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:
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!
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!
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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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.
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.
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:
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