Hindsight is 20/20 – 15 Things Early Stage Companies Shouldn’t Overlook

hindsight

I presented this morning at the Cambridge Innovation Center at a Growth Hacker Event sponsored by ChimaeraLabs.   My PPT is attached – I will write up a longer blog post explaining the deck, but I wanted to get it posted for people looking to get a copy.

The genesis of my presentation was basically, if I was a new VP of Marketing, what would I do different next time around.  But to be included on the list,  the item had to be something that might not be obvious at the time for a startup. Said another way,  when you are fighting for your existence, trying to push out products, and get your first customers, does it really matter to have a knowledge management system or to worry about the customer journey?  So these items are ones often overlooked until they become a problem.

More on this in some coming blog posts.hindsight is 20 -20

 

Photo: Peter Marquardt

Time to Ditch Your Paper Notebook – Lessons Learned from Three Generations of Writing Tablets

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Thee generations of tablets and pencils/pens  I have used – HTC Flyer (2012), Samsung Galaxy Tablet (2013) and now Ipad PRO (2015)

Last month I picked up my iPad Pro with Apple Pencil which for me represented the third generation of writing tablets with styluses I have used since 2012.  I started with the HTC Flyer, graduated to the Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1 2014 Edition, and now the iPad Pro.  For the past four years I have been paper notebook free,  taking these tablets with me wherever I go.  My reasons for abandoning paper, although highly reliable and easy to use, were due to paper’s inability to combine multiple mediums, easily reorganize notes, and papers inability to cut and paste content.

Prior to embarking on my quest to end paper notes, I tried notetaking with my laptop and using all the great apps out there like Evernote.  The problem, was that typing in a meeting was and still is to some extent not socially acceptable depending on the company. And, quite frankly, the part of my brain that is required to type shuts off the deep listening skills that I try to apply in a meeting.  Maybe others don’t have this issue, but if I am typing, I am listening, but I am not really processing the information that is coming out as well as I should. Typing notes also limits note taking to a linear format. Word after word after word.  Typing doesn’t allow graphics or more visual recording of information. Typing seemed like a non-starter for note taking.

Enter the HTC Flyer, my first tablet in 2012. The Flyer worked sufficiently well that I ditched my paper notebook. Its screen was very tiny as you can see in the pictures above, but nonetheless I could take notes all day long, browse the web, and use it as a reader.  Back then it was revolutionary and people would ask me what I was doing in a meeting when I started to take notes.

Only when the need came along to create illustrations for a marketing book I was writing, did I upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy Table 10.1.  With its larger screen and Autodesk Sketchbook, I was able to create 50 or more simple diagrams for a book, easily export them to JPG, then share them using dropbox.  In addition, the more I sketched, the more I found myself switching the various speaking engagements and corporate presentations I did from from PPT slides to either  to simple white board diagrams or simple sketches.  All of these I would develop on the Galaxy Tablet.  The ability to sketch more proficiently has fundamentally modified my communication style to be a more visual communicator.

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Simple sketch I created for my book using Galaxy Tablet.  I am not an artist, but these diagrams worked for the book.

With the Galaxy Note, my tablet was now not only replacing a paper notebook, but was now giving me additional tools to be productive.  I had moved from an abacus to a handheld calculator and in many a meeting or task I was doing, it felt that way.

For note taking, Samsung’s S-Note application was sufficient for all my notetaking needs.   I ultimately settled on using a 70 page S-Note document called “work” that was divided by tabs into all the sections required to document and plan my work activities.  Using cut and paste commands, I could easily reorganize information, embed pictures from white boards, annotate the pictures, even export the documents to PDF to share. In addition, the software became more sophisticated over the course of several releases  so that I could actually search handwritten text for specific keywords.

The Galaxy Tablet also had communication apps like Webex and GotoMeeting so I could also use it to take meetings or calls.

Many times I get asked, “does the software convert your handwriting to text” – the answer is yes, in a limited way. But I don’t want my handwriting converted to text.  Text is linear, paragraph format.  It is very structured, but also easy to read.  Handwritten notes, if done correctly can convey so much more information.  A word’s placement on a page,  color, symbols around it, inclusion in diagrams can convey so much more information than simple written text.  It is the difference between reading notes, and visually communicating.  A tablet will make you a better visual note taker.

While I loved the Galaxy 10.1,  its mechanical demise ultimately made me look elsewhere.  I was surprised to have a screen failure only about three years into the tablets life, but I did.  At this point I had to decide whether to stay with Android, migrate to a Windows Surface Tablet, or look at the just released iPad Pro with Pencil.

While I like the Android OS, I also had an iPhone. From experience, I knew that while Android was good, there were times it was just not quite right especially in online browsing.  My wife’s NY Times on her iPad was always superior to the same application on my Android.  Indeed, in many cases of applications that I had for both Android or IOS, the IOS apps were always superior. So while I wasn’t opposed to another Androird tablet, I wasn’t wedded to it. What ultimately steered me away from purchasing another Samsung was the apparent lack of progress on the writing applications and hardware for their tablets.  The tablet I would have purchased at the end of 2015, seemed pretty close to the tablet from 2013 from a writing perspective. It didn’t feel as though I was moving ahead.

What about the Windows Surface Pro?  This tablet is billed as a laptop replacement, but I didn’t want a laptop replacement, I wanted a writing tablet.  Indeed, a co-worker has a Surface Pro and he seems conflicted.  He shows up at a meeting, rips off a keyboard, leaves it on the table, sometimes he puts it back on. Sometimes he shows up without it.  I don’t think these devices do well trying to serve too many masters.   In fact, the availability of a keyboard for the iPAD Pro actually concerned me and I think confuses the message for what it is for.  I did not do a formal evaluation of the Surface.  Since its cost was about the same as the Pro,  and I viewed the tablet more as an extension of my phone than of my desktop, more a mobile device, than desktop,  placing Windows on my tablet just didn’t seem right.  It was also not clear the application ecosystem I use would be available on Pro.  A mistake? Maybe. I am sure there are plenty of Window Surface folks that can chime in.

So how is it going with the iPad Pro?

Awesome.  I purchased both the Apple Pencil (on eBay since it was sold out at the stores) and the Kavaj leather case that contains an integrated pencil holder.  I can easily go an entire day taking notes on a single charge.  I recharge the pencil overnight, which I don’t enjoy, but am willing to deal with it for its pen like qualities.  The Pro is heavy and big.  It is not a Kindle for reading books. In fact, it is too big to easily read books while lying down. My Samsung was a better size for book reading.  But for all other work operations, this Pro is superior- note taking, web browsing, bringing up Google Docs sheets, drawing sketches, the large screen of the Pro is just tremendous and indispensable for a business person like me.

For applications, I use GoodNotes for all my notetaking. For $7.99 on the App Store, it is a steal.  I experimented also with 53Paper, and while I think this application is revolutionary,  for basic notebooks, GoodNotes is superior.  But I continue to experiment with 53Paper especially the manner it improves my drawings.  I have also downloaded and am using Autodesk Sketchbook  for diagrams.

Citrix GotoMeeting has a client for iPAD that contains a whiteboard.  Need to bring up a white board during a session?  Click on the white board and it appears.  While not super high resolution and the palm rejection doesn’t work, you can still do quick sketches for remote participants.  So while I may connect to the GotoMeeting on my laptop, I may also join with my iPad just to use the white board.

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GotoMeeting White board application.

 

 

The PRO’s ability to synthesize photos, images, white board diagrams into a single notebook keeps me highly organized.  I serve on my town’s finance committee.  I am sent lots of PDF files that I simply download to my iPad and open in Goodnotes, then annotate away in these long meetings.

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Annotating a PDF for my duties on the town finance committee.

There are some other features of the Pro which are interesting.  Somehow, you can place a call from your tablet through your iphone provided the iphone is within  range.  Haven’t figured out how that works yet – but I know it does since I was taking a phone call on my iPad at my house when my cell phone was upstairs.

The Pro also has the ability to do split screen work. I sort of knew this, but stumbled across it in a meeting last week.  You can run two apps simultaneously.  For me, this means on one half of the screen I can take notes, while on the other half of the screen I can look at something on the browser like our company WIKI page or watch a GotoMeeting while taking notes on the meeting.  Powerful stuff.

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My iPad Pro in split screen mode. Taking notes on the left, and reading a web page on the right.

While the PRO has been a great replacement for the SamSung, it still has some shortcomings especially the extent of Pencil enabled programs.  Basic email, for example, doesn’t support writing.   If it did, I would probably drop my notebook.  Charging the pencil can be a hassle since it is one more device that requires charging before going to bed. Writing this post, I went out and dug out my old HTC Flyer and discovered the pencil on the Flyer is very similar in design as the Apple Pencil. Look at the tips.  The difference is that the Flyer used a AAAA battery (yes, quad A), while the Apple Pencil has a rechargeable battery. So the Pencil isn’t that advanced compared to something around four years ago.

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Apple Pencil on top and HTC Flyer “pencil” on the bottom from 2012.

Overall, A+ on the PRO.  I would go as far to say that if you are an executive in a company,  if you aren’t using a tablet like this to assist you with information retrieval, notetaking, and communication in your daily work life, especially if you are in a lot of meetings, your productivity is suffering. The iPad Pro can increase your productivity during these discussion times whether you are actively participating in the meeting or pausing to check in with others. The tablet presents a socially acceptable technology device to use at all times. Finally, figuring out how to transform your communication from a text/typewritten format to be a more visual communicator is only something that can help influence your organizations.  The iPad Pro delivers!

Real Time Web Site Traffic Measurements – What Daylight Savings Time Looks Like

In our marketing operations center, we track real time site metrics showing traffic across our sites.  Why track real time traffic? To make sure the web is sending you your expected daily amount of traffic each day.  If the traffic is up or down, you want to know about it.  Large changes up or down should be cause for investigation to understand exactly what is happening.

To monitor traffic in this way, you need a real time web site tracking program. Google Analytics has real time tracking.  Using GA in this mode you could train yourself to understand the expected traffic on the site at a given point in time.

We don’t use GA for real time tracking because of this requirement to learn what is normal by observing traffic day over day. Rather for real time, we use www.clicky.com.  Why? Clicky allows you to display a real time monitor of traffic but also includes a trend graph that shows the traffic during the same day a week ago at the exact same time.

What you notice when you observe traffic in this manner is that traffic patterns tend to be the same for a given hour for a given day of the week on a global basis.  We run multiple global sites that are high traffic and you see the same patterns each day of the week at the same hour.  Europe comes online driving traffic up, then there is a dip followed by the east coast of the US.  If we see a deviation between the two lines, it is a strong indication to us that something is different between today and the same time 7 days ago.

Sometimes these changes are the result of holidays. Other times, news on a particular day might change the graph.  Sometimes we just can’t figure it out, but at least we know there is a difference.

What does this have to do with Daylight Savings Time?

Last week, I came in and saw the most unusual pattern on my screen.  You can see it below.

daylight savings time

It took me a second to realize what I was observing was the impact of daylight savings time on traffic.  People were basically just going to work an hour later but still doing the exact same things as a week prior. Hence, the magnitude of the traffic was the same, just its time series was shifted one hour to the right.  Looking at the graph above you can also see what a typical day looks like for one of our sites.  In this case, this site has heavy EMEA and Indian traffic which explains the early in the day peaks.

Real time traffic is a key component to making sure your site is running how you think it is.

Aligning Sales and Marketing – Top 11 Things You Can Do Today

This list is based on a talk I did at Inbound15.  The talk was around how the marketing consultants are leading us astray with sales and marketing alignment.   This is a distilled list of the action items.

Good Luck!

1. Throw out written service level agreements

Nothing says we are not on the same team than a service level agreement.  If sales isn’t following up on your leads it is because they think their time is best spent elsewhere.  If you were a rep, you wouldn’t spend a minute on things you didn’t think would help with your quota. No SLA is going to change that.

2. Get rid of MQL and SAL definitions

Besides service level agreements, MQL and SAL are the most conflict ridden terms in marketing vocabulary.  “We think its qualified”, “Why didn’t you accept it?”.  MQL/SAL just means you aren’t on the same page with what sales wants to see. Get rid of these terms.

3. Get rid of marketing incentive plans based on lead gen number

Incentive plans based on lead gen numbers drives the wrong behavior for marketers and sets them up for conflict with the sales team.   Marketers can make lead gen numbers – we all the know the dark arts that can’t be mentioned at Inbound.  Teams have common goals.   Get on the same goal as sales – revenue. Put your compensation at risk if you don’t achieve the number as a company.

4. Use capacity measurements to determine your marketing contribution to revenue

Let’s assume an inside sales rep can handle and properly follow-up on 50 new leads a week,  and the rest of the time they are following up on the prior weeks leads, moving opportunities forward or closing deals. Figure out the number for your team.  Inside sales time and resources are limited.  If the number is 50, and you are providing 50 leads – then whatever revenue closes, marketing contribution to that revenue is around 100%. You are filling the inside sales reps time with leads.  If you are only supplying 50% of the weekly quota, then you are probably only contributing around 50% of the revenue.  The exact number isn’t important. By doing this you eliminate the discussion of which deals marketing helped with and get the focus back on what matters – are you helping the sales not have to cold call.

5. Ask the sales VP what his opportunity creation % is from leads without any marketing help

In other words, if the VP of Sales had to self-prospect with no marketing,  how effective would his team be on an opportunity creation basis?  Buying a list and cold calling, how effective would that be?  Most teams it is 1% at most.  That 1% number is your competition. If marketing can’t supply leads at least 2% or better, you are better off not having marketing.

6. Establish an opportunity creation target for marketing supplied leads

Now ask you VP of Sales what percentage of leads that you provide him does he think should result in opportunities.  The number will probably be 5% to 30%.  This is your target opportunity creation rate. Even if you think the rate is too high, go with it.  VP of Sales are smart people.  If they ask for 10% opportunity creation rate leads, and you deliver them, but the sales team still doesn’t have enough leads, the VP of Sales can either have his team cold call (1 – 2% at best), mine the customer base for more opportunities, or lower the hurdle for marketing to send sales leads.  Let him decide that.

7. Establish with the VP of Sales what Behavior a Prospect Would Exhibit to mostly like result in opportunity creation at the agreed upon rate

If the VP of Sales wants leads that generate opportunities 20% of the time, she is asking for leads that are somewhat down the buying cycle.  What does that behavior look like?  Together, define that behavior.  Is it someone who has attended a webinar? Looked at your pricing page?  Read some ebooks?  It is likely not one of these, but a collection of events that makes someone look like a good prospect.

8. Implement lead scoring and establish a lead threshold

Assign scores to each activity from #7.  Create a score threshold that represents the behavior sales would like to see for someone to convert to an opportunity at the agreed upon opportunity creation rate.  So, if sales thinks someone who attends a webinar and looks at the pricing page is worthy to follow-up, assign 10 points to each of these activities, and any lead that hits 20 points or more goes to sales.  If the looking at 20 web pages means sales wants to talk to someone, then assign one point for each key page someone visits.  If visiting the careers page means the person is likely a job seeker, subtract 20 points for their score. Now pass all leads to sales that meets the requirement.

9. Experiment

Now start experimenting.  Remember those people who download the e-book “Justifying this purchase to my boss” whom you think are great prospects but sales doesn’t?  Talk with the VP, do an experiment, get her buy in. See what happens when you try sending over 500 of those leads.  Do you hit the agreed up on opportunity creation rate?  Everyone is on the same team, everyone on the same goal, everyone will want to try new things to make money.

10. Treat your budget as one pie of sales and marketing money

Sales and marketing budgets come from the same pot of money. Spending on marketing helps at the top of the funnel, spending on sales the bottom.  Have frank discussions with the sales VP on where the revenue generation problem is and be prepared to move money between the budgets.

11. Align the marketing organization to serve the customer

Marketing is there to drive revenue.  Sales has two key people they rely on each week – the demand generation manager for leads, and the product marketing manager for thought leadership, content, competitive analysis.  The rest of the marketing team needs to line up and support these two people.  Everyone.  If you aren’t supporting these two key people, you aren’t supporting sales and you aren’t aligned.

How to Implement Agile Marketing – Part III – Cadence

sprintBeen a long break since part I and part II, but here is the final part of implementing agile marketing.

Agile requires you to operate sprints in which you add tasks using up story points or hours that equal the total available capacity for your team.  Each sprint has some overhead as you must meet and discuss what items will make the sprint and you must meet after the sprint meet to do a retrospective.

For us, setting the sprint duration too long meant too much time before we could reset priorities.  Setting the sprint too short meant too much overhead.  We settled on a two week sprint process with a one day turn around to close out the old sprint in the morning then start the new sprint in the afternoon. I am writing this on Friday morning.  My midday we will have closed out the last sprint and by mid afternoon we will have started the new sprint.

This has been interesting for me. The process has forced me to spend one day out of 10 doing nothing but planning and making sure the various teams are heading in the right direction.   It seems like a lot, but the advantage of it is that for the remaining 9 days, we are just executing the plan.  In fact, new tasks that come in we just delay since they generally won’t fit in the existing sprint.

At this writing we have probably worked through about 10 sprints of two weeks each.  Having done this, we are still trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t work.  The total number of hours the team works each sprint has varied tremendously as we decide what needs to be in the sprint and what doesn’t need to be included.  Time spent in status meetings, for example, needs to be accounted for.  For this accounting of sprint overhead and other weekly administrative tasks, we just assign a block of hours each sprint to each person for these tasks.

Over commitment of work is perhaps the biggest issue we have seen in the process.  The team is motivated, they want to get a lot done, but work always takes longer than we like.  So over commitment to tasks continues to be a big problem.

Finally, the sprint process is starting to provide an operating discipline to our work. People are getting used to turning away urgent, but not important work that was not in a sprint.   For urgent and important work not included in the sprint, the discussion is forced around what can be delayed. This is really critical as marketing many times get tasked with urgent work that is not important to long term objectives.   In addition, tasking via email has also been eliminated. If you want something done, we request you put in Jira for consideration. This discipline keeps people focused on assigned tasks.

The system isn’t perfect, but it is better than where we were.

I will provide an update on this process in another six months and how we are integrating growth hacking into our sprint process.

Part II – Implementing Agile Marketing – Modifications

My last posting talked about our road to agile marketing.  In this posting, I will cover the differences we saw between classic agile and our agile marketing to make it all work.

When I studied how software development teams work, I noticed there were some differences with how our marketing organization was set up compared to an engineering team that would require modifications to classic agile.

First, our marketing team tended to be more specialized than a software development team. Whereas a software team might have a collection of programmers who all knew the same language and could be somewhat interchangeable on tasks, our team was specialized. So the concept of hours in the total sprint was interesting, it was more important to be able to understand hours by person.

Second, our marketing team supported four business groups. The team has assigned product marketing managers and market managers for each business group, but our digital arts team that does PPC, social, email marketing etc. was shared. In addition, other groups in the team such as partner marketing and our operations team are also shared.

So the concept of a single Agile project that everyone participated in doing stand ups just didn’t seem to make sense.   Instead, we settled on the fact that we are running about six different parallel projects every sprint. Each business unit had a project, plus the operations team, and the digital arts group. Tasks that were run to directly support a business unit were always run in the business units project. Tasks, such as global capability increase for email marketing, would be run in the digital arts.

Capture

Since the business unit teams are what generate revenue, the leaders of these projects are always top priority for the organization. We never forget that we are here to support the business units.

Finally, while writing user stories is an interesting part of Agile for development teams doing software coding, sometimes they worked for us, but many times they did not. Rather than write stories for a specific feature, we tended to use epics as the holding cell for project for a team. For example, if one of the business units wanted to do a competitive take out campaign they would create an epic called “Beat ACME”. Beneath this epic all the tasks associate with this epic would be stored. We would move tasks into the appropriate sprint as the Beat ACME program moved forward.

Now that we have discussed how we modified agile, in our next posting, we will talk about our operating cadence using it.

Implementing Agile Marketing – Part 1

Our team at SmartBear produces lots of content, webinars, emails, trade shows, product launches, and sales training sessions each month.  Since the company has four product areas, our team supports what are essentially four different sales and product organizations.  Getting all the work done, on time, in the most efficient way possible was becoming a problem as we ramped up our marketing cadence.  To solve this problem, we implemented a modified Agile Marketing strategy similar to the Agile Development process used by software development organizations.

I won’t explain Agile process here since others have done a good job of explaining – a simple search and you will gets lots of reading on the topic.  What I do want to talk about is how we got to Agile, how we implemented it, and the results we are seeing.

Prior to implementing Agile, our marketing calendar was the main instrument for coordinating the various work that needed to occur each week. Our calendar is different than a traditional calendar in that we used an Excel table with the rows being the various marketing events/tasks, and the columns were weeks. Rows might contain items such as blog postings for each market, events for each market, analyst interactions for each market.  By using this table format, the calendar showed me not necessarily what was happening, but what was not happening.   It was pretty easy to see, for example, if the row for “Analyst Inquiries for Dev Market” was blank and quickly probe the product marketing team as to why it was blank.

In addition, by using this table system, if there was a product launch scheduled for a new version of SmartBear Alert Site, I could see the launch listed in the product launch row, then I could skip down the sheet to see what was scheduled for customer communication, email marketing, changes to PPC.  By doing this I could check that the rest of the team was coordinated and supporting this launch or other campaign.

While this Excel calendaring system worked initially, the problem with this system was that as we scaled, we had no concept of work capacity.  We could schedule all kinds of deliverables, but had no idea if we had capacity to get the work done.  In addition, while the calendar showed our steady state operations, we were constantly working on improvements to our operations.  How did we incorporate this into the calendar session?  Some of these projects were very complex with many steps and moving parts.  For example, data collection and analysis projects tended to involve development, marketing and the product teams. Managing these projects tended to generate either project management spreadsheets or require use of project management software.  Neither of these solutions were suitable and useful enough for the entire team to use for coordinating our marketing activity.

Our system was breaking down with no idea of capabilities, no single way to organize or to easily coordinate getting work done.  With a low volume operation, we could have made it work. But with four business units, a lean staff, and the requirements for high volume operations, we needed to do something else.

Agile seemed like a great way to get everyone on the same page.  By organizing our work into short sprints, and assigning work to people in these sprints, there seemed to be a logical approach to accomplish work while measuring capacity. To get our Agile project going, we selected Jira since this application was already in use by our engineering team for their Agile Development work.  What became obvious once we started using Jira, was that we would need to modify Agile to make it work for us, but of course modifying Agile is a part of implementing Agile.

In the next posting, we will talk through our modifications to Agile.

Renew Your SaaS Contracts Early

We track lots of data as you have seen from the blog. One of those things we look at closely is the money we spend on sales and marketing software. Depending on the vendor, software costs are driven by consumption either based on user counts, database size, emails sent or other measures.  We work hard to keep our systems clean, our data clean and our usage of these systems efficient to avoid price increases.  For one particular vendor, our usage had increased dramatically over the past two years.  To reduce costs, we implemented a plan to clean up our database size and consumption of this vendor’s service so our renewal costs would return to levels last seen about 2 years ago.

The problem, which I was concerned was coming, is that once a SaaS vendor has your spending at a certain level, only the best ones will work with you to reduce it. We did not have a pleasant experience with this vendor last time we renewed, so to make sure we could switch off this vendor if needed, we initiated a renewal process a full quarter and a half prior to our contract expiration.

Hence the lesson for everyone – renew your SaaS contracts early to give you the opportunity to switch to another vendor should your SaaS vendors not support your usage ,levels in a reasonable way.

How did it play out with this one vendor?  Unfortunately, badly, as I expected.  You quickly learn which vendors are your true partners and which ones are not.  A true vendor partner works with you to control costs and sell you what you need.  This vendor was not that way. Besides being incredibly difficult to get a quote based on the lower size, they were just plain non-responsive.  Why?  I can only guess.  But each week that passed without this getting resolved was one less week we would have to move our systems to a new vendor.

We finally got a quote only to find automatic renewal clauses with hefty prices increases.  The net of it, only after pulling my team back from supporting this vendor with speaking, webinars, and even user group support did they provide pricing somewhat inline with our usage.  Had we started this process in the last month of the renewal, the outcome would most likely have been different.

Regardless, I learned a couple of things with this vendor.

First, their only interest is to maximize revenue from me.  They are no longer on my list of trusted vendors and I am now working to neutralize them further in the organization so a swap out is even easier.

Second, my team’s evangelization for this vendor ended up being the deciding leverage which avoided the vendor switch.  I had been given their “best and final” quote which was unacceptable. Based on this, I instructed the team to withdraw from all assistance to the vendor and had started the selection process to switch.  It was this withdrawal of support for the vendor as  a reference site etc.  that pushed the sales organization to make a reasonable proposal.  Had I not had this leverage, I would have been switching today.

The entire experience was pretty frustrating. We were big advocates.  Now the relationship is strained at best. Our request was pretty reasonable.

The net of it – renew your SaaS contracts early to give you plenty of time to switch to a new vendor.  This also will give you great insight into the type of vendor you are dealing with.

An Important Metric – 3 Marketo Champions

I am CMO of SmartBear software and we track a lot of metrics. At last count we had about 10 sheets in a google docs workbook each with about 80 metrics per sheet. It takes us about 90 minutes every Monday to review the prior week.   But when we are done, we know what happened the prior week in great detail. Of course we also monitor daily and real time metrics to make sure nothing breaks.

But there is one metric we haven’t been tracking and maybe we should. SmartBear is proud to have three Marketo Champions and five certified Marketo experts on its marketing team. Marketo only inducts 25 new Champions twice a year. Qualification criteria for being selected a Marketo champion includes; expertise, community involvement, leadership, evangelism, early adoption and engagement (participation in events and speaking engagements).  SmartBear is the only company in the world with this many champions and we are understandably proud of that.

I didn’t have anything to do with it – so the credit goes to the team members. Marketo is one of our core systems, and provided our sales rep doesn’t screw around with the renewal, it will continue to be our core system (We negotiate all our SaaS renewals a quarter prior to expiration to give us the required time to shift systems should we have to). Like all systems we use, we allow open access to almost everyone. By doing this, we enable everyone to either use the system to get their job done, or at least get into the system to run reports. We do have some occasional issues due to open access, but more importantly everyone feels empowered to get their job done, and well, become a champion.  Everyone on my team has Marketo access — its a lot of people, but it makes the team hum.

We will be at Marketo Marketing Nation conference next week – myself and our three champions. We are presenting in three presentations and the Champions will be hanging out at the Smart Bar answering questions. They told me I am not allowed to go there. But if you do stop by, please ask them the best way to handle multi-product companies and scoring.  They are working on that now.

Here are my team’s presentations:

Three Marketo Champions – A good metric to monitor.