Anastasia Valentine is a technology marketing, and sales leader whose mission is to create scalable, predictable revenue engines for high growth companies. With a solid track record of over 20 years of experience, Anastasia is an expert in bringing products from idea to commercialization and building marketing and sales engines to sustain and increase profitability.
She is wrapping up a successful 4 year run as the CMO of Versature, a B2B organization providing cloud based VoIP business solutions. Versature was acquired last year after 14 years of operation.
At Versature, Anastasia was in charge of leading both the sales and marketing functions and we chatted with her about how these two functions can collaborate to create a robust revenue generation engine.
"Marketing and sales aren't opposing forces. Both need to not only 'play nice' in the trenches, collaborate and leverage each other to do their job (1 job) which is to generate predictable and sustainable revenue for a company." - Anastasia Valentine
Anastasia: As a functional unit, we were responsible for attracting new business, and more importantly the right business.
From a marketing standpoint, our mindset was always to think like an investor but attract customers like a marketer. So we were spending efficiently and measuring everything,
On the sales front, we had a highly specific ideal customer profile and we made sure that we were bringing in the right customers in. In several cases we said no to clients that did not meet our ICP. It is important to keep that in mind because not every customer is a good fit.
I understand that as a startup, sometimes it is difficult to say no to prospects that want to do business with you but in the long run you benefit a lot more by being selective.
Anastasia: It's really about not being a fluff organization. Sometimes people think of marketing as arts and crafts, which is complete crap because a good marketing group’s responsibility is to generate revenue.
When you think like an investor, you are laser focused on what you're actually spending all of your resources on - time, people and money. These are really critical to your success. We scaled Versature fifty percent year over year by adopting this methodology and being extremely mindful about our resources.
When you're able to measure everything that's where the investor mindset comes in. If it's not working, you have to figure out early on why that is and learn. Even if you are really passionate about a project or a campaign and the numbers are just not lining up, you have to either iterate and improve or move on.
Being data driven and measuring the value that marketing brings to the table in revenue really allows marketing to become a very credible engine that can feed sales the leads they are looking for.
It has evolved tremendously.
I've seen a huge shift over the last five years. Everything that worked five years ago has either plateaued or does not work in its original form.
You need to know your personas inside and out and find technologies that will help you attract the right type of customers that fit those personas. Automate as much as possible and let the technology do the heavy lifting for you. Today’s buyers are extremely savvy and sales prospecting shouldn’t be robotic. There are definitely ways to add human touches to automation processes.
A lot of email and LinkedIn messages can now be automated and I know when I am being prospected but some of it is better than others.
"Sales is the eyes and ears for marketing to know what works, what doesn't and measure it by revenue. Marketing takes that intel and amplifies the message to attract perfect fit customers. Rinse and repeat."
Go back to basics.
Prioritize connecting with another human over selling to them.
Sure, go ahead and connect with humans who have the power to make a decision but always lead with value. One of my mantras is to create value before you ask for value.
Look at it as building a relationship that will last much longer than the sales process. Lead with value and then attract them to the brand based on what you have to offer that will solve their problems and ease their pain.
Building that foundation in relationships is going to be the biggest differentiator because if you copy and paste your spiel in LinkedIn, seasoned executives can smell that from a mile away and we will disconnect right away. But when someone takes the time to tailor their message and personalize the copy, I can see that you have made an effort and I will respond.
As a rule of thumb, that's the direction you should always go in. It takes more time but pays off in the long run.
The first thing you should do is always have value at every click.
If you're going to post content, make sure that there are actionable things people can take away, as opposed to pitching.
And always tie it back to your brand. Give takeaways and give something that people can take action on.
Second, give your audience a taste of what you have to offer. If you have a product, offer them a free trial. Measure if they are using it regularly, that in itself is a qualifier. Make sure your customers are successful even during the trial period - Shopify does this really well.
Again, that goes back to always leading with value.
I would give them enough value to establish trust. I would focus more on content and something that is repeatable because consultation should be a part of your customer onboarding process or reserved for people who are very close to buying.
Free consulting on your services does not scale, especially if that is your bread and butter.
Instead, provide things like white papers, webinars and worksheets.
Sales offer this tremendous value of being the eyes and ears on the ground. They're listening to the customers every single day and that is tremendously valuable to marketing.
Working with sales helps marketing to refine their strategy over time and to attract better leads. It also helps to create better marketing campaigns.
Communication between these two functions is absolutely key. It's a huge partnership because both of these functions are actually responsible for the same thing - to generate revenue for the company.
I love LinkedIn because I get to see what all my peers are doing and I prefer to learn through my network. There are other resources as well - Creative Mornings and Fast Company.
One of my favourite books of all time is The Art of War.
It is an amazing book and covers everything from team building to strategy and how to overcome the competition. I highly recommend reading it.
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