This week our host Brandi Starr is joined by Shift Paradigm VP & Sr Principal advisor Jen Anderson-Alonzi where they discuss Pipeline Strategies for CMOs. Jen Anderson-Alonzi is a CMO and GM with nearly 20 years of experience in...
This week our host Brandi Starr is joined by Shift Paradigm VP & Sr Principal advisor Jen Anderson-Alonzi where they discuss Pipeline Strategies for CMOs.
Jen Anderson-Alonzi is a CMO and GM with nearly 20 years of experience in transformation, turnaround, and scaling businesses. Jen has built out more than half a dozen revenue organizations, turned around a failing enterprise, launched new products and divisions, and scaled fledgling start-ups. She's currently an executive with Shift Paradigm, a marketing strategy and technology consulting firm that helps organizations solve the invisible problems that hurt performance, aligning them from top-to-bottom around growth.
In this new era of post-pandemic marketing, an ongoing shift in spending continues to emerge affecting consumer and B2B markets alike. CMOs assessing product-market fit or the psychology of buyers is critical to success, especially within B2B marketing.
On the couch Brandi and Jen tackle the struggle CMOs are experiencing to develop a Meaningful Pipeline, as it is becoming clear, More Spend is NOT Enough.
CMOs should start to understand their target consumer, especially if it is B2B. “Research, buyer research, do it!” Jen emphasizes, “nothing else matters if you don't know your buyer intimately”.
Jen’s Buzzword to Banish is the over used acronym, MQL (Marketing-Qualified Lead). “There's nothing marketing qualified about those leads,” Jen asserts, “and they need to go away”.
Get in touch with Jen Anderson-Alonzi on:
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 Jen Anderson-Alonzi. Jen is a CMO and a General Manager with nearly 20 years of experience in transformation, turn-around and scaling businesses. She started her career in management consulting, moved into B2B sales and then migrated into marketing and general management. She has built out more than half a dozen revenue organizations, turned around a failing enterprise, launched new products and divisions and scaled fledging startups. She is currently an executive with Shift Paradigm, a marketing strategy and technology consulting firm that helps organizations solve the invisible problems that hurt performance, aligning them from top to bottom around growth. Jen, welcome to Revenue Rehab, your session begins now.
[1:40] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
Thank you. Great to be here.
[1:42] Brandi Starr:
Yes, I am so excited to talk to you. Very familiar with Shift paradigm. I always joke and say we're a little bit of frenemies because we're in the same space. But it is great to be able to talk to others that are like minded.
[02:00] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
[02:00] Brandi Starr:
So glad to have you on the couch. I like to start off all of our sessions with a little woosah moment that I call buzz word banishment. So tell me Jen, what buzzword would you like to banish forever?
[2:21] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
I would like to banish MQLs forever. There's nothing marketing qualified about those leads, and they need to go away.
[2:31] Brandi Starr:
I am with you. And based on a lot of the LinkedIn chatter that I see, I think we've got probably a whole fan club that would be all for banishing the MQL. And there seems to be a whole lot of new acronyms now that are popping up that people we've got marketing, qualified account, marketing --there's another one that I thought was really creative and now I'm drawing a blank. But there's so many new acronyms that are popping up. I think we can all collectively retire the MQL.
[3:10] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
Yes, please, let's do it. Let's all agree to just get rid of it.
[3:16] Brandi Starr:
Yeah, we have to get a few old school marketers on board who believe that marketing's roles stop set, getting someone with a pulse. But that is a different conversation for a different day. So now that we've gotten that off of our chest, tell me what brings you to Revenue Rehab today?
[3:42] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
Well, I'd love to talk a little bit about the sort of the new era of marketing that I think is on upon us. And sort of what I'm seeing as I talk to a lot of marketers is that they are all sort of experiencing the challenge that has come with the post pandemic era. And that is, pipeline is just not as easy to generate as it was previously. They are all sort of facing the same challenge with demand generation. Pipeline and demand is lower than it has been in the past, particularly in the B2B context, and they're struggling to understand why they're the tactics that have worked for them previously, are no longer working for them today. So I have a theory on why that is the case. And I think it's because we're really entering a new era, where the historic playbooks are no longer relevant and marketers are really going to need to shift and pivot their strategy.
[4:57] Brandi Starr:
I agree completely. But before we dive into the discussion, I believe in setting intentions for everything. It gives us focus, it gives us purpose. And most important, it gives our Revenue Rehab listeners, something to look forward to and an understanding of what we're going to talk about today. So what are your best hopes for our talk today? Or what would you like to be different after this session?
[5:25] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
I would like for marketers listening to this to walk away with a different viewpoint on how to drive success for their businesses. And to understand that they don't have to continue operating in the same ways, they don't have to continue doing the same tactics and pulling the same levers that they've historically pulled in order to see results. That in fact, there are a lot of different opportunities for them to connect with their buyers in ways that they're not even thinking about today.
[6:01] Brandi Starr:
Perfect. So let's jump back to what you were talking about the historical playbook. Because I do agree completely, if we look at 2019. And before, and the things that worked then and the things that were tried and true that we had tested, we had perfected, and we look at what is and isn't working now, there's a lot of head banging on the wall of we're doing all of the things but none of them seem to work. And although I definitely think the pandemic exasperated it, I do think this change was already coming. And global pandemic kind of changes the world just a little bit. And so I think that hit the accelerator. And so I want to hear some of your two cents on what were you seeing in terms of what was changing, even in the time period just before the pandemic, that really makes these historic playbooks really null and void?
[7:09] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
So I think the biggest change is just the location of where people are working. That has had a massive shift in how people are consuming content and how they're interacting with brands, and how you reach people. That has changed not only consumer behavior, but also the B2B buying behavior as well. So that's had a real impact, especially in B2B. As a result of that location change for the work from home era, the additional context to bear is that I think what that has meant is a shift from digital. So in addition to people shifting where they work, and how they consume information, there's also this digital fatigue happening. You're seeing people who they've been so inundated with digital marketing, so inundated with digital communications, that they are now craving real experiences. And to break through the noise of the marketplace, marketers really have to think about how do I create real experiences for people, experiences that are going to connect my brand with my consumer in a way that is meaningful and relevant and personal. And that is not going to be through a PPC ad. And that is not going to be through the traditional digital channels that they have leveraged in the past, because consumers have digital fatigue. So in the past, marketers have leveraged webinars, especially in B2B webinars, and display ads, and even ABX technology for targeting buying groups in a different way. But that can no longer be the only way that they're viewing how they can do marketing. Digital can't be the primary, I think digital is going to be moving into a secondary. And that's a really big statement, I think, for a lot of marketers to hear, but I also think it's a really bold way of looking at the new landscape of marketing.
[9:30] Brandi Starr:
I agree. And if I think about where we've come from, if we think about email marketing, and digital marketing, one of the key advantages of webinars, all the things that are in the old playbook is that there is scale. And so no matter what volume of leads we're trying to drive, what number of people we are trying to touch, it's very easy to scale that. I can just as easily send out 10,000 emails or 100,000. And as long as my budget will support it, my target audience for my display and PPC could span the whole world if I wanted it to. When we think about real experiences, and I love that you didn't just say experiences, because that's another word that is overused right now. But it is those things that are real and meaningful. There's a big challenge there, when it comes to scale. I could get in front and create real experiences for a hundred people but could I do that for a thousand? So understanding that we are likely headed in the direction that you're talking about with digital being more of a secondary, and if I'm the head of marketing, and I'm thinking about the resources I have, both people and budgets, how do I scale to do what is now expected and pay the higher salaries that people are commanding, account for the fact that people are now dispersed and are not all in the same place? How do we actually tackle that in a way that is actually possible?
[11:22] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
Yeah, that's a really great question. So I would say it depends on who you're targeting. And it comes down to research. This is the key to excellence. And this is what B2B marketers are missing nine times out of ten. And I see this all the time. So the difference between mediocre marketing, and the companies that are wildly successful in their categories is research. And yet B2B marketers are typically not leveraging research and how they go to market. And what I mean by research is not a Gartner report. I'm not talking about pulling some sort of secondary research. I'm talking about primary research where you commission quant and qual to understand who are your buyers, segmenting the market, understanding what those segments look like, sizing them, then understanding the personas, what matters to those personas, the psychological levers you need to pull to persuade them to make buying decisions, how do you connect your brand with them, where are they spending time, how are they living their lives, where do you meet them, what channels are relevant to them. So you're actually doing relevant research on your buyers to understand how you position to them? How do you meet them where they are? How do you actually become relevant to them as a brand? Now, how you meet them will depend on what you uncover in that research. But to your point, how you make it scalable, is also something that you'll uncover. I would say in every case study that I can think of, they've made it scalable through the message. So I'll give you an example. Dos AQIS, when they came up with the most interesting man campaign, the most interesting man campaign came out of research, where they identified a specific population in the US market that was underserved and didn't have beer loyalty. Dos AQUIS was a no name brand that Heineken owned at the time. The agency that they were working with identified Hey, you got this post college 20 something male consumer, that doesn't have a ton of beer loyalty, there's a huge opportunity here. And when we did research, the qualitative research found that their biggest fear is to have a boring life, to be perceived as boring. So much so that they would tell stories in the first person that weren't theirs, to make themselves more interesting. So what did they do? They came up with an advertising campaign that gave them an aspirational character that they could connect with. That was interesting, that was funny, that had outrageous stories, and that had nothing to do with beer. It had nothing to do with the product, but it connected emotionally with that audience. And his line was, I don't always drink beer. When I do, I drink Dos AQUIS. So it wasn't even about the beer. It was about the lifestyle. It was about the aspiration. They created this character that the audience could connect with and they have this character Ron for almost 20 years, it became the most prolific campaign in history. And they used omni channel to push this character and to connect with their audience. So it's about the message. It's about finding a way to connect emotionally with your audience and then you figure out how do I reach that audience through a variety of different channels. Whether that's digital, whether that's through advertising, whether that's through live events and experiences, it's probably a combination. But you it really does start with that message, and that's what marketers are failing to start with.
[15:40] Brandi Starr:
So that is one of my favorite campaigns. And you know, now you think about meme culture, he is one of the longest running memes, at least based on my standards. And so that is a good win. And I always love looking at B2C when trying to help give B2B marketers a good example. And one thing that it made me think about is, over my career, there's been multiple times we've gone through the persona exercise. And if you think about the typical way in which those personas, the final format, they're always this profile that talks all about Mary marketer who spends her weekend happy houring with her friends. And there's all these components, they talked about where they live, and all these things that are about the person in the personas that I really can't ever remember being actually used in the marketing efforts. The fact that Mary marketer likes to happy hour on weekends, was never a consideration in most of the marketing efforts. And what I'm hearing now is it's not even just about building the persona, but in actually using the information that for a long time we've either had or sought after, to get. It's like, what do you do and take that information and actually do something impactful with it?
[17:16] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
Yes, absolutely. It's getting the emotional insight. The emotional insight is the most important insight. And I'll give you a great BB example. When I was with a company called Ren, I joined that company when it was in a contraction. And it was about a $240 million business when I started there. And we were competing against a company called CoStar which owned apartments.com. And while we were sort of rebuilding the core business, we had to launch a B2B Products Division. It was a dual sided marketplace, consumer and B2B. We had to launch a B2B Products Division, in order to grow that business to help offset losses on the core business. And so what we did was we did research. We had one shot, we did not have time to screw it up, we had to be right. And so we did research, we did consumer research, we did B2B research, because we had to be able to sell that business at the end of our time there. So it was a turnaround and sales situation. We ended up selling that business to Redfin. And so what we did was we did research, we tried to understand our audience. And on the B2B side, what we found was we had created these products, these freemium products, but they only offered marginal value. And so they only offered marginal value to the property teams, and not to the decision makers who are heads of marketing and heads of operations. So not only did we find that, but we also found that these heads of marketing, these heads of operations, these are people who in that industry typically were highly motivated by their perception within the business. So they worked very hard. They had worked their entire careers to work from the property level up to their roles. These are people that were sort of homegrown in their fields. They didn't necessarily come up, these are not people who went to Ivy League schools. They didn't have that type of privilege, it wasn't like that. So they worked very hard to get where they were, and maintain that. And they wanted that recognized in the business. And they were working so hard that they it was almost like they almost resented the fact that they didn't feel appreciated, and that their property teams didn't support them more. So we understood how important it was to position everything that we then re-launched into the market, as a paid product, as something that would help them politically achieve more in the business. To be perceived as a revenue driver, to be perceived as a change maker, to be perceived as actually doing the work, and the impact that they know that they are. So it was all about aligning the messaging with what mattered to them, and that emotional insight about them. And that's how we scaled that business from 0-30 million in less than two years.
[20:42] Brandi Starr:
That's amazing. But that is one thing that I have always talked about a lot, even in the decision process. So you think about B2B, generally, it's always a committee of some sighs. And most people, when they are developing their products and services, they are really just thinking about the core decision maker. But if you think about everybody in that room, in addition to all the business requirements that they're trying to meet, they have unspoken personal needs. To your point, if one thing was going to make me look like more value to the company than this other, or I have several clients who are nearing retirement age, and they're like, I'm not trying to learn anything new. So I'm going to fight to hold on to the stuff that I have, whether it's what they need or not. There's all these things, people who know, they're trying to move on to other roles, they're considering what, what looks good on my resume. People who want more work life balance, they're thinking more about their time. And so there's all these things that no one's going into a meeting saying, I don't want this solution, because it might make me miss my kids soccer games. But they're definitely thinking it. And as marketers, you're right. We have to think about what they're thinking but not saying, the things that are never going to be on a form, that are never going to be a field in our database, those sorts of things. And I feel like, it's almost like we've gotten too comfortable. I think about when I started my career, I was designing for fax machines. So I was designing collateral that was going to be sent and received through a fax. So if I think about when marketing technology was really becoming a thing, and how much that transformed the way I did my job, then it's like you hit another sort of complacent point, where I think is where we're at where it's like digital has been working. I know some demand gen marketers, if you give them a number, they can tell you how much revenue they're going to spit out on the other end, like they've got it down to a science, or should I say they had it down to a science. And now we're having to, like, get out of our comfy spot and kind of figured it all out again, which I think is a scary place to be as a marketer, and as a marketing leader.
[23:25] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
Yeah. And I guess if you're somebody like me, who is bored by the routine-ness of marketing, the thing that I have disliked about marketing is how comfortable everyone gets in the routine of it all. You should never be doing the same thing, quarter over quarter. And if you are, then you've lost sight of what marketing is supposed to be, which is innovative. The whole point is that you're supposed to be innovating on what you've been doing so that you stay ahead of the curve, so that you become a category leader, so that you're doing things that your competitors aren't, so that you're being fresh and ahead. But instead, what we do is we do something that works, we just keep doing it until it stops working.
[24:20] Brandi Starr:
Yeah. And I think about honestly, that point is how I got into consulting. Because in my last role before I joined Tegrita, I had a lot of autonomy in what we were doing. But given our industry, our target audience, the product, I could innovate, but still there was a lane. And there were so many things especially like you think about seven years ago, how fast the martech industry was growing. And I've always been a tech lover, tech driven, and there were all these things coming out and I'm like, I want to play with that, I want to play with that and I want to play with that. But it's like, there was no real use case at my company. I couldn't vie for something that just clearly did not make sense. So for me, I was like, okay, how do I get my hands on more stuff. And so that was how I jumped the fence from client side to consulting side, because there is never a dull moment. I work with some clients that are in their various rounds of series funding and hypergrowth to some large 500 global companies that they change like turning a cruise ship, and everything in between, B2B, B2C, different industries. And so I never get bored. It's impossible. As soon as I start to normalize, here comes a new client with new problems, new industries, all these sorts of things. And most marketers don't have that level of flexibility. But your point still reigns true in that, if you are comfortable, and your playbook is kind of on autopilot, it's time to shake things up.
[26:08] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
Yep. Yep. Absolutely.
[26:11] Brandi Starr:
If I'm a head of marketing, and I'm listening, and you know, I'm at home, and I'm, you know, hollering at my computer, yes, I understand this is my problem, for those out there that are really relating to this and recognize that their teams and even themselves have hit that plateau, and are going through that comfortable phase, what's your advice on how you shake things up and get people innovating, get people creating these real experiences and not relying on the old way?
[26:48] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
Great question. I would recommend doing some qualitative research is the starting point. So 10 - 15 customer interviews, ideally have an outside party, facilitate those interviews, so they are objective. But starting with 10 - 15 qualitative interviews, where you can interview a combination of current customers and prospects will give you a great deal of insight on what's changed. And that will then guide and inform whether or not you need to do some follow up quantitative research. So do you need to follow that up with a survey? And what would you include in that survey? The qual will inform the quant. But don't just jump into a quantitative survey without first doing some qualitative to inform that quantitative survey. Because people often do that and what they do is they jump into the quant but they didn't ask them enough of the right questions in the quant. So you'd use the qualitative interviews to dig deep, to ask the questions, to figure out where there are issues, to figure out to challenge your assumptions about the customer, to challenge what you think there are where there are unmet needs, where there is economic advantage in the market right now or what there are perceptions about your brand, or whatever the issues really are, then use the quantitative surveys to follow up and assess it at scale.
[28:19] Brandi Starr:
I like that. Because you are right. Most people, again, you think about the scale to a whole lot easier to send out a survey to a whole lot of people. So they start there. But if your quantitative survey is asking all the wrong questions, then you just got data.
[28:37] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
Exactly. Not the [inaudible 28:38]
[28:41] Brandi Starr:
And it's like, they did great but if you can actually make decisions and make changes using that data, it's just interesting information.
[28:50] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
[28:51] Brandi Starr:
So I want to shift gears a little bit, because one of the things that you said at the beginning, was that we've got to make this change in order to develop meaningful pipeline. So we've talked about what people need to do, why it's important. Help our listeners to understand what's the outcome, what does meaningful pipeline look like, if we get these things right?
[29:15] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
Yeah, I think it's a focus on actual revenue opportunities, not volume. So my role at Shift has changed. I went from running a delivery team for go-to market consulting. So I was running the go-to market strategy and research team, now I'm in client advisory. And in client advisory, I'm involved in a lot of sales cycles. And I'm not a sales person, but I'm involved in a lot of sales cycles because I'm a principle. Which I love by the way, it's one of my favorite things to do, is to work with clients. But as a result of that I have a lot of insight and visibility into actual real opportunities versus ones that are just going to go nowhere. And I can tell you from first-hand experience, I do not want to receive a bunch of volume, that's not going to go anywhere, I don't need to be chasing my tail. And I think that's the thing, there are too many marketers focused on the wrong metrics. They need to be focused on real value creation, not just hitting this arbitrary number to check a box. And they don't have the insight because they're not spending enough time sitting across from a customer, having to manage objections and understand what that experience is like. And when you actually put yourself in the field. So I would encourage every single marketer, if they're not doing this already, go out into the field with your sellers, and understand what it's like to sit across from an unhappy customer or a difficult prospect. And do that every single month. Every single month, be looking for those opportunities to lead those conversations and you'll get to understand what it looks like to build meaningful pipeline, because you'll know what good looks like after a while.
[31:34] Brandi Starr:
I am in a similar role to you in that, I have my leadership hat that I wear more times than not. But I also have a client facing role and I am involved in a lot of sales cycles and I do you see the same things. Usually half hour call, I can tell like if this is going somewhere now if it might go somewhere in the future, or if we're just having a nice chat.
[32:01] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
[32:04] Brandi Starr:
Based on what my calendar looks like, you're right. I don't have a lot of time for a lot of nice chats.
[32:11] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
Exactly. And so it's like you want to be able to prioritize your time, right.
[32:17] Brandi Starr:
I agree completely. And I think that is what's most important. And we talked about putting MQL in the box as not a meaningful metric. And I think the one thing that I would add is, the meaningful metrics aren't always the industry metrics. And it's almost like, there's some industry analysts that make up the metrics, and everybody operates as if they just have to pick from those. And it's like, no. You can make up metrics, like any sort of math that you do, you can give it a name, and it's a metric. And so depending on your industry or what you're selling, or how your sales cycle looks, you can figure out what are those meaningful metrics that lead to pipeline, that lead to revenue that you can measure and be able to understand where marketing is best being deployed throughout the process. I agree with you completely there.
[33:24] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
Yeah, it's all about really understanding what is what is, what does real look like and let's, let's track towards that.
[33:35] Brandi Starr:
Yes. So talking about our challenges is just the first step and nothing changes, if nothing changes. So in traditional therapy, the therapist gives the client homework, but here at revenue rehab, we like to flip that on his head, and we will ask you to give us some homework. So the first thing is, I would ask you if there's any key takeaways that you'd like to summarize, and then give us all that one thing, what is our first step? If we recognize that we are experiencing the challenge of using old playbooks and struggling to drive meaningful pipeline, what's our first step? What's our one thing we can do to move in the right direction?
[34:23] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
Research, buyer research, do it. If you haven't done it, you need to do it. Nothing else matters if you don't know your buyer intimately.
[34:33] Brandi Starr:
That is perfect. So we are all going to take the first steps in terms of buyer research. And we are going to focus on that qualitative research to start. So even if it is just reaching out and having a conversation with a couple of customers, as a starting point, it does not have to be the big initiative because I know sometimes that's the thing. Anytime we need to do something, we turn it into a big initiative and six months later, we're still planning the initiative. So we encourage you to do that one thing to move in the direction of getting that buyer research. Any other takeaways that you'd like to add?
[35:15] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
Assuming you've done that, look at how you can meet them where they're spending their time and living their lives. So stop focusing so much on whatever technology and digital you have available to you. Focus on what you learn in that research about your buyer, where can you meet them where they are? And don't be afraid to do something that's totally unconventional. In fact, it's encouraged. If you really want to change things up, do something very different and outside the box that you've never done before.
[35:52] Brandi Starr:
Awesome. I love that. Well, Jen, I have so enjoyed our conversation today. Thank you so much for joining me, but that's our time for today.
[36:04] Jen Anderson-Alonzi:
Thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed it as well.
[36:07] Brandi Starr:
I appreciate you coming. And thanks to everyone for joining us today. I hope that you have enjoyed my conversation with Jen. I can't believe we are at the end already. I will 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.
VP & Sr Principal
Jen Anderson-Alonzi is a CMO and GM with nearly 20 years of experience in transformation, turnaround and scaling businesses. She started her career in management consulting, moved into B2B sales and then migrated into marketing and general management. She has built out more than half a dozen revenue organizations, turned around a failing enterprise, launched new products and divisions and scaled fledgling start-ups. She's currently an executive with Shift Paradigm, a marketing strategy and technology consulting firm that helps organizations solve the invisible problems that hurt performance, aligning them from top-to-bottom around growth.