PODCAST 151: Leads Don’t Matter: Moving From a Sales-led to a Product-growth Orientation with Stephanie Cox

If you missed episode 150 check it out here: Driving Sales Home: Tips From an Auto Dealership with Michelle Benfer

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Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. Show Introduction [00:02]
  2. The power of a coffee meeting: How Stephanie amped up her career [6:33]
  3. How to shift from marketing to sales without losing steam [14:11]
  4. The great reset: From sales-led to product-growth orientation [19:11]
  5. “Leads don’t matter” — Stephanie wades into the controversy [24:17]
  6. For the love of all things Burger King [30:02]
  7. Sam’s Corner [32:56]

Show Introduction [00:10]

Sam Jacobs: This week on the show, we welcomed Stephanie Cox, VP of Sales and Marketing at Lumavate. She talks about building a modern sales and marketing organization along with what it’s like for marketers to run the sales team and why coming from a marketing background prepares you to lead a sales organization. Stephanie also discusses how to transition from a sales-led organization to product-led growth. Plus, she shares a major strategic decision that her company encountered over the last year and a half.

Before we get there, we want to thank our sponsor. The show today is brought to you by Outreach. Outreach on Outreach is the place to learn how Outreach does outreach. Learn how the team follows up with every lead in record time and after virtual events. Plus, learn how the team turns leads into revenue — really into customers that pay revenue. Let’s not dehumanize our customers. They’re not just leads and money; they’re people.

Outreach is an expert at using their own product to get people interested. You can see how Outreach runs account-based plays, manages reps, and so much more using their own sales engagement platform. Everything is backed up by data, so when you’re done, you’ll be able to see it and do it as good as they do. Head to Outreach.io/onoutreach to see what they’ve got going on.

Now for some other great sales ideas in my conversation with Stephanie Cox.

The power of a coffee meeting: How Stephanie amped up her career [6:33]

Sam Jacobs: Stephanie, give us a bit about your background. How you got into marketing in the first place? And how’d you find this job at Lumavate?

Stephanie Cox: When Lumavate happened, I was at Project Lead The Way, which is the largest nonprofit for STEM education in the United States. I was running marketing there, and I loved what I did. It was a great blend of work. With a passion that I have for education, I was really good at it. But every once in a while certain people reach out to you, and no matter what you’re doing, you always take the coffee. (Back when we used to be able to have coffees.)

One of them was Bill Godfrey, one of the founders of Lumavate. He reached out and asked if I would have coffee with him to talk about this opportunity. And I knew him because he started Aprimo and was the CEO of there. That got sold to Teradata for about a half-billion dollars, right before Exact Target sold to Salesforce. So I took the coffee.

It was one of those unique opportunities. I had been in the mobile space at that point for about eight years and was really passionate about mobile. And they had a really cool product that solved a lot of the needs. After the coffee, I told my husband, “One of two things is going to happen. This will either be the best decision I’ve ever made in my entire career, or I won’t have a job in a year.”

It’s been about four years. So it’s going well.

How to shift from marketing to sales without losing steam [14:11]

Stephanie Cox: I have a lot of strong opinions on things. And when our VP of Sales left, our CEO, whose name is Mark, came to me, and in typical Mark fashion was like, “So here’s what I’m thinking. I think I’d like for you to run sales.

And I was like, “Okay.”

He’s like, “Well, you think about it for a couple of days. I’ll think about it for a couple of days.”

And so like my mind started racing. I started talking to a couple of people that night. I put together like a five-page plan of how I would think about it.

And I thought we would talk about it in a couple of days, and then less than 24 hours later, he’s like, “Have you made a decision on whether or not you’re interested?”

“Would you like to see my plan?”

He’s like, “Of course you have a plan.”

And then I said, “This is how I would want to run sales. And this is what I would expect.”

Sam Jacobs: What’s different about the way that you run sales? How are you doing it differently than maybe a traditional kind of VP of sales that came up through the sales ranks?

Stephanie Cox: Sales and marketing are tied together where there is no difference. Having one team — we have one weekly meeting where everyone is together, including customer success — they can all see everything that’s happening.

One of the things I’ve changed at first was, in the past, you would have the sales team do new logos. And I know that’s a hot topic on farmers versus hunters. But I feel like part of our differentiator in the SaaS world is your first contract with the customer is not our biggest, it’s usually our smallest. We have so much upsell potential, especially in the first six months to a year and even past that. Having the same rep on there and having them own the customer for life makes a ton of sense.

You don’t just kick it over to customer success. You own it.

The great reset: From sales-led to product-growth orientation [19:11]

Sam Jacobs: It sounds like things are going well, based on the five-page plan that you wrote that one night back in 2019.

Stephanie Cox: They’re going well. Last year was an interesting year where you’re used to getting on a plane and being in front of people, and then can’t. You have to make a lot of changes to your process. We used to do a lot of direct mail, but direct mail, got a little bit more complicated last year to get in front of people too. So we’ve learned a lot and made a lot of changes. And then part of the reason we shifted to product-led growth is, we were starting to realize there’s a ton of people outside of the upper, mid-market enterprise space that could use our product now at a price point that was affordable. Why not let them? That has been another journey itself.

Sam Jacobs: Talk about that journey. So when you say shifted to product-led growth, shifted from what, to what?

Stephanie Cox: When you talk to other companies, they’re like, “Oh, we started product-led. We started with a freemium model or a free trial model and then eventually layered in a sales team, once we hit a certain scale.” And we’ve been the opposite. We started as a sales-led, traditional model, SDRs and reps, and the whole schedule-a-demo-book-a-meeting approach. But now, our product lead is our funnel. We don’t have SDRs anymore.

Sam Jacobs: Wow. You got rid of all your SDRs?

Stephanie Cox: I know it sounds crazy. Trust me, I would have thought the same thing a year ago, but we think about our free accounts. We do a true freemium model. We have a portion of functionality that you get for free for life. So you can build an app on our platform and see what it’s all about. And then you want some of our more advanced functionality or you want to host it on a domain that’s yours, not just our Lumavate apps domain. You can do that and you can pay for that.

We’ve found a ton of appetite for it and spaces that we probably wouldn’t have gone into otherwise. Not only is our sales team still doing some of the sales-led initiatives that they’ve always done. Reaching out to their target accounts, we’re thinking of creative ways to get in there. But we’re also starting to feed them this funnel of ideal customer profile accounts that are coming in through product lead that can either convert in the product directly or can be assisted by a member of our sales team. So it’s just a different model. It’s kind of like a little bit of a hybrid of product lead and sales lead working together.

“Leads don’t matter” — Stephanie wades into the controversy [24:17]

Sam Jacobs: You mentioned earlier, you’ve got opinions and one of your opinions is that leads don’t matter. As a VP of marketing, that’s a pretty radical statement to make. Tell us what you mean by that.

Stephanie Cox: Yeah. Everyone talks about leads. Like, “Oh, how many marketing qualified leads? And that’s my goal for the quarter.” And all it does is incentivize bad behavior because what happens when you have a lead goal? Let’s just say my lead goal is 1,000 for the quarter. Oh, I’m only at 800, and it’s March 15th, I’ll just send more emails and spin up more ads, so I can collect more leads. Which in reality is just contact information for people that fill out a form on our website. Those leads don’t say anything about intent.

Here’s the thing, SDRs … You know the next thing that happens? I get a lead from downloading an eBook, an SDR calls me, and I feel bad for them. I don’t want to talk to them right now because I just downloaded an eBook. I’m not looking to buy. I was interested in your content, but now I’m qualified as lead by marketing. I get kicked over to sales. Sales doesn’t want to talk to someone that downloaded a bunch of eBooks or has been on your website just looking around. But we keep assuming that’s the way that marketers should be measured.

Why aren’t you looking at qualified accounts?

If you want 10,000 leads, I could get you 10,000 leads. That’s not hard. Leads are not hard. What’s hard are opportunities that drive pipeline and revenue, that’s hard. Why don’t we hold marketers accountable for that? Why don’t we make them accountable for that?

RELATED: Marketing Qualified Leads Are Cool, But I’ll Take Product Qualified Leads Any Day

For the love of all things Burger King [30:02]

Stephanie Cox: I’m obsessed with all things Burger King, which is funny because I have a gluten allergy. I can’t even eat at Burger King.

Sam Jacobs: You could without a bun.

Stephanie Cox: Who wants to do that?

I am obsessed with their marketing and their CEO or CMO, Fernando Machado is brilliant. And he’s done a lot of things with other companies in the B2C world. He takes basic concepts.

For instance, he did this Whopper detour about two years ago, where if you ordered a Whopper on their app and you’re within 600 feet of McDonald’s, you got the Whopper for a penny. It’s genius. He literally had Burger King customers drive to McDonald’s and in the parking lot, order a Whopper and then drive to Burger King to get it.

Is downloading an app and getting a coupon for using the app, new? Absolutely not. Is calling out your competitors new? Absolutely not. But is putting the two things together in a unique way, completely kick-ass? Yes.

Sam’s Corner [31:24]

Sam Jacobs: Hi, everybody. Sam Jacobs, Sam’s Corner. I loved that conversation with Stephanie Cox, such a powerhouse, so many great lessons there. For me, we come back to the constant conversation that I’m always having about the alignment of sales, marketing, and customer success. I think it’s fantastic that she’s running all of those functions, plus product management at Lumavate. I also thought the risk she took in pushing for a move from a sales organization to a product-led organization and getting rid of SDRs is a major decision. Fundamentally the insight that she shares, which is that we’re all consumers at heart.

What We Learned

  • The power of a coffee meeting: How Stephanie amped up her career
  • How to shift from marketing to sales without losing steam
  • The great reset: From sales-led to product-growth orientation
  • “Leads don’t matter” — Stephanie wades into the controversy
  • For the love of all things Burger King

Don’t miss episode #152!

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If you want to get in touch with me you can find me on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/samfjacobs. You can also email me, sam@revenuecollector.com.

I will talk to you next time.

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