The Sales Engagement Podcast
The Sales Engagement Podcast

Episode · 1 week ago

A Healthy Dose of Customer Obsession


Being customer-centric is a discipline. Yes, all companies say they are customer-obsessed, but few actually employ the discipline to allow customer-centricity to permeate the whole company.

In this episode, I speak with Jennifer Davis, CMO at Learfield IMG College, about the discipline to become customer-centric.

Join us as we discuss:

- How companies can stop diminishing what makes them great

- The discipline of customer centricity

- Leadership that stays customer obsessed

- Personal resource management: time and attention

- Discipline, communication, and goal setting

Check out this resource we mentioned:

- Well-Made Decisions by Jennifer Davis

For more engaging sales conversations, subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

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Welcome to the sales engagement podcast.This podcast is brought you by outreach, the leading sales engagement platform, andthey just launched outreach on outreach, the place to learn how outreach well doesoutreach? Learn how the team follows up with every lead in record time aftervirtual events and turns them into revenue. You can also see how outreach runsaccount based plays, manages reps and so much more using their own sales engagementplatform. Everything is backed by data pulled from outreach processes and customer base.When you're done, you'll be able to do it as good as they do. Had to outreach Doo on outreach to see what they have going on.Now let's get into today's episode. Hello and welcome back everyone to the salesengagement podcast. Always Fun when I get to jump on. It feels likeI haven't I haven't done one of these in a while, so I'm I'mexcited. Usually I do a few a week, but it's been a busytime. So thank you all for joining us. Certainly excited for this conversation. I am joined by Jennifer Davis. Jennifer, welcome to the show.Thanks for having me excited to have you excited to have you. So Iwas like to frame it up as what is your superhero origin story? YourCMO now at Lear field, former AWS forts contributor, former honey. Well, a lot of incredible history there. How did this all happen? Walkme through your story a little bit. Sure. Sure. So, thanksso much for having me. It's great to be on the show and it'sgreat to be able to talk about some of these topics that are near anddear to my heart and I know yours as well. So one of thereasons this idea of sales and enablement and sales and marketing alignment is so criticalto me, I think it is because of that origin story. I parlatedin Ternship with a software start up in college into my first job, andyou know, when you're the ten employed a company, you wear a lotof different hats. So I had the opportunity to do channel sales, Ihad an opportunity to do marketing. I literally would spend weekends writing installars forour software. That probably dates me, but you know. So I gotto dabbling a lot of different things and what that implanted in me is areally a deep desire to be a businessperson verse and to be an excellent businessleader, no matter what chair I was in and no matter what function Iwas driving. And so, you know, fast forward and over the years Iforge for an incredible sort of brands, both men says companies and big globalcompanies like intelling, honey well aws. Most recently, so I got anopportunity to work for typer growth company and, you know, to builda business in that way and all of that, the common thread they're notonly is technology and innovation and hopefully a good dose of customer obsession and thereas well, but also this idea that I could apply my skills in avariety of functional areas and across different industries to to continue develop as a professional. And and in fact, the most recent role that I'm in now Ijoined the your field in March and we're a media and technology company, aleader in the college sports space. So we have exclusive relationships for schools allover the country and we provide sponsorships opportunities for brands to connect with the fansof those schools. We provide licensing services and ticketing services and build their officialathletic websites and a variety of other services that we perform in the middle,in the center of this connecting brands to fans kind of space. But Iwas able to bring to that all that...

...experience from the start. So again, I think that's one of the things that again goes back to that veryfirst job out of college was how can I grow as a professional and havea bigger impact on this business? And so I've had the opportunity to dothat from the marketing seat, to serve on several executive teams now and youknow as the CH parketing officer, but I've also had other rules as well, in strategy and product development, product management and customer service that again haverounded me out, I hope, and the goodness I continue to learn aslong as I have breadth. And so that's that's that's what we're about.Love that. I love that. This idea of building as a as abusinesswoman or a business leader like that. That's what it's about. Where somuch more than just a title or a role, and certainly would urge thosemaybe listening that are younger in their career to follow your example and get thespread of knowledge and all these different areas and then when you eventually, ifyou choose to specialize, you're going to be just so much more well roundedand can understand the business as a whole. I think there's a an unfortunately unfortunatetendency, particularly in tech, to like push people to hyper specialize,and there is merit to that. That that that's great, but I'm withyou. The more knowledge you can get from different business units and how theyoperate just makes you so such a more effective leader. And even you youdid that with titles, rolls and then it sounds like company size. Towrite like a temper. A ten employee at a start up operates infinitely differentthan than at a w us, for for example. Talk me through alittle bit about that. That change and the difference is between operating in astartup versus you know, don't, honey well aws, like how did youget to? Because it's a it's a completely new operating system, business operatingsystem. So walking through some of the differences there and maybe some learnings fromfrom both. Right. Well, here's here's what I found. I foundthat companies of every size often diminished what makes them great and admire the thingsthat they don't have. It's almost like a person with curly here wanting straightair or something like that. It's kind of like that. And then everybodywas straight here wanting curlier. It's the same when I work for startups.We wanted to be bigger than we were. We wanted to a here, moreestablished, we wanted to be thought leaders in our industry. We wantedto, you know again, we aspired to be, you know, thego to company in the space. And every enterprise I've worked for has wantedto act like a start up and be nimble and be flexible. And sothe lesson I took from that is every organization has strengths. Some of themare inherent in the core technology that they own or their customer base that they'vedeveloped a loyal following from the brand that they've developed over time, but thereare strengths in in their organizations themselves, how they're structured and the like,and I think organizations can be very thoughtful about continuing to design and involve theirtheir structure, their processes. Amazon called the mechanisms to achieve results and Ithink no one, no enterprise, has to be locked into bureaucracy and nostart up has to be, you know, locked into chaos. It can,you can, you can decide and you can put the right kind oflevel of rigger and and, you know,...

...process around the things that you wantto be world class at and start building that when you're small, orreinvent it if you're big, if it's not, you know, if it'snot serving the business. Yeah, yeah, that was a great a great taketake away. Don't diminish what what makes you great. Embrace those possibilities, embrace those strengths, because there will become a time when, you know, your startup grows and then you can't test as much. There is gives, gives and takes there for sure, and playing into those strengths, Ithink is a is a great thing to to embrace. All Right, soswitching hears a little bit and I want to talk spend some time talking aboutkind of enablement of your sales and marketing team, as well as alignment.Before we get there, it's kind of a curveball, but you're now atyou know this, this media company, and I see a lot on twitterthese days and just hearing from the marketing from the market, that a lotof modern marketing teams are now almost operating, as in meat media companies, withina larger ecosystem. What are some things you've learned now being at amedia company, since since March, and has that made you a better marketerand maybe shifted the way you think about things at all? Well, itis shifting the way I think about things for sure. I've never had accessto the range of publishing expertise that we have in this company. Literally,we created the game programs for every you know, college contest. We haveaudio streaming. We own forty eight radio stations. We you know, wehave people who do play by play announcing of you know, college matchups.We have, you know, website and so social content teams that are distributedand and often collocated. In fact, we place digital producers in the athleticdepartments of our partner schools in many cases, where they're actually developing content to buildthe brand of those in visual institutions. So I've never quite had all ofthese tools, all of these toys and capabilities available to me as amuch, as you know, pretty drinative be tob marketer. So it's beenit's been a fun thing to explore is how to leverage the expertise of ourorganization and bring it to the BB space and again, I'm still early daysin this, you know, six months on the job or whatever, makingthose connections, but we've already done some things that, again, you knowother coming today work with might have struggled to put together, and I'll giveyou just a small, little example of that. We do a lot ofwork with universities and work very closely with athletic departments and athletic directors. It'sone of our case stakeholder groups and we have devised a podcast for athletic directorswhere one of our staff members, one of our senior executives who was athleticdirector himself for many years, were respect in the space by Campilton, interviewsads and it's just a casual conversation. It's not a marketing content at all. It's just as talking about the business with each other and letting other peoplelisten in. Well, again, we have a whole audio team that canhelp support the production of that and we can distribute it via all the differentmechanisms that we have to distribute it. So it's been fun to say,okay, we're going to do something that is, you know, content thoughtleadership to this key stakeholder group, but taking advantage of the fact that Ihave, you know, all these production expertise in the company. So again, a little a little example, but...

...the kind of thing that we're goingto do. You're going to see more from from us on that and aswe build out more and more of our especially audio streaming platforms. I cando a shameless plug. Yeah, you've just launched at a new audio platform. We call it the varsity network, powered by lear film. You downloadthe APP and literally you can listen to game broadcast from across the country,switch between your favorite teams and follow them again. In that is some othercontent. So we're editorial in nature or, you know, opinion shows and coachesshows and other content. So you know we're working on the content developmentside and the distribution side and again I think there's a lot of parallels towhat we do in marketing, where we're creating messaging, we're creating content andassets and then we have a distribution arm and to get those out to theright audiences. So again I'm finding a lot of parallels and so stay tuned. Next time you have me on, I will have undoubtedly cracked for ofthe code and have more fun things to talk about. I love it.I love it. That's it's such an exciting time, I think, tobe in marketing with the you know, explosion of podcast and it's almost likeinsatiable will desire for our customers and prospects to learn, and it almost feelslike there's this this true like blending happening with with some kind of forward thinkingorganizations, whether their marketing is is being fully driven by the customer. Youmentioned customer obsessed, and like what a better way to be able to dothat with your example, like athletic directors. Let's go listen into a day inthe life, every day of our our customers, like it's such ainteresting thing for for learning and then adopting some more call it like corporate messagingalong those those lines, which is that it's interesting. Okay, so thatmaybe that's a good segue into sort of another thing which I wanted to touchon, as this idea of customer obsession, which I'm sure drives, you know, everything you're doing in marketing and as well as sales. How doyou make sure that jails and marketing are out there equally as customer obsessed,bringing the information back to you know, help inform kind of the next bestaction for for your teams. Well, I would say that the main thingto keep in mind is the customer obsession or being customers and drink. Isn'tan intention, it's a discipline. And because there isn't a company out there, I hope, I hope there isn't a company out there that wouldn't claimto be obsessed with their spretcudn claim to be customer service oriented or customer centric, whatever works they might use to describe that, solution oriented right every thereisn't a company out there that that I've been a part of or worked withthat wouldn't claim that. But not all of the companies that I've worked foran experience in the marketplace have to discipline around it, because when you're askingsomebody, especially in the leadership role or in a customer advocacy role in salesand marketing, to be customer centric, they already you're asking them for agood intention and they already have good intentions. Like no one intends to put ona product that will be successful or puts a message that is going toresonate with like. No one intends, I hope, to do that kindof thing, but yet it happens every day. Why does it happen?Because we didn't employ the discipline to actually of what it takes to be trulycustomer accessed, and this was really drilled home when I was at Amazon.We talked a lot about the working backwards process and, for those who aren'tfamiliar, all just summed up at a high level, which is imagine thatbefore you invested in anything, a new marketing campaign, a new product,expansion to a new market or a new...

...geography, you wrote a press releasepredated out like into the future, to describe what problem you're solving, howyou unique please solve it. You make up a quote from a customer,you make up an executive quote, you give the details for more information aboutthis contact, this website or this person. It is amazing how writing a conceptualpress release on the front end of a process, how clarifying it is, because you've had to do things like identify who would be an ideal customerthat we would quote in a release someday, and what would they write about thisand what would the headline be, and why are we doing this?And often, often, I have found in my business experience, and certainlyprior to coming to Amazon. I would have emphasize it this more is theidea that it was driven by a business case, and I have now observedto and see it in my own practice now that the best ideas, thebusiness case follows being led by what the customer needs. And if you cankind of create the solution in the shape of the customer need rather than lookingfor a customer need for the solution that you've drained up, yeah, you'regoing to end up in a much better space. So again, what Iwould encourage every leader at all levels to do is think about the discipline,the mechanisms, the processes, maybe the writing discipline, if some, thatyou need to implement in your in your organization to really help you and thosewho are making investment decisions of all kinds to look around those strategic corners andhold themselves to a higher standard for what is worthy of investment. And again, I think that have that keeps going back to your early question. Ithink that kind of discipline keeps enterprises more entrepreneurial and it it allows startups tofocus, because I'm not trying to do everything. You're trying to do thething that matters most. That's great. There was a lot, a lotin there. The working backward processes is very well articulated. I think I'veread a few like blog posts here and there about Amazon and what they do, but that was such a great breakdown. I think something every team should adoptfor any you know, large undertaking. And then this idea. I alsojust, you know, Coutas to pray me. It's not an intention, it's a discipline to be customer obsessed and that discipline is broken down intoa process, is broken down into the percentage of time that you're actually spendingwith with customers. Do you have like to really pick apart discipline? Doyou have like you give your team KPI's for the amount of time that theyneed to be interacting with with customers or listening to customers or even listening tocall records rings? Maybe, like is that discipline really dissected into maybe aframework and PPI great question. I'd be I'd be very actually interested in whatwas rs your listeners have done in this case, because I feel like I'mso experimenting, but I know I've set goals for myself and my team.I know when I was at Honeywell, I when I joined that organization.I said a goal that I wanted to meet with a customer every month,and it doesn't sound like a lot, but when you're an executive role andyou know the breadth of demands on you, that was that was something I achieved, but I had to work at it. I had to like carveout time on my calendar. When I was with Amazon I took that upa level and I actually color coded my calendar and I had a color fordirect customer meetings and that way I could kind of zoom out and if Ididn't see enough of this kind of a...

...light orange color, if I didn'tsee enough light orange, I knew something was off and I was probably notmeeting too but I was probably drifting away from what the customer needed because Iwasn't talking to them enough. So I feel like I've I've developed my ownpractices about that and I would encourage everybody. I mean the resources that you managein the company might vary. You maybe just starting out or you couldleave the whole thing, but ultimately our job as a leader is to manageresources and if you can start by managing your own source of time and energy, you know that's it. That's a great start. Like getting the colorcoding on. I might have to just adopt that one visual snapshot of quicklyunderstanding where you're at. Well, and I found just as as a sidenote, as a manager as well, I also found it useful because Icould color code the interactions I was having with my tract team, with skiplevel meetings and larger communications, time that I spent my decative team, myown, you know, CEO and manager work, and it allowed me andthe time I spent in external promotions, thought leadership interviews like this, Ifound that it helped a line with priorities. And so whenever the priorities of yourbusiness are if you could identify those buckets and the color good your calendar, you'll you'll find yourself naturally being a little bit more accountable for Ye,you're time. Yeah, well, hopefully someone from product at Google, Ifeel like the calendar is listening to this, because that would be an incredible Iknow they just launched this like time inside speecher. Be Great if theycould, I don't know, use your crm to pick out customer things andanyway, Hey, maybe, well for this one on. Well, Jennifer, unfortunately, the best episode usually go by the fastest. On this Ifeel like I could continue picking your brain for for another hour, but inkind of like summary. I've got a page full of notes, but Ilike to frame this question kind of always the same and people are really busy. Someone could have this while they're, you know, at the gym,maybe they're cooking, maybe they're in a meeting with one Air Bot in ifpeople forget everything of the last even twenty five minutes except for three things,what would you like those three things to be? Well, I think thefirst and foremost is this idea of matching your attention with discipline. So ifyou want a partner more close to a still, you know, between salesand marketing and your organization, or if you're undergoing some kind of digital transformation, putting putting the discipline around that, to be deeply about it, rightit out and to to apply it. You know, it with with disciplineaccountability. It's very important, I would say. The second thing that wekind of talked on throughout all of this is the importance of communication in generallyexternally, up and down Europe, you know, organization, but also externallythe customers and, you know, making sure that you're hearing directly from yourcustomers and stakeholders what what you need to do to do best by them,and that will become again very, very important. And then the other thingI would say that we didn't touch on, but I think it's all so veryimportant, is and off Shait of this two, is setting goals,especially between sales and marketing organizations. It's very important to align articles in thesentims. And so again I think it goes back to that that intentionality.Say What do we want to accomplish? How would we know when we getthere? And and what will do I have, and what will do youhave to make that work? And again,...

...that requires candor cars trust. Itrequires, you know, thought whole discussion, it requires probaways, somerole clarity, which can, I depending on the size of the organization,could be in the challenge in itself. But all of those things helped meto hopefully higher velocity decisionmaking and and better, ultimately better decisionmaking. And one more, again, shameless plug. I've spent a lot of time thinking aboutthis recently because I just published my first book called Wellmade decisions, and ittouches not on all of these topics, but a few of them. Ihave a whole chapter dedicating to the importance of writing out strategy. So ifyou ever want to like go and geek out about that more and learn moreabout how other companies are applying that, out just Amazon, but more broadly, I definitely recommend check that up. Awesome well made decisions. Will makesure we put that in the footnotes somewhere when this is published. Definitely gocheck that out. And Yeah, it really just seems like kind of intentionalitywas kind of the red thread through this this discuss so and I love thosetakeaways. Matching intention with discipline. You know the importance of communications, bothinternal and external, making sure you're connected to that customer and then setting goalsand also incentives that are aligned with those goals so that everyone's beating to thesame drum. And you know that will help in decisionmaking, which is kindof the whole role of a leader is to be able to unlock an updata and have the sport of the team when you're making those those tough callson where to go next. Well, Jennifer, thank you so much forthe time. I have a page full of notes and I'm sure our listenersdue to well, definitely have to. I'm going to take you up onpart two. I want to hear more learnings once you've learned more at atLear field and anyway, thank you. Thank you so much. Appreciate thetime and for those listeners. Thanks so much for hanging out with us.We'll see you next episode. This was another episode of the sales engagement podcast. To help this get in front of more eyes and ears, please leaveus a shining five star review. Join US at sales engagementcom for new episodes. Resources in the book on sales engagement to get the most out of yoursales engagement strategy, make sure to check out outreach, that ioh, theleading sales engagement platform. See you on the next episode.

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