The Silicon Valley Way: Listening to Customers

September 22, 2017 Mike D'Onofrio

It now has been about three months since I joined LeanData as the Chief Revenue Officer. And I have to say that many of the attributes I initially thought about the company when I joined have been validated in an extraordinarily positive way.

Our lead matching and routing solutions for B2B companies have incredible product-market fit. I have yet to engage with a prospect who disagrees with the idea that our products provide incredible value in addressing a significant pain. Our current customers love telling me about the impact we’ve had on their strategies around more effectively orchestrating demand generation.

At the same time as a young company, we’re still trying to enhance our market position and refine our messaging in order to achieve the next level in LeanData’s growth. If you’ve ever been at a fast-growing startup, you can appreciate the challenge that we’re facing. How do we ensure that the message we’re sharing will resonate at all levels of an organization — especially outside of Silicon Valley and our core Ideal Customer Profile?

One possible option would be to lock the LeanData executive team in a conference room with lots of coffee and Red Bull and then not come out until we had decided for ourselves what people want to hear. But that assumes we have all the answers. Instead, we decided to do something that very much matches the Silicon Valley ethos of collaboration.

We asked.

We recently gathered together a dozen sales and marketing leaders at cutting-edge companies such as Elastic, Cloudera, New Relic, Concur, Bluewolf, LeadGenius, ThoughtSpot, Campaign Monitor, SmartRecruiters. They were a mix of LeanData customers and people who were just beginning to learn more about us. Most importantly, the executives who took part in our “LeanData Advisory Council” are people we greatly admire and respect. That’s why we wanted to hear what they think.

We had an excellent moderator in Doug Landis of Emergence Capital, who did a fantastic job in teeing up the conversation and then guiding the discussion around the table. And yes, the insights that we took away were invaluable and will help us as we refine and further develop our Go-To-Market strategy. But it also was amazing to see how beneficial the session was for everyone who participated.

Bottom line; every C-level executive is concerned with growing revenue and optimizing their investments. I know, what a shock.

Each of us quickly realized that our individual challenges were shared across the room even though we had brought together a wide range of titles: Chief Revenue Officers, Senior Vice Presidents of Sales, CMOs and Heads of Inside Sales. They may have come at the problems from different directions, but all were focused on the general idea of “demand orchestration” – configuring the lead management process in a way that meets the specific needs of each business function.

There was another takeaway that we heard loud and clear. Forward-thinking businesses are embracing what could be termed “The Rise of Sales and Marketing Operations.”

Every executive talked about the importance of Ops in his or her business. There was a widespread belief that Ops has become a strategic partner for C-level teams and must be consulted when critical decisions are made about growing the business. Not operating this way likely means that you will miss out on key revenue opportunities.

That was an incredibly gratifying message for us. What I’ve learned in my short time at LeanData is just how embedded we are in the growing Sales and Marketing Operations community. These front-time practitioners often are our greatest advocates. It’s why we’re hosting a conference called Ops-Stars in November in San Francisco. We’ve geared it specifically toward helping Ops pros to do their jobs better.

In the coming weeks, you will see tweaks in the messaging and positioning from LeanData. We’ll be using the input from our Advisory Council experts to make sure we’re clearly communicating the value we offer to the wider market.

Bringing this group together validated our product-market fit. But more important was the value of hearing from prominent customers and learning that they believe we’re on the right path.


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