In this episode of SaaS Half Full, host Lindsey Groepper chats with Christina Del Villar, SaaS veteran and Founder of Christina Del Villar LLC, about how CMOs can learn the language of various key stakeholders and develop influence outside of the marketing team.
CMOs are fantastic at uncovering stakeholders for the business and creating messaging alignment around their products and prospects. However, they are often terrible about marketing themselves and promoting their vital contributions to the organization. Christina dives into how to create marketing advocates across the organization, providing real-life examples of when she implemented these strategies as a SaaS CMO.
Identifying Stakeholders and Learning Their Language
Christina has experienced the marketing team being an undervalued company asset if stakeholders don’t understand the benefits of their work. To gain marketing supporters, she advises using the same tactics you would use for an external marketing campaign to convert internal stakeholders into advocates.
Most commonly, marketers first think of executives, C-suite and board members as key internal stakeholders. While Christina agrees those people are important, she challenges marketers to look beyond into the sales, customer success and even engineering departments.
“I think you have to start with your peers or the other folks who are similarly trying to meet their goals,” said Christina. “Because when you move up into that C-suite, the executives and the board, you can show the impact you’ve had on all of these different areas.”
How you approach your peers and the language you use with the sales and customer success team is going to differ vastly from the language used with the board or executive leadership. Recognizing each person’s pain points are different and tailoring your message to individuals rather than opting for mass communication within the company will produce more effective results.
“The C-suites are looking at the day-to-day components and the operations, so they are looking for a little bit more specific information,” said Christina. “It’s really important to keep it at that high level. And each individual leader is going to have their own pain point and information they’re looking for. The sales leader might be really interested in a pipeline. And the CEO might be really interested in the revenue. So you really need to understand where they’re coming from, where their pain points are, what the board is asking of them so that you can articulate your results, impact and plans from a marketing standpoint.”
Turning Stakeholders in Marketing Advocates
Christina advises trying to find one or two people in a department to turn into marketing advocates. Once one team member is on board, you see a land-and-expand model, where others will see they’re getting more attention and content, their leads are closing at a higher rate, and conversion is better. The rest of the team will soon follow.
To help build the trust initially, context is imperative. Christina shares a story involving an interaction with an engineering department where she needed them to pivot product development and reprioritize an entire roadmap. Instead of telling the engineering department to simply get it done and launch on time for an event, she provided context as to the impact of the ask if it was met.
“Putting it in context, what I can say is, if we’re able to leverage this event that’s coming up and launch this product at this time, we increase our revenue by three times the amount,” said Christina. “This was actually the case, and they were shocked.”
Most of the department had no idea the work Christina was putting in – and the direct results of their work – would affect revenue so drastically.
“We were all able to shift and work on what that roadmap would look like,” said Christina. “If you’re helping explain, being really transparent and putting everything in context, it’s easier for everybody to support that.”
For more of Christina’s insights, listen to Episode 310 of SaaS Half Full.