Rosalyn Santa Elena: Welcome to the revenue engine podcast. I'm your host, Rosalyn Santa Elena. And I am thrilled to bring you the most inspirational stories from revenue, generators, innovators, and disruptors revenue leaders in sales, in marketing. And of course in operations. Together, we will unpack everything that optimizes and powers that the revenue engine are. You ready? Let's get to it.
Imagine being the co-founder of not one, but two successful leading marketing software companies. Well, Jon Miller doesn't have to imagine as the co-founder of Marketo the world's leading marketing automation software and the co-founder of engaging. Jon is a true thought leader and innovator in the world of revenue.
Jon shares his vision and journey in the world of marketing, which led him to his role today as chief marketing officer and chief product officer at Demandbase, the most comprehensive account-based marketing solution available to you. Leading marketing for a company that enables marketers is an interesting place to be.
Jon shares, how he stays ahead of the game. He also shares the top things marketing should be thinking about today to successfully power the revenue engine. So take a listen and as always. Stay till the end to hear something you probably didn't know about Jon. So excited to be here today with Jon Miller, a true thought leader and entrepreneur in the marketing world.
Jon is currently the chief marketing and product officer at Demandbase. After the company he founded and led as a CEO, geo was acquired in mid 2020 with the acquisition. Demandbase is the most comprehensive ABM solution on the model. Prior to founding Engagio. Jon was the co-founder of Marketo the leader in marketing automation software, which was acquired by Adobe in 2018 for $4.75 billion and that's billion with a B.
So welcome Jon, and thank you for joining me today. Thanks for having me. Great. So you have had an incredibly impressive career in consulting, in marketing and as a founder and CEO, I think we could easily spend our entire time together just talking about Marketo. So maybe we start. You know, can you share maybe a little bit about your career journey and maybe how it led you to become a co-founder at Marketo?
John Miller: Oh yeah. I mean, the, the sort of fun fact is that I actually studied physics for my undergraduate and thought I was going to go into academia and get a PhD, but I sort of just felt like I deserved to at least check out the other side of the world. And I managed to get a job in a small consulting firm, uh, out of.
College. And I liked it well enough that I was like, okay, I'm gonna stay in this world for a little bit. And this consulting firm, actually, we were doing customer value. It was called customer value exchange. And it was sort of how do you, we were doing analysis around the customer relationships and. The owner realized that our, our clients couldn't necessarily implement all the recommendations because they didn't have the technology in their companies to support it.
And he actually went and they acquired an old mainframe campaign solution and rearchitected it for clients. That company eventually spun out and became known as exchange, which was probably the leading MarTech company in the mid nineties. So you fast forward a couple of years, I went to go get my MBA and I was graduating.
Uh, this was 1999 and everybody was going into high-tech because it was the internet. So I figured, well, maybe I should do. And I managed to get a job at a company called . Um, which I probably wasn't qualified for consider. I'd never worked in tech, but we're to, they were building a campaign management product that they figured would compete against exchange.
And so the fact I had sort of, at least I'll lose connection to that. Other company sort of got me the job as the first product manager there. And then he went on to be very successful and had a big IPO. Uh, and I would say it was the leading MarTech company of the internet era. Uh, and then we, you know, we rose up, we wrote, so a ridiculously high valuation crashed down the other side of it during the bubble, when the bubble popped, when we finally ended up selling Tiffany to an ERP firm and she was that way 2004.
So that's when I was like, all right, well, what am I going to do next? And I was having conversations with Phil Fernandez who had been epiphanies president and chief operating officer. And he, and I both kind of realized that we shared a view of an opportunity that was in the marketplace, which was to deliver the kind of powerful enterprise marketing software that we had been doing at epiphany, but to leverage software as a service, which was kind of our merging to make the technology be just fundamentally easier to buy music, our own and easier to use, because the insight we had was that.
Most companies look at marketing as a cost center, and you don't tend to invest a lot of capital into making a cost center more effective, which is not how CFOs think. And so on-premise software, wasn't a good fit for marketing because people weren't doing these big capital investments, but the flip side is marketers had massive amounts.
Of program dollars to spend. They could spend $50,000 on a trade show without getting an eye. And so that was the idea was, was that the Verizon of SAS would enable marketers to buy the software. Like they would buy trade shows or Google spend. And I think that was really unlocked Marketo in the early days to make it successful.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: And I think it was in early 2015 and decided to go find a new company, which was, you know, Engagio, which was really a marketing platform for ABM. Right. Or account-based marketing. What was, I guess, what led you there? Like, can you share more about sort of your vision for engaging and what prompted you to leave Marketo and sort of venture out on your own?
John Miller: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, as I was with our cat about nine years and I was original CMO, and then as we grew bigger, I focused in on the demand gen function. And you add Marketo. We built a revenue engine that was really quite successful using our own technology. It was based on demand generation and inbound marketing.
We would generate leads and score them and nurture them until they're ready for the sales team. And yet, as we grew bigger and bigger, We started to see the limits of that traditional demand generation engine. You know, we, we couldn't really go on market that well, cause we were sort of at the mercy of who came to us, uh, it wasn't particularly successful, uh, kind of marketing to our existing customers.
Uh, cause you know, and the analogy I was using was that the kind of marketing we've been doing was fishing with a net. You know, we didn't really care who responded, we just cared. Did we capture enough? So at Marketo we started building the second revenue funnel, uh, revenue engine, which was much more about identifying the accounts that we really wanted and finding ways to proactively go after them.
And it was much more like fishing with Spears and it worked, it was effective. It was good to have both revenue engines. And yet the opportunity I saw was how hard it was to do. With a traditional lead-based tech stack, like Marketo like Salesforce lead object. And I had driven my marketing team, crazy trying to do this.
We are fishing, both managing it and also measuring it, you know? Cause it wasn't a good single view of the account to sort of even be able to know what was actually going on. And it's a stuff. So when after a great long run of nine years at Marketo, I started to get the itch to kind of be entrepreneurial and go, go start something new.
And it was after it didn't take very much searching before I realized that this pain that I experienced of, of trying to do what became known as account based marketing, uh, with the existing texts. Uh, created the perfect opportunity for a new company
Rosalyn Santa Elena: That analogy of fishing with a net versus a spear, because it is incredibly difficult, right?
I mean, the marketing is just so it's such a vast opportunity to be able to figure out kind of pinpoint and really go after the accounts and the targets that you want is not an easy feat. Um, when you, when you look back at it, You know, both Marketo and engage you, you know, both companies that had incredible success.
Right? What are some of the things that, um, you think you did, right. That really helped drive and accelerate revenue growth. I think you touched on some of them, um, you know, as you're talking about your journey, but what are some of the other things or are there other things?
John Miller: Yeah, I mean, I think there's, I really kind of point to three, um, and the last one's pretty obvious, but the first two maybe are, are a little bit more intense.
So I think the first one is that both Marketo and engage you, we didn't create the category. You know, we found, or I found a existing category that was early, that had at least one significant larger player that was sort of helping to evangelize and helping to kind of create it. That come in and sort of leverage off of some of that existing momentum.
And at the same time, kind of ultimately almost redefine it for our own purposes, you know, at Marketo that existing player was Eloqua. And interestingly enough, at engaged with an existing player was Demandbase, uh, the larger company that had been sort of, you know, earlier and helping to define the cap.
So that's the first one is kind of finding existing market that we could differentiate in. The second thing is in both cases, uh, I worked really hard to build a brand. Um, it's on thought leadership and trust. Uh, and you know, even though I'm a demand gen marketer or heart, you know, I think brand is incredibly important because you can have the best.
Demand gen programs. But if your brand stinks, you know, people are going to be making decisions for your competitors before you even have a chance to get into the deal. And I think the B2B buying is so scary because these are big deals that if you screw up, you can lose your job. That the more we can help buyers trust us, the better we are.
And that's where thought leadership and social proof. Kind of plays such an important role and both are kind of Engagio. I spend a lot of time on that kind of thought leadership. The third one is sort of least interesting, which is then you just go execute. Well, you know, you have to build the product.
You got to have a strong marketing department. You have to have a good sales team. You got to make your customers happy, which I'm not saying any of that's easy. But it is the important part is kind of the lesson of those companies.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: Absolutely. That's great. So, you know, let's talk a little bit about the market itself, because you mentioned about, you know, buyers, you know, buyers are becoming smarter, right?
They're becoming more informed. They're demanding much more, right from their vendors of choice, you know, targeted account marketing has become increasingly important, right? As customers try to cut through the noise, they're trying to differentiate themselves from the competition. You know, what are you sort of seeing in terms, I guess, in the market, in terms of trends around ABM, like how has it evolved and where do you see it going?
John Miller: Yeah, I mean, that's a really interesting question. Um, this is my favorite of all the ones of all the questions know there's kind of three big trends that I'd want to point to here. Um, the, the first one is. No, I think there's just been a pretty dramatic change in how marketing and sales teams work together.
I mean, in the days of Marketo, uh, we, we sort of had these like waterfalls of MQL's to SALs SQLs or whatever. Uh, and they were that the model, there was very much one of a Baton handoffs, no marketing would generate the lead and then we'd hand it to the SDL. And then they'd qualify it and then they'd hand it to the salesperson and then they'd close it and then they'd hand it to customer success.
Uh, and, and, you know, we would actually turn off the marketing. Um, and I, I, it just feels very different today, partly because the buying journey has gotten more complex and less. You know, what, what you're seeing is, you know, a model that today feels less like a Baton handoff and more like, I think, like, I like to use the analogy of a soccer team where there's certain there's players in different positions, but you pass the ball back and forth as the ball moves up and down, the field sales is more involved at the top of the funnel, especially because there's all of these new sales, engagement tools like SalesLoft and outreach and so on.
Uh, A lot of companies, the sales reps are sending more emails than the marketers are. That's right at the top of the funnel. Yep. Same time buying committees are getting bigger and bigger, which means marketing should be spending more time with existing opportunities because there's no way the sales rep could talk to all 16 members of the buying committee.
One-on-one you need sort of volume of, of, of the marketing team. So that sort of change in the marketing and sales dynamic is one thing. The second one is, you know, buyers have always wanted to sort of be anonymous and they're a little resistant to sort of getting unwanted marketing and unwanted selling.
But I think what's happened is they've marked a lot of buyers have gotten kind of clued into the process here, you know? And so they know if they go to your site and download that white paper, that it probably means they're going to get a bunch of phone calls from an STR, but maybe they're not ready for those phone calls in order they want them.
And so a lot of the research that people do used to be happen on your website, that tools like Marketo could track. And you could use that to know, Hey, when's, when's the time to call, but now that research is happening, not on our site, you know, or they're not filling out the forms at least because they don't want the unwanted phone calls.
And so we need new ways to be able to sort of track and monitor and know when an account or a person is kind of lighting up and is ready to go. And that's that's, uh, we'll, we'll talk more about that in a bit, but that's sort of where intent data has just become so important in B2B sort of the ability to know which accounts are kind of showing interest in possibly being in market.
And then the third big kind of change here is really just the general digitalization of the go-to-market. Um, and I mean, obviously we've seen just the rise of digital over the last 10 years, but with, you know, the pandemic and people moving to work from home and everything else, I mean, the sad eyes saws, we saw six years of digital happened in six months, you know?
And, and so it's changed how we do everything. It's changed how we meet, how we talk, change, how we market, and even when the economy opens back up and we're all. Not working from home, et cetera, et cetera. You know, you just, you can't put Pandora's once you've opened Pandora's bottle, you can't put it back in.
So all new digital go to market strategies that we've been using, I think are here to stay. So, you know, when you look at these three trends, changing sales and marketing dynamics, you know, more research happening off site. And the bill making it harder to know where the buyer is in the buyer's journey.
The digitalization I've been talking a lot recently about, we sort of might be hitting the end of account based marketing as sort of the, the main way we sort of think about things. And you, you, you sort of alluded to earlier that you like my analogy of fishing with spirits and it's a good analogy.
Right? But when you think about it, it doesn't feel very good to get poked by a spirit.
I think we're starting to evolve to is a new model that takes the precision and targeting of ABM, but brings a more customer centric experience. You know, frankly, a friendlier experience to it. Uh, and that's actually what I've been calling account-based experience, you know, to sort of really talk about kind of the melding of these ideas.
And the other thing I really like about account based experience or ABX is that it doesn't just talk about it. But ADM is just a marketing thing. But in this new world where sales and marketing are working as a team, we actually need another phrase for something that, yeah, it spans rev ops. It spans the revenue engine.
It's the entire. Uh, and I like account based experience because it kind of has that bigger idea.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: I love that. I love thinking about your anonymous research. And I was smiling to myself because I was thinking about how, how, when I'm looking at tools myself, I like to try to go to other third-party sites to figure it out because I, again, don't want to be poked by that spirit to happen.
Perfect love that. Um, so, you know, Demandbase acquired Engagio right last year, I think, mid last year. And now you're currently not only the chief marketing officer, but you're also the chief product officer. Um, you know, with the combination of these two companies, how has the overall product offering and sort of differentiation helped in accelerating revenue growth and expanding your customer base?
John Miller: I mean, this has been a very exciting time in my career. Um, you know, I am incredibly proud. I mean, we, we saw the vision of what engaged you plus Demandbase could be, you know, if we brought that together and that's why we did the merger, right. It wasn't a great, like, oh my gosh, big payday or financial exit.
It was, it was, this was product trip. Um, and, and we. No, we move like the wind to actually bring the solutions together. And which was a hard, hard thing. I mean, it made, it was a little bit easier because we actually used Engagio as the platform, the core platform going forward. So in many ways we basically integrated the demand functionality into the Engagio solution, and that enabled us to actually release the integrated solution back in November.
So about just under, just under six months after we, we closed the acquisition. Um, and it's just so important that we move that quickly because you know, the reality is demand base. As I said earlier, was the early ABM leader and it's still by far the largest ABM player, but they had lost the innovation edge, um, and frankly falling behind some of the other players in the marketplace.
But this combination of bringing the two platforms together, It was literally like three years of roadmap that we got kind of instantly overnight. Um, and when you, you can think about both ways for engage you. I got three years of wish up my wishlist overnight for Demandbase. They got rid of their wishlist overnight, you know, together, we just leapfrogged, you know, I think where, where the, where the market was.
Um, so I, I feel very confident saying that this now is the best account-based platform. The challenge I have as a CMS. Is I got to tell the whole world you can go wrong is to know and understand like, this is not your grandfather's demanding. Is this new company with a new solution that is, you know, better and more innovative.
Um, so that's a really cool, interesting and hard branding channel. To kind of reinvigorate this, you know, respected, but also older brand.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. It's an interesting space, right? To be responsible for marketing for a company that enables marketing. Right. I mean, you do so much more, obviously, as we talked about, it's really enabling the revenue engine and sort of the entire go to market.
But you know, you think about when I think of ABM, obviously immediately, your marketers are going to be interested. So as the CMO, like how do you stay ahead? Right. You talked about. Broadening the message, sharing the message, you know, kind of rebranding a little bit. How do you stay ahead of the game and ahead of what the market wants?
John Miller: I mean, first of all, so say it's really awesome to get to market to marketers and salespeople, you know, I'm still glad I get to do it as opposed to, you know, marketing to engineers or financial analysts or something. No, no offense those industries, but like, I get to just talk about what I do. Yeah. Yeah, and that's marketing, um, you know, and, and people sort of like want to hear like kind of how we do it.
Uh, so that's, that's, I feel very privileged that I get to sort of, you know, be the market or the markets to the marketers. Um, I wish I had like one secret. I could tell you for kind of how I stay ahead of the game. Um, you know, I think the, the best I can say is like, my superpower is synthesis I'm. I just, I seem to be really.
Good to the eye, just like just taking in a ton of information, uh, you know, and frankly the more detailed, the better, you know, so, you know, I want to, you know, just, just, I, I want to see what the other people in the market are doing. I want to see demos. I want to read things and I, you know, I, I can just take it all and I just somehow absorb it and like process it and like, turn, turn it into kind of like, Hey, this is important.
This is kind of where, where we need to be going. Um, so that's my superpower. It's also related to though it's my kryptonite, which I have a hard time turning my brain off. Uh, and sort of, I'm sort of always kind of thinking about all the things and processing, uh, which sometimes leads to sort of being awake at 3:00 AM.
Just thinking about what's next.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: Well, now I know how you stay ahead. You don't unplug, you don't relax. You don't sleep.
John Miller: I do relax that you do yoga and exercise and those types of things, but it's still, you know, it's definitely a challenge.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: Definitely. And, and being bombarded by technology all the time, doesn't help. Everything's always on.
John Miller: Does not help. This is true.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: That does not help. Um, so when I think about, you know, the revenue engine in this podcast, and one of the reasons I definitely wanted you as a guest is really, I hope others will learn, you know, be able to learn something about. Celebrate revenue growth and really how to power that engine.
Right. I hope that, you know, through, through all of these conversations that every, you know, the listeners can take away, at least a couple of tangible tips that they can go, um, go and implement or things that they at least a different perspective that they can now kind of see through a different lens.
So from your perspective, you know, what are the top things that marketing should be thinking about, right. And doing to successfully help drive revenue.
John Miller: Yeah. I mean, the, the, the thing I'm really hot on these days is aligning kind of every aspect of your go to market to where the account is and its journey.
Because if you have an account that is one that could be interesting to you. Like maybe they're there in your ideal customer profile, but they're not really engaging and they're not showing much intent or anything, but all you want to do with those guys. Is star to just, just create some awareness, you know, on the emotional level, you know, so some foundation of trust as they start to show some intent or it actually some engagement with you, even now, you can start moving from emotion to logic.
That's when you bring in that thought leadership. And again, you're not trying to sell them. You're not trying to get a meeting. You're just trying to help them see you and your company as experts. No. And then, then is when you start to use things like intent data and, and predictive analytics, sort of know when this account, when it might actually be that magic moment, when an account might be willing to kind of take a meeting, have a conversation where it doesn't, uh, feel like, uh, poke, poke, poke from a sphere.
If they're actually ready and interested. And then, you know, if you have an account, that's that at that stage, don't, don't just like, think about your job lead. Don't just think about calling the one person who happened to have been on your website. Now, how do you really connect to all the key personas that your account?
Because you know, they're in there, they're showing the signs of being in market. This is the one you really want to be talking to. So don't give up just because you got one or two notes, um, and then it's now an open opportunity. Right again, don't stop marketing, continue new. Cause. Cause if you look at like the research fire, you know, gardener does about how people buy six different jobs.
They have to complete including getting consensus and validation across the buying committee. So as, as, as a marketer, you know, how can you support that job by sharing, but proactively spending consensus, building and validation, building pieces, you know, to, to, to that broader buy-in. Even if it's just again advertising.
So that the way then when, when the, when the CEO hears, Hey, we're going to go by Demandbase, uh, then they're like, oh yeah, demand based. I've I've heard of that. That's, you know, they seem like a good, you know, and then on the last one, at least your existing customers, um, and not forgetting about instant customers when you're doing your go to market, you know, I mean, so many marketers still get paid just for that new business.
You know, that they literally ignore marketing to their customers except when they need to reference or something. You know, that, that, that pipeline you create from your customers is just as valuable pipeline is by buying Ukraine kind of from, from a net new account. So that's probably right. I guess the advice is really think about your account journey.
How are you going to track where accounts are in the journey? How are you going to align. Your go to market, which is marketing, but also telling you no to each of those stages. Um, and then the lastly I would say, and like we talked about brand earlier, just like just, I suspect most people on this who listened to this podcast are not the brand marketers.
Right? They're, they're probably the operations people. Maybe they're in demand generation, maybe they're in sales ops or sales or possibly sales, but like, You can't ignore the brand. It's just, it's really, that is important. Um, to, to sort of create that lift on, on all the other aspects of your, of your marketing and sales.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah, absolutely. The branding, the thought leadership part, kind of following the customer journey. Those are all things I think are just rising to the top. Right? The companies who are, you know, that we've been featuring on the podcast, do that really well. Right. When you think about the, the branding of either the person, you know, the leader or the company.
You know, there's a feeling that kind of, that emotional tie that you were talking about when you hear somebody's name a leader's name or a brand that's really, you know, that's important to you that resonates with you. And even if you don't know too much about the company, you have a feeling about their brand.
And I think that's how, uh, that's amazing. Um, what about things that you wish you knew earlier? Are there things that maybe you would have done differently if you could do it all over again?
John Miller: I was, I was very, I was late, I think, realizing the importance of intent data in the B2B category. Um, I mean, we started engaging in 2015. I think people started talking about intent maybe in 2018. No, I could have, even in 27, 20 17, where it was first, just started to have a glimmer of it. Um, and, and I, I didn't understand how transformational and critical it was because of this change of research happening, not on our site, but happening out on the oversight.
So I don't know if that's a lesson that your audience is going to really do anything with, but, but that is something I, you know, I feel like I missed that one and want to make sure, you know, I'm sort of not missing kind of other things in the future. The other one that sort of, you know, gosh, if I could have just known, um, is just imagine if you could have predicted how everything was going to change or last year because of the pandemic.
And I mean, I've literally know it's been about a year. Uh, since kind of everything, you know, we're we just, I mean, we stopped working from the office and we kind of came home, you know, we had to cancel all of our trade shows and all of our trips and everything. And I think back to a year ago, and man, it was, it, it was worrisome.
Like we, like, we didn't know what, what is this going to mean? What does it mean for business? Yes. What does this mean for society? I mean, we just didn't know and I feel like I wish, I wish I could have known then. Yeah. How w I don't want to minimize how hard the pandemic's been for a lot of people it's been incredibly hard, but at least from the context of like my professional side of things, that's been fine, you know?
And I, and I kind of wish I could have had myself telling myself then, like, you know what it's going to be okay. Like, you know, like business are going to recover. And actually in some cases thrive, you know, because of this and it's going to create opportunities. So, you know, just stay safe and hang in there.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: That's great advice. I love that. So as we wrap up, I would like to ask two things of all the guests and that's, you know, one, what is the one thing about Jon Miller that others might be surprised to learn and to what is the one thing that you want everyone to know about?
John Miller: Sure. Well, you know, uh, my fun fact is that I was actually born in Ethiopia and you know, people always ask me, Jon, why were you born in Ethiopia?
Rosalyn Santa Elena: I was just about to ask,
John Miller: I wanted to be close to my parents. So the less jokey answer is my dad was actually stationed in. It was, oh, it was in the army and was stationed, uh, uh, research base there. Then it tells us. Um, and then the, the, the thing I had want, no, you know, this is more speaking to people who work with me or might work with me, which is that, you know, I know just because of my resume or whatever, I can, I can seem intimidating and intense, but I really just want folks to know that the folks that actually who get to know me and work with me, realize.
I'm actually pretty approachable. I'm pretty nice. So I just don't be scared by it.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: Oh, absolutely. Well, well, I'm glad you said that. And I, I, it's something that I already knew when I approached you about being a guest. So I already knew that, but appreciate that. Well, there you go. Well, thank you so much for joining me today and sharing your thoughts, Jon.
It's just been a true pleasure chat to chat with you, and I'm so grateful for your time. Um, and definitely for sharing some of your amazing journey. I think we could probably do a whole series of posts around all of the experience that you've had, but I really do appreciate the time. Thank you very much.