Have you ever been in a situation where someone asks for a simple report such as ‘all newly created leads in Q1’? Have you been in a situation where you need to explain that the report link is correct but it’ll need to be exported, filtered for a specific date where there was a glitch, remove this one company name because that’s actually a duplicate of another company, and so on?
Of course you have.
Data needs to be accessible to all. Whether you have been with a company for five years or five weeks, you should be able to pull a report and get the same result.
- How to pinpoint the right data points
- How to make sure you don’t have a single point of failure
- What to do if asterisks can’t be avoided
[Transcript] The Power of Asterisk-Free Data
Although transcriptions are generally very accurate, just a friendly reminder that they could sometimes be incomplete or contain errors due to unclear audio or transcription inaccuracies.
Hope everyone got to refill their coffee. Looking forward to our next speaker, I’m going to bring on Alexandra Alexin, who is joining us for her session today. Welcome, Alexandra. How are you doing?
Hey Joe, thanks so much for having me. I’m doing well, beating the humidity here in New York. How are you doing?
I’m good. You’re probably doing better than me in Texas, which is hotter than 99% of the world right now. So yeah, looking forward to hopefully a good presentation here from you. I’m gonna jump off, let you take over, and join you back in about ten or so minutes.
Perfect, thanks so much. Welcome everyone to the power of asterisk-free data. We’re going to get into what that means, but a little bit about me. So, I am the Head of Demand Generation at Leapsome.
Leapsome is a people enablement platform, and basically, we help companies track OKRs, performance reviews, and employee engagement through surveys. We’re able to bring all that together to connect it back to some really powerful career pathing, so if you’re interested in that, hit me up after this.
So, my interesting fact is that I can MacGyver almost anything I need to. My concern by putting this interesting fact in was that the majority of you probably don’t know who or what MacGyver is. Look it up; it’s a great television show from the 80s, and basically, if you give me a paper clip and a rubber band, I can fix anything, but enough about me.
So, let’s talk about the origin of this topic. One, I really want to start with the idea that whoever built your system probably did a lot of it alone or in a very small silo of two or three other people.
What that means is, for me, I was at a company for four years, and within my first two months there, I rebuilt the entire marketing to sales handoff process and what that looked like in Salesforce and Marketo, and with that, I learned a lot of all of the different fields we were utilizing, how those fields triggered back-end processes.
But at no point did I actually document any of that, and what happened is that over my years there, it turned out that I was really the only one that knew how to pull reports and have them be asterisk-free.
So, give you an example: let’s say someone said, “Hey Alex, I need to know all newly created leads for the past year.”
An asterisk-filled data set would be, ‘Okay, cool, so you’re going to take this report. What you’re going to have to do, though, is that you have to export it. You have to exclude May 17, 2017, because we had a glitch that day, and all leads got duplicated. So take that day out.
You’re also going to have to look for these three company names because while they’re different, they’re actually all doing business together, and they’re all just under one close, one opportunity, so you got to look at that differently.’
Then from there, you’re also going to want to filter for this, or that, or this, and it just becomes so busy, and then next thing you know, I’m the only person that knows any of that, and the second I leave the company any new person that comes in, tries to pull a report, and they think, ‘Oh my God! What happened in May? We got so many leads. What happened there? Why didn’t it turn into opportunities?’ or whatever it may be, and now your numbers are skewed people are confused.
From there, you have to think about once you don’t have that single source of truth and the data has to be manipulated externally, you have a problem. Once you start saying, ‘Okay, well, let’s take our Salesforce data, we’ve got to export that, and then we also have data in Intercom for our customers, let’s export that because that’s showing login usage, and then let’s also add in this other piece of data,’ and you don’t have a tool that’s doing this for you.
I mean, I would have loved to have Domo at some point in my career; there’s still time. Then you have to pull all of those things and manipulate them based on what I just said, you have a massive problem.
Now, this is also almost impossible to avoid these days.
The more software and tools that there are out there, which new ones are popping up every day, the more data that you can capture, the more you’re going to have an issue because now everyone’s going to be looking at the same data in different ways with different lenses, and they’re going to be manipulating it to make it seem better for whatever it is that they’re trying to achieve.
So, let’s talk about what this looks like going forward.
First and foremost, to fix this, a decision needs to be made about a single data source. Now, you’re all probably thinking, ‘Well, that’s so simple, of course, a decision; someone can make a decision.’
That’s not the case, and I will give you a real-life example: Let’s say that your company is currently using HubSpot, and you’re using HubSpot for your CRM and for your marketing automation. Now you’re deciding, ‘Well, should we start to migrate our CRM over to Salesforce?’
A lot of our people know how to use Salesforce; this might be a really good thing. Now, the discussions happen—the discussions between your leadership team and the discussions on your executive team. Now, you’ve got your frontline managers and the people that roll up to them thinking, ‘Oh wait, we think Salesforce might be happening. So let’s put a pause on kind of making these changes in HubSpot.’
Now we’re in flux; now you’ve got your people who want Salesforce. You’ve got your people who want HubSpot. Let’s then take it from there by saying, ‘Okay, we’re going to stick with HubSpot for now, and we’re going to revisit Salesforce in the future.’
Now you haven’t actually made a decision, what you’re saying is, ‘Well, we’re not sure, we think maybe but…’ and now you’ve got people that just don’t know which way to go and don’t know where to focus their resources and their timing.
So, I’m actually going to pop down to number three because I think that it’s more relevant after this. Once that decision is made, and you actually have to make it and say, ‘All right, you know what? We’re putting a pause on Salesforce; we are 100% going forward with HubSpot. We know we have a bunch of employees who are better in Salesforce than HubSpot, so this is what we need to do: we need to invest in training.”
We need to spend some money and some time making sure that our employees, who need to utilize this to get their jobs done, feel as comfortable in this system of record as they would have if we had had another tool, and then with that, documentation is necessary. And this sounds, again, so easy, but it’s not. It gets convoluted, it gets confusing.
Who’s going to be doing the documenting? What take of the documentation are they really going to be writing for? Because someone in RevOps is going to be looking at things differently than someone in marketing or sales or CS, and they will be forgetting about different aspects of each of these things.
On the marketing side, I care about the time from lead engagement to sales reaching out, to opportunity open, to opportunity closed. Someone in sales may not care about that lead engagement. They want to know when someone has just requested a demo, to opportunity open, and so on and so forth.
So you need to figure out what you are documenting, for whom, where it will live, and what it will look like. So then you get to a place that you have a new joiner, five years from now, and they have all the data that they need to know, ‘Alright, if I start to pull historical information, I know that this field was utilized for this specific thing, back when your MQL had this specific definition.’ Fantastic.
So, what does this look like in practice? I make a point to start every conversation with, ‘What are the goals?’ The reason I do that is because it gets everyone in the room thinking about what metrics we need to track and why.
And then that starts to create this semblance of an idea of, ‘Okay, we know that this is important to marketing, this is important to sales, this is important to CS. Do we have that data already living in our system of record? Are we already tracking it? Do we have an easy way to track it? Is there an easy way to make this data accessible?’
So that’s always, always, always the way to start a conversation.
I think the other area here is that you need to invest in long-term strategies rather than band-aids. The idea of saying, ‘Okay, so, we right now have ten different tools that don’t really talk to each other, but they kind of talk to each other, and it’s okay for now.’ You are going to implode.
You need to sit down, and again, this comes back to: a decision has to be made. You can not just band-aid it. All the way to going from scaling to scaling up to growth, and all of these buzzwords that people love to use, and then from there, iterate, iterate, iterate.
You will never get to the right answer the first time. You need to try; you need to keep working at it. It took me over six months to figure out what our marketing North Star Metric should be at one company, and while tinkering with report after report, day after day, that’s when it also started to help figure out what our actual ICP was, what we were trying to get them to do,
And that took about a year, and I think from there we just made small tweaks, which were great, but don’t ever say this is it, this will be the way it’s it always will be because that is just not how things are going to go. So be open to it, and be open-minded.
From there, the key takeaway from all of this should be, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
Yeah, any questions? Feel like I went through that fairly quickly.
Hot Takes Live
Catch the replay of Hot Takes Live, where 30 of the top SaaS leaders across Marketing, Sales, and RevOps revealed some of their most unpopular opinions about their niche.
These leaders shared what lessons they learned and how they disrupted their industry by going against the grain (and achieved better results in the process).
Alex, you were great, actually in time. So we have just about three or four minutes left. I’m not seeing any questions from the comments, but I definitely have a few because this is something that I’ve dealt with from company to company.
Just to start with, like your preference for yourself on that source of truth. Do you have a preference if it’s your marketing automation? If it’s your CRM? is it a separate data warehouse? Do you have a preference for where stuff is really originating from?
I do! My preference is the CRM, and the reason for that is because I feel that the CRM is touched by more than just a data warehouse or just marketing automation, and the data needs to be accessible to all.
This is a big, big part of this as well is that we need to make sure that everyone can be able to pull the numbers that they need and they don’t rely on someone else, because if it’s just in your marketing automation, then you got to rely on your marketing team, if it’s just in your data warehouse, then you got to rely on your engineering team and it just it slows things down.
Definitely, we’re HubSpot users ourselves, but I’ve been in Salesforce environments, and I know that the challenge of getting the customer success team from just one platform into actually using Salesforce is a huge, huge task in of itself, but it unlocks so much potential for just data democracy. Right, everybody having access to the same stuff, so I totally totally get that.
It looks like we do have a question from Roberta: How would you make sure there isn’t one person solely responsible for polling data or using tools in the org?
Yeah, that’s a great question; thanks so much, Roberta. So, this comes back to investing in training. I think that you need to look at your organization and think about who needs access to data to do their job appropriately, and you will start to find that there are people across the org in different departments, in marketing and sales and CS, and then start to get that training going for them.
See if your system of record has specific training, one-on-one training, HubSpot Academy, or whatever it may be.
Because I also think that when you attempt to do an internal training when you have someone that you say, ‘Okay, we’ve got someone on business Ops, and they’re going to be able to just do it this way and train everyone in the company,’ they are not going to be able to do the training with the right lens for everyone, and I think that the lens that a marketer, or the lens that a salesperson takes on this is very different and needs to be taken into consideration. So invest.
Definitely, and we have one more: What are some North Star Metrics for marketing that worked for you?
Alright, so the most notable one that I think worked, and I’ll tell you why it worked, we called it ‘marketing influenced,’ and the reason that this worked is because it was very easy to tell our board of investors, marketing influenced accounts, and they could say to themselves, ‘I know the words that are coming out of your mouth it was influenced by marketing.’
Then you would be able to bring it down to your leadership team and again, be like this is ‘marketing influence,’ but ‘marketing influence’ means, at a more granular level, that we have engaged at least one person, one contact, add an account within a quarter, and then they’ll say ‘Okay, we understand that because you can’t have more at-bats within a sales cycle, or else now your marketing numbers are getting skewed versus your sales numbers.”
Because you can then have a marketing team say, ‘Well, we’ve had 25 marketing-influenced accounts’ and ‘Sales has only had two opportunities.’ Well, it was 25. You’ve got to look at unique accounts over a certain cool-down period, so I would also suggest creating a cool-down period based on your average sales cycle and giving a little bit of extra time on the top. So I do like that terminology of ‘marketing influenced.’
Definitely, yeah, that’s a good catch-all, for sure. So I love that as well. Well, thank you, thanks for the comments and the questions. Alex, great presentation. Hopefully, everybody pulled something away from that. Alex, thanks for talking. Have a great day.