The Revenue Engine

From CMO to CRO. The Revenue Takeover with Brandi Starr, COO at Tegrita

October 29, 2021

The Revenue Engine

Each week, Revenue Operations expert Rosalyn Santa Elena shines the spotlight on founders, CEOs, and Revenue Leaders from hyper-growth companies and dives deep into the strategies they implement to drive growth and share their learnings. Rosalyn brings you inspirational stories from revenue generators, innovators and disruptors, as well as Revenue Leaders in sales, marketing, and operations.

Is the Chief Marketing Officer best positioned to be the next Chief Revenue Officer? Who is best suited to bring the entire end-to-end revenue process together?

In this episode of The Revenue Engine Podcast, Rosalyn discusses this sometimes controversial topic with Brandi Starr, a long time marketing executive, business owner, and best selling co-author of CMO to CRO, The Revenue Takeover by The Next Generation Executive.

They also discuss the evolution of the role that Marketing plays in the overall revenue process and how marketing has become much more science vs. art. Take a listen to this and much more!

Connect with Brandi on LinkedIn or visit the Tegrita website.

Check out the book CMO to CRO: The Revenue Takeover by the Next Generation Executive

Connect with Rosalyn on LinkedIn.

Thanks to Sales IQ Global for powering the Revenue Engine.

Rosalyn Santa Elena
Host @ Revenue Engine Podcast + Chief RevOps Officer @ Carabiner Group
Brandi Starr
COO @ Tegrita

[00:00:00] 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 the revenue engine. Are you ready? Let's get to it.

Imagine being a successful C-level executive reading operations for a successful marketing consultancy, being a mother of five and being a best-selling author. Well, Brandi Starr, the COO of Tegrita, doesn't have to imagine she's a time marketing executive doing all of the above and more.

In this episode of the Revenue Engine Podcast, Brandi shares what has changed with marketing's role in the overall revenue process, why the CMO is best positioned to be the next CRO, and how as a woman you can be heard. So please take a listen and learn from this powerhouse who is not only an inspiration, but just a wonderful human being.

So excited to be here today with Brandi's Starr, the chief operations officer at Tegrita. For anyone who is not familiar with Tegrita is a marketing consultancy specializing in enabling marketing strategy through technology and automation. Brandi is also the co-author of the international bestseller CMO to CRO the revenue takeover by the next generation executive. So welcome Brandi, and thank you so much for joining.

[00:01:53] Brandi Starr: Thank you for having me.

[00:01:54] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Super excited to unpack your story. I mean, you have had a long and impressive career as a marketing leader, a business owner, a trainer, and even a bestselling author. So can you maybe take us back to your earlier days and share more about your career journey that sort of led you to your current COO.

[00:02:13] Brandi Starr: So, you know, I am one of the odd people that knew what I wanted to do in middle school. I entered a marketing competition, which I didn't know it was marketing then, but it essentially where you had to come up with posters to promote some school events. And I won and I was like, man, I want to do this for the rest of my life.

And so I, you know, went to college, studied marketing for my undergrad. And you know, continuing down the path of odd choices did my master's in adult education because I knew that I wanted to be able to teach sales and marketing principles. And so my, you know, never thought I'd be in career in consulting.

I always thought I'd eventually be a professor at some prestigious university but you know, life and. I've been in digital marketing now for 20 years I started off. In design and I was designing collateral for fax machines. So, you know, totally dating myself. But through my career, I have my kids. I don't even think

[00:03:25] Rosalyn Santa Elena: I don't think mine have either.

[00:03:30] Brandi Starr: And so through that, I really have. My way through a variety of areas of marketing. So from data strategy, campaign execution lots of different arenas. And I have, you know, very process oriented. As an individual. And so when you put together just the logical nature and being process oriented with a history of marketing, that's how I really got into consulting and owning operations and a few other things within Tegrita.

[00:04:05] Rosalyn Santa Elena: That's awesome. I mean, you've just had such an incredible marketing journey. From middle-school you already knew that's amazing. Most of us say we had no idea what we wanted to do when we grow up and then we sort of fall into different roles. So you've probably seen, you know, all of the ups and downs, the good and bad, all of the changes. Right. And the role that marketing plays in really driving revenue. What have you seen in terms of trends over time, you know, in the role that marketing plays sort of in the overall revenue process and maybe what are some of the key things that you've seen that are different? You know, 10 years ago or even five years ago.

[00:04:40] Brandi Starr: Yeah. So I think the biggest change from the beginning of my career is marketing was purely a creative field when I started you know, marketing was the, make it pretty people, the brands you know, it was all about the creativity and the campaigns and the. And as technology has been introduced, marketing has really shifted to being a lot more technical and a lot more analytical.

And so there is still, you know, a lot of creativity that goes into marketing, but I think over the 20 years, it really is now a beautiful blend of art and science, where it used to just be art. And I think in the last, you know, five to 10 years that has become more and more prevalent. And I think it also leads to a lot of the challenges that I see because you, you know, the people that have been in marketing for a long time are not historically analytical and technical people.

And so. This battle of the way that we've always done things to the way that things are done now. And some companies tend to adopt that a lot faster and you know, they're, they're, they're early adopters. I mean, I guess at this point, we're not in the, the earliest. But you do still have a lot of organizations, a lot of marketing leaders with real old school mentalities.

[00:06:11] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Got it, got it. So that kind of, that's a good segue into your current firm. So let's talk a little bit about Tegrita, you know, how does. Tegrita and help organizations with really enabling their marketing strategy.

[00:06:23] Brandi Starr: Yes. So our focus is the technology that is our bread and butter. In general, we start with the marketing automation platform because that is generally the central system for marketing.

And then look at everything that plugs into it and we focus a lot on how are things being exited? So people process technology how does data flow because that's a key component and how are we tracking and measuring. And so when we are working with clients we are doing everything from helping with technology selection.

To getting tech implemented and set up to being an extension of the marketing operations team and actually doing some execution. And then on the strategic side, working with those that manage the strategy to effectively enable that strategy with the technology. Making sure that you are getting the most out of your tech, that you're using the technology in a way that actually will enhance the performance of whatever is being done on the strategic side.

And so we lead with the tech and that's a lot of, you know, what the book is about. But we are focused on both the strategy and the technology.

[00:07:36] Rosalyn Santa Elena: In my head. I'm thinking about how really use your help in my newer role to have that conversation offline. I just think you have all the different tech that I have. So so what are you seeing organizations doing wrong when it comes to implementing, you know, marketing technology and automate.

[00:07:53] Brandi Starr: Buying tech for all the wrong reasons is the biggest thing that I see. You know, sometimes what I see really common is marketing leaders come in and they have used certain things in the past.

So they're like, oh, I really love X, Y, and Z by that. Or, you know, ripping things out. They don't like it, or because something's not working. So they blame the technology or buying things because, you know, FOMO it's, whatever is the hot thing that people are talking about. And. You know, honestly, like there's a lot of focus on like best-in-class technologies and the magic quadrants and all these sorts of things and best in class does not necessarily mean best for you.

And so for me, when you are thinking about. You know what tech you're going to retire or acquire or use differently. You really have to think about what actually works for the business, the way that you're marketing and what you're trying to achieve. And that a lot of times really gets lost in the process and not enough.

Time and effort is spent on really understanding that before jumping into selecting something or buying something. And so that is probably the biggest issue that I see is, you know, too much tech and tech for all the wrong reasons.

[00:09:18] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yup. Yup. 100%. I hear, I see in here that to quite a bit around the shiny new object, we need that we need this and end up, you have this entire tech stack that there's tons of redundancies. And also where you're just not, you're not really optimizing any of that technology to really get the ROI and the value. For it. So love that. Exactly. So let's talk a little bit about your best-selling book CMO to CRO the revenue takeover by the next generation executives. So you co-wrote this book, I think, with your chief technology officer and your president, Mike Geller and your chief revenue officer, is it Raleigh Keenan, right. So what was the what was the inspiration behind the book and what were you all hoping to sort of achieve by sharing this with your readers?

[00:10:04] Brandi Starr: So it's kind of a funny story. We didn't set out to write a book. Prior to the pandemic, the way that we handled our quarterly management meetings is we would get together in an Airbnb for three days and knock out all of our key, you know, decision-making and all those sorts of things.

We'd kind of work around the clock. And during one of those meetings, we were. Kinda over dinner, talking about the challenges that we see with our clients and in the industry and, you know, Mike, Raleigh and I, we all have very different backgrounds. So we sort of see the same problems from different aspects.

And we really just started brainstorming about, you know, if it were left up to us, how we would solve these problems for clients. And it just went down this rabbit hole. And after a while, it was like, Yeah, we're really onto something here. We should totally write a book. And you know, when Raleigh said that, like Mike and I both laughed hysterically, cause we were like, yeah.

When are we to have time to write a book? Like, you know, we're trying to do X, Y, and Z. Like we're a fairly small firm, which means everywhere everyone wears multiple hats. It was like, yeah, how are we gonna write a book? But the more that we kept talking about it, the more that we realize. We have to write this book.

And our motivation was not that we have all the answers like we, you know, in the book we lay out our four step plan to how we think that companies can tackle the biggest challenges within the revenue teams. However, it's not that we. Solved everything it's that we want to challenge the way that things are done, the way that revenue is thought about.

And we recognize that marketing best understands what's happening because we're in the middle of all the dysfunction. You know, we overlap with everyone that touches revenue. And so we fully understand the problems in a way that. It does. And so this was meant to be a blueprint of, you know, the steps that you can take to start with what you and marketing control and then, you know, move to like the bigger fish to fry, so to speak.

In order to get to a great place with revenue. But it really is just meant to stir conversation to you know, really lay out and, and get people to think about that, you know, things can be done differently and more effectively and here's the way forward.

[00:12:45] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Got it. Okay. Yeah. So in, in your book, you do talk about sort of how the CMO is best positioned, right, to be that one, to help lead the overall revenue process. Can you share a little bit more about that perspective?

[00:12:57] Brandi Starr: Yes. And this is probably the most controversial part of the book, because there are a lot of CMOs who are like, I would never want that. Like why? But when we think about rev, Historically, there has been this focus on sales and sales and revenue have been used synonymously.

However revenue is everything that touches revenue. It is, you know, how we are attracting people on through how we are supporting our current customers and growing things within our customer base. And so we have to think about revenue as a whole. And so we see that one of the biggest challenge. Is all the different teams that touch revenue have different processes.

They have different goals, they have different objectives and focuses. And so we believe in order to solve a lot of that, that you have to roll those people under one leader so that we are all marching to the beat of the same drum. And. In many organizations, the CMO is best positioned to take on this new version of a CRO role because.

CMOs generally really understand all the different aspects and because marketing overlaps with marketing overlaps with sales, marketing, overlaps with success, marketing overlaps, with support. And so, you know, the marketers are seeing the pains from all different angles and many marketers have, you know, had some level of experience with the different departments.

We still believe there has to be ahead of the functions that would report into this new CMOs. So it's not our CRO, it's not like a COO all of a sudden has to be an amazing sales leader. They just have to be able to set the revenue direction, working with the CEO. And so. That is why we think that that is the person that is most uniquely positioned to fulfill this pedal.

[00:14:59] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Got it. Yeah. The CRO role is, is fairly new, but I know it's a very controversial topic about who should be running, you know, overall revenue process. Who's the right person. And sometimes it's not even the role, right. It's really the person, the person who has the most exposure and experience. So I love that perspective.

So let's switch gears a little. And talking about revenue, right. As we both know, revenue is still a pretty male dominated industry, right. Especially as you sort of move up that corporate ladder, right. You see less and less females, right. In executive roles and especially women of color, you know, myself being a minority woman in an executive role, I'm often asked for career advice.

Right. And I'm sure you get asked this all the time as well. Right. What advice, I guess, do you have for other ones. Who are really looking to progress their career, especially in this revenue space.

[00:15:50] Brandi Starr: Don't be afraid to ruffle feathers is the, you know, advice that I give throughout my career. I have been able to push myself, my ideas to the forefront to make sure that I am not overlooked by not being afraid of someone not agreeing with me or, you know, me directly disagreeing with someone. I mean, it has helped that I am both fairly extroverted, but beyond that, you know, I think a lot of women are worried about being seen as combative or not being taken seriously are, you know, there's a whole host of other reasons why women don't speak up and don't advocate for their ideas and things that they want to do.

And. You know, while some of those are true while every situation is not going to you're not always going to be received well, You know what? I can't remember the exact quote, but it's like, well, behaved women never make history. Like you, you have to not be afraid to, you know, step out into the forefront and share your ideas and what direction you think things should go and be able to take on you know the, the men in the, in the room or at the table that may not be as receptive because.

There is some intimidation that happens in the boardroom, but where you are able to essentially stand your ground and show that like, no, I deserve to be here as well. My ideas are just as valid. You will actually see. They'll kind of back down and take you seriously. But in most cases it is almost like that, a little bit of that intimidation to see, like, you know, does she really believe in what she's saying?

And that's something that can be really hard to push through especially if you don't have as strong of a personality naturally, but that's my biggest piece of advice is like, don't be afraid to, you know, Challenge the status quo to step on toes, to really fight for what you think your organization should be doing.

[00:18:16] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Okay. Love that. I love that. Don't be afraid to ruffle feathers. I think that's great advice. Thank you. So as we were chatting about before we started recording, you know, I also know that you're a mother of five. I am a mother of three, and I have no idea how I would've managed with five, none at all. So any advice or sort of secret sauce for other women or even men, right. Who are struggling to really juggle work home family or everything else that life sorta throws at you?

[00:18:45] Brandi Starr: So two things number one is that you can be all things. But not on the same day. And that is, you know, that is one thing that you just have to accept is that you are really gonna create. In some areas one day and struggle in other areas.

But the real balance and success is understanding that tomorrow's a different day. And you know, the other thing is also to really think about how you design your life. To be able to allow you to best support. And what I mean by that is an, you know, one, I mean, I, I hate to use the term blessing coupled with pandemic because I don't at all want to minimize the negative that has happened, but there have been some.

Positive outcomes from, you know, this negative situation. And one of those things is because the way that everyone works has changed, people are now thinking more about how they work, where they work, how they structure their day. And in some cases there are small things that you are able to modify. That allow you to better balance.

So for example, one thing that I found is, you know, most of my kids are older. I have one that is elementary school and the other four are college age now. So now it's easy. But you know, with my son, I realized that in the morning, he just does not move. And, you know, he likes to have time to, you know, be silly in the mornings and, you know, dance around and do all these things.

And initially I was constantly like, we gotta go, I gotta be here, you know, all this. And what I realized was something as simple as just starting my work day, like. Really allows me to be a great mom in the morning and, you know, make Tik TOK before we go to school and you know, all these silly things.

And I start my work day at 10 instead of at nine, no one in the office misses me that first hour. I'm able to have that time with my son to not run. So then, you know, be able to work out in the morning and get my day started at 10 and I can still put in a full day. And so that's one way that I've been able to find balance is to look at what small modifications can I make so that I can show up in all the areas that really matter in a balanced.

And so that is really, the key is understanding that there might be one day that I ended up working 12 hours. Cause I got something going on and you know, it's delivery dinner and you know, a quick kiss, goodnight, like we'll shower in the morning. Like, you know, I don't have time to be a mom today, but then you know, that weekend I'll take the entire weekend.

You know, I'm not in my office. I we're just working. We're just having fun. So it all really balances out. You know, there are some days that my health but you know, it's kinda like I'd rather have time with my kid or make sure I show up for my team. Then, you know, spend all day like mopping and things.

It's kind of like clean enough is sufficient. You know, when live in a pig, but it's definitely not company ready at all times, but it really is like thinking about what is actually important and designing your life around. And not putting so much emphasis on all the other stuff. Like, yes, I would love if I didn't always have, but. That's, you know, that's not my life. I, you know, put more time into all the other things and, you know, we, we gotta make it work.

[00:22:47] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I love that. I love that story about just kind of, you know, some days you're going to do better at some things and some days you're not going to do as good at some of those others, but it all balances out.

That's great. Okay. So let's see. So as I think about, you know, really the revenue engine, right? This podcast, I'm always looking for ways to Axe, to help others learn some tips and tricks around how to accelerate revenue growth, right. And really power that revenue engine. So I think we've touched on a lot of different areas here. Talked a lot about different things. Including, you know, obviously work-life balance, but talk about revenue, you know, what are, you know, maybe the top couple of things, one or two things that you think, you know, really all revenue leaders should be thinking about today, really to help accelerate that revenue growth.

[00:23:34] Brandi Starr: So one key thing, most important thing is. Don't just focus on the top and the bottom. Like if I think about most revenue leaders, the focus is that final conversion, how many opportunities turn into close one and how many new people we can put in the pipeline like that is where all, you know. And so if that bottom number is not working, it's like, how do we push more people in the top?

Like run more demand gen. And although sometimes that helps not saying it doesn't work. But the problem is there's a lot of steps in between those two things that if we focus some attention, all along the journey, That we can actually positively impact that bottom number without trying to artificially fill the top.

And so what I mean is if we really actually have good tracking in place, I mean, cause. That's the underlying thing to the point that I'm making is understanding where are things breaking down. So it could be that when it goes from sales accepted, lead to opportunity, and I'm just using some common stages that percentage could be really low by comparison to the rest of the chain.

So then the question is. What do we do there? How do we fix that? It could be that our deal size is too low. Like we could be converting the same all the way through, but maybe there's ways that we can change the way that we're marketing that actually increase the overall deal size. Increases that bottom line number.

So the key is that there are lots of key points from end to end, that can be influenced in different ways that really can impact revenue. And so my number one piece of advice is stop just focusing on the top and the bottom. Really actually understand, which usually takes some time and a lot of times some technical changes but really understand that whole flow and how people get from hello.

My name is to here's all my money. And how do we move the needle in between? And that is like, that is honestly, the secret sauce is really what levers can we pull so that the number at the end ends up bigger. And that doesn't necessarily mean get more people in the funnel.

[00:26:08] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I love that.

That's that is incredible advice and it's so true, right. When you're not getting enough. We just want to stop the funnel, get more at the top of the funnel and that's not always the answer, so that's great. I love that. So when you look back at your career and kind of look back at, you know, 20 years of experience in marketing, running your own business, you know, helping all these different customers, are there any things that, you know, you wish you knew earlier, or maybe that you might do differently if you could do it all over again?

[00:26:40] Brandi Starr: Yes, definitely. I would say number one was learning the lesson that I shared earlier sooner, which is the not being afraid to ruffle feathers because early in my career, I did not take a lot of risk. And there, you know, I have definitely have some missed opportunities that I could have propelled my career further.

Had I sort of spoken up or. You know, advocated for myself. But beyond that, the other one that is most notable for me is paying attention to the numbers. Overall early in my career, I was very focused on learning the specific areas of marketing. That I felt like I needed to learn. And I really shied away from the financials and, you know, the only financials I cared about was my budget.

Like how much was in my marketing budget each year. And other than that, it was like, that was someone else's problem to figure out. And then as I became more senior in my career and, you know, later moving into leadership, I almost have felt like I've had to kind of catch up. And even now, like one of my big goals going into 2022 is to actually dig in and learn a lot more around just the overall financials of you know, a business in general, because that is a little bit of a gap for me.

And so, you know, the further. Up, you go in your career. The more you have to understand the big picture, the financial implications in order to make sound decisions. You know, I've been lucky that I have a great team that manages that. And so, you know, I'm able to get what I need to make informed decisions, but that is something that I definitely wish I had focused on earlier in my career.

[00:28:38] Rosalyn Santa Elena: I love that. Love that. Thank you for sharing that. I love that. And that's going to be super helpful for folks who are listening. So thank you so much for joining me, but you know, as we wrap up before I let you go, I always love to ask two things. So one, what is the one thing about Brandi Starr that others would be surprised to learn and to what is that one thing that you really want everyone to know about? And it could be the same thing. Sometimes they are, but usually different. So something that's surprised and something that you want everyone to know about you.

[00:29:11] Brandi Starr: I would say that the thing that surprises people most about me is I am actually really shy around strangers. I always joke and say that when my mom told me don't talk to strangers, like I took that to heart. I. Very outgoing, very extroverted, a very big personality. But when I am in a room full of people where I don't know people, I am very, very shy. Like I I've gotten better with it, you know, just by the nature of what I do. I have. Forced myself out of that comfort zone. But most people, if you were to say, you know what, Brandi's shy, they'd left Sarah.

Anyone who knows me would not at all call me shy, but anyone who would just observe me at like a networking event where I don't know anyone would like totally be like, who is that person? Cause that's definitely not the Brandi that I know. So, yeah, so that is my surprising thing that, you know, anybody who knows me listening, they're like, you gotta read, get it.

And then what was the second part of the question?

[00:30:21] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. What is what is the one thing that you do you want everyone to know about you?

[00:30:26] Brandi Starr: That one's a tough one because maybe it's the same thing. Well, for me, like the reason that one is tough is I'm a very public person. So I share, you know, between social media and just, you know, talking to people I'm really transparent.

So there's not a ton that people don't know. But I would say one of my. Professional goals is to be an international speaker. And so I've been doing public speaking in one form or fashion. Also since middle school, I was very active in middle school, but and so, you know, I just had my. Virtual keynotes a month or so ago, which was really exciting, but it is my goal to actually travel all over, to be able to share like, you know, that was one of the reasons I got my master's in adult education is wanting to be able to teach and share knowledge and give back.

So that is one of my. Goals that I have not accomplished in my career is to really be a sought after international speaker. Hopefully the book will get there. So if there's people in non north America who are listening, call me, but yeah, that's one of those that is one of those things that not a lot of people.

[00:31:50] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Oh, I love that. I love that. And you have so much, so it just so many great insights and so much great advice to share. I can Stephanie really see, definitely see that the shy thing. Yeah. I'm kind of in the camp of no, that didn't believe that, but that's great to know too. Well, thank you so much again for joining joining me, Brandi, it's just been a true pleasure always to chat with you. I'm so grateful for your time. And just so glad that we're able to actually connect and get this done, because this is going to be incredible. I think, for the audience to listen to.

[00:32:20] Brandi Starr: Well, thank you. This was definitely fun. Great. Thank you.

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