Inside a Consultant's Operations Framework with CS2's Crissy Vetere-Saunders

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This is a podcast episode titled, Inside a Consultant's Operations Framework with CS2's Crissy Vetere-Saunders. The summary for this episode is: <p>It's fascinating to consider the different Operations approaches of consultant vs. in-house practitioners. Consultants have so many more data points and companies they’re exposed to than we do in-house, so their ability to find patterns and create frameworks is accelerated at an unfairly high rate.</p><p><br></p><p>On this episode, we talk to Crissy Vetere-Saunders about these patterns and the framework she's created at her business. Crissy is the Co-founder and CEO of CS2, a marketing ops and revops agency for high growth tech companies. After working in-house in Marketing Ops herself at companies like Marketo, Jive Software, and Agari, Crissy co-founded CS2 in 2015 and hasn’t looked back.</p><p><br></p><p>In our conversation, we talk about what used to frustrate her about the consultants she worked with, we dissect something she calls the PRODUCT Marketing Ops framework, and why Chrissy thinks you should call your Ops work features instead of projects.</p><p><br></p><p>Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️&nbsp;review and share the pod with your friends! You can connect with Sean and Crissy on Twitter @Seany_Biz, @crvetere, and @DriftPodcasts.</p>
What got Crissy to start her own agency
03:50 MIN
Crissy's PRODUCT MOPS framework broken down
04:03 MIN
How to put this framework in operations
01:41 MIN

Sean Lee: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Operations, the show where we look under the hood of companies in hyper growth. My name is Sean Lee. This may sound strange, but I'm always fascinated in the origin stories of operations consultants. Like any good origin story, I want to know, where do they come from? Where do they get their superpowers? What motivates them and is behind who they've become today? But actually, I'm really just curious about their approach. Consultants have so many more data points and companies that they're exposed to than the rest of us. So their ability to find path patterns and create frameworks is accelerated at an unfairly high rate, which is exactly why I wanted to talk to Crissy Saunders, our guest on today's episode. Crissy is the co- founder and CEO of CS2, a marketing ops and RevOps agency for high growth tech companies. After working in- house in marketing operations herself at companies like Marketo, Jive Software and Agari. Crissy co- founded CS2 in 2015 and hasn't looked back. In our conversation, Crissy and I talk about what used to frustrate her about the consultants that she worked with. We dissect something that she calls the product marketing ops framework, and why Crissy thinks you should call your ops work features instead of projects. To start though, let's get back to that origin story. What made Crissy want to venture out and start her own agency in the first place?

Crissy Saunders: There was two things that pointed me to the consulting route. One of them being personal, and then another one just being out of just necessity or a gap that I saw in the market. So my background, I had worked in marketing operations roles and demand gen roles. I started in marketing ops at Marketo, and I managed a team there. And then I moved on to do a global role at a company called Jive Software, where I led global operations teams. And actually met my husband, Charlie, who acts as the pseudo marketing outsourcing for MIA. And I got to travel back and forth. And then after that, once we got married and decided it was time for us to not be coworkers, moved on to another role where I was doing revenue operations and demand gen leading an SDR team. It was a lot, but one of the things I noticed across my career is whenever I felt overwhelmed or needed more resources, we would hire an agency. And it always felt a bit hard because it felt like more work to me. I always felt like they wanted me to come to them with projects and just work on those projects. It would be a really long, expensive process. And I still felt like at the end of the day, I was the best person to make the decisions on those projects. And so it always felt like I was putting my strategy into their cookie cutter way of doing things. And there was often times not a real fit there. And so out of frustration, I just always thought, man, it just needs to be different or better. There's a different way to do this. And I think that a lot of marking ops folks would actually be better served if there was an agency that actually helped lead with that as far as figuring out a roadmap. And also developing custom processes that really suited their business and their business goals, because that was also a disconnect. I felt like I was always talking to someone who was project managing, but they didn't do the work either. They didn't understand market operations. A lot of the time they didn't understand my strategy. So it just felt really slow. And then at the time when I worked at that role, I had a personal situation where I wanted a bit more control over my situation as far as going to the office. So this is before work from home. I was commuting an hour plus each day, well, two hours each day, but to get from San Jose to San Mateo. And my dad at the time was sick and he was diagnosed with cancer. And so I just wanted a way to be able to, if I needed to, help my family when I could or be in the hospital when I could. And so it was a sad reason for doing it as well, but I decided, okay, I want to take this into my own hands. And Charlie and I just mapped it out. I reached out to 10 people in my network just saying, Hey, I'm thinking about doing this thing. I want to start my own agency. I want to help solve the problems of the businesses. Would you be interested? And it was amazing how many responses I got just within a few hours and overnight. And I started CS2 two weeks later.

Sean Lee: Wow.

Crissy Saunders: And I already had a few clients off the bat. And so much demand that actually Charlie joined me and we both started the business together, consulting those clients.

Sean Lee: That is incredible. What a story. And I think your experience on the other side, right, gives you this unique advantage amongst all of the other countless agencies and consultants that are out there. And so I'm curious, with that exact context in mind of you avoided consultants because you thought you were in the best position internally to make those decisions. Armed with that context, how do you do things differently now that you're on the other side?

Crissy Saunders: Yeah. So I think the main thing, and a lot of consulting agency experts will tell you to not do this, but I thought that it didn't make sense to just have a middle man, like a project manager between the people who are consulting the client and then doing the work. I found that what's better is to have a frontline lead or consultant who's working directly with the client be that person who's working on majority of the projects, but knew how to prioritize. And also gather the requirements, lead workshops if they could just because it minimized the telephone. And really marking ops is so unique where it's not so exact like, I need this one automation built in Salesforce. It's a lot of figuring out what's our life cycle going to be? How are we going to measure that? Getting teams aligned. And at that time, a lot of my first few clients was just getting teams aligned and doing workshops. And so having that person be that front line, who really knows how to prioritize and figure out what projects are needed, but also execute on a majority of it was what we do and what we do still today. We have our client leads, but we also have specialists that come in and help out where we can. So we have some of our solutions architects and analytics experts, as well as our campaign operations and execution team. And when our clients need to fill those gaps, they'll come in. But there's still that one person who's really leading the strategy and day to day and meeting with the client, because oftentimes you'll get on a weekly call and the client just wants to even throw some ideas off of that person. Or being able to respond to them relatively quickly without just moving slower. So previously when I worked with agencies, you'd work on say a simple leads scoring project and it would take six months. And I just went, wow. And when I started working with clients, we delivered those in a few weeks or a month.

Sean Lee: Right.

Crissy Saunders: And clients were just shocked, and that includes testing and building out a deck and everything, because I just found it doesn't need to be that long. And also it doesn't need to be exactly the way that that person just learned to do. There's a lot of other resources and ways to do something, and that person will be the best suited to figure that out.

Sean Lee: So not only did Crissy have this frustration in searching for an agency that would lead, she just decided to solve for the frustration herself. There's nothing like a former customer to solve the problems of a future buyer. I can tell you as someone who has worked with consultants in the past, once you get stuck in that project manager land that Crissy described with someone who doesn't actually understand your business or problem you're trying to solve, you're toast. I love that Crissy and the team at CS2 have eliminated the middle man and worked directly with the marketing operations folks at the heart of what's actually being built. Now that she's on the other side though, I want to spend this conversation with Crissy learning about something that she alluded to earlier, getting her clients aligned. Easy to say, much harder to pull off, especially in this digital first or remote world.

Crissy Saunders: And it's a little bit harder now, so I would compare. When I first started CS2, I had the luxury of going into a client's office and having their marketing leader there, demand gen, a field marketing leader, an SDR manager, a salesperson. And we could get everyone into the same room and actually say, discuss what our life cycles going to be, defining what those stages are. Where are the handoffs? What are expected ways to measure that? And getting everyone speaking that same language and aligned on what that process is going to be like. There's a lot of different projects now that could include that. You could have an account model or ABM strategy, whatever it is. But one of the things that we would first do is come in and assess that, but also get those teams into one meeting. And one benefit of being a third party to do that is you're this neutral sounding board or neutral person coming in and saying like, this is how I think we should do this. And also getting people aligned where sometimes that's a bit hard because everyone has their different things that they're working on or maybe different opinions. And so having an expert who has done this multiple times, various times, seeing what works at different businesses, it almost makes that alignment a bit better, and because you're just this intermediary person. I hate to call it a marriage counselor, but you almost are at the beginning because you're hearing the pain points from different sides, figuring out how they're being measured. And then getting everyone to align and define what that is now. Now, not every project's like that, but those are some examples. But one of the things that we now do when we work with one of our clients is really get them thinking about how cross- functional their role is. And it's grown. I feel like before marketing ops, it was maybe demand gen, field marketing, maybe an SDR manager that you're working closely with. Now it's exploded. You're working with so many different teams that touch the customer, oh, even to product, customer success. And so you have a lot of internal users that you need to treat as users. You need to figure out, what are their objectives? What are their needs? How are they going to be using the processes you're working on? How are you going to train them and enable them? And that doesn't always mean exactly what we think, just throwing them a deck or training them. It can be a bit more nuanced to that. And I can talk about that. And then how are we going to also get some of these cross- functional people to work on a main objective or create what we call a team coalition? So maybe there's a few main things they're working on, improving for the business, say it's to increase our conversion rate from MQL to opportunity. Or our speed to lead process needs to improve and how we create that velocity and timeliness and a better customer experience or user experience? Those are all a few things that you actually can't just work in a silo as a marketing ops person. You need a group of people that are really working together and then tracking that outcome. And it's going to be an iterative approach over time.

Sean Lee: A marriage counselor for your business sounds about right, don't you think? And while Crissy specializes in marketing ops, everything that she's describing about team alignment and the cross functional nature of ops work can be applied for any go to market ops team. Now, the thing that I worry about anytime we have a conversation like this is how broad the ops team's charter or spectrum of work can get. It can be burdensome to look after all of these different cross- functional groups, keep them aligned, build out the right routines. So how does Crissy think about this, both for herself and for her clients? The thing I really appreciate about her and CS2 is that they aren't just looking for the quick fix or a single pinpoint project. They are looking to help instill a mindset and a framework for their customers that will endure long after CS2 has left. That framework is something that she calls the product marketing ops framework. Now in this, product is actually an acronym. So let's figure out what each letter stands for inside of Crissy's framework.

Crissy Saunders: It all comes down to prioritization and also just figuring out the best way to leverage your resources. So I think it's been realistic too. Yes, that is a lot, but also you need to be realistic around what your marketing ops team can do with the resources that they do have. And I think leaders need to realize this too, just because you have one marking ops person doesn't mean that they can do everything under the sun that your team wants to do, unfortunately.

Sean Lee: Why not?

Crissy Saunders: I know, why not? Well, and that's the problem. I was like this when I worked in house, I still am. I want to do the world and I want to do everything. And I would work crazy hours and honestly just get burnt out. And I think that happens to a lot of marketing arts people because we don't go into this with realistic expectations of what can be done and where we can spend our time. So, I mean, we have this method called the product moPS method. The P crosstalk in that, and the way we think about it is treating your moPS team like a product team where you're really... you're delivering products to your internal user or your external users, like I talked about. And think of Apple. Apple didn't just ship the iPhone and was like, okay, I think we might come back to this in two years. Maybe we'll look at this again. I think we're good. That's not the way products work. It's an iterative approach. So the first thing is just prioritization, and so the P. And really that should be based on your business objectives. And then also that could be a departmental objective that rolls up to that business objective. So, that just always ensures that your team's working on things that's really going to move the needle on the business. And the way we to think about that too is figuring out, okay, what are some key outcomes that we can tie to that objective? So say for the marketing team, like I said, it's to increase your velocity from inbound lead to SDR, to meeting booked. We call it the speech to lead process. That could be an ongoing thing that you focus on for that year. And your outcome is to increase that velocity by say X days. Or even increase the conversion and rate from that request to meeting booked. Drift is a huge part of that actually, or it can be, but the outcome is there. You're mapping that, you're tracking that, but also it's something that aligns to a business objective. For them, it's optimizing or increasing our pipeline of revenue. And so you can always tie that back to that. It's one of the main things. If you don't have that process improved, you could be leaving money on the table, and also you could lose business to your competitor. So it's just a super important project that you could prioritize, so prioritization is key. And there's some things that may not make it to your priority list, and so we call that our roadmap. So figuring out what the roadmap is or what key priority project are you working on that time? And then having an outcome that you can look at to report on the effectiveness of that. And I think that's something where people have a roadmap, but it's always just a list of projects that they're just going to work on for that quarter. I like to always have some type of outcome that you can measure against so you can see how well it did. And sometimes that means waiting. Maybe you deliver and ship in that quarter, but it's coming back maybe a few months later. And then measuring, what was the outcome of that?

Sean Lee: Okay. So in the product moPS framework, P stands for product, R is roadmap, and O is outcome. If you're following along with me, you can see how this framework might start to take shape within your own team. These first three letters are literally about picking the right stuff to work on, mapping out what comes next, and figuring out how to measure your work's impact. Again, sounds simple, but it's not. For example, Crissy's point about picking the time you're going to go back and measure outcomes, that's a step teams skip all the time. And if it's a long term impact, you have to have someone on your team who will go back and keep an eye on that outcome throughout the year, throughout whatever long period of time you've decided. Okay, we've got P, R, O. What's next?

Crissy Saunders: D is documentation, so it's something that we see oftentimes customers don't do, but the benefit of working with us, our team will do it. But documentation is key and there's different types of documentation. There's operational documentation, so how is this thing set up? But there's also having documentation that is internal user facing. What's going to be documentation that our SDR team can look at, or the whole team can look at to see like, oh, what's our customer experience? So really thinking about ways that you can document your process, keep those up to date. And then also figure out which format is good for which user or end user for it. And be creative, build it into people's workflow and their process, because I think a lot of the times marketing ops team is always getting all these questions and it really could be deflected if they just had better documentation. And so if your team uses even Guru or something and is connected to S, we actually use it now, but you can actually connect. If you have all of your documentation living there, you can connect it to Slack and it actually can search Guru for things. So it can even be case deflection. So another thing, like what you said, oh, it can feel really cumbersome, marking ops controls so many things. Well, a lot of our job is just sometimes just deflecting questions or reiterating to someone. Why did this thing MQL? Why is it routed this way? Or even getting requests for routing. You're like that's already in place. But if all those things were documented or the people could see it in a better way, then that leaves you time to stay focused on your key projects that are prioritized for you. And also just to stay elevated, really thinking about the... in this role, maintaining your roadmap and measurement and stuff, instead of getting pulled down into just that hum of things that can take up your day. Like, wow, I just had to go down a rabbit hole for an hour or answer people's questions when they really could have just been through that documentation. Or even figuring out deflection, so you can take in those questions, but knowing, okay, that's a really request, but this doesn't fit onto our roadmap, but let me see where that can fit in when we have that time. So your roadmap can also crosstalk protect your time, which for a moPS person, you just need all these things to help protect your time. There's too much to do.

Sean Lee: I mean, it seems like this entire framework is built to protect your time, right? Even that creativity piece, right? All of this is way easier said than done, but if you actually put the investment crosstalk in up front to say, I'm going to document this, I am going to make a creative way that's inside of someone's workflow in Slack, to be able to make this information available to them, right? I think the slack workflow is a really interesting one because an example in our business is no sales rep in the history of the world is going to read your rules of engagement documentation. It's just not going to happen, right? But to your point, if you have that criteria or some of those definitions built into some of their other workflows. So for example, after someone's initial discovery meeting, we have a slack that goes directly to that rep and it lists out for them what the opportunity creation criteria are in the slack. And so the question of whether or not to create that opportunity or not goes away because it's already there. It's in their workflow and they don't have to go chasing it or back into Salesforce in order to do that work. Right? And so it seems like that entire framework is meant to do that and ultimately protect the marketing apps person's time.

Crissy Saunders: Yeah. You're thinking about it in a product moPs approach too, because we've done things like that for a client too, because you're thinking about, okay, what's a better user experience for my internal user? And product teams who do this too. If you lose sight or if you think that your user knows more than they do, if you're just assuming that they will get something, you're already a step behind. You need to make things so simple and so easy to figure out and within their workflow in what they expect. That's just better for adoption, so I agree with you. We've had, yeah, alerts that go on and say like, Hey, the SDR just completed the meeting. This is your next step. If you want to accept it and then have a screenshot, you need to actually like do this. And it seems like, wow, no, they should just know when we just tell them once. And it's like, no, that's not usually the way it works, especially for... Say you have new people, so it'll train people off the bat, even when they're new. So you're not always bogged down, which is having to train people as your company grows. So yeah, figuring out ways to do that in a better way. But yeah, you're thinking about that end user. What's their user experience?

Sean Lee: So is U user experience?

Crissy Saunders: Yeah.

Sean Lee: Nailed it.

Crissy Saunders: Yeah. So the next one is crosstalk is user experience for both the customer... and so the internal user and external user. But whenever you're building something, it should line up to the customer's expectations. And then also when you think about building a process internally, think about the user experience for them. And so, one thing that often gets missed, but I think should be part of the process. And we're actually figuring out a way to do this for our clients is to do more internal users surveying. So the same way you would do some external surveys for your users to figure out an MPS score or a CSAT score or something like that, which I think you should be doing too, or figuring out ways so you can survey the prospect that they're... Even if that's part of your discovery call saying like, Hey, how did you hear about us? What was the experience like? Your SDRs and AEs can use that as icebreakers. And it's great anecdotal data to then use against whatever your attribution data is, but as a side note, but you're figuring out how you can survey your internal users is just as important. So if you start to kick off a project with a certain team or a set of teams, identifying who those people are and how to be part of the process, but also at the beginning of the process, figure out what are the pain points for that person? Or what's their expectations going in? And then deliver it and then do a set of surveying there where maybe you do an initial... after it's been delivered, survey your internal customers, figure out where was there a gap in the training. Or what's some feedback that you think or examples of where you think that this is not working? And this also helps because if you get ahead of setting a process for how that survey's doing, you're also protecting your time too, because think about when you deliver something and you're in postmortem phase. How many questions are you getting like, oh, this isn't working or, oh, send this and this and that. And that can be very distracting. But when you set the structure of like, we're going to deliver this, we've done a lot of testing, but know that not everything's perfect, we're in postmortem phase, and we're going to do a survey after to gather your feedback, that becomes a more concerted effort thing. And you're not just getting 30 slacks. Everyone just knows, okay, go put your feedback or fill out the survey here. But also it can be used then to make better improvements, because people are actually thinking about it. Or sometimes people don't even bother to give you that feedback, so it's really gathering that feedback from the internal user.

Sean Lee: The more I hear about Crissy's framework, the more convinced I am that it's all about spending time in the most effective way possible. Documentation as a deflection, surveys as a form of controlled, purposeful feedback, it's the highest quantity of the highest quality of activities by your operations team. I'm also finding that each of the components of the framework feeds off of the others. Only taking in user feedback in a vacuum or just using that feedback to create yet another to- do list isn't helpful. It puts you right back into the situation that Crissy's trying to help us to avoid. But if you take that feedback with the context of, let's say, your roadmap, that feedback takes on an entirely different look. Crissy said that this complimentary nature of the framework's different components is especially true of our next letter, C.

Crissy Saunders: And the next one with C is continuous improvement. And so when we think about a roadmap with a product, usually you build features. And so a key thing here is that calling things features instead of projects then puts you into this mode of continuous improvement. And I do think that marketing ops people need to think about maybe talking about this with what they build as features and not like projects or tasks. Right? Like tasks. To me, yes, you're going to have some ad hoc tasks or things that you need to do, but all of that should likely roll into just working on a feature. And a feature can be something that can develop over time. And a lot of the times though you have these main outcomes that you're trying to work towards say for the year, or even longer than that. You have these teams or team coalitions that are working on that and they're tracking the improvement on those outcomes. And then the things that they're working on or against are features. So I'll give another example of the speed to lead. A feature can be, Hey, we're going to launch... we're going to start using a drift calendar link. Or at the end, we're going to use our drift calendar. We're going to have a calendar link. I'm using that too. I mean, we're on Joe's podcast, so I mean, crosstalk

Sean Lee: I appreciate it. That's good. Good crosstalk thing I heard.

Crissy Saunders: Okay, so that's making our roadmap. We're going to launch that. That's a feature. And so say they develop that and then we find out, okay, actually, that's great that people are able to book directly on a calendar, but we're finding that some people shouldn't go directly onto the calendar. We need more questions to ask. And usually you'll get that feedback from an SDR and AE like, Hey, we had to actually... we don't want to cancel on people either. So let's ask these few questions before we send people to book the meeting so we can really make sure that they'll be applicable for our product. And so then that is now an improvement or adding on that feature and that'll make it through. So it's always realizing it's not just one project that you deliver and never come back to. There's always going to be things that you can improve. And because you have these main objectives, say speed to lead or your customer experience you're just working on, those features are going to just always build up on each other and you're going to have the space for that. And there might be some things that just don't make it because they just don't fit that. And I think for growth companies, this is important because your marketing op resources are so limited. Yes, maybe you do want to develop this crazy custom attribution model, but it doesn't meet what you need right now. It's like, do you have the resources to do it? What's the outcome that you're going to be tracking? And I'm not hating against that as a project. That's a super important project, but it's just crosstalk.

Sean Lee: No, but to your point, someone also then needs to maintain it.

Crissy Saunders: Right.

Sean Lee: Right? And then it needs to survive the next iteration of the company's growth as well. Right? And so that's where I think the continuous improvement comes in. And I'm glad you keep coming back to speed to lead as the example, because that's the perfect example of something where, okay, everybody, our speed to lead sucks.

Crissy Saunders: Yeah.

Sean Lee: Let's focus on this, this quarter. And then we get really, really good at it for 90 days. And then we're like, great, everybody declare victory on speed to lead. Let's move on to the next thing. And then a month, two months, three months go by and you're like, oh, speed to lead sucks again. Let's do that all over again. You know what I mean? It's one of those things where you can't just... there are certain parts of your business that need to just constantly work. Right? And without that level of oversight and continuous improvement, you're going to go through these cycles of, oh, we got way better at this and then we got worse at it again.

Crissy Saunders: I would say this is the fundamental change for a lot of businesses, so it's going to take time. This is something we're still trying to even roll out to our clients to start thinking this way and having us guide them through it. But when you are tracking towards outcomes too, but also your focus is minimized a bit on just the things that really matter, you really start to see where you're providing value. And I think that's one of the problems with operations in some cases is we get a bit discouraged. Where am I providing value? I know everyone tells me I'm a super important part of this company. I'm a super important part of the role, at least some people.

Sean Lee: Yep. Yep.

Crissy Saunders: But I can't be, like demand gen say, I generated X amount of pipeline or whatever, but you are pretty much part of that too, anything that's in marketing. Marketing ops is touching, but that's why I think these outcomes are really good to track toward, because you can actually see improvements of where you're spending your time. And then you can report that back to the business. And a lot of times it can be super important. If you were able to increase your conversion rate by even say 2%, that's crosstalk what that means to some company's bottom line is super impactful. And that's your outcome, right? And then when you're able to prove that and say, Hey, with these resources, I was able to do this. If you want to do this, this and this, then I need more resources. But now you can actually make the case for funding that because you are able to show your impact.

Sean Lee: Crissy told me that her entire framework is about raising the profile and the awareness of the work that marketing ops does. And I don't think that that just applies to the other folks internally at your companies. It applies to us, the operators. This framework gives us a way to articulate the value of our work in a clear, well structured way. Now, if C stands for continuous improvement, let's tie a bow on this thing, T stands for team coalitions.

Crissy Saunders: This one is an interesting one because everyone knows, okay, marketing op needs to work cross- functionally and sometimes you'll work as a team. And so what happens a lot of the times is you'll tap a bunch of people and say like, Hey, we're going to work on this project. And they may have not even seen that coming down the line, or they're not really focused. And they'll do the bare minimum show, like you said, and then never... and then maybe look at it for 30 days and then never again. Right? And so there's teams and there's also teams getting together in interlocks and giving each other updates on what they're working on, which is great. That's good for alignments. Everyone knows what they're working on, but then everyone disperses and then no one did anything together. So team coalitions to us is a bit different where say... Charlie came up with this analogy and it's great, because there's coalitions for clean energy. And it'll take leaders from all these different companies or organizations and they'll put them together and they have a long term goal of clean energy. It doesn't mean, oh, yeah, we're going to get together for three months and try and solve clean energy or make this inaudible That doesn't happen. And that's oftentimes the case with all these things, like your speed to lead process, increasing your conversion rates. If you need to work on pipeline velocity, it's not usually something you can solve overnight. And definitely, maybe not even within a quarter, but there's key people that need to work together to make that effective. And so team coalitions would be including all those people, figuring out, okay, what's the outcome that we're trying to solve or a few outcomes which should be part of that roadmap? And then, what are those features that we need to work on? And they're constantly meeting with each other to do what they need to push that forward. I can speak from experience when I worked on a coalition with a group of people, especially with an SDR leader, or a manager who has great feedback from the front line or also had their skin in the game for that outcome, working. Then I built this long lasting relationship. It never really ended. It always just continued to work on things. And so I think figuring out who are your team coalitions and calling them that rather than who's the few people that are going to work on this project is super effective.

Sean Lee: We could probably do a whole episode about every single letter on this. And you told me that before this, so you were spot on. I know it's early days, but I can imagine if you presented this to me as one of your clients, I would look at it on paper and I would say, this is awesome. Right? This makes total sense to me. This is exactly how a marketing ops team should be run. And then I would go back and look at my calendar and I would be like, okay, onto the next meeting, onto the 17 other things I'm supposed to do this week, onto the to do list, onto the task.

Crissy Saunders: Right.

Sean Lee: Right? So how are you making this stick? I know it's early days, but how do you foresee actually having this be the operating system for the marketing ops teams that you're working with?

Crissy Saunders: Yeah. So with this whole process, I think there's a few things that the marketing op person needs to do or the leader or RevOps team. Right? A RevOps team can use this too, but I think the first thing is getting executive buy- in. And so part of that will be you need to actually start selling. So this is hard because I think for some marketing op folks who are brilliant and amazing, but the confidence level to actually be a voice for themselves or be able to go to an executive and say, this is what I need, can sometimes be hard for them. So I will say for anyone who's listening to this, this is a great opportunity to work on some of your soft skills that are really important for your career. And I think the first thing is making the case for making this transition and getting an executive level buy- in from your CMO, from your VP of... whoever you report in to or whoever will give you the backing, a CMO is great because they are also in control of a lot of those cross- functional teams that you're going to be working with. And so if you're having to get those cross- functional teams to work with you differently to fill out your surveys, to be part of your team coalitions, it's going to be really hard for you to do that without some executive level buy- in. So I will say, be the thought leader, stand up and tell... and I will say, CMOs are trying to figure out right now, how do I make my operations team more effective?

Sean Lee: Yeah.

Crissy Saunders: I have these lack of resources. The pull for people in this team is crazy right now. It's very limited, because we all fell into this in the job. We didn't go to college for this. We're not engineers that went school and learned it, so we're feeling that burn. And also because people have realized how important this role is, but your leader's likely looking for answers and they don't know, because it hasn't really been... It's waters we haven't really crossed before, or at least for them. And they might not know what's going to make that team most effective. But you, as a leader of that team, or even for yourself, if you're a one person team, you're still a team. You make that case for yourself. And so I think building a deck to say, this is the way I want to operate. You can pull from product moPs. You can even say product moPs if you want a method to go back on. I'm happy to share some of this with anyone who's interested and wants a deck to start out with. But getting that executive level buy- in is key.

Sean Lee: Before we go, at the end of each episode, we're going to ask each guest the same lightning round of questions. Ready? Here we go. Best book you've read in the last six months.

Crissy Saunders: Oh, my God. I don't know. I will be honest. I don't have enough time to read recently. I usually listen to podcasts, so I might have to say podcasts, and How I Built This by Guy Raz, I feel like, is really cool. I like that podcast a lot just because you can hear from entrepreneurs and their ups and downs, and it reminds you that success is not linear. And I think for marketing ops people, that's a good thing to learn. Always just being that growth mindset and just know that some setbacks just means you might have a learning lesson from that.

Sean Lee: Podcasts, perfectly acceptable answer. All right. Favorite part about working in ops?

Crissy Saunders: Oh, problem solving. I love finding a problem or figuring out a problem and then creating a solution. And then impacting the business and being able to see that change. So it's the number one thing.

Sean Lee: Flips side, least favorite part about working in ops?

Crissy Saunders: People that just don't understand the importance and think that we just push buttons all day, and work in Marketo, and that our job is automated. It's not. Yes, we use marketing automation, but it's far from automated right now. And for people who think it's close to that and our jobs are going to be pointless one day, I will tell you that I don't see that happening for a while.

Sean Lee: If anything, the opposite, right?

Crissy Saunders: Yeah.

Sean Lee: Yeah. I just click refresh and hope for the best on the dashboards and that's basically the way my day goes. Someone who impacted you getting to the job you have today?

Crissy Saunders: Two people. So when I was at Marketo, Maria Pergolino, I remember first interviewed me and hired me. And then my boss at the time, Chris Russell. I was just a marketing generalist. They barely had a marketing ops team at Marketo, but they just saw I was just interested in everything and loved... and so gave me the opportunity. And I was managing people at a young age and I got to work on models just so early on into my career. And both of them later impacted me, especially Maria. She was one of my first clients at CS2, so I will say that that was pretty invaluable. But honestly, I have to say I've had so many people I've interacted with in my whole career and in this space that have been super supportive and I can learn from. And so, yeah, it's hard to just name a few. There's just so many.

Sean Lee: That's awesome. All right. Last one for you real quick. One piece of advice for people who want to have your job someday.

Crissy Saunders: Be interested in not just marketing ops, but the whole business, the whole revenue engine. I've always been interested in just business in general, or when I was in more general roles. Even if it had something to do with PR, I wrote it down. When I was early in my career, I was just so interested in every part of marketing. And as a marketing arts person, it made me so much better. And I was able to learn so much quicker because I was like, oh, I know this piece fits into this and this needs to happen, because this team needs it to happen. And so really understanding the whole revenue engine, the whole marketing team, how they work, what are their own departmental goals, how do they measure things will make you so much better of a marketing ops leader, because you understand that. And you know to speak their language, and you know what drives them. And you don't know how this whole picture is put together and what's important and probably what's not.

Sean Lee: Huge thank you to Crissy for joining us on this week's episode of Operations. If you like me want to hear more from Crissy, you can check out her podcast, FWD Thinking. That's FWD Thinking on Apple podcast, Spotify, wherever you get your podcasts. Also, Crissy is the co- founder and board member at Women in Revenue, a nonprofit that's focused on empowering women in B2B sales and marketing. If you want to learn more about the work that they do, go to womeninrevenue. org. All right. If you like what you heard today, make sure you are subscribed so you get a new episode in your feed every other Friday from great operations leaders like Crissy. And if you learn something today, leave us a review. Leave us a six star review on Apple podcast, six star reviews only. All right, that's going to do it for me. Thanks so much for listening. We'll see you next time.


It's fascinating to consider the different Operations approaches of consultant vs. in-house practitioners. Consultants have so many more data points and companies they’re exposed to than we do in-house, so their ability to find patterns and create frameworks is accelerated at an unfairly high rate.

On this episode, we talk to Crissy Vetere-Saunders about these patterns and the framework she's created at her business. Crissy is the Co-founder and CEO of CS2, a marketing ops and revops agency for high growth tech companies. After working in-house in Marketing Ops herself at companies like Marketo, Jive Software, and Agari, Crissy co-founded CS2 in 2015 and hasn’t looked back.

In our conversation, we talk about what used to frustrate her about the consultants she worked with, we dissect something she calls the PRODUCT Marketing Ops framework, and why Chrissy thinks you should call your Ops work features instead of projects.

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends! You can connect with Sean and Crissy on Twitter @Seany_Biz, @crvetere, and @DriftPodcasts.

Today's Host

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Sean Lane

|VP Field Operations, Drift

Today's Guests

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Crissy (Vetere) Saunders

|CEO, CS2 Marketing