Stop Asking for Leads

Episode #004: Alon Waks, CMO Consultant

Every B2B marketer has been asked countless times to report back on how many marketing leads they’ve generated for the month or quarter. It’s a legacy metric that senior executives seem to rely on to measure marketing effectiveness even though it’s an extremely outdated metric that has no real value. Think about it…how many times have you actually purchased a product because you attended a webinar, downloaded an eBook, etc.? Chances are the answer is slim to none.

Why? Because leads don’t really matter anymore and generating leads shouldn’t be the goal of marketing. 🤯

In this episode, we chat with Alon Waks, current CMO consultant with more than 15 years of marketing leadership experience. Alon’s led marketing for brands such as Bizzabo, Kustomer, 8×8, LivePerson, and more, and he’s an expert in implementing effective ABM strategies in B2B organizations.

Stephanie's Strong Opinions

  1. Generating leads shouldn’t be the goal of marketing.
  2. Be upfront about who you are and what you do in interviews.
  3. Account-based marketing should really be called account-based everything. Sales and marketing are in this together and need to be aligned to achieve your goals.

Listen Your Way With These Platforms

Other Information

How do I subscribe?
You can subscribe to REAL MARKETERS in iTunes, here.

Where can I find all episodes?
To see all REAL MARKETERS episodes, click here.

REAL MARKETERS can be found on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, SoundCloud, and Spotify. If you enjoy our show, we would love it if you would listen, rate, and review.

Episode Transcription

Stephanie Cox: Welcome to REAL MARKETERS, where we hear from marketers who move fast, ask forgiveness, not permission, obsess about driving results and are filled to the brim with crazy ideas and the guts to implement them. This is not a fireside chat, and there’s absolutely no bullsh*t allowed here. And I’m your host, Stephanie Cox. I have more than 15 years of marketing experience and I’ve pretty much done about everything in my career. I believe speed is better than perfection. I use the Oxford comma. I love Coca- Cola, have exceptionally high standards and surround myself with people who get sh*t done. On this show, my guests and I will push boundaries, share the real truths about marketing, and empower you to become a real marketer. Sharing the real marketing truths is what this show is all about. And we’re dropping some truth bombs about the role of generating leads in marketing, because let’s be honest, no one ever solely buys your product because they’ve attended a webinar or downloaded an ebook. But so many companies are still holding marketers accountable to these nonsense lead metrics, when they should be focused on pipeline that’s influenced or generated by marketing activities. And that’s exactly what I’m chatting about with today’s guest. inaudible is a CMO consultant with more than 15 years of experience, and has led marketing teams for brands such as Bizbo, Customer 8×8, LivePerson and more. He’s an expert in ABM or, as he likes to call it, account- based everything, and one of the most outspoken marketers I’ve met. We’re talking all about how CEOs need to stop asking the marketing leaders to generate leads, the real value of intent data, why you should be brutally honest in an interview for any marketing leadership role, and so much more. So I always like to get started and ask what is something that very few people know about you?

Alon Waks: Well, the funny thing is, especially now, in the times of working from home and less in- person, many people talk to me on the phone, hear me broadcast, small teams and small groups, and everybody always wonders, “Who the hell is this guy. So what is his accent? Where the hell is he from?” So it’s always like this. Goes different ways.” So which country in Europe are you from? You sound a little bit British, but you’re definitely not British. You have an Israeli name, but you don’t really sound Israeli. And we know you’ve been in America for ages, but definitely not an American, definitely not a Southern accent for sure. So who the hell are you?” So I actually am an Israeli originally. I grew up in South Africa for many years, most of my adolescent years, apartheid times, end of apartheid, crazy times in the world, and then moved back to Israel, did my army. And then a few years later came to America, and I’ve been here for many, many years. So I am a mishmash, melting pot, hybrid accent of all different things, but only when I talk about things that are really, really dear to my heart, my South African blood comes through.

Stephanie Cox: So you’ve been a marketing leader for a long time for a wide number of brands. When you think about all of the challenges facing marketers right now, what would be the biggest thing that you think people need to focus on, just holistically, about marketing and its importance, the role it plays in a business?

Alon Waks: Yeah. You know me. I’m very blunt, and I do not apologize for that. So stay tuned, everybody. And here we are. Let’s start this right. So first of all, I’m focused mainly on B2B and mainly enterprise mid- market. That’s my passion. I’ve done SMB as well, a lot, but I like the B2B2C, i. e., telling the story in the eyes of the consumer, the attendee, the user, and not just the person I’m selling to. My belief is is the biggest gap in B2B, in technology marketing mostly which is what I am, is the lack of understanding what marketing should be versus what marketing people think it is. And I’m talking mainly about the C- suite, and I’m talking about mainly old school salespeople that are not really understanding and realizing that marketing is not just a please get us lead. Marketing is not lead generation, and I think we can deep dive into that a lot more.

Stephanie Cox: No, so true. And the other thing I wanted to add to that is marketing is also not the place you go to make things pretty. I really hate that when everyone’s like,” Oh, can you just make this pretty for me?”

Alon Waks: Yeah.

Stephanie Cox: I mean,” Yes, but no.”

Alon Waks: We have a salesperson all the way down in Australia, and they have a meeting in two weeks and here’s the what we want to say in that. So,” Oh yeah, that’s what we need marketing for. Please go create the slides and make them pretty, and make sure it’s all in place. Okay, and then we’ll have a big boy conversation.”

Stephanie Cox: Yeah. Not, okay. So let’s jump into lead generation. I am a big proponent of like,” I can get you as many leads as you want, but do you really want leads? What are you really trying to do for the business?” So talk to me more about the role that you think marketing plays, and how lead gen or whatever we want to call it fits into that. And how we think about changing the perception that especially CEOs have, or Chief Revenue Officers, around marketing generate 10,000 leads for me.

Alon Waks: So I’ve encountered I think this challenge in probably the last five to six roles being in different leadership positions, in marketing all the way to being the head of marketing, and it’s not actually anybody’s fault. It’s education, it’s awareness, and it’s actually alignment. So it also… First of all, it starts with terminology. So lead gen, what we as marketers perceive it is, let’s get more leads, we can buy leads, we can create leads. Yes, there’s great ways to do community or content and authentic lead sourcing, but lead gen is more about the inbound, heavy old marketing machine. Creating demand is what we want to do really today, especially if you’re in B2B focus on mid- market enterprise. It’s about going towards the market, outbound and inbound. We will talk about that later, and recreating value based demand that people come to you with more authentic voice earlier in the buyer’s journey, and then will eventually raise their hand, or ask for a demo, or purchase from you. So I believe that first of all terminology about creating lead gen, like driving leads towards inbound, then velocity, low conversion and very much focused on cost per lead and those metrics are very different than a proper demand strategic operation where most B2B companies should be focused on. So that’s one that I think it’s important to differentiate and the way I look at it, everybody can have their own terminology. Now the challenge of lead is about all of these secondary metrics and most CEOs, even boards you’d be surprised, and executives are focused on, which are very secondary, they’re not the main KPIs and not what you should focus on in your own world, you should focus on closed business, revenue, and then going back towards secondary metrics to support that. So for example, I had a CEO that asked me,” Okay, so… Oh my God, our traffic and our blog is down. That’s terrible.” I’m like,” Why is it terrible? If you’re 60% of your… We weren’t, we’re like 80% of your traffic before, but you converting a three or four X of the right people, that’s excellent.” So secondary metrics, like how many leads… You and I can go now and spend$1, 000 and get 20, 50, 100 leads, but they won’t convert. So it doesn’t matter. Wrong metric.

Stephanie Cox: So when you have to have that conversation with let’s say a CEO who’s asking, we’ve all heard it in our career,” Can you get me more leads?” And you really want to change not just what he’s asking for, but how he thinks about marketing in general, what have you found to be successful and how do you get marketer… How do you get CEOs to understand marketing?

Alon Waks: Yeah. So even when they understand-

Stephanie Cox: Or do we?

Alon Waks: The funny thing is, even when they understand and we agree on it, and then we going through what I’ll talk about in a second, they still come back to me,” Oh, we have a board meeting and the board wants to know how many leads marketing produced this quarter?” I’m like,” But we talked about it, there’s no isolated leads. There’s target accounts, 1000 accounts we’re going for, and engagement, and accounts that are qualified, accounts in the hand of sales, and ops is what we’re measuring, and attribution is to both and it’s really not important, it’s about A, cover, and driving it,” but then,” Okay, great, we’re doing so well on that. Amazing. Okay. But we also need to show the standard funnel. How many leads did we get?” So it is an an always on continuous education to any CEO in any board, and if you’re lucky to go and work in a company that has a CEO or board, or maybe an advisor to the CEO that understands this and has your back and eliminates this stupid conversation from happening every freaking quarter and every QBR, you’re in a good place. And I look for that a lot, because right now as a CMO part-time and an advisor, I teach these CEOs about this, that that’s what they should be looking for. So basically what they should be looking for is dollars, how much revenue did we make? Okay, what pipeline that was attributed or came from marketing- related activities. Now that pipeline could be also an SDR and a sales rep and marketing doing it together, that’s the holy grail. Is our sales cycle shortening? Is our average deal size going up? Those are the metrics that matter. That’s the education I give to these executives, and now I’m a little bit fortunate because as an advisor and consultant, I come in as the voice of sanity to back up these things versus being the CMO that’s fights through the numbers, so that… I can go on to that if you have any other questions about it.

Stephanie Cox: No, that’s great. Well, and I like how you said the CMO who fights through the numbers, because to your point I’ve been there multiple times in my career, where you think you get everyone on the leadership team on board with we’re not going to measure leads, we’re going to look at qualified opportunities, how much… What’s the pipeline, what’s our conversion rate to close. What’s our deal cycle, all those things that you mentioned, and then still every month or every quarter,” Can you give me a graph of how many leads we have?” It seems to keep coming up again and again. So I think that idea of constant education is really, really important, and almost reminding people why we can do this, and I loved how you said,” I could take $1,000 and get 50 leads.” It’s real easy to do that. It doesn’t mean that anything’s going to happen with any of them.

Alon Waks: Right, and let me just add one more point. So I have a very minimized dashboard that I give to my CEOs and I give to the companies that I work with. And I tell them strictly,” This is what I call your Monday morning executive five- minute marketing update, or however you show it on the CEO dashboard.” That’s it? It’s about the current account- based funnel, that’s all it is. How many accounts you’re going after, how many have engaged, how many have converted? How many in the hands of sales, whatever you want to call the terminology of your sales progression, and how many dollars you’ve made from this cohort, like a leading indicator. And then how much of the pipeline, the PG pipeline generation that sales always puts on the board, how much of that came from marketing? Doesn’t matter if it’s a qualified account from six months ago or from today. So if you look at those two, then you’re all talking the same language, and that’s all you need to look at for the growth and revenue. And then obviously you have considerations that, brand and all that on the side, but that’s the number that most of them really want to focus on, so get ahead of it, and make sure that you have a shared dashboard that everybody agrees these are the numbers, and done.

Stephanie Cox: When you think about the role of sales and marketing in terms of pipeline generation, is there any type of best practices or standards that you like to say, like sales should generate X percent of their own… Of the pipeline, whereas marketing should be responsible for Y, how do you think about that, and figuring out what those numbers should be?

Alon Waks: First of all, marketing touches everything. So influence, validation, bottom of the funnel, pipeline acceleration, there is no bottom of the funnel, op- created, bye- bye marketing… It doesn’t touch it. That’s not true. Even from a data sheet all the way to a video, to a branding, to a profile on G2 Crowd or validating your Forrester wave. It’s marketing activity. It’s not the dimension marketing engine of digital, I understand. But there is. So that’s one. Measure… The things you can really measure and attribute, you need to be able to understand if you have the SDRs or not. So let’s say you have the SDR and the BDR team, that’s about 40%, because that’s when you’re targeting your outbound and all that. 20% to 30% should be inbound, and I’m talking about classic mid- market velocity machine, but not just inbound SMB, talking about inbound and outbound mixed, most of the things I… That’s what I do. And then the rest should be AE driven, that can also include the channel and referral. So for example, it’s a 40, 40, 20. 20% marketing inbound, pure inbound, not your target accounts, just inbound. 40% target outbound that usually the SDR and marketing deliver, and then 40% target outbound that marketing helps, but sales own, and that includes channel. I usually do way more than that classic step distribution, and I drive 60 to 75% for marketing that goes in the hands of sales and SDRs. However, those accounts that are owned by the sales team and we go after them together, but marketing A cover, helps put them into an op. So A cover happens before.

Stephanie Cox: Let’s talk about account- based marketing and just ABM in general which feels like a hot topic for everyone, everyone’s talking about it. I find that a lot of people talk about it and don’t do it effectively. So tell me more about, when you think about targeting accounts and what that looks like from a marketing and sales alignment process and execution, how do you get… How do you help companies get started and how to think about what that should really be, and how it’s more than just buying ABM software and saying you do ABM?

Alon Waks: Oh gosh, where do we start? Here comes the fun, okay. First of all, I’ve had scars from interviews as a consultant, or even interviews without thinking about a CMO or probably to executives, like CEOs, that wanted to hire me and telling me like,” Oh yeah, so we need ABM. So do you know how to do ABM?” Like first of all,” Google me,” secondly is,” Do you understand what that means?” It’s such a buzzword today that I need to think people should step back and understand what ABM versus ABS. So that’s why, first of all, the first thing I do is I don’t call it ABA. I break that and I take the entire sales team and I tell them that we’re in this together. I call it the account- based everything, sometimes people call it ABX, whatever you want to call it. Which means accounts- based marketing, account- based sales, plus account management. So we all in this together, there is no marketing does it for me, account-based marketing, and then they hand me an amazing account that wants to talk to me, and that is five X my standard account ACV and I’m going to get everything closed better. That’s not the way it works. Account- based everything means marketing and sales agrees on the list, without a list, without the context, without the personas and knowing who we’re going after, it doesn’t even work. It doesn’t matter what you do. And then you pilot it. You go and look at 100 accounts and say 20 per rep, 40 per rep, depends how many reps you have. So eventually you have a few hundred because you’re talking about smaller companies here and even bigger companies at scales, and then marketing owns a few thousand, a few hundred accounts that they do A cover, warm them up. I call it surging. These accounts bubble up as they start interacting more and more because all the personas that you care about with content and events, activities, display, direct mail, all the great things that really work in ABM, and then they get passed on to sales and sales chases them down to have a meeting in a consultative way, not about,” Oh, you want a demo? Talk to us here, sign here.” No, it’s about… Account- based is really a consultative, value- based selling approach because these companies are the ICP, the ideal profile of today, I call it CCCP because we’re in a different world now. So current coronavirus customer profile, and you can still be able to get a meeting with them, but it’s not going to work if sales thinks that marketing is going to give these guys as hot leads and it’s a lead, but rather it’s a warm account. And we can talk a lot more about that.

Stephanie Cox: Well, it’s interesting that you’ve mentioned that idea of a warm account versus a lead and the difference between the two, because I think even for the sales team, we talked about education and the C- suite, there’s also education among AEs specifically around when I pass… Give you a warm account that’s showing some interest based on the different channels they’ve interacted with us, it doesn’t mean that they’re ready to buy tomorrow. And I think sometimes reps expect that, because that’s how years ago it used to be, it was easier I think to some extent if you look 10 to 15 years ago and how sales worked, especially in the B2B tech space. But now they’re showing interest, and that means that there’s going to be effort on their part that they’re going to have to put forth in order to convert them to an opportunity, and have that right to have a consultative conversation. So how do you handle the times where I think they’re saying… I’ve heard different stats, but anywhere from 18 to 25 outreaches before you actually… Sales can get someone to engage with them. And so many AEs that I’ve met are really good about it when they get started, but then it tends to after two or three outreaches, it falls off and they forget to ever talk to them again. How do you handle that situation, helping educate them on what it really means to take a warm account and take it through its paces to get it to be an actual opportunity?

Alon Waks: There’s a lot there. All right, let’s get started. All right, cool. So first of all, hypothesis. I put on hypothesis and I take the sales, marketing and actually CFO, CEO, put them together and I say,” Okay, this is our interlock meeting, we have it on Wednesday, we talk for an hour, we go into numbers and we understand what’s going on.” And then first thing is trust. If marketing qualification for an account is very loose, very aggressive, they did one downloadable white paper, they registered for webinar, send it to sales, let them go chase after them. And then sales starts calling them,”Hey, would you like to talk to us?” And then people are like,” Why the hell are you calling me?” You haven’t done a good job, marketing has failed. So you need to start understanding what qualification means in order for them to have a value- based consultative approach to try to get people to an event or meeting, which is a one- to- one. That’s hypothesis one that needs to happen, and you have to make sure that happens. Marketing owns that. Number two. SDR and AEs. If they get passed an account or own an account that has been bubbling up, surging, and they start jumping and saying,” Oh, okay cool. So should we ask them to get to a demo, or should we ask them for a meeting?” Then I think they’ve missed the whole understand about account- based selling and value- based selling. That you need to work these accounts over time because these are the Glengarry sweet cache, best of the best, crème de la crème account and you want to get them involved with your podcasts, like having them on a podcast or an event, or really get them engaged. And then eventually you will sell to them, but it’s not an inbound quick thing to get them on. So it’s all about trust, trust between marketing and sales, trust between the owner of the account and the how do you prospect them? Otherwise, you’re going to burn account- adjusted content and then they just downloaded stuff and they just looked at stuff. It doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy. In the buyer journey you don’t know if their intent is equal to your purchase or evaluation stage. And that’s why, and I think we’ll talk about this a lot, is don’t put your trust and faith in these tools that tell you who’s in market and who’s ready to buy because that’s a lot of BS. All they give you is a little bit of signaling, and then it’s all about how you talk to these people and give them the right templates and consultants and the next thing, the next thing on their content map to get them to the next stage, but you got to be there for them as a consultative sell, not as an aggressive sell.

Stephanie Cox: So one of the things that you just, when you’re talking about signals, I started thinking about was intent data. And we’d love to get your perspective on that because I think one of the things that is great about intent data is it does help show you people who may be somewhere in the funnel, but I always caution when I talk to people about it, is that means someone at that company, and when you sell to enterprise organizations there are a lot of somebody’s that could be, was doing something that showed intent. Now that could be an intern for all you know that’s been doing research or something, that on a specific keyword phrase that that intents coming from. You don’t know who it is. So how do you think about balancing that, which is a great indicator of something might be happening, but also not a holy grail that I think so many people are starting to think that it is.

Alon Waks: Yes, it’s an important topic. First of all, it’s about who owns… Who is like the person who owns ABM or account- based or value selling, or target outbound, whatever term you want to call it today, in the company. Usually it’s the marketing leader pulling sales along with them. And if that’s the case, leveraging intent as a strong signal is incorrect. Intent just shows that you have intention to do something, but it doesn’t mean you there. It’s a signal that needs to be collected and even scored, you have to go to account- based scoring, not just lead scoring, and it should direct you, whether it’s an SDR that owns the account and AE on the account, give you signals and say,” There are people in this company looking at a category or looking at this,” even if it’s a better tool than your own behavior data says, here’s this persona, here’s person X, person Y, person Z that have done something, maybe they’re not the right personas, but there’s something going on on this account, they’re attracted to our webinars around the topic of X. Let’s go and give them maybe a tool or invite them to a one- to- one, or invite them to a discovery, give them a benchmark report, or invite them to a small round table. That’s the beauty of intent. Intent with your own behavioral data or third- party intent help you steer what could be the right thing to give these people in order to nudge them to eventually talk to you. But it’s not a hot lead, intent… If they were a hot lead and they had high intent they would come to your frikken website and ask for a demo. So don’t confuse the two, it’s about nurturing them in a one- to- one. Unfortunately I see a lot of sales organization taking these intent or just marketing qualified, putting them in a cadence of these great tools and sending them another 30 emails without personalizing. Guess what? I can send better emails with better tracking in marketing automation platform than any other tool, these personalized cadences about personalization, that’s what these tools exist for. I don’t know if you see that as well Stephanie but I see that. A lot of misconception is people just get them to another cadence and forget them, and that’s unfortunate. They need to personalize each one of them.

Stephanie Cox: Well, and personalization is not just like your name and your title and your company, it’s really something about the person. And I feel like that everyone’s… It’s like this idea of round customer experience, everyone’s talked about it. Everyone talks about personalization, has for more than a decade, but so few companies actually do it well, and actually really do it in everything that they do.

Alon Waks: You know what, you don’t really need to buy tools for personalization, just like you don’t need five intent , you can never bid. It’s… I’ll give you examples of companies I work with. So one of them is in the media apps world and it’s inaudible product. And if you understand these people came to a webinar and then looked at your predictions white paper, it doesn’t mean that they want to buy from you, it means they’re interested in understanding what’s going on in the world. So what’s the personalization, is you go to look who the person is, look at their company, look at what solution or what things they’re doing to engage consumers on media, and then invite them or send them the right white paper or white report that we do now to their needs, but not in a macro email, but personalize and say,” Hi Joe, we’ve seen that you have this new initiative that you’re launching an app on Roku for example, we’d like to invite you to a round table with that, with meeting people that are… Could be of interest to you.” A little bit of personalization goes a long way. How many emails do you get from SDRs a week, that you just delete? So many.

Stephanie Cox: So many. And what’s crazy is I always tell… I’ve always told this to my SDR team in the past, but if someone sends me a good email and took the time to personalize it, even if I’m not interested, I’ll always respond, because you clearly took the effort. And it’s so unusual in my inbox to see someone who took the effort.

Alon Waks: And you know what, the results are so much better. It is still astounding to me that I need to a little bit argue, mainly guide, and then also break misconceptions with sale, inside sales and sales development leaders today on, they get it. They get this ABM, it’s hard for them, really it’s hard. I see them struggling, they understand that they need to go deep and work on 10 to 20 accounts per week per rep, per SDR, not more than that, and work on the ones that come from marketing, they work by warm to cold, but it just makes sense. Why would you work on a cold account verse a warm account? Why would you spray and pray to 30, 40, 50 accounts a day versus working in ? It’s a hard thing for them to grasp because it breaks the whole methodology on take 1, 000 accounts, convert if you’re lucky 100 of them, it just breaks that whole mold inaudible

Stephanie Cox: It does, but part of it I think is metric driven too. How many SDRs are still being managed on the number of calls they make or the number of emails they make, it’s almost like a numbers game. I can’t tell you how many times in my career I’ve heard someone say,” Well, we’ll just send more email, we’ll just make more calls.” I’m like,” It doesn’t work like that.”

Alon Waks: It’s actually harmful because you’re going to get into the sh*t list, and you send me another email, another email on LinkedIn, people are completely abusing LinkedIn lately.” Oh, I just want to make sure you get this.” I did get it, and I didn’t respond. And it’s okay, you can still ping people in a smart, 27 touches we know gets them to finally respond to you, but it has to be about the person, what they need and their journey, and all the signals and intent. My challenge is velocity game when you’re trying to do account- based, I’m not talking about inbound, I’m not talking about SMB. If you’re looking for like 1,000, 2,000 accounts that are really ICP, doing a velocity game to try and get 10% of them just to meet your quarterly number, that’s not good for you. You need to get a slice over time. You need to get a slice of them every quarter, and the next one’s in the next quarter or when they’re ready. It’s a little bit of a different methodology for sales and marketing to align on, and you have to agree that that’s what you’re trying to do because otherwise spraying and praying your target accounts is probably the worst thing you can do.

Stephanie Cox: Well, and I think other people don’t also realize that when you do tend to go out to people who aren’t ready, who are super cold, especially in the mid-market and enterprise space, how many of them remember you when you reach out six months later or a year later? And they remember what you did. And I think that’s really an important thing for all marketers to think about is are you wanting to reach out because you need to get so many more meetings to hit your quota for the quarter, and going to burn bridges with potential prospects that are not ready to buy from you and you know they’re not but you just are trying to hit some arbitrary number.

Alon Waks: Yeah that’s fair. It’s a challenge, it’s also a challenge for marketers. At the end of the day, we look at like,” Okay, we’re behind our number of MQAs, market and qualified accounts.” Let’s quickly, quickly get more, get another webinar or more display, it’s about conversion. If your conversion rate is not three X at least to what it was from inbound before if you’re doing this account- based move, and if you’re not doubling your ACV, then you’re focusing on the wrong things and you’re trying to optimize the wrong thing. It’s hard. It’s hard to do the switch and have trust in bigger conversion rates, it takes three to six months to really launch this properly, pilot and then scale, and you need some tools and reports and everything, but Hey, I’ve done it now four times I think. And I’ve seen success, some incredible, some slow success, but I’ve seen very good success.

Stephanie Cox: So speaking of when you just said it can take three to six months to really get it going and start to see results, how do you balance things like that, where it does take time? SEO is another example of things that take time to really show results in the C- suites needs, for you to deliver results immediately. Or the sales team, like I need leads, qualified accounts, whatever you want to call them. I need them now. How do you balance getting people to understand that great marketing takes time.

Alon Waks: It’s a challenge that I think I respectfully don’t believe any marketers ever solved with any CEO, unless that CEO with other marketer, or has seen it work, especially with first time CEOs in smaller startups or even mid- size, that have not realized the world of marketing is more than just throwing leads. It is always going to be something that you struggle with and it’s going to be a challenge. You have to go in, and even in interviews or even when I before I start, I say,” This is going to take this much,” and I see heads nodding yes and then three months later,” Oh sh*t, we’re 25% below our coverage rate or our targets, okay. We needs sprints, we need quick things, marketing, lead gen, lead gen.” And like, okay, we can do some… I call it sprints, so I tell them that we can have 20, 30% of our time on these sprints or quicker things, that is pipeline acceleration or immediate mini campaigns for an audience to do some quick money that is 90 days maximum sales cycle versus the six months. But if that’s what the company will really revert to, then they’re shooting themselves in the foot. And honestly, I’ve had two of those in the last six months as clients of mine as a part- time CMO. And one of them I’m done with it, we respectfully don’t agree. I think they should go for the longterm, I know it’s hard to convince the board. It’s a fail, but marketing should be two quarters ahead, or at least one X the sales cycle or sometimes two X ahead of the sales cycle ahead to build those numbers. So if the sales cycle is one quarter and we’re now, you should be building for Q one, Q four is done from a marketing perspective. You can only help with what’s in play. And if they don’t get this last argument that I think we need to repeat again, then I would rule out that company for me, I would not work there. And I’ve been burnt before. Candidly, I’m not here just to say,” Hey, marketing is great.” I’ve been burnt. If your executive and board cannot understand that marketing needs to build the next next, sales needs to work on the current and next, and then the product needs to be for the current and the future future, then you misaligned, because it’s two X the sales cycle is what marketing needs to work on.

Stephanie Cox: Nope, I completely agree. I think that’s a really important thing to bring up and I love the fact that you mentioned how you’re just really direct and honest during interviews, I would encourage all marketers, really all leaders to be that way. I do the same thing. I tell people,” If you’re looking for someone to come in and listen for 90 days before they figure out what they want to do, I’m not that person. I’m the person that’s going to come in and try and be really patient for 30 days, but at the end of 30 days, I’m going to already have a plan and if you would let me, I would probably rip off the bandaid and start blowing things up and getting… Because if you hire me, you have a problem that you need solved. And so I like to move fast and solve problems, and get that done. And I think that being really honest upfront about who you are and what you do, and what your approaches and what you would expect from your leader, if that’s a CEO, is really important as you take on a marketing leadership role today.

Alon Waks: Definitely, definitely. I’m with you on that. It’s always… You don’t know. There’s no crystal ball saying,” Here’s exactly how it’s going to be in six months,” many things changed. Frickin pandemic, COVID changed a lot of things for many of us, and thank God I’m okay and you’re okay. And there’s many unknowns, but if you can put together here’s the metrics and the things we’re going to achieve this year assuming XYZ, you’re better off, and you got to say no to things that don’t make sense.

Stephanie Cox: It is time to get real everyone. Are you still being asked to generate leads for your company, even though you know deep down that capturing someone else’s contact information from an ebook or webinars, something like that, means absolutely nothing? Well, it’s time to stop. This means you have to start educating your team and your executive leadership team on how marketing really should be measured, and it’s not by creating an endless amount of leads. This change isn’t going to happen overnight, but if you don’t take the first step in making it, you’ll end up fighting this never ending lead battle every single month or quarter. So what are you waiting for? You’ve been listening to REAL MARKETERS. If you love what you’ve heard, make sure to subscribe, rate and review our podcast. And don’t forget to tell a friend, all of this marketing goodness shouldn’t be kept a secret.