Applying Sales & Marketing Startup Experience to Enterprise

Today's conversation is with Jenny Coupe, Senior Director of Americas Marketing at Akamai, about how she uses the Sales and Marketing experience she's gathered over her career in numerous startups and applies it to her new role in an Enterprise business. 

Tell me about Akamai and then a little bit about your role with the company …

Akamai Technologies is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We're a global company with over 6,000 customers and what we’re really known for is making sure that the internet is working smoothly for you and your business - both speed and reliability.

Many of those traffic-heavy sites – like iTunes and Facebook – rely on Akamai to deliver a seamless experience. That could be the web performance experience, or that there are 30 applications running on your site, or it could be as simple as running applications from a business.

We're considered the world's largest and the most trusted cloud delivery platform. As a business, we’ve got to a place where our industry-leading scale and resiliency means we’ll deliver your critical content with consistency, quality, and security across every device, every time.

Looking at your career path, specifically your last two roles, you moved from the VP of Customer Acquisition of SOASTA (now part of Akamai) to Senior Director of Americas Marketing now at Akamai. What sort of differences and similarities can you point out from that change?

Yes, SOASTA was a web performance software that contributed a critical piece of software that has really helped to complete Akamai’s web performance portfolio.

My current role is Senior Director of Americas Marketing, and responsibilities really boil down to demand generation for one division of the company in the Americas. For the Americas, there's a demand gen and field marketing effort that I manage, but at the end of the day, it's about driving net new business for that division – that’s the biggest similarity to my last role.

The beauty of Akamai is that I have more resources, more budget, and more people on my team, but my day-to-day in my last role and now is very similar. It’s about contributing to pipeline, delivering high quality leads to the Sales team, and ultimately driving a certain percentage to the bottom line of closed won business.

"For Marketing, there’s nowhere to hide, which for me as a marketer, I love."

Going back to your career path, you’ve been at some small growing companies, as well as larger ones like Akamai, how has that impacted the way you think about team structure and metrics?

It’s changed quite a bit because you've got roles that didn’t exist ten years ago – like marketing operations. The DNA of my team looks a lot different than what it would have in 2008, and that’s been driven by technology. Companies like Marketo, Salesforce, and the hundreds of new tech companies have made the MarTech space very crowded, but exciting.

If you were to rewind my career 15 years ago, it would look much more traditional around outbound marketing and events person, but you wouldn't see a lot of data and analytics focused disciplines. Now, I’ve got folks on my team that are strictly responsible for running certain tools and looking at the data.

It’s important to remember that technology is great, but if you don't have the discipline on your team to actually leverage and drive data to make it meaningful for the business, then it's not worth the time or money you’re investing in it.

Metrics go hand-in-hand with the technology aspect I just spoke about in the sense that all this great technology has allowed us to measure and quantify parts of the business that wasn’t possible ten years ago. Prior to 2008, you didn't have tools that could help you understand marketing’s impact on the business, we can do this now by looking at metrics to help you understand what's working and what's not.

If in 2008, Marketing was asked the question, "How much revenue or pipeline did that campaign drive?" It was pretty anecdotal answer and not necessarily data-driven. There's that classic comment of, "We know 50% of our advertising worked, and the other 50% didn't. We just don't know which is which."

Today, for Marketing there’s nowhere to hide, which for me as a marketer, I love. I love that I can quantify what I'm doing, show my ROI, and sit at the table with Sales, review our data and talk about it in the same way. Metrics – used in the right way – have a way of forcing different parts of the business to come together and be on the same page.

I absolutely love that answer – everything about it. I picked out team structure and metrics, but are there any other areas of Marketing that you've seen a dramatic change from now compared to ten years ago that you've experienced?

Alignment with Sales:
Again, rewind ten years ago and things were simple, Marketing operated as Marketing and Sales operated at Sales. Slowly over time, with the help of technology, you saw that alignment happen organically in order to make the business succeed.

Marketing teams that are strongly aligned with Sales have such an advantage in today’s world. To be speaking the same language in terms of metrics, working towards the same goals, and having strong communication opens the door to being able to run much more effective campaigns.

Measurement has grown so much over the past decade. There isn’t much left that you can’t measure anymore.

Marketing now has a seat at the table, which is great, but we're also expected to do a lot more than what we did before. Ten years ago, we know that the sales cycle started a lot earlier when 70% of the buying process wasn't already happening on the internet.

The responsibility for us to take an opportunity further down the funnel than we took it before has required us to have more discipline in how we work with Sales to make that happen.

"One thing that is essential for good alignment is to come to an agreement about what it means for Marketing to contribute to pipeline and to revenue." 

You’ve seen that relationship between Marketing and Sales from both sides, what would you say the health of that relationship is as it stands today?

One thing that is essential for good alignment is to come to an agreement about what it means for Marketing to contribute to pipeline and to revenue. That boils down to things like what's the definition of a lead? What does it mean if something is qualified? What does budget, authority, need, and time really mean for our prospects? Who is our target market? How much revenue is Marketing expected to deliver?

Agreeing on those definitions, agreeing on the role of Marketing, and then ultimately meeting on a regular basis to look at the data – that’s what good alignment is based on. Everyone is different with communication between the two teams, but for me, it’s sitting in a room once a week with my VP of Sales and VP of Inside Sales with a dashboard that we can all review.

What are some lessons that you've taken from working in smaller, more “agile” companies, that you're now applying at Akamai?

At a startup, you've got limited resources and limited budget so it forces you to have a certain level of scrappiness and hustle to get things done. Bringing that attitude, and some out-of-the-box thinking to a larger business is very positive.

One reason that Akamai brought me in for this role is to have a fresh perspective of getting things done in new ways the company hadn't considered before. There's a lot of what I’d call “fresh blood’ coming into the company that's trying to move Marketing to more digital than before.

"There are tools out there that are too expensive for a startups budget that I’ve now used, but it’s not just about the tool, it's about having someone whose focus is on running it."

Similar question here comparing your startup experience to now, how have the tools and your thoughts on tools changed?

At Akamai, with the resources I have, I’m blessed with more tools in my toolbox than what I’ve had before.

There are some great tools out there that are just far too expensive for the budget of a startup that I’ve now got the chance to use and experience. Like I was mentioning before, it’s not just about the tool, but having someone whose main focus is running that tool – that’s where things get expensive and usually out-of-reach for a startup.

On the flip side, implementing new technology at a larger company generally takes longer to implement across the team or organization – but that’s expected.

Sticking with the tools theme, what are some tools that are must-haves compared to some that are nice-to-haves for Marketing and Sales teams?

Two must-haves for me are Salesforce and Marketo.

Beyond that, Outreach and ConnectAndSell are key for our Inside Sales team to automate some of their activities in an efficient and intelligent way.

From a marketing perspective, there's certainly some advertising and large-scale campaigns that we could not do in an effective way if we didn't use things like Google Paid Search or LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

One that I'm really excited about that we brought on board about a year and a half ago is a display advertising platform called Terminus. It has allowed us to deploy take an ABM approach over the past year.  Terminus is one way that I was able to take our target account list and make sure that I get our name in front of those target companies through display ads across the entire internet in a scalable, efficient, and segmented way.

Before we wrap up, I wanted to hear some of your favorite resources …

Must-follow on social media:
I'm a classic marketer, so Seth Godin is great. He's been a pioneer in anticipating and explaining trends, he's revolutionized how we think about marketing.

Favorite blog:
Ones I follow the closest would be Marketo, The Pedowitz Group, and, The Heinz Group. They're really good about helping to put a different perspective on the tech stack.

Favorite book:
This is an easy one. No surprise here, but I thrive on change. So the book that I would recommend for just about anybody, and mandatory for members of my team, is called ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ It's an easy read, 95 pages. It's all about three or four different kinds of mice and how they deal with looking and finding cheese that maybe isn't where they thought it was or where it was last time. The ultimate bottom line is how to deal with change, how to embrace change, and that change is not inherently bad - and usually a good thing.

Last but not least, what is your favorite ‘90s dance song?

I've got one in my head because I danced to it at my friend's wedding, and that would be The Macarena.

Yes, The Macarena, it’s a classic! Thanks for the time today Jenny.