The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 1 year ago

Ep 75: Gong CMO, Udi Ledergor


Ep 75: Gong CMO, Udi Ledergor 

Part of the TGIM "Thank God it's Monday!" series hosted by Tom Alaimo.

All right, everybody thank God it's monday. Welcome back to the revenue collective podcast. I'm your host Tom Alamo. This is where we interview the top revenue leaders In the B2B world to learn about the strategies, tactics philosophies that make them successful. Let's get into today's episode. Before we get to the guests, I want to give a quick shout out to our sponsor. This episode is brought to you by quota path. A commission tracking software built for sales, operations, finance and accounting teams. If running commissions and payroll has you running for the hills, quota path is for you quote a path helps organizations track and manage commissions and pay their teams accurately And on time every time, keep your team motivated non target. Simplify your commissions at quarter past dot com slash revenue dash collective and give your reps the gift of transparency. Okay, you can give us a shout out shout to quote a path, hit them up if you're interested. Give us a shout out on Apple podcast. Give us a five star review If you find this valuable. I am stoked. I am beyond excited to share this interview with gangs, CMO judy letter gore. You know, put simply, he's a genius, he's a legend in the B two B marketing world. If you haven't been following what he has been building at going on the, on the marketing department for the last, the last few years, then you are probably living under Iraq. We talk about his career, how he managed to get to Gandhi goes way back with me, bend off the ceo. Talk about his philosophy on B two B marketing versus B two C and Y B two B is normally super boring and why they have a, you know, kind of a different strategy, why you see so many thought leaders from the company on linkedin and the thoughts and strategy behind that moody's thoughts on, you know, consulting versus working at one company full time and much much more. I understand that you are not here to listen to me. So let's just get straight into my interview with Rudy letter Gore. All right, judy. Welcome to the Revenue Collective podcast. Good evening. How you doing? I'm great, so excited to be here. Tom Yeah. Likewise, I always like to start in the pandemic. I think I know the answer to this, but just you never know where people are during covid. So are you still in san Francisco or in the bay? I am the one who has not moved out of san Francisco with uh three young Children in school and a husband who is an essential worker at UCSF. We we are stranded here for good or worse. Yeah. Yeah, I'm there too. And tell him thank you on behalf of everyone for the essential work that I'm sure he's been doing for the last, you know, year or so. And even before that, so I've been excited to have this conversation. I think a lot of folks are going to tune in because there's, there's kind of this mystique to gone in general and certainly a mystique to the gong marketing playbook, you know, uh you don't act like a B two B company, right? So I want to start there and just really kind of learn from you on, on your mentality of how gong really kind of inverts the normal, you know, B two B playbook of, let's write a three page white paper, let's syndicated on channels, let's just, you know, do some stuff with Gartner Forrester and like, you know, it call it a day, maybe that's just coming from a sales person's perspective, but the work you do is incredible. So I'd love to hear how you think about that. Yeah, 11 of my favorite topics as you might have guessed. So I think that the great thing is that there really no secrets about our marketing strategy. I mean we're always happy to talk about it openly and you know, I regularly regularly meet with other cmos and as much as I can spare time, I'm always happy to share what we're doing and what's working. There's really not much secret to it. I mean it's pretty much straight forward and out there. I think what makes us stand out and contributed to the great success of gong and the brand or a few things, one the appetite for taking risks. Now I can't take full... for this because There's a reason why I'm working at this company, our ceo of meat and I have worked together at three different companies over the course of the last 22 years. I'm not even sure you were alive the first time we started working, I'm 27, so barely, so we're just moving into solid foods first time tonight we're working together. Okay. I give grief to all my young team members jealousy, not nothing, nothing else will take no offense. And um, it was a chief marketing officer for most of his career before turning into a Ceo at his previous company. And that means a few things. That means that he knows what great marketing looks like, he knows what you can expect for marketing and he's willing to take the risks needed to get there. And so when he called me, uh, 4.5 years ago and almost five now And uh, asked me if I want to join a small team of, I think about 12 developers who just rolled out of beta product to about 12 customers. I said, Yeah, what took you so long and I dropped everything I'm doing and joint and I knew this is going to be another really, really fun ride, like all of my rights with, with the meat because we get to do stuff that you just don't get to do anywhere else. And gang is of course the exception even to our rule in the sense of, we were able to scale this company bigger and farther, farther than any other company that we worked on in the past. So to sort of give something practical and maybe actionable to some folks. One, you know, the last thing we like looking at is what people call best practices and we are believers that by the time something becomes a best practices, it's just an ordinary boring practice that everyone is doing and getting their ordinary boring results. If you're trying to stand out which early stage startups usually try and do right, Remember. I mean we weren't always gone. When I came here. We had an ugly three page website, zero inbound traffic, zero inbound pipeline and he just said, okay, good luck. Go build a pipeline and build us a brand. So we have to start from somewhere. And like most startups, we're trying to build a brand and stand out the worst way of doing that is trying to blend in. Looking at your competitors or other companies in the space and using what Danny on my team fondly calls the series A's blue, which is like this generic blue shade everyone uses on their website. You go to every early startups website, it's nice and white with some blue and gray, Very safe at the top. You'll see a big Mac screen with a screenshot you will not understand. And beneath that, the three features of their products. So they all look exactly the same because that's the best practice. So our web, it never looked like that, right? We went bright blue and then during our last rebranded rebranded became bright pink and purple. We threw in a bulldog for good measure. There's a funky logo shape, there's this cast of wacky characters and everything about it is different. And we launched this visual identity three years ago and fast forward to today. We've definitely drawn our share of attention and some would say even more. So that will be the first tip that I would give, just ignore the best practices what everyone else is doing and think about how you can do something that no one else is doing if you really want to stand out. Yeah I love that. And something else that I've noticed about the way that Ganga's marketing and I've never asked someone at the marketing department this but I'm just curious from your thoughts. A lot of cmos you see kind of see themselves as like the face of the marketing or sometimes the face of the company and when you think about going oftentimes, you know if you listen to the podcast right or if you read dog labs or you see some of these things there are people on your team. These things aren't written with your face on the bottom and it's not, hey, here's the gong revealed podcast by U. T. You know it it's you kind of delegating and encouraging the team to do that. So I'm curious. it seems like a conscious decision, curious your thoughts on how you lead the team that way. Absolutely. And so here's another sort of thought that I'm a big believer in. You cannot...

...turn someone into a social media star if it doesn't come naturally to them at least that I've not seen it happen. And some companies are fortunate to have either a co founder or a CMO who's naturally social media animal and they make them the face of the company. There's there's a few examples you can probably think of and other companies they don't have that person. You know our ceo he's an opinionated person, he's Eloquent, he knows how to say things but he doesn't want to be on social media all day and doesn't want to post stuff. And the last thing I want to do is get him a ghost rider to make up stuff for him to post because that just looks terrible. I don't know of one successful brand that has incorporated that strategy yet yet many still try doing it. They say oh our executive need to be in the forefront so we'll get this uh you know, minimum pay student to write their post and we'll just posted twice a day, I'm sure that will be a great success, but it never is, it never is. So the first person I hired on my team was chris or lob that uh you know today as the director of our customer sales team but he joined my team to write content and he started a really successful blog and just because of the way he beautifully told stories about pretty complex data that people really found useful. They were, it was the beginning of the gong lab series. And again today it's like something everyone in the sales industry reads. We made this thing up 4.5 years ago, nobody knew about us, nobody knew what gong labs was. Nobody knew you can get data about what actually works and doesn't work in sales. But chris started that series and he quickly became the face of gone, not because he was the social animal and anyone who knows him knows that that's not really how he would probably describe himself, but he was putting out these amazing stories and started gathering followers. And at some point I pushed him to take on doing more video. When video really took off on linkedin again, this was wasn't always the case, but when it did about 3, 3.5 years ago we started getting his face on video and then he really literally became the face of gone. And it was at that point that we realized that it can be anyone in the company, right? Doesn't have to be the ceo his title was Senior Director of product marketing at the time, not the, you know, most senior title in the company, but that didn't stop him from having more followers than anyone in the company. And when he started really taking off with this content series, G and the meat and I were having some frank conversation, okay, how do we get more faces of going out there? Because we don't want this to be just one person. You know, he won't always be in that position. He might not always even be in the company, which is okay. I mean, we don't expect people to never work anywhere else, but how can we get more voices out there? And again, we wanted to do this in a natural organic way, not force me or a meat or anyone else who doesn't want to be out there all day doing this. So there was a nice sales guy called Devon, he was a mid market a a at the time and uh he wanted to pursue a future career in marketing and wanted to sort of moonlight and do some projects with chris and started editing some of chris's blog posts and started publishing them. And then they started doing a Lincoln live show together where Devin was interviewing chris about some of our latest research findings and Devin if you've not been living in a cave, you know that I'm talking about Devin Reed, who is now head of our content team had gone, he is a social animal and he was born to present and beyond video and also an amazing writer. And a few months later when chris decided to move to the dark side and join the sales team, Devin was ready to take on a full time marketing role. So we moved in into marketing and it was almost seamless. It was almost seamless because he's already built this personality and people have already seen him for months on videos with chris. So he took on the blogs and the videos and right about that time we hired an SDR that back then. No one had heard of talk about Sarah brazier of course and Sarah came in with her past... musical theater. She was actual actress like doing performances that instead how can I incorporate this in my daily life here. And a couple of months later she came up with an idea together with devon that she could do this video series about life after SDRs and talk about her own career path in a very authentic, real way that no one could mimic or right for her or for someone else. And that took off really, really well and now you know she's a social media star in and of herself and then I think a few months ago we hired Andre Mcbride, another SDR who is very, very active on social, I could go on and then you talked about Sheena who joined us and she and Devon co created and co host the Revenue Intelligence podcast reveal that if you if you haven't subscribed to yet, you're like the last one I think I asked, We're about 100,000 downloads of episodes from from their podcast. That's that's insane. They started it in December of 2019 so it's been less than 18 months. They've got almost 100,000 downloads. That's just mind blowing. I guess the to wrap it up with the boat, the point is, you can't force this on anyone. It does not have to be your Ceo does not have to be our CMO. Find someone who's passionate ideally who already has a following and who loves doing this sort of thing and watch a takeoff and ideally if you can get a few of those people and encourage them to build their own personalities and and build their own personal brands, then you get the magic that we haven't gone. Yeah, I think that's I think that's amazing. I think that's super true. One thing I wanted to ask you about, you mentioned you work with the meat for 22 years, you know, in your career, which is Yeah, actually together. Yeah. And I noticed on linked in that he wrote you a recommendation. Super Nice one In 2012. And you started going in in 2016 and you had a period there that you were doing some consulting work like in between gigs for like two years. And that seems to be maybe that's always been a thing. It seems to be like a hot trend. You see a lot of people on linkedin talk about, you know, get your side hustle going, consultant companies, things like that. I would just be curious to hear your perspective on like, clearly the grass wasn't greener, right? Because you found an opportunity and you've been gone ever since, but just curious on your perspective on on that. And do you think there's an influx and the value that you might seem people doing some decide gets Yeah. Great, great topic. So consulting like any job has its pros and its cons and I think like most things until you're living within it, it always looks like you know the greener grass that the neighbors have. You imagine these you know very easy life with little accountability because you come you give advice and you can go home, turn your phone off, there's no emergencies or late night meetings, which is mostly true. I can speak of my own personal path. So when I finished my previous gig with a meat at Pattaya Pattaya was was another Israeli born, pretty successful high tech company that was sold for a few hundreds of millions of dollars to a company called emphasis in India. And uh it was considered one of the bigger and better Israeli exits at the time. And so everyone who had an executive position at penn, I was sought after for advising and consulting and employment at other companies in Israel. And I remember that after pain, I I took on another short gig that didn't really work out and at that point I was kind of feeling burned out. I the last year at penn, I after a meat had already left to become a Ceo at Citizens was a rough year for the business and for me and and then the short gig that didn't really work out also left its scars and I just felt that I was depleted of energy and I knew that if I'm going to take on another VP marketing role, which was my title at the time, if I'm going to take on another full time role like this, I probably won't be able to give it all of the energy that it needs to succeed and I just didn't want to do that, I always want to put my best foot forward and I think knowing your limitations...

...and being honest with yourself, like can I pull this off now, it's not just about landing the job right, A good gig at a start up means you're gonna be there 457 years and have to work really hard every day every year. And if you're lucky it all works out because the other people in the business are doing the same, I just didn't feel that I could do that at the time. So I said okay I still need to pay the bills and consulting came up as an option because I was getting full time employment offers. And I just I was being honest, I said you know, I don't have the energy for this right now, I can't give you what you want. And then the same people turned around and said okay can you come consult at least So at some point I just said okay yeah I'll come consult I'll give you like a day a week or a couple of days a week. And that's what I did and yes it does have some of the pros of people imagine it's a much lighter job because at least in the way that I did it I come in I worked with Ceos and other CMOS and looked at what wasn't working for them and if it were something I could help with I I gave some advice. I came back a week later saw what they implemented or didn't implement and then we we kept iterating on that but I I literally shut off my phone at like three or four p.m. Every day I spend time with my family. I energized myself and and recharge myself in the way that I wanted to. The two downsides that I found to to that period of working as a consultant beyond the obvious which you know, everyone knows you have very little job security because some months I'm like swamped with six customers that I can hardly fit around the clock and I can just take on as much as I want and and some month there's almost nothing. So I mean that that always happens. But beyond the obvious, it was one I really missed working with amazing people on a common cause because as you can imagine a lot of companies that call in a consultant to save the day either, they don't have all the right people in place where things are not going really well. No one is like super successful and calls in a consultant to help. So, so I really sort of missed working with inspiring people in a successful company. And the second thing was the exact reason why I went into consulting, which was that lack of accountability that allowed me to sleep well at night is the biggest reason why I wanted to to ultimately get out of it because for people like men and for a lot of people with a sort of entrepreneurial spirit that lack of accountability quickly turns into borden. Mhm. If I don't have skin in the game, if I don't feel the adrenaline rush when a campaign goes out because I know that if it's going to be successful then this is gonna be an amazing quarter and if it's gonna bomb then it's not gonna be a great quarter as a consultant, you just don't get that rush, you don't get the accountability, you're not really part of the success or the failure, which was what I was looking for for a short period but it did quickly become sort of boring and I missed that adrenaline rush. So when I meet called me a couple of years into my consulting period and he told me that it was in early stages of gone and the first customers were responding really well to the product and asked if I could come help. I said of course and uh I started as a contractor for a couple of days a week because I had other consulting customers and two months later he randomly sort of cross paths and the we worked corridor and he said, so when are you coming on full board? And I said I thought you'd never. And then I spent the last couple of customers I had and joined going after three months of contracting. That's awesome. And the rest is history from there. I'd love to talk to you a little bit about, I think something that's kind of the age old question for marketers is no lining with sales and it's kind of this like sometimes tense situation at companies right where sales is blaming marketing for, you know, not driving the right leads. Marketing is blaming sales because they can't close anything and maybe sometimes it's more civil than that. But I'd love to just hear how your relationship is with sales at the leadership level and even how that's adapted and how that's grown from the early days When there's just a handful on either side. And now, you know, gangs that, you know, we're getting to what 500 employees. So I'm not sure how many Are in time, but we're approaching...

...600 next month. It will probably be 600. Yeah, we are growing fast. So sales marketing alignment. It's kind of a, you know, quote unquote boring topic, but but there's nothing tactical about it. And I think every successful company that I've seen in, you know, enterprise software saS company which is not a self service model. All of these successful companies have really tight sales and marketing alignment. And I've seen many, many companies I've been at companies where we didn't have that alignment, it never works out, it just never works out. You cannot be a hyper growth company in a sustainable way if you don't have strong sales and marketing alignment. So whether you're in sales or in marketing, you have to make this work. And you know, there's this cliche of some sales leaders and Ceos who I've heard say something like, well I don't really believe in marketing, you know, I've got a good product, I've got a great sales team, we'll make this work. And I first point of blaming finger at marketers like me because I think the sales leaders and Ceos who say that that they don't believe in marketing and you know the funny thing is I've never met a Ceo didn't believe in sales. They all believe in sales, just some of them will happen to believe in marketing. And I asked myself why is that? And It's kind of like the joke about the 10 of, sorry, the 90 of lawyers who give a bad rep to the rest of them. It's kind of the same thing with marketing. I think there's a lot of mediocre marketers out there, right? I wasn't amazing when I got started. There's a lot of mediocre as marketers out there that don't know how to provide the value that the business needs of them. And working with sales leaders and ceos when you're mediocre marketer and you can't provide with the business needs creates a really bad impression about marketing. I mean wherever we are representing something that's bigger than ourselves and I think that's part of the problem. So I would urge every marketer to really understand and be able to demonstrate from day one the value that they bring to the business. And I would urge sales leaders and ceos to demand that of marketers. Even in the interview process. If if the person you're interviewing as a marketing leader cannot articulate what value they brought to their last gig, then why would you hire them because they can run a website or run events. That that stuff is relatively easy. It's providing consistent value to the business. It's really understanding what sales need in terms of quantity and quality and process and tech stack and alignment marketing at its best is the upper part of the sales funnel. So there's marketing doing the upper funnel and their sales doing the bottom part of the funnel and we're this two headed beast that have to work together. If we're separated at silos then you get the situation that you talked about tom where marketing comes back from a trade show with a fish bowl full of business cards thrown over the wall to sales and say good luck. And then sales don't even bother pulling out the business cards because they know it's probably crap. Yeah and that's what dysfunctional sales and marketing alignment looks like. I I wrote an article and also gave a presentation a couple of times that I titled something like you should know how your C. R. O. Takes your coffee and the punch of course being that our sorrow had gone does not drink coffee. But you have to know that otherwise you're not close enough to to ride right? That's the whole point. You know that I know that he drinks he had occasionally we'll have a decaf espresso if that's the only thing on the menu. But I I know that because I've had coffee with him every week for the last 2.5 years. We do that every single week because that's how we stay alive. And if if you're a sales or marketing leader and you're not meeting with your partner every week and you don't know what their challenges are, what's working for them, What's not working for them how they're thinking about next quarter and next year you're not doing it right, you're not doing it and it's just it's hard work. You've got to make it work. And if if you can't make this work in your current environment, it's just not gonna work out, you're gonna have to make some, some tough decisions, like either people will have to be replaced...

...or you are the one that needs to move on to somewhere else if you can't make it work. Yeah, Yeah, I want to get to um because I know we're getting up on time, I want to ask a few kind of rapid fire ish questions, Maybe a, you know, a sentence or two. You can, you can kind of answer this one is books what books have impacted you the most as a marketer, maybe once you reread or give to your team or you have found yourself, you know, influenced by at some point in your career. Yeah. So happy to answer that the first one that like really, really left a mark is the one I meet Bendel recommended to me over a decade ago, but I still recommended as the first book every marketer should read. It's called influence by robert Sheldon E He talks about the six pillars of persuasion. It's an awesome book. If you haven't read it yet, you're in for such a treat, go read it everything even though it was written in the 80s and it failed when it was first published. Now it's been like published a gazillion times and been the top of all the bestseller list. But everything that happens on social media and even with the new media, it all relies on those same pillars of influence to go read that book. And then the latest one I've read related to running high scale companies is a book called High Scale Handbook by Elena Gil. You can find it on amazon, it's a very easy read. I finished it like 34 days. I just put it down. Really really great for people who are anything. Anyone who's like a director and above at a high growth companies should should read the book. It covers everything from scaling the team to to raising money to I. P. O. S. Two secondaries to how to run and scale and organisation. It's really eye opening. Amazing. Alright. We're obviously on the revenue Collective podcast. Would love to hear uh if you know how you leverage that network or just your general thoughts on networking and how that you know, kind of benefits you from a career, whether it's one on one or going to events or whatever it might be. Yeah. So so you know I've gone, we love Revenue Collective and personally I've been a member for a couple of years now. I love hanging out with folks in slack. I love meeting them at either in person or more recently at virtual events and I, I feel that it, it opens up a safe space even for executives that, you know, at some point we'll also be looking for jobs, but, but maybe that's the main benefit for some earlier career folks. But even for executives that just want to have someone to benchmark with, like what should I pay this role that I'm hiring for in Atlanta and what should I ask for if I'm going into this company? How much equity should I ask for? How are you giving KPI str str team? Like so many questions that sometimes you just need someone experienced to ask. And better yet if you've got like five experienced people to ask, you'll see the beautiful slack threads where someone asking questions and a bunch of people jumping with their experience. So I think that's that's amazing. And at the enterprise level of gong Revenue Collective really helps us get in front of our target audience wherever it is in the United States and and and very soon in the U. K. As well we find it a great vehicle for for getting people who are in a trusting community and again a safe environment for introducing them to what revenue intelligence can do for that. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. My last one for you, I'm curious if you look at any gong marketing, if anyone hasn't seen in checks out whether it's the Super Bowl ad, you know, you're at the Masters now, the videos, the podcast, the list goes on and on. You see, just strike me as one of the more creative people that I know. I'm just curious like, do you have any tips on like how you fostered that? I don't know if you, you think that that's just always been in your, if you don't know your journal or you do, you take long walks or whatever it is. Anything. Any sort of creative tips out there for folks that are looking to kind of express that more. Yeah, the biggest tip I can give is is going back to what we started with and coming full circle. Get get out of the little puddle or pond that your business is in. If you're a sales tech companies stop looking what other sales tech companies...

...are doing. I get inspiration from, from Disney, the muppets show Nike lego. That's where I look to see like, oh, that's a cool idea that I can do a B two B twist on. Then I'm looking at beer commercials to get inspiration for our Super Bowl commercial. I'm not looking what sales tech companies are doing because they're mostly really, really boring. So just get out of your immediate space and look elsewhere. Inspiration is everywhere. And you know, just by by not looking at the obvious suspects that are too close to home, which is again getting away from those best practices, you'll discover a world of creativity and you might just take a great shoe commercial and find a way of making it a great deal of the thing. Yeah, that's awesome man. Um, last thing just, uh, for everyone that maybe doesn't know you or isn't connected to what's the best place for, for folks to reach out. If they have questions, they want to learn more about you about gong or anything else. Well, if you want to learn more about going and you are not yet subscribed to our going lab series, you've got to go to going dot Io and go to the blog and subscribe that's going dot Io. And to find me the easiest places on linkedin. I don't really do twitter or the other networks, so go find the letter gore on Lincoln. I'm the only one with that name and happy to connect with everyone. Thanks for having me tom Yeah, absolutely. We gotta get you on Tiktok by the way. Nearly cool enough for that. Thanks. I really appreciate it. All right. Thank you so much for checking out that episode while you're walking a dog or cooking dinner or whatever it is that you are doing right now, appreciate it. You can head over to apple and give us a five star review. If you liked the show, feel free to add me on linkedin. My name is Tom Alamo. I'm an A E over at gong and one more quick shout out to our sponsor. Of course, this episode was brought to you by quota Path quote. A Path is the first radically transparent end to end compensation solution from sales reps to finance. Get started for free at quota path dot com slash revenue dash collective. Seriously, people give these guys a look, Give them a shout out until next week. Get after it and enjoy your week. Mhm.

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