DEMAND Community AMA Recap: Sydney Sloan

Katie Ray

Welcome to our “Ask Me Anything” blog recap, where we pull together the best insights and advice from the best (and brightest) minds in B2B marketing. 

Our latest AMA was with Sydney Sloan, Executive in Residence at Scale Ventures. She may sound like a superhero in a Marvel movie, but Sydney Sloan is more commonly found flexing her B2B marketing superpowers in the form of creating unexpected, personalized customer experiences.

Her impressive resume shows previous lives taking on senior leadership roles at SalesLoft (CMO), Adobe, Marketo, Demandbase and Alyce.

Sydney’s extensive global experience includes championing heroic marketing and sales software applications and aligning teams to communicate and collaborate effectively. She’s driven by a passion for the greater good and uncovering innovative ways for companies to deliver customer experiences that capitalize on the ever-changing world of technology.

Let’s look at some of the questions asked and how Sydney tackles these issues:

  1. With a greater emphasis on retention and expansion across a lot of SaaS these days, what’s some tactical advice for helping demand gen teams pivot to customer-focused initiatives when they are traditionally more focused on net new transition?

Sydney Sloan: I have a saying, “Smart Happy Customers Buy More”. The strategy is to drive education, empower champions and build customer relationships.

The first 90 days (or from closed won to go live) are the most important stage of the buyer and customer journey. The first, and most important, is to ensure you are capturing the contacts who will be your customer champions in driving usage and adoption in your customer accounts.

Many times, we have all the buyer data in the CRM, but don’t capture the customer roles we need to incorporate into our campaigns (Champions, Users, Administrators, Business Buyer, IT Buyer, Finance contacts, etc.) Figure out a way in the onboarding program to make sure those contacts are captured so you can market to them.

Additionally, work with your training and development teams on a content strategy that helps your customers grow their skills on your product and be recognized for doing so.

Set a cadence strategy based on triggers to engage customers when things send up warning flags. For example, when user engagement slows, set up a cadence for how to re-engage. Or, when you get a great NPS / CSAT score, put them in a cadence to leave a peer review.

Lastly, build up a community, identify community leaders and think about how you can organize User Groups around topics and geographies to get your cherished customers to connect with you. Just look at this amazing community as an example!

  1. What successes have you seen when it comes to planning effective digital strategies for ABM? After accounts and target contacts have been properly selected, content created, etc. – what strategies and sequencing do you prefer? (I.e. LinkedIn conversation ads to warm up and drive to an ABM landing page, email to further nurture, etc.?)

Sydney Sloan: I think step one is to use ads to warm up the accounts and get them engaged with brand / thought leadership content. Once you’ve done that and you see engagement and intent, then you put them into an outbound “swarm” cadence.

Get your SDRs to add contacts and proactive outbound to all your personas. Increase ad frequency and adjust to include CTA to capture the demand. Once they are engaged in an opportunity, move them to the next stage.  

Messaging changes yet again to proof points and “Why buy from your company” messaging. Invite them to in-person dinners or small group outings. Help your sales teams build relationships with their buyers, and keep those ads funded to make sure they see your brand everywhere they go!

  1. What are some of the indicators or qualities you see/look for when surveying existing teams for potential leaders?

Sydney: I think those who stand out for potential leadership positions are those who show the initiative to take on projects that may be outside of their day-to-day.

That could be leading a team building exercise, volunteering to lead a DEI program, or maybe offering to help with an offsite planning session.

I was always raising my hand earlier in my career to help my leadership. It exposed me to new challenges and got me involved in projects that my role would normally not have allowed.

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  1. When pipeline creation is trending lower than expected mid-quarter, what are your top levers to pull to increase it during the same quarter?

Sydney: I’ll tell you what doesn’t work. Dropping everything in the last two weeks and directing everyone to emails and phone calls. Remember—”Your sense of urgency is not your customers”. 

I’ve received emails from sales reps telling me it’s their end of quarter and asking if I can help them out by buying something. Uh…no!

Another no-no is doing a “sale”. We’re in B2B software, not retail. Special discounts and offers don’t drive pipeline. 

I will share 3 things that have worked for my teams in the past.

  • Increase ad spend on top performing keywords. Yes, that means spending more money but if you’re falling short and it works then do it and the expense of cutting another program.
  • Focus on helping accelerate the current pipeline to close within the quarter. What can you and your team do to capture more contacts in the account? Get creative with direct mail / gifting to keep the already interested buyers engaged. 
  • Leverage Executive engagement. Have your sales teams bring their top deals forward and let your executives work their network and reach out to their contacts to see if they can engage more senior-level contacts to build up the relationships within your prospect accounts. This should not be done in the last week of the quarter. I’d at least try and focus on three weeks out.
  1. What are your favorite podcasts?

Sydney: I’m addicted to SmartLess. I think Chris Walker’s podcast is pure fire. Dave Gerhardt’s content is super useful. I’m also a big fan of Matt Heinz & Latane’s CMO community

  1. What are the steps you take when joining an already established team as their new leader/CMO?

Sydney: I got really good advice once from a former CEO when I was onboarding into a Director role. He said, “Overwhelm yourself with information.”

My goal is to really use those first 30 days to learn and listen. It helps to provide the people you are meeting with a simple framework so they have time to also prepare (and it makes it easier to aggregate).  

I start with 3 simple questions:

  1. What is working well?
  2. What area would you focus on if you were me?
  3. What is a big idea (short-term or long-term) that you think the marketing team should focus on to make an impact? 

Ready to join the only community for demand gen marketers, built by demand gen marketers? Join the DEMAND Community today

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