The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 3 months ago

Ep 260: Bridging Sales and PLG Cultures w/ Jeff Hardison

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Bridging Sales and PLG Cultures w/ Jeff Hardison

Part of the "Is This A Good Time?" series hosted by Brandon Barton.

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the Pavilion Podcast. I'm your host, Brandon Martin. You're listening to Is This a Good Time? The show where I put Pavilion members on the hot teat for fifteen minutes we hear their incredible stories. Shows are out on every Monday, so hit subscribe and you will not miss hearing from our experts. Today's guest is Jeff Hardison. He's the head of Product Marketing Accountly, and we talked about bridging sales and product led growth cultures together. This month sponsor is six cents, the leading platform for B two B organizations generating predictable revenue. Two years ago, six cents wrote the playbook for modern B two B sales and marketing. In the book no forms, no spam, no cold calls. Thousands of practitioners have implemented the book, and now an updated version is out. The expended second edition includes a new chapter just for sales leaders and even more. Visit six cents dot com slash the book to order your copy today. All right, let's do this episode one. Is This a Good Time? All right? Everyone? I'm super excited to have our guests on today. It is Jeff Hardison. He is the head of product marketing at Coward Lee, coming to us likely from Portland's. I didn't ask if you were there, but that's where you tail Jeff, So great to have you on the on the show. Yeah, super excited to be here. Thanks for having me. Yeah. Man, Well, look, we got a lot to cover because you have a very interesting career. So let's start at the top. Where are you now, what are you doing, what's your job? And then let's go a little bit through your resume in terms of how you got to where you are, because I think it's super interesting for people to hear the path that you took to get to your role. So yeah, so I'm Accountly. We like to think of ourselves as the number one scheduling automation platform. You know, everybody from recruiters and and sales teams and Cutch success teams to even yoga instructors too. Maybe your family member uses us to be able to like make scheduling easier and more profitable for their company. UM I run product marketing,...

...also run content marketing, international life cycle marketing, a lot of the things that aren't paid marketing. I run at Countly today and when I joined we were a tiny marketing team, and since then, I think I've you know, hired for my team together, for my managers, about seventeen people on our team alone. UM, so it's been a really fun building year or in a half, uh, that we've been doing that. So you were so you were you know, made your transition here during U during COVID in a way, Um, what was that like? Were you part of the great resignation or was it just an opportunity that popped up? And and you know, obviously Cowndley is a household name at this point, so yeah, so it was a you know, it was an opportunity, I think. Um, I started working remote well, being in Portland, Oregon, right, I either had to get on a plane and travel, like when I worked for Amazon dot Com for a couple of years as a consultant or when our startup got acquired by HP. I was down at Sunny Vale and so I had to be on a plane a lot, and so was working remote oftentimes in some office. But then I started working for a fully distributed company with Envisioned before COVID, and I considered that like a real blessing that I got my feet wet learning how to do this a sync work, more documentation, more videos. You're sitting over with Loom and so forth. Learned that before COVID. So when COVID happened, Um, you know, I felt like ready to go. And then this opportunity to be Cali came and you know, I was already a customer. I loved. Um, you know what Tope was trying to achieve. You know, he had built this company who largely bootstrapped it. It was profitable. That fit my my world view, and so I wanted to join and you know, help him build this. Oh that's incredible. Great and and and let's talk Let's go back in the resume and talk about how you got here because you know the thing that stands out to me is that you've held many sales and market sales and marketing leadership roles and and will and then and then we'll get into the let's talk about product led growth and and pick your brain. But like you don't,...

...this isn't necessarily the exact path that people usually take to get to to leading, you know, kind of organic growth when when you have a traditional sales and marketing background. So talk a little bit about that maybe some of the stops along the way. Yeah. So the beginning of my career, UM, I worked in agencies and they were we had tech clients everybody from like Expedia until like I mentioned earlier, Amazon to the recording industry Associate America, the people that were doing the next through users. I did that marketing consulting for a number of years, and then I decided to step over to the startup side and joined, you know, as the fourth employee this company, Meridian. We later sold it for twenty six times investment a Uruban Networks and HP. And when I joined there, they said, well, you're gonna be an employee and we're an enormous company. You obviously can't be CMO here, can you, you know, be like a director of product marketing. And so ran a team at HP. And then what I found myself doing is I would either be a like head of product marketing in a larger company, or I would be a like first marketing leader in a smaller startup like under a hundred employees. And what happens, I think it's happened like three or four times. I'll join as the head of marketing and then they're like we think you could probably sell, and so they also have me run sales. Like maybe the VP of sales gets frustrated with the grind of a startup sales, and the CEO will ask me to run both marketing and sales, and then I build up a team for both. And you know, I just try to be flexible whatever the business needs. If you need me to run sales and marketing, I will do it. In a larger company, I think it makes more sense for me to focus on something like product marketing, and that's what I'm doing account like love it, love it and and and it takes a it takes a unique personality there to be able to do both of those things at once, because you know, there's often conversation, especially amongst people in pavilion about sales and marketing and like where the str said and who's responsible for what? How did you balance your let's say, top line metrics with also having a marketing plan that will you know, fill top of funnel and and and we'll we'll be there for the next couple of years...

...rather than just hitting this quarter's goals. Yeah, you know, in terms of like personality types, I think, um, you know, I have to think my parents. My mom is she should have been like a salesperson. Instead she was, you know, a stay at home mom for a number of years to take care of us. But she can like convince someone of anything, and so I think I got that from her, whereas her father's in like the electoral engineering inside is much more introverted and like very much two different people, and it's perfect for tech sales and marketing. Having that, so I think then there's some luck involved in there. But I think in terms of one of the things that's also taught me just life experience is it's like I've kind of always felt like I needed to hustle all my life, you know, like I felt like I needed to like not only do really well in school, but also be able to persuade people to give me an opportunity. I don't know, maybe it's some type of like chip on my shoulder, but I think it makes for a good kind of set of experiences where whether you're at a tiny startup where you need to be able to, you know, do both were multiple hats, do both marketing and sales. You can't just say at a tiny startup, I'm just gonna do content marketing, you can be able to step in and talk to customers too, because the CEO doesn't want to hire multiple people at that stage and so you can't be you know, a baby about it. But you can take that that foundational skill of being able to wear multiple hats and just get stuff done and grow the company. You can then take that to a bigger company where the sales seem appreciates like, wow, you know, I bring Jeff in a call and he can help close a deal with me. Um, so I'm gonna trust him now more when he critiques, you know, the way I'm delivering the deck or you know what have you? Sure? Sure? Right? I mean and and and that's a natural feedback loop to have marketing actually, you know, influence the things that are being put in front of customers in the first place. I'm glad you brought up luck. Uh. We we talked about luck is something that is is integral into building a career. Um any lucky breaks during your you know a cent here that really helped propel you forward. Yeah, I mean, you know again, I'll give...

...a shout out to my my parents, Like I think all of us benefit from you know, having parents that will support you, and they did and and and you know there are different personality types helped out a lot in terms of career. You know, I think a lucky situation was probably when I moved from the agency world over to a startup. And the way it happened was, you know, a co worker, her brother in law, had started this mobile app platform and they were both engineers, he and his co founder from Cornell, and like they didn't understand marketing, right, and so they started asking me questions and it was and then next thing I know, I'm joining the company and and I'm their first marketing and like kind of go to market higher, right, So that was luck. It was an example of like a friend, you know, looking out for you and looking out for their their loved ones and putting you together. And I think that happens to a lot of us right where there's somebody's a dot connector and they make introductions and we're lucky. And and let me ask because I think I know the answer to the question, but did you ask them for money when they said, hey, I'd love to pick your brand on marketing? That is a great question. This is like one of my favorite things to talk about is the whole pick your brain situation right now. I they didn't. I didn't ask for money right away, and so that would be a tip I would give people is that if you're wanting to break into something like if you want to move from consulting or agency life over to UM, you know, start up whatever, or if you want to move from like a startup over to being a consultant, sometimes you need to have UM some some client examples. And not everybody wants to pay you if you haven't done the thing, So volunteer to give them some free advice and maybe write a case study about what you did versus Freddie and over. Hey they're not paying me or just giving your work away. Yeah, I couldn't agree more. I figured that's the answer. I think more people have to have UM selfless conversations and you're gonna find uh your path just based off that. All right, Well,...

...we we're talking a lot, but let's get into the I mean, look coldly is one of the great examples of a product lad growth company. I know that we've had Molly on talking about enterprise sales and how you're going up market, but let's let's go to the bones of UH you know of what you've built here in terms of getting people to have interest in the product. In the product, uh talk about kind of some of the tactics and strategies that we've taken there, and we'll step on our our whole um, you know, sales marketing tactics question with with this this part here. Yeah. So I've been beating the drum over the past few years that the next big thing we all need to be talking about is these product led growth companies that we all recognize they're a good thing that then need to go up market and try to land more enterprise customers who maybe don't want to just engage with the product, they want to talk to a real human. And so, you know, I've been talking about us for a while. It's it's starting to kind of pick up some steam with other folks right now. And we are experiencing it at Cally. I experienced it also at Envision uh clear bits you know, it was something that was going on and essentially this is it. So there's a whole movement that we all know about where you want to have the product itself help you acquire new customers, be able to activate them automatically. You know, get them to do something like for us, it's you know, have a certain amount of meetings, you know, within the first couple of weeks. Then they we want the product itself to get you to buy with your credit card without talking of a salesperson, and then get you to renew, and that that requires a lot out of our product. And so there's a whole culture that gets created in these product growth companies that's data driven, that's design driven, so it's an elegant experience to make you want to do the thing right, and that's experiment driven and so forth. That is a very different culture than a lot of sales led companies that have come up over the last you know, twenty thirty years, right, And so what ends up happening is you create this one culture and it's it's a little bit kind of a nerdier, more data driven, more introverted culture. And then you bring in, you know, more vocal sales people who are used to you know, saying, hey, I've this huge deal with this million...

...dollar you know client, and they want this one feature hate products and well build it right. That doesn't necessarily work so well over in the product like growth side of the house, and so these cultures oftentimes by not getting along, not empathizing with each other's side of things and seeing how they can work better together. That is what brings down most product like growth companies when they try to go up market. It's not all this other best practices tactic strategy stuff. It's literally two groups of people who don't get along, fundamentally not trying to get along for the sake of the business. And and and how does how does the company get past? That? Is the idea maybe to have dedicated engineers that are that are UM spending their time on like feature sets and things that are specific to sales or is it uh? Is it having you know, some of the p LG folks jump on sales calls and see how close these deals are. And only if I mean, what's your advice? Yeah, so I got three tips. Um, one is the ladder what you just said. I think creating empathy through the voice of the customer is one of the best things you can do. So, for example, you could bring product people over to sales calls. You could have them watch gong you know, recordings where they hear the voice of the customer. Right, that is so crucial because I have been able to in tiny startups, I've been able to get a engineering team to build something by just bringing the CTO into a call with the customer. They hear it directly from them and not me their coworker who maybe they're annoyed with, right, So getting the voice of the customer into the product sides of the house is very important. Another way to do that is to, you know, use tools where you can like record a zoom call with a customer and create like a snippet and share that snippet with the product team. So one of the things I tell salespeople is don't do the drive by like little Share and slack wor it's like, hey, this customer asks the thing, can we build it? Create a case be like a product manager does with an engineering team, where you use like red examples of a customer asking for things like, for example,...

...we need a single sign on. Here are three customers asking for it. Here's the verbatim of what they said from the transcript. But I'm also going to share the actual audio or video of them asking for it, because maybe don't trust make it, And then I can make a case and you can share that case with your engineering team, like you already do as a product manager, and so you think, like a product manager is is kind of the second thing I would do. And then third is getting these groups of people together to share okay ours. I really believe in the shared okay are. So, for example, if sales has an okay are of going up market and closing more enterprise deals, well let's then share that okay are with the product team who might build a feature to try to help make that happen. Great. I love I love that. That's uh, it makes a lot of sense to me. Um, all right, let's move on to some of the quick fires here. Any keep positions you're hiring for it right now? So right now, UM just filled all my positions. Nothing that's open right now, unfortunately, but the company is hiring quite a bit, so you know, go to a kind of careers and there's all kinds of folks being hired across the business. We're growing, you know, as as it happens, Love it and give some shout outs any up and comers or folks who you enjoy kind of what they're putting out on on p LG growth or even you know, getting up market from there. Yeah, So, you know, I love a lot of the SDRs out there on LinkedIn. These are my favorite folks because they have some of the most They're very data driven about how they experiment with emails they're sending out and so forth, and so I love seeing it because I can like steal some of these ideas and we invite them into uh E books, um, you know, and they can like give some of their ideas a way. Like Jed from Panda Doc is really great. Um He's like probably my favorite right now. So I love following those folks. I like also following the aes that give advice. So Donald Kelly, Donald Kelly, I did a blog post with him or I interviewed him and he gave you know, his life advice, how he went from homeless to you know, running a sales consultancy and he's now popular podcast to recommend him. Um. Aside from like the LinkedIn Twitter world,...

I like, you know, I read a number of different business books. I've really gotten into this new thing where it's like business person became kind of enlightened through like various like you know, Eastern spirituality. Fred Kaufman wrote Conscious Business. He has trained Google and LinkedIn loved this book. Um, you know former boss man of Krona you know, turn me onto this one. Um. There is also Michael Singer. He was a a yogi that then trained himself to program, sold his startup for like a billion dollars um and and now has and he's worked for web m d as an executive. And he talks about, you know, you don't need to go retreat to a cave and meditate. You can deal with people every day and that's like a form of meditation, and so like that at work constantly. I don't know how that works. That sounds incredibly interesting to me. Both meditate instead of just deal with the bullshit right in front of you. Exactly. He said that's how he went from being a yoga alone in the woods to managing thousands of people. So so the guy who's telling you not to go to the woods had to go to the woods to find uh yeah anyway exactly. Yeah, don't do as I say, not as they do. Um, well look rounded out of course with with with my favorite question, what's most important to me? I'm a restaurant guy. You gotta give us a spot. I'm pinning you. You've got it's gotta be in in Portland because you have an incredible foods in there. But what's what's the spot? We gotta go check out? Check out next time we're in the uh you know, Pacific Northwest. Well, first, I'm good to give you a spot in New York. All right. So my childhood friend Sean James Beard nominated started a new bar in Brooklyn called Inga's Bar. Uh. It was just featured in New York Times, highly recommended. He's an amazing chef and it's a little bit more low key. So don't feel intimidated. Um here in Portland's tons of restaurants, let's see. You know, La Bejean is like a restaurant that everybody loves here. I've got friends that worked there. I can't get...

...into that place next door. They have a more low key place that you can go to, So try to get in. You can't go next door, and they'll let you in. I love it. I love it. Man. Well, jet awesome chatting with you. Love hearing what you're up to and how you know Cawndarly is going up market. Uh. Excited to keep in touch and just continue to watch your journey. Man. Yeah, Thanks for having me. It's been really fun. All right. That's a show. Thank you so much for listening. If you love the show, please rate my view in the Apple podcast Spotify app. Sentences some friends, and make sure to smash that subscribe button. This episode was brought to you by six Cents, powered by AI in Predictive Analytics. Six helps you unite your entire revenue team with a shared set of data to achieve predictable revenue. HI had so much fun today. I hope you did too. Get out and get some candy and crush your numbers.

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