“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie
Mike Volpe, current CMO at Cybereason and speaker for the 2017 Growth Acceleration Summit, knows a thing or two about assembling a winning marketing team. After all, as employee number five and former CMO at HubSpot, he helped grow the company from about a dozen beta customers to over 15,000 customers, 1,000 employees, $150m in revenue, and an IPO leading to a $1.7B market cap.
Read our Q&A with Mike to uncover the lessons he learned along the way.
Question 1: Content Creation in the Modern Marketing Landscape
ZoomInfo: As a big believer in creating content that (actually) resonates with your audience, what are some world-class marketing/content strategies that you feel work best in serving today’s ever-changing consumer demands?
Volpe: Content is unquestionably a huge part of any successful marketing initiative. Creating content that your buyers are interested in is the best way to attract them, sure, but the pushback that you’re bound to hear remains: there’s a lot of content out there, and the market is already (way too) crowded. While to some degree this is true, what this dilemma also implies is that to succeed, you need to have both higher quality content and a higher signal-to-noise ratio. For example, rather than publishing three blog articles a day for the sake of publishing, publish one great piece every week.
Subsequently, you can seek out new forms of content. So, if your industry is overrun with blogs, try looking into developing videos, podcasts, images – these forms of content aren’t nearly as crowded.
Question 2: Must-Have Qualities of a Winning Team
ZoomInfo: Your session at the 2017 Growth Acceleration Summit this coming September is titled, “Dare to be Great: How to Build a World-Class Marketing Team.” Without giving too much away, please talk to some must-have qualities of a winning marketing team.
Volpe: First, when it comes to marketing, it’s hard to have long-term plans, and it’s difficult to map out all the moving parts ahead of time. It’s important to stay responsive to what’s going on in sales, the market, and the world as a whole for your strategies to succeed. For this reason, it’s critical to stay agile.
Second, I don’t favor the belief that smaller teams should be made up of one or two generalists, while bigger teams should be comprised of a lot of people who are specialists. Instead, I prefer to bring on folks with ‘t-shaped’ skills – or personalities comfortable with becoming both generalists and specialist. If you comprise your team of folks who excel at something broad as well as have deeper knowledge in specific categories, then collaboration flows better, projects need fewer people involved, teams move more quickly, and you ultimately get better results. For example, if someone has expertise in blogging, I would like for that person to also know something about analytics, email, and social media. So, in the process of growing your team, try not to make the mistake of bringing on (only) specialists.
Question 3: Sales and Marketing Alignment
ZoomInfo: Let’s talk sales and marketing alignment. How important is it? In your opinion, what is the best way to reach alignment and keep it going?
Volpe: It’s critical. Most people either have worked in or have heard stories of companies where sales and marketing alignment suffered, which never ends well. The best way to reach alignment is first to adopt an approach of shared goals. Hitting the sales number, for instance, is as important to the marketing team as it is to the sales team. Instead of celebrating just the achievements of the marketing team, marketing should celebrate revenue goals made by sales and the company.
Second, communication among the teams needs to be strong. Rather than having separate meetings for marketing and sales, have smarketing team meetings instead, where marketing and sales meet concurrently. At Cybereason, we hold a weekly pipeline review meeting where both sales and marketing team leadership is there, and we talk about the things we are doing to generate more pipeline. We also don’t have a one-on-one meeting with the CEO and head of sales or the CEO and me. In its place, we do a three person meeting with the CEO, head of sales, and me. Involving all key players in your meetings helps get people on the same page and reinforce unity.
Third, establishing a two-way relationship, or a service-level agreement where sales and marketing agree on what they do for each other will prove valuable in the long run.
Question 4: Challenges that Come with Building a World-Class Marketing Team
ZoomInfo: As the previous CMO at HubSpot, you’ve witnessed and contributed to the company’s incredible growth. What were some of the challenges or obstacles you faced when building your team(s)? What did that experience teach you about building a world-class marketing team?
Volpe: The biggest lesson I’ve learned is when you’re experiencing rapid company growth, hiring at scale becomes a full-time job. I’ve spent so much of my time sourcing, interviewing, networking, and referring people that the entirety of the process grew to become one of the main things I was doing. I met with our recruiter every single week; I attended recruiting events on a constant basis. When you’re growing your team and company that fast, recruiting can never take the backseat, and that may surprise many.
At the same time, even though the hiring process is challenging, it’s important to spend the time to hire the right candidates. When it comes down to it, great minds attract other great minds. And this matters.
Question 5: Best Piece of Advice
ZoomInfo: What piece of advice have you been given that proved most significant in your career?
Volpe: “Events force action.” The more proactive you are about setting up events or important occasions (such as meetings with your teams) well ahead of time, the more likely that these events will both actually happen and be productive when they do. When you create an event, it forces you to think about it and prepare. You reduce procrastination. When you have a workout buddy to go to the gym with, you’re more unlikely to cancel, right? Same here, if you’re proactive about setting up meetings and including key contributors to those meetings, both parties are more likely to come prepared.
Interested in learning more about what it takes to create a world-class marketing team? Come see Mike Volpe at ZoomInfo’s 2017 Growth Acceleration Summit, a two-day B2B event geared toward sales and marketing professionals, on Sept. 13-14 in Boston. Mike’s session, “Dare to be Great: How to Build a World-Class Marketing Team,” hones in on the tactics and strategies that worked for him on his path to instituting marking team greatness. The event is coming up fast, so register today.