Since the start of the FINITE podcast in 2019, we’ve had inspiring B2B marketing practitioners across the technology industry discuss truly exciting topics and share their pearls of wisdom. From sales & marketing alignment and enablement, to ABM, personalisation, and the value of marketing theory.
For this episode Alex sat down with Nicole Lindenbaum, VP Marketing at Teampay. Teampay is a SaaS based distributed spend management platform giving companies total control and visibility over spending, while empowering employees with purchasing power. In this episode they discussed marketing strategy when entering a fast-growing startup, what ‘good’ sales enablement and alignment look like, and tools and software to help marketing succeed.
Listen to the podcast below, or find this podcast and our previous episodes here.
Hi Nicole, thanks for joining me today.
Thanks for having me.
I’m looking forward to chatting with you. I know we’ve got lots to talk around sales enablement as a topic, but it’d be great if you could start with a bit of an intro about yourself, your background, and what you’ve done in terms of marketing and other roles up until now.
About Nicole Lindenbaum
Yeah, sure. So I actually started my career completely outside of technology working in theater and after that I went to graduate school and got my master’s in business, and I ended up almost by chance working in B2B technology. I had found a really good marketing role that was a good generalist role that I felt like was going to teach me a lot of things about marketing and fell in love with B2B technology from there.
So I held a few roles that were more on the marketing programs, demand generation side of things. And then I was working for an organization that was shifting its product strategy from different point solutions to one platform and there was a lot of product marketing work to be done there, and there was no one in product marketing at that point. So I sort of moved into that role and then held a couple of product marketing roles at various B2B tech organizations, which ultimately led me to where
I am now at Teampay as the VP of Marketing. So I’ve got the product marketing piece under me as well as the demand gen side. And you know, Teampays a smaller organization that’s growing really fast and it’s really exciting – we’ve seen tremendous success. I was brought on board not too long ago to help build out that marketing team and get demand gen going, get the product marketing message down, all of that kind of stuff.
Cool, so tell us a bit more about Teampay as a product and what it does.
Yeah, so Teampays a distributed spend management platform. We’re helping organizations get better control of the money that’s being spent at their organization. So if you think about the way we used to buy things at a company, it was a very manual process and you know, I’d need to go request something from finance, they would cut a check, put it in the mail and that kind of thing. But now employees are purchasing everything at the ends of the organization.
So I can put anything on a credit card today and finance doesn’t know until the end of the month exactly what was spent. It might be spent out of policy, not because I’m necessarily ill willed or trying to commit fraud. I just don’t know what the policy is as an employee, but the rise of SaaS subscriptions and online ordering has just made it so easy for us to put things on that corporate card and finance sort of has to give you this blank check and have no control.
Teampay is helping companies get that control without impeding on that employee experience. So employees can request funds for a purchase upfront through our rules engine. It’ll get sent to the right person to approve that we can automatically issue the payment and then when the transaction occurs, all of that information gets sent to the accounting system. It’s already got all the information that I need to code it at the end of the month. So I actually don’t even have to fill out an expense report anymore. So as an employee, that’s an amazing experience for me. And finance now has that real time visibility into what’s actually being spent.
It must save so much time for finance as well, right?
Absolutely. They don’t have to deal with that end of month reconciliation anymore. They’re actually just automatically getting all the information that they need from the employees and they don’t have to have awkward conversations because funds are not being misspent and they don’t have to chase me down for a receipt or to find out who bought what and why.
Yeah, makes sense. That’s very cool. And is it like a physical card or a virtual one, or both?
Great question. We offer virtual cards, which could be for that one time purchase or something that’s recurring like a SaaS subscription. We also offer a physical card for employees that are on the go, and a third type of payment that we have is really around purchase orders. So being able to get the upfront controls, one place for an employee to request funds regardless of how finance pays it. And then that purchase order gives finance visibility into what invoices might be coming.
Marketing department at Teampay
Very cool. And so within the marketing team, we were talking a little bit before we started recording, but give our listeners a sense of what marketing looks like. Obviously you’re relatively new to the role yourself, but tell us a bit about the team and what your day to day looks like at the moment.
There’s a lot to be done. So, you know, one of the things that I love about being a Teampay is that the team saw tremendous success with very little investment in sales and marketing. Raised the series A several months ago. And that has led us to build out marketing and sales. And so there’s just so much opportunity to make an impact.
It’s a nice place to be when you know that there’s product market fit and there’s demand, and sales and marketing just gives it the boost, right?
Exactly. The flip side of that opportunity means you’ve really got to be strategic and prioritize what you’re doing because we could literally do everything. So my team right now, I have a demand gen team, which has three people on it. There’s a content marketer and events manager and a director of demand gen. I’m hiring for product marketing right now and product marketing, we’re series A funded, it’s a little bit sooner than you typically see product marketing getting hired.
But that’s because we’re really trying to define this new category within that accounts payable space. We’re not your accounting system. We’re not an expense system. We’re not a procurement system. We’re somewhere in between and we’ve got to do a lot of education and very clear messaging and positioning around that. And then partnerships also report into me. We’ve got a lot of channel relationships and integrations and things.
And that’s with partners, like accountancy firms and those kinds of partners or..
Yeah, it could be. So we’re working with some accounting, I would say consultants that advise companies, but we also are working with different banks. We partner with different accounting software that we integrate into. We’ve got an integration into Slack. So there’s a lot of different ways that that touches. But we’re working on enabling our channel as well as our own direct sales team.
Marketing strategy in a startup
And so you’ve been in this role, is it two months? So how much of that has been, I guess the first month or two is, is it been very much learn and talk to sales and user research and I really foundation laying, versus how much is just being kind of diving in ‘doing’?
Yeah, that’s kind of the sort of internal debate I think around, you know, being in a fast moving startup is you’ve got to really, for marketing, you’ve really got to learn. You’ve got to know the product, you’ve got to know your customers, you’ve gotta understand what the team has and what they don’t have and start to make those more strategic plans.
But at the same time the team could have used marketing six months ago so it’s sort of weighing those things. So there’s certainly been an emphasis on learning and taking the time to really make sure I understand the message and I’ve internalized it and can spit it back out to someone. It’s also been prioritizing which content is coming first, which agency are we going to partner with on what and things like that. But it’s a startup so you gotta roll up your sleeves and produce as well. So it’s all about finding that right balance.
Exactly. Yeah, that makes sense. So let’s talk about sales enablement. I guess first of all, like should we define it and talk a bit about what it is from your perspective almost?
Yeah, and I think sales enablement means a lot of things to different people. And a lot of times I think it gets put into a box of ‘sales onboarding’ when I really think it’s an ongoing activity. I think the goal of sales enablement is to make it as easy as possible for the sales team to do their jobs, reducing any kind of friction that you can from that sales process and helping them to close deals faster, more often. And how can they really shorten that sales cycle and make it really as smooth as possible so they can focus on the selling piece and not on all of the process. And ‘where do I find this?’ And ‘how do I do that?’ Kind of questions that come up.
Yeah, absolutely. And so how does it look at Teampay at the moment? I mean, you’re two months in, there’s lots to do and to prioritise. I think for any marketer even when they’re not two months in is tough. But how are you viewing at the moment? Have you spent a lot of time talking to sales teams and looking at it as a subject and have a full kind of list of things you want to do?
Yeah, we’ve started with almost nothing really. The sales team has done a great job of rolling up their sleeves and building things on their own. But they’ve been doing that with very minimal support from other teams and I benefit from sitting right next to them so I can hear conversations they’re having, they’ll come and ask me for different things that they need, some of which I’ll try to knock out if I can, if it’s really going to impact a deal right then and there, the rest of which is all going onto a list that I have that, I’ve got to figure out the right priorities.
And hiring product marketing will help for a lot of that. I think right now we’re actually partnering with a consultant to build out our sales enablement training for that onboarding piece when there’s a new person, because we’re scaling our sales team really quickly here and we need to make sure we’re not pulling our existing sales team off of the field to enable the new folks. So we’re building out that program right now, which is actually great cause I think it can be reused in a lot of ways.
But then there’s sort of the ongoing training that needs to happen that we don’t have a structure for yet, but we’re going to need one when there’s something new in the product or some new messaging that the team needs to know or some new competitive intelligence that they need to be trained up on. We’ve got to figure out what the right cadence for that is in the right delivery method.
And then we also need to figure out what is that content that they need. And some of that is that external facing content, that they can send to a customer to help close that deal. And some of that is that internal stuff that helps them position a little better. So competitive battlecards, objection handling guides and things like that. And I would say most of that is still just on my to do list and not enabled yet, but hopefully soon.
Yeah, absolutely. So the sales team already existed before you arrived at Teampay. Do they even view sales enablement as a thing that existed? Like what’s their outlook on marketing generally? I think sometimes we see sales teams that almost believe, like they don’t get what marketing does, and they believe that marketing doesn’t even need to exist. And then others who are like, they’re best friends, I think I hear doing the best, they literally do sit opposite each other or they are pretty much sharing a desk, like the definition of sales and marketing alignment. Are they very onboard with this? Do they see the power of it and the potential of it?
Yeah. I actually got one of the greatest compliments in my career last night after I shoved a bunch of work away yesterday to focus on helping one of our sales guys with some content to handle some objections that a customer had around: ‘Do I build a solution myself in-house or do I go and buy?’ Which is a common question that I’ve come across in my career. And so I’ve worked on that kind of thing before, but it’s a little bit different based on the product and the customer. And so the sales person just was like, ‘I don’t know what I ever did without you!’ This is amazing.
So I think I’m very fortunate in having a sales team that’s very open to the support. I think if your sales team is not asking you for things, you’ve probably got a problem. They should be bugging the crap out of you all the time saying they need different things from you. If not, then they really don’t value marketing and you’re probably not aligned on those objectives.
So I’m very fortunate here that we’re aligned and I think that I know sales and marketing alignment comes up a lot for you because it’s so critical in B2B marketing that you’re aligned with those objectives. My entire job is to make sure that that team is really successful, so as long as you can get that message across and actually prove the value by delivering on that, the sales team is going to keep coming to you for things and it’s a great relationship.
Chief Revenue Officer role
Yeah. I guess related to that, what’s your view on, I think more and more I’m seeing the whole Chief Revenue Officer type role, RevOps as a thing. I don’t know whether it’s just another buzz word or something that’s here to stay, but I definitely see the CRO role growing and appearing more and more. I guess you take the view that sales and marketing’s role is to ultimately drive revenue rights. That kind of makes sense that potentially there’s like an overarching function above those as teams. What’s your view on that as a approach and a role?
This might be controversial. I absolutely do not believe in a Chief Revenue Officer role. I find it to be, and again, maybe this is not what you’re looking for in this podcast, but I typically find the people who are in that role have 99% of the time they’ve come from sales and they don’t actually understand marketing.
They’re usually older white men and I think there’s a lot of ego and hubris involved. I think marketing and sales absolutely need to be aligned to be driving towards the same goals, but there’s also a healthy tension that needs to be there too. And I haven’t actually seen it work anywhere. So whenever I’ve encountered that either, you know, through organizations where I know people at that organization or even places that I’ve interviewed, it’s just not really made sense as a model.
I do think there’s an opportunity if your customer success team reports into the Head of Sales, depending on what your support model looks like. If you have a lot of services like implementation services and professional services added on, you probably need a Head of Services. If your implementation is really light. And it’s really just about keeping customers onboard with you and up-sells and renewals then yeah, it’s not so far off from the sales role, but I think there’s fundamentals about marketing that if you’ve only come up through sales, you probably don’t understand.
Yeah, I think I agree with that. That’s my big issue with the role that I keep saying is that everybody, the majority seems to be from a sales background more than a marketing one. And I guess it’s quite unusual to find someone that’s pretty even 50/50 split of sales and marketing anyway. They’re almost two natural different types of person on a very basic level too.
But I guess the argument for it is that you have someone that I guess can own revenue almost. And so there’s someone that’s kind of, I guess in the world of accountability where one person having their name on something does not drive better results.
Yeah. And I would, I would argue back that that’s part of the CEO’s role. Yeah. When I think about marketing under a CRO, marketing then ends up being just a support function for sales. Just taking sales requests, and marketing really should be a more strategic partner. There’s things that are not just about sales that marketing’s doing too that plan. The vision for later that plan, where are we going in the market and I think if you’re just looking at sales, you’re probably not going that far ahead with the vision and so marketing moves away from being a strategic function to just being a support function.
I would also say I rarely just take orders from the sales team. I’m here to help them. If they come to me because they need something, I usually want to ask five or six more questions underneath that to get at what is the real need that they have behind this ask.
Because typically what they’re asking me for is not something that I actually think we should produce, but they are asking me for something because they’re coming up against a pain point or a source of friction and it’s up to me to figure out what’s the right strategic asset to give back to them. 99% of the time it’s not what they actually asked me for. But if I’m under a CRO then I’m going to just be making whatever the sales team asks for, which is maybe not the right approach.
What does ‘good’ look like in sales enablement and alignment?
That makes sense. So what does, I guess within the sales enablement topic, what does ‘good’ look like in terms of setting objectives and the alignment piece? Are there other things that when you’re exploring a sales enablement kind of program, you’ve got a measure of ‘Yeah, we’re achieving this or we’re not’. Where do you expect to see the impact of the results? You mentioned shorter sales cycle, which I think is one of them potentially.
I think it’s one of the harder parts to measure. So demand gen is really measurable, right? How many leads did I get in? How many MQLs did that produce? How many ops, how much revenue? Sales is the most measurable of all things? How much did I sell? Right? Sales enablement is a lot more indirect. So I do think looking at the sales cycle is really important, but you also have to take that with a grain of salt.
So something we’re going through at Teampay right now is we’re rapidly moving up market, which increases our sales cycle. Now I’m working on how do we reduce that? But if I just look at the empirical data to compare it to what we were a few months ago, I’m not going to look very good because we were selling smaller deals that didn’t take as much time. So you also have to really understand what’s behind that data as well.
But I think when I look at a good sales enablement program, my sales team is on message. They’re using the materials that we’ve given them, and they’re able to effectively continue to move their deals forward. So they should be winning more often. They should be winning faster and in a growth company those can be hard to measure. But I think those are really the goals that you want to look at.
Yeah, it’s a challenge with the shifting, going more into the enterprise space and bigger deal sizes. You must weigh your results for the fact that it is a bigger deal size and it’s tricky.
Right? And you actually need different things for sales enablement at that point too. So we sort of talked about this beforehand, but in a smaller sales cycle you don’t need as much content from the marketing team. You don’t need as much competitive intelligence, you just need a few soundbites and those move pretty quickly.
But once you start to move up market and you’ve got different stakeholders, they need messaging tailored to them, your champion needs tools to sell internally to other stakeholders. You need kind of deeper, more bottom of the funnel assets versus those things that are really kind of high level, more vision, more light on the features, things. But you’ve got to actually start showing ROI. You may have to start filling out RFPs, things like that.
So now you’re dealing with procurement and finance and CEO’s and whereas I guess in a smaller company it’s often like an owner themselves with the business or a founder.
It could be an owner, it could be just the one person in finance, things like that. Certainly the more you go up market, the more people are involved. IT gets involved. All kinds of things.
At the larger end. How many people do you think make up a decision making? Name is probably hard to put averages but that you’re going from one or two people up to like between five and 10 I guess?
I think that’s probably where we are right now. You know, those things can grow over time as well. One of the things that we’re looking at too is, who are the influencers that might not be in the room for the deal but could still make an impact. For example, I’m in marketing, I spend a lot of money so Teampay actually I’m one of the power users of the solution and you know, are there things we can be doing to talk to the marketing professionals about Teampay so they can do some internal selling and awareness for us as well. Or office managers buy a lot of things. So that’s another power user of the solution that may not be at the table with the sales person, but if they’ve gotten influenced in advance, that can also help move that deal along.
Yup, that makes sense. So there’s a number of different personas, sounds like you can be targeting or kind of internal champions. Have you ever done any kind of sector specific or industry specific type marketing or do you plan to in terms of how the product solves a problem in an industry that one function might be particularly prone to losing control of spending, for example?
Yeah, I think we’re still trying to understand what the differences would be by sector. So far there aren’t really any, I would say typically for us we’re finding companies that are high growth, need the solution, the processes they had when they were smaller don’t work anymore or they’re going through fundraising or through IPO or they’ve just gone through IPO and they need to be SOX compliant and they need to get their financial controls in place.
No one wants to be the next WeWork right? So that high growth is almost more of our customer base than a specific sector I would say. Companies that are in manufacturing, if they’ve got a huge supply chain and a loading dock and things like that, they probably need that more traditional procurement system at least for that part of their spending.
Maybe not their marketing team spend, but beyond that, it’s sort of wide open. So I do think there’s value in marketing to different segments just because you can tailor the message to speak someone’s language and then they feel like this is for me, even if there’s not necessarily huge differences across that, I think there’s a lot more low hanging fruit that we have right now.
So that’s sort of a leader priority for me. But it’s definitely something that I think is valuable. Everyone wants to feel like the product is made for them. So anything we can do to help get that message across is valuable.
Mapping the buyer journey for sales
How much of this relies on a good understanding of the overall kind of buyer journey and when you’re thinking about the content and the assets that you need to produce for the sales team at different stages, the point in which there’s an objection from someone in particular, do you view it as a buyer journey and kind of break it down in stages and map things out in that kind of structure?
Absolutely. So I have a map of the buyer journey that outlines the different content that we have at each stage. Most of it is highlighted in red that I need to still create this piece. Again being new, but over time I want to see that kind of get a little more fleshed out. And then of course you add things, you learn new things, you find a new use case that you want to do some marketing around. But you have to sort of start with that view of the buyer journey from beginning to end and understand where your gaps are in the content. We also have a dedicated Slack channel just for objections that the sales team hears on a call, in a meeting, over email and they just throw that all in there.
It’s up to me to like take that and turn it into something useful for them. And whether that’s just a quick answer or actually they need a full asset, depends on what the objection is. So you kind of look at where did that fall in the buyer journey? Was it something that was the first call that this person was concerned about or was it happening later? And it really comes down to the fact that they need a lot more education than just a quick soundbite.
It sounds like some of this is quite reactive in terms of at the moment at least like the sales team is saying we need this or I’m kind of run into a barrier with this potential opportunity, but I guess as time goes on hopefully you won’t be having to produce all this off the cuff. It’s kind of the processes evolve and these assets kind of build up and you’ve got them in your toolkit.
I think it comes from both sides. I have a good sense of what I think we need to build and then I add to that list based on what they’re coming to me asking for. Ideally, yes, we at some point, have all the basics in place in terms of content and then it’s really,I think can end up being much more, I wouldn’t say it’s reactive. I would say still strategic about whether we’re finding a new objection or we’re hearing about a new competitor and then you can start to address that. But I think, at the end of the day, marketing still should have a good sense of what needs to happen.
And I think what I’ve seen that’s been really interesting is these things kind of come in waves and I don’t know why that is, but I’ll never have heard of something and then someone brings up this objection or use case or competitor or what have you. And I’ll typically not rush to act on that until I start to hear it a little bit more. But it’s like you hear it once and then you start to suddenly hear it from every sales person that you’ve got and that there’s something there that’s going on. And it’s an interesting phenomenon that I’ve seen with sales enablement.
Scaling sales enablement
How much of this do you think is about scale? And actually I guess it kind of relates to the last question to some extent. Like as these resources build up and as sales teams get used to working with all the assets that you’re creating and things just generally mature as time goes on. Hopefully at the same time like more leads are coming in, the brand is building more awareness, more word of mouth, everything else. Like is this sales enablement really unlocking efficiency in allowing sales and STRs to be more productive and get more done in shorter time frames and manage more deals almost as one person.
I mean hypothetically it should be doing all of that. I mean that’s kind of the goal to drive to, I don’t know if you ever really get there to an end state that’s like everything’s perfect and moving smoothly because again, you might move into a new market or you might have a new feature that comes out and suddenly that makes you competitive with different people than you are competitive with before.
Or it’s actually really complicated to explain that feature to a customer and you’ve got to help the sales team with that message. So I do think there’s always going to be evolutions going on with your customers, with the product itself and things like that that cause you to keep changing. And I think as you scale and get bigger and get more in place, I actually think more people get involved.
So right now it’s sort of just me trying to help the sales team. Right? I think, over time it’s not just marketing or product marketing, but you might also have a pre-sale solutions consultant team and they’re responsible for a different part of enablement.
Your sales ops is responsible for a lot of sales enablement, maybe not the same kind, but it’s all driving towards making that sales engine a lot more efficient. And so some of the work that’s required changes over time. But I think getting people to think beyond just that initial onboarding piece and of sales enablement as an ongoing activity is what’s really important because you’ve got to keep having those touch bases with the team to show them what’s new in the product, coach them on how to talk about it, give them all the materials they need in a way where they understand not just I’ve got this content but this is the right moment for this client for me to give this particular piece of collateral to.
How much of that is about, like I think you said you were still figuring out the cadence of when to do all of these things, but do you have like on a more practical tangible basis, they’re like weekly check-ins with people. Are you keeping an eye on CRM the whole time? I mean obviously it’s pretty easy to just constantly hear objections over the phone and all kinds of things. But how formal is the process right now and is it kind of quite a rigid like agenda you’ve got of keeping in touch with people?
So I think I’m still figuring out exactly what that cadence should be and what that process should be. We have a new sales ops person starting in the next week or two. I’m going to look to, to help me build out what that should look like. As I mentioned, we’re working on building out that onboarding piece now. And then beyond that, some of it is product dependent. I think right now we’ll do ad hoc of when there’s a big new change in the product that we want to coach them on messaging or how to demo and things like that.
We’ll need to set up those sessions and give them, almost a tool kit of all of the information they’re going to need for that new feature as well as when there’s a new piece of content that comes out or a new internal tool, like one of those battlecards about a competitor right now. I think the right approach is when something’s new and available, sit down and have a quick meeting to talk about how they can use it and make sure they really understand that over time that probably turns into a monthly call.
So in my last role I worked with a global sales team and that was really challenging cause I’m trying to keep everyone on the same message using product marketing assets from one place all over the world. And so I’m not there with them in person all the time. We would have monthly sales enablement calls to walk through different competitors, different news in the market, different assets that had come out. So they really understood how they could use everything that was being produced in addition to having check-ins with the local sales teams, on a regular basis that were smaller meetings. So I think some of it depends on the scale and kind of where you are in your journey. I think right now we’ve got enough informal going on but as that team grows, we’re going to have to put more structure in place.
Technology and tools for sales enablement
That makes sense. Are there any tools or technologies you’re using that help this, I mean, I assume you’re using a CRM system and some marketing automation, those kinds of things, but anything specific on the sales enablement side. And can you tell us a bit about the tools you’re using and times that, CRM and marketing automation?
Yeah so our tech stack right now, we’re using Salesforce. We have, HubSpot for marketing automation. Our website is on WordPress. Couple of other tools in the bag as well from a sales enablement perspective. Right now we’ve just finally gotten to the place, no one knows where the content is anymore. So we have a database called notion. It’s a content management system that we use at Teampay for all of our knowledge management. So we’ve added a page in notion that’s where we’re keeping links to all of our content for the sales team. And it could be linking to a landing page or it could be linking to actually the direct asset itself depending on what their need is.
I like the idea of building out basically a knowledge base of, I think that’s a great way of structuring it because you can imagine the sales guy on the phone typing in like an issue and it just pops up.
Yeah. All of that. So that’s working well for us right now. I think down the road we might need a more true content management system to give them the right content. But for now the list is small enough of things that we have that they can find what they need pretty easily through that.
Beyond that, Slack is a big communication channel for us. So it’s just having constant communication through that. I’ve seen some interesting tools on the competition side. Okay. So the last organization I was at was using a company called KLUE for competitive information. But I’ve also seen cran do some interesting things too. I haven’t used them myself. And so today again, I can manage that by just having a Google sheet of some kind or slide that I can share. That’s got all of the information and messaging and data points that they need. But as we grow, as we scale, having a system that can help you structure that information a little bit better, pull market insights and things in there as well, can be really helpful.
Cool. It’s been really interesting talking with you. I think there’s some super practical tips in there and some really interesting stuff. I think my big takeaway is, what you said about if sales on asking marketing for stuff you’re not aligned and you’ve probably got a problem. I think that’s so, yeah, I’ll definitely take with me, but thank you so much for your time and thanks again.
Yeah, thanks. My pleasure.