On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here. (what inspired you to start a martech company)
I joined KiteDesk in 2013. At that time, the co-founders Jack Kennedy and Jared Rodriguez, whom I met through an investor group, had just started writing the code for a Sales Engagement Platform that connected cloud applications together. After seeing the shell of what they created, I saw a lot of potential in where the product could eventually go. More importantly than the technology, there was alignment between Jack, Jared, and myself, from a core values perspective. I am in my ninth early stage venture, and one thing that I have learned is that core values are non-negotiable.
MTS: Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?
Your question is timely because we are in the middle of a strategy session at KiteDesk right now. Our entire management team is thinking through the future requirements of sales and marketing teams. In addition, I’ve been doing interviews with CMOs to understand where they see marketing technology evolving. Luckily, so far, our views are the same.
Almost across the board, we are hearing that it all starts with Accounts. CMO’s are recognizing that marketing and sales need to align at the account level to make sure they are executing consistently with branding and messaging.
Sales-Marketing alignment is the real problem here and it’s massive. IDC’s research on this topic estimates that there is a drain of around 10% of revenues each year from companies where sales and marketing are not aligned. If you take that number and apply to the total number of B2B companies, the lost revenue numbers add up quickly.
We need to be able to see what happening throughout the lifecycle of the interests of clients and right now…Technology is being built for marketing OR sales, vs. being built for marketing AND sales.
Buyers want specifically thought out conversations with people who can help make their business better. That wedge between marketing and sales is going to get bigger and bigger without an account level approach.
MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
Since it’s March 8th, 2017, the Salesforce and IBM announcement related to their massive
partnership in AI is pretty tough to ignore. With the Einstein’s vision for AI in marketing, Salesforce is now going to be able to do things like visual search, brand detection, and product identification in any application. So, I think most people are standing up and taking a long look at the problems IBM and Salesforce will be solving.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
You can call it unification, simplification or parsing down, but that’s what I am hearing from Marketing Leaders. Some of the CMOs I have spoken to are giving me a list of their MarTech stack and they stopped counting at 20 technologies!
CMOs are going through the process of deciding if all of these technologies are being used and if they are driving results. Those technologies that aren’t generating an actual ROI are getting cut out of the budget.
MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
We use Terminus for ABM, so I follow them. I am interested in seeing how they increase their ability to report on Account interest.
I’m also watching Gong.io. While they may not be considered martech, they are measuring conversational intelligence. Understanding what makes a conversation valuable from a buyer’s perspective is a big deal, so I want to see what insights they are able to glean from their tool. And the third one, just from the perspective of building an interesting new database of private companies, is Owler. I can’t wait to see how far Owler goes in the type of data it creates.
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
We use Pardot, Salesforce for CRM, KiteDesk for all of our account targeting, engagement and analytics. Additionally, we use tools like SproutSocial and Buffer for our social media work; the entire Google suite for analytics, Adwords, etc; Terminus for ABM and then Adroll for retargeting.
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)
This campaign in was early days of KiteDesk when we were operating in a guerrilla marketing mode. As a small company, based Tampa Florida, no one really knew us. During this stage of our product evolution, we were giving people an idea of how well they were connected to each other. So you could upload a bunch of contacts in KiteDesk and it would tell you the strength of the relationship on how well two people are connected by analyzing emails, calendar events, relationships you had in common, etc.
We decided to create a list of the top 100 social marketers and social sellers. We enlisted a third party agency to help us build the list. They looked at the breadth of each person’s network and how active they were on social networks. These two factors were used in order to understand the entire reach of each person. It was a very formal process.
When we shared that list via Forbes, it was the number 1 article for an entire week, and that was at the same time as the Malaysian aircraft crash!
Our website traffic just took off. What we learned from this campaign, is that it’s the network effect is powerful. Because we recognized people that had huge social graphs, they tapped into their network to spread the word about the list. And even the people who didn’t make it to the list were asking why they were not on it! That was probably the best executed digital campaign we have done.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
We are looking at where to add AI to our product. For example, instead of having people manually enter in all of the contacts they should be working in an account – that is something that can be automated.
This is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
Chunks. Each chunk is focused on 1-thing that requires my attention and once it is done, I move on to the next.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
The honest truth is there’s no app I can’t live without, but I spend most of my time on Gmail, Salesforce, Pardot and LinkedIn.
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Delegation (a lot of people forget that but it’s important)
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I’m currently reading a book Peter Cohan called Great Demo! He is an expert on giving a great demos of your software product.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Marry your best friend. Luckily I did.
MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
The secrets to my success are perseverance and curiosity. What am I better at than everyone else? Giving my daughter material to make fun of me with…she is 15 and is really skilled at making fun of her Dad.
MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
CMO of Microsoft, Chris Caposella. I am really curious to hear what his thoughts are since the acquisition of LinkedIn. I think that’s a tremendous opportunity of data source and network power. They now have a tremendous data source in their product portfolio, I’m curious to see how they utilize it.
MTS: Thank you Sean! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Sean’s focus at KiteDesk is leading the effort to deliver a sales platform that is not only irresistible but also one that delivers results. He balances his time between providing product leadership and feedback, working closely with the sales and marketing teams on delivering value, learning and listening to clients, working with the investor community and writing thought leadership pieces for the KiteDesk blog.
Sean is a serial entrepreneur and has acted as a founding or as a core leadership team member in nine early stage companies. These companies cover a wide spectrum of industries including technology, financial services and consulting. Combined the companies that Sean has been involved with have appeared on the Inc 500/5000 a remarkable 13 times.
Sean earned a Masters of Business Administration in Marketing from DePaul University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Management from Purdue University. He’s acted as an adjunct professor in marketing and finance and actively serves on local boards related to growing technology and entrepreneurship in the Tampa Bay Area.
KiteDesk helps B2B sales teams grow faster, smarter. We’re dedicated to making tough jobs easier. We’ve designed the easiest ways to consistently find and follow-up with accounts across multiple channels. The results we offer are predictable pipeline. Our customers set more appointments and book more revenue. KiteDesk changes your sales flow for the better, every day.
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.