The Revenue Engine

Revenue Growth Through a People-First Culture with Lauren Kennedy, Founder of Coastal Consulting

November 26, 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.

What is one of the top things all leaders should be thinking about today to drive revenue growth? Lauren Kennedy, the founder and self-proclaimed Chief Marketing Nerd at Coastal Consulting, shares how people is the number one differentiator. Put the right people in the right seats to drive the revenue engine. Set clear goals around that. Set your intentions. Lay out the foundation of this is where we are going, this is how we are getting there, and these are the people that will get us there.

In this episode of the Revenue Engine Podcast, Lauren shares how her background in Psychology, coupled with her MBA and expertise in marketing automation led her to starting her own firm - but more importantly, how her grandfather’s impact on people’s lives led her to build a people first culture.


Connect with Lauren on LinkedIn, or at Coastal Consulting.

Follow Rosalyn on LinkedIn.

The Revenue Engine is powered by

The opinions expressed in this episode are the speaker's own and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Sales IQ or the episode sponsor.

Rosalyn Santa Elena
Host @ Revenue Engine Podcast + Chief RevOps Officer @ Carabiner Group
Lauren Kennedy
Chief Marketing Nerd at Coastal Consulting

[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.

What is one of the top things all leaders should be thinking about today to drive revenue? Lauren Kennedy, the founder and self-proclaimed chief marketing nerd at coastal consulting shares. How people is the number one differentiator, put the right people in the right seats to drive the revenue engine. Set clear goals around set your intentions lay out the foundation of this is where we're going. This is how we're going to get there. And these are the people that will get us there.

Today's podcast is brought to you by Outreach is the number one sales engagement platform on the market today for a reason. And it's not even a close race. It's a must have for any revenue teams looking to optimize and scale their business. The platform offers multiple features, including sales, engagement, conversational intelligence, and AI powered revenue forecasting that helps teams engage with leads more. Outreach help sales reps and account managers to not only close deals, but to close more deals, faster, visit to schedule an outreach demo today.

In this episode of the Revenue Engine podcast, Lauren shares how her background in psychology, coupled with her MBA and her expertise in marketing automation led her to starting her own firm. But more importantly, how her grandfather's impact on people's lives led her to build a people first culture. So super excited to be here today with Lauren Kennedy, the founder, and self-proclaimed chief marketing nerd at coastal consulting.

Coastal consulting is on a mission to be the number one preferred partner for HubSpot and Salesforce integration. So welcome Lauren, and thank you so much for joining me. I'm super excited to learn more about your journey and learn from. Thanks for having me so excited to be here. Thank you. So let's talk a little about your backstory, right?

And your career journey, you know, kind of prior to coastal consulting, you have a bachelor's degree in psychology, you have an MBA and you have experience in marketing ops. I think marketing automation and obviously Salesforce. I think you've done some Salesforce consultancy as well. So. Amazing background.

Can you share more maybe about your backstory, you know, prior to coastal consulting and maybe how you even landed in marketing automation?

[00:03:12] Lauren Kennedy: Sure. So I started coastal consulting in March of this year. And prior to that, I have worked in several marketing departments and logistics actually. So throughout my career, I have had different opportunities to see how customer experience is impacted by different industries, from financial services to logistics.

And. Really just built a passion for customer experience. So looking at the full process of a business, how things flow from one department to another and how internal systems work together. And through that, I found that the best source for organizational alignment and of course the best way to create a positive customer experience is through data and automation and streamlined systems.

So from there, I essentially decided that I wanted to create a firm that was focused on. Our customer is customer experience and helping them connect their internal systems as well as their siloed departments internally. So I've taken my experience at different organizations and essentially combined it to create a revenue operations consultancy.

[00:04:16] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Okay. That's amazing. That's amazing. So, so share a little bit about sort of how that original kind of vision came about and sort of the idea, I read a little bit about your story, about how. Working with a few folks and then kind of just said, Hey, I'm going to end. It sounds like he just started this in March.

So less than a year ago, like what made you actually decide to start your own business and sort of what was that original vision?

[00:04:39] Lauren Kennedy: My original vision with coastal consulting was essentially a place where I could do business the way that I wanted to do business. While I've worked for some really amazing managers in the past, I've also worked for some not so great managers.

At what I want my next role to be. I wanted to create a space where I could be my own manager and where I could create a space. That's really people first. So I built coastal consulting on the foundation of a people first methodology and value set. And. I have essentially been really intentional about making sure that that's flowed through everything we do from the way we manage our team internally, from how we deliver services from how we interface with clients and also who we choose to work with.

So whenever I decided that I wanted to do this, full-time I decided to invest in. Creating and protecting a people first culture, which has been interesting, especially in the agency world. I have never personally worked at an agency prior to this one. So I've kind of redesigned the agency model through just what I think it should be versus maybe what it is.

And from my experience, working with agencies, I've seen a lot of times people are in salaried positions and they're working on the weekends or working super, super overtime, but it salaries they're not getting overtime. At my company has made a really intentional everyone here is eligible for overtime.

If you're working more hours, you're getting paid for that. And with our clients, we really say, what are you trying to achieve? Who are the people on your team? What's your technical skillset? And we make sure that we're building solutions for those people. Not just building something super, super complex that isn't really designed with their team in minds and is more so designed to keep us around forever.

That's not really our goal. And so everything we do is people.

[00:06:19] Rosalyn Santa Elena: I love that. I love that culture aspect. And well, let's dive into that a little bit more as well, but let's talk a little bit more about the business first. You know, you have a chance obviously to partner with many different organizations, I'm sure you get to see a lot of the, the good and the bad and maybe the not so good.

Maybe they're not so good and not so and maybe not so bad when it comes to technology, right. Especially for revenue teams. I mean, what are you seeing? You know, what are some of the things that you see organizations really doing right. And when it comes to building out their tech stack and what do you see them doing wrong?

[00:06:49] Lauren Kennedy: It's a great question. So companies that are not doing well when it comes to systems are not looking at their current state, they essentially say what's the best system on the market. What's best in breed. And how can we get that implemented here? So they spend their time focused on getting budgets secured on making the pitches internally to sell the product and.

Platform salesmen are also really skilled at this, too, of saying like this product's incredible. It can do X, Y, and Z, but instead of just jumping into a product it's really important to kind of look inward and say, what processes do we have internally that are broken? Are we really siloed? Are we working together?

Do we have the same goals across the organization? And if you don't do that first and just jump into a system, you're kind of setting yourself up to fail because. Systems are not fixes systems are essentially designed to accelerate your process and make it better. Not necessarily create one for you. So people who are doing really well, sit down with their sales, marketing customer service teams, everyone, as well as executive leadership and say, what are we trying to achieve as an organization?

And what role do each of us play in? And aligning themselves around those goals and then finding systems that can help them achieve them faster. And how you actually implement that will vary by platform. However, you need to have an idea of what you want to achieve, where you're going and how to get there before you select a system for marketing automation or sales, outreach, or management.

[00:08:24] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yep. 100% like music to my ears. I think a lot of times we see that shiny, you know, that new shiny object and we're like, oh, we need that. You know, we need that technology. And they feel like they're missing out by not getting it. But that piece of technology just may not be right for their business or maybe not right for their business at this time.

Right. Too often we try to buy a piece of technology or a system to solve problems, but really we need to have to your point. First and the system really enables that process and those policies. So I love that. Along those same lines, I think over the last several years, I mean, this tech stack has, you know, for go to market has just completely exploded.

I mean, there's literally a piece of technology, right? For every piece of the funnel, every part of the customer and buyer journey. What are you seeing in the market when it comes to how revenue teams are approaching technology? And where do you see it headed

[00:09:16] Lauren Kennedy: Right now? More so than ever, the focus is on customer data.

So those conversations are circling like with the iOS 15 release with about affecting email engagement metrics and different things around how our third party data is changing. So if we think about. The ads that we see on our phones and like how we're re targeted with ads and the amount of information that Facebook and Google and these large data companies have on us, consumers are getting more suspicious, more protective, and companies are losing more access to that data because those companies are becoming more protective of it due to consumer concerns.

So that's kind of creating an effect where. Marketers more so than ever focused on first party data, meaning the data that your organization has on your customers that you're building yourself. And the reason that's important is one ads are incredibly expensive. So when you look and you go on Google and you go on Facebook and you say, I want to target X, Y, Z people in this area.

And all of that, that adds up as far as cost and. In addition to the costs, we're also getting visibility restrictions as we lose more data or data becomes more private or what have you. So the focus on first party data is huge. And so whenever you're saying, how do I gather first party data? Where do I store it?

How do I use it? That's when your tech stack becomes really valuable. Like for example, we consult in HubSpot. So in HubSpot, it gives you a good opportunity to learn more about your customers. It's really effective inbound marketing platforms. You can gather data, capture it and actually use it. So that's become a huge.

Because we want to be able to say these are our customers. We should know this information so we can target them with email campaigns and stuff like that. More so than just buying more ad.

[00:10:59] Rosalyn Santa Elena: So let's switch gears a little bit, you know, we talked about this, you mentioned this early on, you know, I know you're a huge advocate for this people first approach, right.

Where you value people above all else. So can we dive a little bit more into this approach and sort of your philosophy when it comes to leadership?

[00:11:18] Lauren Kennedy: Be happy to. So this is something that I've done a lot of reflection on in the past year as I've become a leader of people and a manager for the first time.

And I have found that my view on management, my view on leadership is very like deep seated in my childhood. And so I was very close with my grandfather before he passed away. And whenever he passed at his funeral, There was a mass amount of people that attended and they weren't invited, it wasn't really publicized, but a mass amount of people that attended that the family didn't know existed, that he had positively impacted throughout his life.

And they had stories about how he helps them achieve their next milestone in life, or get a promotion or, or move through a challenge they were facing. And I really learned firsthand. People remember you for how you treat them and also that what you can do for other people sticks and it matters. And it is valuable.

So as I looked at my new responsibility as a leader, as a manager, The owner of an organization, I have seen firsthand the value that leadership can have in someone's life. So I've focused on that. And every decision that we've made internally every new product we offer every new surge, if the offer is focused on that people first methodology and making sure that not only are we delivering a quality service, but we're also making people feel good along the way.

And that we're empowering them with knowledge and the tools that they need to right. Connect with what they're doing and become passionate about it because people are more passionate about things that they know and are good at.

[00:12:53] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I love that. Thank you for sharing that story about your grandfather.

It's interesting. It's just like, you don't realize how many people, you can actually have a positive impact on just with the little things that you do. And I love what you, the comment that you made around, you know, how people, how you make people. Okay. And how people feel when they think about you.

It's amazing. So along the same lines, you know, can you share maybe a couple of things that you think leaders get wrong when it comes to their teams? I think you touched on this a little bit, but I'd love to dive into that a little bit more as well. I think.

[00:13:25] Lauren Kennedy: Leaders often go off course when they start to look at their team as resources or support roles, rather than team members.

I'm really intentional about using the word team member instead of employee. I think that when you look at trying to achieve something as a marketing team or cause, cause that's what I have experience with, it's really important that you understand the value each person brings to the table. There's a big thought or at least there was before the past two years that employees are very dispensable.

And even though they have a certain skill sets or whatever, we can find another one in a few days and it'll be fine. And I think the power dynamic has really shifted between employers and employees recently. And it's really challenging to find people, especially skilled people that are really good team members and who are really motivated to work for your company.

So I think whenever you start to look at your team as a head count or volume, you kinda miss the point and. Focusing on the mission of the organization rather than driving the employees lives forward. Like I really focus on career development and personal development, professional development for all of my team members.

So what they're working on is not just driving us forward in our clients forward, but they're also seeing like measurable growth in their personal career path and like their personal development. And so I really invest heavily in making sure the team is growing. And I think that the. Some companies just say, oh yeah, we offer education.

We offer training, but you can do that on your time, on the weekend, or we'll pay for this class, but don't take it during work. So I re I blocked four hours a week for training for my employees, whether that's a course or a certification or reading, whatever they want to do. So, and that's on company time.

So I think not investing in your team, looking at them. Resources and not people. And just failing to see that the joint power, you all have together as much stronger than you apart.

[00:15:16] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Ah, I love that. I love that. That's amazing. So even taking this, maybe even a step further, how does this philosophy play into your customer approach and how do you see that it's helped you really win more and retain more customers?

[00:15:31] Lauren Kennedy: We lead with helping others. So we don't, we we've done ads a little bit, but not really. And we have grown through referrals and through organic I guess marketing, you could say essentially I'm really active in online forums. I'm posting in the HubSpot forum and the Salesforce, Salesforce forum, and an online communities, helping people who.

Have challenges. I know the answer to, and not really looking for anything in return, but just offering solutions because I really enjoy helping others. And that organic information sharing has attracted other people who are reading the posts. So not somebody I'm answering, but somebody else in the community is like, oh, I'm struggling with that too.

Oh, they seem to be experts in this specific thing. Let me reach out. And that is how all of our client relationships have come to us. And reasons that we retain clients is that they have very dedicated support. We don't subcontract. We focus on who we have internally and they know that the people who are working for them are being taken care of, and they're not being overworked.

They're not being stressed out. And so the way that we communicate with our clients and the quality of the services we deliver is pretty high. Because it is that one-on-one conversation of the person you're talking to is the person who's actually doing the work and the person you're talking to has a life outside of work and enjoys.

So the quality that's delivered to them is really strong and also the way that they come about that they're building that trust with us before they even talk to us.

[00:16:57] Rosalyn Santa Elena: That's great. So let's shift gears a bit again, you know, as a female leader, right in revenue, I'm often asked for career advice, right. Questions around how to be heard, how to climb the ladder, you know, how to really elevate yourself in your respective fields. So what advice do you have for other women, right. Who are really looking perhaps to elevate their career and kind of move up that, you know, Move up that ladder.

[00:17:22] Lauren Kennedy: I've always said that the best way for women to rise is to build their own stairs.

[00:17:26] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Oh, I love that! That's right.

[00:17:30] Lauren Kennedy: So, yeah, and I, I don't know where that came from, but something that I say a lot and Important that if you feel like you're kind of stagnant your career or struggling to move forward as a man or a woman, it's really important to just say, what am I missing? What is the person that's in the spot that I want to get to?

What do they have that I don't and start to work towards achieving that if it's reasonable. Oftentimes the thing that's holding you back is you. So it's your belief in yourself? It's your level of confidence? It's the constant battle. We all fight with imposter syndrome, with imposter syndrome, winning and us losing.

And I think it's important to just have those conversations with yourself saying like, I'm worth the next opportunity I deserve it. I am strong enough to do it. There's a, there's a lot of negative things that we say to ourselves that we would never say to somebody else. Power of self-talk and the power of like the specific words you use it's really strong and holding yourself back or moving you forward.

It's something I'm really intentional about with our team here actually is what words we use, what words are off limits as far as like things that have a negative impact, like you said, I have a major in psychology, so I'm really focused on the psychology of what we do including the words we use.

So as far as taking the next step, it's really important just to say, what does that career have that I think. What does that shift look like? Who's done it successfully. Who can I have as a mentor? And learning from others. It's really important to be a sponge. Whenever you're trying to make a change in your life and learn from who's done it well, who's done it poorly and listening to yourself, we know a lot more than we think we do.

[00:19:00] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I love that. Build your own stairs. I hadn't heard that one before, but that is amazing. I'm definitely gonna use that. Thank you. So as I think about the Revenue Engine, right, this podcast, I'm always hoping that others will be able to learn how to accelerate revenue growth, right. And truly power the revenue engine.

So from your perspective, you know, what are some of the, maybe the. Two or three things that you think leaders should be thinking about today, really to drive that revenue.

[00:19:27] Lauren Kennedy: My answers are always going to come back to people. I think that it's so important that you're putting the right butts in the right seats to drive revenue.

We're going to drive the car if you will. And so when you look at where you're trying to go as a business, it's important that you set really clear goals around that smart goals, if you will. And really set your intention. So say, this is where we're going. This is what we need to do to get there.

And these are the people that we need around us to accomplish that goal. I think it's really important to lay the foundation and set the vision as a leader, more so than anything else. So I look at my prayer, my primary job as setting the vision and also having the right people on my team that I can keep motivating, inspiring to move towards that vision and giving them a reason to want to do so.

Hiring the best talent is incredibly important right now, but also retention. So when you're looking at that end goal of revenue, generation and revenue growth, like focusing on the people, you have more so than the metrics you need to achieve, because if you give them the metrics and pour all of your attention and effort into growing and developing.

They will achieve the metrics, but your focus isn't on that. It's on them and making sure they're happy, they're taken care of and holding them accountable to the goals that you've set together. Because a good manager is not just fluffy and friendly and caring about you. They're also keeping you accountable.

You're growing. Yep. Yeah. Less people focused answers would be making sure you have the right systems in place and investing in the right tools. A lot of companies decide to use a lot of cheaper tools instead of one more expensive tool that would solve all of their issues in one platform. So taking a really hard look at your back and the systems that you've given your teams to use and make sure that they have the right tools, they need to achieve those goals in the most effective manner.

So looking at the true cost of your systems and the opportunity costs. The time that we're spending switching between systems, the time that we're spending negotiating these contracts, the time that we're spending doing X, Y, Z task, and the people resources that takes. And so look at. The cost of those cheaper systems and see if they are actually costing you more than the more expensive system would, and people cost and opportunity cost.

And third would be listening to your customers. We often get a new client and then we just move on to the next one, not wait, but we, as the collective, all of us, we're pretty intentional about our clients, but whenever you get a new customer or you do something right, Figure out why that happened.

So doing customer surveys, asking for feedback, asking for referrals, it's really important to have the voice of your customer play a huge role in everything that you do as an organization in order to drive revenue growth.

[00:22:03] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yup. Yup. Those are great. Those are all great pieces of advice. I love the people one of course, being in rev ops and particularly around the the systems and such but customer, right. It all needs to revolve around the customer. It's like, why do, why are we doing any of this is really for the customer. So, are there things that maybe, you know, that you wish you knew earlier, or maybe you might do differently if you could go back and kind of do things all over again?

[00:22:28] Lauren Kennedy: I think I wouldn't necessarily do differently at this point. Something that I. Something I've been really interested in as the process of HR. I think that if I did one thing, I would take a business management course. So I do have a master's in business and that's great, but an MBA really teaches you how to be the leader of other people's organizations, not necessarily your own.

I understand how to interpret balance, balance sheets and all of that. I don't necessarily know how to start a business from the ground up because there's really no formal education that teaches you that. So there are different certificate programs, online and courses that are designed to teach you different pieces of that.

And so I would invest in that training on the front end. I did not plan to start coastal consulting long before I actually did. So as far as the building blocks are gearing up or preparing to do that, I didn't really have much. Portion of it. So that's one thing I also was really late to the game with setting the strategic vision.

I will admit that our growth this year has kind of happened. To us instead of, because of us and that it was working in it. And it wasn't intentional. We didn't set out to say, Hey, we're here. We have essentially had people find us, which is great. However, I think we can go so much faster if we turn that around.

So I have a strategic vision for next year. We have set goals And so I think that that's something that comes, if you do have a plan for your business before you get started. So that's one thing, but it's been, it's been such a great year and things have gone so well for us. We, we achieved platinum status and the HubSpot partner program last week.

Thank you. We achieved that only six months after starting the partner program and eight months after starting our company. So we're one of the faster companies to achieve that. And so it's. Just a really humbling year of like how incredible it can be when you get an awesome group of people together and you work for really great people. I'm incredibly grateful for the past year.

[00:24:23] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Oh, that's awesome. Congratulations on that. That's amazing. It's really great success. So thank you so much for joining me today, Lauren, but as we wrap up and before I let you go, I always ask two things. One, what is the one thing about Lauren Kennedy that others would be surprised to learn?

And two, what is the one, the one thing that you really want everyone to know about. And sometimes they're the same thing I found when I'm talking to different guests. So something that other people would be surprised to know and something that you really want everyone to know about you.

[00:24:55] Lauren Kennedy: People are usually surprised to learn about my upbringing. I grew up on a farm in Tennessee and I don't come across as, as what people stereotypically think that looks like. So fun fact as far as one thing, I want everyone to know about me. Oh, that one's always really challenging. I'm not sure. I, I think that the one thing I'd like people to take away from me instead of know about me specifically, would just be that believing in yourself and taking a bet on yourself can really pay off.

And I think there's a lot of messaging out there that tells us not to do that. So I, I would like to be a continuous counter- message to that. I've taken a chance on myself, believing myself, gone with exactly what I think we should happen rather than. Best practice or what I've learned in the past, just taking a bet on my intuition and it's worked out really well. And so I'd encourage other women to do the same thing.

[00:25:50] Rosalyn Santa Elena: That's amazing. I love that. That is so inspirational. I love that, Lauren. Thank you for sharing that. And thank you so much for joining me today too. I mean, it's just been a pleasure to chat with you, get to know you a little bit better, and just incredibly grateful for all of your time and your insights.

[00:26:04] Lauren Kennedy: Thank you. It's been great to be in here.

apple podcast icongoogle podcast iconspotify iconrss feed icon

Ready to grow and scale your revenue?

By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.