05: Lauren Sanborn: Happiness at the intersection of sales & marketing

What’s up folks, I’m super excited to be introducing our guest today. 

Lauren Sanborn is a force of nature. She’s a world class marketing ops professional who’s accomplished amazing things. Lauren is a graduate of Georgia Tech in business management. Before starting her illustreous career in tech, Lauren got her start at IBM in HR consulting and spent a year in retail at HomeDepot.

She then went on to spend 7 years working for AirWatch, a mobile device management company which would end up going through a billion dollar acquisotion by VMWare. Lauren built an impressive background during her time there, starting in database and SF managment, to sales and account management, to analyst relations programs, and finally, marketing manager. 

She now runs Revenue Operations at CallRail, one of the fastest growing startups in NA. Her team is a finalists in the OpsStars awards for Go-to-Market Agility Powered by Operational Excellence. Her ability to clearly see the technical and business impact of any given problem is one of her greates qualities. 

She’s an expert in digital transformation, martech, agile program management, and so much more.  Lauren, thank you so much for taking the time today.

Describe the opposite of sales & marketing alignment

Sales is pushing hard to meet their number (revenue, arpu, customer count). Marketing is pushing hard to meet their targets (marketing qualified leads). Not talking to each other and working as a single unit.

There is a big discrepancy in what types of leads convert and become workable by sales. The lack of alignment equates to marketing dollars that are spent frivolously and sales ignoring what they’re being fed from marketing

What does marketing need to know about sales?

Sales folks aren’t lazy. They have a lot on the line with a big portion of their compensation based on hitting sales numbers. However, they will always take the quickest and easiest route to make the sale. Keep that in mind. Think about how they work and put yourself in their shoes when you are communicating new marketing initiatives.

What does sales need to know about marketing?

Marketing folks are not ‘out of touch.’ They are expected to generate demand in a world full of email overload, ad overload, content overload. Being in marketing is not an easy job. Keep that in mind. Think about how they work and put yourself in their shoes when you are communicating new sales initiatives where you need marketing’s help to be successful.

For listeners who heard you paint that picture of misalignment and are thinking… shit that’s totally me. What are some ways to remedy this?

Meeting frequently and often between marketing leaders and sales leaders – talk about what is working, what is not working. Allow both sides to voice frustrations (I’m generating leads, why aren’t you working them…you’re generating leads, they aren’t any good).
Work together and in coordination with operations to create a scalable engine by using a revenue lifecycle and scoring methodology that is adaptable.

From top of funnel leads all the way down to revenue, what’s at the intersection of sales and marketing?

The sweet spot is sales accepted leads.- so it’s not just what leads became ‘qualified’ but what leads were actually accepted into the sales pipeline to be worked.

If you stop at MQLs (marketing qualified leads), then you don’t see what leads are worked. If you go to far down the funnel (ie revenue), you start to get into a gray area beyond what marketing has control over

How do you achieve that alignment? Brute force? Culture?

Set the expectation at the leadership level. Put regular cadences in place. Create metrics and report on them.
This takes TIME – I’d say 12 months to fully get folks into the motion where they understand their numbers, where infrastructure is tweaked on the operations side to enable accurate reporting.

Why is Revenue Operations so important? And why give it a separate name?

Revenue Operations is still relatively new in the marketplace, but it is the direction we are headed in. It makes a lot of sense because working in silos is ineffective. 

It all ties back to the customer. All companies have this utopia whereby everything they do enables the best customer experience.

Operations play an important role in accomplishing this goal because without the appropriate infrastructure that’s scalable, data points informing marketing decisions and sales conversations, visibility into post-sales and upset opportunities – it isn’t truly possible.

How do you get Sales & Marketing talking in a common language?

Setting a baseline for success metrics and holding folks accountable to those metrics. Having open, transparent and frequent conversations around how close we are to hitting those success metrics and what can we do as a TEAM to pivot if we are falling short. Teaching less experienced folks how to do this. In a lot of organizations, some people have never done this before, so they have to be taught and coached on how to get there. That’s where strong leadership comes into play.

As a RevOps leader, how do you foster great communication?

Communicating how what you are doing as a RevOps leader solves a business problem. This isn’t the easiest thing to do for technical people because a lot of RevOps stakeholders are not technical. The most successful people I’ve seen in the RevOps role can take a business problem, go down into the technical details/build, but only share that is relevant to their stakeholders that solves a problem.

Creating a dialogue that is frequent and transparent, where feedback is welcome, is best.

Lastly, make it part of your regular cadence for any new implementation – whether its an entirely new tool, new feature set, or initiative – making sure you and your team are communicating progress/challenges and working with the training team.

What advice do you have for people in terms of having a happy career?

Happiness is all perspective. It’s about 25% your situation and 75% your outlook. If you don’t like your job, get as much experience as you can and then change it. If you don’t like your career, get as much experience as you can that is helpful in where you want to go and use your network to pivot. 

For me, I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do or be. I knew I liked technology and business, so I went to Georgia Tech. I knew I liked fancy things, so I figured I had to get a job that would support a certain lifecycle. I knew I liked a challenge and didn’t like to be bored, and for me, that resulted in trying all kinds of things.

Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t know what you want to do. Do get out there and start to mark off what you don’t like, so that you can figure out what you do like. I feel very lucky because I finally feel like I am right where I am supposed to be. I love revenue operations – I solve a different business problem every day, and I get to use technology to do it. I am also helping the business which creates a lot of satisfaction for me on a personal level. And, I’m in tech which is a hot space and has good job security.

Lastly, I am very fortunate that in today’s technological world, I can work from almost anywhere, I have good health insurance and can support my family. All things that are important to me both personally and professionally.

Lauren Sanborn on LinkedIn.

Intro music by Wowa via Unminus

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