Interview with Karen Steele, Chief Marketing Officer, LeanData

karen steele
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[mnky_testimonial_slider slide_speed=”3″][mnky_testimonial name=”” author_dec=”” position=”Designer”]“The first action to take is to accurately match your leads with target accounts to deliver personalized customer experiences through nurturing streams or target account marketing and sales strategies.”[/mnky_testimonial][/mnky_testimonial_slider]

Tell us about your role and how you got here? What inspired you to be part of LeanData?

I’m a pure B2B technology marketing leader and have been in both the Sales Technology and MarTech space for some years. I’ve witnessed first-hand not only how technology can transform business for the better, but also how challenging it can be to make sense of the growing amount of data we deal with daily. As a marketer who uses technology every day, I’m empathetic to the marketers struggling with data today.

During my time at Marketo, we were using LeanData to help us solve a very complex data problem—providing context to Sales and Marketing teams to manage their leads as efficiently and as logically as possible to accelerate time to revenue. LeanData, specifically the account-matching and lead routing features, continues to be a critical component of the Marketo ABM product. Seeing first hand how LeanData has enabled Marketo’s Marketing Operations team to connect with customers and drive greater revenue for the organization, I jumped at the opportunity to join LeanData’s incredibly innovative team.

What were the most exciting martech moments in 2017? How did they help you manage your customers better?

2017 was a year where we saw companies strive to improve relationships with their customers, partners, even employees. Platforms such as Gartner peer reviews, TrustRadius, and G2 Crowd enable brands to connect deeply and build lifelong relationships with their customers and prospects through peer reviews and ratings.  We also saw more significant innovation in Account-Based Marketing (ABM), specifically with account targeting. Incorporating predictive analytics into account-matching solutions provides Sales and Marketing teams with the necessary insights to target accounts that will help drive revenue for their respective companies.  Finally, we saw more significant innovation in AI and intuitive data visualization tools which provide marketers with the relevancy and the consistency they need to be competitive in today’s hyper-connected digital world.

How should modern CMOs build their ABM + automation stack to accelerate sales growth?

Before anything, CMOs and marketing teams must ensure that they are working with the right data. The first action to take is to accurately match your leads with target accounts to deliver personalized customer experiences through nurturing streams or target account marketing and sales strategies. If marketing teams don’t have the account matching part down pat and are not confident in the data quality your team is working with, then there’s no point in executing an ABM strategy.  That’s where solutions like LeanData, are constructive. LeanData helps Marketing and Sales teams execute on multiple channels and help them get started on ABM the right way from the outset  LeanData has the world’s best matching algorithm for Lead-to- Account Matching. If a lead enters Salesforce that has an existing account, we automatically match the lead to the target account and then append account level fields to custom lead fields. All of this happens natively in Salesforce, and we integrate into industry-leading solutions like Marketo ABM and others.

What are the pain points for marketers in leveraging predictive lead scoring technologies with traditional CRMs?

Ultimately, predictive lead scoring (and all automation-qualified leads) sound trendy, practical and scalable, until you remember that it still relies on quality data and time-tested methodologies to help select accounts to target. Your scoring models can be as smart as anything, and you can plumb decades’ worth of data, but without the right matching algorithms or lead routing technologies, your data is still going to be too cluttered to leverage effectively.

Which martech event are you looking forward to? How do you intend to leverage it?

Regarding industry trends, marketing and sales teams need to focus on getting back to the basics of branding and storytelling to engage with their customers. Customers want to work with brands they believe in and those brands that will make organizations better and stronger. Both organizations need to align to engage with their customers in personalized and authentic ways to create meaningful experiences that generate value. Marketing and sales teams need the support of innovative technologies that can enable them to deliver customized content to customers throughout the buyer’s journey, to successfully connect with their customers. At LeanData, we’re committed to pushing the humanity of our brand and technology forward with content that’s relevant, relatable, and actionable – and, of course, content that drives sales and marketing thought leadership forward.

Regarding industry events,  we are excited to host LeanData’s annual Ops-Stars event, an Operations best practices event designed specifically for Sales and Marketing Ops leaders, the real unsung heros!  We also look forward to Dreamforce, the catalyst event of the year for sales and marketing teams. LeanData’s Ops-Stars will be returning to Dreamforce 2018 and we are planning to take the event series on the road to various cities around the country. In addition to Ops-Stars and Dreamforce, we at LeanData look forward to other major industry events such as the Marketo Marketing Nation Summit, MarTech Conference, and others.

What startups in the martech ecosystem are you watching/keen on right now?

On the customer experience end, I’m a big fan of G2 Crowd, who I think is improving B2B buying by amplifying the voice of the customer. Influitive is another MarTech company I’m following carefully as well. They provide B2B enterprises with critical insights into the feelings their customer and employees have about them without having to send an NPS survey.

Also, I’m very interested in the conversational AI that Clinc is working on in the financial services sector, and in that same sense, I’m excited about the developments Drift is working on to simplify lead generation and improve B2B buying experiences with their conversational chatbots.

What tools does your marketing stack consist of?

We rely on Marketo for our marketing automation. Marketo is the gold-standard for marketing automation, and their technology enables LeanData to connect with customers in personalized and authentic ways. We use On24 for webinars, Wistia and Vidyard for video and video sales outreach respectively. Furthermore, G2 Crowd helps keep ourselves honest for our customers, Uberflip handles our content distributions, and Google Optimize helps us A/B test new elements on the LeanData website.

One word that best describes how you work.


What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

For personal productivity, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are musts for me. The G-Suite, from Docs to Sheets and beyond, is at the heart of LeanData’s operations, helping us to collaborate quickly and efficiently with no compatibility problems. And of course, LeanData. There’s no better way to attribute marketing campaign success, route leads and match leads to accounts and more, then with LeanData.  Afterall, a predictable pipeline for revenue growth should be at the heart of any industry-leading marketing organization.

What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?

It might sound old school, but every day, and almost every hour, I have a hard copy to-do list that prioritizes what’s on top of mind for the day. I like to highlight tasks that must get done that day without exception, and give myself flexibility for fire drills that come up during the day.

What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)

I’m a digital reader, although I have a paper subscription to AdWeek. I read anything from Seth Godin and Simon Sinek, and I also enjoy Fast Company, HBR, and TechCrunch to stay on top of current events in the technology and business space in and around Silicon Valley.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Three points: always trust your gut, be true to yourself, and maintain perspective and balance. I exercise all three regularly.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Meagen Eisenberg, CMO, MongoDB

Thank you Karen! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Karen is Chief Marketing Officer at LeanData, where she is responsible for all aspects of product marketing, brand strategy, demand generation, customer and employee advocacy, and the customer journey. Prior to LeanData, Karen was Group Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Marketo, where she led the pioneering marketing automation company through its transformation from a public to private company and successfully introduced the New Marketo internally and externally.

Over her 25-year career, she has held senior marketing management positions in such fast-growing companies as VMware, Informatica and Xactly, after having launched her high-tech career in marketing communications and advertising at Apple.


LeanData’s Demand Management Suite helps companies make the most of their demand by building a frictionless funnel. More than 300 high-growth businesses such as Nutanix, Palo Alto Networks, Marketo and Cloudera rely on our lead-to-account matching and sophisticated routing to increase pipeline, maximize marketing ROI and close more deals.

[mnky_heading title=”MarTech Interview Series” link=”|||”]

The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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