Billboards, Bulldogs & Branding: How Gong’s CMO Udi Ledergor Is Investing In People & Culture

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This is a podcast episode titled, Billboards, Bulldogs & Branding: How Gong’s CMO Udi Ledergor Is Investing In People & Culture. The summary for this episode is: Gong’s CMO Udi Ledergor will stop at nothing to celebrate employees (even if it means buying 52 different billboards to do it). In this episode, Tricia and Udi discuss the rise of employer branding, why the CMO must be a leader for diversity, inclusion, and belonging, and how come there’s so much title inflation in marketing. Later on, Udi explains why the coffee test is a key indicator of successful marketing and sales alignment, plus what marketers can do to collaborate with sales to build success (and avoid finger-pointing). Want to know how Udi’s team uses Gong’s own data to develop content that provides value to buyers (and not to mention press hits)? Listen to the full episode. *This episode was recorded prior to social distancing measures. Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends. You can connect with Tricia on Twitter @triciagellman @HYPERGROWTH_Pod
Why marketing titles are inflated
01:45 MIN
Employment brand, billboards, and bringing your whole self to work
09:03 MIN
The coffee test
02:21 MIN
Using your own data to tell stories
02:11 MIN

Tricia Gellman: Hi, welcome to this edition of CMO Conversations. I'm Tricia Gellman, and I am the CMO of Drift. And you may have noticed that I don't usually have a voice like this. I am a little under the weather, but it's totally fine and we're going to go forward. I'm excited to have with me, Udi Ledergor the CMO of Gong, to talk with us today about life of a CMO and what that means.

Udi Ledergor: Excited and honored to be here, Tricia. Thanks for inviting me.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, thanks. What we've seen is that every CMO has a little bit of a different superpower they bring and also ask they have from their board and from their executive leadership team. So maybe you can explain what CMO at Gong really means.

Udi Ledergor: CMO at Gong, I started as a VP marketing about three and a half years ago at Gong. It was my fifth VP marketing position. So I've obviously failed at everything else. It's really the only thing I know how to do. Started as VP marketing, as the team grew and as the responsibilities grew beyond Demand Generation to building and maintaining our brand, employer brand, and overall strategy for the company, it was also time for a title change or at least my CEO thought so. And that's when I was promoted to CMO.

Tricia Gellman: That's interesting. We talked about that on some of our other episodes in terms of, what is the difference? And really, I think it a little bit sounds from other episodes like it's a growth of a company, as well as this breadth in terms of what you're doing.

Udi Ledergor: Yeah. I think there's sometimes a title inflation, especially with smaller startups that hand out titles a little bit too easily. There's a three person company with all of them are C level. It kind of gets funny. I go," So what have you done before?"" Oh, I was a marketing manager at" other company." Okay.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah. I think we could probably talk a long time about hiring. I think that's one of the challenges, hiring in marketing. Some people want the title, some people want a better experience. And so there's a trade- off.

Udi Ledergor: Yeah, it definitely makes it easier to hire senior people. I've got several ex VPs on my team now without VB titles for now and being a CMO opens up that gap that I think shows people a career path that makes it easier to hire that. That was my number one argument for how the CMO title will help me because I'm not looking for a job. It's not making any difference for me whatsoever, but it does make it easier to hire more senior people who see that gap that they could fill in a year or two by becoming VP.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, that's a really good point. So one of the things that I think that's unique about you and your leadership style and just as individual is that you're not an American and yet you're the CMO for not any kind of software tool, but a software tools for sales. And sales in the United States is so different than in other countries. So maybe you want to talk about, how does being from another culture impact your view on being a CMO and marketing for your company?

Udi Ledergor: Absolutely. So in case you haven't noticed through the name or accent, which hopefully I don't have a ton of, I'm Israeli born and raised. I was born in Israel many, many years ago and I was raised there for most my life. I do get my more natural English accent from my Australian father. So we were bilingual at home and then spoke both languages. And I just moved here as an adult for the first time, 18 months ago. So I've spent the vast majority of my years in Israel. Being in the Israeli tech culture or ecosystem for about 20 years now or more, it has forced me to quickly learn other cultures and business cultures and bridge that gap of culture and language. I've sold to buyer personas from diamond manufacturers to ERP managers on IT teams in countries like Germany and Africa and Japan. And even though I don't know any of those languages, I did very quickly, sometimes the hard way, have to learn cultural differences. For example, just a small one I remember from a few years ago, I had a multi- lingual team marketing to different regions in Europe. And sometimes people mistakenly call Europe one block. It is not. It is not. Here in the US I can send you an email that starts with," Hi, Tricia." If we tried doing that to a French lady, you really get in trouble, you cannot call a person you don't know intimately in France by their first name to this day, especially not in business. You have to call them by their last name and you have to capitalize the entire last name. And that is what a good order business email looks like. So you have to learn these little cultural things and quirks for every country and how you approach a German is very different from how you cordially address a Japanese person in business. So being in Israel where our local market is so very, very small, forces anyone in tech to very quickly become well- versed in international business cultures. And you just develop that muscle of how do I communicate with you now, Mr. buyer persona in Japan or Germany or the US.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, that's really interesting. And of course in America, we have a very large market already so I think most Americans don't even travel outside of the United States.

Udi Ledergor: I heard a few years ago that only like 18% of Americans had a passport. That shocked me because the average Israeli I know by age five has traveled half the world.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah. But the size of Israel is maybe the size of Rhode Island.

Udi Ledergor: It's tiny. It's really tiny.

Tricia Gellman: But anyways, so I think what's interesting about that is that you're talking about all these different cultures. And I think as a CMO, building a team and building that culture is one of the key things to having success. So how has that translated for you into building culture in your team?

Udi Ledergor: So I think our team culture derives a lot from our company culture and we did a culture project or exercise pretty early on. I think we were only maybe 70 people in the company and our CEO, Amit Bendov led the project, brought in an external consultant and said," I know this might seem early to some of you, but this is actually the time I think we should start talking about what we want our culture to look like." And we took the approach of not trying to invent some obscure values of," Oh, let's be hardworking and play hard and work hard. No, Let's just look at what we have right now," and at that time, we already had an office here in SF and one in Israel," Let's get teams together from both offices," basically we took every team leader and a few individual contributors to add to the mix," And let's describe our own culture and see what is working for us and what we want to use to recognize great performance and cross- functional work, what we want to use for hiring new people on the team, and let's encapsulate that into a palatable number of operating principles that sometimes companies called values." We chose for various reasons operating principles At companies like Trello, they just call it our nine things. That's what they're called.

Tricia Gellman: We call it our leadership principles.

Udi Ledergor: Leadership principles. There we go. We chose eight operating principles. And we decided from that day that this is how we're going to guide ourselves. And they've been deeply ingrained in the company in a way that a day does not go by without people hashtagging one of the operating principles in just normal Slack conversation or at a lunch and learn. And I've never seen a culture being so deeply ingrained with our operating principles like we have here at Gong. So that made it pretty easy to derive what we want to do in the team. So I use that as the umbrella to guide what we're doing. And then from there we created, my team and I, specific traits and behaviors that we wanted to see in the marketing team. For example, failing quickly and experimenting a lot, that's a culture that a lot of marketing teams talk about. I think in many companies, they find it more challenging to carry that out than they would think, either because they've got a conservative CEO or just don't get the freedom to do that. And at Gong we get that. And that's a big part of our culture. I love to see failures because I know that we're moving. If we're only succeeding, it means that we were too late to operate, we were too cautious, we were too conservative, we waited too long to launch something. When we get sometimes angry emails about our campaigns, I'm like," Good. That means people care about what we just wrote. This is great news." To this day, some of my team members, especially the content guys, we love you, Devin, they send me half shaking a response that they got from an angry customer who canceled a demo because he was insulted by an email we sent. I'm like," Devin, this is great. We're going to get a lot of good responses. If we got one bad one, we're going to get 100 really good ones." And that's usually what happens.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, that's great.

Udi Ledergor: And we do mess up sometimes, don't get me wrong, it's not all successes. It never is. We do mess up, but getting people to care about what we do is part of that culture of experimenting, doing a lot, breaking a few things on the way, it's okay.

Tricia Gellman: In the teams, employees always want to move ahead. And so having this idea that you can fail is good and giving that permission because otherwise people feel like," Oh, if I mess up and I'm not going to move ahead." It's a good balance. How does that translate to bringing your whole self to work, and that employee brand and how all these things fit together? Whether at work, you're not at work, is the culture that you have to work all the time?

Udi Ledergor: Oh God, no. Who wants to work all the time? Those are a few interesting questions. Let's try and unpack them. So, one thing about bringing your entire self to work, I'd say one of the things that we're seeing in Drift marketing and Gong marketing, and other companies that are doing a really great job, is their marketing doesn't sound like marketing. It's very authentic. It's very conversational. All the lessons that we learn in copywriting of write as you would speak and think of writing an email to your mother and not to Mr. Bob, the IT manager at IBM, we practice that every day. And part of that is being true to ourselves and being very open about our weaknesses and our attributes. I make it partially easier for my team to be that way by being an openly gay executive at a tech company, it is a little bit easier that we're in the most liberal city in the world, arguably, but I was exactly the same in Israel. And I was writing about these topics on LinkedIn and organizing both internal and external meetups around diversity and inclusion and LGBT specifically. And we set up hiring recruiting booths at LGBT events and gala dinners to try and increase our own diversity inclusion in the organization. And even here in San Francisco, when I moved here 18 months ago, I was expecting these things to be trivial in this city of all places. And even here I've had individuals come to me, both internal and external, sometimes in private, sometimes more publicly telling me how meaningful it is to them to hear an executive at an increasingly known brand like Gong, talk about these topics in public and make Gong specifically such a safe workplace that diversity inclusion are celebrated. And we have people from all walks of lives and not just LGBT, but different ethnic backgrounds and age groups. And I stopped counting how many countries in the world are represented at Gong right now. That makes me really happy that, with what I consider very little effort on my side, it seems like we're making a big impact in difference.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah. I think that a lot of companies talk about diversity and inclusion or belonging. I think the big thing is the belonging. And I think what you're doing probably really helps with that because a lot of companies do a lot in the recruiting process, but then once people get there, it's not as comfortable. And so I think that's really the hard part that you're probably impacting a lot.

Udi Ledergor: Yeah. We definitely are doing a lot to make, not only the hiring process feel very inclusive, which I think we've we've achieved, but also making those in the company, not just feel tolerated, but really celebrated. And we've recently started three ERGs or employee resource groups, one for LGBTs, one for women, one for parents. We're doing more and more to make things matter. And last June it was pride month. We did a whole series of events, some internal, some external. We had a really nice turnout of a panel from different companies in the Bay Area who came to talk about diversity inclusion in their workplaces and specifically on LGBT issues. And it was really amazing to hear the experiences that people were going through even in this area that are not always positive. And that highlighted the importance of making this safe environment for everyone.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah. I think because I had a long time at Salesforce and the career employment brand and all that stuff has become a bigger and bigger thing out Salesforce as it grew, that I just took it for granted. And when I decided to leave Salesforce and started interviewing to be CMO of other companies, I was really like, wake up call that some companies don't care at all. And it's really surprising to me that you could be a founder and think you can build an amazing team that's going to continue to innovate with just very linear group of people. Yeah, it's just not a great place. And I didn't feel like as a marketer, I could go to a place like that and even hire a great team because they're going to see that right away too. And so for me, it's super important and I've always been a leader on that in terms of the women's groups and Ally talent, LGBTQ, et cetera.

Udi Ledergor: Yeah. I think there's just a ton that companies can do. I think with all that we're doing, we're still scratching the surface. We're sponsoring several women in sales groups across the country, from the Utah Women In Sales to Girls Club to Women's Sales Pros and every organization we can find in that area because it's something we want to promote. I'm really proud to say that we just recently hit a 50% gender parody in director level management at Gong of men and women and I'm really excited about that. It was a lot of hard work. We still have more work to do at the executive and board levels where there are not enough women, but even to reach at the director level of 50% parody, I think that's a ton and our hope more companies get there soon.

Tricia Gellman: Talk to me about, I think this is really important topic of diversity, inclusion, employees building your team. But I think what I've noticed is that it's a bigger role for marketers that's starting to take on. So it didn't used to be that a CMO would be talking about employee brand and being an internal leader for diversity and inclusion and things like that, but now I'm starting to see that I play this role, that other CMOs are playing this role and are taking on internal communications, employee brand, et cetera. And I know that you're doing a lot with that.

Udi Ledergor: Yeah so I was first exposed to the whole employer brand field, I think it was probably four years ago now. I was doing consulting, marketing consulting for Israeli startups for a couple of years before I joined Gong between my last full- time gig and this one. And one of my customers came to me and said," Hey, we have this need for developing an employer branding program. Our HR team has been trying to get it off the ground, but they just don't have the tools to do it. And we thought that with your expertise, you could pull it off." And I said," I don't know the first thing about employer brand." And their VP of marketing looked at me and said," You know more than anyone I know about this, come figure this out for us." I'm like," Okay." And I came and I figured it out and I built a program. That year they were able to hire over 100 people to their R and D team. And they attribute a lot of that success to the program that we built together. And then at Gong, it felt a lot more natural to me to pick up this field that is often left orphan because HR or people agree that it's important, marketing agrees it's important, but nobody really owns this child. And recognizing this is something that needs to get done and I can probably do it, I decided I'm going to do it. And pretty early on, we decided to investing in employer brand, both the Israel and the Bay Area, talent markets are insane right now.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, absolutely.

Udi Ledergor: And it's not going to get better anytime soon. And you've got to get creative. And I think the beautiful thing about employer brand is that for a marketer, it's not very different from how we're thinking about a buyer's journey, but if you apply that to a candidate journey, so you first want to attract their awareness, make your brand attractive to them, give them valuable content. At some point, you want to assist their journey and help convert them from just a bystander to an active candidate, to finally an employee at the company. And when you think about it, just taking all the marketing tools that we use on buyers today and applying them in a thoughtful way to candidates, that's employer branding. We've had some fun. Last year, we put our money where our mouth is, and we always say," It's all about the people, right?" But it's one thing to say it, it's another thing to put some marketing dollars behind this. And last year we announced our outstanding Gongsters, which is our version of employee of the year, if you wish. And last year we recognized seven outstanding Gongsters in our annual kickoff in early February. And in March, we launched a billboard campaign here in San Francisco. I think I bought out 21 or 22 billboards. So each of the seven outstanding Gongsters appeared on three different billboards. And we featured the beautiful, handsome faces of our outstanding Gongsters with a really short, personalized sentence, recognizing that person. And it had such a ripple effect that was amazing. I'll share just a couple of them. One, the outstanding Gongsters were beside themselves, running around town, taking selfies, sending to mom," Look, mom, I'm on a 24 foot billboard." Absolutely amazing. So that was all over social media. Everyone else in the office was so supportive and loving the idea that the company would recognize its employees and spend a significant amount of dollars from our budget, putting them on billboards in a way that is not directly generating leads or doing anything like that. It's all about," Great job Devin. Great job, Samantha. We're really, really proud of you." So everyone in the office loved that. And for the, I think two or three months of that campaign was live, every single candidate that I interviewed in the office, and I interviewed five to 10 people a week, mentioned seeing a billboard on their way in. We had strategically bought them a few blocks around from the office and every single candidate said," I just saw your outstanding Gongster campaign. I want to work here. This is the sort of culture I'm looking for." And we didn't have to say anything more about that. And then I think the indirect effect is just hearing from other companies, customers and prospects that they love that part of our culture, I think makes them want to do more business with us. So other marketers sometimes ask me," How do you measure that? And how do you prove ROI?" I don't. I don't, and I'm fine with that, my CEO is fine with that, and just seeing these soft effects, but they're still very, very tangible, even if they're not accurately measurable, makes that a great success.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah. I think it's really exciting. And I think sometimes people think," Oh, doing outdoor campaigns, it's really hard to measure." It's one good if you can say," Well, we are not going to measure it because it is a little bit challenging." But there's a lot of soft return. And I know at Salesforce, Salesforce always does a major out of home when they do Dreamforce and the employee morale goes up so high.

Udi Ledergor: Absolutely.

Tricia Gellman: One of the things that, David Cancel, our CEO, talks about is how your employees are your number one face to your customers and your prospects, so if they're not having a good day, then the whole experience breaks down and customer experience is such a big thing today. Well, so you're also in this unique position where you're marketing, it's the opposite of what I'm doing. I'm marketing a marketing tool to marketers, you're marketing a sales tool to salespeople who pretty much don't understand marketing. And so I think it's interesting to talk about the relationship of sales and marketing in your career, or just in your observations, how this relationship has been changing.

Udi Ledergor: First I have to say, lots of people ask me why I came to Gong, especially candidates for my own team, they want to know what got me excited. And I said that there were three primary reasons that brought me to Gong. One was our co- founder and CEO, Amit Bendov. This is the third company that we worked at together. So that was a no brainer. He's the biggest pain in the ass I've ever worked for, but I would rather not work for anyone else ever again. Two is when I saw the first really ugly version of Gong, my jaw dropped and I knew this is about to change an industry so that brought me into the company, and fortunately I was right. And three was the buyer persona that we're selling to, which is salespeople. And I've mentioned this earlier, I've sold to buyer personas like diamond manufacturers and ERP managers and very lonely people sitting in a windowless office, wondering how they got to that point in their life. But salespeople are different. Salespeople are very vocal and they're very public about what they're going through, what they like, what they dislike. When I used to send an email campaign to ERP managers, I could wait days before getting feedback and knowing if we annoyed anyone, if we excited anyone, what are they doing? With salespeople, if I post a bad campaign, I get immediate feedback of people emailing us, angrily posting stuff on social media, on review sites. They're all over the place. If I do something nice, they also post about it, frankly. Yesterday we had our first Celebrate On Tour event in New York, almost 150 people showed up. And my LinkedIn feed was absolutely flooded with people hashtagging Celebrate On Tour and telling what a great time they had and posting photos of the panels and their meetings and everything. So you get this immediate feedback. So I'm super excited about selling to salespeople. It's the funnest crowd I've had the privilege of marketing or selling to so far. And I think part of the reason, not only is they're so vocal and public about what they feel and think, but there's a really close alignment or should be a really close alignment between sales and marketing. I talked about this on your own stage at Hypergrowth a couple of months ago when I talked about the coffee test. So if you don't know how your CRO or VP sales takes her coffee, you're not doing it right as a CMO, and you really need to know how they take the coffee. And why do I use that analogy? It's not an analogy, it's actually true because this morning was my weekly one- on- one with my CRO. And we go out for coffee. The spoiler alert is that he drinks tea or decaf, don't ask me why, but I'm still good friends with him. You have to know how your CRO takes his coffee or her coffee, otherwise you're not close enough. And keeping that weekly sync, at least a weekly sync, no matter how busy we all are, that's like the one meeting that we keep religiously. And if one of us is traveling, we'll take it remote. We have to keep that meeting to make sure that we're opening bottlenecks and solving issues, nipping them in the bud before they escalate and become problems. I've been at organizations where things get mud tossing and political, and of course there's the classic sales complaining that either marketing is not providing enough leads or the leads are crap. And of course, marketing equally as charming say that if only sales knew how to close those wonderful leads that we're bringing everything would be different. So we so far don't have almost any of that at Gong and spent three and a half years now that I've been at Gong. And I hope that we can keep this culture going on for a long time and I attribute a lot of that to the sales and marketing alignment. It's probably the most crucial thing to the success of any marketer these days, if you know what your revenue team needs, and you provide them with that, at least most of the time, and for the rest of the time, your mutual trust and respect means that they understand what you're going through. So if sometimes we don't hit a number, they understand why they understand that we realize the gravity of the situation and what we're doing to fix it. Then they won't point fingers at you at the management meeting, because you've already prepped them before the meeting," Look, we're not going to hit this number for mid- market this quarter. Here's what we're doing about it. We understand how this is impacting your team. I'm going to make up for it by doing A, B, and C." Then you're leaving them with no complaints walking into the management meeting and just by voicing that and understanding what they need and how it's impacting them and seeing what else you can do, that's going to drive your success as a CMO.

Tricia Gellman: Do you have anything below that level that you do in terms of ongoing communications with rest of sales?

Udi Ledergor: Yes, absolutely. So another common question I get asked by other CMOs is," Where does your SDR team roll up to? Is it marketing or sales or revenue?" I say both because at Gong I helped build the first SDR team in Israel and then our second SDR team here in the bay area. And they rolled up to me. We did not have sales leadership at that time. 18 months ago when our chief revenue officer, Ryan Longfield joined the company, we made a joint decision to transition SDR from the marketing team to the revenue team. And I was absolutely fine with that. And I think he describes it best by saying that," Now there's a solid line from SDR to revenue, but there's a dotted line from SDR to marketing." And that's how we work. We're as closely aligned, arguably better aligned than we were even when they rolled up to my team. My head of Demand Gen, Russell Banzon, he sits literally and physically half his time within the SDR team working with them so they know what campaign went out this morning, how they're supposed to respond, seeing how they're using the dashboards that we built for them, what needs to be corrected, and what's not working smoothly. He meets with our senior director of SDR every single day. And that alignment couldn't be closer. So I think the alignment between sales and marketing, just like you alluded to in your question, is not enough at the highest level. It has to be at the director, at the manager, even individual contribution level.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, that's awesome. I truly believe that too. And that's one of the reasons I joined Drift because I think Drift redefines that relationship. And so it forces the hand of SDR marketing sales and what is a handoff? What isn't? How do you collaborate to build success?

Udi Ledergor: Super critical.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah. So as you have been at Gong, or even just in your career as a whole across your diamond customers and everybody else, what are some of the trends that you've seen and what are the trends you see in the future that as CMOs, we need to look out for?

Udi Ledergor: So a few things I think have changed in marketing in the 15 or so years that I've been doing mainly marketing. One thing is I think 15 or even 10 years ago, you could get away in startups by being more of a brand marketer and making a pretty website and nice brochures and maybe doing events nicely. Today, the analytical side of the numbers, owning the numbers, understanding websites, trends, and Demand Gen needs is a critical part of any marketer position, let alone a marketing leadership position. You cannot get away without knowing that. I think the only place you may be, I'm only saying maybe because I haven't been in those companies or positions yet, is being a dedicated brand manager at a very big brand that is completely separated from Demand Gen. Maybe there you could get away without being an analytical person, but if you're going into marketing or trying to work your way up into a marketing leadership position, and you're still focused mainly on the branding side, you have to educate yourself on that analytical side. Without that you will not be able to have an intelligent conversation with sales leadership, and you won't get a seat at the board meeting. You have to be able to talk about how all that great brand stuff that you're doing is actually contributing to the business. So that's one definite trend that I'm seeing. The other, I think, is on the softer side of how we communicate? I think 10 years ago, it was typical for B2B organizations to talk in a very condescending stuffy way to their audiences. Just, I won't even mention brand names because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but if you look at whatever old school B2B brand you can think of 10 years ago and some of them still speak that way, and then fast forward to 2020, and you're looking at young dynamic startups like Drift and Gong and other great companies doing an amazing job, and you see that the way we're speaking to our audience has completely changed. You have on your website, customer faces on every single webpage. That's amazing. The Drift bot that we use on our website is now called the Bruno Bot. Bruno's our mascot, he's a Bulldog. And when you open the chat window, the first thing he says to you is," Woof," because he's now talking to you in dog and you couldn't do that on an IBM website, but we get to do that. And we're getting great responses for our Bruno bot. And that's just one of the many ways that we communicate with our customers and we're being very authentic and human. And we talked about that earlier as part of our culture, but that's also how we communicate externally. We want people to understand that they're talking to people, it's a very human experience and it's no longer enterprise Gong selling to enterprise Drift, it's UDI selling to Tricia, and we should talk at that level. No business has ever sold to another business. It's always a person selling to another person. And as more and more marketers figure that out and unbutton their collar and let their hair down, marketing has become a lot more fun and conversational.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, that's 100% our message, so I love that you said that. And he wasn't paid to say that. And so I think that that's great. We obviously believe in conversational. And one of the big messages I've been starting to talk about is really that it's not B2B or B2C, but it's B to age. And then it's really, how can you connect with humans? How can you get the permission to talk to them at the time that they need to be spoken to? It's not so much about the company, which I think when you're talking about being stuffy and condescending, so those companies are saying like," I'm more important than you." And the stage is totally flipped now. So it's really the consumer, that human, is really the one in charge. And if you don't meet them where they are then you're kind of missing out because there's so many choices today.

Udi Ledergor: Absolutely. With some things that I know Drift advocates for, we haven't gone all the way. We still have some forms on our website we haven't completely killed them. But whether you choose to communicate with us through a form or through the Drift bot, even if you come into our website at 4: 00 AM and you start a conversation with Bruno and the Drift bot, you will get intelligent responses and you can still book your demo for the next day at a time that is convenient for you, instead of waiting for the oldest ER experience and wait five days, you've completely forgotten you've requested a demo by then. And then some clueless SDR calls you and tries to pin you down and get a time on your calendar. No, if you want to go to our website, open a chat at 4:00 AM and book your demo for next day, we're going to allow you to do that because that's how you want to be communicated with.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, I love that.

Udi Ledergor: It's a lot more work for us, but it's not about us, it's about you.

Tricia Gellman: It's about you. Yeah, I love that. That's great. So I think there's a lot of tools that go into that. Gong being one of them that people are having to learn. There's a lot of growth in both sales and marketing tools. What would be your advice to younger marketers today in terms of how they juggle all these things? Learn to be more analytical, learn how to use a tool like Gong, learn how to talk to sales, what is the prioritize list for you of what matters in a marketer in your team?

Udi Ledergor: I think a good start to responding to that would be the first hires that I made on the team. And if I were to start a new marketing team tomorrow, what my hires would be. And the two first hires, not necessarily in any order, would be one for content creation and the other for marketing automation. Those are the two first roles I hired for my team and they really allowed us to get a headstart very, very, very quickly. I was doing everything for a few months as a one person show and hired Chris Orlob for content and then hired Noah Farber for marketing automation, both absolute rock stars. And they just allow us to do things that a few years ago were reserved to really large teams with tons of money. Today, you've got all these tools that you can onboard in a day. And on my first day, when I was a one person team, I bought, installed, sent out an email campaign using an email automation system, a landing page builder, saved an old PowerPoint presentation into an ebook and renamed it, put up some LinkedIn ads that day myself, and send out a campaign and saw leads start coming in. You can do all of that today, so there's no reason to wait or get into months of planning or wait for that next magical hire, who is going to solve all your problems. Just get off your butt and do things right now, and once you're ready to scale and have the budget for it, get an automation person who will do all of that magical automation stuff. There's so much to do in it. It is so impactful on inbound and outbound in your organization. And then get a really, really good content person who knows what they're doing. I find that it's still the backbone of B2B marketing. It's what's worked for me for the last 10 years and it's working great in Gong right now.

Tricia Gellman: How do you align your content to audiences or do you? Or you just have a general topic?

Udi Ledergor: We definitely do align. And when I sometimes give presentations on content marketing, I start with this Venn diagram showing one circle, which is what you want to say. Another circle is what they want to hear. And there's a small overlap between those two circles. That is the sweet spot you want to be in. And the biggest mistake that I've seen content marketers and other marketers make is starting from the side of what you want to say because the product marketing has this great messaging and the CEO has this great vision, and this is what we want to start by saying, and hopefully we hit that elusive overlap point of what they want to hear. That is how you most likely fail. If you start from the side of what they want to hear, really study your buyer persona, what does a day in their life look like? What struggles do they have? What are they concerned about at 8: 00 AM? And what are they concerned about at 4: 00 PM and the infamous, what keeps you up at night question? But really study that and then start from there and work your way back into where to their problems, interests and needs meet what you are trying to say. That is going to be the sweet spot, where they respond to your relevant marketing. And so at Gong, we're selling to sales leaders and we started by really understanding all the different personas of VPs and CROS, and then frontline managers like directors and managers of sales, and then individual contributors, and then supporting roles like sales ops and sales enablement. We conducted, I think probably close to 100 interviews with all these different buyer personas, really understanding what problem they wish would go away today and what keeps them up at night, and what did they do in team meetings, and what did they do in one- on- one meetings? And really understanding their problems. And then we went and developed content to provide value on those areas. And I think the unique angle that we took, that that is now widely copied in the industry, but that we were probably one of the first to do this, is to use our exclusive data, and Gong is sitting on the largest database in the world, of real- life sales calls. We have tens of millions of sales calls recorded. We're processing over a hundred thousand sales calls a day now from our customers. And we use that from first day to start digging through data scientists. What's emerging in that data? What patterns are we seeing and publishing content for salespeople that makes their life easier? So we found patterns for anything like, how many questions should you really ask a prospect at different levels, if it's an executive or a non- executive before they show fatigue? And we pair that with the chances for moving on to the next call. So we started with that. We had a controversial piece published last week on how to thoughtfully use swearing on sales calls. You can imagine we got a ton of responses. That story was picked up by Fast Company. I was interviewed on radio about it.

Tricia Gellman: That's amazing.

Udi Ledergor: I didn't pay for that. The press actually picked up on our content marketing and it's not the first time. Our content has been quoted in Harvard business reviews and in other academic papers, because we really are the first to use this huge lake of data to show what's really working. Sales consultants have been talking for 100 years about what's working and not working, but it was all based on opinions. And for the first time we said," To hell with that, we've got the data." It's like arguing about your shoe size. All you need to do is look underneath and we'll see what shoe size you are. That's what people haven't been doing with sales. It's been all conjecture," I think this is what works. And this is how you should start a call by asking,'Did I catch you at a bad time?'" Well, no, our data shows you should not, there are better ways. That's the approach we took with content. And for three and a half years, we have not budged from that approach. From day one, we were about using our exclusive data to provide value on what interests our buyers and then work back from that to what we want them to hear from us.

Tricia Gellman: Yeah, I think that's a really valuable insight, which is really hitting on what the consumer wants. It goes back to the other point we said about people being human and about really connecting with people in the right way. I think we've run out of time. And so it went by so quickly. It's such a great topic. It's great to talk to someone who has the same passions that I do, but also is talking to salespeople because Drift plus Gong is a great combination.

Udi Ledergor: It really is, you should try it.

Tricia Gellman: And I think it's great. This new modern technology stack of sales and marketing tools is really helping to transition companies and really bring productivity and ROI for them. So thank you so much.

Udi Ledergor: Thank you for having me, Tricia.

Tricia Gellman: And hopefully next time I see you I'll have a better voice. And we're really grateful to have you on the episode. Thanks.

Udi Ledergor: Thanks again.


Gong’s CMO Udi Ledergor will stop at nothing to celebrate employees (even if it means buying 52 different billboards to do it). In this episode, Tricia and Udi discuss the rise of employer branding, why the CMO must be a leader for diversity, inclusion, and belonging, and how come there’s so much title inflation in marketing. Later on, Udi explains why the coffee test is a key indicator of successful marketing and sales alignment, plus what marketers can do to collaborate with sales to build success (and avoid finger-pointing). Want to know how Udi’s team uses Gong’s own data to develop content that provides value to buyers (and not to mention press hits)? Listen to the full episode. *This episode was recorded prior to social distancing measures. Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends. You can connect with Tricia on Twitter @triciagellman @HYPERGROWTH_Pod