PODCAST 80: Aligning Revenue Strategy – Death of MQL W/ Catie Ivey

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This week on the Sales Hacker podcast, we speak with Catie Ivey, Regional Vice President of Mid-Market Sales at Demandbase.

Catie has experience both in sales and marketing roles at Meltwater News, Salesforce, Marketo, and other big-name logos. She’s also worked internationally, with refugee camps and medical ships.

If you missed episode 79, check it out here: PODCAST 79: Transitioning to New opportunities – Healthy Approach to Leadership w/ Bryan Caplin

What You’ll Learn

  • Who is Catie Ivey, and what she does at Demandbase
  • Having a growth mindset versus a static mindset
  • The death of MQLs
  • Key trends for sellers

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Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. Show Introduction [0:07]
  2. About Catie Ivey and Demandbase [2:00]
  3. More and More Content Is Becoming ‘Ungated’ [6:10]
  4. Where Demandbase is driving its Leads From [10:08]
  5. How Catie Got Into Sales [11:20]
  6. The Differences Between Sales & Sales Leadership [14:00]
  7. Developing Yourself As a Seller [15:31]
  8. What Catie Would Say to New Sales Leaders [17:24]
  9. Aligning Revenue Strategy [24:02]
  10. Some Specific Metrics on Alignment [27:14]
  11. The Importance of Optimism [29:09]
  12. Women in Sales & Sales Leadership [33:46]
  13. Sam’s Corner [40:34]

Show Introduction [0:07]

Sam Jacobs: Welcome to the Sales Hacker Podcast. We’ve got an incredible show for you today. Today we’ve got as our guest Catie Ivey, who is the Regional Vice President of Mid-Market Sales at Demandbase. She’s a long-time seller, she’s worked at Marketo, and she’s also traveled the world. She’s worked in international affairs, and so she’s got a worldly, thoughtful, cosmopolitan perspective on how to be both a salesperson and a sales leader.

Now before we get there, we want to thank our sponsors. First off, Vidyard. Now email isn’t dead, but man is it boring. Add video to emails to stand out in the inbox, for free, with Vidyard. Vidyard helps you easily record, send and track who is viewing your video content in three easy steps. Go to vidyard.com/saleshacker for more information.

Our second sponsor is Outreach, the leading sales engagement platform that enables sales reps to humanize their communications at scale, from automating the soul-sucking manual work that eats up selling time to providing action-oriented tips on what communications are working best. Outreach has your back.

Now, without further ado, let’s listen to this interview with Catie Ivey.

About Catie Ivey and Demandbase [2:00]

Sam Jacobs: Welcome to the Sales Hacker Podcast. I’m extremely excited today to have Catie Ivey on the show. Catie is the Regional Vice President of Sales at Demandbase, which is a leading B2B marketing platform. Prior to joining Demandbase, Catie ran revenue teams at Marketo, Insightpool, Salesforce, and Meltwater. And she’s got deep experience in marketing technology, specifically how to better leverage technology to scale revenue teams. She’s also had experience through a number of different liquidity events and transactions. She’s passionate about getting more women at the sales and sales leadership, and has a unique passion for mentoring and working with sellers in the early stages of their careers, which could be good for you if you’re listening out there and you want to get in touch with her after the show.

Sam Jacobs: So what is Demandbase?

Catie Ivey: Demandbase is a leading B2B marketing platform, really started in the account-based marketing space. So really cool technology around helping B2B companies go to market, doing everything through an account-centric lens. So we talk a ton about how to better align sales and marketing specifically, but, really, more holistically aligning revenue orgs across the board. I think of it as almost all modern day what marketing automation was 10 years ago, kind of shifting everything that we do as marketing and selling leaders. Really kind of that 2.0 if you will.

More and More Content Is Becoming ‘Ungated’ [6:10]

Sam Jacobs: I’m seeing and hearing about a world where content is increasingly becoming ungated. Is that what you’re seeing at Demandbase, too?

Catie Ivey: Absolutely. And it’s crazy how fast that trend is accelerating. We’re seeing our customers ungate more and more, which is why it’s become imperative. They’ve got to have the right technology in place to understand what’s happening long before that form fill. We’re also seeing that people don’t volunteer their real information quite as much anymore.

Sam Jacobs: So that’s where you need that intent data. You need to understand what they’re doing, who they are, what their ISP is. And you can match the internet address and the IP address to the company, right?

Catie Ivey: Yeah, absolutely. And then get that information over to sales, because the reality is that some of those buyers are never going to put up their hand for a form fill, or if they do, it’s going to be very late in the process, and there’s nothing worse than sales than being late to the party when folks are further down in conversations with your direct competitors.

Where Demandbase is driving its Leads From [10:08]

Sam Jacobs: For a company that is itself an account-based marketing platform, where is your pipeline come from? Is it mostly outbound, or are you drinking your own koolaid to make sure that people are finding you in the right way?

Catie Ivey: So, we drink our own. I call it our own champagne. I’ve never worked at a company that is as good at using their own technology and actually practicing what we preach from a sales and marketing alignment perspective. So the numbers fluctuate depending on what quarter we’re talking about. But a huge percentage of our pipeline is outbound-generated. We have a very solidified target account list, which we of course have used our technology to build out. And then each of the reps that work for me, they do own a geography as well, but then they own a target account list within that. And we focus a ton of our efforts and initiatives and dollars against those accounts specifically.

How Catie Got Into Sales [11:20]

Sam Jacobs: You characterize yourself as an accidental seller. So how did you get into sales in the first place? Also, walk us through the progression into sales leadership.

Catie Ivey: So the move into sales was definitely an accident. My journey even prior to going to school after high school was a little bit unique. I went overseas, to do a gap year. I ended up working for a nonprofit for almost five years before I moved back to the U.S. and went to university. So I had my sights fairly set on a career in international affairs, international politics. That was the trajectory. I stumbled into an interview my last semester of college, literally because it had “international” in the title, which was the only reason I showed up.

Turned out it was for an entry-level sales gig. Had no idea really what sales was even about. Very little background in technology or anything selling related, and just fell in love with the company. I was so impressed with the culture, and I was super excited about the potential for my career trajectory that I took a job. Basically, it was a full cycle sales gig — pretty much what you would think of as a BDR role today — making a ton of cold calls on the phone and emailing all day, every day. So that was my first job out of college. Again, I assumed it would be a stepping stone into something that was quite a bit different, but not only did I love that role, but also the experience I had had overseas was in kind of a pseudo-management role, which translated itself really naturally into getting pushed into more of a team lead role very early on in my selling career. So that was what opened the door for me to move into leadership positions.

I typically tell people that I was a natural at the sales leadership side. It took my a long time to become more of a natural at the actual selling motion.

Sam Jacobs: Oh, that’s interesting.

The Differences Between Sales & Sales Leadership [14:00]

Sam Jacobs: So, you just mentioned you felt like a natural at sales leadership but not a natural at actual selling. What do you think the differences are?

Catie Ivey: There’s so many. For me, I’d had a lot of experience managing people. Back before I went to university, I was literally leading people into refugee camps — very different types of activities. But it was still about aligning a group of people around a specific common cause. So, when you think about numbers and sales quotas and how you go to market, that piece of it came really naturally. I felt really good at that from day one.

But man, sales felt like such a challenge for me. I tend to talk really fast naturally. You should’ve heard me 10 years ago. I can’t imagine the speed at which I talked. I literally have memories of my brand new manager standing in front of me and waving his arms trying to get me to slow down. I think I got hung up on that first cold call.

Developing Yourself As a Seller [15:31]

Sam Jacobs: Knowing what you know now about being a great salesperson, what do you think it takes?

Catie Ivey: So, a couple of things. One, I’m naturally very competitive. So early on I worked really hard. But, I didn’t know a ton about business. So, I spent a ton of time just trying to learn and understand how companies make money, how different industries work, what are the trends that are happening in the market here in the U.S. and internationally. And I think that helped me probably grow and scale a little bit quicker than some of the peers I was working next to.

What Catie Would Say to New Sales Leaders [17:24]

Sam Jacobs: What are the specific things that you are coaching people on, to enable them to aspire and lead a group of people?

Catie Ivey: The first piece that’s really important is for me to figure out with new managers not just what they’re good at, but what they actually love, what makes them come alive, what aspects of their role previously as a seller did they really, really love, or what are the pieces they’re super excited about? I think our knee jerk reaction is to identify the gaps that individuals have, and this is true for sellers as well as sales leaders or sales managers. But, hey, there’s these certain areas where they’re just so, so strong; let’s figure out how to help them capitalize on those areas.

Aligning Revenue Strategy [24:02]

Sam Jacobs: When you think about aligning revenue strategy, tell us what you mean.

Catie Ivey: Our end goal isn’t always the same when you think of marketing and sales and customer success, just for example. Alignment starts with something that feels so, so, so simple: Are we all going after the same accounts? Is marketing spending dollars on the exact accounts that sales wants to sell to? And, is sales actually making an effort to sell to the accounts that we know are going to be our best customers, be the most successful, and setup for success across the board? That feels so basic. But you’d be amazed at the number of times I sit down with marketing and sales leaders, and they’ve got this target account list that basically was built by salespeople. And then they’ve got this totally separate ICP or different personas that marketing has spent time identifying, and the two don’t even really mirror one another.

I also see it from a metrics perspective. So I’ve worked for organizations where marketing’s main metric is MQLs, for example, and then salespeople are obviously trying to close deals. And so there’s this big gap where marketing is celebrating, we’ve got all these great leads, and then sales is complaining that they don’t have any of the right leads. And then marketing’s pissed that sales isn’t following up with leads that they’re sending over. So there’s, again, it just feels so simple, but it’s a breakdown in terms of “We’re not focusing on the same KPIs,” so success doesn’t look the same across the two organizations.

I think it’s even more complex when we think about layering customer success, renewals, retention, expansion, all of that into the equation. So really for me it all starts with: Are we focused on the right accounts, the same accounts? And, then, are we counting metics in a way we’re all celebrating the same successes, and really, really stressed out or pissed off by the same failures?

Sam Jacobs: So if we want to go to that celebrating the same successes, does that mean that marketing does not focus on MQLs?

Catie Ivey: In my opinion, absolutely.

Sam Jacobs: So what should they focus on?

Catie Ivey: Pipeline and revenue.

Some Specific Metrics on Alignment [27:14]

Sam Jacobs: So if we say we want alignment, what are some super specifics? Do you have a weekly, monthly meeting with marketing? How do you implement and operationalize alignment in your opinion?

Catie Ivey: I don’t think there’s one cookie cutter approach because it really depends on what you’re starting point is and then what are some of the quick wins and things that you can get under your belt as an org to start getting everyone focused in the same direction. For us, as a leadership team, we call it a funnel revenue, that we do weekly with marketing. So we’ve got sales and marketing leadership, and we’re reviewing everything from early stage leading indicators, looking at activity. We still track all of the same things that marketing orgs have been tracking since the dawn of time. But the most important one for us we’re looking at discovery calls that are run, what’s transitioning into pipeline, and then where we’re at from a closed one revenue perspective on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. So that FaceTime or Zoom time with marketing and sales leadership on a weekly basis is definitely impactful.

We also do a roll up of all campaigns, everything essentially that marketing is doing and driving that goes out to our entire sales org first thing every Monday. So making sure that everyone’s aligned around things that are happening from a digital perspective, the various campaigns that are running, everything that’s happening from a field perspective that there’s alignment that we’re clear in terms of goals. Even sales obviously has a huge amount of weight and responsibility when we’ve got goals against a field event, for example.

The Importance of Optimism [29:09]

Sam Jacobs: One of the things that’s important obviously is alignment, but then you also have repeatedly talked about the importance of optimism, and what you might think of as a growth mindset. When you’re coaching people on those two things, what do you mean specifically?

Catie Ivey: It’s one of the things probably more than just about anything that I look for when I’m interviewing or looking to bring new folks onto my team or promote individuals — are they genuinely optimistic and solution-oriented? And then — do they have a growth mindset? The difference between a fixed mindset, literally what you see is what you get, the level of intelligence that you have is set. Things are fixed. Versus this concept of a growth mindset, which is ultimately I’m in control of my own destiny. I’m capable of learning new things. I’m capable of learning new skills. I’m able to take ownership and decide what the end result could or should be in a certain environment. That’s how I define and I think how most of the research out there defines a growth mindset.

Women in Sales & Sales Leadership [33:46]

Sam Jacobs: What’s your perspective on helping or should we even be focused on helping more women get into sales but also sales leadership, and are there differences in how we need to think about creating a class of women sales leader and women executives versus men in your opinion?

Catie Ivey: Yes, we should still absolutely be focused there. There is still a tremendous gender gap, not just in sales but even more so as you move up into sales management. And then even more so as you move into more executive leadership on the sales side of the house. So it’s a big passion of mine to both get more women into sales, and then ensure that we’re setting them up for success and giving them the tools that they need to at least have an opportunity to really excel in their career. In terms of how to do that, I think there’s a lot of different pieces or ways to go about it. One thing there’s absolutely not as many women applying for sales jobs.

I experienced this firsthand when I joined Demandbase the beginning of this year. We had a lot of open headcount or had a decent amount of open headcount, and I found myself having to work harder to make sure that I was looking at a remotely equal kind of playing field from a resume perspective. So those of us in positions like myself have to, in my opinion, we have to take a lot of ownership and be very proactive. Build out great networks, make sure that you’re there in the community, that you’re networking and mentoring young folks that maybe in the early stages of their career. I signed up for a few things, a few different groups since moving to New York in addition to the Revenue Collective, which I love, by the way. With just an effort to try to meet people, particularly focused on are there ways that I can empower or enable females that maybe earlier stage in their career than I am.

As you start building that within your orgs, one of the challenges that a lot of sales leaders have is, “Hey, my team is very male dominated.” And if it is very male dominated, then the challenges we tend to hire within our networks, within our friends, we hire people that are like us. So as you start adding some powerhouse females into the team, it’s like this momentum that builds and it gets easier. But that beginning of getting that ball rolling I think is where you have to be really, really purposeful. As sales leaders, men and women, we have to take a lot of ownership there.

Sam’s Corner [40:34]

Sam Jacobs: A lot of people are talking about growth mindset versus static mindset and this idea that you have to be an optimist. What she talked about was breaking down the things you can control versus the things you can’t control, and figuring out how we can make the goals small enough and concrete enough to make progress on those goals within a day, a week, or a more specific, discrete, measurable, reinforcing timeline.

From a strategic perspective, not the first person to talk about the death of MQLs, and how there’s an old world where MQLs are driven by a lead score, they’re driven by gated content. The world’s moving away from that. Marketers are increasingly being comped on revenue — not on MQLs — or maybe even pipeline itself in the same way the sales team is. The sales and marketing teams are meeting very often, weekly, monthly, quarterly to get on the same page and focus on the same accounts.

I guess the final thing is we talk about what are the key trends for sellers, what are the key hallmarks, and just always make sure you’re listening. Don’t talk too fast. Make sure you understand business and that you’re listening and not afraid to ask questions when you don’t understand something.

What We Learned

  • Who is Catie Ivey, and what she does at Demandbase
  • Having a growth mindset versus a static mindset
  • The death of MQLs
  • Key trends for sellers

Don’t miss episode 81 [next week’s episode]

I hope you enjoyed the show. Before we go, let’s thank our sponsors. Outreach, the leading sales engagement platform and Vidyard. Vidyard helps you easily record, send, and track who is viewing your video content in real time in three easy steps. Email isn’t dead, but it sure is boring. Add video to your emails to stand out in the inbox with Vidyard.

If you want to reach out to me with feedback, you can reach me on LinkedIn. If you haven’t rated the show, please give us five stars on the iTunes rating system so that we can remain in business and continue to bring you this show.

As always, thanks so much for listening, I’ll talk to you next time.

This is a sponsored guest post from a Sales Hacker partner.

Sam Jacobs is the Founder of Aqueduct Revenue Advisors and the New York Revenue Collective and regarded as one of the top start-up CROs in the tech community.

He has has over 15 years of experience scaling companies from post-revenue to ~$300M, has helped raise over $400M in institutional capital, and has helped companies of all sizes achieve an average annualized revenue growth rate of 48% over the last 15 years.