The Sales Engagement Podcast
The Sales Engagement Podcast

Episode 326 · 5 months ago

Intentionality and Discipline in Sales and Marketing


A creative and highly motivational strategist, this episode’s guest holds an MBA from Pepperdine, an executive certificate from Harvard, and has recently published her latest book.

Jennifer Davis is the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Learfield, a media and technology leader in the energetic college sports industry.

Her impeccable resume includes time as the former Head of Product Marketing Management at AWS and the CMO at Honeywell, and she’s also a former contributor to Forbes.

Listen in as we discuss:

  • How Jennifer’s exceptionally well-rounded background made her a formidable business leader
  • The mechanisms to achieve results
  • Customer-obsessed marketing
  • Matching your attention with discipline

More information about Jennifer Davis and today’s topics:

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

Welcome to the sales engagement podcast. This podcast is brought to 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 one's 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 dot io slash 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 may excited. Usually I do a few weeks, but it's been a busy time. So thank you all for 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, and so I would like to frame it up as what is your superhero origin story? You're a CMO now at Learfield, former a WS forts contributor, former honeywell, a lot of incredible history there. How did this all happen? Walk me through your story a little bit. Thanks so much for having me. It's 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 enablement and sales and marketing alignment is so critical to me, I think, is because of that origin story. I parlayed internship with a software startup in college into my first job, and you know, when you're the tenth employed at the 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 installers 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 deep desire to be a business person first 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 for an incredible so of brands, both, you know, midsday's companies and big global companies like Intel and Honeywell Aws. Most recently, so I got an opportunity to work for a hyper growth company and uh, you know, to build a business in that way and all of that the common thread there. Not only is technology and innovation, hopefully a good dose of customer obsession in there as well, but also this idea that I could apply my skills in a variety of functional areas and across different industries. Two, to continue develop as a as a professional and and in fact, the most recent role that I'm in now. I joined lear field in March and we're a media and technology company, a leader in the college sports space. So we have exclusive relationships with 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 scene. Serve on several executive teams now in the chief marketing officer, but I've also had other rules as well, in strategy and product development and product management and customer service that again have rounded me out, I hope, and the goodness is I continue to learn as long as I have breath, and so that's what we're about. I love that. I love that this idea of building 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 this breadth of knowledge to all these different areas and then when you eventually, if you choose to specialize you're gonna 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 such a more effective leader. And even you did that with titles, roles. And then it sounds like company size to write, like a tent. A tent employee at a startup operates infinitely different than than at a ws for for example. Talk me through a little bit about that, that change and the differences between operating in a startup versus their honeywell 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 hair or something like that. It's it's kind of like that and then everybody was straight here wanting curlier. It's it's the same when I work for startups. We we wanted to be bigger than we were. We wanted to appear more established, we wanted to be, you know, thought leaders in our industry. We wanted to again, we aspired to be the go to company in the space. And every enterprise I've worked for has wanted to act like a startup and be Nimble and be flexible. And so the lesson I took from that is every organization has strength. 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 like and I think organizations can be very thoughtful about continuing to design and evolve 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 startup has to be locked into chaos like it can. You can decide and you can put the right kind of level of rigor and 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, if it's not serving the business. That was a great a great takeaway. Don't diminish what makes you great. Embrace those...

...possibilities, embrace those strengths, because there will become a time when you know your startup growth 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. So switching hears a little bit, and I want to spend some time talking about enablement of your sales and marketing team, as well as alignment before we get there, which is kind of a curveball. But you're now at 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 we create the game programs for every college contest. We have audio streaming, we own forty radio stations, we have people who do play by play announcing of college matchups. We have, you know, website and social content teams that are distributed and and often co located. 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 individual institutions. So I've never quite had all of these tools, all of these toys and capabilities available to me as a as a B two B 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 B two B 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, other companies they worked with might have struggled to put together and I'll give you just a small, little example of that. We Um 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, uh, we have devised a podcast or athletic directors where one of our UM staff members, one of our senior executives who was athletic director himself for many years, were respecting the space by Campelton, interviews a D S and it's just a casual conversation. It's not a marketing content at all. It's just a D s talking about the business 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 distributed. So it's been fun to say, okay, we're gonna do something that is 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 gonna 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 as shameless plug just you've just launched a new audio platform. We call it the varsity network, powered by Lear Phil. You can download the APP and literally you can listen to game broadcasts from across the country, switch between your favorite teams and follow them. And in that is some other content. So were editorial in nature or, you know, opinionships 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 four of the code and have more fun things to talk about. I love it. I love it. That's uh, it's such an exciting time, I think, to be in in marketing, with the explosion of of podcasts and it's almost like insatiable 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 where they're they're 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 in to 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 like corporate messaging along those those lines, which is is interesting. So that maybe that's a good segue into sort of another thing which I wanted to touch on is this idea of customer obsession which sure drives, you know, everything you're doing in marketing and as well as sales. How do you make sure that sales and marketing are out there equally as customer obsessed, bringing the information back to help inform kind of the next best action for for your teams? The main thing to keep in mind is the customer obsession or main customers cubric 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 customers. It wouldn't 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 experience in the marketplace have the 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 won't be successful or puts a message that is going to resonate. But 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 obsessed. And this was really drilled home when I was at Amazon. We we talked a lot about the working backwards process and for those who aren't familiar, will just summ it 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 uniquely 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 identified it 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? Why? Why are we doing this? And often I have found in my business experience, and certainly prior to coming to Amazon, I would have emphasized this more, is the idea that it was driven by a business case, and I have now observed 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, 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 disciplines, the mechanisms, the processes. Maybe the writing discipline is something that you need to implement in your organization to really help you in 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 that keeps going back to your early question. I think that kind of discipline keeps enterprises more entrepreneurial and it allows startups to focus because they're 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 backwards process 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 large undertaking and then this idea. I also just Kudas to fray me. It's not an intention, it's a discipline to be cut were obsessed than 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 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 recordings? Maybe, like, is that discipline really dissected into maybe a framework or KPI? I'd be very actually interested in what listeners, your listeners, have done in this case, because I feel like I'm still experimenting. But I know I've set goals for myself and my team. I know when I was at Honeywell, when I joined that organization, I set 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 have the breadth of demands on you, 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 and 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 its kind of a light orange color. If I didn't see enough light orange, I knew something was off and I was probably not meaning to, 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 may be 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 resource of time and energy, that's a great start. Getting the color coding, I might have to just adopt that one, a visual snapshot of quickly understanding where you're at well, and I found, just 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 direct team, with skip level meetings and larger communications Um time. That I spent with my decorative team and my own, you know, CEO and manager of work, and it allowed me, and the time I spent in external promotions thought leadership interviews like this. I found that it helped align with priorities. And so, whenever the priorities of your business are, if you could identify those buckets and then Color Code your calendar, you'll you'll find yourself naturally being a little bit more accountable for about your time. Well, hopefully someone from product at Google, ideally the calendar, is listening to this, because that would be an incredible I know they just launched this like time inside speech. would be great if they could, I don't know, use your crm to pick out customer things and anyway, maybe, maybe, maybe, well, forward this one on. Well, Jennifer, unfortunately the best episodes 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'd like to frame this question. Kind of always the same and people are really busy. Someone could have this while there, you know, at the gym, maybe they're cooking, maybe they're in a meeting with one airpot in if people forget everything of the last 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 to partner more closely, you know, between the sales and marketing and your organization, or if you're undergoing some kind of digital transformation, putting the discipline around that to think deeply about it, write it out and to apply it with discipline. Accountability is is very important. I would say. The second thing that we kind of talked on throughout all of this is the importance of communication internally externally, up and down here, you know, organization, but also externally to customers and uh, 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 also very important, is an offshoot of this too, is setting goals, especially between these sales and marketing organizations. It's very important to align articles and incentives, and so again, I think it goes back to that, that intentionality, saying what do we want to accomplish? How would we know when we get there, and what role do I have and what role do you have to make that work? And Uh again, that requires candor, of course, trust, it requires thoughtful discussion, it requires probably some role clarity, which can, I you know, depending on the size of the organization, could be in a challenge in itself. But all of those things helped lead to hopefully higher velocity decision making and better ultimately better decision making. And one more against shameless plug. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this recently because I just published my first book called well made 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, not just Amazon but more broadly. I definitely recommend checking that. 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 discussion and I love those takeaways. Matching intention with discipline,...

...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 decision making, which is the whole role of a leader, is to be able to unlock and up data and have the support 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 we'll definitely have to I'm gonna take you up on on part two. I want to hear more learnings once you've learned more at at Lear field, and thank you so much. I appreciate the time and for all 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 ENGAGEMENT DOT COM 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 dot IO, the leading sales engagement platform. See you on the next episode.

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