SaaS Breakthrough – Featuring Sarah Whipp

demio saas breakthrough featuring sarah whippAbout Sarah Whipp:

Sarah Whipp is the CMO and Head of Go-to-Market Strategy at Callsign, an identity fraud, authorisation and authentication company, solving the challenges that organisations face in getting their users on to and interacting with their digital platforms.

Sarah’s career spans 30 years of general business and global marketing leadership, including roles a VP of EMEA marketing, for companies such as Fujitsu, McAfee, Symantec, and Standard & Poors.

Her remit has been the same in all roles – transform and build marketing into something that delivers measurable value, talks business language, and never ever shows a mood board or word cloud.

meetdemio · How Callsign Powers Sales with Relationship Building ABM

Show Notes:
03:00
Making Digital Identification Simple And Secure For Everybody/Everything
04:15
Being Able To Create Something From Scratch In Marketing
05:00
Building a Team With People W/ Experience In The Targeted Verticals
07:30
Brand Messaging: Iterating And Testing And Iterating
09:55
Opinions, Customer Views And Loud Voices
"And we've been really careful about crafting the questions when we've been asking for feedback that we're asking for data points around it. What, when you got this piece of feedback, what was the context? How was it said, give me more details around it (...) I think we're as challenged as the next organization with people coming through with their own views, rather than necessarily a customer view. And also being careful to avoid loud voices. I think, I dunno, I don't experience that again, but some people, one person said it very loudly and therefore it's been taken as gospel as being that this is the feedback (...) It was one person who said it once, that's not feedback. That's just an opinion. Let let's be data-driven. We've really been careful about sort of checking, working through that we've got the right KPIs and that they're empirical. They're not opinion."
13:00
Influencers, Thought Leadership and ABM
15:05
Word-of-mouth And Relationship-based Referrals
18:40
A Market Research Initiative That Unexpectly Resulted In Sales
"It's people, I don't know if you'll find the same people are going in with a hard sell pretty quickly at the moment. And I'm not certain people are always wanting to go about it that way. They want to have a conversation, they want to talk about that particular needs. And yeah, we're certainly, we try and focus a lot more now on channels with thought leadership and value add and not really trying to establish needs too early on."
22:50
Linking Marketing Goals To Strategy And Talking Other Functions' Language
"You always start with the business strategy and I never really veer too far from it. I think too often I've challenged teams I've come into and asked about what they're doing and how it impacts the strategy. And people have been lost. They've not, they've said, no, no, no, these are the marketing goals. I get that. But if you can't link that to the strategy and talk to other functions at the strategic level, you get a little bit lost on the way (...) I think understand what the other functions are looking for from you and talk in that language and keeps the business strategy are two really important things."
25:05
If Marketing Is Depressed You've Got a Problem With The Company
"Hire people with incredible attitudes first and foremost, skills can be learned attitudes I find less so. Make sure they've got the potential for the skill, mentor them so they can achieve it and then get out of the way. I think if you can do that the majority of the time and let's face it, I don't get it right every time. And I'm sure most people don't, then you're onto a winner. And I think the other piece on that is where you find people who perhaps had the attitude and then it's a little bit lost. Don't be afraid to have that honest conversation. If they're not loving their job, then get them to a point where they can or help them find something that they can love. Because I've always said, if marketing's depressed, you've got a problem with the company. We were the ones who should be the most forward looking the most optimistic. And if, if the marketing department's not that, that way, something has to change because we won't be able to mark it with, effectively."
26:10
Big Lesson: Every Investor Has Their Own Way Of Doing It
"The biggest thing I learned, I guess from a marketing and comms perspective is every investor has their own way of doing it. And every investor believes theirs is the right way. So you end up bespoking a lot in a way that they can consume that. And I guess that, that, that, that has good alignment sort of strategic accounts, right? Everyone wants to be able to consume the information the way that's right for them. The, the really important thing is that we never lost our message along the way, or our strategy. Again, either you have investors who want to be able to hone things or when they go to their investment committee, put it in the way that will make it more attractive, but you have to kind of stay true to your vision. It is your vision. And that has to be the one that gets sold in and bought into otherwise you're gonna have a bad investor fit or a misalignment of goals. So that, that, that was really important to understand."
28:45
KPIs: A Pyramid Of Measures
31:35
Thinking Differently About Case Studies
34:25
The Challenge Ahead: Noise
33:45
Lightning Questions
Transcript:

DA (02:29):
Hey Sarah, thanks so much for joining me today on the SaaS breakthrough podcast. How you doing today?

SW (02:35):
It's great to be joining you. Fantastic. It's a beautiful sunny day in London. I don't know how it is with you, but very excited to be part of this.

DA (02:43):
Yes, I'm in Tampa, Florida, so it's always sunny. It's been raining the past couple of days, but yeah, sunny day in London sounds like a a rare occasion.

SW (02:52):
It certainly is, but you know, Brits, we like to talk about the weather. That's the default position.

DA (02:57):
That's great. I love that. Well, thank you so much for joining me. I'm excited to have you here. Talk about Callsign. So why don't we just kick it off, tell us a little about Callsign when it was founded, who your customers are and what you all are doing uniquely in the marketplace.

SW (03:11):
I absolutely would love to. So Callsign for those who don't know is a leading digital identity provider. And our vision is fairly simple. It's about making digital identification simple and secure for everybody regardless of circumstance and for everything. Our typical customer is, we work with some of the world's largest organizations, banks, multinational retailers, but we've also got some super cool startups that we work with as well. And our challenge, the challenge we help them face is making sure that their good users, genuine users, can get onto their services and interact and transact with platforms really easily securely and a little bit coolly. So we were founded in 2012 and our ethos slides on the notion that basically the digital world is based on a single premise, which is trust, and if you're interacting online and if you're not certain who that is, then things kind of fall apart. So we want to make sure that there's no uncertainty, people can feel totally confident that the people they're interacting with are who they say they are and doing exactly what they say they're doing.

DA (04:13):
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And when did you join the team? What what was the focus when you first came in?

SW (04:19):
So I joined two years ago and I'm a really, really lucky marketeer because I got to start marketing at Callsign. I was the first official marketing role. Absolutely David. I've never had that before. I've always followed in someone's footsteps and had to put me on my mark on something, but to be able to create something from scratch, to create a brand that would engage customers, but not just customers. We're an early stage, we've announced series (inaudible) a few years ago (inaudible) anything else, but our brand has to engage investors, employees as well as customers. So being able to look and create from those three different perspectives and have one that was cohesive, what a gift of a role I've been given.

DA (05:01):
Absolutely. And it's always you know, the best marketers who take that challenge and love it and just want to run with it. And I want to go into a little bit more on the brand, kind of how you built that trust, how you build a trustful brand. But before we do that, just, you know, tell me a bit about the marketing team. How much has it been built out, when you came in did you have a product market fit already or when you were building marketing, were you also like just ground level? Everything had to be built?

SW (05:27):
I think the product was fairly well established and we had a really good vision. I'm very lucky that we've got a lot of people who work in the company who were ex banking, ex merchant. So they'd had real scars of competitive solutions that hadn't worked for them. But what they didn't have was the way of articulating it. I guess with anyone who's a subject matter expert, they felt a lot of the things were really obvious and didn't need saying and made a lot of assumptions. So my job really was to unpick those assumptions, get absolute clarity into the messaging and make it pretty simple and easy to understand. The other thing is security authentication. It can be a bit dark. It's all about not letting people get on. And we twisted it to say, actually security is not a destination, right?

SW (06:14):
It's, it's a journey point. And in fact, the better you do it, the more seamless it should be. So re recognize our job is to allow every genuine person to get online and be able to interact and be safe and secure. So that, that was our job was to really change the positioning. The product was perfect. It was being built. What we had to do is create messaging that could be as I guess, as effortless as the product. And so built the team. I was really lucky that there was a person on board who was really very creative. They were doing UX at the time. And he's now in charge of brand and creative. He's an absolute genius. Brought someone on board to look at marketing programs who has scaled to be able to do things like PR, is already a digital expert. So we've got a real gift there. Wasn't a gift I knew him already. So I knew he'd be brilliant. And then also brought on board product marketing, brought someone in from a bank who again, has just been absolutely amazing. So people who've worked in big corporates before coming to a startup and finding actually that that's the thing they want to do. So it's been great. We'll double the team, I guess, by the end of the year. So we'll be on about eight people by the end of the year.

DA (07:28):
That's huge doubling the team again. And I think it's a very astute point that you brought people in that had not just experienced in startups, but in the industries and verticals that you're specifically working in, which is so smart to do. Now, I want to dig in a little bit more on that kind of brand discussion. When you first came in, you said the product was really nice. You had a lot of that technical language and the subject matter experts being the founders, we kind of struggled with the same thing. So when you came in to build that brand language, what did that process looks like? What does that look like? Is it like 30, 60 days of just conversations with the team, conversations with customers? Is it, how are you aligning the language to be, this is where we need to take it.

SW (08:07):
David you're spot on, it was a lot of conversations. We're quite a curious organization. So we started internally because we had a lot of people, as we said, who had worked in there and workshoped and talked it through. What is it about it? What makes the difference? How is it working? What have been the challenges that you've found in the past? And we're lucky, the technical guys, but they're super smart, so they could talk about it with a lot of passion and, and talk to the challenges. But then we also had to look to the market, being able to position ourselves in a way that was different from the competition and be able to position it in where we felt there was a gap. And then we also had to then check with customers and say, is this resonating with you?

SW (08:52):
Where was the challenge? And the beauty of being part of a relatively small organization is you can go to any customer meeting. You can just say, can I just come alongside? And, and people are happy for you to do it. And you get the opportunity to ask. So it was a lot of questions and we talked about 30, 60, 90 to be fair, two years down the line, it's still a lot of questions because things change. And then the final piece we talked to is there's a lot of analyst houses in our area and people like Gartner, Forrester, who you may have heard of. And we talked to them along, obviously we had to sort of pitch ourselves to them, but also ask them for advice, ask them whether we fit within the market. What do you think of what we're saying? And we iterate, we know we'll never be right. We know we'll never get it the best it can be. So we'll keep iterating and testing and iterating. And I don't see that changing ever. It's one of the things I find exciting, that we always get to know that there's more to come.

DA (09:55):
Yeah. There's something inherently exciting about, you know, the fluidity of like brand messaging that it's constantly changing with that evolving market, and you have to stay with it. I guess my question then becomes, yeah, you can have those conversations with customers and make sure that the, you know, brand is aligning, but ultimately it's really dictated by sales, right. Are we doing a good job of telling our story that's bringing in the right prospects and turning them into customers? What have you guys had to do to set up experimentation or KPIs to say, yes, this brand message is resonating, or if we're going to reshape this brand messaging, okay, we're going to give ourselves 60 days and see, are we, is our conversion changer, is the feedback that we're getting better, because there has to be some feedback loop to make sure that you're not taking that brand message in the wrong direction too.

SW (10:43):
Absolutely. And I think the key thing there is we had to avoid the happiness index. And David, I don't know if you were as familiar as I am with it. That we've had, I think throughout my career, that there's ways of measuring from a purely empirical perspective, are more people coming to the site, are they coming asking the right questions or are they coming saying, I don't know what you do. Or are you actually going from people going, Oh, I just didn't like that, I didn't feel. And we've been really careful about crafting the questions when we've been asking for feedback that we're asking for data points around it. What, when you got this piece of feedback, what was the context? How was it said, give me more details around it. So we've really probe to get it right, because I think we're as challenged as the next organization with people coming through with their own views, rather than necessarily a customer view.

SW (11:38):
And also being careful to avoid loud voices. I think, I dunno, I don't experience that again, but some people, one person said it very loudly and therefore it's been taken as gospel as being that this is the feedback. Whereas when you probe, one person said it once. An example here, it seems a really silly one. But we're a British company, but we use American English in our language because that's the international language. And one customer didn't like it and it created a storm, but you go back and you go, let let's really check on that. It was one person who said it once, that's not feedback. That's just an opinion. Let let's be data-driven. We've really been careful about sort of checking, working through that we've got the right KPIs and that they're empirical. They're not opinion. I don't know if that resonates with you.

DA (12:30):
It absolutely does. I mean, there's so many places where you can do that in your company. I've seen that a lot in our, in our product where I've kind of made that mistake of like hearing that really loud voice, right, in a product decision versus the data driven decisions that you need. So it makes sense that it should be that way for everything that you're doing whenever you're getting those feedback loops in. But that makes a lot of sense. And it makes sense that you have to really have good data points, ask the right questions in those interviews, data specific questions and make it a data-driven experiment. And so now that you have, you know, let's say you built that brand message out, you're ready to go. What are the marketing channels that you guys are looking at with a technical product like yours? Are you guys looking to you know, get out there quickly with PPC? Are you testing the waters and content? What are you doing to differentiate yourself as marketing channels?

SW (13:19):
It's a big content piece. I think PPC for us because our sales are really very, very sort of high ticket items. So although people are searching, generally, they're searching from word-of-mouth or advice. So one of the things we want to make sure is that the influencers know about us and that we're appearing in those places. And those influencers can be on the list as I've talked about, but there's also some sort of big third party events. In only 2020 (inaudible). We want to make sure that those guys know about us. And that we're, we're on those events and our messages heard there it's very much a word of mouth type of industry for us at the moment. And that's what we're finding successful. So although you've got the word of mouth, you then of course, we've got sort the right messaging, the right content that you're placing through these channels.

SW (14:14):
So we spend a lot of time testing the messaging, working through, as I say, getting the feedback, doing the market research there. So that that's really the top of funnel. And then of course given that we've got a team with a very strong banking and combat background, social is leveraged extremely well. That's a really important channel for thought leadership and making sure that our thought leadership is coming from lots of different points across the company, from product, from commercial, even our chief security officer he's ex serious organized crime squad. So he's got a hell of a background and then that work and a lot of opinions, so that that's good to leverage. And then finally ABM is a massive channel for us because we're going after very small number of clients, but very deep. So ABM is a really good methodology for us to use.

DA (15:05):
I could see ABM being fantastic, especially with like the thought leadership network connections that you already have. You mentioned word-of-mouth and I'm interested in that one. How are you tracking that? And are you building in referral campaigns as part of the onboarding process, getting people out there to talk about you, or is it more, let's give a great experience. And if we do that, you know, we'll kind of have this organic growth and you know, we just ask when they sign up where they, where they heard about us.

SW (15:33):
No, we track it. So with a small number of accounts, it's sort of connection to connection. So we've got an interconnected web of account strategies about, it could be an investor that introduces us to a board member. It could be a board member of one area. And I wish I could give you names, but I'm not allowed to, but we've got somebody within a large customer that also sits on the pseudo board of a government that can introduce us. So that there's a, we plot it essentially who the connections are and are those connections, red, yellow, or green and if not, what to do about it. So it's part of the ABM strategy that we do that. And we work very, very closely with the commercial organization which is both sales and sort of accounts satisfaction teams to make sure that we're, we're doing that, we're providing the right information, the right, and the right level of content to support them. So it's a, a highly teamed approach to do this.

DA (16:38):
Yeah. That's really smart to do that. Kind of leveraging the connections you already have with an ABM method like that, and kind of built in with that referral. Do you guys do like commission kind of structure for referrals, or is it more like just pure relationship building, you know, gift giving and that kind of brand mechanism?

SW (16:58):
A lot of it is relationship based. I think that there are some advisors that are on official capacity and we would say that. I think it's important to be very transparent with that. I think that there's somewhere we've had recommendations, which I think if people had felt that they were getting remuneration for it, that would have been very inappropriate to them. So were they're our advisors we're very open and transparent about it. And the rest of it is we're just very fortunate to have some people who are willing to help us, which sounds old. But it, it's funny sometimes when you ask people that people are willing to share their groups, if you trust you, and you've got a good relationship. And I think even to sort of myself and different groups, I've got from marketing perspective, if it's people I trust and I look at it and I like, I like the product, I'm more than happy to recommend it. It's not something I'd expect remuneration for. And I think I'd feel a little uncomfortable if I got paid for giving that recommendation, that would, I think that would affect my values. So we're, we're lucky. There's a few people like that, you know, and, and it's tens, it's not hundreds. It doesn't have to be. So we've got those. And then of course, we've got investors who are very well connected and they introduce us to people, but that's obviously done in a investment to investment level.

DA (18:16):
Yeah. I think you made some really great points in there, especially around the fact that like focusing on that product value, focusing on that brand message and just building relationships with your customers and your leads, like it pays off dividends in the long run. It's not always playing a short game of just, you know, trying to pull a sale in or something like that. And you guys have really been able to, to capitalize off that by building great relationships. So that's amazing. I know you also recently implemented an initiative where market research had a really big role. Would love to hear about the goals you had for building something like that out, how you implemented it and the results.

SW (18:54):
Yeah, sure David. So it's, it's funny, unintended consequences, right? So we wanted to do some market research. We're moving into a new sector. It's a subset of resale, but we haven't got any customers in that area. We wanted to understand how we needed to change the messaging. So we went out to do market research and we had some hypothesis. We tested them internally. We test them with analysts. We were ready to go out to market. So off we went and we were doing market research again, 20, 30 organizations. And just one-on-one interviews. So going through testing and what do you think, how would that work? Who would it work within your organization? What are the pain points, you know, typical market research and sort of in-depth interviews rather than sort of questionnaire approaches. As I said, sort of 20 to 30 organizations, I'm going to say. Out of it, two RFPs, one within 15 minutes of the interview finishing and another five sales meetings, which is it's, it's amazing how we would never, it was not, it was not a demand gen piece of work.

SW (20:03):
And I should say these are multinational organizations where the sale would be potentially millions, if not hundreds of thousands. So they're not sort of small ticket items. The, it was, it was amazing to see how just talking to people and being able to respond to the questions they were asking, actually generated leads. And that, that, that's, it's something we're looking to sort of expand a little bit on. Going to be quiet again, careful about it, because it's not a selling research and we are genuinely wanting to understand about the messaging, but having our ears open to a turn in the dialogue that suggests there's actually a very current demand for this and being open to be able to flex the approach, was really what was important for us to allow us to move from being top, top, top, top, top of follow research, into being able to drive it into the (inaudible).

DA (21:03):
Well, I think two major things come from that one, a strong kind of you know, result that your brand message as we were talking about before is doing a good job of resonating and you're solving product issues and product pain points that they need. Right? Like, that's amazing, first of all. And secondly, that, you know, a non-sales, open-ended invitation to just talk and listen, like, you know, instead of going to an event where you're kind of expecting to be sold, or going to a sales where you're expecting to be sold, just kind of this open-ended opportunity was a great time for them to learn, listen, and they learn about your product too. So even if you're not able to scale, maybe that type of top, top, top funnel item, finding some middle ground in the future where you can have these very open conversations, could be a huge thing, meetups or something where you can get in with the, with the prospects you're looking for.

SW (21:57):
I think that's a great point, David. It's people, I don't know if you'll find the same people are going in with a hard sell pretty quickly at the moment. And I'm not certain people are always wanting to go about it that way. They want to have a conversation, they want to talk about that particular needs. And yeah, we're certainly, we try and focus a lot more now on channels with thought leadership and value add and not really trying to establish needs too early on.

DA (22:28):
Yeah. You know, I think a lot of our sales demos, which I don't even like calling themselves demos anymore, just demos is, you know, a lot of the conversations, just like, what is your use case, trying to learn about what they're specifically trying to do, how we can help them. And there's no real push to a sale. It's more of like, let's get, you know, let's get this use case up and running. Let's see how it goes. And once you have value, then we have that conversation about sale again.

SW (22:51):
Yeah, absolutely.

DA (22:52):
I love that. I know you also have a background in finance, research, sales and IT consultancy. Do you ever find yourself leveraging that type of background in a role as a CMO? You said this was like your first time building out the entire department. So there's probably little areas for you to add the extra skillset in. What about you know, mindsets or skillsets that you think would be great for other marketing leaders to think about when they're coming into a role like this?

SW (23:18):
Yeah, no, that's interesting. If I, if I think about it and number one, she says playing for the time. I think a lot of my peers would probably be saying everything that I'm about to say already. So I, in no way do I think I'm unique in this, but if I think about it, there's always really been sort of three things that I, I brought into marketing as well as learning so much within marketing. And the first was, you always start with the business strategy and I never really veer too far from it. I think too often I've challenged teams I've come into and asked about what they're doing and how it impacts the strategy. And people have been lost. They've not, they've said, no, no, no, these are the marketing goals. I get that. But if you can't link that to the strategy and talk to other functions at the strategic level, you get a little bit lost on the way.

SW (24:11):
And the, it gets a bit lost in translation. And I think on, and maybe carrying on with that theme, it's about talking the language of the other functions and not the marketing language. I think I've seen too many people in my, my PM man from a big finance background. He, yeah, Oh, no, I like to show my workings. I like to show how I'm doing the work. And I still get confused and go, why? No other function shows it's working, none, right. You talk about the intersection points and what you need to make sure there's a handover to be efficient, but you don't want people to know exactly what you're doing at every stage. That's not efficient. Instead of sort of running this really efficient relay. You want to start becoming a three legged race where you're asking the entire companies to run along with you at every point.

SW (24:57):
And that, that that's not going to streamline you. So I think understand what the other functions are looking for from you and talk in that language and keeps the business strategy are two really important things. And then the third one, which I've got from again, general management, you know, hire people with incredible attitudes first and foremost, skills can be learned attitudes I find less so. Make sure they've got the potential for the skill, mentor them so they can achieve it and then get out of the way. I think if you can do that the majority of the time and let's face it, I don't get it right every time. And I'm sure most people don't, then you're onto a winner. And I think the other piece on that is where you find people who perhaps had the attitude and then it's a little bit lost. Don't be afraid to have that honest conversation. If they're not loving their job, then get them to a point where they can or help them find something that they can love. Because I've always said, if marketing's depressed, you've got a problem with the company. We were the ones who should be the most forward looking the most optimistic. And if, if the marketing department's not that, that way, something has to change because we won't be able to mark it with, effectively.

DA (26:08):
That was three amazing points of advice. I think that was fantastic. So a lot of leadership communication, team building, mentoring kind of all through that experience that you've learned has kind of guided you there, which is amazing. And, you know, that's also got to the point where you've been able to kind of come in with the business and do be a part of that kind of maybe investor, investor conversation as well, kind of look forward to the rounds with your team. What was that like, kind of going into that process from the marketing side, any lessons you learned from being a part of that?

SW (26:44):
Well, first it was a gift, right? Because I've learned subsequently that marketing doesn't always get involved in this. I didn't know. I'd never done this before. But I, I recognize the, actually the fact the CEO let me do this was just brilliant. Cause I learned so much. The the biggest thing I learned, I guess from a marketing and comms perspective is every investor has their own way of doing it. And every investor believes theirs is the right way. So you end up bespoking a lot in a way that they can consume that. And I guess that, that, that, that has good alignment sort of strategic accounts, right? Everyone wants to be able to consume the information the way that's right for them. The, the really important thing is that we never lost our message along the way, or our strategy.

SW (27:32):
Again, either you have investors who want to be able to hone things or when they go to their investment committee, put it in the way that will make it more attractive, but you have to kind of stay true to your vision. It is your vision. And that has to be the one that gets sold in and bought into otherwise you're gonna have a bad investor fit or a misalignment of goals. So that, that, that was really important to understand. And my God, you, you got to flex and you have to jump, you, you, you know, you, this isn't a time when you can say, I'm sorry, it's 10 o'clock at night, you can get the deck tomorrow. If the investors are international, you, you get it to them when they need it, because they're very busy people and there's a lot of investments out there. So lots of learnings with it and very exciting to understand how it works.

DA (28:23):
I can see that being such a critical role to have in a CMO as part of that. I mean, you're telling the brand story that the brand that you've worked on for so long, you're looking at a key growth numbers. You're looking at, you know, where this is going from both a story marketing and obviously product and business perspective as well. So I'm sure there was a lot of things learned and probably sets you up to think about your role, even better. Looking at that and kind of building those decks and looking at those different items. So that changed your perspective on the KPIs that you needed your team to focus on, or is it more just on like the reporting KPIs that you need to really kind of change? Might need more macro numbers than micro in marketing?

SW (29:02):
I think it's interesting that the macro and the micro with KPIs, because I actually, a few weeks ago, I was sitting down with the CEO and just talking about how marketing can be measured, just, you know, you sit down and go, these are the different ways you can do it. And you kind of set out a framework and I've always had a pyramid of measures whenever I've been working with teams. And, you know, I've had teams as big as 300 people and other teams, as small as the one I've got now. But the pyramids always remained the same. And if you, the way I look at it at the bottom level is the hygiene KPIs. They're a little bit boring, but you have to have them, you know, is the database cleaning, you're doing the privacy measures. Have you the right tech, you know, are you running the tech in the right way?

SW (29:43):
So there's some real hygiene factors that have to be done. And then there's KPIs and activities, which is very much, have you done the activity? Did you write this? How many of these materials did you produce? How many, was the email done? Was the webinar done? You know, there's the activities. And then on top of that, it's the results of the activities. So being able to measure them in each level or campaign, can you, you know, what, what are the results of each campaign? And then finally, which is the macro one, which is really the outcome that the board cares about. It's the outcome, the investors, and really the one I talk at the business level about, which is how we impacted the strategy. Now you need all of that pyramid, but what I've learned is don't start sharing hygiene or activity measures at the investor level, because who cares, right?

SW (30:32):
And if you end up talking lead numbers to an investor, that's not strategic, we all know they can be manipulated to high heaven. So what you have to do is sort of stay on the outcome and how you added value to that outcome that helps the team stay anchored. But at the same time, when I'm measuring the team and recognize not everyone should be measured on outcome, that's not fair for a junior person, or a new person coming in, they can't control it. It's not within their power to be accountable for. So it's making sure the team have KPIs that they can be accountable for, but the overall function needs to be focused on the outcome and the result and the impact on the business.

DA (31:12):
Yeah. And that goes back to what you said before. Like so much of this is now you're seeing your communication and your ability to see the macro picture of the business as being that goal. So, you know, your outcomes, that's what investors want to hear individually in the department. It's also knowing your people and your personnel. How do I motivate them? Are they a junior? Are they a senior? What are their roles, responsibilities, but all that makes sense. And very, very, very smart thinking here. I love it. As you look back over the past two years here with Callsign, any hard lessons from things that didn't work out the way you would have loved, there«s always great lessons looking back.

SW (31:45):
Yeah, sure. I mean, I, I'm going to sort of say two words and I'm sure other people are going to roll their eyes at this point, case studies. What a nightmare. We're in the identity space, we're in the security space. No one wants to talk about what they're doing to keep their customers or their employees protected from fraudsters. It would be a complete, you shoot yourself in the foot. Why, why would you show that you know? So it, it became very difficult because at the same time everyone wants case studies, these independent third parties investors, they want them, but being able to get them on the record is a little bit difficult. So spent sort of year, year and a half, sort of really knocking my head against a wall about it. And then realizing, you know, that the definition of madness is just to keep repeating the same thing, time and time again, so let's try something different.

SW (32:38):
So started looking around for different way of doing it. There's a lot of anonymized case studies in our sector, frankly, that can be a work of fiction. I'm not hugely supportive of them because I think they can be abused. So we wanted to find something that wasn't anonymized that could be verified yet at the same time, you know, we didn't involve someone going on the record. So we basically took a trusted third party, an analyst house and got them to interview people that they, in the way that they could do it and say, I will verify that these people have said this, and they have this right seniority and the right level, and they are of these global banks or global merchants. And we interviewed them and said, these are the results. So we got that. We used it in a webinar with the analyst house.

SW (33:28):
And then we could repurpose it socially and say in sales enablement materials. And that allows us to have a verified case study. So it came from just getting it wrong time and time again, and you can get you know, well, you know, sales, if you could get me a case study, then I could do this and sales going on, want more case studies marketing, why can't you do it? It was a little bit of a round Robin conversation that wasn't going anywhere. Wasn't helpful to any of us. We had to think about things in a different way. So went wrong, figured it out. And I think we're on the right format now.

DA (34:04):
Yeah. I think that's exactly a great moment when you know, something that doesn't go right also gives you a really great solution. You know, it was a fantastic solution to do that because now you have verified numbers, case studies, you can organize data together and have, you know, verified result driven data to talk about that. That's amazing. That was really smart to do it that way. And you mentioned you're going to be doubling your team moving forward in 2020. So obviously you guys are doing really well this year. Got some, some good tailwinds, any other opportunities or challenges that you see ahead of yourself here in 2020?

SW (34:38):
Yeah, I'm sure you're going to say the same thing, noise, right. We've got, I think loads of budgets going to be used for events and the events aren't being done. So there's a lot of money out there and that put a lot of noise out there. And we're not a multinational company, you know, we're not this big company, we're a growth company. So we really focused on the message. And what we've added in is the recognition. We have to show a CFO that we're part of this spray because it's inappropriate. Or I can't think of it that, well, we have to show that we're essential to them. We have to show that they need our service or our product. And that's been our focus to say that we, this is why you need us.

SW (35:26):
This is why it will save you money compared to other competition or not having it, why it's important as well as then showing the line of business, how they can solve the challenges they've got in terms of customer experience or fraud, security, or compliance, which is sort of our key areas that we focus on. The CFO has to understand that this is something where the money has to be invested. There's going to be a lot of businesses challenged. We're aware that we need to sort of show that money. So yeah, I think that that's going to be 2021 for me. And I think it's going to be interesting how, cause we're all going to be trying to do it. Let's face it.

DA (36:05):
That is a new reality. I think it's so, it's so true. This is the honest forecast of what's to come is that there's going to be tighter budgets, more focus on, is this an essential piece of our marketing stack? Do we need this in our business? And our job will definitely be to translate that language, to understanding the real pain points that they have and marketing yourself as an essential business. And then of course having pricing and plans and in value perspective, that match all that obviously from the, from the product side. But that is really well said. And it's going to be the challenge that we're all going to have to work through in this kind of new normal. I hate to use that term. That's it, that's it. That's gonna be a, it's gonna be a big challenge, but what I want to do now for sake of time is I want to flip over to our lightning round questions. Just five quick questions that you can answer with the first best thought that comes to mind. You ready to get started?

SW (36:59):
I'm scared, but okay.

DA (37:01):
Don't be scared. You're gonna do great. You're gonna do great. You're doing amazing so far today. What advice would you give for early stage SaaS companies starting marketing today?

SW (37:10):
Know how you help your customers achieve that business goals and be able to prove it to a CFO.

DA (37:17):
That's basically what we just talked about, right. With that 2021 kind.

SW (37:19):
Yeah. I think that would be it, it's for every company.

DA (37:23):
I love that. What skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?

SW (37:29):
Yeah, I think I'm going to be repeating myself here because I think it's about business strategy because we all learn about the marketing strategy, but that link to business strategy, I think is really important. We can't show our workings to the business. It doesn't help them understand how we contribute towards business strategy, how we help the company achieve its goals.

DA (37:52):
This is definitely a marketing podcast, but I would say from a leadership perspective, being able to talk about the overarching business strategy and how it breaks down in each department, engineering you know, sales, marketing, everything I think is such a key part of alignment in your business. And it's such a exact story there that you're kind of talking about is having that, that understanding of the overall goals and the business strategy. That's amazing. What about a best educational resource you'd recommend for learning about marketing or growth?

SW (38:22):
I love HBR. Actually it's next to me. I love Harvard Business Review. I've read it for years. I, constantly refreshing, constantly learning. I, yeah, I'm a big fan of reading HBR. I don't know if that's the right answer, but that's, it covers so many topics.

DA (38:40):
Is a really good resource, really great resource. What about a favorite tool you can't live without?

SW (38:45):
Okay. This is not a favorite, but for my job, working with investors and within our company, I can't live without PowerPoint, but it is by no means a favorite tool. Is that the right thing? I mean, it's, it's funny that maybe the tools that you've got to do aren't necessarily the ones that you want. But for, for us in terms of talking to the board investors, that's how they think. And I wouldn't be able to get my department at the level is with the recognition that it gets, if I couldn't use PowerPoint effectively.

DA (39:21):
Yeah. I mean, can't live without it. That's the right tool. I mean, I'm definitely going to say, you know, Keynote over PowerPoint, but you know, that's a small thing.

SW (39:31):
You've got to send it as a PDF anyway. Should we just say PDFs?

DA (39:36):
There you go. What about a brand business or team that you admire?

SW (39:40):
For me, there'll be different ones in different countries, but in the UK, there's a company called Magic Breakfast and they provide healthy school breakfast to children who are in disadvantaged areas. And I love them. I love what they do. I try and make sure that we contribute wherever we can. We're not a big business, you know, with the CSL, but we do whenever we're providing meals for our teams, I made sure we equally fund Magic Breakfast and I admire anybody and any organization who is supporting, making sure that kids who are going hungry, don't.

DA (40:18):
That truly is amazing. That's sounds like an amazing organization and congratulations to you guys for, for donating and making that a big part of your mission. And I love to see that I love to see that, you know, it goes beyond just business and it's a really commendable think to do. But Sarah, I want to say thank you so much for your time today for sharing so much talking about Callsign, kind of what you've been doing over the past two years sounds like a wonderful journey and I'm really excited for everything you have going on.

SW (40:45):
David. Thank you so much for the opportunity. It's been fantastic to speak to you.

DA (40:49):
It has been a lot of fun. Sarah, have a great day and talk to you soon.

SW (40:53):
You too. Take care.
(...)

Resources:
Learn More About Callsign:
https://callsign.com/
Connect With Sarah:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahwhipp/
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