The 3 Ways To Level Up Every Interaction With Go-To-Market Leaders
Sean Lane: Hey, everyone, welcome to Operations, the show where we look under the hood of companies and hypergrowth. My name is Sean Lane. I've talked a lot on this show with guests about their routines and their cadences, who they meet with regularly, what they meet about, and even the structure of these meetings. But what we haven't talked about that much is the content of these meetings. And I would argue that there's another component of these meetings and interactions that's even more important than the content itself, and that's how you present and articulate that content. The words you use, the energy you bring to conversations, and the consistency with which you bring them, they all matter. If you're anything like me and the team at Drift, the routines and cadences we have with our go- to- market leaders are the foundation of the partnership that we have with those teams. And for us, when I say go- to- market teams, I'm talking about sales, marketing, and customer success. Now, there are countless books, podcasts, articles, whatever, out there about the concept of managing up, and 99% of them have to do with managing up to your boss. I would argue that, that exact same relationship exists when you're managing up to the go- to- market leaders that you work with regularly in your organization. And I would also argue that the definition of managing up can and should be viewed through a slightly different lens. Now, most of those managing up articles that I mentioned are typically going to be about giving and receiving feedback with your boss or managing expectations about projects or goals, but to me, managing up is something more. To me it's about managing the perception that others have of you and the work that you do. How people perceive you, how they perceive your team, and the value that you bring to the organization is all a product of managing up. So with that definition in mind, and that idea about managing the perception, I want to spend today's episode outlining three ways that I think you can level up your interactions with go- to- market leaders. Whether it's a one- time presentation or a standing weekly meeting that you have, we're going to talk about the ways that you can improve, not so much the work itself, but how you present and articulate your work to others. All right, ready? Here we go. Number one, you are the owner of these interactions so act accordingly. At the end of the day, I don't care who called the meeting or who owns it on the calendar, if you are the one presenting, you own the meeting. So managing the perception of the other people have in that meeting of you starts as soon as that meeting begins. And what I encourage people on my team, and I try to remember for myself as well, is that we are the ones who have to bring a level of excitement around the problem that we're solving. You can almost treat like a sales pitch, right? Tell a story, present a pain that existed in the organization that you are now the one who is solving. There's nothing worse than sitting in a meeting where somebody from operations is just running through bullet points and saying," Okay, we fixed this. We changed this. We tweaked this workflow." You have to be the one who is excited about the projects you're working on and the value you are delivering to the organization, because if you're not, I guarantee you that no one else is going to be. A good example is this podcast. Originally, when I was thinking about doing a podcast at Drift, my natural inclination was," Oh, we should do something about sales, or sales and hypergrowth companies because there's more stories there. There's more exciting content there." And everyone inside of Drift was like," What are you talking about? Why wouldn't you do this about operations?" And I didn't think that the stories or the content about operations was exciting enough. And here we are 36 episodes into this podcast and we've proven that to be quite the contrary, but ultimately, I think it's a lot about how we have framed the stories we tell on the show and really confronted this idea that operations has a branding and a storytelling problem. So at the end of the day, you own these interactions. Bring a level of excitement to the work that you're doing. Okay. That's number one. Number two, be knowledgeable, but concise. Knowledge is power, but knowledge is also a double- edged sword. It's so common as humans that we want to tell everyone everything that we know. We've learned about a certain topic, we've done a deep dive, we've done a ton of research, we've gone through courses so we want to show off to everybody all of this knowledge that we've acquired. But having a word vomit of all the knowledge that you've acquired, isn't necessarily the best way to tell that story or to articulate your work. A lot of times, it's about stripping away a lot of the unnecessary words to get to the core of what it is you're delivering. So a good way to think about this is starting with what's the biggest headline of what you're trying to deliver. That's what you want to articulate. And then you can be prepared when there are follow- up questions to show off that knowledge specific to the questions that people are asking. At the end of the day, the CRO that you're presenting to doesn't care about the nitty- gritty workflow that you created, or this really exciting workaround, or this new tool that you implemented. All they care about is the result. They care about how it's going to impact their team. They care about the productivity boost that their team is going to get, or the time they're going to save as a result of this new thing that you just implemented. They don't care about everything that happened necessarily under the hood. So your job is to be knowledgeable, but concise. Another good example is we think about level one versus level two metrics at Drift. So you're always going to have your top- line, level one metrics, things like meetings booked, meetings held, pipeline created, things like that. But a lot of the times, in order to tell the full story about what those metrics mean, you need to go a level deeper. So that's what we call level two. That's where you're going to get into things like conversion rates or average sale cycle or average sale price, right? That's when you can start to actually piece together and connect the dots between different metrics. But again, you have to start at the high level and then work your way down. So be knowledgeable but concise. Okay. That was number two. Number three, tie the work you're doing back to business results. We've done previous episodes about the idea of goal setting. So ultimately, inside of these interactions that you're having with go- to-market market leaders, ideally you have worked with them to prioritize what the most important work is and you've set goals accordingly based on those priorities. So now when you're getting together with them to show them the work that you've done or the value that you've brought to the business, that work means nothing if you're not tying it back to business results and the goals that you've set. So a really good example of this is we do something at Drift called show- and- tell, and this happens every single Friday and it is company- wide. And each division within the company, sales, customer success, so on and so forth, product, presents on a particular problem that they've solved or a particular piece of work that they did. And the best show- and- tell presentations always tie back to business results. So a good example is, Monique Lemieux, who is on our marketing ops team, just did a recent company show- and- tell about the work that she had done inside of the marketing customer journey. She and our other marketing ops professional Lynn Tan, the two of them are an amazing team and they did all of this work about multi- touch attribution and where leads are coming from and how we measure it and how we forecast it. And it was an incredible presentation. But at the end of the day, Monique was able to distill her story down into why this mattered for the marketing team. How they could make smarter decisions about where to place our marketing dollars and investment in order to get the most results, how that was going to result in more pipeline for the sales team, how that was going to result in more bookings as a result of the work that she had done. And her audience wasn't just a marketing leader, it was the entire company. So she had to take this very complex topic and break it down in a way that showed results to the entire audience, to the entire business. So again, anything that you're doing, whether it is something super small as a report you've created, a dashboard you're shipping, or maybe just a tweak to the workflow about how order forms are created, there has to be a business result that you can tie back to that because that's the thing that your audience is going to care about. Okay. Again, those three things are, number one, you own the interaction act accordingly. Number two, be knowledgeable, but concise. And number three, tie the work you're delivering back to business results. I'm going to give you a quick bonus one here, because the thing that I think makes all of these come together is what we do at Drift after each one of these interactions, which is we do a really quick recap and every person who was involved in the interaction is encouraged to talk about two things they thought went well from the interaction and two things that they thought could have done better. And this isn't about being critical about who the speaker or the presenter was, this is much more about how the content was delivered and articulated. And that's usually where the absolute best learnings and best conversations come from because that's where just the operations team can come together and review how they thought it went. And that's how we get better at every single interaction. And it's also a great reminder to try and take these three strategies and incorporate them into every single interaction that we have moving forward. So, remember, how you manage up, how you present, and how you articulate the work you're doing, these things matter. Keep these three strategies in mind and always do a quick recap on how the interactions went. This will go such a long way in both improving those interactions and, ultimately, cementing your seat at the table as a strategic partner to all of these go- to- market leaders. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Operations. If you enjoyed it, please subscribe. We have a new episode that comes out every other Friday. Also, if you're enjoying the show, leave us a six star review on Apple Podcasts, six star reviews only. Special shout out to Jason Reichl from Grow Nimbly who really inspired me to do this episode. We had an amazing conversation that in part was about some of this in our rev ops intervention session that he and the team from Go nimbly and Chargebee we put on. We'll put a link to that in the show notes. So thanks so much. Shout out to you, Jason, for the help there. That's going to do it for me. Thanks so much for listening. We'll see you next time.