Prediction Series 2019: Interview with Grad Conn, CXMO, Sprinklr

Grad Conn, CMO, Sprinklr

Tell us about your role and how you got here. What inspired you to be part of the MarTech company, Sprinklr?

I was actually Sprinklr’s first customer — way back in 2011 — so I’ve known this crew for a long time. It was a very natural move for me to go from Seattle at Microsoft to Sprinklr in NYC for both personal and professional reasons.

As a true geek, I actually started my career at Microsoft in Microsoft Research. I love playing with new, forward-thinking technology. Choosing a new career path at Sprinklr gives me the exciting opportunity to use Sprinklr’s social suite in many creative ways. The platform has nearly an unlimited number of use cases across Sales, Marketing and Care. In Marketing alone, 2019 is going to be a huge opportunity for us to highlight how Sprinklr forms the foundation of a large company’s marketing program.

What are your predictions on the “Role of CMOs” and the closing gap between Sales and Marketing functions?

We recently published a study on CMOs and they told us they face three major challenges:

  • They are increasingly being held accountable for business growth.
  • They are finding it impossible to grow a business without control of the customer experience, so they have to drive strong cross-company collaboration.
  • CMOs are now frequently leading Digital Transformation efforts across the organization.

As “Revenue Marketers,” CMOs must have a very tight relationship with sales so that effort can be correctly attributed and then investments correctly assessed.

At Sprinklr, our Inside Sales team is within my Marketing team. The core output of the Marketing team is pipeline. Marketing is never out of alignment with Sales at Sprinklr, because we are all working towards the same goal — driving growth. I believe that all CMOs should implement this kind of end-to-end visibility in their business. I’m running marketing on Sprinklr, and using our team as a proof-point for success.

As a leader in MarTech, what message would you give to other CMOs?

Run now, while there’s still time. Kidding! But, one question I frequently get from marketers is framed around technical capability, particularly along the lines of “I’m not technical, and think all this tech is taking out the human component. What if I don’t want to be technical?”

My reaction to that question is to explain that it’s normal to feel that way, but you should probably get out of Marketing quickly if you don’t want to change because like or not — marketing is becoming a technical discipline.

This is so exciting for me because my creative side and technical side are now coming together. I finally get to use both sides of my personality to be an effective marketer.

How is your role at Sprinklr different from the one you had as CMO of Microsoft?

As CMO for Microsoft US, I had the time of my life. I was there for 7+ years and I got to build out a brand-new MarTech stack from scratch.

At Sprinklr I’ve been able to take a lot of hard-earned lessons from my Microsoft journey and apply them to Sprinklr immediately — so we’re moving a lot faster.

The two key differences in the role at Sprinklr is that I’ve been able to integrate Inside Sales into Marketing — that’s been a game changer — and I’ve also had a bit of a religious conversion on “the MarTech stack.” Specifically, when we compose these stacks of point solutions we’re not only piling on the licensing dollars, but we are also creating all these other costs in the form of lost employee productivity and lower customer satisfaction due to all the broken flows.

So, when I got to Sprinklr I threw out the MarTech stack and we just use Sprinklr for all of our marketing, end-to-end. We use Sprinklr’s single platform for all of our marketing, social and care needs. The hardest part was getting rid of the Marketing Automation engine. But, that’s now rebuilt inside Sprinklr. The ability to collaborate across the org against a single customer record — all within Sprinklr —  is literally magical.

What was the most impactful lesson you had learned from 2018? How do you plan to implement the lesson in 2019?

My biggest lesson in 2018 is that tigers are not necessarily as friendly as they look. I’m never getting that hand back, but I like the pirate look of the hook. Kidding again — but I’ve absolutely learned to take calculated risks!

My other lesson is that we are drastically underestimating the change that the world has gone through over the last decade with the simultaneous shift to social, messaging and smartphones. We are now at a point where e-mail and landing pages and other artifacts of the last century need to be abandoned in favor of conversations and 1:1 interaction.

It’s not so much that the future is social or the future is messaging — it’s that the future is human and customers expect to have a personal relationship with the brands to which they give their loyalty.

I’m not sure that many people realize that the old broadcast world is for all intents and purposes dead. We need to rapidly adopt a conversational approach to customer interaction. Among the many implications is that many more employees of the enterprise will now be involved in the front office — this is all the parts of the business that interact with a customer.

Sales, Marketing and Customer Care — all of these business units need to be collaborating on a single customer record. Sprinklr is implementing these learnings in our Social Account-based Marketing strategy, and I really think we’ve got something unique that very few other marketers are doing.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?

I start every morning by saluting my robot overlords — last joke I promise! In all honesty, I focus on working with the world’s most sophisticated marketing platform and building the world’s most innovative B2B marketing team.

We have embedded Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning into almost every aspect of Sprinklr. AI is increasing the productivity of our social media community managers — who we call experience managers — by 65 to 100 percent. AI is enabling Sprinklr to optimize our media spend in real time across channels and increase our speed of response for customer care.

I know we’re still in our infancy for AI, so the next decade will be an amazing time to be in this industry — we’ll all look back in 10 years and wonder how we even did our jobs before AI came along.

As Sprinklr’s Chief Experience and Marketing Officer, Grad leads a team of modern marketers focused on helping the world’s most loved brands create happy customers. His title, CXMO, reflects Sprinklr’s view that – in a world where customers are connected and empowered like never before – experience is the new brand.
Before joining Sprinklr, Grad spent 11 years at Microsoft, with the last 7 years as CMO for the Microsoft U.S. commercial business. There, powered by Sprinklr, he built the world’s largest customer experience center, analyzing and responding to 150+ million social messages per year.

Prior to that, Grad worked as CEO or CMO at a number of startups, and began his career at Procter & Gamble. He brings deep expertise in ABM, marketing automation, social selling, social engagement, event marketing, content marketing, and scale programs for commercial selling motions.

Grad holds a Bachelors of Commerce degree from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He is a Microsoft Founders Award winner and Circle of Excellence Platinum Club recipient, and has been awarded multiple creative awards and technology patents.

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Sprinklr is the first unified customer experience management platform for the enterprise. We help the world’s largest brands reach, engage, and listen to their customers on Facebook, Twitter, and 23+ other social channels for the purposes of marketing, advertising, research, care, and commerce. Sprinklr does all of that on one unified platform, which integrates with legacy systems and allows siloed teams to collaborate to deliver a seamless experience to every one of their customers across any channel — at scale. Headquartered in New York City with 1,500 employees in 20 offices, Sprinklr works with 1,200+ global companies including Nike, McDonald’s, Microsoft, P&G, Samsung, more than 50% of the Fortune 50, and nine out of ten of the world’s most valuable brands. Its partners include SAP, IBM, Microsoft, and many others across the CXM ecosystem.