Episode 20 | Transcript

Andrea Tarrell: Community Collaboration, Evolution of MarTech, Overcoming Challenges

Anthony Lamot: Hi, Andrea. Welcome to the show.

Andrea Tarrell: Thanks for having me. 

Anthony: It’s such a pleasure, especially given our ongoing collaboration. I think it will be really interesting for the audience to get an idea of who Andrea is. Would you mind walking us through your journey so far in your career?

Andrea: Yeah, absolutely. So, it’s been kind of a winding road to get here. In school, I studied political science and Spanish literature, originally had aspirations of working for the government or working in politics or something like that, but decided to get into marketing communications right out of school. So, I started out kind of as more of a content marketer, marketing generalist, but stumbled into the Salesforce ecosystem when one of our VPS of sales came to me and said “we have this thing called Salesforce. Some guys put it on his credit card. Now, we have 30 licenses all of a sudden, like we really need to just figure out what this is and what we can do with it, and we’ll send you to Dreamforce if you can learn it, get trained on it, figure out like how to make this work for our business. Are you willing to try to that?” And at the time, I didn’t know what Salesforce was either, but I heard free trip to San Francisco, but I’ve never been to California. So I was like, “yeah, sign me up!” I will be our new Salesforce admin, and just totally like during the cool, at that Dreamforce, I learned about marketing automation for the first time. So Marketo, Hubspot, Pardot, we’re all sponsors of that Dreamforce. So I became familiar with their products. And then… I’ve never looked back basically. So I came back implemented Salesforce. We had Hubspot at the time and we implemented Pardot. In addition to that, the two tools at the time were not as similar as they are today. But yeah, that was kind of how I got my start in the ecosystem.

Anthony: Well, it’s interesting too that back then Hubspot and Marketo are still, so, you know, represented that at Dreamforce. I’m guessing was this before the acquisition of ExactTarget, which later became Marketing Cloud?

Andrea: Yes. Yeah. It was like two, two years before that actually.

Anthony: Yeah, it was a very different world back then, so that’s super interesting. And could you tell us how that experience led you to founding Sercante?

Andrea: Yeah. So in that role, I became really in tune with what sales users needed, what marketing teams needed at the time. I was the only marketer but grew that to a team of, I think it was four or five people when I left… and just kinda got in touch with sort of like, the revenue operations needs. And then from there, I went to go work at a digital marketing agency for a bit and worked at a Salesforce consultancy for a bit. And I just realized that like the services that I needed when I was client side in that kind of rev ops space, I just couldn’t find a partner that brought that to the table. Marketing agencies brought creative, they brought strategy, but oftentimes like as soon as we started talking about Salesforce and what happened when a lead converted to an opportunity that just wasn’t really their wheelhouse to consult around. And then tech consultants, like other Salesforce shops, had the opposite challenge where like they could talk process tech all day, but when we started saying: “well, what types of nurture program should we run? Or how does this integrate with our like ads in social campaigns?”  That just wasn’t really their specialty either. And, it felt like the market was underestimating the marketing tools on the Salesforce platform. So Pardot and Marketing Cloud, I would say. So I basically started Sercante to be what I couldn’t find when I was client side. So strategy, creative, technical execution, analytics and everything that you need really to execute on rev ops types of campaigns.

Anthony: That’s great because even today I recommend and my clients who are looking for a consulting partner, or an implementation partner rather to find someone who has that combined experience of actually running campaigns. I know what it’s like to press the send button, but also having, the actual integration experience to make sure the architecture and the flows and whatever the data model that those things are set up. And I’ll admit that and is definitely one of those implementation partners I have in mind when I get that kind of advice that’s great. Well, what do you see as the biggest challenge for customers starting with Marketing Cloud, Andrea?

Andrea: I think one of the toughest challenges for anyone getting started with marketing automation in general is, you want the tech to come in and solve the problem for you. But there’s usually so much business process and change management that has to happen to really make it successful. And I think, you find that like post implementation when you’re standing at your first journeys and you’re saying, okay, this is the segment that I want to target and this is the content that I want to send them. And here’s how I want to share those results with the team. And like right away, you notice like breaks in the chain. Like, okay, we want to target customers in this section, but we don’t have any data on that. So that’s a project and we want to send them a nurture series, but we don’t have any of that content written. So like that’s the next thing to tackle and then even just thinking about like where to share information with users, like all of the different pieces of that process. So, I think that the biggest challenge is just there’s a lot of heavy lifting to get the ball rolling in the beginning. Of course, if companies are a bit more established and they’re migrating from another platform, it’s a little bit of a different story. But I think that the business process and how to get your team enrolled in the process is often the biggest challenge.

Anthony: Right. So, I’m hearing that what clients maybe underestimate is just that they need to be ready to, for the implementation. It’s gonna be a lot of change management. They need to have their processes clear. Well, maybe to build further on that. When you think about implementing Salesforce Marketing Cloud or part, what expertise and experience as your team bring, how can you help clients most?


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Andrea: Yeah. I mean, I think, we bring just sort of a been there, done that expertise… because I mean there there are two types of knowledge that come in really handy during implementations. One is like the day-to-day like pressing the send button as you reference like day in and day out like how are you gonna be using the platform? And then there’s like the upfront configuration work. So, how to migrate data over, how to structure, like what fields on what objects, how to set up your campaign hierarchy? And I will say that some like one-time setup stuff, you may only get exposure if your client side, you may only get exposure to that like one two, three times in the span of your career. So whereas being a consultant, like we do that hundreds of times a year. So, I, we bring kind of both categories of expertise like we’ve walked in your shoes as a day-to-day user, but also like we’ve been through the implementation and best practice decisions during that process many times.

Anthony: I love that. And I think it’s just a great to point out that for some of these things, you definitely need the expert of the third party just because on the client’s side, you get only a few chances throughout your whole career, maybe to do actually in implementation. So it’s very hard to keep up with the tech, know, what works, what doesn’t I don’t follow this up with maybe a little bit more of a cheeky question, Andrea, if you don’t mind, but how do you decide what kind of organization makes it good or bad client?

Andrea: That’s a tough question. You know, I think I would say the vast majority of our past clients, we’ve been blessed that they fall into the good client camp where we have a really good report and like we get through the like even really tough projects we get through together and come out the other side with everybody feeling good and successful outcomes, in the bad client camp or the bad outcome camp. I guess I would say it’s really important to be realistic about what it’s gonna take to do a big complicated project. So, where I do see projects going south or folks being unhappy is if they walk in thinking this is gonna be a piece of cake. This is gonna take two to four weeks to implement.

And then they not really being willing to accept like, okay, this is actually a much bigger elephant than we virtually anticipated. So I’d say that realism is a very important aspect and also just maintaining open communication with your provider. So like trusting some of the things that they’re telling you, sharing as much information as you can to kind of inform the overall project plan. Those I would say are, the two biggest things.

Anthony: Yeah, we listen, realism and having good expectations, I think, is good on the client side, managing expectations. Also a skill that I remember was very available back in my consulting days.

Andrea: Yes.

Anthony: Right. I wonder, you know, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Salesforce, in general, the ecosystem develops so fast. There’s so many new features. And of course, the ecosystem as a whole mark like as a whole develops super fast. What are you to do up to date with the latest features updates? And I guess it will be interesting to know how you think about that for your team, for your organization? But I’m also curious, so to see, how do you do that personally?

Andrea: Okay. So in terms of like how to stay on top of updates, what I found is, I mean Salesforce always includes release notes with any new changes that they’re putting out. But that’s always like the like 10 percent of the story. Like, you have to really get hands on and try it and like hear from others that are using it to really get a sense of like, okay, this is gonna be super valuable or this is buggy, not really ready for public consumption yet. And so I find different user communities very helpful. So in the Pardot side of things, “Pardashians” is a Slack community that has amazing dialogue about what is and what isn’t working and How To SFMC on the Marketing Cloud side, great places to get ideas, and hear what’s new. LinkedIn, I have mixed feelings about LinkedIn. There’s some really good content out there, but it’s gotten kind of noisy. But there’s some good content out there that from time to time. But then in terms of like staying in touch like CEO level, like what’s changing in the broader ecosystem, like trends in business. I’m a member of two groups, one called EO (Entrepreneurs Organization), and one called YPO, Young Presidents Organization. And then also like I said CEO Round Table of a few other Salesforce companies. And, I find that just like peer-to-peer sharing, like what are you seeing? What are you hearing is like similarly like, you read headlines about, okay, here’s, what’s happening in the business world and sometimes they match, what your experience is as a CEO. And sometimes it’s like, yeah, I’m not really seeing that we saw that a bit last year with all the doom and gloom talk about the state of tech and the economy and like, our clients were thriving. And so like comparing notes with other CEOS and just saying like, okay, what are you seeing? Is this painting out this way for you or are you having a different experience is really helpful to just kind of gut check like what’s going on in the world?

Anthony: Tons of good advice. Just being more on the Marketing Cloud side, I would definitely second How To SFMC as a community and just the people behind are really nice. We had some of the people behind on the show already. And yeah, getting peer-to-peer network around yourself regardless of your role, definitely as a CEO to super helpful. Although I also agree that you have to be careful when you’re comparing notes benchmarks, or like benchmarks. And in the end, it’s what’s happening right in front of you and your business. That of course, is the real truth.

Andrea: Yeah. And, I feel like, in all of these spaces like you also have to be careful to find people who are gonna tell you the truth because a lot of times, I don’t know there’s definitely a persona of person who wants to look like they always have it together that the world is always perfect, that nothing bad is happening. And like to me, I find those people kind of exhausting. Like I really appreciate people who are willing to say like this is super hard or this isn’t working the way that I thought or like I’m having this issue with a client. And I’ve seen that happen in How To SFMC, same thing in Pardashians. So like finding a group of people that will be open and vulnerable and honest is super critical.

Anthony: Yeah, it makes total sense. Love how you said that when you think about… the future, of Salesforce for marketers, I’ll put it this way because I know you guys are working across different clouds. How do you think that the platform is going to evolve to meet the change needs of your clients?

Andrea: So, I’m super excited about, the vision for the Marketing Cloud road map like where things are gonna go in the future. And I see it being driven a lot by, the frenzy that was AI last year… like, the pitch that was painted at Dreamforce, and the pitch that many others are painting of, okay, you’re going to log into this marketing tool. It’s gonna tell you like this is the ideal customer for you to reach out to. It’s. Going to know like the next best product to suggest to them. It’s gonna use gen AI to like write your subject line and your campaign brief in your e-mail and it’s going to send it out and it’s gonna like notify customer service and it’s going to notify sales and analyze everything for you. And it’s all automated. I’ve been looking at stories like that and just thinking like whose data is that? Like whose systems are really that integrated to make a story like that possible? And so, what kind of, the latest news from Salesforce about Marketing Cloud growth in the idea of like building parts of Marketing Cloud on the core Salesforce platform. I really think that like connected vision is what’s driving it. So having shared infrastructure with the same tools that sales service commerce are using. It feels like the future direction, of the whole platform. And I’m really optimistic about it because, I would love to see our customers able to take full advantage of all that AI and some of these new advanced sets can do. But I think getting data connected is sort of the missing link to make all of that possible.

Anthony: I am also super excited about Marketing Cloud growth, the fact that it will finally be on Core and tapping into, you know, newer features such as those offered by Data Cloud. If you think about, it is something that was always lacking ever since the… ExactTarget and Pardot acquisition that became Marketing Cloud. And while to my knowledge that those acquisitions are still the best performing acquisitions for Salesforce, I saw that in the investor notes, I think last year… it’s also true that, you know, it comes with a lot of legacy and tons of integration work and it makes it harder to tap into the rest of the power of Salesforce too. So really exciting what Salesforce doing there? I think there’s a very interesting vision. What do you think will that mean for the customer base? Because they’re positioning it as B2B SMB. But we’ve all seen the price tag too. And then, you know, they already have a few products as well that do marketing. I know we’re getting a little bit on thin ice and it’s very speculative. But what are your thoughts on that if you care to share?

Andrea: Yeah. I think the two biggest hurdles that Salesforce is going to have with Marketing Cloud growth is one figuring out how to adopt the pricing model, and two figuring out how to roll their existing customer base like into the future of the platform. The pricing model, I don’t envy them that challenge because I mean, something that they have to think about is like right now they are competing in the B2B SMB space. So they have like other competitors there to benchmark against. But they are also giving customers access to data cloud which can come with like very heavy like actual consumption costs to Salesforce and they kind of need to balance like, all right, they got a price so that they can actually get into customers but not price so low that like they’re totally like getting their entire like value eaten by like actual Data Cloud consumption. So that’ll be kind of see how that evolves as they move up market and where they land with that pricing model because, I mean, we’ve also seen Data Cloud’s pricing model change several times already, in the short lifespan of that product is just a really hard challenge. And then with regards to like the existing customer base, I do think there’s gonna be confusion for a while on, okay, Marketing Cloud engagement, Marketing Cloud account engagement as Marketing Cloud Growth, like which of these three tools is right for me? And for existing customers, what I’ve heard is that their plan is to basically like as new features are released in growth, they’re giving existing customers access to those features. So the decision is less like when do I switch tools? And more like, okay, I’m grandfathered into these like cool new features. Is this something I’m ready to experiment with or not versus like having to redo contracts, change skews kind of thing.

Anthony: Yeah, definitely interesting challenges related to pricing. I know first hand for “tech heads”, it’s really interesting, really have to find out which parts of your product really provide value and then build your pricing around that. I do think you have a really good point when you say Marketing Cloud Growth because I mean I’m reading between the lines essentially you’re saying Marketing Cloud Growth might have somewhat of a higher pricing than competitors, but you’re getting so much more because you can tap into Data Cloud and that’s super powerful. And I think that is, you know, rightfully a competitive advantage that Salesforce has there. So we’ve talked a little bit about, the future of Salesforce. What about the future of Sercante? What do you envision for the future of your company as it continues to help others implement optimized Marketing Cloud, Pardot, and I’m assuming soon Marketing Cloud Growth as well?

Andrea: Yes. Yeah. So I don’t know if you saw that our website got a face lift last week and, we wrote figure out all the copy on the site, totally new brand, look and feel. And I think that kind of the next phase of our evolution is to date, we’ve been really focused on the needs of the marketer. So all things for marketers on a Salesforce platform. But what we’re increasingly seeing is that marketers, it’s no longer just like the marketing department that they influence and are responsible for. They’re getting into, okay, how does this influence sales? How does, our customers experience post-sale like factor into how we should be thinking about marketing? Are we doing customer advisory boards? How are we like building longterm loyal relationships? And so we’ve changed our messaging slightly to focus on like delivering seamless digital experiences for customers, recognizing that marketing is now sales marketing, customer service. And that’s the whole umbrella that marketers get involved in touching?

Anthony: Makes sense, if you look at, you know, from scale-ups to post IPO companies, a vast amount of revenue is. So in some cases half of revenue in a new year is basically expansion into existing accounts. I’m talking mainly from the B2B space, but you have similar trends in B2C. So just maintain the customer relationship is just a huge revenue driver and also more capital efficient typically. So I love the shift. It makes total sense. And I actually also saw the announcement that you guys wrote. You wrote a very thoughtful piece on what is behind the brand identity. So I’ll make sure to add that link, in the description of this of the show of this episode. Awesome. Andrea. Another thing that I’ve noticed on your background is that you’d like to give back and you’ve been heavily involved in the community. Can you tell a little bit more about that?

Andrea: Yeah, that’s a huge, I guess part of who I am and also something I think we built in to second culturally. One of our core values is generosity and we actively encourage our whole team being involved in the Salesforce community, but also like, the actual life communities where they live and work. And I guess like a few ways, that I get back. So like I think earlier in my career when I was just learning things or just figuring things out, like I would just reach out to ran of people on LinkedIn and say, like, hey, do you have time to grab coffee or can I pick your brain about xyz? And probably about 20 percent of those like they just said, yeah, sure. Like let’s do it. And so when I’m on the flip side of that, like when people reach out to me, I probably not 100 percent but pretty close to 100 percent of the time I say, okay, yeah, let’s chat. Let me see if I can put you in the right direction. So I guess that’s one way and then also getting involved in supporting other entrepreneurs. So, I think I mentioned EO, Entrepreneurs Organization. They have an accelerator program for businesses that are like just getting started and trying to scale up. So I’m entering other aspiring business leaders through there. And then also just again folks in the Salesforce community that a, that are starting their journey as an entrepreneur.

Anthony: Nice, really nice. I personally also like mentoring because I find that it helps crystallise my own thinking. So there’s definitely just, it feels good. It’s a good thing to do, to mentor, but there’s it’s also interesting at least to me that… it helps you see things more clearly because you just have to rephrase it in a way that makes sense. Is that something you recognize?

Andrea: 100 percent agree. It’s it’s fascinating to me how people process the same information in such different ways. So I…It’s also just great. Like, I feel like I get a lot of learning at in venturing others also because like you see how they’re seeing the worlds, the questions that they’re asking. And sometimes it’s just, it reminds you where, you have blindspots of your own.

Anthony: Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, it’s very interesting. Well, we’re almost coming up on time here, but could you give us a sneak peek into some of the exciting plans you guys have for this year? Events? Anything else?

Andrea: We’ll definitely be at Connections. So, we always throw a big party there. So we’ll definitely be at that. Definitely looking forward to Dreamforce and our team will be at a lot of Dreamin’ events, World Tours, kind of ongoing things over the next few months. And then MarDreamin’, of course, is I always got to plug that, but that’s not gonna be until November. So, we got some time there. 

Anthony: MarDreamin’ is definitely a great plug, So glad you pointed that out. as for the World Tour events, and Connections and whatnot, I will just second that it’s a great party, the Sercante party, we will definitely be there as well. Andrea, it’s just been fantastic. I really appreciate your time on a Sunday by the way. I hope to see you soon.

Andrea: Thank you!

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