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Inspiring Marketing and Sales Alignment, with Putney Cloos

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

With Putney Cloos' experience at Kraft Foods, McKinsey & Company, and American Express, she has seen the most impactful changes of B2B sales, marketing, and eCommerce throughout the years. Now, as Chief Marketing Officer of Cision, she leads her team with a unique philosophy and works with her sales and marketing teams to generate real outcomes.

Hear our conversation with Putney as we discuss:

  • Affecting change and sparking joy at a mid-sized company while delivering results from the front lines
  • Inspiring sales and marketing alignment by utilizing Intent data to fuel real metrics for success
  • The intersection of sales and marketing in the consumer goods industry and how it translates to the B2B world

Welcome to the intent data exchange, a Bombara podcast. This is a show for sales, marketing, publishing and data professionals seeking the latest insights from the B two B marketing ecosystem. You're about to hear a conversation about solving customer problems, reinventing demand generation, leveraging intent data, executing account based everything and much more. Let's get into the show. Find the businesses who are ready to buy before your competitors do, connect and sell using the industry's most comprehensive and privacy compliant buyer intent data. To learn more, visit Bombora DOT com. Hey guys, welcome back to the intent data exchange. Thanks for tuning in today. As you know, the intent data exchange is a podcast where we invite on B two B sales and marketing leaders. Uh, we learn a lot about their background and how they got to where they are, but also where they think the space is going, kind of what's on their mind today. So thanks again for tuning in. I'm really excited today we have on Putney clues. She is the CMO excision. We've been lucky enough to work with her at Bambara and her stops at m x before decision. Before that she worked at Mackenzie and had a bunch of other cool roles in the space and I think you'll really enjoy the conversation. Putney has an amazing outlook on how to align sales and marketing, just kind of her philosophy on on how she works with her marketing organizations to to generate outcomes for the businesses that she's worked on. Of course, the intent data exchange is brought to you by Bambara Putney. Hello, how are you? Hey, Mike, how are you? I am great. Thank you so much for joining us and agreeing to do the show. We're psych psyched to have you. Thanks for coming, thanks for having me. Yeah, of course. Um. So, yeah, I'm really excited to kind of learn a little bit more about your background and, yeah, I think we've talked before about some of your...

...philosophy and we're excited to share that, for sure. Um, and just to get folks oriented, maybe just talk about the you know your position now with decision and what you're up to right now. Sure. So, I am currently the chief marketing offer it's officer at decision, which is, Um, the leader in the Calms Tech Space. Um, we own a number of different assets that you're Um listeners may be familiar with. One of the most prominent is PR newswire. I have been in this role since the very end of November, so I think that takes me to about six months. And really the focus, you know, besides just learning the business, Um, meeting my colleagues, building relationships, has been, uh, building our marketing muscle Um and bringing in some of the best practices and B Two B marketing Um that I learned in my prior roles at American Express and other places the trade. And I will, I said we'd go backwards and we will, but I just out of curiosity. Is this kind of this role that you're in now? Is this kind of Um always where you kind of wanted to go with your careers, to get somewhere where you could run marketing kind of from a more holistic level? Absolutely. It's funny. I'll tell you that Um, one of my last leaders at American Express, when I was working with him, Um, he wanted to understand what my goals were and I said I want to be the CMO of a mid sized company. And, you know, fast forward, I don't know, maybe two and a half years. I called him and I said, listen, I've been I've been looking at this opportunity and I told him what it was and this individual said to me, Putney, that is CMO of a mid sized company. You got to go and get that job. And it was that moment that I really felt like sort of crystallized. Yes, this was the right opportunity...

...for me, albeit probably with some risks that come with any change. But that it, you know, really gave me a lot of momentum um to to continue the conversations with decision and then really joyfully accept the role and and and do the work that I'm doing now. And why? Why such a nice specific goal around mid sized company? Is it that you know, hey, I could probably make an easier impact less kind of, you know, less of like the tanker turning around in the desert? Why mid size? I think it was all about or it is all about, and it sort of it was there aspirationally and now I'm living it. Really about impact Um and you know, in particular, I think scission is in a really high growth phase. So that word impact is probably even amplified, or the opportunity for impact is amplified. But exactly that. Um, I feel like a lot of my career, and we can talk about it, has been at these really large, frankly amazing organizations and I've learned so, so much there. But sometimes the quantity of colleagues, the depth of absolute talent, the Matrix Um, can make it feel like you're not having, you know, tremendous impact every day. and Um, it's been super fun to be at a at a smaller company and have really sort of broad remit um to activate strategies, drive change and deliver impact. That that's great and I know we know at Bambara firsthand that you know large impact you did have in other places. So we'll talk about that as we go. But we'd love to go all the way back and just kind of bring us a little bit into just kind of how you got into the space. I mean even bring us back to like your your academic career and why? How? How did you get into this particular part of the world? You know, B two B sales and marketing. Yeah, Um, you know, I started my career in a really you know, traditional brand management program Um at craft foods. Back when it was was craft foods. Um I worked at the NIBISCO DIVISION UM...

...in New Jersey focused on cookies and crackers and that Um, you know, I didn't know it then, but had really important to be to be elements of it that, I think, really put me on, you know, where I am, or put me on the path to where I am now. And specifically, Um Nibisco, one of the key sources of competitive advantage was the direct store delivery team. So we had sales colleagues in store every day selling to our retailers and it was a part of the business that I was super, super interested in. There's a lot that I learned from a sort of fundamental marketing perspective, you know, how to evaluate copy and how to do really great forecasting, but for me I was really, really interested in how we um activated our strategies through sales colleagues. And, you know, fast forward a little bit. Um The business I was working on was divested Um by craft and I needed to make a change, Um, you know, job wise at that point and I decided to go to McKinsey and Company and join the marketing and sales practice and very specifically, what I wanted to learn more about was, uh, the intersection of marketing and sales, because I could see that it craft. It was one of the really key differentiators and, as I said, Um, sources of competitive advantage. But, very frankly, marketers were kept a little bit at a distance from the sales organization because there was a fear that we would distract them. And so I had this tension of like, I can see that that's where value is really created, but I haven't gotten as close as I wanted to. Um. So very intentionally I went to Mackenzie and I spent a lot of time, um, still in the CPG space, but really focused on sales organization...

...and in that context. So think about, you know, some of the big players in the space and I had the opportunity to work with them and understand during a really important time of change, you know, sort of Walmart and target really sort of getting more and more strength, the sort of advent of e commerce in the CPG industry, Um, and really think about how, again, marketing and sales strategies could be activated through a changing sales organization. and Um, I you know, from there on I really didn't look back on thinking about, one, the intersection of marketing and sales and to really being in a B two B context. Um, even though, funnily enough, if you asked me what industry I worked in, it was a consumer industry. Yeah, so, same. It's interesting because I think this is why I love doing this, because I I you know, we've talked a bunch, but I'm now I learned things that I didn't know. I thought we were figuring this thing out together while you're at Amicx, but it turns out that you were working on it for fifteen years before that. So shows what I know. Um. So, so what is an example in the CPG world of how marketing works with sales? So sales, literally, they're talking to retailers, Hey, stock more of my stuff, sell more of my stuff. So what are you doing to empower them in that context? Yeah, I mean a lot of the stuff that we thought about was, you know, what what products were appropriate in both you know, overall, but also thinking about like, you know, developing unique pact types, unique pricing, Um, unique promotions that uniquely met the strategies of the individual retailers, which were, of course, driven out of who their customer was, their actual consumer, and uh, you know, what sort of moment of purchase that they were addressing. And so you ended up taking what was...

...overall a marketing strategy but putting it into the B two B context of how do I make this work really well, Um, for another business who's trying to achieve their goals? Yeah, no, when you say it that way, it seems like the most obvious thing you can do as a marketer, which is just listened to the confluence of the customer and the Salesperson, listen to what they want to do more business together and then serve that Um and. I guess we'll get into it as we go. But why isn't that right? It sounds obvious. So why isn't that just the way everything works? What are the what are the barriers, the barriers you've seen in your career to just kind of everything working that way? I think this answers your question or starts to and it's one of the things we've been thinking Um more and more about ascision and and and, frankly, I think I think every Um Marketer and and and commercial team members should be thinking this way. Is Really Um. You know, what are the needs of your buyer that you can serve with your solution, rather than Um just purely what is the functionality of your solution itself. And you know, if you think about it, you know the need state of a Walmart serving its consumers is very different than a convenience store serving its UM consumers. And therefore, even though our solution, if you will, in that context, a cracker or a cookie, was fundamentally the same, the way that we positioned it, and in that case it was really you know, I'm talking about really sort of functional positioning, Um, would have been different. And so when we think about things, that decision these days, it is whether it's by industry, by segment and in many cases, and you know, you and I have talked a lot about a v M, um very you know, for for enterprise or...

...even some large midsize companies, what uniquely, are their set of pain points or desired outcomes? And then how do you think about marketing and enabling your sales colleagues to talk about your solution in that context? Yeah, that makes it makes a lot of sense. Um. Again, do you say it in a way that makes it seem so obvious, um, but you know, we've seen we see it all the time. It's a big struggle to get that. You know, sales and marketing alignment it seems like it's just kind of a non negotiable for you. It's our first principal thinking for you. Um. So it's been it's cool to see an action, but take us, keep taking us through here. So from McKenzie, is that where you from? There you landed at m x, or is there something in between? Nope. So, Um, I was at McKenzie for a number of years. Really a tremendous experience. There are so many things that I will that I will never forget, Um, that I learned there. That served me so very, very well. Um. But I did really want to go back to being an operator. Um and and, and I'll be careful, because my mackenzie colleagues or or former colleagues, do a lot of great work, very, very close to the folks in the business. Um, but that I had that desire to get back truly to the front line. Um. And at that point, Um, you know, I I looked around a bunch and am x, interestingly, you know, again switching industries completely, but had some attributes that made it a really great fit. One commercial business had a large sales organization, highly talented, and I'll tell you when I was at am x, I always worked in the commercial business. Um really known for at the time and continues to be, UM, one of the leaders in data driven marketing, UM, which was, you know, an area that I felt like I knew, but I also knew was going to become increasingly important. Um, a sophistication of all marketing Um was advancing, and wanted to make sure I was putting myself in an environment where I could be both learning but also, you know, at the cutting...

...edge of data driven marketing and sales techniques. And, very frankly, Um, I by that point had had my second child and lived in New York City and was pretty thrilled to have um a company that was only a few subway stops away, Um from my house and my small children, and so amx was really a perfect fit. Um, probably more perfect if I think about what I got to do there that I knew at the time. Um, but even on paper at the beginning it, which was pretty great. Yeah, yeah, so was McKinsey. You're flying all over the country and different clients and different engagements in different parts of the world or so that that was part of it for you. Yeah, absolutely. I mean there was a component of that and I think that, you know, that could have probably been if I hadn't also had the hunger to get back to really feeling like I was in the front line of delivering the numbers every day. If I hadn't had that hunger, I definitely could have solved for you know, making the Mackenzie like Efin travel work, because the firm is very, very supportive. Um. But I had both, Um, both both the desire to to to cut down and travel a little bit, but also to get back to that Um sort of sort of frontline spot and be really, really close to delivering the results. Yeah, and that's where we were lucky enough to cross paths with you, at least the first time at Bambora. And you know, we've talked about this before, this idea of at least with intent data. It sounds like in your world it's it's a lot more of a broader philosophy, but we think at least with intent data, starting with the sales use case is usually a simpler way to start, because it's simpler to measure. UH, the business can rally around those results really easily, and then once they do, Um, expanding into other use cases becomes, you know, much more frictionless and you can kind of like enjoy the capital that you you earn by, you know, generating revenue directly with sales. And so was were there other ways that you applied your philosophy at am x, or was intended to kind of like the perfect way to apply your philosophy...

...at m x? Probably both. I mean, I think the philosophy that you're speaking of is I really think about the role of the marketing organization is to fuel sales and fuel them with high quality leads and intelligence, you know, and and this is stuff your your listeners all know, but to ensure that you're talking to the right account at the you know, your sales colleague rather, is talking to the right account at the right time with the right message. Um. And so this notion of, you know, not having a lot of Um Um. I have a real I have a real fear, if you will, of Vanity Marketing, which is stuff that looks great but doesn't necessarily drive results, and a real passion and true joy comp that comes from fueling sales colleagues. Um. And one of the ways that we did that absolutely was through intent data. But you know, I I really get and I hope that my teams do too. I try to inspire it in them. Is that anything that we can do to make our sales colleagues who have such a hard job? No matter what company you're in, no matter what industry you're in, no matter what product you're selling, it's a very hard job to be on the front line selling every day and anything that we can do that helps them hit their goals in a easier way or a more joyful way for them, Um, is pure joy for me, Um, and that's sort of the mindset that I come to my work with, is how can I make their job easier and how do I make sure that everything that I'm doing, Um, is resulting in, you know, impact through the Sales Organization, Um, and definitely intent data, and you know this because I've told you someone, um in the am x environment, Um,...

...one of our frontline sellers, um, quoted to me after we'd we'd gotten them up to, you know, up to speed using contented data, said, you know what it's like gold, because what we were allowing them to do was call a lead that was in discovery, in market, at the right time with the right message, because we knew which one, or had a very good lead on, if you will, what product or service from our organization would meet their the needs that they were giving us signals that they had. Yeah, and I think a lot, a lot of marketers and sales organizations they just don't think along those lines. Are a lot of times the incentives are the metrics that are being measured don't incentivize that thinking, right, like if you're a marketing team and you just have a raw number of leads goal and it's like, if you don't hit that number of leads, you know you didn't hit your goal and that's how you're being measured. Um, you know, and the number of leads might not be a good example of entity metric, but you get my point. Sometimes the metrics you're driving towards are not aligned with that kind of earnest, curiosity and interest in helping your sales colleagues. I totally agree. I mean one of the things that I feel very strongly about, and I learned this at American Express and I will carry with me always because it's powerful, just as you're saying, is I want to carry the same number that our sales colleagues carry because ultimately, you know, and I mean that in terms of how I'm I'm evaluated, how my team's evaluated. Um, because ultimately that does align incentives and you know, sometimes I hear folks say, well, you know, this part of the sales process I'm less in control of and this part you're more in control of. Well, sure, that's true. I'm not in control of everything that happens, but it does make sure that all involved parties are working as hard as they can towards the same, same goal, and I think that's incredibly important. Yeah, and just as an example, when you decided, Hey, I'm going to prioritize researching, vetting, investing in intent...

...data at M X, was it directly aligned to your goals, or was it a bit of a leap of faith that if I do this and I help us reach our goals, you know, it will create more alignment and it will create, you know, that connection between sales and marketing, or were you set up to you know where where it made sense for you to do it just kind of anyway, based on your goals? I think, Um, if I go back, we we actually did have aligned goals at the time. Um, and so, you know, perhaps selfishly, it was going to help me as much as it was helping them, um. But I know that. I think it gave me a different level of credibility. If you think about that sales use case that we were talking about, because there are many pure marketing or marketing to sales use cases as well as intent data, but if you think about the direct to sales use case, um, the very one that we're piloting decision, I think it gives you a different level of credibility when you say to your sales colleagues, I'm going to run a pilot, I'm gonna ask you to spend some of your precious time, that directly impacts your compensation in most cases, on this new source of data that I have, this new idea that I have. You have a lot more credibility if it's directly impacting your goals, almost as much as is impacting the earth, Um. And I think that's from it's from that level of shared alignment and, frankly, trust that then allowed us, you know first, or allowed me first in the AMEX context, but then later on, you know now, hopefully in decision context, to get that that willingness to say, Yep, I'm willing to spend some of my my precious time on this. Yeah, and I think another marketer there's, you know, again, could be based on company dynamics or incentives or whatever, might say, Hey, I'm going to find the perfect lead source, nurture it the perfect way so that I can ultimately just serve up revenue on a silver...

...platter, because there's something that sounds nice about that, whereas with intent data, as a marketer, if you're buying it, you're prioritizing basically sales has to act on it. Like I'm going to buy it, I mean make sure it's the right source, I'm going to help curate it, but ultimately then you're done and it's up to the salespeople to act on that data and actually generate the results, whereas, like, I think it takes, you know, I think it takes a certain vulnerability to to prioritize that as a marketer. And we say, I'll go a little hippie on you here. I'm I'm an improviser, literally, like a background and improvisation, and we have this saying an improvisation that the way to look best is to focus on making your partner look really, really good. If your partner looks really, really good. You're always going to look amazing yourself, and I think this is pretty much that. In real life there's no there's no marketing team whose sales team is just crushing it and where the marketing team doesn't have an amazing reputation. Right. It's like, Oh, yeah, we're crushing our goals, but marketing sucks that. That would be pretty rare. Yeah, it's interesting to hear you say that. Right, and I'm not sure this is this is relevant, but, um, one of the things that I have been educating, Um, my decision team about is exactly that is. You know, everybody's sort of appropriately focused on what they're going to be measured on, what's on their scorecard. And when we started talking about the directest sales intent data play, Um folks who had less experience in the space said, well, wait a minute, is that going to be a marketing driven lead? It didn't come through a form fill, it didn't come from a piece of, you know, paid media that I put you on Linkedin or whatever. And I said absolutely, because we're building the strategy, we've developed the partnership with the intent data providers, we're figuring out the right routing. Um, so yes, it's just another way of thinking about the role of marketing.

Ye, Um, so that's that's great and thanks for sharing and all the background stuff and it it sounds like then, at some point, you know, was it just kind of organically this opportunity came up with decision and like, kind of like you were mentioning earlier, it was just too good to pass up, or were you getting to the point where you were kind of actively like hey, I really want to proactively find the CMO GIG? No, it was really organic, Um, you know. And I think back on it, I don't know, it's gonna I'm gonna sound sort of hippie divvy, but Um, you know, you think about the phone calls that you get during the day and it's maybe an unrecognized number, you know whatnot, it wasn't a firm that I was familiar with and for whatever reason I picked it up that afternoon and they said, listen, when we talked to you about an opportunity, and I was like yeah, sure, why not? Um, and and that's where it went from and I sometimes think back and think like yeah, maybe they would have given me another call, but I you know, I could have missed the opportunity simply from being, you know, too busy or whatever. Um. So it was really, really quite organic. But, as I said, Um, somewhat quickly into the process. And then again this this former leader of Mine and very close mentor now Um, it was like, you know what, you got to go and get that job because it's the one that you said you wanted. That's awesome. And is it everything? Maybe you could give us a little bit good, bad and the ugly. I mean it sounds like, okay, that's exactly what you wanted to do, you're doing it. That's awesome. The universe stepped in and you took the right call at the right time. All Great, but now that you're in kind of like the more holistic seat, is there anything about it that's harder than you thought, different than you thought? How's it finding you? It is super hard and I love every little bit of it. I say this to the team, Um and and and you know, Mike, I'M A, I'm a I love to work. I love my work. Um, I wouldn't do it if I didn't. But I truly look forward to coming to work every day. I think the diversity of things that I get to think about is even broader than...

...what I did Um, informer roles for a variety of reasons. But I do lead the entire marketing team and so that comes with a diversity of it, Um, and I think, frankly, the overall organization, not surprisingly, is, you know, not as universally advanced on all sort of vectors, if you will, as a place like American Express, Um, and so I get to, you know, dive in pretty deep on areas like pr you know, campaign development, lead routing, you know, definitely thinking about, you know, new third party data sources. The diversity of things that I get to really get my hands dirty on with the team and and and when I say team, I mean the Commercial Organization broadly, is Um wide, and that just that that excites me to no end. Um. And some of the stuff I know super well, Um, which is great, and that gives me confidence. Um, some of the stuff I'm learning a bit more, and that's also amazing because, Um, you know, I always say to folks, don't take a job unless you're also going to get something out of it, and often the thing that at least I want out of something is to learn more. And how do you? I am asking mostly for myself. How do you balance, you know, because my jobs we started attend people and my job keeps expanding, and I'm sure others are in a similar boat. How do you manage these functional areas where you do you yourself don't have a ton of background. So how do you kind of thread that needle of like hey, I know there's still value I can add here in terms of like a certain way of thinking or a certain other Um functional area where I've gained some experience, versus just like I gotta hire somebody who's knows how to do this because I don't know anything about it. How do you kind of thread that needle? I think one of the things that I really credit my time at McKenzie for is Um and this goes to your point about thinking. Um is one Kinsey has has taught me how to...

...start problem solving on something you haven't seen before and just literally go back to first principles, like kind of how how would I start? which is very, very empowering if you're going into something you haven't seen before. Um, but also like then very quickly, at least in my McKinsey experience, it was then pattern recognition. So once you break it down. You're like, well, actually, I've seen things that look like this, so let me, let me try to figure out, you know, what pattern I can apply, what model can I apply, until I do actually learn something real Um. So some of that is I feel pretty confident, Um, coming at things that I haven't seen before from that experience. Um. And then, and this is actually true, it's probably how I met you and Bombara, to be honest, is I learned maybe like six or seven years ago. It took a while in my career, but to not be afraid to just figure out who does know it. You know, hiring them as one thing, but what I figured out is that you can just call someone and say, Hey, you're really good at X, I'm starting to do X. Would you please share with me a bit of what you've done? And people actually love it, and I didn't know that that you can, you know, call someone up and just say, it looks like you're really good at account based marketing, I'm starting on that journey. Would you mind having coffee a couple of times and telling me about it? Or intent data or, you know, lead scoring or whatever it is. And I have definitely I learned that lesson a while ago, but I've held onto it. Is sometimes you just need to phone a friend and sometimes you need to find a friend to then phone Um, and all of that is okay and in most cases it has resulted in some really sort of close professional relationships. And you know, maybe I take take take for a while, but at some point I'm gonna be able to give to that. Sure. I mean it's it feels like they come in denominators, this nice vulnerability. I mean vendors they love, you know, everybody, but especially vendor is. They love the...

...idea of being an advisor and being able to help, and that's the business they're in. And a lot of marketers don't want to play the role of I don't know, I want you to teach me. And it's just a simple piece of vulnerability. It's like there's nothing wrong with it, like why would anyone know more than us about intent? Data? Right, exactly, right, exactly. So, yeah, it's a good it's a good skill to have. Um. Well, great, this has been amazing. Again, thank you so much, and you know, it's been amazing to work with you over these last couple of stops and we're looking forward to working with you decision and again, thanks so much for joining. Thanks, Mike, and it's gonna be Great. We're gonna do more great stuff together. Cool. All right, thanks, putty. Talk to you soon. Find the businesses who are ready to buy before your competitors do, connect and sell using the industry's most comprehensive and privacy compliant buyer intent data. To learn more, VISIT BAMBARA DOT com. You've been listening to the intent data exchange, a bomboarder podcast. Keep connected with us by subscribing to the show and your favorite podcast player. If you like what you've heard, please rate the show. That helps us keep delivering the latest in the B two B marketing ecosystem. Until next time,.

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