Learn From Leading B2B Buyers in #HowIBuy
Why Read #HowIBuy?
#HowIBuy is a customer-centric series on how decision-makers buy. We have conducted dozens of interviews with senior buyers and they have confirmed our suspicion: Sales is not changing – it is change.
Key themes discovered about the modern buyer include:
- B2B buyers are behaving like consumers
- Trust must be built across a committee of buyers
- Their networks are everything, so target them
To set the stage, can you tell me a bit about MongoDB, the stage that you’re at as a business, and your role within the organization?
Meagen: MongoDB is the next-generation database and development platform that helps businesses transform their industries by harnessing the power of data. Our core technology is open source and we sell a variety of products along side that. I’d say we’re a late stage startup, not tiny any more, but not a huge enterprise just yet.
As the CMO, my role in the buying process varies quite a bit. Sometimes I’m the champion, sometimes I suggest that my team evaluates a product, sometimes they will find a great product and bring it to me. I will sometimes also find products that I think sales can get a lot of value out of, and I’ll take that to Carlos, my counterpart in sales, and suggest that the team evaluates it, or perhaps even that we split the budget for it.
What do you generally spend money on in any given year?
Meagen: A good portion of budget focuses on headcount and software; we currently have more than 23 pieces of technology in our marketing stack. We spend a small amount on data, but it’s not a big part of the overall spend. One thing I think we probably spend less on than others is services. I’d rather have my team learn the ins and outs of a platform and even do the implementation of a product themselves in order to know its inner workings really well.
It might take a bit longer, but it’s a tremendous advantage for us to have those skills in house down the road, and it’s a skill that person can take with them to their next role. When I hire, the desire to learn, and the initiative to pick something up and figure it out is something I look out for.
When we do hire for services, we are usually hiring for “arms and legs”. We know what we want, but need a little extra bandwidth to get it done. It would be rare for us to hire for services where we didn’t deeply understand the underlying product.
How do you discover what is “out there” in terms of new solutions and ideas that might be worth exploring?
Meagen: The single biggest source for me is my network. I have a great network of peer CMOs and heads of marketing, and within this network we talk a lot about what’s out there and what works.
I speak at quite a few conferences, and I’m always on the look-out for interesting approaches to solving problems or removing bottlenecks. Similarly, I advise a fair few companies and many startups are in a wonderful position to try out new and highly innovative solutions. I learn a lot from what they are using and what problems it is able to resolve. A fourth source of new ideas for me is the VC community. I have a fair few VCs in my network and they will often ping me with companies they are evaluating to get my perspective. I suspect I learn as much from these interactions as they do.
Out of the solutions that are out there and potentially interesting, how do you decide what to look into now? How do you set your priorities?
Meagen: At the top level, our company has a set of initiatives that general resolve to revenue targets and reach to developers. I work very closely with Carlos, our CRO, and we evaluate where the bottlenecks are in the overall process and what we want to prioritize. Bottlenecks often have multiple ways of being dealt with, so between Carlos and I, budget and headcount will sometimes move back and forth as we hone in on the best way to grow the business.
As an example, we recently had a growing backlog of qualified leads (MQLs). We looked at a number of ways of dealing with the challenge, including everything from just tightening criteria, bringing in predictive scoring as a solution to better prioritize, hiring an outsourced telemarketing team to qualify, using technology like Conversica to automate some of the outreach, or accelerated hiring of sales. Obviously, depending on the path we choose, the headcount and budget might fit better with me or with Carlos, but the most important driver is resolving the bottleneck and harnessing the opportunity.
Read more in the free #HowIBuy book below.
- The role of the CMO is central in major buying decisions, but often goes back and forth with their senior team members and sales to make decisions.
- 23 pieces of technology in the marketing stack. Also, some marketing leaders spend far less on services and prefer to have the skills in-house.
- Their network can be the biggest source of new ideas and opportunities.