has just begun. Join our mailing list and catch up on all our shows at revenuerehab.live. We're also on Twitter and Instagram at Revenue Rehab This concludes this week's session, we'll see you next week.
Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
Meagen has spent over 20 years in high-tech and most recently is the CMO of TripActions, previously MongoDB (Nasdaq: MDB) and on the board of G2, Terminus and Reactful. Before MongoDB, she was VP of Demand Generation at DocuSign (Nasdaq: DOCU). Named Top 25 for B2B Marketing Influencers. Meagen has advised over 30 tech companies such as Loom, Branch.io, CoreOS, and productboard, seven of which were acquired in the past few years. She has an MBA from Yale SOM, and a B.S. degree in MIS and a minor in CSC from Cal Poly – SLO.