- Fast-growing companies often find themselves saddled with siloed technology that was bought in a rush to build capabilities, but without thought of how the tools need to work together
- At some juncture, operations staff must evaluate the entire stack to ensure that it will scale and provide value to the company as it continues to grow
- During the recent SiriusDecisions Technology Exchange, we highlighted how Kenna Security completely overhauled its martech stack, and succeeded in saving money and making a greater impact
As Jennifer Rouse and I prepared for our SiriusDecisions Technology Exchange 2019 presentation “Selling Up: Making the Case for Your Ideal Tech Stack,” we happened upon an individual and a company experiencing great success in overhauling a marketing tech stack. The individual was Jeremy Middleton, head of marketing strategy and operations, and the company was Kenna Security. Jeremy joined us on stage at TechX to share his experiences.
Why Evaluate the Technology Stack?
Kenna Security is a fast-growing cyber risk intelligence and vulnerability management company that has been growing at 1,000% year-over-year. As is the case at most fast-growing companies, many of Kenna Security’s processes were manual and not well documented. The CMO, Caroline Japic, who joined in the summer before TechX, hired Jeremy to assess and then transform the marketing tech stack and build a scalable marketing program.
Both Caroline and Jeremy were intent on helping the company scale to accommodate its growth trajectory. To scale, they had to find where they could automate manual tasks, create more standardization and gain better visibility into the results of their marketing campaigns. Like at other fast-growing companies, tools were purchased in silos to solve specific challenges, with little thought of how they would be integrated to support the complete demand generation process over the long term. Additionally, changes in staff over the years resulted in a lack of understanding of how to use some tools and an inability to get one clear picture of business performance in relation to strategic goals.
When Caroline joined, it was difficult to determine how the tools fit together, their level of adoption to support marketing, and whether they were driving the desired outcomes. In addition, when the CEO would walk over to ask simple questions about demand performance, it could be time consuming and difficult to provide a clear answer.
Prioritizing What to Do First
There was a sense of urgency to make an impact, so Jeremy had to prioritize. The first order of business was to review all tools in which subscriptions were about to lapse and make sure that any technology connected to the demand process integrated with Salesforce, which would serve as the system of record for marketing. That led to lots of changes, including the migration of the marketing automation platform in short order.
The assessment also led to one of the major impacts of the process: freeing up 52% of the tech budget. Jeremy reduced the number of primary marketing tech vendors from 17 to 10, eliminating a few duplicate tools and letting underutilized tools lapse. Some of the savings would go toward marketing programs and some were returned as savings to the business.
Any change implemented this rapidly can cause considerable anxiety among leadership and staff. Caroline took the lead in selling the vision to her colleagues on the leadership team – one of the reasons she was brought on board.
Jeremy’s job was selling the vision to his colleagues. As the “new guy,” he knew that first establishing trust was important. “Then tell them how it will make their life better and simpler,” he said. He emphasized how important it is to make sure they understand the benefit to them, and recommended “more time up front to make it work.”
Reducing the technology budget is one measure of success, but the reason an individual undertakes change is to improve business results. Though it’s a bit early to measure the impact on demand at Kenna, at his previous company Jeremy saw a phenomenal return on demand metrics. Sales acceptance of leads went up five times, marketing generated pipeline more than doubled and the cost per lead declined by 80%. Early signals reflect that Kenna will see similar results.
The results are all from the improved flow of demand, from initial engagement to sales. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Jeremy has a black belt in Lean Six Sigma.