Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 81: Q&A with James Thomas, CMO of Allocadia

August 28, 2017 Matt Heinz

By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

Late in 2015 we started producing a bi-weekly radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which runs live every other Thursday at 1:00 p.m. Pacific, moving soon to 11:30 a.m. Pacific.  It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.

We’ve already featured some great guests and have a line up of awesome content and special guests into 2016. Our very first guest was Funnelholic author and Topo co-founder Craig Rosenberg.  Next we had Mike Weinberg, incredible writer, speaker, author, followed by Conrad Bayer, CEO & Founder of Tellwise.  Recent Guests: Jim KeenanJoanne BlackAaron RossJosiane FeigonMeagen Eisenberg, and Trish Bertuzzi.

We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into and throughout the year. We’ll publish similar highlights here for upcoming episodes.  You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.

Brian Hansford, VP of Client Services for Heinz Marketing hosted this episode with our guest, James Thomas, CMO of Allocadia Software. They focus on MPM (Marketing Performance Management) and drill into how CMO’s need more discipline and rigor around managing the revenue pipeline, looking at past performance, and using the data to guide future performance.

A bit about our guest:  Experienced Chief Marketing Officer with a demonstrated success leading award winning teams in the high tech industry. Expert in marketing management, enterprise software, Software as a Service, pricing, packaging, messaging, inbound and outbound demand generation, go-to-market strategy, and strategic partnerships.

Listen in or read our conversation below

Brian:  Hello, everybody, Brian Hansford from Heinz Marketing, Vice President of Clients Services, and I run our marketing technology practice, and I am off the bench this week. Matt Heinz, he has some family things going on, and he also is speaking at a conference, so he was kind of triple-parked a little bit, so I filled in for him before. I really enjoy doing these and having some good interview conversations, so today, I’m very excited and pleased to have James Thomas on the line with me. James is the Chief Marketing Officer of Allocadia, and Allocadia provides just a fantastic marketing performance management solution, and speaking of riding waves, I think they’re doing incredibly well, had some very interesting recent customer wins, so we want to hear a little bit more from James about that and what he’s up to, but James, welcome.

James Thomas:  Thanks for having me on the show today. Apologies for the late start, but yeah, looking forward to this conversation for sure.

Brian:  Yeah, so are you in Vancouver right now?

James Thomas:  I am up in Vancouver, yeah. Beautiful day here, been traveling a lot lately, and always amazing to come home. We’ve built a nice little company here and excited to be on the radio show with you today.

Brian:  Yeah, so James, just for the audience, tell us a little bit about yourself and Allocadia’s story, what’s going and then I want to get into the meat of the conversation after that.

James Thomas:  Yeah, so I’m James Thomas, I’m Chief Marketing Officer at Allocadia, and we’re a marketing performance management software vendor, and really what that means in a nutshell is we help organizations run the business of marketing to really help them manage their strategic marketing plan. We help them track and manage all their investments, and ultimately understand the impact your marketing investments are making on the business.

And so, we work with over 150 companies, companies like Microsoft use us to really solve the ROI challenge across their organization, and companies like BMWear, who really want to track and manage the marketing spent across dozens and dozens of budgets in one place. We’ll talk more about our customers throughout this, but our whole mission is, as I said, to give marketers the confidence they need in order to show the impact they’re making on the organization by tracking their planned investments and results.

Brian:  Yeah, that’s great. You know, it’s interesting with the space- You know, I’ve been following Allocadia for several years now, and one of things that’s interesting to me is, I think early on, and you probably saw this as well, where marketers would get it, but I think marketers were able to get away with not being held accountable for revenue performance as much, but over the last 18 to 24 months, we’re seeing pretty much a sea change where CMO tenure is dropping again. It was climbing a little bit, but it’s dropping. The C-Suite and boards and investors are putting increasing pressure and accountability on marketers to be able to show how they are impacting revenue. What are the results, you know? Brand awareness and clicks and vanity metrics and things like that. That really doesn’t turn my crank when it comes to revenue. Just from your perspective and the customers you’ve been working with, have you seen the transition, that at least what we’ve seen here at Heinz Marketing where marketers are starting to finally get it and get on board with marketing performance management?

James Thomas:  Yeah, I liked the concept earlier about the wave. I think that the wave has really passed that stage where this is a nice to have, and it’s become a must-have for organizations to have that impact, and personally, I have been at a marketing for about eight years now with different companies, and this came up about five years ago, four or five years ago, when I was working at a smaller company where the CEO really demanding that I show the impact, and because marketing was always the easiest budget to cut. As a marketer, what happens oftentimes when that happens, you scramble to go through a bunch of spreadsheets, and you try to pull the data together, and you’re doing stuff that’s not really creative, and you’re really left without that information at your fingertips, and you look, in fact, like an idiot.

So for me, I became an Allocadia customer early on, because I knew that I could no longer just do great campaigns and couldn’t just build beautiful trade show booths and just have salespeople like me as a human being. I needed to show the impact I was making, and I became a customer, became CMO of Allocadia, and I’ve got the chance to talk to many organizations. It still surprises me how many people, when we’re on calls with prospects and customers who don’t really want to do this, and don’t really think they need to do it now, and I was just at a customer last week who could get away with this, and it’s a pretty well-known brand name. I won’t mention them here, but they have been talking to us for two years, and it wasn’t like “Oh, it’s not the time. We can get away with it. we want to do cool, creative stuff,” the men that came from top down and say “this is no longer acceptable, you’ve got to figure this out today.” We’ve obviously moved the deal super quickly too, because it became a must-have.

If you’re not doing this today, chances are you’re not going to have a job in six months. We’ve seen that happen lots of times in our sales cycles the last couple years. It’s changing now, and we see companies really investing in a much bigger way in this area. Not always the sexiest stuff to be managing your budget and investments, but if you don’t do it well, chances are you don’t get to do the creative stuff.

Brian:  You know, I started my career in the early Nineties, and I was an inside sales rep, starting in 1991, pre-Web. All of the marketing that we did, it was classic marketing. Communications, arts and crafts marketing, you know? You would have direct mail pieces, we had magazine advertising, and leads would come in, lead responses and the marketing would- They didn’t have any way to really measure what they were doing. It was all about, well, we were creating awareness. You can’t measure awareness, awareness is great. You have activities that you could measure, and then we started getting into Web technologies. You start measuring a little bit more, but marketers, I feel like even CMOs or executives, they fell into a comfort zone of vanity metrics. We can measure website traffic, we can measure email performance, we can measure booth traffic and numbers of leads and things like that, but that is just such a micro piece of the overall story and then what? What’s the next step?

What’s exciting for me is that there are solutions like Allocadia that can help paint that picture, not only show what’s happened in the past and show some trends, but I think what’s very interesting to me about marketing performance management is also being able to look into the future. What do you see there, just in terms of CMOs being able to look at historical performance that also the opportunities they have to be strategic and a solid seat at the table by pointing ahead to what future performance could be like with budgets and campaigns and programs if they turn the dial certain ways?

James Thomas:  It’s amazing what we see some of our customers doing, once they recognize that they need assistance to do this. It’s kind of like you imagine doing sales without your CRM system or being in finance without a financial system or ERP system, well that’s what marketers have had to deal with up until now. And so this is where marketing performance management has really come in to really be that kind of system of records for marketing impact, and not just results on the CMO dashboard like you said, all the vanity metrics and likes and leads and shares and all those things, but really thinking about the business of marketing, tracking the investments you make across, so for example, understanding how much they spend on not just this trade show, but all trade shows and understanding are trade shows having an impact on our business in a positive way, a positive return on investment, or if we introduce a new product, here’s a collection of activities that we’ve done for one product that has driven results, versus the collection of activities for those that didn’t drive results.

And so having that ability to understand, not just the results side of this, but we also like to talk about the I in ROI, the investments side of that. Once you understand those and you can look at your data in multiple different ways, you can then start to say “Well, these set of activities are where we need to invest more, and these are where we start to invest less,” and this is really what we want to do and help companies, really tell them where to spend their next dollar. The challenge with most organizations, they don’t even know what they spent their dollar on in the first place.

So we talk a lot about the concept of marketing performance maturity, and we see many companies just go and look at it and put some data signs around it really look at their sides of it, but you bring in the I side and you can start to have that conversation with your CFO, because you can show impact, you start to get more budget, or the CEO, having conversations at a business level, you can start to get more impact across the organization, and that’s really what marketing needs to be successful. We see our organizations that do this are getting increases in budget. The ones that work with finance are both performing, we did a survey seeing that they are performing two times as much as they actually work with finance well and understand the impact they’re making in the business, so kind of this whole area is around let’s get management investment, then let’s connect to your returns. Let’s bring those together, and the exciting part for me is what’s next. And so I think we see a lot of organizations shift past that maturity level of managing investments, looking at now returns, and now thinking about things like more predictive and more attribution and more understanding how the business is really driving and all these new technologies starting to be available to us to do much more strategic analytics on top of this data.

Brian:  Yeah, that’s great. We’re going to take a short break here, and then when we come back, I want to drill into the CFO relationship and talk a little bit about sales and marketing alignment and how that can have an impact, and then also get a few more thoughts here, so let’s go ahead and take a break and we’ll come back here in just about a half minute or so.

*Break*

Paul:  Alright, let’s get back to our spicy conversation then, with Brian and his guest.

Brian:  So James, getting back on track here. You mentioned the partnership or working closely with the CFO. That’s interesting you mentioned that, with our clients, and actually perspective clients over the last 18 months, I have had more conversations with CFOs than I’ve had probably the previous five years. It seems, with that scrutiny and accountability, that CFOs, CEOs, are placing on marketing, CEOs are showing that interest, because they want that success there, they just don’t know how to turn dials or track the information. They need somebody in the marketing role, a CMO that almost has that financial acumen, that knows how to manage budgets and show what the impact is. I think you touched on this a little bit, but how do you see that CMO/CFO relationship emerging and developing?

James Thomas:  Yeah, I talked about it earlier. We actually did a survey of marketing performance management benchmark survey, and you can find more about it on our website. But one of the questions was about whether marketers see finance as a trusted, strategic partner, or whether they see them as more of a barrier that they want to avoid, and I feel like that’s changed a lot in the last couple years, but our survey shows that about 14% of marketing organizations see finance as that trusted partner, but we see that the leading organizations, the ones that are growing faster are three times more likely to be aligned to marketing and finance.

It speaks to what you were just saying, that finance doesn’t want to do marketing, they struggle with marketing. They want people to have more control over their data, so they can be more accurate forecasting, so they can have that aligned conversation at a board level, and one of the challenges that finance often does is because they want accountability in a financial budgeting system in a marketer’s hands, which just doesn’t go well. I mean, this is where the whole concept of having- You know, can you imagine a marketer just trying to speak to a finance? They’re just speaking different languages. You kind of really why a company like Allocadia and others in this market exists that we’re really translating the language of marketing into the language of finance, so you can talk about things like accrual and cash accounting, and you could do that in a pretty simple way, so that finance knows that you’ve got a handle on your business.

The impact we see in organizations that do that- We actually challenge and encourage our customers to work with finance, at the very least take their investment data to all their spend data, their purchase orders, and make sure that we are pulling that purchase order information into a system like Allocadia, so you’re being able to track to answer basic questions like “How much have I spent on what? How much did I spend across regions, channels, products?” You can actually have a business conversation around the investment side, and then it kind of translates into the CEO, which is looking for more like return on investments across a set of activities. They don’t care about the return of a specific trade show. They care about are you physically responsible in spending your money. Are you always challenging to see what’s working and what’s not, and are you constantly evaluating where to spend that next dollar.

One of our customers is Box.com, and the CMO there uses Allocadia to manage the I in ROI, and she holds the team accountable to an ROI metric, and that’s really an interesting because they’re connected to their finance system. They have a single system of records for marketing where they can speak the language of the business, and that’s a great organization with a great brand, and they still get to do the cool, creative marketing, but the CMO is a very accountable part of the investment team, so those are kind of examples that we see in companies who have recognized that doing this all in a big spreadsheet or allowing finance to dictate what to do isn’t good enough anymore, and that if you can put those together, then you can really get that view of the table.

Brian:  Absolutely. I firmly believe, with all due respect to my software engineering and developer friends, that marketing is the most strategic role within an organization. To have that credibility, you need to have accountability and provide the data that shows what marketers do to help drive the business. From very early engagement stages with customers all the way past the sale, marketing touches each one of those points and there needs to be data to measure how you want to manage marketing against each one of those stages. To have that credibility and to truly be strategic, I think it’s absolutely imperative to have a marketing performance management solution. It’s a strategic initiative. I feel very strongly around that. We can’t do standard sales force reports on their own anymore. I think it’s so important to have that data, and I think we’re seeing this. It’s a career maker, right? And it’s a success maker. It’s incredibly important, where in two years from now, it’s a necessity. I think we’re starting to see that it’s a necessity now, it’s a requirement now, but more and more companies will see “Okay, what’s your CRM, what’s your marketing automation platform, what’s your marketing performance management solution or what’s your marketing performance management stack?” I think that’s going to be an imperative, and it’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out.

James Thomas:  Yeah, we see that in our customers. They come to us, because they’re seen as a cost center, and that’s just not where you want to be. If you’re just justifying your budget over and over again, and you’re not aligning in the organization, and we talked about it earlier, this need to align with sales, obviously, is a huge responsibility for marketing, and you can’t do that if you’re talking just all about vanity metrics. You have to talk about the impact you’re having on the organization. That means you have to have the data in one place. That means you can’t be scrambling around in spreadsheets. That means you have to collaborate with finance. And to do all those things, then you get to be strategic, and most marketers don’t want to be spending time in their budgets, let’s be honest. But if you don’t do that, you don’t get to do the creative stuff, because the challenge I find with all this data we have, is we become so deep into the data, we forgot how to be creative sometimes. And so I think that’s what’s changing as well. So as this MPM is imperative, people have now invested in the systems to have that data, and then they can go back and be creative again, and I think that’s really what we want to do, and so we talk about the two sides of marketing a lot around the concept of “Do Marketing.”

Do great creative marketing in all your campaigns, digital and social. Everything that engages with the customer on the one side around running or doing marketing, but we really think at the same level of importance that strategic nature is actually called, we call it run marketing, and we have a whole campaign around run marketing. We’re introducing the Run Marketing Award, so if you go to our website, you can learn a lot about our Run Marketing Award. People that are running marketing really effectively, that are making an impact in to the business, that sales and marketing are aligned to finance, and we see some amazing organizations, so stay tuned for those Run Market Awards coming up soon. The ones that have got to do both sides at the same level. Run and do, being two sides of the most important technologies in marketing today.

Brian:  Interesting, so James, you covered a few things here. You have a study that came out earlier this year that I think is really important, I’d like to point people to, and they can get that at Allocadia.com, I believe, still have that, and then you mentioned the awards, and so if people are interested in getting nominated or nominating for those awards, I’m sure they can get that on your website as well. We’re going to wrap up the conversation here, and I really appreciate your time. Apologize that we got a couple minutes late start, but it’s fantastic, and I love talking about marketing performance management. It’s an imperative for B2B marketers. James Thomas, Chief Marketing Officer at Allocadia, appreciate your time here, and looking forward to how you guys can continue to just crush it out in the market, so thanks a lot for spending some time with us today.

James Thomas:  Thanks very much, I really enjoyed it. It’s a great time to be a marketer, and looking forward to working with people that listened to the call today.

Brian:  Great. Thanks a lot, James.

Paul:  You’ve been listening to Sales Pipeline, brought to you by the folks at Heinz Marketing. Only on the phone or radio channel for at work listeners like you.

 

The post Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 81: Q&A with James Thomas, CMO of Allocadia appeared first on Heinz Marketing.

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