I recently enjoyed chatting B2B SaaS, Customer Success, BuildingConnected, the origin story of Flatirons Tech, and tech diversity & inclusion in the Bay Area and Boulder on the Boulder Tech Cast podcast. This episode was recorded during Boulder Startup Week 2018 at Dojo4.
I’m proud to be co-host of a new technology podcast called Helping Sells Radio. Helping Sells Radio is a podcast about helping customers discover, adopt, and thrive using your software. In the inaugural episode of Helping Sells Radio, my co-host Bill Cushard and I talk about what Helping Sells Radio is, why we are doing a podcast, and what listeners can expect in upcoming episodes.
There are a lot of technology podcasts, but none that specifically address the topic of helping enterprise customers buy, adopt, and get the most out of the software they use. Even more specifically, there isn’t a podcast that talks about how this idea of helping customers, without expectation of reciprocation can actually help both customers and software vendors (or anyone that sells anything for that matter).
Helping sells can be summed up by looking at many of the areas in business where helping sells can help people thrive.
- In Marketing: Create marketing that educates people to help them make a decision.
- In Sales: Sales that challenges and helps prospects. Help prospects improve their own businesses.
- In Consulting: Geoffrey Moore described it this way: Strategic acts of generosity.
- In Customer Success: It is not about the renewal. It is about helping customers do their jobs better or otherwise achieve a desired outcome.
- In Training: Not just teaching features, but education people on a new way of working.
- In Support: Proactively helping customers with things they have not even asked about yet. Anticipating their needs and addressing those, but customers think to ask.
We plan for show guests in all of those areas to discuss their particular helping sells approach to technology and business. In our first few episodes, we talked to experts from Optimizely, Gainsight, Evernote, Zuora and more.
We’re also proud to announce that our podcast Helping Sells Radio currently ranks under “New and Noteworthy” for the categories of “Technology” and “Tech News” in iTunes! Thanks to everyone for listening and helping the show top the charts!
I’m so excited to share today’s interview with Carly Brantz, Boulder, CO-based Director of Revenue Marketing at SendGrid. Carly generously spoke with me about the challenges and rewards of leading revenue marketing for a successful tech startup, as well as insights into increasing diversity and empowering women in tech.
Sarah Brown: What’s your background, and where are you from?
Carly Brantz: I am a Boulder native and have spent my life in the beautiful bubble of Boulder. In college I studied Business and Spanish with big hopes of working internationally and using Spanish. I found myself working in tech immediately after college, working for a data analysis and visualization software company. For the last ten years, my focus has centered around email and email deliverability in a variety of marketing positions. I began working at SendGrid when we were less than 30 employees and it has been an adventure being part of an extremely fast growing company. Email is constantly evolving and it makes my job interesting to stay on top of the latest changes and how that is impacting what we do.
Sarah: What’s your favorite part of your job as a revenue marketer for SendGrid?
Carly: I love having clear goals and expectations of me so the transition I’ve had over the last year of being tied to a revenue number and having a quota has been exciting. I am so proud of my team and the extremely sophisticated programs they have created. It is rewarding to see them in a constant state of improvement. The executive team has given us the freedom to try and test new opportunities, which allows us to be creative about new things to experiment with.
Sarah: As a revenue marketer, how do you fit into the bigger picture of the goals of your organization? What departments/teams do you usually work with directly?
Carly: At SendGrid, we have four primary revenue stripes: Direct, Self Service, Partnerships and Customer Success. My team is responsible for supporting each of those stripes with relevant content, lead generation, outbound advertising, nurture programs and optimizing landing pages and emails. In addition to that, I am responsible for the Self Service revenue number with clear goals and focus around growing that revenue number and making it simple for customers to sign up for a SendGrid account on their own. I work very closely with others in the Revenue department to ensure we deploy tactics to improve conversions, close business and provide an excellent customer experience. I work with and depend on our Business Information team to provide the details on each stage of the sales funnel to make informed decisions. Lastly, I work closely with Finance for closed loop reporting and ROI so that I can analyze the impact of programs and our revenue attainment.
Sarah: What are the biggest challenges you face on a day-to-day basis working as a revenue marketer? How do you meet those challenges?
Carly: With my team supporting all four revenue stripes, it can be a balancing act to figure out the right resources to allocate to each of those stripes. Much of that is addressed by continuously tracking and testing everything we do in order to find the sweet spots. I am a very data driven person and I’ve never liked the assumption that marketing decisions are based on a hunch. That being said, it is sometimes challenging to find the data or know where I need to dig in deeper to find the answers I need. Fortunately, we have great tools and people to help provide me the analysis I need but there are times that customer behavior changes or website traffic is in flux and I don’t have one clear explanation.
Sarah: As someone who blogs on the subject, what do you think are the biggest challenges women face in tech?
Carly: I have been reading a lot about women and our hesitation to try new things or take risks because we are afraid to fail or lack the confidence to take a firm position. I can certainly relate to that as I am pretty risk adverse. I believe many women in leadership roles and in tech lack the confidence and the feeling of being worthy to try something that may not work. There is beauty in mistakes because you learn how to improve.
Sarah: Are you connected to other women in tech? If so, what has it been like to compare roles and discuss the growing trend?
Carly: I wouldn’t say that I specifically seek out other women in tech roles to form relationships. I am connected to other women, but it has developed more naturally. I think it is important to identify themes that women are noticing in technology, to share what we are learning. I am always fascinated to hear how other companies break out their teams and learn from where they have found success or where they noticed changes needed to be made.
Sarah: On SendGrid’s blog, you wrote a great post about “sitting at the table.” Can you share more about what this entails?
Carly: I was inspired by Sheryl Sandburg’s book Lean In. She articulated so many of the things I have felt and seen in my career but couldn’t quite pinpoint. I know personally, I have a tendency because I am grateful of everything I have in my career, to limit myself by not asking for more. Men ask for more, all the time, I see it every day, they don’t think twice about it. We need to ask for what we want (and more!) and encourage other women to do the same. I also find it easier to advocate for others rather than for myself. I have been extremely fortunate to have an incredible role model and boss, Denise Hulce, VP of Revenue, who has encouraged me to ask for what I want, to voice my opinions and speak up when something doesn’t feel right. This has helped push me out of my comfort zone.
Sarah: SendGrid is an active ambassador with NCWIT. What is the organization working on and why should people learn about their efforts?
Carly: Since our inception in 2009, SendGrid has partnered with NCWIT—the National Center for Women and Information Technology. NCWIT is an incredible organization that provides resources, research, and community outreach that help to create more opportunities for women in technical roles. Over the past few years, we have sent groups to NCWIT’s summits and we are committed to continuing to participate in discussions that will create more opportunity for women in technical roles here at SendGrid and at our fellow tech companies as part of their Entrepreneurial Alliance, Pacesetters program, and their “Sit With Me” initiative.
Sarah: Anything else you’d like to share or elaborate on?
Carly: As a mother of two young girls, I have learned a lot over the past few years about treating myself with understanding as they grow up and as my career grows. I think all moms have guilt one way or another and I was someone who was limiting myself because I was a mom and I was judging myself if I wanted more in my career because I didn’t want it to negatively impact my kids. I think it is really healthy for women to have passions outside of their children and I believe that my kids benefit from seeing me in a successful career and having a focus in areas that are not centered around every move they make.
Carly Brantz is a veteran in the email deliverability space working to make email simple and easy for developers by regularly writing whitepapers, research briefs and blog posts about email, technology and industry trends. Follow Carly Brantz on Twitter.