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Last week we announced that our new CMO, Melissa Puls, had officially joined the Progress team. Here’s a Q&A with Melissa about her first impressions of the organization, her recipe for lead generation.
Progress Exchange ‘14 was your first experience of the show. What surprised you the most about the event?
I was blown away by the loyalty of the Progress customer and partner base. During Jerry Rulli’s keynote he asked participants to stand up if they’d been with Progress for 15 years and nearly half of the room stood up! The energy and enthusiasm was palpable, and I was struck by how much there was to build upon with this type of community and the scope and depth of existing relationships.
What are you most excited about in your new role at Progress?
I’m energized by the opportunity to grow the business and extend the legacy. We are building highly competitive solutions that will enable us to become the go-to developer community. As I was leaving Exchange and heading to the airport in a hired car, I was struck by just how much the market has changed for our customers in the last five years. I asked the driver what sort of impact Uber was having on his business. He said he’d been in business for 30 years and the owner of company was very confident in the high level of customer service he provided, and in fact there had never been another car service in Orlando that could compete. Yet within one year, they were feeling competitive pressure from Uber, a tech company, not a customer service company.
My point is, competition is everywhere and we have an opportunity to give customers and partners a competitive edge by using technology in ways they could not have imagined years ago. In this way they can become disrupters instead of being disrupted.
What are CMOs most concerned about these days?
The days of marketing for marketing's sake are long over. Today it’s about looking at how well we are investing our marketing dollars and how we can maximize those investments.
Consumers and businesses are buying differently than they were even five years ago. Today, buyers are 60-70 percent through the purchasing process before they even want to talk to a sales rep. You have to earn the right to market to someone, because consumers are so well educated. When there’s a problem to solve, the first thing we do is research online and there’s a ton of data that comes with that experience. The digital breadcrumb trail that’s left consists of the unique problem the buyer was trying to solve, what he or she was looking for, and where they were looking.
All these data points combine to present a 360-degree view of the customer, and the smartest marketers aren't just looking at the data within their four walls but outside their organization as well. At Progress, we are in a unique position to know what will help buyers along their journey. Our job is to observe where they are on the path to purchase and serve up relevant, timely content that will help their purchasing decision.
As a CMO, you have to communicate with so many audiences. How will you prioritize this?
We are fortunate that there are so many channels to reach our various audiences, and they allow us to take a tailored approach and only provide information that’s relevant. It’s my belief that in order to be effective communicators, we need to know where the North Star is as an organization. Having a sense of where we are headed and what we stand for is central. All our messages must disseminate from that. Establishing a clear view and how we will drive to our objectives is important for both our internal and external audiences.
What’s your recipe for lead generation?
It's one part making sure that lead generation objectives align with sales objectives, so there’s no disconnect. Marketing has to look at demand in terms of how much pipeline creation is needed in order to convert a certain percentage of sales.
It’s one part efficiency around lead to revenue. There’s a lot of breakdown that can happen in the buyer's journey. and operational effectiveness can remedy this.
Then, designing SLAs that ensure that sales and marketing are aligned. For example, setting an SLA that any website visitor who fills out a contact form gets a call from a sales rep the same day. In my experience, this type of action can show a 30% increase in lead to opportunity. Ultimately, lead generation is about understanding the buyer’s journey, knowing the persona and where they go to get information. It’s about search engine marketing and providing the right content at the right time.
What’s something your colleagues might not know about you?
I grew up in Marlborough, MA and my father was the mayor. As a family we’d visit people in the neighborhood to see what sort of problems they were facing. I learned early on how to listen and have empathy for the challenges that families encounter on a daily basis. My father’s work was inspirational to me and I strive everyday to listen, learn and do what I can to implement change in a positive way.
My mother was a senior executive at a software company at a time when that wasn’t the norm. She helped me to see what was possible. It’s part of my ethos to never rest on my laurels but to push the boundaries for continual improvement.
I’m also a strong believer in enabling employees to work in the environment in which they are the most effective. Sometimes that’s in an office and sometimes that’s from a mobile office. In today’s world where work and personal life are often blended it’s important to give employees flexibility…but more on that in my next post!
View all posts from Christina Polaski on the Progress blog. Connect with us about all things application development and deployment, data integration and digital business.
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