SaaS Breakthrough – Featuring Matt Stone

demio saas breakthrough featuring matt stone About Matt Stone:
Matt Stone is a marketing operations and demand generation veteran with experience in both transactional and enterprise sales cycles. Currently with Gainsight, the leader in Customer Success software, for almost three years, running the marketing operations team. Most recently he helped Gainsight reach #102 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 and drove 5,000 attendees to Pulse 2018 — Gainsight’s annual conference for the Customer Success industry.

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Show Notes:
Customer Success Benchmark
The Periodic Table of Customer Success Elements
Growing Like Gang Busters
Coming In to Build a Traditional Demand Gen Engine
The Power Of Thought Leadership Across The Board
"People are coming to learn about, not Gainsight, but about customer success and the best practices with them. And they're coming to us and our conference because they know we are literally trendsetting that. And we are defining the space and telling these people that these are the best practices because you know, we've got the biggest data set behind that we have the most customers that are using it and have seen firsthand what's working, what's not."
Speeding Up Demand Generation
"Instead of kind of passively sitting by, we were being a little bit more proactive where we were, you know, bringing this data and understanding it better and helping our sales team and our SDR team know how to go out and bring these people in and just speed up the entire process."
Metrics Top And Down The Funnel
Converting MQLs Into SQLs
A Thoughtful Approach For A SDR Team
"A thoughtful approach where we train our SDRs to be, you know, these evangelists themselves were the first call they get on they're not trying to just set a demo (...) as soon as possible. They're really interested in learning about the customer and about their problems and you know, how we can fit and if we can't fit then we can't fit. So I guess my recommendation there is just kind of understanding your business and what you really are expecting out of your SDR team."
Marketing in 2018: More Personalization
Lightning Questions

Hey Matt. Thanks so much for joining me today. Really excited to have you guys and your amazing company on, how you doing today?

MS (02:50):
I'm good. Thanks for having me.

DA (02:53):
Thanks for joining us and jumping on and you know, maybe for our listeners today, you can give a little brief overview of Gainsight, who your customers are, where you guys are doing uniquely in the marketplace. Just something really helpful.

MS (03:05):
Yeah, for sure. So Gainsight is a all in one software solution for customer success, which I can kind of explain a little bit about customer successes in a second, but we have, you know, a giant kind of array of customers from ranging from SMB to Enterprise, including some of the big names like Adobe Box, Cisco and we basically help all these different companies measure, analyze and predict their customers behavior or sentiment so they can take proactive steps to making sure that they are successful and ultimately that leads to additional success for, you know, us and your customers and their customers and everyone is successful and that's kind of the way the new modern economy is working.

DA (03:48):
So I guess before we even jump into like when you joined and stuff like that, explain a little bit more about like what a customer success benchmark actually is.

MS (03:57):
Yeah. So I mean customer success is kind of the new evolution of the modern economy as companies are moving and having these digital transformations. You know, more and more people are measuring their success based on how successful their customers are because renewal has never been more important. If you take Adobe, for example, like I mentioned, you know, back in the day you could buy Photoshop for several hundred dollars and that was kind of it. Nobody really cared what else you did as a customer, but today you subscribe to creative cloud and it's important to get those people were doing a month over month, year over year, things like that. And so a customer success is all about that subscription economy and you know, new ways of measuring, you know, renewal, nps, all those different kinds of metrics.

DA (04:45):
So renewal of, of SaaS metrics, does including engagement scores, like are there different settings that you can create four different whatever your metric internally of successes?

MS (04:57):
Yeah, exactly. I mean we have a prescriptive way of looking at things that, you know, through our time as being the industry leader in customer success and kind of defined these, we actually call them like the periodic table of customer success elements are kind of how you can best practice do this, but everybody's a little bit different, right? So you kind of can mold it to fit however you want and you can use our tool to bring in, you know, every kind of data points that you can imagine from product usage to generate your own health scores, use our suite of tools to conduct surveys and, you know, orchestrate playbooks based off of the results that you're getting from all these different data components and really kind of create this model that's specific to your business.

DA (05:42):
That's incredible. And I would love to jump into some of the messaging or how you guys have attracted the companies you have. But let's, let's take a step back. And first, when did you, when did you join the team at Gainsight? Maybe how many people were on the team, what were some benchmarks that the company looked like when you joined?

MS (05:58):
Yeah, so I joined Gainsight a little two or two and a half years ago. And when I joined, I think my official employee number was like 196 or 198 so just shy of 200. And we're a little over 500 employees now, are spread out globally. We've got a London office and I'm here in Phoenix, Arizona, nice and hot right now, San Francisco, you know, pretty, pretty spread out. The marketing team specifically was probably about seven or eight people and we're well over 20 at this point. So been growing like gang busters when I joined we had just hit the INC 5,000 list as a number 48, back in 2017 we hit as number 102 so, you know, still well on our way. I'm hoping to hit, you know, somewhere near 100,000,000 in revenue in the next couple of years.

DA (06:52):
That is incredible. Well congratulations to you guys all that growth sounds awesome. So it sounds like a very big thriving marketing team right now. And when you came in, obviously when you're coming in, as you know, almost employee number 200, the company looks very different than coming in as employee number one to number 20. What were some of your initial things that you had to take on coming into at that time?

MS (07:18):
Yeah, so one of the unique things about Gainsight was they, you know, being in a new industry, a new space that is constantly evolving and is still relatively young. A lot of what we've been able to do has been because of our thought leadership and kind of our evangelism. And so when I came in to Gainsight the marketing team, the demand Gen side was not as robust as you might think it would have been for having an almost 200 employees and being you know, relatively far as far along as we had been because, again, like the space was so new that, you know, the term customer success, you know, still today is something that not everybody knows about let alone two and half years ago. And so really when I came in, it was kind of this new push where it's like what we've gotten really far, on essentially a brand marketing alone and our thought leadership and all this great stuff. And now we really have to kind of build a traditional demand gen engine. And so that was really what I was really focused on.

DA (08:20):
Got It. And before I get into some of those specifics of the dimension engine, which I think are going to be really powerful to hear about, I think it's interesting to learn about what are the branding of thought leadership things that stood out to you when you like when you joined and looking back. I think it's one you guys, you're absolutely right. I think going into being like a new terminology in the marketplace or a new solution marketplace is always hard to break into. Also, the other side of that is like when you're almost a commoditize product, how do you differentiate yourself with brand? Thought leadership? What do you think that you guys did so well on that and you know, how you continue to do that?

MS (08:56):
Yeah, I mean it's, it's interesting because in my history, my career, I had never really fully appreciated brand marketing. It's something that, I've always been kind of a data analytics person and brand marketing is something that is nearly impossible to quantify in that kind of way. And so it's always been this kind of thing where I was kind of you know, a disbeliever on its power, but when I came into Gainsight and I kinda saw what they're doing and how they're doing it and all kind of revolves around our conference that we run every year called Pulse. Which, when I joined they had just finished Pulse 2015 and I think they had close to 2000 people there. And so, you know, part of my mission was like, OK, we have to make Pulse 2016 bigger and better. And we wound up getting over 3000 people to it and things like that.

MS (09:50):
And just seeing the energy there and seeing the people and seeing how we're able to achieve getting a relatively massive conference for the smaller space. And you know, that those people are coming to learn about, not Gainsight, but about customer success and the best practices with them. And they're coming to us and our conference because they know we are literally trendsetting that. And we are defining the space and telling these people that these are the best practices because you know, we've got the biggest data set behind that we have the most customers that are using it and have seen firsthand what's working, what's not. So it was an eye opener for me for sure to see that, you know, to the credit of our CMO and our executive team and everything like that, that they've built this following behind us and just established us through our great work and the great thought leadership and became like, you know, the place of record for this stuff. Even if you're using a competitive product, you go to this conference because you want to learn about the latest brace and customer success.

DA (10:54):
That's fantastic. Is that mostly like, obviously the event is huge and probably a lot of different traffic sources are needed to fill that event to get that started. But you know, for that thought leadership, is that mostly content marketing you guys are talking about? You talked about data aggregation from your own platform and then putting out studies and stuff like that. So it was that really thought leadership in terms of like, hey, we're going to put out the best content about you know, success marketing and do all these things and we're going to put new ip on words and we're going to really push thought leadership. Is that like, is it just one channel or is that across the board?

MS (11:30):
It's really across the board. I mean we, we tap into our, our executive level and our practice, our practitioners a lot. So even obviously it's like we are the customer success company, so you would hope that we have the best customer success team in the world also and be, you know, strive for that every day. And so we have, these team members that are literally doing the job every day that are also producing this content for us, which is awesome. So it was a situation where I came in and you know, in a lot of ways if you don't have a specific content marketing person or something like that, somebody actually like write the content for you, you're kind of in a bind because not everybody can write necessarily in a coherent way or a way that's, you know, is going to be attractive to people and stuff where we, you know, this abundance of folks here who were so passionate about the space that they would jump on webinars for us. They would write content for us to do everything that they want to for us. We have customers who are excited about the product and about the space and would love to, you know, share their stories and their battle scars and talk about how they're doing customer success and things like that. And so it became this actual community that, you know, we were just supporting more than anything else. And you know, it, it just evolved into all these different formats. Both like the literal events, the virtual events, the content, kind of every channel that you can think of.

DA (13:00):
That's really incredible. That's pretty amazing. Obviously to break into kind of a new, a new niche, but like a new idea and a product in a product area and be able to really get so much traction, so fast and so credit to you guys. So when you're coming in now you have this great thought leadership, you have this great brand already established and now it's time to kick in demand generation. What do you do when you, when you said you didn't really have much set up, like what are your first tasks? Are you organizing which channels to go after you organizing messaging? What like tactical things that you have to do?

MS (13:35):
Yeah, I mean a lot of it was honestly it was kind of basic one on one stuff. It was, you know, capitalizing on all those goodwill and all this traffic that we were already accumulating. It was kind of just, you know, going through and setting up our marketing automation platform the way it should have been from a startup kind of thing. You know, actually setting things up to collect this data and make sure that we are sending it along to our sales team, to our SDR team, you know, making them understand this information, what these people are doing. So honestly it's, it's nothing groundbreaking in terms of uh, what we did at the start. There wasn't a lot of money for experimentation because it really was. It was just kind of, they had been done so incredibly well just based on the fact that they had established this brand where people will just kind of come to them and be like, I want to be a part of Gainsight. And so now it was more about harnessing the people that were digesting all this content but not quite to the point that they're ready to talk to somebody. And so instead of kind of passively sitting by, we were being a little bit more proactive where we were, you know, bringing this data and understanding it better and helping our sales team and our SDR team know how to go out and bring these people in and just speed up the entire process.

DA (14:55):
How do you speed up that entire processes, that retargeting campaigns? Is that specialized content for the different segments obviously at that level, are you basically in a marketing awareness level of consideration where most people are just looking at options? How does that look?

MS (15:14):
It's interesting with our space because a big challenge that we have is because it is a relatively new thing, a lot of the people who are just, you know, trying to figure out what customers searches. So it's like we might see somebody who, has downloaded a bunch of ebooks from us or something like that that would generally indicate that, you know, this person's pretty interesting. They're pretty, you know, they're digging in pretty deep, they'd be ready for a sales call, but you actually get on the phone with them and they're just trying to understand what this is all about. Like how is this different from, you know, service and support and things like that. And so we really had to tailor different things. We had to kind of understand the different content pieces, how they lined up with the different parts of the funnel. So that we understood that you'd like, if somebody is looking at this book or this Webinar, they are, you know, more in that beginning phase, there's other people who are further down the funnel probably ready to talk to somebody right away. And then we also had to just teach our team, and our, our SDR team in particular because they actually fell under marketing and how to talk to these people and how to get them from that point of, just, you know, stumbling upon this concept of customer success to, you know, let's actually talk about what's going on in your business. Let's identify your pain points and then say, hey, you know, we actually have a solution for that and it's called Gainsight and let's talk a little bit about it. So it's a little bit of a, it also kind of like breaking things down into different personas and uh, yeah, I mean hyper-personalization and all these different tactics, all the kind of blends in there together.

DA (16:47):
Yeah. It sounds like you get really nitty gritty in there. And where are you finding that most of that data was coming from? Just looking at the aggregated, uh, use cases or were you guys literally having like the SDR report back to you on like, Hey, this type of customer with these tags said this and these types of customers with this tag said this and they downloaded these ebooks. Like how did you start formulating those? Like hyper personas? I guess. I mean, I just, I just know that myself looking at all the data all the time, I'm just like, I, you know, I can't always find a direct correlation. So how'd you guys are putting those pieces in place?

MS (17:22):
A lot of it was definitely us trying to green learnings from the data. And a lot of it was definitely an advantage of having our SEO team, report into marketing and made it so close that we can literally just walk over to them and be like, hey, you just had this conversation with this person might tell me how it went because on paper it looks like they should be a great fit. Like they have behavioral, uh, traits that looks like they're ready to buy different things like that. And then we will get to actual anecdotal feedback and kind of be able to internalize that and understand a little bit better. So, um, it's a little bit of both of the actual kind of crunching the numbers and aggregate and trying to, you know, pull things out of that and then further define ourselves and our lead stages, my lead school and all that good stuff. And then also just utilizing the actual firsthand knowledge, the feedback that we're getting from, from our SDR team and you know, we've built lots of processes so that when they're having these conversations, they're recording this kind of information that we can pull out and just all piece together this puzzle.

DA (18:37):
Gotcha. And when you look at these things and look at data, are there specific KPIs that you guys as the marketing department, I guess that includes SD so you said, or quotas that you're asking for every week, are there or do you break them down into channels or is it just kind of a group monthly marketing KPI?

MS (18:51):
Yeah, so definitely we have our different metrics that we're looking at primarily on like a monthly and a quarterly basis. But we're looking at things, I'm all down the funnel, so at the top of the funnel or a metric that we're looking at is basically conversions, um, so essentially met new people who are opting into our database and then primarily the channels there that we're interested in are obviously things like paid and organic and social and different things like that. So those kinds of get measured higher up there, how they're doing. Down funnel it's more about how are we nurturing these conversions and pushing them along the funnel. And so we're doing things through like marketing qualified leads MQL things like that. And so those channels are primarily internal things like emails and nurture programs and different things like that. And so how are we doing with those. And then ultimately from a marketing perspective, we're looking at how many of those were actually turning into what's called an SQL, sales-qualified lead. And that's when our [inaudible] actually reached out, spoken with these people, set up a meeting and kind of qualified it that this is actually a good fit for us. It's a good fit for our product. These people will be successful because we take a hard long look at it and we're trying, we're not trying to sell something to somebody who's just not going to be successful with it because again, from the principle customer success, that's just not doing it wrong. And so ultimately once the CTOs do that and they send along to one of our account executives, then we're ultimately judged on whether that account executive is essentially saying yes, this was a great lead. I'm ready to take it on as a, as an actual opportunity. So from a marketing organization, it's all across the funnel really and different channels are measured along the way.

DA (20:39):
That's awesome. That's really cool. You guys do the whole thing and see that and see that whole process unveil and hopefully you guys don't get yelled at when people don't close on the SQLs. What's been the biggest window for generating MQLs that convert well into SQLs? Any specific channels that you guys are loving right now that have been kind of great resources for you?

MS (21:02):
Yeah. You know, we, we started doing more and more nurturing, which, you know, is nothing really new or exciting, but we incorporated a lot more persona work probably in the last year or so. You know, we're, we're trying to figure out who are our buyers, who are the people that are influencers, different ways of talking to those people, doing different kinds of nurture campaigns revolves around them. When does it make sense to even start nurturing these people versus kind of just letting them organically get there, different things like that. A lot of different channels that are in retargeting is always great just standing in front of people everywhere that they're doing online. Tried some different things as far as like live chat and things like that which has had some success. But I mean ultimately like the best thing that we've done kind of a for demand team I guess is really like this partnership with our SDR team where it has really allowed us to kind of fill that one gap that like is kind of in that marketing can do, which is like pick up the phone necessarily. So it was kinda like everything's a digital channel for us, but SDR has now fill that gap where it's like to actually have the personalized touch and can send that nurture email plus pick up the phone right afterwards and you know, add that little bit extra to really accelerate people on.

DA (22:23):
That's an incredible and helpful tip I think very useful for a lot of companies. And any specific like tips or thoughts on like how to communicate best with them from, you know, when you're starting, when they're getting ready to get on those calls to communication, coming back, how would you best kind of advise people if they're going to set this up for, you know, the best case scenario for communication?

MS (22:47):
You're speaking about like what? Our SDR team. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. I mean it definitely depends on everybody's business and exactly what you're trying to do, right? I'm kind of like I mentioned at the onset like we are a company that we're not trying to sell everybody and that's for a couple of different reasons. A, we want to make sure that you're actually gonna be successful with our product and b, because it's not a necessarily like transactional arrangement, you know, it's, it's not something where you can just swipe the credit card for 10 bucks a month and you've got Gainsight kind of thing. So, we, our approach to it is like less of a call center and more of a thoughtful approach where we train our SDRs to be, you know, these evangelists themselves were the first call they get on they're not trying to just set a demo with an a, as soon as possible. They're, they're really, you know, interested in learning about the customer and about their problems and you know, how we can fit and if we can't fit then we can't fit. So I guess my recommendation there is just kind of understanding your business and what you really are expecting out of your SDR team. And if it's something like you expect them to make hundred and 50 dollars a day and just set demos for everybody and anybody that comes through, then that's how your business should operate. But what we found works for us, and again it's just based on our business model, is more of a thoughtful approach and probably more. I don't like to use the term like calling out people, but you know, if people aren't ready for us then we're not going to force the issue, is essentially what we dealt with.

DA (24:26):
No, that's great. I mean it's high level of qualification, but I think because you guys are customer success stuff, when you guys love so much about customer success, customer success means that you have to have the right persona, the right person coming in, buying your product at the right time and you wouldn't have very good success if you had the wrong people coming in. So it makes a ton of sense and great advice. Well, let's move forward and looking forward here in 2018 you know, as things only get busier in SaaS and stuff like that, where do you guys see yourselves going? What's changing in marketing for you guys in 2018 if anything?

MS (24:59):
Yeah, I mean a lot of it is going to be more of the same, getting better at what we're doing, getting more efficient with it. But a lot of is just like more and more personalization as we as we go on. I mean it can't be stated enough that it's like people respond well to things that are relevant to them. Right? It's like you get you know, tons and tons of cold emails every day and it just becomes more and more natural just to immediately delete them and get rid of them out of the inbox and stuff. And it's, it's the cold emails and things that have something in their subject line that is relevant to you, talks about like from me I went to school at Arizona state, so maybe it's talking about the acc football team or something like that that catches my attention you know, it's something that takes people a lot of time to do this research, just to send an email so it doesn't scale very well and so it's all about like how do you get this hyper personalization but at scale because you know, you still need to cast a wide net in order to kind of get to a number of thing like that, but you can't spend 15 minutes just drafting everything and then how do you do it through kind of a one to many like a marketing automation platform where, you know, if we're going to send out an email to 40,000 people, how are we going to tailor the message to get them to respond to it. So, you know, lots of different tools that are coming out every day for this, like a different ABM tools, web personalization tools so that when we're hitting our sites, you know, a relevant message fixed for you and your industry or your persona or different things like that. So there's just so much going on that I mean we're going to constantly be trying to figure out how we can do that better and what new technologies are out there that can help us do that kind of stuff.

DA (26:46):
No, that's fantastic. And you know, our big why here at Demio is to help businesses leverage the power of personal conversations at scale. So definitely understand that we're really trying to build like a webinar platform that you can do a lot of that personalization over time through your marketing funnel and stuff like that. And we really understand what it means to have that. And I think just to shout out to, another great company, RightMessage that does, personalization of your website for different traffic sources. So a lot of what you're talking about there and really incredible stuff coming out and I think that's a really great, really great answer. And by the way, Matt, I don't think we can be friends after this. You said you're from, are you grad? You graduated from ASU? I'm a U of A alumni, so Wild Cats and Scum Devils as we call them. Awesome. Well, I think that was really great advice and what I want to move on to now is our lightening round questions. This is just a really fun segment where we just go through about five questions I quickly ask them to you and you answer as fast as possible. The best possible answer. Ready to go? Let's do it. All right. What advice would you give for early stage SaaS companies starting marketing today?

MS (27:57):
I would say content is king. Even if you don't have a dedicated person or team, use your internal people. Kind of like I talked about earlier on in the podcast. I'm, you know, we're fortunate here at Gainsight we have so many experts in, you're wanting to write and things like that and so people oftentimes don't think they can do it, but they can do it and content is how you were going to expand your audience in a hurry.

DA (28:25):
Hundred percent I love that. What marketing skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?

MS (28:31):
Staying with that kind of concept. I would say writing because even if not everybody in your company can write everybody in your marketing team should be able to write a little bit because again, the more content that you can push out, the more things that you can just make sure are crisp and compelling from email subject lines to tweets to, you know, everything needs to be personalized and you know, compelling and draw people in and it's like you can't afford to skimp anywhere anymore kind of thing. So everybody needs to be able to write a little bit.

DA (29:02):
Well on that same topic, what would be a great resource or educational resource you'd recommend for copywriting or content writing and creating that kind of voice and stuff?

MS (29:13):
You know, I was trying to think of a couple of different blogs and different things like that that I look at it a lot and just as I've gotten busier and busier, I find like I don't have as much time to look at that stuff as I'd like it anymore. But the place that I still go to a lot is communities for different tools and different things that I'm looking at primarily because I want to learn how other people are doing and what they've been doing that has been successful and so you see a lot of those blogs and things like that, but it's like you go to the communities and you ask a question about like how can I tailor this email to get a higher open rate and things like that and everybody was doing everything that you're doing already so you can kind of get this greater learning faster than if you're trying to go through a bunch of different blogs. So I would just say find communities for either the software you're using or the subject that you're interested in and just be active in those.

DA (30:06):
So much great content and information you can learn from people doing it in the trenches. And that's exactly what we're doing here. Right. What about your favorite marketing tool you can't live without?

MS (30:16):
There's a bunch of them from like a digital perspective I mean, we use Marketo for our marketing automation platform, which is great. Salesforce for our CRM which is great. A lot of people hate it, but I actually love it. Zapier makes life so easy on a lot of different ways. I've heard some people talking about that on earlier podcasts of yours and I love that tool. Anything with an open API has a special place in my heart because being an operations background means I can actually like connect these together and just make things automated, which is great. And from like a less techie perspective, but I have to give a shout out to Microsoft Excel because just again, from a data perspective, like I can't do anything without Excel.

DA (30:59):
Totally. And if Microsoft, you're listening. We love you. Thank you. Brand, business or team that you admire today?

MS (31:06):
Yeah. So this one I'm trying to think long and hard about this and trying to find a good one. And obviously besides ASU for just having a way better plan than UA, I would probably just, for whatever reason, the one that jumps to mind is like Tmobile because I really appreciated their kind of uncarrier campaign that they started up a couple years ago and really turned the entire industry on its head and not just because I happen to be a Tmobile subscriber and really enjoyed a lot of like the random benefits that I got like free international roaming or things like that. But it was just a, you know, something that was like, you know, stagnant space and the marketing was all very blasé and not exciting and things like that. And they really know, they created this new competition where now you see a lot of these different brands ATT, Verizon, all of them kind of actually challenging each other for one and improving, which is great. And then also coming out with some more creative campaigns and things like that, so.

DA (32:06):
I always find it really interesting when you have kind of a stale market place and then just one person just does a pivot to a fresh fun like engaging and relatable marketing campaign. It's just like, oh, where do they come from and why couldn't we figure this out five years ago? But yeah, Tmobile did a fantastic job, their campaigns still are fantastic. So really great choice. And Matt I just want to thank you so much for your time. We went a little bit over today on today's podcast, but ton of great information. You really brought it today. So appreciate your time. Thanks for coming on. Thanks for wrapping Gainsight. And we'll talk to you soon.

MS (32:42):
Thanks for having me.

DA (32:43):
A big thank you to Matt Stone for coming on and providing so much amazing content on this episode. What a big win for him to come into such an incredible company at Gainsight and just perform so incredibly built out such a powerful part of a team. I think that whole conversation around can you have, having your SDR is connected to your marketing team, is such a small but big that most companies can walk away from this episode with. Anyways, thank you so much for coming on. It was a great episode. Hope you guys learned a ton. (...)

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