A CRO's World Clocks For Running A Business With Demandbase's Allison Metcalfe

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This is a podcast episode titled, A CRO's World Clocks For Running A Business With Demandbase's Allison Metcalfe. The summary for this episode is: When a new leader joins your organization, there is often an exercise to review and revisit all of the key metrics and indicators of the business. This can be a difficult exercise if you’re used to the way things are or you were the one who picked out the original metrics in the first place. On this episode, we talk to a leader who is in the midst of that exact exercise. Our guest today is Allison Metcalfe, the new Chief Revenue Officer at Demandbase. Allison’s approach as an incoming CRO has to do with all of the different world clocks you might see on the walls of a bank. In our conversation, Allison and I talk about a specific method she used to quickly understand Demandbase’s business, prioritize where she wanted to focus, and how she managed to get a $100M business aligned around the same leading and lagging indicators. Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends! You can connect with Sean and Allison on Twitter @Seany_Biz @AllisonMetcalfe @HYPERGROWTH_pod

Sean Lane: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Operations, the show where we look under the hood of companies in hyper- growth. My name is Sean Lane. A few months ago, I got a new boss. Her name is Laura, and one of the many exercises we did when Laura arrived was to review all of the leading and lagging indicators of our business. Which KPIs matter? Which ones should we focus on? Should this be a monthly or a quarterly metric? It gave us an opportunity to revisit things that we had taken for granted, and to look at the customer journey with a fresh set of eyes. This can be a difficult exercise if you're used to the way things are, or you were the one who picked out the original metrics to begin with, but this is a critical exercise whenever a new leader joins your company, especially if you're in the midst of hyper- growth. So I wanted to talk to someone who was in the middle of that exact exercise, someone who was that new leader. That leader, and our guest, is Allison Metcalfe. Allison is the new chief revenue officer at Demandbase, the account- based marketing company. Interestingly, this is actually a bit of a return to Demandbase for Allison, who first worked at the company from 2011 to 2013. In between, Allison held a number of leadership positions at LiveRamp, where she had roles ranging from VP of customer success, to general manager of one of their product lines, to ultimately becoming the SVP of field strategy, productivity, and partnerships. Her approach as an incoming CRO has a lot to do with the different world clocks that you might see on the walls of a bank. In our conversation, Allison and I are going to talk about the specific method that she used to quickly understand Demandbase's business, prioritize where she wanted to focus, and how she managed to get 100 million dollar business aligned around the same leading and lagging indicators. I asked her to take me back to when she returned to Demandbase in September of 2020, and how she started on her assessment of the business.

Allison Metcalfe: So I joined at a really interesting time because I joined a couple weeks before the end of Q3, and that was not intentional. I can't take credit for that genius move, but it was awesome because a lot of people that are really front- row with the business, in terms of actually being very active and client- facing, were too busy to talk to me. They were running around, trying to get the quarter closed. So I was able to take the first couple weeks to really talk to almost the supporting crew, right? Talked to sales ops a lot, talked to the productivity team a lot. I talked to some of the CSM folks, the folks in the CSM team, or I'd talk to the sales engineers team, or folks that aren't necessarily involved in the closing business. So that was really a blessing in disguise, to get a sense of what was going on, start to really pull some numbers. I spent a lot of with our CFO. And so I think... I spent a lot of time with our Chief People Officer, who at most companies this size is a defacto work therapist. So I was able to have some kind of longer, less rushed, meaningful conversations and be reflective and hypothesize a little bit more than you might have been if you were joining right at the beginning of the quarter. So I will say that my first couple of weeks were more subjective, if you will. And then I started getting into figuring out where exactly the data that I wanted to look at, which really led me to one of the first key action items that I'm sure we'll talk about.

Sean Lane: And as you're coming in and you're meeting some of these people, when you say that there is kind of like the subjective component to learning from all of them, what is your process for starting to separate out people's opinions versus some of the data- driven facts about what's actually going on with the business?

Allison Metcalfe: I was kind of almost interviewing people. My background is I studied journalism. That was what my career path was going to be way back when, so I do have this kind of natural interviewing style of my own stuff. You'll have to forgive me if I start interviewing you in this conversation. I really started just going through and just being like, what's going on? What are our churn reasons? What is your opinion? And if you were me, what do you think I need to do? Then I started kind of writing this document where I just kind of first thoughts, some things that stuck out at me, sound bites people said, and then I went back and really started to pull the data. And I will say one of the first things I noticed is a lot of people's narrative around churn, did not match the churn codes. And then I think one thing that'll be near and dear to your heart is when I went back to people and said, well, you know, it's interesting because I heard a lot of support is a main driver of churn, but it's showing up as seven or eight on the list of trim codes. And then the response I got back was, well, the trend codes are not always right. So it's like, okay, well we need to make sure that the data is right, so we can make good decisions. I think, you know, Demandbase is a really sophisticated company for 100 million in revenue in terms of where they are, but they might not be as data- driven as they could be at this point. So that's a big change that we're going to be making.

Sean Lane: I remember at the company I was at before Drift, we had a new CRO come in and in my role at the time, that was my job to kind of help him with all those interviews that he was doing, that it was very similar to the ones you were doing. And it was like kind of giving me flashbacks to college where you're trying to gather all of this research and kind of distill between the signal and the noise. And so I'm curious if you kind of had a similar feeling to that, and as you're trying to separate some of these anecdotes that you're hearing from maybe some misleading data, how do you start to distill that down and say, okay, these are in fact the true priorities, and these are the things that I need to focus on as I'm getting my arms around this business?

Allison Metcalfe: I have this concept that I think you and I talked about around the world clocks. And this is really, really important to me. I got this advice from leadership at Salesforce that I was privileged to work with 10 plus years ago when I was there via an acquisition from Jigsaw. But one guy in particular, his name is Doug Landis. He gave me this analogy and he's like, you know, if you're going to run a proper field organization, you need to imagine yourself walking into a big world bank where you see all the world clocks up on the wall. You know? It's like that's what you need to do for your business, although you've got to replace the world clocks with key KPIs that measure the effectiveness of your field. Then you need to decide what the times should be, and then you look at those clocks and you figure out which ones are really off time and you execute programs and initiatives ruthlessly against getting that clock back on time. Now, what I see a lot of organizations do if they don't do this right, is they start to invest a lot of their time on hunches, and not on hard data. I'll give you a great example of that. Even at my last company, before we got this world clock concept in place, when I poked into what some of the productivity team was working on on the customer success side, when I really pushed them on what metrics they were hoping to change, it was all about CSM efficiency, right? And the reality was when I looked at... When we got the world clocks up and we really narrowed it on customer health, our ARR per CSM, which is how we defined efficiency at the time, was fine. We were happy with it. It could always be better, but it wasn't the number one problem. The number one problem was actually value- based churn. And so one of the first things I did was kind of redirect their attention. Like great, this efficiency program you're working on is helpful, but it's not the most important thing based on what our clocks are telling us over here. We need to figure out how we coach our customer success and sales teams to business outcome value, because that is the biggest problem we're having right now. So we literally kind of lifted and shifted resources to put, to put their attention back on what really was driving results for our business.

Sean Lane: I love Allison's world clocks analogy. And if you're like me, you're probably sitting there asking yourself, what are the world clocks of your business? What are those key KPIs that given effort and programs would actually move the needle of the business? I think it's important to call out the language that Allison used here, as well. She said that once you decide what the time of each clock should be, you should ruthlessly pursue the work that will get those clocks to the time that you want. To help all of us with our own brainstorming, I wanted to know where Allison and the team at Demandbase landed when they were deciding which clocks to put up on the wall.

Allison Metcalfe: Yeah, so it's interesting. I spent a lot of time with our CFO, who understandably loves this. And what's really wonderful about it is it's the CFO, it's the CMO, it's myself, it's sales ops, it's FPNA, it's the CEO, it's very cross- functional in customer success leadership. And we actually landed on pretty much the same super categories, if you will, but slightly different micro- category. So our super categories were... Or macro- categories, I should say. Pipeline health, record activity, sales excellence, growth and efficiency, and customer health. Those were the main ones that we were starting with. And I would say that Demandbase is a different size company than LiveRamp was, where I came from, so for example, with LiveRamp, we were really interested undergrowth and efficiency under something called the growth efficiency index, which I could never explain to you. It's a finance metric, but things like customer acquisition costs and gross margins by product are more important to Demandbase as a sales and marketing is a percent of revenue. Under pipeline health, Demandbase has this concept that I have never heard of before, but it works here, is beginning of period pipeline. And so we're looking at beginning of period pipe as a indicator of pipeline health. The one thing that I am changing here is we haven't looked as much net new logo versus upsell. It's just kind of net new dollar. So we're going to start to look at that a little bit more carefully. Another metric under pipeline health, that was really important to LiveRamp that might not be here is slip ratio, like how many... What percent of our deals are slipping quarter over quarter? Which might be more of a measurement of our team's ability to forecast. I got to think about that one a little bit more. I don't know what you think about that.

Sean Lane: So it sounds like the kind of five super categories, or macro- categories, that you're describing here really and truly might be able to apply to anyone's business who's listening. But it sounds like the fine tuning and the place where the really meaningful conversations take place is which KPI you're going to use to measure the macro- category. Is that fair?

Allison Metcalfe: Yeah, I think so. I want to stress, too, that I think these macro- categories, these are applicable to field measurement, right? So we are working on an initiative where... Because obviously look, if you're thinking about product, product should have its own categories. And I remember one of the last board meetings at LiveRamp, field effectiveness and product effectiveness were two big categories and so product had its own version of world clocks. But yeah, but I agree. I mean, where Brian and I... Brian Morris is our CFO. We spoke about the kind of macro- categories for all of five minutes. All of our conversation was really in the... Because there really wasn't much more to add, right? That you can consider. I do think that one thing that I think if you would have had this conversation with a CRO maybe a year and a half ago, they may have spent less time looking at customer health because I think that CROs were probably outside of just plain old retention. You know, we now have what? One, two, three, four, five, six different micro- metrics under customer health. So I think we're getting a lot more scientific at the CRO level about customer health.

Sean Lane: And I believe in your scope of responsibility at Demandbase, customer success falls under your purview as CRP, correct?

Allison Metcalfe: Correct. Yep. Correct.

Sean Lane: And so how are you bringing those things together? Right? Because I completely agree with you, right? It used to be growth, growth, growth, bookings, bookings, bookings, and now people are realizing that when you have a bunch of that revenue, kind of use the leaky bucket analogy, you know, falling out the bottom of the bucket, you have to bring those things together. So I'm curious when you are talking about those KPIs in the customer health category, do those tie back to sales somehow or do those kind of live in their own bucket? How does that customer health measurement work?

Allison Metcalfe: So it does tie back to sales because we are in the process, like a lot of companies are around our size, of evolving the role of quote unquote sales and quote unquote customer success. And so I think the other thing that's happening for us, that's pushing us to make some changes is we are launching a brand new product next month that's going to be very different from the way that we've operated before. And what I mean by that is Demandbase acquired a company called Engagio. Whereas Demandbase was really focused in the past on advertising and analytics and site optimization, Engagio kind of brings the whole platform together around intent and activation. Kind of a total one- stop shop for a comp- based marketing execution. So it's a true proper SAS platform, which Demandbase has aspired to, but hasn't totally had this whole time, right? So the new Demandbase is going to be far more like a more typical marketing automation tool in terms of what it needs from a support and selling point of view, than the kind of API calls and services that Demandbase used to be. So what that means is that customer success needs to shift to be far more product... special product experts, essentially. And sales needs to shift to be not only thinking about net new logo, but also just thinking about accounts. And so we're at that point where we're bringing sales back into some of the accounts to actually truly be commercial leads on those accounts, as well as have net new logos. We're kind of kicking around those conversations. Like, can you have people that... Can you successfully have people that have both? Both have accounts and net new logos, or do you need a net new logo team? Is it different between mid- market and enterprise? You know, those are all things we're kicking around, but sales will have responsibility for retention going forward. And so customer health is extremely important to the sales side of our house, as well.

Sean Lane: I continue to see this trend more and more frequently in the companies that we talk to for this show, where CROs are playing a more active, direct role in the customer relationship post- sale. While this seems like a simple and obvious thing to pair sales with the customer success of what you just sold, growth- minded companies have oftentimes put that growth at the cost of everything else, including customer success. But now, Allison, are entering into their role as a CRO with the entire customer journey in mind. And we, in Operations, can be critical partners in instrumenting that customer journey. Or as Allison puts it, putting the right clocks on the wall. If you noticed, Allison called out four or five different internal partners that were critical in helping pick out the right KPIs for those clocks. With all of her clocks picked out, though, the logical next step is to prioritize which clocks get the most attention first. And with all of those different partners, all of those different anecdotes she was hearing, all of that new data, how does the new CRO like Allison start to pick out those priorities?

Allison Metcalfe: Yeah, this is where the fun begins. So I would say in the beginning of this, like when I went through this exercise at LiveRamp, deciding the macro and micro- categories took months and months and months. So the good news is, Brian and I were able to really agree that we didn't need to rewrite the world there. We could just leverage that. So we saved ourselves a good quarter and a half of time because the next phase is the... If you can imagine a spreadsheet, I have the rows being the metrics and the columns being the data, but the first column is goal, right? What is the goal? And again, this is where the fun begins. Not with LiveRamp, when we went through this exercise, we had attempted to do this a year and a half ago, or something. I just don't think we were ready, but we had actually engaged with some consultants to help us figure out that goal. And it was a really challenging process because they'd come in and they would suggest things and we'd be like, well, where are you getting that? Why do you have that point of view? And it was, you know, based on X consultants, you know, client base. And then when we'd push them to give us examples of the customers that were in their client base, they were not companies that we had any interest in comparing ourselves to. You know?

Sean Lane: Yeah.

Allison Metcalfe: So then you honestly... I mean, I hate to say this, but this is, this is what happens. Brian and I, even when we were talking about this, we started pulling up proxies and public companies that we do either aspire to be like, or feel we're similar enough to that we can start looking at, you start doing research, you start asking your board to start poking around because you need to get some benchmarks and some baseline. Some, you can say there's industry standards like pipeline, you know, there's the classic, you want 3X of your pipe against goal. Others are harder to determine. And then there's some, I think sales excellence, average sales cycle and close rate and ASP, it's really just about the trendline. Right? So I remember one thing when we did this at LiveRamp was for some of these, the goal was just up and to the right. And so then the outcome was always... We always had a graphic to support the data, to kind of show which way the trendline was heading. But yeah, like I said, some are industry standard. We all kind of know what renewal rates are healthy and what net retention rates are healthy. We all kind of know the pipeline stuff, but things... I'm even thinking about things like net new logo heads, or net new logo ads, that's really specific to us. Ramp time, you want that just going in the right direction. But then there's sales and marketing as a percent of revenue. I'm really relying on finance to tell me what they want to see here based on pure data.

Sean Lane: The thing you're making me think about as you're kind of listing off all of these different examples is I would be very nervous in the midst of this process that I have either picked the wrong thing to measure, or that I might be too heavy on lagging indicators, right? So I might be too heavy on measuring results, and by the time I figure out that there's a problem, it might be too late to make an impact on this quarter or the next quarter. Do you think about that in terms of the distribution, or I guess the split between leading and lagging indicators in your world clocks? And is there a moment where you might say, oh, I think we picked the wrong thing?

Allison Metcalfe: I don't worry, because this is not the only thing we're going to look at. And I think this is where the partnership with sales ops becomes incredibly, incredibly important. This is like my scorecard, or this is my dashboard that I want to look at quarter over quarter to assess the health of the business and make sure that we're spending our time on broad- based initiatives in the right direction. But within the quarter, I'm always looking to sales ops to tell me what's really going on. So imagine this is like... I'm going to take a swing at an analogy. We'll see if this works, but imagine that we're in a hospital and this is kind of the patient's chart. Like this is kind of a snapshot in time of how the patient is doing, but we need the doctors and nurses to be constantly measuring that patient and coming and saying," Hey man, there's a spike in something, or something's trending down." So a great example of this would be, again, at LiveRamp, we have this snapshot in time where I'm looking at it on a quarterly basis, but sales ops would come to me all the time and say," Hey, I'm a little bit worried about the distribution of upsell versus net new logo and how that's trending this quarter." And we might say, okay, we need to go and crank the wheel on account planning to try to increase our pipe and upsell, for example. There's data that's happening in real time that we need sales ops to really be the finger on the pulse to help us know what's going on, because you're right. This is not going to help you understand the business if you only look at this. And then I'll also say to your first point about being worried about these being the right things, hey man, you can change it. If it's not meaningful, if you're not ending up taking any action because of this data, or you're not making... It's like this data should either make you feel good, or make you take action. And if there's a data point that's not eliciting either response, it's probably not doing anything for you. You know? Get rid of it, replace it.

Sean Lane: I'm so glad Allison set me straight here on my fear of picking the wrong data points. She even said that at her last company, it took them far too long to pick out the right KPIs for their clocks. If you sit paralyzed, trying to pick the perfect indicators and never get to actually measuring them, you're not doing yourself or your company any favors. As Allison puts it, sales ops needs to be constantly checking the vital signs of the business and calling out where things might be going wrong so that the CRO and other leaders can be armed with that information. And it's not just singular moments in time either, but also the trends that can jump or dip over the course of multiple months or quarters. You can also get caught up trying to slice and dice your data until you have so many metrics that none of them are even telling you anything anymore. From my experience, it's about picking the least amount of KPIs that can tell you the most information about your business. Start there. This also got me thinking though, how does someone know if their company is ready for the world clock setup? Allison said that they were probably a little premature when they tried this exercise at LiveRamp. So how can the rest of us know if we're ready or not?

Allison Metcalfe: So I think you need to have senior leadership being willing to embrace the concept of leading indicators versus lagging indicators. Right? A lot of companies, especially when they're smaller and really growing really fast, it's really easy to be super outcome- focused and just end result lagging indicator focused. And the reality is that is fantastic when things are going really, really well. And it falls apart quickly when you have one off quarter and you have no idea why, because you couldn't see it coming. And so you really have to get a leadership team that is prepared to take this data seriously, and then most importantly, take action on it. So the leader of sales ops at LiveRamp, Deb, she's really good. She's very data- driven, she's very bought into the concept of leading indicators, and she had really been a driving force of raising some of these data points to the field leadership team for a long time. Quite frankly, for years. But the reality was the culture of the leadership team was just so focused on coaching to the forecast and just closing deals. And you can't argue with that, right? LiveRamp has done really, really well and it was going... But then what's happening with LiveRamp is the stakes are much higher. It's a public company, and the growth expectations are much higher, and it's much harder to grow a higher clip on a bigger base than it is on a smaller base. And so there got to be a lot more interest. And especially when some of the numbers started... When we did actually do the analysis and saw some of the numbers weren't quite where they wanted them to be. The good news is at Demandbase, our sales ops is really sophisticated. We have an amazing CFO, and we are really interested in the alignment between sales and marketing. So we're really interested in making sure we measure what matters and I'm personally extremely bought into working this way. So that's one indicator that this is going to be embraced, because I'm driving it. But it really is that simple. Like you need buy... Just like anything else though, right, Sean? I would use the same analogy for sales methodology training. I'm in this process now where we're going to bring in an external methodology and put our team through it. And the reason we do that as leaders is because we truly believe that embracing a methodology will make our team better. And so the worst thing that you can do is put your sales team through a super expensive sales methodology class. They leave that class, they're thinking in a different way. They're thinking about things in a new way. They're applying these methodologies to their opportunities and they walk into their first next one- on- one with their manager and they have the same conversation they've always had. That was a waste of time. They're done. That's over now. So you really need everyone to embrace, this is the new way that we're going to manage ourselves, and then you really you'd have to hold yourselves to that. It's the simplest thing in the world, but the hardest thing in the world.

Sean Lane: Yeah. I couldn't agree more. Sales methodology is a great example. And I think it extends to anything that has to do with the metrics you're talking about. You and I have talked about forecasting in the past. It's the same thing. It's adherence and reinforcement, adherence and reinforcement, over and over and over again. And then ultimately I think you end up with this shared language amongst all the people who you want to be paying attention to these things. And I think the world of clocks is the exact same thing. If everyone is reiterating the same KPIs over and over and over again, or the same categories of indicators of success in the organization, then ultimately that becomes ingrained.

Allison Metcalfe: And then also by the way, if anyone comes to me and they're asking for an investment and you're like I want to do this project, or I want to get this tool or whatever it might be. They want investment if they want to work on something. I would point back to this and say, which metric are you going to improve? And if it's not on this list, it's not important. You know? So it's like everyone has to align themselves around this. And also, like I said earlier, if it's on this list, but it's green and there's other things on this list that are red, then I don't want you focusing on that. So it really does help people be accountable. And hopefully again, you know, there's the famous book to Measure What Matters, but then to focus on what matters. That's the ultimate goal.

Sean Lane: Yeah. The focus and discipline that you get as a ripple effect of having these is, I think, yet another benefit, right? Because to your point, if people all of a sudden are distracted by the shiny new object and all of a sudden go off to work on this new project that actually is not going to impact one of these key areas, then you know it's not as important. I'm curious, what's at the top of the list right now? What's the clock that you're focused most on right now?

Allison Metcalfe: So, we're not unique in this, but retention, we definitely want to get better. That is certainly top of list is we've got to improve retention. And I think interestingly, a subcategory of that is this whole concept of rules and responsibilities between sales and customer success. We're launching this new product. And so we're launching it on November 11th. And so it's going to be really, really important that we have all the right people in the right roles, that will also lead to retention. But frankly, that's the only one I know for sure, because when I look at my list of world clocks, I already know that data and I know it's not exactly where we want it to be. The rest of this... Well, I should actually say the other one that's relevant to drift actually is we want to get our pipeline to be a little bit healthier. So we're looking very closely at pipeline. One of the things that Demandbase has been doing historically is looking at pipe more as a result of number of logos in the pipeline versus dollars. And I think the number of logos is really, really important. In fact, it was always frustrating at LiveRamp that we didn't have that. We only had dollars. I firmly believe that you need both to tell the full picture. So those are two things, forecasting pipeline health and churn, I know for sure. The rest I don't know yet because... And I will know more next week after we have our first metrics meeting because we have yet to fill out our goal column and we're still working on getting baseline data. So I'm still kind of in the discovery phase of where these clocks are going to lead me.

Sean Lane: That brings up a good point. Is there ever a state of done with these clocks, right? Is it always evolving or do you reach a point where you say, okay, I feel like I have a good pulse on my business? Whether it's the data sources themselves, the KPIs you pick, the macro- categories. How do you think about that as kind of this living, breathing thing?

Allison Metcalfe: So I don't think you would ever be done because... And again, this really sticks with me, something that Doug Landis said to me when I was getting advice from him. And he was like," Imagine if you could make each one 10% better, and you could keep making one 10% better, that could be millions of dollars in revenue for your business." So I would suggest my plan is let's imagine a world where I live in a sea of green here, and every number is perfect. I would not start adding new metrics. I would try to keep my disciplined focus on keeping these metrics and never believe that I couldn't get better. And then just continuously... And maybe we have a new category of green, like super green, but like, I just love that concept. It was really empowering to me. Like imagine if you could make people 10% better, the outcome that would have. And I think even if you're happy with the baseline, you can always be better.

Sean Lane: Before we go each show, at the end of each show 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?

Allison Metcalfe: I'm going to say it's a book I'm reading now. I'm reading Titan about John D Rockefeller, biography. It's super good.

Sean Lane: Awesome. Favorite part about working in ops? I know you go a little bit cross- functional, across a whole bunch of different stuff. So maybe favorite part about working with ops?

Allison Metcalfe: Being able to be almost a 100% data- driven is really empowering to me versus living in a subjective world of opinions. In a sea of opinions, living in an objective data-driven world feels very safe.

Sean Lane: Flip side of that, least favorite part about working with ops?

Allison Metcalfe: The accessibility of data can be very challenging.

Sean Lane: That is a good one. Someone who impacted you getting the job you have today?

Allison Metcalfe: Probably my former boss, James Arra, who helped me grow so horizontally, and not only vertically, at LiveRamp, that made me a much broader experienced person that made this perfect timing and made me the perfect candidate for Demandbase.

Sean Lane: And last one, one piece of advice for people who want to have your job someday?

Allison Metcalfe: I would reflect on what I just said. Horizontal growth is really, really important. I think ambitious people focus only in vertical growth. Like I want to be director then senior director then VP of the practice I'm in, but a CRO is multi- disciplined and needs to have experience in more than one thing. And so work for people that will give you opportunities that are non- obvious for you to have, and be willing to take lateral moves so that you can grow horizontally to make yourself super well- rounded.

Sean Lane: It's super interesting that you say that. And normally I don't do follow up questions in this last piece, but you're probably the third guest in the last four or five interviews that I've done that has encouraged that. And I feel like it's still relatively rare for people to do because they want that linear growth in their career and they're eyeing that next level. What about that kind of horizontal growth for you was, I guess, productive and enticing enough for you to take that path that didn't have like this obvious next step to it?

Allison Metcalfe: Listen, it wasn't intentional and that's the thing. What if it would have been intentional? Where could I have been? You know? I think because I grew up in customer success, I was a VP of customer success and I kind of thought that was my path, and LiveRamp... And that would have been a lovely path. You know? That was a great role. And LiveRamp made this decision to dismantle functional leadership in favor of a GM structure. And so that was a terrifying couple of months for me, cause I wasn't sure where I was going to land. I didn't really have a job and I did not consider myself someone that they would consider to take on something more than customer success. But we had inherited this TV business from our former parent company that they decided they wanted to spin out and have it be its own thing. And then I became GM of that business and that's where I had to take responsibility for net new logo. And probably most importantly, I had the report to the board of P& L, which I had never done before. And so I got really buddy- buddy with finance. One of the things I learned was I can't be given a spreadsheet from finance and represent it. I had to kind of create my own dashboard, if you will, so that I could tell the story I wanted to tell. And then when we acquired a company, it really became clear that it would make the most sense for the CEO of that company to succeed me as GM of the TV business. And there was the gentleman that had kind of spearheaded field strategy and productivity left LiveRamp, and I think it was just a combination of my experience and people trusted me there that James, my former boss thought I could lead and I could be successful in that role. Stepped into that role, which is when I really started interviewing my ex- Salesforce buddies to understand how do I do this? And that's kind of where the concept of the world clocks has come up that is really being successful. So I think it's openness. I kind of got pulled versus me pushing, frankly, but I can't believe what it's done for me. But I also reflect on, I was at a women in tech thing through the information months ago, and Shari Redstone, she's the one I heard this concept... Talk about this for the first time. She was talking about it more in the terms of women, that ambitious women tend to be really linear, but I think it's everybody. So I'm really a fan of the concept. And I just can't tell you how much more I understand about the world, given the experiences that I've had over the last couple of years. And they were all lateral moves. But I would never be talking to you today in the role that I'm at had I not done those things.

Sean Lane: Thanks so much to Allison Metcalfe for joining us on this week's episode of Operations. If you liked what you heard and you haven't subscribed to Operations yet, what are you waiting for? Get it in your feed automatically every other Friday by hitting the subscribe button wherever you get your podcasts. Also, if you really enjoyed the show, be sure to leave us a six star review on Apple Podcasts. Six star reviews only. All right, that's going to do it for me for this week. Thanks so much for listening. We'll see you next time.


When a new leader joins your organization, there is often an exercise to review and revisit all of the key metrics and indicators of the business. This can be a difficult exercise if you’re used to the way things are or you were the one who picked out the original metrics in the first place. On this episode, we talk to a leader who is in the midst of that exact exercise. Our guest today is Allison Metcalfe, the new Chief Revenue Officer at Demandbase. Allison’s approach as an incoming CRO has to do with all of the different world clocks you might see on the walls of a bank. In our conversation, Allison and I talk about a specific method she used to quickly understand Demandbase’s business, prioritize where she wanted to focus, and how she managed to get a $100M business aligned around the same leading and lagging indicators. Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends! You can connect with Sean and Allison on Twitter @Seany_Biz @AllisonMetcalfe @HYPERGROWTH_pod