Suku Krishnaraj is a seasoned senior executive with extensive experience scaling high growth SaaS technology companies, startups and big companies alike. Having been in charge of product management, product strategy & all aspects of marketing, including building high-velocity digital and demand generation models, M&A and P&L roles at successful early-stage startups like AppFog as well as public companies like HP, CenturyLink and SolarWinds, Suku is a dynamic and flexible leader for scaling businesses.
As CMO of Sumo Logic, Suku is currently leading & transforming GTM strategy, Demand Generation, Field Marketing, Product Marketing, Partner Marketing & Digital Marketing among others. He is building a winning Marketing team and inspires the team to push the envelope every single day
This episode features an interview with Suku Krishnaraj, CMO of Sumo Logic. Suku is a seasoned senior executive with extensive experience scaling growth at companies like AppFog, HP, CenturyLink, and SolarWinds. On this episode, Suku explains his strategy for driving revenue for the Machine Data Analytics pioneer that went public earlier this year, why the CMO’s primary job is to solve problems, how to never lose sight of marketing’s role in driving revenue, and the importance of having empathy for your customers.
- The CMO’s job is to drive revenue. Never lose sight of that fact. Keep your eyes on the ball and don't get caught up in vanity metrics
- Buyers are all at a different stage. You have to educate and nurture them through their journey by looking at the entire customer life cycle. That means a complete end-to-end mapping that bridges your sales and marketing teams
- Have empathy for your customers. Think of the buyer’s journey, and try and fix their experience with consistent messaging and a consistent experience, and your results will be there in the long run
The CMO’s job at the end of the day is to solve problems…Demand gen is one of those things, but I really think of my role as growth. I partner with the CRO and our chief customer officer to drive growth in respect to two things: How do we acquire net new logos–net new customers at scale–and how do we continue to market to our existing install base.
Marketing is, if not to drive revenue, I don't know what it is. Ultimately it's about closed-won revenue.
I think one of the things that a lot of marketers miss is that ultimately the folks that are going to win understand how to drive empathy, emotions, and have a lot of care for the folks that you're trying to market to. What is it that they want? You're going to win if you deeply understand what they care about, what they do, and if you show a lot of empathy.
Our job as CMOs is to drive revenue. Never lose sight of that fact. Don't go for vanity metrics. Keep your eyes on the ball with revenue, which is the hardest thing to do for a lot of CMOs, but do that with the help of your counterpart in sales.
For any playbook, you have to adapt it to your situation. And the only way to do that is fail often, fail fast. I have several weekly meetings with different groups in the team and they know they have to give me bad news at the beginning. If they're not failing, it's a red flag for me.
(5:12) Reflections on the Journey to “Graduate” to a Public Company
- When Suku joined the company five years ago, they were missing a lot of the systems and processes to do B2B marketing at scale
- They had the right team in place and now they’re armed to go after a quickly-growing market
- Today’s day-to-day job is still the same: the CMO’s role is to solve problems and to lay out a strategy that drives revenue in tight alignment with e-staff and the CRO
(7:37) Sumo Logic’s Go-to-Market Strategy & Marketing Org Structure
- They sell to the smallest companies up to the biggest companies, as all companies are going through a digital transformation and have a need for more data-driven insights
- Within those companies, they have three target personas (operations, security, and business analysts) which encompass 15-23 different titles
- They primarily market to the SMB segment using digital marketing tactics (via digital advertising and the website)
- The enterprise go-to-market strategy is largely account-based, which includes digital events, advertising, and field marketing
- Recently brought on a leader to run self service, which is a huge land-and-expand opportunity for Sumo Logic
- A partner marketing team manages the ecosystem of partners Sumo Logic closely aligns with
- Product marketing adopted a persona-based marketing approach
- A dedicated competitive marketing function helps Sumo Logic navigate their highly-competitive market
- Brand, AR, PR, and corporate events all roll up to the Chief Communications Officer, a separate but parallel function
(12:57) Marketing is a Revenue Generating Team
- The marketing team at Sumo Logic is a revenue marketing team
- Suku aligns very closely with the CRO to solve revenue challenges together
- Marketing’s ultimate job is to drive revenue; other KPIs like MQLs don’t matter if you’re not working cross functionally to drive closed-won revenue
- Cross-functional campaigns is where they see the majority of their success
(14:53) Sumo Logic’s Quarterly Campaign Strategy
- On a quarterly basis, they launch cross-functional campaigns that target a specific market segment and persona
- A cross-functional team owns the campaign and meets on a regular cadence to work toward a quarterly revenue goal for either net-new acquisition or expansion within the existing install base
- Stakeholders usually include digital marketing, demand gen, product marketing, and brand. Together, they define the messaging, target market, channels, and tactics that define the campaign, which ultimately extends over to the sales team as well
(16:37) Self-Service Motions vs. Enterprise Motions
- These two market segments are completely different beasts
- The self-service motion is very focused on scaling the top of the funnel primarily through digital advertising, search marketing, social media, and email nurture campaigns
- The website is very personalized to the various personas who fit the target audience for their self service offerings
- The enterprise motion is account-based and is calibrated around intent signals across their ideal customer profile (ICP)
(20:08) Suku’s Uncuttable Budget Items
- Digital: This not only drives net-new acquisition, but also brand loyalty
- Enterprise account-based marketing: Sumo Logic has a very sticky product, so they see great success with land-and-expand efforts. Account expansion and cross-sell motions are very important to them.
- Content: Buyers are all at different stages of the buying process, and they demand just-in-time educational content tailored to their stage.
(26:07) Attribution and Acceleration: The Creative Science of Marketing
- Today’s attribution models are very myopic; first-touch, multi-touch, and account-based attribution start to become meaningless when you think about marketing’s role in accelerating pipeline, not just acquiring pipeline
- As a CMO, you have to paint a blueprint and look at the customer journey in aggregate and pick touch points with your buyer that you will measure
- Adopting this approach takes some calibration and requires trust and a relationship between marketing and sales — not just at the CMO/CRO level, but in lower management as well
(35:23) Suku’s Cuttable Budget Item
- Content syndication: Trying to identify the consumers of syndicated content and then nurture them is challenging
(39:57) Quick Hits: Getting to Know Suku
- New shelter-in-place hobby: Road biking and honing his green thumb
- Alternative career: Working with hedge funds. He loves working with numbers, making predictions, and taking bets
- Advice for a CMO: First, never lose sight of the fact that your job is to drive revenue. Don’t get caught up in vanity metrics. Second, fail fast and fail often. This is the only way you can experiment and adapt. Third, think of the buyer’s journey and fix it with consistent messaging and experiences. Your results will show in the long run.
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