How Hypergrowth Companies "Run Revenue" with Clari's Kyle Coleman

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This is a podcast episode titled, How Hypergrowth Companies "Run Revenue" with Clari's Kyle Coleman. The summary for this episode is: <p>Revenue teams, and specifically Revenue Operations teams, are responsible for <em>a lot.</em></p><p><br></p><p>We recently talked to someone, though, who has a really smart and refreshing approach to putting the right processes and guardrails in place to help revenue teams to, as he puts it, "run revenue."</p><p><br></p><p>That someone and our guest today is Kyle Coleman, the SVP of Marketing at Clari, the revenue platform that helps teams get total visibility into their business.</p><p><br></p><p>In our conversation, Kyle teaches me about everything that goes into “running revenue. We talk about what it means to be a "revenue-critical employee," and why Kyle's marketing team is goaled on metrics you probably haven’t seen in a marketing team before.</p><p><br></p><p>Like this episode?&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️&nbsp;review</a>&nbsp;and share the pod with your friends! You can connect with Sean on Twitter @Seany_Biz and @DriftPodcasts.</p>

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. Something I worry about sometimes is the breadth of the charter that comes with working within operations. Especially as the concept of revenue operations has become more popular, what an ops team can become responsible for can, quite frankly, get a little overwhelming. I recently talked to somebody, though, who has a really smart and refreshing approach to putting the right processes and guardrails in place to help revenue teams to, as he puts it, run revenue. That somebody and our guest today is Kyle Coleman, the SVP of marketing at Clari, the revenue platform that has raised nearly$ 500 million in funding and helps revenue teams get total visibility into their businesses. Kyle joined Clari in early 2019 after spending more than six years at Looker. In our conversation, Kyle teaches me about everything that goes into running revenue. We talk about what it means to be a revenue critical employee and why his marketing team is gold on metrics you probably have never seen in a marketing team before. But first, I asked Kyle to give me some background on what this concept of running revenue means and where it came from in the first place.

Kyle Coleman: So this concept of running revenue happened organically. It happened in our conversations with customers and the way that we communicated with prospects, and we found that this phrase came up over and over and over again as, operators were talking about how they ran revenue. We were like," Well, that's really interesting. What exactly does that mean?" And as we dug in and we tried to understand what people meant by it, we found that people felt like they just didn't have the tools. Running revenue is this kind of brute force exercise that requires some combination of, frankly, pretty antiquated tools, whether that's BI platforms or spreadsheets or a CRM that is just not purpose- built to run revenue. And the other thing that we found, Sean, and I know that you operate this way, is that the best revenue teams in the world treat revenue like a process. It's not just an outcome that happens at the end of the quarter. It's not just a number on the balance sheet. Revenue is a process, and you can break down that process into all of its component parts across your top of funnel, middle funnel, bottom of funnel, all the things that happen at the individual level, at the aggregate team level, at the company level. And if you can break down and optimize all those sub- processes, you can really start to run revenue. And that's what the best revenue teams do. They have cadences around how they approach deal inspection and QBRs, obviously, and all these different revenue moments that they try and own and control in order to optimize the process, and therefore run revenue. So a very long way of saying that it happened organically in conversations with customers and prospects, and it's just something that we believe Clari is really well- suited to solve, because Clari was purpose- built for the last 10 plus years to help companies do exactly this. So that's where we are.

Sean Lane: I have a bunch of questions about some of those processes and inspection points, and so we'll get to that. But one of the things I noticed when you're describing that is you very explicitly say that the revenue team runs revenue. And so if I'm listening to this, I'm thinking," Is that a sales team, a marketing team, a combination of the two?" Who are the teams that are running revenue? Who do you think of when you describe this revenue team?

Kyle Coleman: It's a great question, and it is different for every company. And again, this is something that we stumbled upon more or less organically as we saw different people using our product. And the way that we started thinking about revenue teams was breaking that down to think about, who all are the revenue critical employees? And for many companies, this is... Of course, it's your quota carrying reps, but it's also your SDRs. It's your marketing teams. It's your product teams. It's so much of the company. We find that up to half of employees at different companies are logging into and using Clari every day. And that was a super interesting insight for us because we, frankly, had never thought about it quite like that. We didn't know that product managers, as an example, were going to be as involved in the platform as they are. And it was a very cool eye- opening moment for us because it made us realize that, again, that kind of antiquated system of tools, BI, CRM, spreadsheets, you name it, there had never been a unified platform for all of these revenue critical employees to come in and collaborate on revenue. And that's what Clari allows. So when we talk about revenue teams, we talk about every single person who has some sort of impact on revenue, literally by inaudible a quota, or a bit more removed, like a product manager who's developing product areas for the purpose of driving revenue. So it depends on the way that your company runs, but it's probably more people than you think.

Sean Lane: More people run revenue than you think. It's not just sales or marketing or even ops. There's a broader group of people that are now playing a role in this idea of running revenue. And Kyle's point is that the traditional BI or CRM tools or spreadsheets aren't enough to run revenue anymore. Kyle taught me that revenue is not an outcome, but rather a series of processes and inspection points. So that begs the question, what are those processes and inspection points? It turns out that Kyle and the team at Clari learned about this the best way that any company can, from their customers.

Kyle Coleman: We were inspired by this from Okta. Okta, I think everybody knows, is a world- class company, world- class revenue team, and we-

Sean Lane: And a super early Clari customer, right?

Kyle Coleman: Exactly. Exactly So we have drawn a lot of inspiration from them. We've been working with them for about five or six years now. And when we went in and we started to do the standard case study thing, like," Hey, how do you use Clari," what we found is that they were really structured in the way that they use Clari. And they had put together what they refer to as a 13- week cadence for running revenue. What happens in week one? What happens in week two? All the way through week 13 of the quarter. And they had different sorts of processes that were cadenced across that 13- week calendar. We said," Wow, this is incredible." And to give you an example, QBRs are in week two, so week one, it's all about deal inspection and clean up, so that when we enter QBRs, it's not an interrogation exercise, it's a strategic exercise to say," We've already vetted the real from the not so real deals, and now we need to focus on those real deals and have a strategic conversation with all of the folks we have in the room about how we're actually going to turn this into revenue." So week one and two is all about deal clean up and then deal execution. And then they go into this cadence where week three is in quarter forecast, so you clean up all your deals in week two, QBR's week three is your in quarter forecast. Okay, we feel really good about this number now in Q3. Q4 is then your out quarter forecast. So they start looking out quarter in month one of the current quarter, and then they have this rotating cadence every other week, in quarter, out quarter, in quarter, out quarter cadence. Along the way, there are a bunch of other things. They look at slip deals, and they start to understand why are deals slipping. Let's look at the reasons behind that. What can we pull back in? Are we okay with it slipping? Those slip deal reviews are another moment that they do frequently throughout the quarter, I think once a month, every quarter. And then as you get closer to the end of the month, week four, week eight, week 13, they have what they call sequence of events calls. So the sequence of events, some companies would think of it as a mutual action plan. And the sequence of events is what has to happen, by what date, with what stakeholders, to actually get this deal done. And it's a very prescribed, very templated... It depends on your sales methodology, but it's this process or sub- process, rather, that gives their entire revenue team confidence that this deal is real, and if this is a committed deal, there is a sequence of events to get it to the finish line. So that was a very long answer, but long way of saying that every week of a 13- week quarter has revenue critical moments that they are focusing on and optimizing along the way. And what's really interesting about it, Sean, is that it creates this sort of flywheel where the more you focus on all these sub- processes across the greater revenue process, the better you become, the more data you collect, the more you can optimize. And it's just this virtuous cycle that is constantly improving itself, and it's part of the reason Okta is who they are.

Sean Lane: Yeah. So a couple questions about that. I hear those kind of different milestones in that 13- week process, and my mind goes to, okay, these all have their own unique value that they're adding to the 13 weeks. When you think about, whether it's the way Okta does it or the way you would coach other companies to do that, are those 13 unique routines complements to a traditional forecast motion where you have a forecast meeting every Friday afternoon, and that's the forecast, and then you also are doing this separately, or are those replacing that? How should I think about the 13- week calendar versus what most companies would say is their typical forecasting routine?

Kyle Coleman: Such a great question, Sean. And it gives me a lovely opportunity to redefine what forecasting means.

Sean Lane: Okay.

Kyle Coleman: Because a lot of companies, sort of unfortunately, think of forecasting as this kind of basic process where you're just rolling up a spreadsheet, and that is not what forecasting is. Of course that's a component of it. You're rolling up a call. You want to understand what individuals and teams are calling, your leaders are responsible for triangulating, and all of that. But in order to do that well, in order to do that today with all the data that we have... The reason this is the way that people think about forecasting is because 10 years ago, 20 years ago, it was the only way to do it. It was all gut. It was all sales people just calling a number, putting it in a spreadsheet, and crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. The fact of the matter is, we have way more data now. And so forecasting is not just that bottoms up, roll up. It is also a very analytical exercise. It's looking at your conversion rate trends. It's looking at the current health of your pipeline. How old are the deals in the pipeline? What risk exists? Where are there risk and momentum indicators across those deals? It's looking at buyer engagement, looking at relationship maps, and seeing, are they responding to our emails? Are there files out that are waiting to be signed? What is the exact state of this business? And so it's all of these different data points that, again, Clari aggregates into a single platform. And it allows everybody, from individual reps, to frontline managers, to VPs, to our CRO, to have a lot more confidence that they're triangulating a number appropriately, and not just finger in the air guesswork, but looking at the bottoms up call that has a lot more confidence because our individuals are trained to think critically about all the different things that are going on, and then allowing for easier inspection for all of our managers to validate the feelings that are happening in the field. And that's what forecasting is. It's an analytical exercise, it's art, and it's science. It requires a really firm understanding of where you've been, but also where you are in order to predict where you're going. And that's what forecasting is. So to answer your question, that 13- week cadence is critical to having a trustworthy forecast. When I tell you that Okta has confidence in their in quarter forecast in week three, they typically land within three to five percentage points-

Sean Lane: Wow.

Kyle Coleman: ...of their call in week three. That's insane. And the reason for that accuracy and that precision is because they're running this like a process, and they have all of these different, again, revenue, critical moments calendared out and really well- optimized and honed and constantly improving.

Sean Lane: Look, it's easy to say all the right things about how forecasting should work, or have all the right things written down in a Wiki post or a deck about how forecasting should work. It's quite another to live and breathe those beliefs quarter after quarter after quarter. And that's what Okta has done with Clari's help. My favorite thing here is that Kyle and his team don't pretend to have all the answers. They have found their absolute smartest customers and put a spotlight on them. This 13- week cadence for running revenue is an aspirational blueprint for the rest of us. And to Kyle's point, we can all get there through both art and science, not through just a bottoms up, roll up, crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. At Drift, where, full disclosure, we're very happy Clari customers, we triangulate from three different forecasting methods. First, our internal manager roll up, second, from our Clari AI model, and third, from our own internal ops team model. We've worked really hard on all three of those things, and they all serve as good gut checks against one another. Okay. Forecasting aside for a second. Kyle is talking about much more than just calling a number. Running revenue is a pretty broad charter in and of itself. And while it's his job as the SVP of marketing at Clari to be able to speak this language in an authentic way, Kyle's background is what uniquely qualifies him to be an expert in much more than just your typical marketing leader. As I mentioned at the top of the show, prior to Clari, Kyle spent six years working at Looker, expanding his role largely through the sales development team there. It's not the traditional path for a marketing executive, but the more I learned about his path, the more I realized that it was what had prepared Kyle for the role he has today.

Kyle Coleman: So I do have something of a non- traditional path, that is for sure. My first job in B2B tech was as an SDR at a six- person company based in Santa Cruz, California. I was early at a company called Looker, a business intelligence company. And for the early days, working on a startup of that size under 10 employees, it means you do everything. I was doing everything from writing website copy, to cold calling, to managing deals, and everything in between. And they just gave me a really good sense of... I had to, necessarily, understand all of the things that matter both to marketing, as well as to sales, across the entire go- to- market engine there. I gravitated toward SDR land because I thought it was a really interesting way of kind of flexing the people management muscle that I just realized I got a lot of enjoyment out of. So not only do I really enjoy the process of all things SDR, I also enjoy helping people that are either earlier in their career or new to tech or something like that, and just helping them land and then find the right growth path for them. So management became the course that I went down. In my first four years at Looker. I reported directly to our CMO. And in my second of six years, or my final two of six years at Looker, I reported directly to our CRO. So I became very well- versed in all things marketing, the metrics, the processes, the personnel, the staff, all of the things that matter, how to run events, how to create content, how to run demand gen programs, all of the things that matter, of course, to marketing, and then switched over to the sales aisle and learned exactly the same for all things sales, how to forecast, how to run deals, how to negotiate, how X, Y, Z, territory planning, capacity planning, quota planning, all of that. And so just sort of by nature of my six- year journey at Looker, I developed what I think of as this fluency of language for both marketing and for sales. And that helped me a lot as I transitioned over to Clari and ended up taking on both SDR as well as demand generation and growth marketing. So because I had that pretty firm background working hand in hand with our VP of demand generation at Looker, a wonderful woman named Lissa Daniels, who is just my favorite person in the universe, because I had that background of working so tightly with her, I had the confidence to go and do it myself at Clari. And one thing led to another, and success. And one of the cool things about Clari and the culture here is that if you are successful, you get more responsibility that is outside of your literal job description. This has happened for myself, and it's happened for dozens of other people that I've seen in my three and a half years here. And so part of what I got was success in SDR, so quick wins, because that was my area of expertise, taking on growth marketing and doing something similar there with our ABM and our event strategies, and then taking on customer marketing and product marketing and having similar sort of successes. And oust one thing led to another, Sean, and now I find myself responsible for our entire marketing team, which is all things from awareness and brand, all the way through demand generation, as well as our SDR team, and what we call revenue excellence, which is enablement plus value engineering plus competitive. And it's a very cool marketing team because it's not a traditional marketing team. It's not, quote unquote, just top of funnel awareness type stuff. We are responsible both for creating and accelerating pipeline, so we have a lot of skin in the game. And my background working closely with marketing and sales leadership I think has prepared me very well for this purview that is responsible for key metrics on the marketing and sales side.

Sean Lane: And mentioned that it gave you confidence, but I think it also gave you credibility, right-

Kyle Coleman: Yes.

Sean Lane: ...with the rest of the organization to be able to be the person that's not just focused on the demand gen, right? So I think you are clearly taking your own unique approach to running revenue, and Clari is doing the same as a broader company. Demand gen and SDR being together under marketing is not wildly unique, but having value engineering and enablement also in that same group is unique. Can you talk a little bit about how those fit in within the broader marketing team and what their charter is? You talked about accelerating pipeline.

Kyle Coleman: Yes. The charter is exactly that. It is owning, owning, directly responsible for key metrics that a marketing team otherwise would not be responsible for. And these metrics include discount rates, win rates, stage to stage conversion, ASPs, all of these metrics that are traditionally metrics that are owned by a VP of sales or CRO or, certainly, individual reps, we take accountability for because we are creating the programs. We should be creating the high velocity pipeline that lends itself to fast deal cycles for people that are actually interested in buying Clari. That's one. But two, we are creating the programs, the literal sales programs, via our enablement team and our value team to help our sellers execute. And it's a handshake. And it's been really interesting to see how this has evolved, Sean, because this handshake between product marketing and enablement at many companies is somewhat broken or entirely nonexistent. But the fact of the matter is, these two teams need to be working hand in glove. The work that the PMM team is doing absolutely has to be enabled properly across the field. Otherwise, a lot of the work and a lot of the thinking in PMM is just getting flushed on the toilet. And so again, we stumbled into this org design. It wasn't something that was super intentional. It was probably a bit more opportunistic than it was intentional. But the synergies that we found have been... There's been a lot of serendipity in the synergies that we found, because all of these processes are related, and because all of these different thinkers across our marketing team, across our revenue excellence team are working together and optimizing each other's programs.

Sean Lane: I don't mind if you need to click pause on this episode right now and go talk to your marketing leader about measuring their team on win rates, discount rates, stage conversion. The rest of the episode will be here when you get back. Seriously, though, this org structure that Kyle has created and the handshake agreements that he's brokered between teams, these are all clearly foundational elements of Clari's way of running revenue. If everyone in your marketing org is aligned around accelerating pipeline and not just creating it, you're probably building something pretty special. But let's be honest. You're probably also building something that's pretty hard. There's often an inherent lack of trust in the relationship between marketing and sales. But I wonder if this team structure that Kyle has created might just result in better outputs, more useful content, and, quite frankly, more language that human beings actually use.

Kyle Coleman: The credibility gap that typically exists between marketing and sales is very real, and we've worked really hard to close that gap. We've worked really hard to make sure that our marketing people really understand the product and really understand the personas and go beyond just understanding. I don't mean just reading a one- pager about a sales operations person. I mean listening to this podcast, reading the blogs that they read, following the people, the quote unquote influencers on LinkedIn and seeing what the conversation is, joining communities like Pavilion and being a part of the revenue operations community, and just seeing what those conversations are really like. And it's still challenging. I'm not absolving myself of this. I like to fancy language up every now and again, but that's not what's useful for the sales team. What's useful for the sales team in customer conversations is simplicity. It's not to say to dumb it down. That's not what I mean. I mean to simplify it. I mean to get rid of phrases like 360 degree view of your customer and just say," You know your customer." So just things as simple as that. And because our marketing team, again, is responsible for both creating and accelerating pipeline, we pay attention to deals. We sit in on demos. We listen to the calls that we have recorded using our CI tool called Wingman. We're actually steeped in the revenue process, and we take what we're hearing and we translate that back into marketing. I still think we have some room to grow on this front. I think that our marketing is maybe still a little bit too academic, but we are much closer than many other companies. The gap between how our marketing team is communicating and how our sales team is communicating is relatively small, and we're pretty proud of that.

Sean Lane: And how do you help a brand new marketer at Clari bridge that gap? Right? If all of a sudden, I'm taking notes on the metrics you talked about, right? I'm a new marketer at Clari, and I walk in and Kyle comes to me and says," Guess what? You are going to be measured on discount rate." And they're looking at you, saying," Wait a second. I'm not negotiating these deals. I'm not there talking to them about this order form. How can I possibly impact discount rate?"

Kyle Coleman: So it's a great question, Sean. And it's funny because I just had a very similar version of-

Sean Lane: I'm sure you have it all the time.

Kyle Coleman: ...this conversation with somebody. And my response to them was," Well, first of all, you need to take responsibility for this, because this is what you signed up for." So it starts in the interview process, where we set this expectation in the interview process, and we say," This is not your traditional content marketing job. Your role here is to really deeply understand the product and the personas and our internal revenue process way better than you probably ever have before. Is that something you were interested in? If yes, great. Let's continue the conversation. If no, thanks for playing. Go find a more traditional content marketing role." So now when you're in the seat, the expectation has already been set and communicated. And of course, we double down on that expectation in the onboarding. But what I'd say to this person on the discount rate side is" Well, Mr. or Mrs. Content Marketer, why don't you go and find a customer story that has something to do with the time to value that a company realized after implementing Clari? Is there some..." And of course, we have countless stories like this where we implemented Clari and people got immediate value in under two weeks. Write that up. Give me a quote on that. Give me the one- pager. Give me the time to value story and allow, or the slide, even, that a rep can include in their business case deck that they're presenting to a team. So when they are making the case for investing in Clari, this time to value is there, and will that help with discount rates? It can't hurt. So it's things like that. It's getting the content marketing team and the whole marketing team just more aware of what those conversations are in that middle and late funnel sorts of stages and making them think about the types of things that they should focus on, they should create to help our sales team accomplish what they need to accomplish. Because it's all the same goal. It's all about driving revenue. And so it's skin in the game is what it is, Sean. And then it's exposure and understanding of the types of things that actually move the needle.

Sean Lane: The type of things that actually move the needle. Of all the things people can learn in their career, this to me is one of the most valuable. Anybody can be busy, whether you're in ops or marketing or any team. It's not hard to be busy. But to Kyle's point, your mentality changes when you have skin in the game. So let's dig into some of the work that gets produced when that mentality is installed in an entire revenue team. For everything that Kyle has taught us about what it means to run revenue, to me, it comes down to the unsexy, nitty- gritty, campaign- level execution in a team like his. Take ABM, account- based marketing, as an example. Plenty of orgs say that they do it, but it's so much more than just picking a group of accounts and declaring," Hey, we're doing ABM, everybody." So I asked Kyle, how does he ensure this campaign- level execution is happening across all of the teams that he's been talking about?

Kyle Coleman: Absolutely. And we'll stick with an ABM sort of example, because I think it tells the story pretty well. So the goal of ABM is to get in front of the right people at the right accounts at the right time. Right people, right accounts, right time. And that is not a solo exercise. That can't be something that's simply done by a single marketing person or by a single account executive. It has to be a team- wide approach. And it very much is all about running revenue. It's understanding the intent signals, it's designing the programs that will capture attention, and then it's going and executing those programs, again, at the right time. And all of that is in the spirit of running revenue, is creating pipeline and then creating, like I said before, high velocity pipeline that's going to move quickly or as quickly as possible through the funnel. And so this is exactly what we're doing, Sean. All of our territories are not based on geography. They are based on accounts. So all of our sellers have a book of accounts. And within those accounts, we use intent tools, like 6sense as an example, to understand who is in the market for what at what time. We triangulate the people that are meant to be involved. Of course, we have a really solid understanding of our buying group, but that buying group is constantly evolving, and the current macroeconomic conditions are an exact example of this. Again, because of the way that we run revenue and do deal inspections, we are finding that CFOs are becoming much more involved in stage one and two of deals versus stage three and four of deals where they normally pop up. Okay, we need to adjust. So now we have this intent signal that this account is in the market for a solution like Clari. We have an understanding of the people that we need to get in front of, in what order, in order to sequence this deal correctly. And then our marketing team, plus what we call rev development, revenue development, our RDRs, many other companies call SDR... Our RDRs plus our AEs are working together to do a pretty robust account plan where we're not just focused on what industry is this account in, and how many employees is it? We are focused on, what are their strategic growth initiatives that Clari can help with? So we are doing research on accounts. It's obviously easier for public accounts, but it's almost as easy for private accounts to understand, where are they placing their bets for growth? Are they expanding internationally? Are they rolling out a new product? Did they just go through an M&A? Are they making any sort of key hire? Where are they placing their bets for growth? And then we have all of this messaging and all of this positioning that says," Clari can help you achieve this strategic growth initiative in X, Y, Z way." We put together a custom landing page. We put together custom ads. We put together tailored events. And we execute all of those things via our demand generation channels, via our outbound team of rev dev and AEs. And it's all coordinated and driving to a landing page that is purpose- built for the buying group. So we'll have information on that landing page for the chief revenue officer, for the CFO, for the individual account executives. For every member of the buying group that we're trying to influence, there's something for everybody there. The messaging is very much about realizing the strategic growth initiative and less about the actual literal features of Clari. But this is the way that we try and do it. We try and understand what companies really care about, and then we map our messaging to what's top of mind for them. We don't try and sell the way that we want to sell. We sell the way that they want to buy. And that's what our ABM approach is really meant to do.

Sean Lane: And tactically, within your team, who's the conductor there of all those different landing pages and messages and personas and actually making sure that that is a both comprehensive and consistent experience for the different people who come in from that account?

Kyle Coleman: It's a great question. And there's a messaging component there, too, that needs to be standardized in some way in order to scale. Our RDRs and AEs are responsible for building the account plan, for doing the research to uncover the strategic growth initiatives, to understand the buying group, to map out the hierarchies, the no reporting structure, all of the things that matter in an account plan, that's co- authored by RDR and AE. And then once we have enough meat on the bone, our marketing team has created a template for our landing pages. So here's your header, here's your body copy, fill this in. And then the marketing team can go and create these custom landing pages in five minutes once they have all the copy written. And it's basically as easy as that. And then we have this persisting link that our RDRs and AEs are able to share. We have, as mentioned before, the demand channels with bespoke ads and all the sorts of things, the creepy marketing stuff where we follow you around the internet until you click on stuff. So we go and execute all of that stuff inaudible.

Sean Lane: We've never heard of that. We don't do that here.

Kyle Coleman: Yeah, of course, of course. And then similarly with the Drift playbooks that we have, so we use Drift Video for a lot of the outreach that we do. For those of you who... Or I know you're aware of it, but it's such a cool way to do video messaging and to have the chat on the side, and it's a great engagement method for this really bespoke account- based sort of marketing. So we're executing Drift Video. We're executing our custom landing pages. It's all happening in an integrated way, and it's all happening toward the right people within the account, again, people that are either identified via our intent tools or people that are identified through who we know is an essential part of the buying group, some combination of the two. And it's a lot of effort. There's no silver bullet. I can't sit here and tell you that it's easy, but I can tell you that it's worth it. It's worth it because it gets all of these cross- functional, again, revenue critical employees pointing at the same direction, executing a standardized strategy, and then learning and evolving. And so it's a constantly evolving thing. And what we end up finding is that this approach, even though it is much more hands- on. Actually is much more efficient from a customer acquisition cost standpoint, because we're not just spending millions of dollars on Google ads and hoping that somebody viable comes our way. We are spear fishing, and spear fishing is harder, but it is more effective to catch what we want to catch. And that's what we're really hyper focused on doing.

Sean Lane: 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. Best book you've read in the last six months.

Kyle Coleman: It's not one book, it's two. One is called Play Bigger. It's a book that's all about category design and the way to think about marketing and kind of changing the game from a positioning standpoint with how you market your product and category. Very, very solid book. And the second is this book called Amp It Up by Frank Slootman, all about just raising the bar from an expectation standpoint, changing your own personal approach to hyper growth. And hearing his stories about where he's been with Snowflake and ServiceNow and all the rest is really inspirational. So two business books, kind of the boring answer.

Sean Lane: No. Somebody just sent me Amp It Up, so I need to actually open the cover and get to work there. By the way, if you are-

Kyle Coleman: It's a good read.

Sean Lane: Okay, cool. If you're listening to this and not watching the YouTube, you're missing out on some great coordination in Kyle's library right now where he actually has these books in front of him. All right. So typically, my next question would be your favorite part about working in ops, but you work very closely with ops and have a lot of operators as your customers, so I'm going to ask you your favorite part about working with ops.

Kyle Coleman: Oh, man. Precision. I've never worked with better operations folks than we have at Clari. Our director of marketing operations is a guy named Conrad Millen, and the precision with which he operates is inspirational, and the amount of pride he takes in his work is second to none. He just custom- built this attribution system inside of our CRM over the course of two or three months, and just the pride he takes in his work and the impact it is making on our business is just profound. And so I think the word that comes to mind for me is precision. And the same is true with our director of revenue operations, a guy named Josh VanGeest, who similarly, you ask him what I think is a simple question, and he comes back with so much useful detail and information that is just exactly on the nose. He knows the question I'm asking better than the question I ask. And that's the thing that's so magnificent about really high level operations folks, is they anticipate the needs of the business. They operate with extreme precision because there's really not a ton of room for error. And it's hard. A lot of times it's a pretty thankless job, but we are very thankful for the operations folks we've got at Clari.

Sean Lane: That's awesome. All right. This might be tough, then. Flip side. Least favorite part about working with ops.

Kyle Coleman: Oh, man. Well, so our guy, Josh, he is coordinating a lot. He's kind of acting as a quasi- chief of staff, as I know a lot of operations folks do. He's acting as a chief of staff for our CRO. And so he is constantly on me to meet deadlines and deliver QBR deck slides and do all the things that I need to do to plan things. So I'm grateful for it. I don't want him to listen to this and think I'm ungrateful. But he's got deadlines, and he holds me accountable. And it is slightly annoying from time to time, even though he's right.

Sean Lane: You can blame me. You can blame me. It's fine. All right. Someone who impacted you getting to the job you have today.

Kyle Coleman: I mentioned Lissa Daniels before, my VP of demand generation at Looker. Just a fantastic person and such a great person to learn from. And I think on top of all the functional expertise I learned from Lissa, the thing that I think has really stuck with me is just how even- keeled she just always was, just so calm, so collected, great understanding of everything that was going on in the business, never too emotional, never too reactive, and just ran her business like a professional. And I just got such inspiration from that, because she wasn't ever the loudest person in the room, but when she spoke, everybody listened. I don't know. Just to have somebody like that as a mentor for six years was amazing, and I'll be forever grateful for the close relationship I have with her.

Sean Lane: That's awesome. All right, last one. One piece of advice for people who want to have your job someday.

Kyle Coleman: Ooh. I mentioned before that our org design has been probably more opportunistic than intentional, and that'd be my advice for folks that are on the come up as well, is set goals and have an understanding of what milestones and success criteria looks like for you, but don't box yourself in. Be intentional, but be opportunistic as well. Find that right balance. Take on things that you don't know you can do. If you're always completely confident that you can go and take care of something, you're probably not pushing yourself hard enough. Being uncertain is okay as long as you have the confidence that you're going to go and figure it out. So operate with intent, but operate with a little bit of opportunism, and try and take on as much as you can, and execute at a really high level. And you're just going to get more. More will be asked of you that's outside of your traditional job description. And that's what growth is. So have a plan, but know that that plan is probably going to get disrupted somewhere along the way, and go have fun.

Sean Lane: Thanks so much to Kyle for joining us on this week's episode of Operations. And special thank you to Jamie and Joy from the Clari team for helping to set up the interview. Appreciate you both. All right. If you liked what you heard today, make sure you're subscribed to our show. A new episode comes out every other Friday. And also, if you liked what you heard or learned something from Kyle today or from any of our episodes, make sure you leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. 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.


Revenue teams, and specifically Revenue Operations teams, are responsible for a lot.

We recently talked to someone, though, who has a really smart and refreshing approach to putting the right processes and guardrails in place to help revenue teams to, as he puts it, "run revenue."

That someone and our guest today is Kyle Coleman, the SVP of Marketing at Clari, the revenue platform that helps teams get total visibility into their business.

In our conversation, Kyle teaches me about everything that goes into “running revenue. We talk about what it means to be a "revenue-critical employee," and why Kyle's marketing team is goaled on metrics you probably haven’t seen in a marketing team before.

Key Points:

  • (1:21) What it means to “run revenue”
  • (5:40) The processes & inspection points that make revenue…revenue
  • (13:48) What 6 years as a sales development manager taught Kyle about marketing
  • (18:08) How engineering & enablement fit into Clari’s marketing team
  • (20:43) How Clari’s unique marketing team structure helps create better outputs
  • (22:55) Kyle's measurement methodology
  • (25:55) What aligning campaign execution cross-functionally looks like at Clari
  • (32:26) Operations lightning round

You can connect with Sean on Twitter @Seany_Biz and @DriftPodcasts and Kyle on LinkedIn.