Be'Anka Ashalou

Episode 2

Be'Anka Ashalou

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Franco Caporale:

Welcome to a new episode of the DemandGen Club Podcast. I'm your host Franco Caporale. Our guest today is Be'Anka Ashaolu, Director of demand generation at Propel, the platform that helps companies build better products and offers a single source of truth for product success. Be'Anka is in charge of all demand generation and marketing operation activities at Propel. Prior to Propel, she was Director of Marketing at Dor, and before then, she was in charge of demand generation at RetailNext, where she managed a cross functional team of seven people for ABM program execution. She's an experienced demand generation professional with demonstrated success building lead engagement engines that convert through the funnel.So please help me to welcome Be'Anka Ashaolu, Director of demand generation at Propel.

Franco Caporale:

How are you today? Thanks for joining.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Yeah, thank you so much. I'm doing pretty well.

Franco Caporale:

Awesome. So I like to start with you to just learn a little more about your background. How did you get into the field of demand generation and B2B marketing? And what is your current role?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Yeah, sure. So I've worked at startups and midsize companies the majority of my career. And my background is really in marketing and sales operations and content marketing by way of journalism. So when I first set out in life, I thought I'd be a writer so I still consider myself a bit of a writer. And my transition into ops really was because I discovered my knack for process and technology while I was implementing Salesforce at my very first marketing job. And since then, it's just been more ops and more writing and eventually demand generation, when I sort of wanted more influence on the entire customer journey.

Franco Caporale:

So your main background starts from the operation side, the marketing operation and sales operation side?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Yes, yes it does. Which I know there's a couple angles into demand. And so ops is sort of my favorite way to go. So anyone who works with me or for me, they know I'm crazy organized and crazy process oriented. But I do think that it yields results.

Franco Caporale:

Yeah, I totally agree. I'm the same. I started as a marketing ops so I can totally see that part. So tell us a little more about your role today. You are at Propel as a lead in demand generation.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Of course. Propel is a product success platform and we're built on Salesforce, which is a huge differentiator for us to be in the cloud. What we're doing is we're helping manufacturers achieve product success by connecting the people, the systems and the processes that they need to deliver their products from concept to customer. So what I do here is literally generate demand. So I create strategy and I coach a team. Our team is responsible for developing the content and executing campaigns that generate qualified leads for our sales team. In my role, I also work really closely with our SDRs, sales development reps, our product marketing team, as well as customer success on integrated initiatives and activities.

Franco Caporale:

Nice. And so how does your team look like today?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Yeah, our team is a team of about eight. And we're sort of split between product marketing on one side and demand generation on the other. The demand side with me included, is a team of five. We have a sort of a campaign side of that too and then a content side.

Franco Caporale:

And in terms of your tech stack that you use to run all of these operations, you said you are very operation oriented and you start it from Salesforce. But what is your current tech stack?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

We're still a Salesforce shop. Because Propel is built on Salesforce. So there is no way around that, which I'm okay with. I'm a big, big fan of Salesforce. Marketing automation, I am a Marketo person. I'm a certified expert. I've been using it for many years of my career. For our other functions, your social we're using sprout. We have Rift for chat. We use Zoom for webinars. And then for some visualization and revenue ops things and analytics, we just started using InsightSquared.

Franco Caporale:

Okay. So my next question would have been on the analytics. You said you just started using InsightSquared. What were you using before to track your metrics?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Oh man. We were that marketing team that was using a little bit of everything and piecing it together in a Google sheet. Which is not unusual and I know that.

Franco Caporale:

Not at all.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

So yeah, we use Salesforce. For some of their reporting, Salesforce only goes so far. And so we would use some Marketo analytics, also only goes so far. And then we'd use our Google Analytics. And so we'd piece all these things together and try to identify trends by sort of capturing them at the end of each week or at the beginning of each month. Which was getting a little complicated as I'm sure you know, being a marketing ops person. So we brought an InsightSquared it so we can see the entire journey. And that project was really initiated for our sales team by way of finance. And as they started using it, they brought us into the fold and now we use it as well so we can really get that full customer journey tracked.

Franco Caporale:

Yeah. In fact, I'm used to seeing InsightSquared, being championed by finance a lot because they have all the revenue metrics and they construct churn and a lot of those very key values and metrics. But then as extension goes to sales and then marketing as the last. Did you already implement it? Is it working for you?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

We have already implemented and so far so good. So we're using it in sort of our executive leadership team meetings, as well as on the marketing side to measure our campaign performance and effectiveness. And then on the quarterly basis where you're really trying to see the larger picture of how our leads are moving through the funnel, which sources are contributing to that bottom of funnel. So it actually has been really good for us. And we go sort of week by week with who looks at InsightSquared, from which perspective. Our sales team will go one week and then we'll go the next week so that we sort of can get full vision into what's happening with all of our leads.

Franco Caporale:

And kind of leading from this. What are the metrics that you report on a monthly or quarterly basis? And what is your team measure on, since now you have InsightSquared to measure your KPIs, but what are the metrics that are checked very carefully by the executive team?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

So the shared metric we have with sales is sales qualified leads. And we're all running towards a sales qualified lead number. We have the overall course leading to pipeline. And then we have individual ones that are inbound team, which is demand, of course is driving towards. And then we have an outbound team that's driving towards an SQL number. So that's really like our North star right now. And then as any other demand generation team, we're looking at new leads, we're looking at marketing qualified leads. Those are huge for us. Then we're measuring sort of how our campaigns are performing. We look at the funnel, we look at landing pages, emails, and all social metrics so that we can optimize sort of week over week and month over month.

Franco Caporale:

Okay. But in terms of the methods that are review at the executive level... Because the campaign, I assume you review internally to know where to put more money or where to cut some of those that are not driving results. But in terms of the main metrics you said is SQL where you're looking, are you looking at pipeline as well.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

It's SQLs primarily, that's where we're starting at. Of course pipeline and revenue, it almost goes without saying, we have to measure that. Our SQLs drive towards that. We've done a little bit of backwards math from our CFO to determine how many opportunities we need, how much pipeline we need, all the way down to how many leads we should be generating to hit those numbers. So SQLs is a good sort of middle point that launches us into the rest of our pipeline and revenue goals.

Franco Caporale:

And what is your definition of an SQL?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

That's a great question. And I'm glad you asked. It's been a little bit of a moving target to be honest. But right now we're saying if our sales team talks to someone who has at least two [inaudible 00:09:20] criteria's, meaning they have the budgets, they're the authority to make a decision on that, there's a need or the timeline is set. Then we move them along to sales qualified.

Franco Caporale:

But do they have to have the meeting first or is before the meeting happens that become an SQL?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

They have a meeting. So we have a pretty set process for our SDRs to follow up. It's like a two in one day process. And in that time, they're trying to schedule that meeting for our account executive. The AE will then have that meeting and determine sales qualified status.

Franco Caporale:

And at that point they create the opportunity in Salesforce? Or they already created by the SDR?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

They would create their own opportunity.

Franco Caporale:

The AE does that?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Yes.

Franco Caporale:

Okay. Very good. And do you also have a definition for the MQL?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Marketing qualified leads are by score.

Franco Caporale:

Just by score.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

So you can either raise your hand, of course by filling out a contact or a demo request form and that's going to auto MQL you. Or you can engage with all of our campaigns and emails and things and that'll score you up on the behavior side to trigger an MQL.

Franco Caporale:

But you also have a requirement on the demographic?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

We do loosely. So we have broken out our target lists by persona. And so we're bringing in some of that information into our demographic scoring now, before it wasn't asset. So we were relying heavily on behavior. Now that our messaging is a little bit more standardized. We know who we're going after, the demographics scoring is closely behind. We're getting there.

Franco Caporale:

Perfect. Yeah, I really enjoy this kind of geeking out on the operation part is my most enjoyable conversation.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Me too. I'm happy to hear that because I know how it drives other people crazy.

Franco Caporale:

Yeah. It's my background as well. So I love talking about scoring MQL and definition and the process. Which kind of leads me to the next question on the handoff process that you have with sales. You say you are pre-aligned with the SDR team, you have a very defined process. So how does it work when an MQL hits the score? What is the next step there and how does that work? And how do you take them back into nurture if there is not an opportunity?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

So our SDRs are triggered when an MQL happens. So once they get that alert, that sort of kicks off their 21 day clock to follow up. And so this is a matter of them calling, emailing, connecting on LinkedIn, doing everything they can to connect with this person so that they can do the bank qualifications and eventually get them over to our account executive. If that doesn't happen within the 21 days, then the lead is automatically sent back to marketing. It's returned to marketing and they ended up in our return to marketing track, which will continue to reach out to them infrequently before an extended period of time. If the lead is with the SDRs and they connect, but they need more time with them, the SDR will change the status to working. And that will sort of stop the clock for a little bit, but there has to be a date for when they're going to follow up.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

So that really kicks off the process again. And we get 21 more days to followup with this person until a certain time when you actually connect with them to schedule with the account executive. So it's very, very automated. And we do that so we make sure that no one slips through the cracks. And that we're not burning out our leads by reaching out to them over and over again when they're just not ready.

Franco Caporale:

Awesome, love this. This is great. So in terms of... I want to start talking about campaigns now. Because I know we talked a lot about process and I love doing that. But I need to start talking a little bit about campaigns. So if I have to ask you... First of all, what are your leads coming from today? If you have to pick one or two lead sources that are really working for your company,

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

The top lead sources for us right now are in paid medium. So we're doing some content syndication that's bringing in a lot of leads. Our search leads are doing pretty well as well. And we do work on LinkedIn quite a bit. So we're running different content pieces, testing them against each other and running them against different audiences. And using some lead gen forms and other tactics on there to bring in new leads. And I think I forgot the second part of your question.

Franco Caporale:

So do you also advertise on Facebook or it's mostly LinkedIn and in Google Ads?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

We're mostly on LinkedIn and Google Ads. And there's a few publications that just work for our industry, that we also work with.

Franco Caporale:

All of these campaigns are based on content?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

All of them are based on content. So we are a very content driven team. Pre-COVID, we were actually very campaigns driven where we were thinking of the campaigns first and then filling them with whatever content made sense. We've since sort of changed course. And now we're developing content based on the messaging that we have done. And our campaigns team takes the content and puts it into the different channels.

Franco Caporale:

Nice. And the content is coming from the product marketing team?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Comes from product marketing. There's also content writers on our team. And then we have some partnerships that we're working right now, where we do some joint content pieces together.

Franco Caporale:

Very nice. Awesome. And so from this, these are your top lead sources. What is the most successful campaigns you've done so far? It can be either one-off or maybe something like a LinkedIn particular type of LinkedIn ads or Google Ads that has worked really well for you or maybe a contents syndication?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

So is this sort of like any time ever or just at Propel?

Franco Caporale:

I will say both, Propel and also in general. Anything that we can learn from.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Yeah. Okay. So I can kind of go back in the day to a retail analytics company I worked for. This was an integrated campaign. And so I don't think I have anything that's just a one and done. We did one channel, one piece of content, and it just took off. I find that because I'm always at smaller companies, awareness is a big challenge. And so you sort of have to meet people where they are, in multiple formats and multiple channels. And so when I was at the retail analytics company, we had pretty much saturated the US enterprise market. And we were looking to get into mid-market. So your smaller retailers, direct consumer retailers. But the challenge with those is that they sort of had a perception issue. They didn't think they needed what we were selling. And they were fine to just continue working the way that they had been working.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

We also had limited resources. We only have one person who is now on the sales side working in the mid-market. And so we partnered together to come up with something that would sort of educate this market and also convert them in sort of a shorter term way than what we had typically been used to with enterprise, which could take up to 12 months. So with this campaign, we created content of course, an evergreen piece of content. But it was a pretty successful ebook. We also did a summer webinar series and we vertically segmented all of our nurture campaigns within the mid-market too. So we can be very personalized and very targeted with the information we sent out.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

And then we attended some smaller regional events to sort of support those segments and pull in new leads. So the outcome of all that was that, yes we generated a bunch of leads, which was fantastic. But I think what was even more important is that we got a lot of traction within the mid-market, including some really well known consumer brands. And this led to getting more support and more resources from the company. And our mid-market account team grew from pretty much one person to six in a matter of six months. Because we had to support all the business we were doing. So that's one of my favorite campaigns. Most successful, probably.

Franco Caporale:

Would you define that as kind of an account based marketing approach that you took there with the mid-market segment? Or how would you classify that?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

I think I could call it that. Because account based marketing doesn't have to just mean that we have a named accounts. We were doing this by a certain size. We were doing it by certain segments. And because we were that focused and we were doing more research and really trying to understand the painpoints of what these potential customers could need. It definitely bordered on account based marketing, just because of the level of focus.

Franco Caporale:

Is it something you're doing at Propel as well, the account based marketing approach? Or your more of a hybrid approach there with inbound and account based marketing?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Oh, now you're getting into some controversial stuff. I think that we're in a position where we could very well go account based marketing. It does take a lot of resources to do it. And account based marketing is a longterm investment. It takes a while. And so I think we're sort of balancing in the middle here. We want to continue to do traditional demand generation that we can pull in sort of a wide range of leads. And then do a little bit of fishing with spears as it makes sense. So our sales team is definitely on the outbound side, targeting certain accounts. They're reaching out to them, they have account lists. But on the marketing side, we're still casting a wider net.

Franco Caporale:

Perfect. Thank you. That makes sense. And in terms of your least successful campaign, kind of taking the opposite approach of the previous one. Is there anything that you tried and it just didn't work, as a test maybe?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Yeah. So I'm an experimenter by nature. So I have a lot of unsuccessful campaigns under my belt.

Franco Caporale:

The very worst one. The one that you won't do ever again.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

What I can do is share a recent example. So right before shelter in place took effect, I had just nailed down our strategy for what we're going to do for the remainder of the year. And that took a lot of work and a lot of talking to people and research. And it all came together literally right before shelter in place. So a lot of what that strategy included was campaigns that aggressively pushed leads towards demo conversions. Propel has an outstanding products. And I know I'm probably supposed to say that, but I'm telling you it's true. And once you get eyes on it, that's a great point for us in moving people along in their journey. So we were set to launch our campaign that still aggressively pushed people to demos in that week of shelter in place, if I remember correctly.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

So the adjustment we made, because we knew people were home, they're on more video calls and they ever been in their life. They're probably exhausted from that. Let's pay people for their time. And so we segmented out our database again, to identify our ICPs, the people who most likely have the greatest impact for our company. And we made an offer of a $25 Amazon gift card to meet with our sales person for a quick demo. So super low intent. You didn't have to buy anything from there, but we do take the bet that seeing the demo would make you inspired to move forward.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

We sent that out and through email and it was super, super quiet. I think we may have gotten one person to convert and then we couldn't get them to respond to actually schedule the demo. So we didn't send out a single gift card. And that campaign just kind of was a flop. But I will say in a funny twist about a month ago, a company did reach out to me on LinkedIn offering a $100 DoorDash gift card and it worked. So goes to show you that timing, the channel, the audience and the offer make all the difference. And we just were badly timed, but good idea I think in theory.

Franco Caporale:

Do you think the channel was right, like email? Because the other offer came in on LinkedIn? Do you think maybe if you were to try on LinkedIn would have worked differently?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

I tend to think that. I still think our timing was probably poor. No one had time for extra stuff and to consider other products right now at that time. So I do think that if we could have waited until later and maybe included LinkedIn in the campaign, meaning sent emails as well as done LinkedIn, we could have had greater responsiveness.

Franco Caporale:

Yeah. That could have been. Maybe something to test again at the end of the year. Just to kind of get a final response on that. Because I see them working few times.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Right. It works. Our thing was missing a few pieces.

Franco Caporale:

I always like to position it more like, as a thank you for your time. Because that so doesn't look like a bribe for a demo.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Yeah of course.

Franco Caporale:

But yeah, I seen it working plenty of times. So definitely something maybe to try again. I could talk all day, obviously with you because I'm loving the conversation. But for the sake of time, I want to ask you a couple of more questions that I'm really curious to know your answer. First of all, I want to start talking about the analytics. Especially because you are very focused on operation. I want to know how does your marketing dashboard look like and how you track attribution for your campaigns? What models do you use?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Yeah, those are great questions. The attribution one is I think a question everyone's trying to figure out. So I can definitely start there. We're a last touch company, we've tried first touch and multi-touch and it got overly complicated for us. And so now we drive all of our campaigns towards a form. And that form is where we give credit to what campaign that drove to that form. The other part about what's on our dashboard, that is mostly just looking at our funnel. We look at it month over month and then on the quarterly basis. And we're looking at new leads that we're bringing in and this is split across mid-market and enterprise. And we look at MQLs, we look at SQLs and all of these we split to look at the training over time by lead source. Which we split out by channel, which is just inbound, paid and when there were events, we did those.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

And at the bottom of our dashboard, we have our top performing campaigns and contents. A lot of that is just by responses. Did they take the action we wanted them to take. And then we include in our dashboards, some SDR activity metrics. We want to know how many calls they're making, what their workload is. And the way we determined sort of, our kickback rate is we look at all of our MQLs that we've generated over time by the current status they're in. So if people are unqualified or return to marketing, then we can see sort of how qualified our MQLs are.

Franco Caporale:

I'm glad that you talked about the SDR because I want to ask you a controversial question that I always love to ask.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Oh, I'm excited.

Franco Caporale:

Do you think the SDR should report under demand generation or should they report on their sales?

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Now look, my team might be listening to this. So I don't know if I can answer that. It could go either way. I know that is a cop out a bit. There have been plenty of times in my career that I have wanted to manage the SDRs. There have been times when I have managed SDRs. And this might just be more about marketing being control freaks, but we want to own that entire experience. So it really just depends. I'm sorry. I'm giving you the worst answer ever. But I can't say one way or the other.

Franco Caporale:

Yeah, I see it in many different ways. That's why I always love to ask. And probably there is no right answer there. It's very company dependent, but I like to hear the opinion. There's many, many different arguments.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Yeah, seriously. And I probably have heard them all and I may have made many of them myself. And so I kind of tend to go with whatever is working at this time. And when I feel it doesn't work, then I sort of start complaining about it again.

Franco Caporale:

Awesome. And so before I leave you, I want to ask you one last question. If you can share with us? Is there any hack that you have tried? Maybe it can be on the operational side or a campaign or a trick that turned out to be very successful and profitable for the companies you were working.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

I like this question a lot because there are so many hacks. And so I think I'm going to go on the creative side. Because what's been the most successful thing for me in my career and what I see from other marketers, is really just knowing how to write. And I'm not talking about it in the way that like you're an English major, you know how to put words together. But I'm talking about really looking for existing content from product marketing or wherever you can get it, piecing it together in different formats for ads, for emails, for landing pages. Even taking something large and breaking it down into eBooks, repurposing. That is a skill that will take you so far. And you don't have to wait for anyone to get things done. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. You just sort of steal things. And it really helps in every possible way. So there's no other skill that I can really say has taken me any further in my career. And it's something I look for and something I even train for, with the people who work with me.

Franco Caporale:

Awesome. This is a great hack. Thanks for sharing this. I'm sure our listeners are going to love to try it. And repurposing content has been something that I personally, I wasn't doing enough, I think in my career. And when I started doing, all of a sudden it kind of opens a new world.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Oh, absolutely. It changes everything. You can use things a million different ways.

Franco Caporale:

Awesome. Thank you, Be'Anka. This was absolutely great. It was a pleasure speaking with you today.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Thank you so much for having me. This was great.

Franco Caporale:

Thanks everyone for listening today. And we hope to meet you again at the next episode. Thanks again Be'Anka.

Be'Anka Ashaolu:

Right. Thank you.