The Math Gives You the Data, but the Magic Comes from the People (with Auvik Network's Jacqui Murphy)
Sean Lane: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Operations. The show where we look under the hood of companies in hypergrowth. My name is Sean Lane. One of the benefits of doing this show is that as I meet and talk to really talented and interesting operations people, I get to ask them to introduce me to more talented and interesting operations people. Just like the candidate referrals that your recruiting team loves, it's these ops referrals that are often the most valuable to finding guests. That's exactly how I came to meet today's guest, Jacqui Murphy. Jacqui is the Chief Marketing Officer at Auvik networks where in the past five and a half years, she's gone from a marketing army of one to overseeing both a marketing and business development team of more than 50 people. She lives in hypergrowth every single day. If you're in marketing ops, marketing, demand gen, or you run an SDR or a BDR team, I promise you, you want to be like Jacqui Murphy. That's not just because she has a cool CMO title. It's her command of every last tiny lever of her business and probably not just the typical levers you're thinking of either. So you can start to understand the unique perspective she has in her understanding of those levers as you connect the dots of her also unique and varied background.
Jacqui Murphy: It is an interesting path and I think it just goes to show you that if you follow the things that you truly love, you ultimately end up in a place that's good for you. That's certainly the case when it comes to me. I actually started knowing that I wanted to get into technology marketing right from my university days. Looking around at my classmates who were choosing to go into consumer products or into management consulting, I think I was the only one in my class who really truly wanted to be in tech marketing. Right out of university, started looking for jobs in that space. There weren't a lot of tech marketers back in my day so dating myself a little bit there, but I was fortunate enough to join a tech advertising agency. We ended up working with a lot of the tech companies in the city that I live in currently, which is Waterloo, Ontario in Canada. And so did a lot of consulting work with those companies, got exposed to a lot of different things from a tech marketing and tech advertising perspective. Then, from there I joined a startup called PicStream. That was a rocket ship and ended up being acquired by Cisco at the peak of the internet bubble back in'99- 2000 era. After PicStream, I ended up flipping over to the venture capital side of the world and worked as a venture capital investor for about 10 years. That was a wild ride. It was probably one of the worst times ever to be a venture capital investor post dot com blow- up. But it did teach me a lot of really great lessons in terms of how to pick great companies to work with, which often centers around the teams that you end up working alongside. So really learned a lot of great lessons there about choosing the people that you want to work with and the market opportunities that you want to be involved in and did that for 10 years. Essentially, my role at tech capital initially, was to help with the investment process. Do the initial deal sourcing, due diligence, and then once the investment was made, I would then go into the company and essentially act as their sales and marketing resource until the company was up and running, help them with their initial go- to market strategy and that kind of thing. I got exposed to a lot of different types of tech industries, learned how to really get to know an industry very quickly, and navigate my way through those initial go to market steps. Then, following PicStream, did my own startup for a very short period of time, about a year and a half, and then ended up joining Auvik again for the people. Marc Morin, who is one of the founders of Auvik was actually one of the founders of PicStream that I had worked with during the dot com bubble. And so wanted to reconnect with him and work with him again, and so joined Auvik for that reason. It's been quite a ride five years now.
Sean Lane: In those five years, one of Jacqui's roles has been to build the business development or BDR team at Auvik. Alignment of a BDR team where it sits in an organization, how it's measured, those can all be difficult things to get, right. But for Jacqui and her team, it really wasn't much of an issue at all. Their answer was simple: math.
Jacqui Murphy: Everything at Auvik has been built on this principle of it's all math. From a marketing perspective, it's also all math. We actually have done something a little bit different here at Auvik, and I know that there are other companies that are also doing this, but the majority are still building their business development teams within sales. They're viewed as that first step of the sales pipeline. We view business development here at Auvik as the last step in the marketing pipeline. Having business development part of the marketing team makes everything that we do from a marketing perspective super tangible. We are very aware that our customer, not our customer in terms of a product perspective, but our customer in terms of what we're delivering as a marketing team, is our business development team. We need to make sure that the leads that we are passing to the business development team are the best leads that we can possibly be passing to them. We're measured in terms of the number of opportunities that we pass to the business development team and we are very aligned with them in terms of incentive. It works really well for us from a metrics perspective.
Sean Lane: I feel like everyone would like to think that you would treat that delivery or that quality of what it is you're handing off for them the same way, whether or not they were on your team or not. But I do think that just having that direct alignment of marketing and business development together probably does lead to a little bit of an increase in terms of what the quality is and just also the care with which those things are passed off. Do you think?
Jacqui Murphy: I think where the rubber hits the road for us is the metrics that we choose to measure ourselves based on. We don't measure ourselves based on vanity metrics at all. Obviously, we look at website traffic and number of downloads and those types of things, but at the end of the day, the thing that really matters for us as a marketing team is how many meetings did we actually book for our sales team. That is the metric that just really keeps us accountable and makes us focus on the things that matter for our business to grow.
Sean Lane: No vanity metrics. Only focus on the things that matter for the business to grow. These aren't just throwaway lines. Jacqui lives by these and shapes her business around them every step of the way. Remember those levers, I was telling you about?
Jacqui Murphy: One of the things that we've actually just recently implemented and it's having a huge impact on our team is our lead pipeline. We've always had a lead pipeline and that we say, we have this many leads and they convert through the pipeline like this, and this is what we ultimately get out of those leads. Now, there's a gentleman on my team. His name is Sean who's just built out this incredible work of art spreadsheet. It essentially-
Sean Lane: Something only an ops person can say.
Jacqui Murphy: So beautiful, oh my gosh, you should see this thing. But anyways, it takes all of our different lead source channels and it takes all of the conversion rates associated with all of the lead source channels, and it takes our ultimate, what we actually have to pass over the line, which is what we call at Auvik, over the line is essentially our metric for meetings booked to the sales team. It takes that, and it works all the way back and tells us exactly how many leads we need from each of our lead sources in order to be able to hit our ultimate company revenue target.
Sean Lane: Love that.
Jacqui Murphy: It's amazing. It's this really neat thing. We can put in how many trade show leads we get. We can put in how many inbound SCM leads we get, how many organic leads we get. We can put in how many webinar leads we get. It does all of the calculations and tells us at the end of the day, what that's ultimately going to generate for us in terms of revenue. So we can say," Oh shoot. We know that our sales cycle is 65 days long. We know that we have this coming through our pipeline. We know that we're going to be a little bit short. So we need to add on another webinar, or we need to go to one more trade show, or we need to do one more campaign on Facebook." That allows us to very carefully adjust our marketing programs in order to be able to hit those revenue targets.
Sean Lane: How often are you adjusting those kinds of inflight using the examples you just gave? I think it's one thing to be able to build the spreadsheet and say," Okay, here's what we think is going to happen." It's quite another to actually execute against that when inevitably one of the rows of that spreadsheet doesn't turn out the way you expect it to.
Jacqui Murphy: Well, one of the other things that we really try to do on our team is diversification of programs. We have eggs in a lot of different baskets. If one or two of the programs don't end up performing as expected, we've got another 58 programs that are running that week. When I say 58, I really mean 508 programs that are running that week. We have a lot of things going on at the same time and we might get one or two leads from each of the programs. But in aggregate and based on the conversion rates that we've seen historically, we've got a really good idea of what's going to pop up at the backend. While it's not a hundred percent perfect, and there are some weeks where we just go," Oh." Like Thanksgiving Week, oh my God, that is the kiss of death in terms of marketing operations and lead gen initiatives. But we know the seasonality. We know. We build that into our model. We know that that week is going to be a complete write- off for us and so we try to do things around that week to really drive pipeline both ahead of that week and after that week. That's part of our planning as well.
Sean Lane: Jacqui has removed so many of the excuses that people rely on:" Oh, it's Thanksgiving,"" Oh, it's a short month." She knows the calendar doesn't change. She knows that based on her inputs and what's going to spit out on the other end, she can plan ahead for the fact that it's Thanksgiving. If she does nothing different around that time 65 days from now, she's going to be light on her number. Armed with that beautiful spreadsheet of hers, it's one thing for her and her team to know the numbers, but I wanted to know how she instills this type of thinking across Auvik to keep everyone thinking the same way. For her, it all comes down to cadences and routines.
Jacqui Murphy: We have a weekly cadence here at Auvik. Quota results for the marketing team need to be delivered on a weekly cadence. Within that weekly cadence, we do a number of different things. We have our daily stand- up both on the business development side of the house and also on the marketing side of the house to make sure that everybody knows what they need to do on that day in order to be able to hit our targets. We have a weekly kickoff meeting for the marketing team so that everybody knows what the programs are that they need to be working on. We have a funnel review meeting, front side of the funnel review meeting every week, so we can look at this pipeline, beautiful dashboard that Sean has created, and we can see if there are any gaps in the near future or even a quarter out that we need to be planning for because it takes time to build these programs. We also have a full funnel review meeting once a week, where we get together with sales, finance, the CEO, and we get in a room and we look at trends over time to see how we're tracking to the overall company plan, to see if there's anything that we need to adjust on the front side of the funnel to be able to hit those longer- term metrics. Then, we have an awesome meeting that takes place every Friday, where our BDR team gets together and they review each other's funnels. They go head to head. We pair our BDRs up against each other.
Sean Lane: What does that look like?
Jacqui Murphy: They review each other's pipelines. We have this big long board table and our BDRs sit across from each other across the table. They review each other's pipelines publicly in front of the entire team. One will grill the other, and then that one will grill the other person across the table. It's things like," Well, I noticed your call volume was a little bit down this week. What was the reason for your call volume being low?"
Sean Lane: They're calling each other out.
Jacqui Murphy: That's right. And they are way more critical of each other than we would ever be.
Sean Lane: That's amazing.
Jacqui Murphy: They're in the fire with them and they know they're going to get it right back. It's really interesting dynamic there. There are a lot of things that we do to keep ourselves accountable and we do things on a very tight timeline. As soon as we see that something is a little bit off, we can adjust.
Sean Lane: What does tight mean for you?
Jacqui Murphy: Every week we're reviewing metrics as a team every week.
Sean Lane: I love that.
Jacqui Murphy: Every week we know exactly what we need to hit and we plan to hit those numbers. We look and we report on those numbers and we adjust. We test constantly to be able to refine our programming.
Sean Lane: For me, as someone who's hearing you describe this for the first time, the net of what I take away from your approach to all of this is that you've got these incredibly specific cadences and routines that allow you to both measure, to see," Okay, here's where we're at according to where the spreadsheet says we're going to be at," but then also make those kinds of real adjustments on the fly. Is that a decent way to encapsulate that?
Jacqui Murphy: Absolutely.
Sean Lane: At what point do you say to yourself," Okay, we've hit the right number of these routines or we've hit the right number of these cadences," as opposed to," I could also see a situation where it's like, oh wow, like we're having so many meetings to talk about the progress against this number," if I were playing devil's advocate and say," hey, this is the same thing we talked about two days ago. Yes, we know this is the program for this week. Yes, we know this is the program for next week." How do you find that balance?
Jacqui Murphy: You're absolutely bang on, right. We are getting to the point now where there are too many meetings. The thing that we're testing now is can we pull back on some meetings? Can we make the meeting shorter? How do we make the meetings more efficient? What are the things that we actually need to be talking about? The other thing with meetings that I think people really don't think about enough is that the social time is also important, especially when you're so metrics focused and you're really like, we're really running a machine here. But it's people who are running that machine. It's really important to have that face time and it's really important to continue coming together as a team. Because if you don't care about your teammates, if you don't know your teammates, if you're not friends with your teammates, it all falls apart.
Sean Lane: Absolutely.
Jacqui Murphy: When you're working at this velocity and your quotas are so high and the expectations of the team are so high, that if you don't have each other's backs, if you don't have that caring and compassion amongst the team members, it just doesn't work. As much as I want to pull back on the meetings, they aren't always the most efficient. I do think that they are important. The face- to- face time with people is very, very important.
Sean Lane: I think that's super interesting because you started our conversation by saying," Hey, Auvik's a company where everything is math," and yet you're able to take this incredibly non- measurable thing, which is the social interaction you have with your teammates while you're in a meeting with them and say," Hey, this is actually something we found to be really important. The pipe crawl meeting last week wasn't great. We didn't really get a whole lot of new stuff out of it, but somebody brought a new idea to the table or this person who hadn't necessarily been able to contribute to the previous campaign was able to show off this campaign." I think that's really interesting that you can still see the value in those things.
Jacqui Murphy: Well, the math gives you the data, but the magic comes from the people.
Sean Lane: The math gives you the data, but the magic comes from the people. Man, I love that. I told Jacqui, I'd go in on bumper stickers or t- shirts with her, whatever she wants to get that line out there into the world. We talk a lot at drift about dichotomies. When given two options to a complex problem, the answer is most often both. More than anyone I've talked to. Jacqui embodies that concept of both. On one hand, she knows her math and knows the levers of her business cold. Yet, she also finds this immeasurable, very non- mathematical value in the human interactions that come out of meeting together in a room with teammates. It certainly comes across that for her team, they're better off for it. Before we go, at the end of each show, we're going to ask each guest the same lightning round of questions. Ready? Here we go. The best book you've read in the last six months.
Jacqui Murphy: I do read books, but...
Sean Lane: It doesn't have to be a business book.
Jacqui Murphy: I don't need to know. Isn't that terrible. I read 10 pages of every book and then I can't focus anymore. Isn't that terrible. I feel like I'm vibrating at such a fast speed that I can't sit and read a book anymore, which is really sad. I would really like to read a book.
Sean Lane: All right, we'll put it on the to-do list. Your favorite part about working in marketing or marketing ops, however you want to phrase it. What's your favorite part?
Jacqui Murphy: Seeing the look on our customer's faces when they learn about the value that we can provide to them. I never get sick seeing that.
Sean Lane: That's amazing. On the flip side, what's your least favorite part?
Jacqui Murphy: Administration.
Sean Lane: Someone who impacted you getting the job you have today.
Jacqui Murphy: I'd have to say Marc. we've talked a bit of a few times in this podcast. Yeah, definitely, Marc.
Sean Lane: One piece of advice for someone who wants to have your job someday.
Jacqui Murphy: Just really focus on adding value. Don't worry about titles or climbing the ladder or any of those types of things that are a little bit more tangible. Just really keep your head down, work your butt off, add as much value as you can to the people that you're working with and to your customers. The rest will take care of itself.
Sean Lane: A huge thank you to Jacqui Murphy for joining me on this week's episode of Operations. What a phenomenal conversation. Just like Jacqui was a referral, I would love referrals from the rest of you on people that you think would be great guests for the show. Tweet at me at Seaniebiz, send me a LinkedIn message. You can email me. I'm slane @ drift. com, but thank you to everyone who's been listening and sending us feedback about the show. We really appreciate it. If you want to take that feedback one step further, we would love for you to leave us a six star review on Apple Podcast. Six star reviews only. That's it for me. See you next time.