The Sales Engagement Podcast
The Sales Engagement Podcast

Episode · 1 year 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, and they just launched outreach on outreach, the place to learn how outreach well does outreach? Learn how the team follows up with every lead in record time after virtual events and turns them into revenue. You can also see how outreach runs account based plays, manages reps and so much more using their own sales engagement platform. 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 sales engagement podcast. Always Fun when I get to jump on. It feels like I haven't I haven't done one of these in a while, so I'm I'm excited. Usually I do a few a week, but it's been a busy time. 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 I was like to frame it up as what is your superhero origin story? Your CMO now at Lear field, former AWS forts contributor, former honey. Well, a lot of incredible history there. How did this all happen? Walk me through your story a little bit. Sure. Sure. So, thanks so much for having me. It's great to be on the show and it's great to be able to talk about some of these topics that are near and dear to my heart and I know yours as well. So one of the reasons this idea of sales and enablement and sales and marketing alignment is so critical to me, I think it is because of that origin story. I parlated in Ternship with a software start up in college into my first job, and you know, when you're the ten employed a company, you wear a lot of different hats. So I had the opportunity to do channel sales, I had an opportunity to do marketing. I literally would spend weekends writing installars for our software. That probably dates me, but you know. So I got to dabbling a lot of different things and what that implanted in me is a really a deep desire to be a businessperson verse and to be an excellent business leader, no matter what chair I was in and no matter what function I was driving. And so, you know, fast forward and over the years I forge for an incredible sort of brands, both men says companies and big global companies like intelling, honey well aws. Most recently, so I got an opportunity to work for typer growth company and, you know, to build a business in that way and all of that, the common thread they're not only is technology and innovation and hopefully a good dose of customer obsession and there as well, but also this idea that I could apply my skills in a variety 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 I joined the your field in March and we're a media and technology company, a leader in the college sports space. So we have exclusive relationships for schools all over the country and we provide sponsorships opportunities for brands to connect with the fans of those schools. We provide licensing services and ticketing services and build their official athletic 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 I was 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 very first job out of college was how can I grow as a professional and have a bigger impact on this business? And so I've had the opportunity to do that from the marketing seat, to serve on several executive teams now and you know 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 have rounded me out, I hope, and the goodness I continue to learn as long 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 a businesswoman or a business leader like that. That's what it's about. Where so much more than just a title or a role, and certainly would urge those maybe listening that are younger in their career to follow your example and get the spread of knowledge and all these different areas and then when you eventually, if you choose to specialize, you're going to be just so much more well rounded and can understand the business as a whole. I think there's a an unfortunately unfortunate tendency, particularly in tech, to like push people to hyper specialize, and there is merit to that. That that that's great, but I'm with you. The more knowledge you can get from different business units and how they operate just makes you so such a more effective leader. And even you you did that with titles, rolls and then it sounds like company size. To write like a temper. A ten employee at a start up operates infinitely different than than at a w us, for for example. Talk me through a little bit about that. That change and the difference is between operating in a startup versus you know, don't, honey well aws, like how did you get to? Because it's a it's a completely new operating system, business operating system. So walking through some of the differences there and maybe some learnings from from both. Right. Well, here's here's what I found. I found that companies of every size often diminished what makes them great and admire the things that they don't have. It's almost like a person with curly here wanting straight air or something like that. It's kind of like that. And then everybody was 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, more established, we wanted to be thought leaders in our industry. We wanted to, you know again, we aspired to be, you know, the go to company in the space. And every enterprise I've worked for has wanted to act like a start up and be nimble and be flexible. And so the lesson I took from that is every organization has strengths. Some of them are inherent in the core technology that they own or their customer base that they've developed a loyal following from the brand that they've developed over time, but there are 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 their their structure, their processes. Amazon called the mechanisms to achieve results and I think no one, no enterprise, has to be locked into bureaucracy and no start up has to be, you know, locked into chaos. It can, you can, you can decide and you can put the right kind of level of rigger and and, you know,...

...process around the things that you want to be world class at and start building that when you're small, or reinvent it if you're big, if it's not, you know, if it's not serving the business. Yeah, yeah, that was a great a great take take 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, I think is a is a great thing to to embrace. All Right, so switching hears a little bit and I want to talk spend some time talking about kind 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 at you know this, this media company, and I see a lot on twitter these days and just hearing from the marketing from the market, that a lot of modern marketing teams are now almost operating, as in meat media companies, within a larger ecosystem. What are some things you've learned now being at a media company, since since March, and has that made you a better marketer and maybe shifted the way you think about things at all? Well, it is shifting the way I think about things for sure. I've never had access to the range of publishing expertise that we have in this company. Literally, we created the game programs for every you know, college contest. We have audio streaming. We own forty eight radio stations. We you know, we have people who do play by play announcing of you know, college matchups. We have, you know, website and so social content teams that are distributed and and often collocated. In fact, we place digital producers in the athletic departments of our partner schools in many cases, where they're actually developing content to build the brand of those in visual institutions. So I've never quite had all of these tools, all of these toys and capabilities available to me as a much, as you know, pretty drinative be tob marketer. So it's been it's been a fun thing to explore is how to leverage the expertise of our organization and bring it to the BB space and again, I'm still early days in this, you know, six months on the job or whatever, making those connections, but we've already done some things that, again, you know other coming today work with might have struggled to put together, and I'll give you just a small, little example of that. We do a lot of work with universities and work very closely with athletic departments and athletic directors. It's one of our case stakeholder groups and we have devised a podcast for athletic directors where one of our staff members, one of our senior executives who was athletic director himself for many years, were respect in the space by Campilton, interviews ads 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 people listen in. Well, again, we have a whole audio team that can help support the production of that and we can distribute it via all the different mechanisms 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 thought leadership to this key stakeholder group, but taking advantage of the fact that I have, you know, all these production expertise in the company. So again, a little a little example, but...

...the kind of thing that we're going to do. You're going to see more from from us on that and as we build out more and more of our especially audio streaming platforms. I can do a shameless plug. Yeah, you've just launched at a new audio platform. We call it the varsity network, powered by lear film. You download the 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 other content. So we're editorial in nature or, you know, opinion shows and coaches shows and other content. So you know we're working on the content development side and the distribution side and again I think there's a lot of parallels to what we do in marketing, where we're creating messaging, we're creating content and assets and then we have a distribution arm and to get those out to the right 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 of the 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, to be in marketing with the you know, explosion of podcast and it's almost like insatiable will desire for our customers and prospects to learn, and it almost feels like there's this this true like blending happening with with some kind of forward thinking organizations, whether their marketing is is being fully driven by the customer. You mentioned customer obsessed, and like what a better way to be able to do that with your example, like athletic directors. Let's go listen into a day in the life, every day of our our customers, like it's such a interesting thing for for learning and then adopting some more call it like corporate messaging along those those lines, which is that it's interesting. Okay, so that maybe that's a good segue into sort of another thing which I wanted to touch on, 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 do you 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 best action for for your teams. Well, I would say that the main thing to keep in mind is the customer obsession or being customers and drink. Isn't an 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 claim to 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 there isn't a company out there that that I've been a part of or worked with that wouldn't claim that. But not all of the companies that I've worked for an experience in the marketplace have to discipline around it, because when you're asking somebody, especially in the leadership role or in a customer advocacy role in sales and marketing, to be customer centric, they already you're asking them for a good intention and they already have good intentions. Like no one intends to put on a product that will be successful or puts a message that is going to resonate with like. No one intends, I hope, to do that kind of 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 truly customer 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't familiar, all just summed up at a high level, which is imagine that before you invested in anything, a new marketing campaign, a new product, expansion to a new market or a new...

...geography, you wrote a press release predated out like into the future, to describe what problem you're solving, how you 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 about this contact, this website or this person. It is amazing how writing a conceptual press 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 customer that we would quote in a release someday, and what would they write about this and what would the headline be, and why are we doing this? And often, often, I have found in my business experience, and certainly prior to coming to Amazon. I would have emphasize it this more is the idea that it was driven by a business case, and I have now observed to and see it in my own practice now that the best ideas, the business case follows being led by what the customer needs. And if you can kind of create the solution in the shape of the customer need rather than looking for a customer need for the solution that you've drained up, yeah, you're going to end up in a much better space. So again, what I would encourage every leader at all levels to do is think about the discipline, the mechanisms, the processes, maybe the writing discipline, if some, that you need to implement in your in your organization to really help you and those who are making investment decisions of all kinds to look around those strategic corners and hold 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. I think that kind of discipline keeps enterprises more entrepreneurial and it it allows startups to focus, because I'm not trying to do everything. You're trying to do the thing that matters most. That's great. There was a lot, a lot in there. The working backward processes is very well articulated. I think I've read 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 adopt for any you know, large undertaking. And then this idea. I also just, 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 into a process, is broken down into the percentage of time that you're actually spending with with customers. Do you have like to really pick apart discipline? Do you have like you give your team KPI's for the amount of time that they need to be interacting with with customers or listening to customers or even listening to call records rings? Maybe, like is that discipline really dissected into maybe a framework and PPI great question. I'd be I'd be very actually interested in what was rs your listeners have done in this case, because I feel like I'm so 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 and you 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 carve out time on my calendar. When I was with Amazon I took that up a level and I actually color coded my calendar and I had a color for direct customer meetings and that way I could kind of zoom out and if I didn't see enough of this kind of a...

...light orange color, if I didn't see enough light orange, I knew something was off and I was probably not meeting too but I was probably drifting away from what the customer needed because I wasn't talking to them enough. So I feel like I've I've developed my own practices about that and I would encourage everybody. I mean the resources that you manage in the company might vary. You maybe just starting out or you could leave the whole thing, but ultimately our job as a leader is to manage resources 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 color coding on. I might have to just adopt that one visual snapshot of quickly understanding where you're at. Well, and I found just as as a side note, as a manager as well, I also found it useful because I could color code the interactions I was having with my tract team, with skip level meetings and larger communications, time that I spent my decative team, my own, you know, CEO and manager work, and it allowed me and the time I spent in external promotions, thought leadership interviews like this, I found that it helped a line with priorities. And so whenever the priorities of your business 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, I feel like the calendar is listening to this, because that would be an incredible I know they just launched this like time inside speecher. Be Great if they could, I don't know, use your crm to pick out customer things and anyway, Hey, maybe, well for this one on. Well, Jennifer, unfortunately, the best episode usually go by the fastest. On this I feel like I could continue picking your brain for for another hour, but in kind of like summary. I've got a page full of notes, but I like 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 if people 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 the first and foremost is this idea of matching your attention with discipline. So if you want a partner more close to a still, you know, between sales and 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, right it out and to to apply it. You know, it with with discipline accountability. It's very important, I would say. The second thing that we kind of talked on throughout all of this is the importance of communication in generally externally, up and down Europe, you know, organization, but also externally the customers and, you know, making sure that you're hearing directly from your customers 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 thing I would say that we didn't touch on, but I think it's all so very important, is and off Shait of this two, is setting goals, especially between sales and marketing organizations. It's very important to align articles in the sentims. 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 get there? And and what will do I have, and what will do you have to make that work? And again,...

...that requires candor cars trust. It requires, you know, thought whole discussion, it requires probaways, some role clarity, which can, I depending on the size of the organization, could be in the challenge in itself. But all of those things helped me to hopefully higher velocity decisionmaking and and better, ultimately better decisionmaking. And one more, again, shameless plug. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this recently because I just published my first book called Wellmade decisions, and it touches not on all of these topics, but a few of them. I have a whole chapter dedicating to the importance of writing out strategy. So if you ever want to like go and geek out about that more and learn more about how other companies are applying that, out just Amazon, but more broadly, I definitely recommend check that up. Awesome well made decisions. Will make sure we put that in the footnotes somewhere when this is published. Definitely go check that out. And Yeah, it really just seems like kind of intentionality was kind of the red thread through this this discuss so and I love those takeaways. Matching intention with discipline. You know the importance of communications, both internal and external, making sure you're connected to that customer and then setting goals and also incentives that are aligned with those goals so that everyone's beating to the same drum. And you know that will help in decisionmaking, which is kind of the whole role of a leader is to be able to unlock an up data and have the sport of the team when you're making those those tough calls on where to go next. Well, Jennifer, thank you so much for the time. I have a page full of notes and I'm sure our listeners due to well, definitely have to. I'm going to take you up on part two. I want to hear more learnings once you've learned more at at Lear field and anyway, thank you. Thank you so much. Appreciate the time 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 leave us 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 your sales engagement strategy, make sure to check out outreach, that ioh, the leading sales engagement platform. See you on the next episode.

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