From founding their first company in 2006 to becoming top executives at Salesforce, Kraig Swensrud (LinkedIn | Twitter) and Sean Whiteley (LinkedIn | Twitter) have achieved a lot together. Most recently, they have helped introduce the world to the new category of conversational marketing by co-founding their latest venture, Qualified.
On this episode, Sean and Kraig sit down with Ian Faison and Lauren Vaccarello at Sirius Decisions 2019, where they discuss early days at Salesforce, successful business partnerships, and implementing conversational marketing.
Starting Out at Salesforce - (3:00)
- Sean and Kraig worked at various enterprise software companies out of college and met at WebMethods, a pioneer in web services, where they worked on a proof of concept together.
- Their first company, Kieden, was quickly acquired by Salesforce and brought them into the ad tech and marketing worlds.
- From there, CEO Marc Benioff led Kraig and Sean into their roles of CMO and leader of small business strategy, respectively, at Salesforce.
- Kraig described his fear as a first time CMO that he needed to be the best and know it all.
- "In reality, that's just not true. There was an amazing team with hitters in each of their own disciplines. [I just had to] make sure that the organization's priorities were aligned with the CEO and that everyone understood how they drive value for the company." - Kraig Swensrud
Conversational Marketing - (17:00)
- Conversational marketing is a new software category that uses existing data to qualify inbound prospects in real-time.
- "If you know when qualified prospects arrive on your website, why not open the door, greet them, and have a real conversation? Not just over chat, but over voice or screenshare in an online meeting." - Kraig Swensrud
- Kraig describes the current process of B2B sales where there are no winners: VPs of marketing and demand gen lose because they spend money that doesn't lead to a conversion. Qualified buyers lose because they fill out a form and get sent away, and sales teams lose because over a third of qualified leads never respond.
- "In a process where everybody loses, there has to be a period of change. That's what conversational marketing is, and that's why we created Qualified." - Kraig Swensrud
- Some think chatbots are going to replace sales reps, but Sean and Kraig believe we are far away from that even being a topic of conversation.
- "Bots don't sell and humans don't scale." - Sean Whiteley
Rethinking the B2B Sales Process - (27:00)
- Kraig mentions how website design hasn't fundamentally changed in the last decade like it should have.
- "If a person comes to your site because you've targeted them and you know their behaviors, why aren't they already in a meeting with the right person and given the white glove treatment?" - Kraig Swensrud
- Conversational marketing matters because it comes at the stage of the funnel where you have a qualified lead, and having a conversation more quickly moves the needle into stage one pipeline or sales accepted leads.
- "Why isn't your initial response time for qualified prospects zero?" - Kraig Swensrud
- Sean and Kraig announce Qualified for Salesforce Pardot, more info at qualified.com/pardot.
Implementing Conversational Marketing - (55:00)
- "Pick your highest value campaigns or pages that convert well for you now and supercharge them with conversational marketing." - Sean Whiteley
- A common pitfall is thinking that you can just put conversational marketing on your website and just jump into it. Rather, you have to think holistically about your process.
- Another pitfall is thinking it's just chat and leaving sales up to a chatbot.
- "Ask a chatbot one simple question, why are you better than your competition? And you'll realize that you've just sent a buyer running to your competition by trying to replace an intelligent human." - Sean Whiteley
- In the next decade, Sean and Kraig see a fundamental shift coming in the marketing industry to being more personalized, more relevant, more real-time, and more on-the-go.
Pardot Lightning Round - (1:10:00)
- Favorite apps: Spotify, Slack, and Shazam
- Favorite podcasts: Marketing Trends and Planet Money
- Best advice for first time CMOs: You don't have to be a pro at everything. If you hire and inspire the best and make sure everybody's aligned on the corporate objectives, you will succeed as a CMO.
- Best advice for a first time founder: Consider whether you and your family are in a place to do a startup. Ask yourself, am I in a position to invest in this type of adventure? Statistically, the odds are against you, but if you have passion and a good team, it's incredibly rewarding.
Marketing Trends is brought to you by our friends at Salesforce Pardot, B2B marketing automation on the world’s #1 CRM. Are you ready to take your B2B marketing to new heights? With Pardot, marketers can find and nurture leads, close more deals, and maximize ROI. Learn more by heading to www.pardot.com/podcast.
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Quotes from the Episode
[bctt tweet="In a process where everybody loses, there has to be a period of change. That's what conversational marketing is, and that's why we created Qualified. - @kswensrud, Co-founder of @tryQualified #marketingtrends"]
[bctt tweet="Bots don't sell and humans don't scale. - @seanwhiteley, Co-founder of @tryQualified #marketingtrends"]