The Math Gives You the Data, but the Magic Comes from the People

Drift_Operations_Podcast

On this episode of #Operations, host Sean Lane talks with Auvik Network’s CMO, Jacqui Murphy. Jacqui and Sean talk about how she’s scaled from a marketing team of one to now oversee marketing and business development teams totaling more than 50 people. Plus, why she’s banished vanity metrics for good, her belief that the magic comes from the people on her teams – not just the data and much more. Tune in for their in depth conversation now.

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Full Transcript

Sean Lane: Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Operations, the show where we look under the hood of companies in hyper growth. My name is Sean Lane. One of the benefits of doing this show is that as I meet and talk to really talented and interesting operations people, I get to ask them to introduce me to more talented and interesting operations people. And just like the candidate referrals that you’re recruiting team loves, it’s these ops referrals that are often the most valuable to finding guests and that’s exactly how I came to meet today’s guest, Jacqui Murphy.

Jacqui is the chief marketing officer at Auvik Networks, where in the past five and a half years, she’s gone from a marketing army of one to overseeing both a marketing and business development team of more than 50 people. She lives in hyper growth every single day. If you’re in marketing ops, marketing, demand gen, or you run an SDR or a BDR team, I promise you, you want to be like Jacqui Murphy and that’s not just because she has a cool CMO title. It’s her command of every last tiny lever of her business and probably not just the typical levers you’re thinking of either.
Sean: So you can start to understand the unique perspective she has and her understanding of those levers as you connect the dots of her also unique and varied background.

Jacqui Murphy: It is an interesting path and I think it just goes to show you that if you follow the things that you truly love, you ultimately end up in a place that’s good for you, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to me. So I actually started knowing that I wanted to get into technology marketing right from my university days. So looking around at my classmates who were choosing to go into consumer products or into management consulting, I think I was the only one in my class who really truly want it to be in tech marketing.

And so right out of university, started looking for jobs in that space. There weren’t a lot of tech marketers back in my day, so dating myself a little bit there, but I was fortunate enough to join a tech advertising agency and we ended up working with a lot of the tech companies in the city that I live in currently, which is Waterloo Ontario in Canada. And so did a lot of consulting work with those companies, got exposed to a lot of different things from a tech marketing and tech advertising perspective.

And then from there I joined a startup called PicStream, and that was a rocket ship and ended up being acquired by Cisco at the peak of the internet bubble back in ’99, 2000 era. And after PicStream, I ended up flipping over to the venture capital side of the world and worked as a venture capital investor for about 10 years and that was a wild ride. It was probably one of the worst times ever to be a venture capital investor post dot com blow up, but it did teach me a lot of really great lessons in terms of how to pick great companies to work with, which often centers around the teams that you end up working alongside.

So really learned a lot of great lessons there about choosing the people that you want to work with and the market opportunities that you want to be involved in, and did that for 10 years. So essentially, my role in tech capital initially was to help with the investment process, so do the initial deal sourcing, due diligence, and then once the investment was made, I would then go into the companies and essentially act as their sales and marketing resource until the company was up and running, so help them with their initial go to market strategy and that kind of thing.

So I got exposed to a lot of different types of tech industries, learned how to really get to know an industry very quickly and navigate my way through those initial go to market steps. And then following PicStream, did my own startup for a very short period of time, about a year and a half, and then ended up joining Auvik again for the people. Mark Morin, who is one of the founders of Auvik, was actually one of the founders of PicStream that I had worked with during the dot com bubble. And so wanted to reconnect with him and work with him again, and so joined Auvik for that reason. And yeah, it’s been quite a ride, five years now.

Sean: In those five years, one of Jacqui’s roles has been to build the business development or BDR team at Auvik. Alignment of a BDR team, where it sits in an organization, how it’s measured, those can all be difficult things to get right. But for Jacqui and her team, it really wasn’t much of an issue at all. Their answer was simple, math.
Jacqui: So everything at Auvik has been built on this principle of, it’s all math, right? And so from a marketing perspective, it’s also all math. So we actually have done something a little bit different here at Auvik and I know that there are other companies that are also doing this, but the majority are still building their business development teams within sales. So they’re viewed as that first step of the sales pipeline. We view business development here at Auvik as the last step in the marketing pipeline.

Jacqui: And so having business development part of the marketing team makes everything that we do from a marketing perspective super tangible. So we are very aware that our customer, not our customer in terms of a product perspective, but our customer in terms of what we’re delivering as a marketing team, is our business development team. And so we need to make sure that the leads that we are passing to the business development team are the best leads that we can possibly be passing to them.

So we’re measured in terms of the number of opportunities that we pass to the business development team, and we are very aligned with them in terms of incentive. So it works really well for us from a metrics perspective.
Sean: Yeah and I feel like everyone would like to think that you would treat that delivery or that quality of what it is you’re handing off to them the same way whether or not they were on your team or not. But I do think that just having that direct alignment of marketing and business development together probably does lead to a little bit of an increase in terms of what the quality is and just also the care with which those things are passed off. Do you think?

I think where the rubber hits the road for us is the metrics that we choose to measure ourselves based on, right? So we don’t measure ourselves based on vanity metrics at all. Obviously, we look at website traffic and number of downloads and those types of things, but at the end of the day, the thing that really matters for us as a marketing team is, how many meetings did we actually book for our sales team? Right? That is the metric. That just really keeps us accountable and makes us focus on the things that matter for our business to grow.

Sean: No vanity metrics, only focus on the things that matter for the business to grow. These aren’t just throwaway lines. Jacqui lives by these and shapes her business around them every step of the way. Remember those levers I was telling you about?

Jacqui: One of the things that we’ve actually just recently implemented and it’s having a huge impact on our team is our lead pipeline. We’ve always had a lead pipeline and that we say, we have this many leads and they convert it through the pipeline like this, and this is what we ultimately get out of those leads. Now, there’s a gentleman on my team, his name is Sean, who’s just built out this incredible work of art spreadsheet. And essentially-

Sean: Something only an ops person can say.

Jacqui: It’s so beautiful. Oh my gosh, you should see this thing. But anyways, it takes all of our different lead source channels and it takes all of the conversion rates associated with all of the lead source channels and it takes our ultimate, you know what, we actually have to pass over the line, which is what we call it Auvik. Over the line is essentially our metric for meetings booked to the sales team. So it takes that and it works all the way back and tells us exactly how many leads we need from each of our lead sources in order to be able to hit our ultimate company revenue target.

Sean: Love that.

Jacqui: So it’s amazing. It’s this really neat thing. So we can put into how many trade show leads we get, we can put in how many inbound SEM leads we get, how many organic leads we get, we can put in how many webinar leads we get, and it does all of the calculations and tells us at the end of the day what that’s ultimately going to generate for us in terms of revenue.

So we can say, “Oh shoot, we know that our sales cycle is 65 days long. We know that we have this coming through our pipeline. We know that we’re going to be a little bit short, so we need to add on another webinar, or we need to go to one more trade show, or we need to do one more campaign on Facebook.” And that allows us to very carefully adjust our marketing programs in order to be able to hit those revenue targets.

Sean: And how often are you adjusting those kind of inflight using the examples you just gave? Right? So I think it’s one thing to be able to build the spreadsheet and say, “Okay, here’s what we think is going to happen.” It’s quite another to actually execute against that when inevitably, one of the rows of that spreadsheet doesn’t turn out the way you expected it to.

Jacqui: Well, one of the other things that we really try to do on our team is diversification of programs. So we have eggs in a lot of different baskets and so if one or two of the programs don’t end up performing as expected, we’ve got another 58 programs that are running that week. And when I say 58 I really mean, you know, 508 programs that are running that same week. Right? We have a lot of things going on at the same time and we might get one or two leads from each of the programs, but in aggregate and based on the conversion rates that we’ve seen historically, we’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s going to pop out the back end.

While it’s not 100% perfect and there are some weeks where we just go, oh, like Thanksgiving week. Oh my God, that is the kiss of death in terms of marketing operations and lead gen initiatives, but we know the seasonality. We know we built that into our model. We know that that week is going to be a complete write off for us and so we try to do things around that week to really drive pipeline both ahead of that week and after that week. That’s part of our planning as well.

Sean: Jacqui has removed so many of the excuses that people rely on. Oh, it’s thanksgiving. Oh, it’s a short month. She knows the calendar doesn’t change, so she knows that based on her inputs and what’s going to spit out on the other end, she can plan ahead for the fact that it’s Thanksgiving. And if she does nothing different around that time, 65 days from now, she’s going to be light on her number. Armed would that beautiful spreadsheet of hers, it’s one thing for her and her team to know the numbers, but I wanted to know how she instills this type of thinking across Auvik to keep everyone thinking the same way. And for her, it all comes down to cadences and routines.

Jacqui: We have a weekly cadence here at Auvik, so quota results for the marketing team need to be delivered on a weekly cadence. Within that weekly cadence, we do a number of different things. So we have our daily stand up, both on the business development side of the house and also on the marketing side of the house, to make sure that everybody knows what they need to do on that day in order to be able to hit our targets. We have a weekly kickoff meeting for the marketing team so that everybody knows what the programs are that they need to be working on.

We have a funnel review meeting, front side of the funnel review meeting every week so we can look at this pipeline and beautiful dashboard that Sean has created and we can see if there are any gaps in the near future or even a quarter out that we need to be planning for because it takes time to build these programs, right? We also have a full funnel review meeting once a week where we get together with sales, finance, the CEO, and we get in a room and we look at trends over time to see how we’re tracking to the overall company plan to see if there’s anything that we need to adjust on the front side of the funnel to be able to hit those longer term metrics.

And then we have an awesome meeting that takes place every Friday where our BDR team gets together and they review each other’s funnels. They go head to head. So we pair our BDRs up against each other and they-

Sean: What does that look like?

Jacqui: Others pipelines. We have this big long board table and our BDRs sit across from each other across the table and they review each other’s pipelines publicly in front of the entire team. One will grill the other and then that one will grill the other person across the table. It’s things like, “Well, I noticed your call volume was a little bit down this week. What was the reason for your call volume being low?”

Sean: And so they’re calling each other out.

Jacqui: That’s right. They are way more critical of each other than we would ever be because they’re in the fire with them, right? And they know they’re going to get it right back. So it’s a really interesting dynamic there so there are a lot of things that we do to keep ourselves accountable and we do things on a very tight timeline. As soon as we see that something is a little bit off, we can adjust. And-

Sean: And so what does tight mean for you?

Jacqui: Every week we’re reviewing metrics as a team. Every week.

Sean: I love that.

Jacqui: And every week we know exactly what we need to hit, and we plan to hit those numbers, and we look and we report on those numbers, and we adjust. We test constantly to be able to refine our programming.

Sean: And so for me, as someone who’s hearing you describe this for the first time, the net of what I take away from your approach to all of this is that you’ve got these incredibly specific cadences and routines that allow you to both measure to see, okay, here’s where we’re at according to where the spreadsheet says we’re going to be at, but then also make those kinds of real time adjustments on the fly. Is that a decent way to encapsulate that?

Jacqui: Absolutely.

Sean: At what point do you say to yourself, okay, we’ve hit the right number of these routines, or we’ve hit the right number of these cadences as opposed to, I could also see a situation where it’s like, oh wow, we’re having so many meetings to talk about the progress against this number. If I were playing devil’s advocate and saying-

Jacqui: Oh, totally.

Sean: It’s the same thing we talked about two days ago. Yes, we know this is the program for this week. Yes, we know this is the program for next week. How do you find that balance?

Jacqui: So you’re absolutely bang on right. We are getting to the point now where there are too many meetings and so the thing that we’re testing now is, can we pull back on some meetings? Can we make the meetings shorter? How do we make the meetings more efficient? Right? What are the things that we actually need to be talking about? The other thing with meetings that I think people really don’t think about enough is that the social time is also important, especially when you’re so metrics focused and we’re really running a machine here, but it’s people who are running that machine.

It’s really important to have that face time and it’s really important to continue coming together as a team because if you don’t care about your teammates, if you don’t know your teammates, if you’re not friends with your teammates, it all falls apart, right? When you’re working at this velocity and your quotas are so high and the expectations of the team are so high that if you don’t have each other’s backs, if you don’t have that caring and compassion amongst the team members, it just doesn’t work.

As much as I want to pull back on the meetings, they aren’t always the most efficient, I do think that they are important. The face to face time with is very, very important.

Sean: I think that’s super interesting because you started our conversation by saying, “Hey, Auvik’s a company where everything is math,” right? And yet you’re able to take this incredibly non-measurable thing, which is the social interaction you have with your teammates while you’re in a meeting with them and say, “Hey, this is actually something we found to be really important.”

And so yeah, the pipe crawl meeting last week wasn’t great. We didn’t really get a whole lot of new stuff out of it, but somebody brought a new idea to the table, or this person who hadn’t necessarily been able to contribute to the previous campaign was able to show off this campaign. I think that’s really interesting that you can still see the value in those things.

Jacqui: Yeah. Well, the math gives you the data but the magic comes from the people.

Sean: The math gives you the data, but the magic comes from the people. Man, I love that. I told Jacqui I’d go in on bumper stickers or t-shirts with her, whatever she wants, to get that line out there into the world. We talk a lot at Drift about dichotomies. When given two options to a complex problem, the answer is most often both.

More than anyone I’ve talked to, Jacqui embodies that concept of both. On one hand, she knows her math and knows the levers of our business cold. And yet, she also finds this immeasurable, very non-mathematical value in the human interactions that come out of meeting together in a room with teammates. And it certainly comes across that for her team, they’re better off for it.

Before we go, at the end of each show, we’re going to ask each guest at the same lightning round of questions. Ready? Here we go. The best book you’ve read in the last six months.

Jacqui: I do read books, but-

Sean: It doesn’t have to be a business book.

Jacqui: I don’t even know. Isn’t that terrible? I read like 10 pages of every book and then I can’t focus anymore. Isn’t that terrible?

Sean: No.

Jacqui: I feel like I’m vibrating at such a fast speed that I can’t sit and read a book anymore, which is really sad. I would really like to read a book.

Sean: Alright. We’ll put it on the to do list then. Your favorite part about working in marketing or marketing ops, however you wanna phrase it. What’s your favorite part?

Jacqui: Seeing the look on our customers’ faces when they learn about the value that we can provide to them. I never get sick of seeing that.

Sean: That’s amazing. And on the flip side, what’s your least favorite part?

Jacqui: Administration.

Sean: Someone who impacted you getting the job you have today?

Jacqui: I’d have to say Mark. So we’ve talked about him a few times in this podcast. Yeah, definitely Mark.

Sean: And one piece of advice for someone who wants to have your job someday.

Jacqui: Just really focus on adding value. Don’t worry about titles, or climbing the ladder, or any of those types of things that are a little bit more tangible. Just really keep your head down, work your butt off, add as much value as you can to the people that you’re working with and to your customers, and the rest will take care of itself.

Sean: A huge thank you to Jacqui Murphy for joining me on this week’s episode of Operations. What a phenomenal conversation, and just like Jacqui was a referral, I would love referrals from the rest of you on people that you think would be a great guest for this show. So tweet at me @Seany_Biz, send me a LinkedIn message, you can email me. I’m slane@drift.com, but thank you to everyone who’s been listening and sending us feedback about the show. We really appreciate it.

If you want to take that feedback one step further, we would love for you to leave us a six star review on Apple podcasts. Six star reviews only. That’s it for me. See you next time.

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