In this Behind the Brilliance interview, we spoke with Lorena Morales, VP of Marketing at Go Nimbly. She shared her views on the fast growing trend of revenue operations, how marketing should be measured, and why the line between sales and marketing will eventually disappear. She also explains why now is the time to get started with an account-based program. Finally, don’t miss Lorena sharing the best advice she’s received as a leader.
Please tell us a little bit about your background and the role you’re in now.
I’m the VP of Marketing at Go Nimbly. We’re based in San Francisco and have offices in New York and Chicago. We’re growing incredibly fast, which is always a good problem to have. Many people ask me what is exactly what we do at Go Nimbly: We are the first revenue operations company, helping our clients execute on the revenue operations methodology in order to close gaps in their customers’ experience journeys.
Tell us about the revenue operations space and concept.
Revenue operations is this huge methodology that implies not only execution of workstreams to achieve alignment throughout your operations team while breaking silos, but it’s also a mentality change. People need to understand that operations is at an inflection point and most corporations need to change forever. Revenue operations requires everyone jumping on the same ship and moving towards a unified goal: revenue. That’s how we understand it and how we execute it.
What are your top two or three goals right now?
I’ll share one leadership-wide objective and then some marketing specific ones. The first one is to be a $20 million annual recurring revenue (ARR) company by the end of 2020. This would mean another year of 100 percent year over year growth, both in headcount and revenue.
On the marketing side specifically, I have two goals. The first is I want to become so close to our clients that they start hearing my accent in their minds! The second one has to do with ABM. We’ve been doing ABM since the end of 2018, so our program is fairly young. I continue to strive to get to a point where we can say we have a degree of sophistication in our ABM program. It’s something my entire team has spent countless hours on. These goals are on my mind from the moment I go for my morning swim until the moment that I fall asleep. But ask me again in six months, because as in every company, things might change those priorities.
What are some goals you have for yourself as a professional this year? What are you looking to learn?
The next thing for me is to dig deeper into the sales processes of SaaS organizations. I’m committed to becoming one of those marketers you could easily confuse with a sales leader. Understanding the sales process is not only a subject that intrigues me but it’s something I think I could really excel at because I’ve been working very closely with my CRO over the past two years. Speaking the sales language is something every marketer needs to do.
That is so important and it goes back to what you said about being all in on revenue.
It goes two ways, right? Those sales leaders are starting to become marketers in a way. The line between sales and marketing is simply going to disappear at some point.
Both Engagio and Go Nimbly are focused on helping sales and marketing come together. Tell us about how marketing at Go Nimbly helps companies with alignment.
Go Nimbly is all-in on companies that are jumping onto the alignment train. Revenue Operations helps leaders rally the team by prioritizing around the goal of revenue. Everyone leaves the room with an action item to execute on and in a way, allowing the team to stay strategic.
This means the vision of the company must be clearly communicated, not only from the CEO, but also from all parts of the C-suite. That also includes marketing by doing internal marketing with our own employees to make them the first advocates of the organization. Then it’s to make sure everyone is looking at KPIs through the same lens of revenue. There’s no way that you can keep working around vanity metrics and achieve alignment around revenue goals.
What are metrics you think are best to help companies move away from vanity metrics and move toward something more meaningful and shared?
Since I’ve been at Go Nimbly, I don’t think there was a single day that our CEO cared about web traffic or social media mentions. Both my CRO and I are measured by impact to revenue and pipeline creation. We use our framework, which looks at volume, value, velocity and conversions. We look at those metrics through the entire funnel, not only pre-opportunity. We also use benchmarks to compare performance.
Tell us about why an account-based model is important to alignment and revenue operations, and what that means to Go Nimbly.
Most organizations are not going to survive just by having a demand gen program. I would call myself lucky that in my case we went to an ABM go-to-market strategy soon enough that not only are we surviving but we’re thriving in our space. Right now we only do one-to-one ABM because of the nature of our business. It’s been a really fun ride. Mostly it’s been a lot of learning about how to personalize every single element for every single stage of our funnel. If you find yourself with those larger accounts in your base or if you cover enterprise and you haven’t made the jump to ABM yet, there’s nothing else that’s going to deliver results for you and it’s going to be a lot of unnecessary pains.
What impact did the shift to ABM have on marketing measurement and attribution for Go Nimbly?
It’s important to remember that you may not show revenue results right away, maybe for months, and you need to be ok with that. If you haven’t made the decision to go with ABM, don’t wait because you need to start somewhere. You need to start piloting and my best advice is to pilot with your existing customers for upsell or cross sell. They are accounts you already have, with better information about them and possibly good, existing relationships. That information will put people in a better position to start.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen during your time as a marketing leader?
I truly believe there’s no better moment to be a marketer, but also it’s the worst time to be a marketer. It’s the best moment because we finally have a seat at the revenue table and our companies are starting to see us as an investment rather than a cost. So that’s good.
The change that I’m not super happy about is the tech space overall. It seems everyone has the need to create a new marketing tool and us, to play with it. This has become overwhelming to the point that we don’t know that we have six different tools doing the exact same thing in our tech stack.
The most exciting change I’ve seen is definitely conversational marketing. It’s here to stay, and I don’t think it’s just a thing that lives on websites. I think it ties directly with the revenue operations methodology, where we believe there’s only one revenue team working together through the entire customer journey. Now that your customer is hyper-informed, the moment they hit your website, it’s not only marketing working but it’s also sales and sometimes customer success. That’s exactly what excites me about being able to help our clients be more human, even when their products are already brilliant. We think that if a company already has a great product, what they need to do is become more human and do a better job working across departments to support the customer wherever they are.
What suggestions do you have for people who want to get started with conversational marketing?
The best way to start is understanding your existing content. The main challenge is how to create the exact moment for the exact persona using what we have and also knowing what needs to be created. My best advice is to spend time analyzing content assets and see how you can transform them. Some content is simply going to be tossed because it doesn’t work for your accounts. Then hire a super rock star in content to help with gaps because without content, you are going to struggle.
That’s great advice, and not just about content. As a leader, one of the most important things is be honest about what you’re good at and not as good at, then bring in other people to help you, right?
We tend to forget that as leaders, our only job is to grow people. A lot of people don’t feel comfortable with that concept because it hits directly at their egos. I feel really comfortable saying I’m not the smartest person in the room. What I am, is the one that understands my people the best. I think that’s what has made a really effective manager over the years, and that’s what I will keep doing.
What’s the best advice you’ve received as a marketer or as a leader that you want to share with others?
Some of the best professional advice I’ve received happened a long time ago. As marketers, we have an unbelievable thirst to start changing things. Because we have a creative mind, the moment we land in the organization, we are ready to move things around. Our brains just explode with ideas. But sometimes the company isn’t quite ready for change. Sometimes, your job is to execute on what exists and take it to the next level. You need to be ok with that. That’s the best advice I’ve received because it keeps me humble. Humility is the one thing I believe every single leader should have.
On the personal advice note, someone really close to my heart once told me that we have two ears and one mouth and that we should learn to use them in that proportion. It’s very simple.