How To Hit Your Goals With Experimentation & A Remote Marketing Team (With Auth0's Martin "Gonto" Gontovnikas)
Tricia Gellman: Hey everybody. Welcome to CMO Conversations. I am Tricia Gellman and I am the CMO of Drift. This is our biweekly podcast series where I get together with other CMOs and marketing leaders to talk about the future of sales and marketing, the changes and transitions that we see happening to the marketing world. And there's tons going on in the marketing world right now as we see the coronavirus traveling around the world and really upending how marketers are driving their businesses. I have Gonto here from Auth0. We're going to have a very interesting conversation about how we're driving our teams and what it is that we're doing to drive success for our companies. Very different companies Drift and Auth0 with different buyers, but Gonto through why don't you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you're doing at Auth0.
Gonto: Yeah, sure. So as you said my name is Martin Gontovnikas but everybody calls me Gonto. So I appreciate being called Gonto. I run the entire marketing team for Auth0. Auth0 basically sells authentication and authorization as a service. So if you are building a custom application and you need to have indication for it, where do you target end consumers, if it's a B to C application, or whether you target business customers that need a B to B application you could use Auth0. As Trisha were saying, our target market is both bottoms up from a developer side, but also like CTO, VP of engineering, et cetera, but more from the technical side of things, more than anything else.
Tricia Gellman: Okay. So thanks for introducing yourself. I think we can have a great conversation here, which there's a lot of similarities, even though you are marketing to a totally different audience than Drift. And so I wanted to start out by talking about the fact that like here we are, we're doing this video podcast and we're in Zoom. This is our life. We're working from home. We might have some dogs barking in the background, so be prepared. For me, I work in the office most of the time and I traveled to Boston. But for you your life for a long time has been remote. So how have you been driving success with remote workforce?
Gonto: I think that with remote, you have to be very conscious about clarity alignment and what you want to do. And it's not just from the marketing perspective, but rather from the company perspective as well. We have a public calendar, for example, with a certain cadence of how we will set up the year. So we start for example, first week of January and we define the company priorities, up to three at most. And then we define with the executive team what are going to be the OKRs or the things that we want to focus for that quarter. The week after that, we have a cascading effect where I meet with my marketing leadership team, sales does the same, et cetera, and they all plan, okay, what are the things that marketing wants to do? Which of those are going to help the company OKRs and which are the things that we still believe we should do? The week after that we have the same thing, but with my team leaders. So now the management team will do that for marketing, et cetera. And then from there, that's the plan of what we are going to execute during the rest of the quarter. And we have check- ins actually remote mid- quarter and then end of quarter to see progress on OKRs around all of the extended leadership team to see how we are doing. So that I think has been one of the things that helps us a lot with that. We also have a very big deck about what is the vision, the market vision that we see, the company's strategy and then some of the department plans. So it's very clear, what is the company trying to achieve for that year? We try to update that yearly. And then finally, I do think there are two things that happen. One is when you're doing remote, you're missing the water cooler conversations. So something that we do are some fun activities. Examples, we actually sometimes have happy hours for teams or for the entire marketing team where you can go and talk about anything. Sometimes we talk about work. Sometimes we don't. We have brainstorming sessions that are set up on Zoom where we can chat about random stuff to get new ideas. And we also do some special activities. For example, we did a trivia two weeks ago. We're doing name at the owner, find that you do not remember the name that you need through say the name of a song. So I think trying to some of those things we also had with some of the remote work.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah. That was going to be my follow on question is you're building out these aligned goals and objectives that you can clearly document in a Google doc or something online that everybody can access, but having this brainstorming and really getting engagement and alignment while people are not together, what are some best practices that you can share about how you do that?
Gonto: I have two things for this. One is I'm a big believer of repetition and consistency. And the other thing I've learned is that I need to communicate and say things. The people that are listening to me are five- year's old. But just because I need to repeat it very often. So things that we do is there's actually an all hands for the entire company where we go over the plans for the company. The week after the marketing one, we have an all hands as well for the marketing one where we share some of those objectives. And then what I do is I actually write in bi- weekly marketing updates, mentioning what are the new things that we're doing, what are the things that we stopped, and what is the progress, if any, on the goals that we have. And we also have our own missions or priorities for the year, so every time I mention anything that we're doing, I write to link it with one of the missions because that's why we're doing it. So having this idea of all hands monthly, and then blog posts from me or every two weeks is something that has helped the team be more engaged. With that, one last thing that we are doing is also I'm sharing with the team in our team channel, like my top of mind, every Monday. Every Monday I share my three things that are top of mind and the two asks that have for the entire team for that week. So that has been another thing that has also helped us a lot to be more aligned among all of the teams. And then the reality is we have more meetings. I think when you're remote, you definitely have more meetings than when you're in person.
Tricia Gellman: That's interesting. I mean, I see like now that it's been two to three weeks of this remote force working, we're definitely doing some of those things that are your everyday best practices, because we've been forced to do that. Last Friday... Well actually every Friday the marketing team we're having happy hour and last Friday we had costume happy hours. So everybody came in a costume. So it was very fun and just trying to make it more interesting and light. And I was talking with my friend, she works at a different, really big company and every other Thursday, they do a cooking class. And so a different person has been cooking and they send out their recipe four days before. So people can go buy all the things at the store, whenever it is they're going to make their next run to the store and whatever. It's interesting to see, but I like your trivia. Trivia for me has always been an interesting thing to play to build team and I've done it in person, but it would be fun to kind of do it in Zoom and do it remotely, which would be cool.
Gonto: I think for us to remotely worked great. I liked your comment of the cook because we're actually doing that. But for our customers, we're planning to do a virtual cook session for people who need to learn how to cook things now that they are locked in, in their houses.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah, yeah. That's cool.
Gonto: We have it for customers.
Tricia Gellman: Oh, I like that. That's a good idea. So that leads me a little bit to the question of what, if anything, are you doing different? I think you recently published an article about how do marketers think differently about the marketing mix or the budget in this time of economic crisis. And I think one of the things that we've been starting to do is focus more on our customers and really reaching out to them and making sure that we've been rolling out customer marketing, but we're amplifying that and accelerating it to make sure that we're really doing everything we can to engage our customers. But tell me, what's your perspective on economic challenge and marketing?
Gonto: I think that the first thing that is important is doing scenario planning. We actually started doing this one month ago now. And we have, I remember, three different scenarios. One was only events in May are going to be canceled. Another one was only events up to June. And the worst case scenario was everything in Q3 is going down and we were sure that was never going to happen. We put it just in case. Unfortunately it seems that that's going to happen considering that O'Reilly announced they're not doing conferences anymore and some of that stuff that is blowing my mind. So I think that one is planning in advance. The other one is making sure that you have multiple scenarios. The other thing we did is we redid our entire budgets. So we reused all of the money from events to other things that are digital and we revealed what do we think our pipeline is going to be if we reuse the money. So with that, it's still a lower pipeline, but at least we say like," This is the pipeline that we get if we replace by digital."
Tricia Gellman: First, you do scenario planning. Then you redid your budget. Now when you redid the budget, did you do what some people will call zero plan budgeting, where you said like," Okay, let's start over?" Or did you just say like," Okay, let's peel back. All the money from events is going to go to somewhere else. Where should it go?"
Gonto: It was peel back. We said, all of the money from events are going to go to something else. And then once we finished that we saw what was the pipeline number that we got to. And from there we said," Okay, now we should chat with say some finance to see if we are okay with this or if we need to do something else. And if so, what?" So based off of that, we also used a lot of assumptions.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah.
Gonto: That we will need to adapt. For example, we expect a drop in arts. I think that's happening everywhere. What percentage do we expect in a drop? Or email deliverability? How many people are going to open the emails? So we also put some of those. For the inbound side, we actually looked at the most effected countries to see their trends in visitors and leads. And we projected that using the word conversion for opportunities.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah.
Gonto: With that, we got to find a number of what is the pipeline that we're going to get for both inbound and outbound. We talked then to the team and we agreed that we are going to then decrease the ARR and pipeline column, at least from Q2 and Q3, assuming that in Q4, some of the events are going to go back. So we also asked for additional budgets to actually do the events that are going to be postponed from Q2 and Q3 in Q4. So we can actually do them because we're reusing the money for other things right now. And that was the main change that we did. So it's pricey. It's the advantage of having cash in the bank. But the reality is that I think if you look up, gosh, this is actually a great time to try some bold, new things. For us, the regional marketing team has more time because they're not doing that more events. So maybe they can learn new things, try new things. And I think that's something important for the team.
Tricia Gellman: So is that one of your approaches, which is that now that you have additional dollars to put into digital, maybe you weren't going to test so- and- so content syndication vendor, or you weren't going to test this other thing? Are you majority of new dollars is into testing or are you also amplifying things that you knew were working before?
Gonto: All of the new leaners are for testing new things, absolutely all of them that we're asking. The ones that we replaced from events to other things, those are for things that we know that work.
Tricia Gellman: Oh, I see.
Gonto: But assume conversion will go lower. So money from events is for other things, assuming conversion is lower, additional money that we ended up asking for is basically to help us try new experiments and new things that we haven't done before.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah. That's super exciting. It's interesting about the repurposing of dollars, like you were saying into Q4 because different companies, especially whether you're public or you're not public have different ways that you can move money around. We are not public, we're privately held, but we run our books like we're public. So eventually that'll be easy. And so actually having money for events that have now pushed to September, October, November, we had to make an agreement with finance about how they're going to move the money from one place to the other. Because if in a public company, most times you wouldn't be able to do that.
Gonto: That makes sense. And for us, we also had to agree with finance at the same time, we also do a 6+ 12, meaning we look at the next 12 months for budget every six months. So that means I also, in July, we'll be able to adapt if we see somethings are changing for the last half of year.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah. I guess we're kind of doing that the same way. We've kind of budget for the year, then we really plan for the six months. And then we kind of replan after six months just to take into account how the business is changing and things like that. So it's good.
Gonto: That makes sense.
Tricia Gellman: Okay. So you are now doing all of these tasks. So question for you, which is something that we talked about in the past before the economic crisis is you have this really big culture of testing and experimentation. And so I'm hoping you can explain to our listeners, how have you implemented this culture of testing? And what does it mean for the way that you've structured your team?
Gonto: I think we've started doing this probably one year ago, a bit more that we had a bigger push in experimentation. And I think a lot of that came from repetition and consistency, compared to the other ones, from me and the rest of leadership, both in an in- person offsite, as well as with others. But the main thing that we're trying to get people to understand is that in general stat says that one in every 10 or 13 ideas will succeed. That means that 9- 12 of your ideas suck. So if that's the case, what we need to do is be able to do not... We don't know when the good one is going to come. So we just need to be able to try new things faster and faster and faster. So that's the whole objective that we're talking about. The other thing that I think is important or something I talk with my leaders is this idea of if you want to be an experimentation- driven culture, you cannot call people in a bad way for their mistakes or errors. Because after all you need to have mistakes, you need to have errors if you want to drive experimentation. So that's been the other push where we were-
Tricia Gellman: You have award people for the actual experimentation. Right? You can't just be like," Oh, this person did a million dollars in pipeline all the time, because they did the same thing every day." And not reward the people who actually failed.
Gonto: Exactly. And it's more than that. We have a culture of picture perfect. We like things to be great. So something we're starting to do now with when we start a project, we define, is it experimentation? Or we need picture perfection? And it's experimentation, if your feedback will be less stuff than others, because after all it's about learning. The other thing that we do for experimentation is when we have a meeting now that we do every two weeks, called the N + 1 meeting, it's just because N + 1 is greater than N, this idea of trying new things. And the whole meeting is about, we have different stakeholders from the company, people from product, design, engineering. And when we want to drive an experiment that may be is more than 10K dollars, or do you need additional help from other teams, you put it in this session so we can catch road blockers or things like that before. And then once everybody's in agreement, we just go and do that experiment or test. So that has been another thing that's worked.
Tricia Gellman: Who is doing the test? Is it anyone in the entire marketing team can come up with a test? Or do you have a test group, that's a separate group?
Gonto: So we have the growth team who basically is responsible for making sure that everybody in the org understands experimentation and knows how to be fine in experiments. How do they find the API and stuff like that? But then everybody in the org and run an experiment. And they will get the help from growth where they act as a consultant to the rest of the org on how to do experimentation.
Tricia Gellman: Interesting. So tell me, so I would argue that there's no bad idea. So it's not dumb ideas that fail, but tell me something that you're willing to share of an idea, obviously you thought was worth experimenting and trying, but it just didn't work. And what did you learn from it?
Gonto: I think that a good one for that is the first time we had an idea. We said," Okay, as part of the sign- up onboarding, if we want to get more revenue or more pipeline, maybe we ask people if they want to set up a meeting?" And we did an AB test for that. And then what we saw is that there was actually a decline of signups, people dropping in the middle of the sign- up when they were seeing that meeting thing and we weren't getting that many meetings. So then we dig deeper and we started actually doing phone calls with people that dropped from the sign-up to understand why. And first of all, when we looked at the data we saw they were all developer roles. Secondly, when we called them, they felt that because there was the phone call thing that it was going to be a very enterprise product. So based off of that, we rate an idea on it and we said," Okay, now we're going to only show the proposal to set up a meeting for roles, but our director of engineering, VP of products, et cetera." And once we did that, we actually started getting more meetings because we were highlighting it even bigger for those roles. But then for developers, we weren't showing it anymore. So it was no drop- off in sign- ups and then it started increasing. So in the end it worked. But the first idea we did was shit.
Tricia Gellman: This is a thing that I think is really important for marketers to take away. And that I try to instill into my team is you should really set goals. And if you don't have any data to base your goals on that doesn't mean you should not have goals. Right? So it's like," Okay, I don't know. I'm going to do a new email nurture program. I don't know. I should have a goal. What percentage of people are going to open the first email? What percentage of people are going to make it through?" And then at the end of the day, because you have those goals, you can see what's working, what's not working to the goals. I mean, you could set the goals based on some amount of hypothesis that you have. And then the key thing is that when you're doing things, whether it's an experimentation category or a 100% thing that you have to have, you have to be able to learn and grow from it. And if you haven't set the goals to frame a conversation of growth, then you don't have the conversation. You're like," Oh, we did it. Yeah, it's done. Okay. Move forward." But if you say," Hey, we're going to have a new nurture. It's going to have a 40% open rate on the first email. 20% of people are going to make it through." And you start to see that either you're surpassing the goal or you're missing the goal, then you actually have a way to say like," Okay, what is the learning? How do we take it into other things?"
Gonto: 100% agree. And in our case, we actually go one level deeper where for the experiments, we said," Primary KPIs, and then secondary ones." And the idea of the secondary ones is if the primary doesn't hit the goal and we can look deeper into the secondary ones to learn more things from them. And then why people start thinking about that learning from before when people... We tried to look for the baseline, as you said, but when you don't have a baseline, what we usually do is we ask people," Okay, what is the worst case scenario for you? What is the best case scenario? What is the average you for your mind?" And we make an average of the three, and then we say," Okay, this is that number for the goal." If we don't have any data and at least we start generating data going forward.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah, no, I think that's great. And I think that even that alone can be a part of the experiment. Maybe you're not even doing something new, but the experiment is that you're going to set these goals and try to hit them and then learn the rigor of meeting on a daily basis or a weekly basis or whatever the timeline makes sense to actually evaluate the goals. And especially if it's cross- functional, right? It could just be that the new experiment is that you're going to more tightly align with product and with end and with sales to deliver something. And then that's a new thing that you, as a team can learn and grow and you can build from that.
Gonto: 100%. And I think that's part of that idea of like, you need to have an KPI, it's the same for teams. I think that for us experimentation works because every marketing team has their own KPIs as well. And even some roles regional marketers have a pipeline goal for themselves. Growth people, some will have a pipeline goals and we have a lead's goal, but everybody has one in their role regardless of the experiment. And that's also what they are doing to drive experimentation is what is the KPI that might be missed driving?
Tricia Gellman: Yeah. I like that. You talked about your growth team. But how do you have your team set up overall? And are there any pods where instead of everybody being remote, the actual team is together?
Gonto: We don't have anybody that is the actual team is actually together.
Tricia Gellman: Okay. So that answers that question.
Gonto: We do have people in specific regions, but I'll go into that. So the whole team in general, we have one thing I call it's the content generating team that is contemplative of product marketing, but also in our case technical content and developer relations. Because we target developers, we have the developer team that goes to speak at conferences and stuff like that. And the technical content team is actually a set of engineers that write on them for our blog to allow us to have five articles per week that we're shipping and part of our content. So all of those content related ones are working together under one team. We then have the goal to market team, which is a more typical outbound dimension. Inside that we have partner marketing, customer marketing, regional marketing, ABM. I don't know if the more typical dimension. We then have growth. Growth focuses on inbound, mostly and ads, but it's more focused on the digital side of the experience. And in growth what's interesting is that each person in growth actually owns a part of the funnel and owns a KPI for that part of the funnel. And a lot of times what we do is they are sort of the product manager and depending on what we want to do, we create cross- functional teams where maybe the growth strategy for acquisition, will work with one person from product marketing, one person from content to drive an experiment for a certain number of times. Part of growth's thing is also a marketing engineering. So we have our own engineering team divided into growth engineering, so for experimentation, marketing engineering to drive implementation of market or sales force and stuff like that from the engineering side. Then we have core comms. Core comms for us is analyst relations and public relations. Like in any other company, we don't have brand marketing. Which is a team, but it's a team that is composed of social media, copy writer, and brand campaigns. And it's about this idea of thinking about how we sound brand campaigns and things that are not pipeline related or main KPIs related this time. And then last one is marketing operations, which does market, sales force, and helping us run the entire org.
Tricia Gellman: So you have your marketing engineering team, which is more about the implementation of the tools. Operations is more the running of the tools.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah. And they're in separate groups.
Gonto: Yes. Because marketing ops actually doesn't report to marketing. We have-
Tricia Gellman: Centralized ops?
Gonto: Exactly. In fact, we have the revenue ops team that is sales CS and marketing ops altogether.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah. Yeah. We have the same thing, actually pros and cons, I think still doing that, but like the fact that we actually have very strong ops to me is the most important thing. Where it lives is not the important thing.
Gonto: We actually had it in marketing first and we decided to move it to be together, because the main... I agree, 100% with trade- offs. But the main problem for us is that sales ops was sometimes not paying attention to marketing ops. Or we had leads that were dropping and stuff like that.
Tricia Gellman: Yep.
Gonto: It was more important for us, that sense of the marketing ops we're working together rather than marketing ops being with marketing.
Tricia Gellman: In the past, you were working with companies that were in the US but you were in Argentina.
Tricia Gellman: Now you're in the US, but everybody is remote. What would you say over the course of your career is one of the biggest learnings that you've had, just in growing your career? Is it different since you've been in all these remote environments or is there something you've done differently to grow your career?
Gonto: That's a good question. Different things that I can think of, one is, I'm a familiar in being genuine, being myself. I used to think like" I need to have executive presence and I have talk differently and have an aura or something like that." And something that was interesting for me is that by being genuine, if I do skip levels, and I meet with people, I actually get to learn what's really going on in there, what things are working and what things are not working. So I believe that if you're genuine and honest, you're going to have a super power with the team of knowing what's going on all the time. And if you know, it's easier to fix it. So I think that's been one of the things that has been important. The other one is human contact. Even though we are remote, we do have a yearly offsite where we all meet together. We call it marketing offsite where all marketing meets together. So I think having a place where everybody can meet in person and even more with other people, I think has been really, really important for us. And then the last one is I think it's okay to fuck up and make mistakes. I still remember, I torture myself every time and I still remember we spent 300K in ads, for example, that were driving signups, but then none of them were being activated. So it's like," Why the fuck did we spend it?" And I think that the ability to say it's okay for me to make mistakes and don't know it all I think has helped me with my career. I actually do have one more that I just thought of, but I was scared in the beginning that I feel I've hired people that know more than me. In the beginning I was scared. Like," No. None of the ideas are going to be mine," or something like that. And I think being able to focus on hiring people who are better than you on specific things is what's going to drive your team and you need to be okay with your help is more about getting things done, emotional support. In a lot of times, that's more useful than just being able to tell them what to do and why.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah. And I think that's a growth thing from just generally like your career. Right? I mean, I'm a firm believer in hiring people that are smarter than me that know how to do things more than me. I like to know how they work and have that sort of one- to- one connection with people to understand what they're doing. But I really believe we're only going to be better if I hire the best people. And the older that I get, the more there's going to be all these things I don't even know that have come up and you just have to augment the team.
Gonto: 100%. But I think it's hard in the beginning. I was feeling this like," All ideas have to be mine," and stuff like that, which then I think as you grow, you start to learn that that doesn't make sense.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah. I think it's also becomes hard to have that authenticity that you said of approachability and being really genuine and real if you're so focused on like," It's my idea." Then it comes across as like a big ego thing too.
Gonto: 100% agree.
Tricia Gellman: Okay. So we started the session by talking about the fact that Auth0 is marketing to a totally different technical audience then Drift, which is much more marketing and sales. And so I'm sure we have a lot of people, it's been a growing category to market, to developers and technical buyers in the past 10 years. So what would you say is unique about marketing to this group of people?
Gonto: There's now a lot of chatter about this idea of product- led growth that makes me feel really happy about it. And I think that for developers specifically, it's even more product- led driven because it's not just the dashboard, it's the API, the documentation and everything. And I think what's interesting for us is I really like this idea of doing bottoms up and top down. So bottoms up with the user and in our case, because it's a developer, I always say that a dev has a very high bullshit sniffer, meaning they don't like to be told bossy words. They don't like to be marketed to. So with developers, I think it's a lot about education and them coming to you. So it's more about talking to them, learning what are their habits and their interests, and based off of that, they will eventually come. To give you an example, our competition, for example, Okta in SEO was targeting single sign- on in the beginning. And then when we talked to developers, they were like" Single sign- on? I don't know what that is." That is the definition for authentication. And when we ask them, when do they search or look for the authentication, they were like,"Authentication is boring. I don't give a shit about it. So I only look for it if I'm implementing and I get stuck." So that's when," Okay, we should start building content and talking about them." So it was more of where they come to us. And then we actually started doing the more typical B2B dimension only two years ago. And the company is seven years now. So it's surprising that we studied very recently. And in there we do do the more typical webinars, direct mail, et cetera. But what really helps is that now we have developers that have tried it out, going to their bosses and now their bosses already knows of it because of a direct mail or a webinar. So the combination of the bottoms up and top down means that if we think of the availability bias, the company bias, people will always be more open to using a product because they both have heard about
Tricia Gellman: It. Yeah. I think that's something that we've been starting to work on as well. And I've seen that happen very successfully in other companies. It's interesting that you mentioned direct mail for your VPs of IT, maybe CIO, which is obviously sounds like a different tactic than what you're doing with the developers. Are there specific tactics that you find work well for one top down versus bottom up? And are there some that you use with both?
Gonto: Like for us, we actually do a lot of quantitative interviews to understand their habits. And then we decide what to do based off of that. So to give you a few examples, developers in particular, when they want to implement something, they will look for open source projects, maybe in GitHub. So we decided to sponsor, GitHub projects in exchange for in the read me, they put," If you don't want to do it yourself, use Auth0." So it's sort of ad, but not really an ad. So it can't be blocked. And it was based on their feedback on what they were doing during the day. Other things we've done, for example, for developers that work is you can Auth0 with multiple things, and whatever. And multiple ways of logging in Facebook, Twitter. So we created one landing page for each combination. We have 5, 000 landing pages-
Tricia Gellman: Oh my God.
Gonto: Between CDOT and two sign- ups, but if you aggregate all of them, that's still a lot. So that's been one, that I think worked well for them. Direct mail, that's worked for both, but it's different. Like for an exec, maybe we do an iPod or a tie, or something like that. For developers, it's always smaller. Stickers, t- shirts or something similar to that. And then the other thing that has worked for both is webinars. We have to call it differently. A developer wouldn't join a webinar, but they would join an online meetup because it's a meetup, but it's online. For the other we call it webinar, even though it's the same. So it's fascinating, for example, how sometimes just naming of the same tactic would make it work for both. But if it's the same name, it just didn't work in the past.
Tricia Gellman: Well, and you probably don't really want to have a webinar that has your top and buyer type people and the developer anyway. So if you have different names that also helps you to keep them separated in terms of who you end up having in the audience.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah. I think every company has their own version of that. I think one of the things that we see at Drift is we need to do marketing both to the person who eventually is going to use Drift day- to- day and to the buyer. And they might not be the same person. And so you have to think, I think, all the time what channels are you using? What marketing are you using for which parts of the buying funnel as well?
Gonto: That makes sense. And to me, what's fascinating about Drift is that you need buy- in from sales and marketing. So you have to work with two at the same time. But that to me is the fascinating part about Drift.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah. That's the reason I joined Drift because I love that. I love the fact that Drift forces a conversation between sales and marketing, because eventually if you're not having a proactive conversation between sales and marketing, you're going to have a hard time making your revenue growth numbers. And so I love the fact that Drift actually forces you to have a conversation about that because I think it makes a company healthier, not just in terms of what Drift can offer to them, but in terms of the long- term benefit of having sales and marketing at the table together.
Gonto: I agree. 100%.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah. Awesome. Well, this has been a great chat and I love to wrap up my podcast interviews with the same question. And that question is what would you say is the biggest lesson that you've learned along the way in your career?
Gonto: I think if I had to pick one is this idea of having the main KPI for marketing be pipeline and not leads or other things. What's helped with that is when we were having leads or something like that, we used to have these big discussion with sales, like" We're giving you leads and MQLs." And they were like," No, the MQLs are shit so we can't convert them." And I think that if you get to pipeline, that means that it's a real opportunity. It's a sales qualified opportunity with an ARR, a possible ARR, so then it's indisputable, that it was driven or not driven by marketing. So I think that if you cover a pipeline and you can correctly measure that, that pipeline is driven by marketing by who and why. I think that on one side, it creates a better conversation and discussion between sales and marketing. And it means we're both on track. And on the marketing side, everybody knows that their main objective is pipeline. So whether they vary it from sign- ups or people picking it up to size, like I don't give a shit, it's more about pipeline is the objective. So I think that it helps align in marketing, but also with sales.
Tricia Gellman: Do you think there's a risk on that, that certain parts of marketing maybe don't see how they attach to pipeline? Let's say your comms team and the product marketers and things like that?
Gonto: So for product marketing, for example, we do assign them to pipeline because what we do is we check the pipeline from the integrated campaigns that they are running.
Tricia Gellman: Okay.
Gonto: So we get the influence number. For the core comms team, it is true. But for them, for example, we have other KPIs and they know that they are influencing the pipeline, even though they don't have a KPI for pipeline.
Tricia Gellman: You started by talking about the importance in a remote environment of having clear communications and OKRs and all those things. So that's part of where you set up those goals and objectives?
Gonto: Yes. So what we have is everything has the KPIs, what we're going to measure, and they have KPIs for the year and for the quarter, regardless of the OKRs. And those are main things. But then the things that we want to drive that are either different or they're pipeline or growth, those are in OKRs. We have, I would say we do OKRs weirdly because we don't have just metrics. We sometimes put projects or things that we want to do. So it's weird, like, okay, that's not what it says. That is still is pipeline related, but then we also have projects in there.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah. That's okay. I mean, you're basically driving a conversation about the priority for the quarter and where you want people to put their effort.
Gonto: Correct. Yeah.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah, yeah. That's excellent. I'm a big believer in having marketing signed up for at least pipeline. I mean, I think in the end of the day, it's very healthy if you sign up, even for the end revenue. But I think on the monthly, weekly day- to- day management with the team, it's important to measure to pipeline because deals can take a while to go from sales, qualify, all the way down to the revenue. And there's not as much that you can do in marketing to really drive that. So it's important to tie people to the health of the company, but into the thing that they themselves can influence.
Gonto: 100%. And for the pipeline, so they know we can influence, we have a rule of when we freeze it. Because like you're saying, the variance of the SQO is going to change all the time. So we say," Okay, after 30 days, most of them are near the number." So everybody knows that they're pipeline objective, we keep on changing after 30 days after the SQO creation.
Tricia Gellman: Makes sense. Yeah. Because the deal size changes and things like that.
Tricia Gellman: Excellent. Well, I'm excited that you're lined up to pipeline because I think that that builds a healthy company and you guys are clearly growing like a weed. So you have a very healthy company, but likely it will continue as long as marketing and sales are both signed up for pipeline together.
Gonto: 100% agree. I'm excited. It's been a crazy ride, but it's been a fun ride as well.
Tricia Gellman: Yeah. Well thank you for joining me. This has been a great conversation. I think people will be able to take a lot of learnings out of this. And for the audience, if you really liked part of the conversation, please send feedback to me in LinkedIn. And Gonto, if people have questions for you, where should they reach out in LinkedIn or somewhere else?
Gonto: You could reach out either on Twitter, big fan of Twitter, MGonto. Or you can go to my website, gon. to, so basically Gonto but with a dot in the middle, where I have a form that you can reach out for questions as well. Thank you very much for inviting me. It was a fun conversation.
Tricia Gellman: You love CMO conversations and you want to help us please vote up in your favorite podcast source, give us five stars and make sure to share all of the recordings that you love with your friends. The more people we have, the more feedback we have in terms of what it is you want to hear, the better. And I'm always looking for recommendations on people to bring onto the show, so if you have that as well, I'm happy to have conversations with people, big companies, small companies, the industry doesn't matter. I think there's always something that you can learn. Thank you for joining us today with Gonto from Auth0. Thank you. Bye.
For many of us, remote work is a new experience brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. But for Martin Gontovnikas (aka Gonto) it's just another day at the home office. Gonto is Auth0's SVP of Marketing & Growth and manages a fully remote marketing team. In this episode, he shares lessons learned in remote team management – from how he shows up as a leader and builds trust in a remote environment, to how he sets realistic goals and objectives for his team (plus how he re-allocated budget and re-forecasted pipeline targets when the unexpected happened).
And there's one more thing you need to know about Gonto. As a former software engineer, he LOVES experiments. Gonto breaks down how he built a culture of experimentation and testing at Auth0, what makes for a good test, and (you guessed it) how to set goals and measure the success of an experiment.
Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends. You can connect with Tricia and Gonto on Twitter @triciagellman @mgonto @HYPERGROWTH_Pod
*This episode was recorded prior to recent protests. Drift stands with our Black employees, customers, and community. Read our statement from our CEO here: https://www.drift.com/blog/we-wont-be-silent/