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By: Rhoan Morgan on June 11th, 2020

Transforming Your Organization into a Revenue Marketing Powerhouse

This month’s Revenue Rebel joining the podcast is Shannon Dougall, Head of Marketing at DevFacto and she’s giving listeners insights on revenue marketing, organizational alignment, and more. Listen in as Shannon shares:

  • How she defines revenue marketing
  • Why organizational alignment to customer experience is key
  • Barriers to companies becoming revenue-centered and focused
  • The tools and tech marketers should have in their toolkit

To learn from more Revenue Rebels like Shannon Dougall, listen to previous episodes here.

No time to listen? Get the full transcript below:

Rhoan Morgan (00:01):

Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of Revenue Rebels, the podcast that brings marketing and sales rebels together to share their stories and thinking on all topics related to accelerating revenue, generating activities in the B to B world. On this show, we talk about the strategic vision of marketing-led customer experience that unleashes the combined power of technology, content and data. Are you ready to rebel? Let’s get into the show.

Rhoan Morgan (00:35):

Hi everyone. And welcome back to another episode of revenue rebels. I am really excited to be talking with our guest today who has been called a marketer of the future. She has been described as an adventurer, scientist, and an artist in the field of marketing, where she’s been using her experiences and learning towards a sort of all in one type of revenue marketing. Very excited to have Shannon Dougall on the show. She is the head of marketing at DevFacto right now, and she’s also held similar roles at Uberflip and Shift CRM. Welcome Shannon. I’m really happy to have you on the show.

Shannon Dougall (01:14):

Thank you. I am so excited for being here. I’m honored, I have to say, to be included with some of today’s most amazing Revenue Rebels: it’s so humbling and I’m also super excited to be talking to you because I think kindred spirits need to get together and talk about the possibilities that marketing can have in the future.

Rhoan Morgan (01:36):

So, cool. Thank you. Glad to hear that. And I absolutely agree. Couldn’t agree more. And especially now, we do need to be talking about the future, looking forward and what I’d love to be able to do, though, quickly, as a tiny step back is I’d love to take a little look at your history. You know, a lot of our listeners know this, you may already know, we really do focus on highlighting marketing and sales leaders who are, I would say rebels in their field for a variety of reasons. So before we get into sort of the meat of what we’re going to talk about today, I would love to know what sort of defines you as a rebel or, or what in your past has, has shaped you into the marketing person that you are today.

Shannon Dougall (02:22):

Yeah, sure. I guess I’ve always been a bit of a marketing change agent. I’ve always been a hand-raiser much to my parents’ and professors’ chagrin. I’m always wondering why things are the way they are, if there’s a better way to do it, and if I’m not satisfied with the answer, I begin to look for alternatives. When I was in university, I had landed a fantastic job for the summer at the Department of National Defence. This was many years ago. So I was working in the tech department and my role was to come in and do an inventory of all the hardware throughout national defence. And I had a pad of paper, a clipboard, and a pen, and I went around and crawled underneath desks and collected numbers. And then I’d go back and put that into a spreadsheet.

Shannon Dougall (03:13):

And I thought to myself, this seems like such an archaic way to do things. There’s gotta be an easier way. So they brought me back the following summer, because they were very happy with my writing ability and data entry. They brought me back and I had said during the interview process: is there a way that we could look at maybe putting this into a system, like automating this a little bit more? And they were very happy to send me on some coding programs. And so I spent a month of my summer learning how to code and the next month building out an inventory management database using C++, and I thought, this is the coolest thing. Like this is life-changing. It is taking technology and cutting my work in half. And so as the years progressed, my job was to come in, do this inventory, but also to improve on the way that we use technology to help with efficiency within the Department of National Defence.

Shannon Dougall (04:15):

And I thought this was the coolest thing ever now. I wasn’t studying technology. I wasn’t studying business. I was actually studying politics and law. And I quickly realized after those summers that I had a passion for technology and the possibilities that can come out of it. And so I actually decided to not pursue my career in law, but to move into the world of tech. And that’s when I entered the space and I was amazed by the way that technology companies and thought leaders in the space approached the world. They were always looking for innovative ways to do something different, to do something better. And that was so exciting to me. That’s kind of what carved out my path to working in the tech space and software in it. Having said that though, I would say that when I started marketing in tech, marketing itself was not very innovative.

Shannon Dougall (05:16):

It was product slicks and press releases and events, and it was anything but innovative. But having said that, I do think that there was opportunity to change the way that we had had done things in marketing. And it wasn’t until probably 2005, 2006, where my entire world changed. So I wasn’t just a marketer inside a tech industry. Now I became an innovative marketer within the tech space. I was working at a startup company called Watchfire at the time in Ottawa. And they were very progressive. They had a very strong demand-gen program in place. It was quite successful. They were primed for innovation not just from a company perspective, but from a marketing perspective. And I could see that we were only held back by the human capital within the organization. So we couldn’t do anything more because we had a strong marketing team, but there are only so many people that could do so many things within the timeframe of a day.

Shannon Dougall (06:27):

And I started to look into different possibilities and I came across another startup company called Eloqua and they had promised me that I could solve my exact problem. I could scale and automate my marketing so that it could grow and become a bit more predictable. And I was very intrigued by this possibility and because Watchfire, was an innovative company, they were super happy to let me adopt this technology and implement it at Watchfire. And this was a game-changer. Marketing automation was a game-changer, as far as I could see it. And I mean, this gave me the opportunity to have a seat at the table. I was no longer considered a cost center within the organization. I can demonstrate that marketing can have an impact on pipeline. It can have an impact on the bottom line and that we can scale our programs and grow our leads.

Shannon Dougall (07:22):

And it was super successful. We did see revenue growth and we also were acquired at the same time by IBM. So there was a lot happening at that time. The thing that I had learned, working for over 20 years, I learned quickly that I love technology. I love the innovative ways that companies approach the future when you’re looking at a technology space, I loved marketing. And now I was seeing that there was an opportunity, a potential for marketing to become an innovative organization within a company. And that’s what, I guess, paved the way for me in my career. I wanted to work for companies that were like-minded. I wanted to share with the world this new potential for marketing. This became my passion and made me even more of a Revenue Rebel, I guess.

Shannon Dougall (08:24):

Can’t imagine organizations not adopting a revenue marketing model where you look at revenue from a holistic perspective. That’s sort of what drove me through to where I am today. I’m at DevFacto now. I thought this was such an interesting company. The first thing that attracted me to the organization was the tagline that “we make software that humans love to use.” And I thought, whoa, humanizing technology’s so amazing. This demonstrates empathy, but also the ability of digital and, even more so than that, you know, their company’s built on it, innovative nature. They’ve even designed their office space around having an innovative mindset, every business problem that they approach. They look at it from an ideation perspective: what can we do? Where are the opportunities and how can we fix it with digital? So that’s kind of my career nutshell.

Rhoan Morgan (09:28):

You said earlier speaking with kindred spirits and I can completely relate to that myself, having a different background heading into marketing but falling in love with it actually, honestly, when I was in high school, in a marketing class. I was 16 years old and I was just like, this is incredible. And I can tell you, there was zero technology related to it when I was 16 years old. And now, though, it’s just been a fantastic journey to watch it go from those early days of marketing automation. My first connection with marketing automation was MarketoI deployed that in 2008, I think. And just seeing, kind of feeling like there’s got to be a better way and also really seeing those immediate benefits. And then also seeing the growth and expansion since then of what is possible. It’s getting more and more technical. It’s getting more and more demanding but also we’re really able to prove the revenue impact with that. How do you think about or define revenue marketing?

Shannon Dougall (10:49):

Yeah, that’s a great question. It’s interesting because I feel like the term has been around for quite some time. The definition has evolved as time has gone on, but I’m really thrilled to see that it’s starting to gain traction. But having said that, I I’ve had many conversations with marketers around what they feel revenue marketing means to them. And I hear things like, it’s a repeatable program to help drive revenue into the funnel, or it’s measuring marketing based on revenue influence. And yes, I completely agree that those are aspects of revenue marketing, but the way that I approach revenue marketing and how I define it is that I think it’s a holistic approach. And I think it starts with aligning your entire organization to the customer experience from the very first touch to ongoing, delighted customers and everything in between.

Shannon Dougall (11:51):

So how do align your marketing, your sales, your customer success, your product team to the customer experience? I think that it goes beyond this. However I think that it’s important to note that it’s not just about improving the customer experience. You also have to think about how it contributes to a mutually beneficial outcome. So when I’m looking at revenue marketing, I connect the dots between the customer experience or the buyer experience and what they have with the organization to revenue and to customer lifetime value. And I think if I was to even get a little bit more granular, because that does seem a bit high-level, I think that you look at it from three areas. I think it needs to be buyer-centric, it needs to be revenue-centric, and it needs to be integrated and orchestrated, and I’ll just quickly touch on what I think each of those mean.

Shannon Dougall (12:43):

I think when I’m talking about like buyer-centric, it’s about aligning all of our activities, marketing and sales to the buyer and their buying process, which makes sense qne has always been like that. But I think it’s about developing the right content and programs and systems that do align across the entire buying process. So we’re no longer just looking at marketing is responsible for the top of the funnel. And then we punt over leads to sales and they’re responsible in their own way for the bottom of the funnel. I think that it’s more about making sure that we work together as a cohesive revenue unit to map out this buyer journey and to align all our interactions across the entire buyer journey. It’s crazy that we’re still talking about this today, but it is still happening.

Shannon Dougall (13:33):

It means eliminating one-off marketing campaigns that revolve around it, like a particular asset or event. So, you know, here’s my ebook, here’s my campaign. And here are the leads that came from it. Everything has to be integrated. We have to map out that journey so that we understand what the inflection points are. Why would a customer come to us? What are their pain points at the beginning of their experience with our organization? What type of information are they looking for? How can we help them get to the next stage at that next stage? What are the questions that they’re asking of us? How are we helping them? And I think that if you look at it from a buyer-centered perspective, you have the early stages of a revenue marketing organization, but revenue is in the title. And I think it should also be oriented towards revenue.

Shannon Dougall (14:21):

So when I say that, I mean that everything marketing does has to deliver revenue and maximize the customer lifetime value, not just focus on leads and conversion rates. It has to go beyond that. I think that, it requires a strategic and an outcome-oriented perspective for all aligned to the same objectives within the organization. We will all work towards those objectives together. I think that from looking at it, from identifying and qualifying and converting buyers in a repeatable and pragmatic fashion across the entire buyer journey is what would get you to a revenue-oriented organization. No siloed approach to X number of MQLs, X number of sales accepted leads or whatever the case is. You need to look at it holistically. Although those numbers are important, they don’t dictate the complete outcome.

Shannon Dougall (15:12):

The last thing I would say was that integrated and orchestrated, I think this just means that you need to have a sequence of engagement. I talked about mapping out the buyer journey and aligning content to each buyer persona at every stage of the buyer journey. But I think that you need to actually build out these sequences of engagement, of nurturing, of conversion paths, and create a series of steps that’s closely managed and optimized and ultimately leads to revenue. I think the ultimate goal here is to ensure that the buyers have a seamless, cohesive buying experience, that as an organization, you’re achieving your revenue goals and that the ultimate end is that you are constantly delivering value to your customers. That’s the way I look at revenue marketing.

Rhoan Morgan (15:57):

I mean, I do feel like you and I have a sort of certainly been living in the same place in, the same sort of head, and working through this in tandem in a way. So I would absolutely agree with you. And a lot of that actually comes in. It’s funny because some of this even reminds me a little bit of what we wrote in Change Agents, a book that Eric and I wrote a couple of years ago. What I would like to know now, Shannon, as you’ve taken on this role at DevFacto: how are you rolling this out? You don’t need to sort of go into the deep details and air all of the dirty laundry of your company, because I’m sure all of our listeners are like, Oh yeah, I’d love to see that happen at my company. But we know that it’s possible. I’ve seen it happen. It can take time. It’s not something that can happen overnight. It depends a lot on the culture of a company. It depends a lot on the vision of the leadership, the CEO, the COO, the CFO, the CRO, right? I mean, all of these folks have to come together and really believe in something like this. So tell me a little bit about your experience at DevFacto and how you’re rolling something like this out.

Shannon Dougall (17:18):

It’s like I said before, DevFacto is certainly open to innovation and change. So they are well positioned to adopt a transformation in marketing like this over to a revenue perspective. They’ve done quite well. They’re well-branded and across Canada and they have all the right marketing elements in place. So it felt like the right time to move towards a revenue marketing transformation for them. And when we were having the conversations, it was very exciting. Now you get into an organization and you look behind the closet doors to find out what’s actually happening and every organization is different. Every organization has a different level of marketing literacy and they have a different level of marketing maturity. I think most marketers do that. We understand the crawl, the crawl walk, run approach.

Shannon Dougall (18:24):

And I think that it’s important. When you map out where an organization is in terms of their infrastructure, their marketing resource knowledge, the way that they approach inbound marketing, how they approach content marketing. I think it’ll help map out the transformational stages that you can run to and those that you need to walk to within an organization. What we did is we performed a marketing audit to really assess the risk aversion state that the organization was in from a marketing perspective and what the pace of change could beAnd then also had to demonstrate where I think the impact could be made and at what inflection point would say: okay, now we’re switching over to marketing contributing X number of dollars to the pipeline and X number of dollars in revenue.

Shannon Dougall (19:27):

And they were very excited about that possibility. But there was so much work that needed to be done. And I think that this is common amongst most organizations: there are a few areas that are critical in order to adopt a marketing transformation. And I think that the first one was go beyond your typical buyer persona. I think every marketing group out there has their buyer persona, whether it’s an entire slide deck or one slide per persona where you talk about who they are, you personify them, and you talk about their imperatives and their day-to-days, and what university they went to, salary range they make, and all those awesome things that are super important. But I don’t think that we take it far enough, and that was the case here.

Shannon Dougall (20:16):

We needed to expand on our buyer persona and the journey that they’re taking. We had to really do a deep dive into what it was that our customers needed from us and how we can map that out across the entire buying experience and how we could align sales and marketing to that buying experience. Because prior to that, it was very much marketing is contributing amazing stuff at the top of the funnel, and we’re helping support the brand and we do sales enablement, but it wasn’t a cohesive program across the entire buyer journey. So we took the time and I sat down with the sales team and I spoke to them. I sat in on prospect calls. I met with clients and had conversations with them. I met our delivery team and asked them: what are the biggest pain points you’re seeing after?

Shannon Dougall (21:02):

A client completed a project and we took three days to sit down and really deep-dive into what our customers are experiencing and how they go through each stage and how it can help progress them through each stage. So I think that if you don’t have the right content assets, or even just the engagement path, it’s a disjointed and often super-frustrating experience for the buyer. And I think that there’s a level of education that is required within the organization to understand that this is how we’re going to achieve greatnessby aligning to their experiences. And this is actually interesting because it eads me into another kind of barrier that a lot of people experience. I did mention that my organization is super-open to change and to adopting marketing. And I don’t think they would have hired me if they weren’t, but something that is so critical is making sure that there is transformational leadership at the top, that the executives, including CEO or the founders or whoever it is, they need to buy in that this is important.

Shannon Dougall (22:17):

And the reason why I say that is because I think revenue marketing is a strategic organizational decision. It is not just changing a campaign or putting in particular metrics in order to measure pipeline. It is something that needs to be adopted across the entire organization in order for it to work. And in addition to that, I also think that the executives need to understand that there are going to be barriers and they have to help us break those barriers down. And so I think having the right people in the executive supporting it, I’m not talking about the CMO, the CMO is often the one who is encouraging the change. If you don’t have that transformational leadership across the executive at the top, you will have an only half-implemented revenue marketing transformation, and it just will not work.

Shannon Dougall (23:14):

I have so many of them, and I could stop talking at any point, but there are two other things that I think, at DevFacto, and across most organizations that are key to having a revenue marketing transformation occur. One is making sure that you’re using the data to connect all the diverse data points. And I say that because I think you need a complete picture of the current state of business. You know, I was saying that we want a complete picture of our customer’s experience as they buy with us. I also think that any trends or behavior changes, particularly now in this new world that we’re facing, we need to understand what our buyers are going through. And this data that we use and analyze can be drawn in real time.

Shannon Dougall (24:06):

It’ll enable faster, better decision-making capabilities. And it will help marketing and sales assess the trends and deliver that relevant, engaging experience.It’ll drive the desired outcomes that we’re looking for. So I think setting up as you mean to go by collecting the right information. And then the last thing I will say, because there are a million other things I could say, but the last thing I’ll say is that I think you need to have the right marketing team in place. I think you have to havea modern marketing organization, one that is operationalized around the idea of revenue marketing. And what I mean by that is you need to have people in place who understand the entire revenue operations model. I think my best example, because we were talking about marketing automation before, and both of us had early experiences with marketing automation, I was surprised at the actual trajectory of takeoff for marketing automation. I don’t know about you, but when I first started using Eloqua, I thought this is game-changing. The entire world’s going to be using marketing automation, and this is going to be amazing. And I still find companies who aren’t using it to this day. And I’m so surprised. And I tried to understand what it was that held it back. It had so much potential and what I quickly realized is that if you don’t have the right team supporting this type of platform and marketing muscle, then you will not be able to execute in a way that makes sense, and you will not get the value from it. And you have to almost become a new type of marketer, one that understands, as an example, content marketing. You need to have someone that can produce content that understands the experience that you have to deliver with content.

Shannon Dougall (26:02):

And they also have to understand how you can deliver content using the technology platforms that are there. If you don’t have that holistic perspective, then you are going to have a program that’s only half executed. It’s time for your marketing team to become more Revenue Rebels in an organization. So I think that if you have those four areas, if you understand your buyer, if you have the transformational leadership in place, or if you can get them there if you are using your data to make better realtime decisions, and if you have a really strong revenue marketing focused team, I think that you could start to see how this transformation could take place. And you can, you can see the living DNA of revenue marketing within an organization.

Rhoan Morgan (26:56):

It’s no small undertaking to get there. And I will say, as you describe it, and our listeners are all sort of listening with envy, if they are imagining that this exists at some other company,it does take a lot of work and we’ve seen that and we see a lot of fantastic intentions and then we’ll see, yes, I have to get this done, but my KPIs telling me I need to do X and so that is where it’s working with the executive and making sure that there’s a full buy-in with the CFO, that all of those relationships have been very well formed and everybody’s sort of moving in the same direction.

Rhoan Morgan (27:46):

Then also, when you come into a company to have a sort of modern marketing team what we’ve seen really successful is pulling in people from different groups within the company that can bring in some fresh ideas and fresh thinking. Because sometimes, and this is maybe earlier days, I don’t see a resistance anymore, but earlier days, it might’ve been like, well, wait a second. That’s not how we do it. And that change is hard. I really haven’t seen much of that anymore. That definitely did happen in the early days, but having that team of people that can come together and complement each other’s talents and skills is still sometimes I think one of the biggest challenges. So what you said earlier, when you were talking about when you started working at DevFacto, really getting real about where you’re at now, what’s the current picture? What’s an acceptable pace of change? I like how you thought about it that way.

Rhoan Morgan (28:56):

Then you can get realistic in terms of: it’s not going to happen in 30 days. It may, but this is what we can do in 30 days. And then this is what we can do in 90 days. And in one year, this is what we should be seeing by actually identifying what the impact would be of the change that you’re suggestingGreat stuff. Then, again, as you were talking about the personas, I think as we talk with folks around customer experience, because we talk a lot about this as the marketing-led customer experience: this has been around forever. We’ve all seen marketing automation turn into lead management, turn into the customer journey. There have been so many names and I think now everybody’s talking about the customer experience and truly, truly getting it and it’s taken a long time, but it’s very exciting.

Rhoan Morgan (29:55):

One of the things that I think a lot of people forget to do, and this is an important part of what you just talked about, is you actually expanded those personas by talking to the customer. No assumptions there, right? It’s sitting there listening to calls, talking to product, talking to the customers, and pulling all of that together and synthesizing and developing. What does that real customer experience look like? Because in the early days there were millions of assumptions. I think it was just sort of like, they’re going to click this and then they’re going to click that. And then they’re going to get this email and this email. So there was a very linear way of thinking, and sometimes that’s all the technology could give you, but now with the technology that we have in place, it can be the spaghetti bowl sort of idea, right? It’s just sort of this interwoven web of activity and engagement. And it’s very exciting, but still it does require a lot of effort and time and thinking and creativity. So what would you say, of all of these that you were just talking about, what would you say is the single most challenging barrier to getting a company into a place where they could call themselves those Revenue Rebels, a revenue marketing company?

Shannon Dougall (31:24):

I think that, actually, it’s a pretty easy answer. In my opinion, of the four I mentioned, three are very much in the hands of a marketer. We can look at data, we could build out the persona. We buy in, we get this. All smart marketers understand that this is the type of thing we need to do in order to see success. The part that I think is most challenging is getting the leaders’ buy-in. You mentioned this earlier. They’re excited. They understand. They see the value. You wouldn’t be there if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be supporting a martech budget if they didn’t think that there was potential. The problem is, is that there are other competing priorities and it’s when you start to lose the momentum, because it does take time.

Shannon Dougall (32:20):

A revenue marketing transformation takes time. For some, more time than others, and you need to maintain that momentum. You need to get through. In my mind, there are five stages of marketing transformation and you need to do your best to leapfrog through all of them, but do it well at each stage. And sometimes this could take a year or it could take more, and to continue that momentum, you