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Strategy | Jason Lemkin on What Makes a Great VP Marketing in SaaS, Working with the CEO, and Lessons from SaaStr

20 May 2024
Strategy | Jason Lemkin on What Makes a Great VP Marketing in SaaS, Working with the CEO, and Lessons from SaaStr

Show Notes

Dave is joined by Jason Lemkin. Jason is the founder of SaaStr, the world’s largest community of SaaS executives, founders, and entrepreneurs. Before SaaStr, Jason founded EchoSign, which was sold to Adobe in 2011.

They discuss

  • Why Jason started SaaStr
  • What makes a great VP of Marketing in SaaS and how to hire one
  • How tech and SaaS have changed since 2020
  • CROs vs CMOs
  • Importance of alignment between the CEO and marketing team


  • () - - Intro
  • () - - Understanding the Importance of Revenue Goals
  • () - - Evolving Motivations and Changing Perspectives
  • () - - From Solopreneur to Founder: The Journey of Exit Five
  • () - - The Challenge of Transitioning from Solopreneurship
  • () - - Insights into Jason's Content Creation Process
  • () - - Efficiency in writing: a five-minute rule
  • () - - LinkedIn: A Haven for Text-Based Writers
  • () - - LinkedIn's Good Community and Marketing Potential
  • () - - Importance of Building Relationships in Business
  • () - - Marketing Essentials: Brand, Field, Demand, Growth
  • () - - Finding the Right Fit: Aligning Marketing Roles with Company Vision
  • () - - Finding Alignment: The Role of Marketing in Company Leadership
  • () - - CROs and Marketing
  • () - - Balancing Heads: Sales, Marketing, and Post-Sales in SaaS Leadership
  • () - - Event Planning
  • () - - SaaStr: Connecting Founders and Revenue Professionals

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Dave Gerhardt [00:00:15]:
All right, folks, my guest today, this is somebody that I've admired from afar for years. I was, you'll like this, Jason. An OG SaaStr reader. I remember when it was just an email, a blog and an email, right when I first got into startups, like, that was the stuff that made me pretend to be, be smart about SaaS. I went to my first SaaStr in 2016. I was a young marketing manager at a company called Drift. David Cancel, who's the CEO? He got put on a panel and we were like, we're going. He made me share an Airbnb with him.

Dave Gerhardt [00:00:47]:
You know, like junior level marketer travel with the founder. It was an incredible experience. That was a formative time in my life. And as a former marketing leader, I've spent a bunch of money in and around SaaStr. And what I'm really excited about now is that you've built an incredible brand and a media company with SaaStr. He's a sales guy by trade, but I think he's one of the best marketers out there. Jason Lamkin, thank you for coming on the exit five podcast.

Jason Lemkin [00:01:11]:
Thanks, man. Excited and excited to what sort of community you've built. I think community isn't an overused term, right. It became maybe almost abused a couple of years ago before AI got hot. But most people don't have a community. So it is impressive what you've done. I'm a fan back now watching, watching what you're doing.

Dave Gerhardt [00:01:29]:
Oh, that's amazing. Thank you. So I usually don't do any prep for these, but I was like, I was like, man, I gotta bring my game. I gotta bring my a game if I'm gonna get Jason on the pod. And so I wrote all these prep questions last night, and I'm gonna take you through them just to give me a flow. But then I open up LinkedIn today and I see you wrote literally some of the worst senior ish sales and marketing people I've ever worked with are selling books or courses or both. You've been warmed. I was like, man, that's a dagger right out of the, right out of the gate.

Jason Lemkin [00:02:00]:
You know, we can talk about whatever you want. It's. And I'm struggling with this, Dave. I'm really struggling with how much the world has changed the last couple of years for everyone, but much more sales and marketing customers, just much more than engineering your product. The world has changed so dramatically, and so you gotta look for tells. I'll tell you, I was doing an interview yesterday with the sales exec that was a SaaStr superfan. I ordinarily wouldn't have talked to him. The email exchange was kind of weird.

Jason Lemkin [00:02:24]:
Cause it was both fast and slow. You know, recruiting is like sales. Like, if it's. If it's bad, it's not going to get better after they start. But it was weird. It was good and bad, right? So that's a weird sign. So I do the meeting, super fan, super nice guy, and we're about 40 minutes in. At the end, he's like, oh, I don't want to do that.

Jason Lemkin [00:02:40]:
I'm like, okay, why not? It's like, well, I'm looking to do at least four or five jobs at the same time now. And, like, you want to be, like, a fractional or a consultant? No. He's like, I'm looking for four to five jobs this time. I'm like, I don't need you on my little team, but more. More power to you.

Dave Gerhardt [00:02:54]:
That's crazy. You know, I was going to ask you about this later, but I can sense this. You have a lot of energy in, like, the way you write, and I think you're a good copywriter, but you've. You've been writing more about this theme. These are not your words, but so paraphrase it as, you know, take it as you will, but, like, you kind of been hitting on this theme of, things have changed. People aren't really working hard. There's not a lot of loyalty and commitment. There's something in there.

Dave Gerhardt [00:03:15]:
Where does that kind of narrative stem from? Is it just from what you've seen over the last couple of years?

Jason Lemkin [00:03:19]:
Yeah, I mean, I'm okay with it. Listen, I have a few personal thoughts. I'm more just trying to help us all, as a set of leaders, recalibrate what we expect out of people. You know, the biggest tell to me, you know, there's all these vibes out there, right? There's vibes. One vibe is I quit. I'm out of here. Like, it's all over my YouTube feed. This whole feed.

Jason Lemkin [00:03:38]:
Like, I was a senior engineer at Spotify for four and a half years. This one for a woman. I quit it. I quit with no notice. And now I can't find a job. There's all over mine. It's just, how do we recalibrate in this world where we got to get shit done? We got to get shit done. But, and this is what, folks, it's not your problem, but you don't get budgets, roughly speaking, are half of 2021 because revenue per employee is doubled.

Jason Lemkin [00:04:00]:
If we have to make 400,000 in revenue per employee and it was 125 in 2021, you dont have to care. But you should understand this. Wheres it coming from? Wheres 400k in revenue per employee coming from? And I get that folks are whatever theyre burnout or the worlds changed or this weird world of second half of 2020 to early 2022 lasted a long time. It wasnt three months, it was two years of insanity. But the problem for all us as leaders, as vps, as founders and CEO's is we truly have to do more with less. Today there's no choice. And if folks don't want to do that, if they want to be paid 150 and up to have a team of seven to do a podcast, you're doing this yourself, man. I get it.

Jason Lemkin [00:04:43]:
It did kind of bother me last year. Now I get it. I'm like, but where's the money coming from? If Dave needs seven people to do a podcast, how much does that cost? And they all want to make six figures, all of a sudden that podcast is a million bucks a year, isn't it?

Dave Gerhardt [00:04:56]:
Or they do it and don't want you to put it under the scrutiny that it would deserve at that investment level. Right?

Jason Lemkin [00:05:01]:
So I am, it sounds like I'm a critic. I'm more just pointing out my, I'm learning. I have a lot of answers in SaaStr. I really think I have some good learnings over the years, but this one I don't know the answer to. I don't. I don't know the answer to. And it's funny, I had a friend of ours that, you know, helped me. I'm trying to hire an email marketer today that can send ticket emails for us to the events.

Jason Lemkin [00:05:19]:
It's a good job. I can actually pay an insane amount of money for this job.

Dave Gerhardt [00:05:23]:
Okay, I heard you say this. I was listening to your interview with Nathan Latka and, uh, I sent it to our team because we're trying to grow our list also. And I was like, I feel the same way. You basically said, like, I'll write a blank check. This is the most valuable piece of our business, but I literally can't find anyone to do it.

Jason Lemkin [00:05:38]:
At least it's critical. But it's funny. A friend of ours that we both know, or someone we both know, has a great community. Not a community, but a great group of folks that follow him. And he sent this out and he got about 40 responses the other day and then he asked them all just to do one bit of follow up. Just to come up with one sentence of follow up, no one did it. Zero out of 40. So, again, it sounds like I'm being a critic, but I'm just trying to learn.

Jason Lemkin [00:06:02]:
There's this theme. I started saying this a while ago, and it's become a bigger theme in SaaStr, which is that you gotta hire pirates and romantics. You gotta hire these quirky folks that are so passionate about what we're doing, they couldn't do anything else. They can't fit in anywhere there. They're pirates and romantics. But tech got so big in the run up to 2019, and beyond that, most folks aren't pirates. They're just job workers. And that's.

Jason Lemkin [00:06:22]:
There's nothing wrong with that. Stripe needs, what, 10,000 employees? They can't all be pirates and romantics. But where do we find them? How do we make sure we hire them? How do we meet people's expectations? People's expectations are very high. I don't, and I don't mean to take all of our time, and I say that, but I'm just still. This is an existential answer for. For all of us. We don't know the answer.

Dave Gerhardt [00:06:40]:
I'm happy to spend some time here. This is actually something that I wanted to talk to you about, and I have questions, other questions that I want to get to, but this was also my list, and I was going to ask you what continues to motivate you. You have been successful. Like, you, you know, you've had exits. You've invested. SaaStr's a $30 million a year business, or whatever it is. Like, you certainly don't have to do this. But I, when I listen to you talk, when I read your writing, I see you on stage at SaaStr.

Dave Gerhardt [00:07:04]:
Like, you have that fire. You have a drive. You're more grounded, I think, and even just meeting you right now, you're more grounded than you come off online, which is true for all of us, right? Everybody says to me, you're like, you're much nicer than I thought you were. I'm like, well, is that on you? How you thought I was? Is that on me? But what lights your fire? Like, what has you continuing to grow and build?

Jason Lemkin [00:07:24]:
Well, look, I actually, I'll tell you, I didn't know that answer until, like, five or six months ago when I did a discussion with Aaron Levy. And I'll answer it, but it changes over time. So in the beginning, you talked about the old days, right? The old days when you're. When it was a blog and an email and events. You know, back then, like many of us, you want to have a sense of meaning, you want to contribute to the world. And the main reason actually I started SaaStr was I had Dave, I had some guilt which was that I felt guilt about selling our last startup, echo sign to Adobe too early. And I felt guilt. There was some personal angst I had, but what I more felt like is that what happened was we sold.

Jason Lemkin [00:08:02]:
And for years the team kept going, especially the sales team, Sam Blonde now Sierra Brax, Brendan Cassidy Jameson who's SVP of sales at gong. These guys, even with all the, the lack of help from Adobe, they kept going, they kept growing to triple digit rates. Im like, God, I let these guys down a little bit. Im like no ones heard of these guys were a startup thats sold. Im going to build a little bit of promo for these guys. So Im passionate about sales and revenue. But if I do a little bit of this, then folks are going to be like, hey, I want to hire Sam for his next thing at Xenefits and Brexit and Ripley and Brendan for talk desk or Jameson and Iran at gong. And I think it worked.

Jason Lemkin [00:08:37]:
I think it did work. It created some, a high bit of brand benefits for them beyond the startup. Right. But that was a long time ago. That's what got me going was not wanting to let down the team. But they're doing fine now a few years later. Right. I don't need to, I don't, I feel like I met my obligation to.

Dave Gerhardt [00:08:54]:
Yeah, they're good. They got some. They'll be all right.

Jason Lemkin [00:08:56]:
Yeah. So then it just became then, this is a metal thing for all founders. Now you're a founder then I would say up until March 2020, it just became a phenomenon. Like it was so the wave of passion, especially for the events and the content was so strong. All I could try to do was like ride the wave. I had no strategy. It just was totally organic. Right.

Jason Lemkin [00:09:14]:
Then we had a whole reset from 2020 to 2022 and just digging out of a $10 million loss in March 2020, redoing it like it was painful, but it was intellectually interesting, right, because you got to reboot it. That's your second act. But now I'm in the third act and I don't know the answer. But I asked this question to Aaron Levy the other day, why do you still do box after 20 years? 20 years? He laughed. He's like, hold on, I'm not that old. I've only been doing it 18.8 years. But come on, man, you've been doing box 20 years, and we're watching Scott Farquhar just retire from Atlassian. We're watching a lot of people quietly retire this year.

Jason Lemkin [00:09:46]:
And I asked him why he's doing it. He said, at this scale, it's interesting. It's a jigsaw puzzle. He said, look, I've got a billion in revenue in box a year right now. Some of that goes to hosting and storage, but this is software. We have 80% gross margins. So out of that billion, I got $800 million a year to play with. I got $800 million of people to hire and products to invest in.

Jason Lemkin [00:10:05]:
Now, it sounds like a lot, but it takes a lot to run that billion dollar company. And I wish he said, I wish I would grown faster, I wish I could do more. But that's the fun part, is taking 800 million and playing it out. And I know it's a long answer. I enjoy work. I don't know if I enjoy it. I am stimulated every day working on SaaStr because it's a jigsaw puzzle. Everything at scale is a jigsaw puzzle.

Jason Lemkin [00:10:24]:
I didn't get it, but now I see it. It's frustrating, but it is intellectually stimulating to have something that's above a certain level. Right. Every day. You got to figure it out. Every day.

Dave Gerhardt [00:10:34]:
Well, it's like. It's like a different. If you're a competitive person and the game keeps getting more challenging and you have different ingredients in different circumstances, and you're playing a new level of the game. Yeah, you said you don't love it, which I think is something interesting, and I want to just share this story with you. So in 2020, I do think we, a lot of us in tech and SAS had that kind of, like, man, is what I'm doing that important? Like, you know, the world is crumbling and, like, here I am peddling software.

Jason Lemkin [00:10:58]:
And I hear that the woe is me moment. This. What am I doing selling accounting software, insurance software. This is what I was put on this earth to do.

Dave Gerhardt [00:11:07]:
Right, right. Like, you know, we got, like, my neighbors at the ER, like, saving lives, and I'm like, you know, right, saving lives.

Jason Lemkin [00:11:13]:
I'm selling payroll.

Dave Gerhardt [00:11:14]:
Exactly, exactly. So anyway, I was. So I was CMO at this company called Privy. They got sold by attentive. Oh, yeah, I did. Okay. I made a little bit of money from that. And then I was VP of marketing at drift, and they sold to Vista, and I made a little bit of money at that.

Dave Gerhardt [00:11:30]:
Like, not one huge exit but enough to be, like, very safe and comfortable. And that combined with the 2020 thing, I was like, man, what? I'm gonna just go in the woods and, like, write poetry for forever, right? And I was beating this drum of, like, solopreneurship. I'm just gonna be a solo, solo content creator. This is what I'm going to do. And I had this complete pivot in my business a year or two ago where I realized, like, no, there's actually something here. I need to get my name out of it. It was initially called, like, Dave Gerhart marketing Group. I pivoted to exit five.

Dave Gerhardt [00:12:00]:
I rebuilt that because I'm like, oh, there could be an exit. This is a sellable asset. One day, like, I could build a real company here. I wanted to take myself out of it. And I ended up hiring people this year and investing in this business. And this is the most excited and most fun I've had working, like, the last six months. And I'm completely re energized. I went from, like, two years ago being like, is this all I'm going to be, the b two b marketing guy? Is this my life to, like, I'm having a ton of fun.

Dave Gerhardt [00:12:24]:
The purpose that I see now is, like, it is fun to build something, right? Like, we're not saving the world, but it's fun to build something. It's fun to be in slack and send them, hey, I'm doing this podcast with Jason Lemkin today.

Jason Lemkin [00:12:34]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:12:34]:
Everybody's like, that's fun. And I think that's the stuff. And, like, having goals and growing, and that's the stuff that, like, I underrated and there was no, like, I needed to build a company and to feel that. And that's kind of given me this win. Now, does that. Can you relate to that a bit?

Jason Lemkin [00:12:48]:
Well, I would say two things. First of all, I think you're a real founder now. And so what you've seen is that builders got to build. Builders got to build. There are machiavellian founders. There are folks literally in it for nothing else to make money. But that works better in later stage parts of tech, financial, engineering. Most folks that can get something off the ground to seven figures in revenue are builders.

Jason Lemkin [00:13:08]:
They're builders, and builders got to build. And, you know, when I was. When I sold both my startups, I was. I've never been depressed, but I was at the edge both times without building, at the edge of depression both times crashed my partners, Tesla the second time because I was just so blue, just crashed a brand new. One of the first model s took it off. The lot just was a little blue, but so builders do have have to build. However, for folks that might watch us, I do think this solopreneurship thing, even though it's a little bit less alluring today than it was a bit ago. I hate to say this, because I might get flame for it, but I do think there's a heavy toxic element to it.

Jason Lemkin [00:13:42]:
It's heavily toxic that I can flee my horrible sales job where I'm only making 240k ote. It's horrible. And I'm going to be a solopreneur. And I'm on this guy's newsletter and he tells me he's up to 6 million a year doing it. And this guy and the solopreneur is bashing all the sask used to have, which Jason Lemkin got for him. And it's like, there's many people doing this and like, listen, there's always one or two. But if you think you're going to be a solopreneur and you're not 100% sure, maybe find the joy in what you're doing. Maybe find the joy in the journey you're on.

Jason Lemkin [00:14:14]:
Maybe find the joy at privy, find the joy at drift. Even if drift is crazy now because it's part of Vista and got mashed into sales off. I don't think every part of drift sucks. I don't think every part of it sucks. Find, if you can, before you become a solopreneur, before you be, sell courses and all that. Just take a pause, meet with a few friends, take two weeks off and say, look, I'm going to spend 90 days. Can I find the joy in this job? Can I find some joy, some mission, some accomplishment? And if you can, your boss is terrible. But this isn't like, it's not kindergarten.

Jason Lemkin [00:14:45]:
We are joining businesses. Businesses do have to make money, guys. They do have to. This is the other thing that got abstracted away starting around 2018, is most tech workers don't understand that businesses have to make money. Oh, well, the VC's will pay for it, or money comes on trees. Almost everyone in a tech company has a six figure job, right? I mean, I don't mean to make lie to folks that are entry level or have non perform, but most folks are. The average cost, fully burdened cost of a tech employee day is $250,000. That's what benefits and rent.

Jason Lemkin [00:15:13]:
So they may not be taking that home, but that's what you cost. Where's the money coming from.

Dave Gerhardt [00:15:17]:
Right, right.

Jason Lemkin [00:15:19]:
So it should be stimulating. It should be a challenge. Hopefully, you have friends at work, but it's not meant to be kindergarten, is it?

Dave Gerhardt [00:15:26]:
I think the path that I realized I was on was I had a great content business, but I realized that as a solopreneur, I'm going to have to get on stage and do the b two b marketing dance forever if I want this to be a business where now it can actually be a company. There's a big difference there. So I'm glad that I asked you those things to get you going. I think a lot of people need to hear that, and I think hearing the other side of this is great. You know, there's lots of people that when I would write stuff like that, too, they'd be like, hey, man, like, I'm actually at a company, and I'm. I'm having a great time, and there's not enough of that. So I'm. I'm glad you said that.

Jason Lemkin [00:15:57]:
You know, I haven't really said it this way.

Dave Gerhardt [00:15:59]:

Jason Lemkin [00:16:00]:
I think I want to say this a hundred times. Somehow this advice, take a vacation and come back and try to find the joy in what you're doing if it literally doesn't exist. I get it. Like, move on. We all have had times in our lives, and we've had to move on. I remember my first job. I crushed it. And there was a moment where I knew I just couldn't do it anymore, and I gave 68 days notice to my bosses.

Jason Lemkin [00:16:20]:
It wasn't them. It's just I had to go to the next place in my career. Right. But, you know, it's. Sometimes you did. We just get overwhelmed with the negatives, and we got to find a way out of it and stop. We love LinkedIn, you and I do. Stop reading it.

Jason Lemkin [00:16:32]:
Stop reading the stuff. Take a break. Go to the beach and come back and just look around and like. Or sometimes, you know, I think his name. I forget what his name is. He was at odd. He was. He was at plan grid that acquired by Autodesk, and he did this tweet or LinkedIn the other day.

Jason Lemkin [00:16:44]:
He's like, why have I stayed? I was at plan grid. I forget. His name is great. Senior director of sales. He was at plan grid from almost the beginning, and he's still at Autodesk, like, two and a half years after the acquisition. He's like, why do I stay? And he said, it's my work, friends. I really like working with my sales team. It's just.

Jason Lemkin [00:16:56]:
It's powerful. And that's another thing you can find at work. Do you really hate everybody you work with? I mean, if you hate everyone, then leave.

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:03]:

Jason Lemkin [00:17:04]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:05]:
Yeah. Find a new company. Or maybe you might be the problem.

Jason Lemkin [00:17:08]:
Yeah, you're the problem. I might be the problem, too. You might be.

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:10]:

Jason Lemkin [00:17:10]:
But just make sure there's nothing. The answer isn't already there. Right?

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:14]:
Yeah. Okay. You mentioned LinkedIn. We're gonna, for my listeners out there, we have some questions for you from exit five. We're gonna get to what makes a great vp of marketing. But just, we're gonna flow. We're gonna keep flowing. Jason mentioned LinkedIn.

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:25]:
I want to talk about you as a creator. You are a prolific content creator. And I just want to get it. I don't know if I've ever heard you talk about this, but, like, I want to hear about your content creation process. Do you write your own LinkedIn post? I mean, these are all your sound bites. Like, what does it take to, are you opening your phone and pressing LinkedIn? Are you scheduling posts? I want to know that stuff. People love hearing that. I want to hear about you as a content creator.

Jason Lemkin [00:17:52]:
Well, sure. Well, first of all, let me step back. Since you, since the old days of early Sass, you talked about. Yeah, there's obviously different media back then. Blogging was in SaaStr. The website gets a lot of content, but blogs are dead. No one. Back when you started, you would.

Jason Lemkin [00:18:04]:
People would literally go to work in the morning and they would type in I don't think anyone's typed in SAP, even though the page views may be up. No, it's type in like seven years.

Dave Gerhardt [00:18:14]:
No, but I bet you still have some. And I just know this. Cause I looked the other day, like, you still have. You have some stuff that you probably originally wrote, like seven, eight years ago. But like, how to hire a VP of market. One of my favorite all time lines for you is something like, it's about hiring the VP of marketing. Be careful. You might only get, like, branded pens or something like that.

Jason Lemkin [00:18:30]:
Yeah, the blue pens on it.

Dave Gerhardt [00:18:33]:
That's an article that still gets traffic. And so, like, your website, the SaaStr website is still a hub. But like, you, I open up LinkedIn and you have some, like, pithy thing to say. Or like, here's three sales lessons. Like, where does that stuff come from?

Jason Lemkin [00:18:46]:
Well, um, a couple of things we could spend a lot of time at. First of all, some of those blue pen articles. I don't just repost them. I update them. So I have a list. We could do a screen share. I literally have a Google Doc with like 200 posts that actually I have updated. I've gone back, I've taken out the dated stuff, I've refreshed it and I repost it.

Jason Lemkin [00:19:02]:
Sometimes I actually put updated in the title, sometimes I don't for a variety of reasons. So a nice thing about some of, some of this stuff is too dated to use, but some of it is evergreen. As long as you update the playbooks a little bit, right?

Dave Gerhardt [00:19:13]:
And this is you, Jason. Literally have a Google Doc and you're literally going into WordPress for whatever SaaStr is hosted on and typing new words on these blog posts.

Jason Lemkin [00:19:22]:
And I'll tell you why someone criticized me the other day. I love criticism for the most part. But it was like, oh, I can't believe Lemkin and all his vas say this. I'm like, I don't have any vas. Okay? I do have a few tools, but let me tell you. So what I meant to say is there used to just be blogs, right? Now. There's lot, there's podcasts, there's video, there's a lot of other media. And so the, for me, a super.

Jason Lemkin [00:19:46]:
What I think everyone in tech should ask yourself once or twice a year, what's your superpower? What's your superpower? Hopefully it's plural. Hopefully you have at least two or three. One of my superpowers on the, I think I have two superhouses on the content site. One side is every single thing you've read on SaaStr for eleven years was written in my head automatically. I already wrote the article. It wrote itself. This. I think a lot of writer, I think I'm a writer.

Jason Lemkin [00:20:09]:
I don't think most folks that generate content are writers. They might be copywriters, they might be content marketers. They're not writers. I'm gifted. I put it in quotes, right? But literally, what would take most people weeks to write, I can write in five minutes. Not because it's already been written in my brain, right? So what I learned early on in SaaStr is anything that took me more than five minutes to write, just kill. Just so I, in the early days, I had like, I have like 150 draft posts in WordPress because I would sit there staring at my monitor. Now, I don't do that because like, it's already written or I don't do it.

Jason Lemkin [00:20:38]:
So there's, that's, um, that is a gift. And luckily, when I started this content, there weren't a lot of founders who'd had a nine figure exit to talk about. Now, there's many, much more successful than me, but I do think my second superpower is at everything I've written. A lot of people could write better, but not that many people can take all of this and distill it and simplify it and make it actionable. And if I can do that 365 days a week, that's something maybe nobody else can do as well as me. Right. Even today.

Dave Gerhardt [00:21:06]:
Yeah. I mean, I'm obsessed with copywriting, and there's something that I studied a lot. I see myself as a writer, too, in a similar vein, like, somebody might go to your posts and be like, oh, this guy's writing style sucks and his grammar is not, but it's the meat. And I think that's why you've built an audience, is like the. It cuts right to like, no, this is based on real experience. This is in your head. Clearly, a real person wrote this. This wasn't an intern that was asked to research this.

Dave Gerhardt [00:21:31]:
And I think that's what people don't understand about, like, great content. It doesn't always have to be this perfectly polished writing. It's based on real insights and your learnings over the years. And, yeah, this is the. I have a hard time articulating this, too, and, like, even trying to hire good content people. It's why I've struggled to do that, because it is. It's a skill, and it's a little bit of. It's an intangible thing.

Dave Gerhardt [00:21:52]:
It's not like you trained in practice to do this. It just had it in you, and now you have the platform to be able to do that.

Jason Lemkin [00:21:57]:
Yeah, I think for folks that want to, I think every marketer, I don't know that every marketer should be on LinkedIn three times a day, but I do think every marketer has to be doing some type of content marketing. Right. We could. It's a broad category. Right. And I think the thing that sounds obvious, but I see folks making this mistake at the end is do what's ever easiest. If you enjoy doing a podcast like we're doing, you genuinely are passionate around it because it's a headache. You got to find guests, you got to transcribe it.

Jason Lemkin [00:22:22]:
But if that's your passion, do it.

Dave Gerhardt [00:22:23]:

Jason Lemkin [00:22:24]:
Even if you don't know how to get the downloads or whatever, do it. Right. If you love to write how to do AI chat bots, and you love to write, then write that content for drifting. Right. If whatever it is. If you truly love the engagement you get on LinkedIn for real, like you love it. It's not cynical. Then figure out how to do it programmatically so it works for this.

Jason Lemkin [00:22:44]:
But pick one type of thing, or blogging or content. But I find too many people are tortured writing. They're told they have to write canonical SEO posts and they don't know how to do it. Don't do it. Don't hire an agency that lies to you and tells you they'll do it for you. Just do something that you are good at and then figure out how. Then the beauty today with social media is figure out then just how to get the most distribution you can and just do better every month. Right.

Jason Lemkin [00:23:06]:
So pick something and do it well. Don't try to do the 10,000th lame white paper or podcast the world doesn't need. Do what you're passionate about. It's the one time where your passions really are. The right way to go is in content marketing.

Dave Gerhardt [00:23:19]:
So the website is basically this hub of all of your content ideas from over the years?

Jason Lemkin [00:23:24]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:23:25]:
The stuff that people see on social is that you going there? Are you scheduling stuff? How does that work?

Jason Lemkin [00:23:30]:
Yes. So I didn't use until, I don't know, a couple of years ago. I never scheduled anything. In the old, old days, we had an admin that would, like, manually do stuff, but then the algorithms changed and that stuff didn't work. Literally. For the first years of SaaS, I never even logged into some of our social media. I didn't have time. But then we know when LinkedIn just started to get.

Jason Lemkin [00:23:50]:
I was very cynical about LinkedIn at first. I thought everyone was celebrating their engagement. I'm like, go to work. Like, it's a real force of nature.

Dave Gerhardt [00:23:57]:
Today, you would say that today it's.

Jason Lemkin [00:23:59]:
A force of nature. It has evolved. We could chat about it, but in the beginning, I remember I put up, I just put up an old tweet for fun. But I said, okay, what's the most popular tweet I've done this year? And I got a million views. Okay. That week, right? I'm like, okay, I'm a slow guy, but, like, forget about what I did. There is. There is something here.

Jason Lemkin [00:24:17]:
And so now, basically what I do is, all the way through 2025, I have one piece of content on LinkedIn and Twitter that's already prescheduled through 2025. It's already done for me. It's my morning content. My morning content is done for me. So worst case, I'm done through next year and I've got something pretty good on both these channels. And if you actually are, if anyone here really likes my content, you'll see that the morning and the afternoon content are very different.

Dave Gerhardt [00:24:41]:
Yes. Okay, interesting. So, like the thing that I. So, so I saw that post this morning, which was the. Some of the worst sales and marketing people have been selling that one scheduled. But I feel like I see another post from you that is a little bit more like I just talked to CRO of this type of company and.

Jason Lemkin [00:24:57]:
Yeah. And then what I generally do listen, this is a lot of inside baseball then stuff. Writes it in my head. Right. And I write too much and so I'll have a moment and then I love my iPad with the keyboard. So in the morning when I'm having coffee, I write something again. And this is super niche, but what I've learned over the years is actually the authoring environment. The container you use actually molds the content.

Jason Lemkin [00:25:17]:
So WordPress likes a certain type of content and it's great for embedding youtubes and embedding podcasts and doing other things. LinkedIn has this. It's a little annoying, but it has this very bare bones text based environment. And for folks that like to write like you and me, actually LinkedIn's a gift because text isn't loved by other environments. So for me, I think I can write an afternoon LinkedIn post in a couple minutes. That's pretty interesting. And I like, it's just relaxing. I can sit on my iPad and have my coffee and whatever was on, I get it out of my head.

Jason Lemkin [00:25:46]:
It takes. The key is it takes zero time because it's already in my brain. It got to get out of my brain somewhere. Should you and I talk about it or should I share it with 280,000 people? It's probably more efficient to. I could type it faster than I could say it. So maybe that's TMI, but do what works and then all the other stuff that doesn't work. I've talked to a lot of folks who give me advice, even at this stage, but it's exhausting. I was talking with a leader, a podcast leader who I love, and he was telling me how to fix the SaaStr podcast.

Jason Lemkin [00:26:13]:
SaaStr podcast is like top 50 in tech, but it's not going to get into the top ten unless it's totally changed. We could talk about why it has to be totally changed. And he was completely right. I thought about it, no criticism. He was pretty critical. But then I thought, I'm not going to do this. This is so much different and so much work. And it's unnatural.

Jason Lemkin [00:26:29]:
It's unnatural for me. Right?

Dave Gerhardt [00:26:31]:
Oh, this is really good. And by the way, this is not too much, because unlike most of the other conversations, the audience here is all marketers and everybody is mostly none of them work. We're on LinkedIn all day, and I'm just kidding.

Jason Lemkin [00:26:43]:
And I think that, well, you know, the thing is to be careful. I think if you're on LinkedIn too much, literally every CEO says this behind closed doors. It's a bad signal. You're not going to get a job if you're on LinkedIn, bashing your past employer, or you're there three days a week, three times a day, you're not going to get a good job. But one of the many things I got wrong about LinkedIn is, look, it is a good community. It is. It's a weird thing, but it is, especially for sales and marketing, whether it's the algorithm or the way we follow people and are connected to people. It's a powerful algorithm, right? It really does surface, create connections to people, reconnecting you and me, that you might not do otherwise.

Jason Lemkin [00:27:19]:
That's powerful used properly. Right. So I'm supportive. It's just so many folks in marketing and sales cross the line, and I just feel bad for them. I feel bad for them.

Dave Gerhardt [00:27:28]:
It's funny you said that. I wrote something on your LinkedIn post, and then I was like, I'm going to. I've been meaning to reach out to him. I want to get him on the podcast. And I sent you an email and it bounced back. I'm like, shit, I got the wrong email. And then I went to LinkedIn and I dmed you and I got the right email. So that wouldn't, that interaction wouldn't have happened if I didn't.

Dave Gerhardt [00:27:44]:
If I didn't have LinkedIn. You mentioned, this is interesting to me. You mentioned you talked to somebody who they could get the SaaStr podcast to be one of the top in tech, but you'd have to do it differently.

Jason Lemkin [00:27:55]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:27:56]:
Can you say more about that?

Jason Lemkin [00:27:57]:
Well, I'm not, for example, this is very spit, but like, I can do an interview. You've been to SaaStr annual? I've interviewed some of the best, and I do it from a place of profound respect because I'm pretty good at interviewing founders better than me. I feel like that's what, like, one of the only podcasts I regularly listen to is Mark Maron. Right. For comedy and I think he's a little annoying. But one thing he's great is he really respects the comics better than him. He was pretty good. He had a show.

Jason Lemkin [00:28:21]:
He's made a little bit of money, but he's not living high on the hog. Right. So that's how I am. If I talk to a Rene Lacerta bill or Aaron Levy or any of these guys, like, I was in the game, right? I mean, I built a nine figure business, but I wasn't at their level. So I do have a special set of skills there. But I don't want to be an interviewer. I don't enjoy, I don't want my life. I have had some success, as you point out.

Jason Lemkin [00:28:42]:
I don't want to spend 52 weeks of my life searching for podcast guests and getting my Riverside and Zencastr working and hiring a producer and that I just, it's not. I have had enough success that I'm only willing to do certain things at this point, for better or worse.

Dave Gerhardt [00:28:57]:
Right, right. So the play would be like, oh, let's make a list of like the hundred best SaaS founders. And Jason's going to interview two of them a week. And.

Jason Lemkin [00:29:05]:
Yeah. And it would be easy to do because I can. Half of them speak at Saraniel anyway. For most part, the scheduling is a hard part. For me, it's easy. But the mental energy it takes for anyone that's not a friend, my cheat code is, if I know them, it's not that hard, right? But when I have to interview someone, I don't know, it just burns. It's okay. But the amount of concentration and mental energy, it ends up being, one of the hardest things of my week is that discussion with someone.

Jason Lemkin [00:29:28]:
I don't know if I know them. If you look at the last four years of SaaStr annual, the folks that I've done, like Aron from last year, I've met him four times in person. He's been in my office. It's not that hard. Right? Ben from Mailchimp, who I've known a little bit, not great friends, right? Dharmesh or Brian from HubSpot. Like, these are iconic names, but having just a tiny bit of a relationship before it, for me, we're all different. Makes it like 7 trillion bajillion quadrillion times easier, right? Having to sit up with whoever the new CEO of Snowflake is and make it interesting, that's beyond my skillset. I can't make him interesting.

Jason Lemkin [00:30:01]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:30:01]:
You know, sometimes I'll get PR firms will pitch their CMO or whatever for this podcast. And I want to do them because like some of those big name cmos would help with this audience and grow the podcast. But the problem is, like most of them, I get on and it's, they don't know who I am. We have no chemistry. We have no interaction. It's very much like, it's like, next question. Like they want, they're expecting like the next question. It's not conversational at all like this.

Dave Gerhardt [00:30:25]:
And so that is, that is taxing for sure.

Jason Lemkin [00:30:27]:
But it's an art. If you look at like what Harry Stebbins does or Lenny does on product, they're pretty good at those. They can take those people who, to me, might not even be interesting people to interview, and they'll do enough work and have enough energy that they can turn that frown upside down. I just, I don't have the skill. But they're very good at it. Yeah, they're very good at it.

Dave Gerhardt [00:30:44]:
You got to do the prep. Okay, let's talk about what makes a great vp of marketing. So, this is something that you have talked a lot about over the years, but let's talk about today. Yes. Give people actionable advice with whether it's through your network, your portfolio companies, people, you know, what does a great vp of marketing do and what do they look like today?

Jason Lemkin [00:31:02]:
Well, I think a lot of nuances aside, the former hasn't changed. The latter's change a lot. What does a vp of marketing do? Right? I mean, unless we're in b, two c, or in self serve, a b two b marketer has always done the same thing, which is put stuff in the funnel and then help move it down. Help move it down. And the tools have evolved. But the funny thing is about b two b marketing. I think this growth and self service playbook have changed more. The consumer stuff always evolves more rapidly.

Jason Lemkin [00:31:28]:
There's a lot of reasons viral loops have changed. But the basic toolkit of targeted outbound drip marketing, content marketing, webinars, events, it hasn't changed at all. It all still works. Even things I actually thought events were archaic until I had a moment after lockdown to reflect on why they exist for marketers I never actually talked to. We have 200 sponsors a year at SAS, I'm embarrassed to say until 2020, I never talked to one of them. It's terrible to not talk to your customers. It's an f, but I never did. So I never actually understood it.

Jason Lemkin [00:31:55]:
But the playbook works. The tools are better. Right. The problem is and again, this is where some people get upset with me when I say this, but to be self aware, you just. Everybody needs a team today, David, I will interview a marketing manager with 18 months of experience, and the first thing on their LinkedIn is strategist. Strategist. They all need a team. Everyone needs a team.

Jason Lemkin [00:32:16]:
Everyone I interview needs a team. And it's tough. Even if you raise a little bit of seed capital as a founder, you've raised a couple million dollars. You don't have budget for five marketers. So what I see again and again is too many folks taking a startup marketing role. And no matter what they say in the interview, right, they're not willing to do it. They're not willing to do the webinar. They're not willing to run the campaigns in HubSpot and build the list.

Jason Lemkin [00:32:38]:
They're not willing to do it themselves. And look, I said this last year, it'd be critical. I'm not critical now. I'm just saying be self aware that this doesn't work for either side. You're not going to be happy if you join an early stage startup and the CEO is going to be expecting you because he's doing it himself. The CTO is doing it herself. Right. The sales team is doing it themselves.

Jason Lemkin [00:32:56]:
But the marketers all want a team today. And don't be mad at me who's ever listening, just hear the truth in it and be self aware. Are you really willing to do the work? Everyone wants a team, and I've hired old folks on my team to help me. My marketing team, they're not willing to do the work anymore either. Yeah, I just assumed, in fact, I assumed they would do the work when I hired them. I mean, just as a helper, not full time. Right. But they weren't willing to do the work anymore.

Jason Lemkin [00:33:17]:
I need six people. You know, I need, okay, I need a content person, and I need a media person, I need an earn person, I need a pr person, I need a demand gen person, and I need a growth person.

Dave Gerhardt [00:33:25]:

Jason Lemkin [00:33:27]:
And they need, and each of them needs an agency because they don't do it themselves either. They each. So you have five marketers and five agencies working for your CMO at 2 million in ARR. Again, going back to the beginning. Great. Okay, I'm zen about it. But who's going to pay for it, Dave? Who's going to pay for five marketers and five agencies under your CMO or vp of marketing? Who's going to pay for it? Right.

Dave Gerhardt [00:33:45]:
And do you think there's a, do you think there's a revenue stage where that is okay, is it like ten, 5100 million dollars worth of this?

Jason Lemkin [00:33:53]:
Yeah, I think if you listen, here's a cheat code. I think if your marketing budget is north of 10 million, all this is fine. Not your ARR or your capital, raise your budget. Yeah. Then you need a, then you, what we used to call them, vp of marketing. Even for startups. Now you need a CMO at 10 million. If you're going to deploy $10 million of marketing spend, it better be done right.

Jason Lemkin [00:34:13]:
At that point you need brand and you need field and you need demand gen and you need growth and you need, and you need all the pieces and you need a senior person. And if 2 million of that is humans and 8 million is direct spend, so be it. Like, that's just the budget, right? This is where marketing gets as you scale, which is, hey, here's your budget, here's your allowance, here's your $10, 1000, 10 million. Generate as much pipeline as you can. That's the job. But we got warped in 2021 because there was so much capital. Not just so much capital in general. Actually, I don't think that's the problem.

Jason Lemkin [00:34:42]:
It was so much so early that these jobs became warped because you could join a company at a million in revenue and have enough capital to hire ten people. Right. And I think it will be 20 years until it will happen again. But it may be 20 years, right. Until we see that again. We do need that. Just be aware that if you're going to join something with less than 10 million in marketing budget, you may have to do work you don't want to do. And be honest, if that's you, be honest.

Jason Lemkin [00:35:06]:
Don't wait four interviews in because sometimes the CEO doesn't even know. They don't know what the job is. They don't know. I actually find most vps of sales and crs don't know what marketing does either. So the people you're interviewing with as a marketer don't actually know. They asked the right questions here. They're going to trust you.

Dave Gerhardt [00:35:21]:
Yeah, no, this is great. I also think what you do as that marketer can also change. Like maybe that maybe, you know, you came up through demand gen, so the things you hop in on, it might be different versus like if it's me, I'm much more on like the brand product marketing side. And so the things that I might be super involved when is going to be the website, the messaging, the deck for the founder, the copy those types of things and you, you know, you got, you can't do it all. So like of the people you can afford to hire, what are they going to do that complement your skillset well.

Jason Lemkin [00:35:54]:
That actually the most tack, the most meta point today is can you do it without a team? Right. If it's early enough. The most important hiring point for both CEO's and vps in marketing cmos is when I invest, I help. I know I interview lots of marketers and cmos for startups, 0% of founders ask the right questions. This is the right question to ask your marketer. It's a Columbo style question, but it's the right question. Dave, if you join me as CMO of SaaStr of whatever, what are the top three things you'd like to do? What would you say? Don't think about it. What are the top things you'd like to do? Website.

Dave Gerhardt [00:36:24]:
Yeah. Website, messaging, brand.

Jason Lemkin [00:36:27]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:36:27]:
And we'd fix the podcast.

Jason Lemkin [00:36:29]:
Yeah. Dave, you know what I need? I need leads. I need someone to fix my webinar and I need someone that can work directly with my sales team because they're not fast enough. Don't hire Dave. It's just that simple. Because there's two mistakes that CEO's make. One, they love Dave because he worked adrift and privy and he did all these great things and he's articulate and he's smart. But they didn't ask the question.

Jason Lemkin [00:36:50]:
They just assume Dave wants to do demandgen email marketing paid. So they just assume this, they don't ask. And even worse, and one of two things happen either just Dave doesn't do that stuff. This is actually really what not you. But most daves don't even do the other stuff. Two, they hire someone to do it and they have no passion around it, right? Or three, the good human beings like you say, oh God, that's what Jason wants, you go do it. But your heart isn't in it so it's crummy. So what I say to boil it on, I say listen to founders, I say listen, your marketer is only going to do two or three things.

Jason Lemkin [00:37:22]:
They may hire other people, they may phone it in on the rest, but they're only. And it's okay because marketing's a toolkit. There's a lot of things in marketing and when you have 1000 customers, 2000 customers, your brand starts to flip over and become key. So hire a Dave. If you have ten customers, don't hire Dave. It's not his fault, it's your fault. For hiring the wrong person. It's your fault for misdescribing the opportunity.

Jason Lemkin [00:37:44]:
And it's a toolkit. And there are demand gen junkies who just love running ABC tests and multivariate stuff and do everything, and they don't care about your brand. They don't even know there's not a creative bone. Some of these folks, at the extreme, they're all, they're marketing scientists. There's not a creative bone in their body. Right. And so asking them to riff with you on creative strategies for your brand and why your marketing site looks seven years old, you're going to bang your head on the table if you're passionate about that stuff, right?

Dave Gerhardt [00:38:10]:
Yeah. So for everybody listening, one of the most common questions that we get on our email in the community is like, hey, I'm a marketer. I have an interview with the CEO for this VP of marketing job. What should I ask them? You almost just gave us that answer in the flip side of that, right?

Jason Lemkin [00:38:25]:
Yeah. I always tell the CEO to ask this question. Marketers should ask the same question. What are the top three things you want marketing to do? Thats the right question. I remember another aha moment I had was at our first year up in Paris. We had a speaker dinner and I sat next to, this will be obvious to you or the audience, but I sat next to dinner with Maria Pergolino. I think she was at Annaplan then. Right.

Jason Lemkin [00:38:44]:
And she said, you know what Ive learned being a CMO five times, Jason, the CEO is always the CMO. And it's a really, like, the more you unpack that, the more important a statement it is. And a lot of folks say that's wrong. And we could talk about it, but it's still true. Even if it's wrong, it's true. Right.

Dave Gerhardt [00:38:58]:
I had Kip and I from Hubsaw, we go, we go back, I've worked for him back in the day, and he was on my podcast a while ago and he said the exact same thing. And I just, I've heard you articulate that he said it. I just burst into laughter because that's exactly like when I was at drift, I was the VP of marketing. David, who's a CEO, was the CMO. He had the vision marketer. He's a mark. I'm executing on the things he wants. It's going to be his way.

Dave Gerhardt [00:39:21]:
And the quicker that I learned the reason that I rose at that company was because I just basically became his right hand person and I executed all the things he wanted his way and that's how I grew verse like they hired three vps of marketing over me before I eventually became the VP of marketing. Each one of those person, each one of those people. Within two weeks he was back to me behind the scenes having me do the things. And it's like, that's exactly what you said. Once you realize that life becomes much easier. And if you're interviewing and it, it's clear that that CEO is not the CMO, then like that's not going to be the right company either. That means they have no vision for marketing, right?

Jason Lemkin [00:39:55]:
Sometimes, I mean sometimes a deeply technical product with a lot of product market. The founders are not interested in marketing, but they still have a vision of how to get to developers. But my point, I agree 100%. My point to flip it around is because the CMO CEO CMO know you want to be the CEO's right hand person like you were with Dave's. Not everyone is as prescriptive as him. Some folks are macro managing, some folks do not have the specific ideas, but they know what works and what doesn't up until that point. So ask them in an interview, ask the CEO, if you're, if you're the VP of marketing candidate, what are the top three things you're looking for from marketing? It is the greatest question in the world. And if those don't align with what you want to do, no one does this.

Jason Lemkin [00:40:34]:
Stand up and say it's not me. But I know some folks from exit five or Dave knows some folks. Let me help find you someone. You will not be. This is the greatest company in the world. I'm going to fail here. No one does that. But I kind of do this in interviews when I help founders say it's just not for me.

Jason Lemkin [00:40:49]:
Don't try to torture it. I know you want a job, but if you're going to fail, the worst thing that happens with executive recruiting is a mismatch. That's the worst outcome. Yeah. If you hire someone that's lame and they don't work out, that's a bummer. That's on you. But the worst is when you have a great executive and a great CEO and it's a mismatch. That's a sad set.

Jason Lemkin [00:41:07]:
Both of you should have figured done more work. You move too quickly. Right. So ask the CEO what her top three marketing priorities are. And again, if they're not born marketers, they may not state them in the way you're used to hearing them as a marketer. Right. They may state them differently, but everyone can. I love, I love, I love, I love asking people to force rank things.

Jason Lemkin [00:41:25]:
We're really good at it. It uncovers so many truths that people don't realize. It's borderline. Trick question to ask me to force rank things.

Dave Gerhardt [00:41:32]:
Yeah, I think it's great. And to be confident enough to admit the things you're not good at is a very telling thing. Also, I texted a good friend of mine. Good friend of mine. I texted him. He's a CMO of a $250 million revenue SaaS company. He's the one always sending me things. Things you write, get them all fired up.

Dave Gerhardt [00:41:52]:
And I said, hey, Jason Lemkin is coming on the podcast. What question do you specifically want me to ask him? He said, this is verbatim, his text message. You for sure need to talk about the CRO CMO thing and get him to admit that they are different jobs and that having marketing under a CRO is an awful idea. Yeah, tell them that. Tell them stuff like that gets marketers all fired up. None of us want to work for a CRO. Literally no one. Yeah.

Jason Lemkin [00:42:21]:
Is a question. Should the marketing report to sales, or should sales report to marketing, or what's.

Dave Gerhardt [00:42:27]:
Yeah, I'm not asking you to really to defend the point.

Jason Lemkin [00:42:29]:
Yeah, I think.

Dave Gerhardt [00:42:31]:
I believe both sides is, actually. I've seen a lot. I've seen so much misalignment between sales and marketing that, like, on paper, the idea of, like, oh, well, if they all report to the same team, then the nonsense over metrics and credit kind of goes away. But just more so, given, like, your background coming from the revenue and sales side. Make the case for marketing rolling into the CRO.

Jason Lemkin [00:42:53]:
Well, first of all, I think it's a terrible idea. Let me simplify the answer. A terrible idea if for no other reason. There's two simple reasons. One, almost no CROs know what marketers do to you. Spend even more money. This is what I've learned. The companies I've seen that do it, there's no control.

Jason Lemkin [00:43:10]:
There's no control. And, well, here's what happens, and then I'll tell you why it happens, which is maybe the bigger learning. If you have this, the marketing report to Sierra, there's a certain efficiency in it, right? They get on the same page, they have the same goals, they have the same KPI's. It actually feels more fun in some ways, because you're absolutely a team. Right. Marketing becomes embedded in sales. There's not these frictions that you have sometimes, which I think are good I think frictions between marketing and sales are good. Their friction goes away, the alignment goes away.

Jason Lemkin [00:43:35]:
But then their only job is, listen, I got to hit my sales number for the month and theyre going to hire more people or im going to give it to Dave. Dave gets very focused on short term stuff, very focused on deploying capital really, really rapidly. And theres no check and balance here. And its works for companies with infinite capital. A little bit beyond that. Theres no yin and yang. Its the same problem with CS having now been part of sales. Theres no one that cares about the customer anymore when CS is part of sales and there's no controls.

Jason Lemkin [00:44:07]:
And I guess this used to happen in the old days, but I think when the unicorns boomed and capital was omnipresent, a lot of CEO's that are not interested in revenue. A lot of folks just want to be product guys. They just want to be product people. They often would like the CRO more than the marketer. They just naturally the charismatic CRO, strappy next paratrooper, likable. Like you got to be kind of likeable eight times out of ten to be a CRO because you got to, it comes with a job, right. And so they'd be like, Dave would be my cero. And I'm like Dave Lemkin and marketing.

Jason Lemkin [00:44:36]:
I don't understand it. It's kind of annoying. I don't want to have another one on one. I got too many one on ones. I've actually, I've moved to Miami, so there are even more work day. I'm going to put everyone under Dave, my CRO, because he understands revenue. So all of a sudden, marketing, cs, onboarding, everything rolls up into the CRO. And that's what happened with a lot of unicorns in 2021 and a lot of capital papered over the issues.

Jason Lemkin [00:44:59]:
But you want controls. You want, you want someone to own the delivery, whatever funnel metric you want. You want someone to own a delivery to sales. Otherwise it's too amorphous. And in CS, you want someone to care about the customers, not just be in charge of upsell. As the CRO thing has expanded, it's been a mess. I also other thing, the CROs that want this role, they want marketing and stuff. I'd like to say some friends of mine are exceptions, but the best sellers just want to close.

Jason Lemkin [00:45:32]:
That's all they want to do in the world. The best sellers live and breathe to close a deal. They don't want to help the customer one day afterward. They don't want to follow up. They don't want to market, they don't want to go to a webinar. All they want to do is take a lead in that has a 10% chance of closing and close it. That's where they get their rush and the paycheck that comes with it. So anything else corrupts the value of the best sellers.

Jason Lemkin [00:45:53]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:45:53]:
Like what you said earlier, the job of marketing is put stuff in the funnel, move it down. They don't want to do any of that. So that's interesting. It's interesting to hear you articulate that because it actually ends up, it ends up becoming worse because you almost outsource more of marketing because you're like, this is not just go, I'm not going to be involved at all here.

Jason Lemkin [00:46:09]:
I see this again and again, especially product focus or developer focused companies. The CEO just doesn't want to deal with it. This charismatic CRO becomes the natural place to put everything revenue. But for them, they still have to hit the number too. So does it really benefit the CRO if they have to own three things? Because they're judged on the air, on the bookings growth, right?

Dave Gerhardt [00:46:27]:

Jason Lemkin [00:46:27]:
They're not judged on how many lead scans they got at Driftcon or SaaStr annual or how much pipeline they generate. They're judged this month. What did you close this month? And anything that distracts your sales team from that is bad for them. I thought you said so. That's kind of a significant trend. That, and I'll just say two things on it to CEO's. Buck up, everyone. Listen, whatever.

Jason Lemkin [00:46:51]:
I know the guy at Nvidia has 68 direct reports or whatever that kind of lit up social media.

Dave Gerhardt [00:46:55]:
People love that.

Jason Lemkin [00:46:56]:
Yeah, I don't think I could do that. But I think the best SaaS organizations, you've got to learn how to have a sales head, a marketing head and a post sales head all report to you, all of them. And I know you don't want, you just want one. And maybe you do two, do two, one on ones a month rather than four or whatever, but you got to suck it up and own those as discrete functions or your company will not be as successful. Learn it, embrace it. Not everything you're going to be in love with, that's part of the job. And have. If they're each direct reports, you're going to come to a better answer.

Jason Lemkin [00:47:25]:
If it sometimes makes sense to consolidate this function. Right. Rather than fleeing from a management structure. It's just not fun because you're working at the beach, right. The micro one which maybe I thought it was getting it, which it wasn't. It's a really minor thing. And I know there are many examples in b, two c where this works. One of my old co founders is doing this, but in true sas, I never see the cmo to CRO work.

Jason Lemkin [00:47:47]:
Don't do this. Guys that are listening or watching, don't do. Or if you do do it. If you do it, be effin self aware. Effing self aware. So many marketers, not so many. A subset of cmos or marketers think sales is more glamorous, it pays better, it gets more attention, and they want to jump the. Not everyone, not most, but some want to jump the fence right to the other neighborhood, to the sales side.

Dave Gerhardt [00:48:08]:

Jason Lemkin [00:48:09]:
Here's the. There's so many issues with this that we could have a whole podcast on it, but there's a profound one to. If you want to do that, if you want to jump the fence, ask someone you trust. Ask a VP of sales you trust. How are you going to hire the reps? I don't know a single aggressive AE that wants to work for a CMO. None of them do. None of them do. They want to work for the Sam blondes and the Brendan Cassidys and the whomever.

- Transcript Truncated -

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