Welcome to Episode 198! Maria Pergolino is the CMO @ Anaplan, the company that allows you to accelerate decision-making with effective planning. Anaplan had a wildly successful IPO earlier this year after raising over $299m in funding from the likes of Meritech, Salesforce Ventures, Shasta, DFJ Growth and more top names. As for Maria, prior to Anaplan, Maria was Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and Sales Development at Apttus, where she directed go-to-market strategy, sales development, customer advocacy, demand generation, strategic events and communications initiatives. She also has held leadership positions at Marketo, Shunra Software (acquired by Hewlett-Packard), and Chubb Ltd. It’s also important to note, Maria is renowned for building world-class teams that drive growth, product differentiation, and category development.  She’s also been a top-rated speaker at SaaStr Annual and SaaStr Europa!

In Today’s Episode We Discuss:

* How Maria made her way into the world of B2B marketing? What were her biggest lessons from the days of Marketo?

* How does Maria balance between instinct driven decision making vs data-driven in B2B marketing? Is there anything wrong with instinct driven? How can marketers confidently back up their thesis with substantive proof? How does one successfully sell that to leadership?

* Maria is famous for rallying teams around her ideas, what has Maria found to be core to the success in gaining this collective approval and excitement? What is the right way to approach the marketing portfolio of strategies as a whole? What channel or segment is Maria currently most excited for?

* How does Maria evaluate the current event landscape in terms of effectiveness? Are we in a B2B event bubble? How can companies determine whether this is the right strategy for them? Would Maria agree with Joe Chernov, “To do events, you have to have an appetite for losing money?” What does Maria and her team do to get the most out of events?

* What does the term “marketing playbook” really mean to Maria? What does Maria mean when she suggests that marketers can let their own playbook get in the way? Why does Maria think it is absurd for there to be misalignment from sales and marketing?

Maria’s 60 Second SaaStr:

* What does Maria know now that she wishes he had known at the beginning?

* Who does Maria believe is killing it in B2B marketing today?

* Advice commonly stated in SaaS that Maria disagrees with?

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Jason Lemkin
Harry Stebbings
Maria Pergolino


Harry Stebbings: Hello and welcome back to the official SaaStr Podcast with me, Harry Stebbings. It would be great to hear your thoughts and feedback on the show. You can do that on Instagram at HStebbings1996 with two bs. It would be great to see you there. However, to our episode today, and I’m so proud to welcome one of the hailed CMOs of our day in the form of Maria Pergolino, CMO at Anaplan, the company that allows you to accelerate decision making with effective planning.

To date, Anaplan have raised over $299 million in funding from the likes of Meritech, Salesforce Ventures, Shasta, DFJ Growth, and more incredible names. As for Maria, prior to Anaplan, Maria was Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and Sales Development at Apttus, where she directed go to market strategy, sales development, customer advocacy, demand generation, strategic events, and communications initiatives. She also held leadership positions at Marketo, Shunra Software, which was acquired by Hewlett-Packard, and Chubb Limited.

It’s also important to note, though, that Maria is renowned for building world class teams that drive growth, product differentiation, and category development. I do also have to say a huge thank you to–who else–but the wonderful Mr. Jason Lemkin for the intro to Maria today. I really do so appreciate that.

Now without further ado I’m thrilled to hand over to Maria Pergolino, CMO at Anaplan. Well, Maria, it is absolutely fantastic to have you on the show today. A big hand to Jason Lemkin for the intro. Thank you so much for joining me today, Maria.

Maria Pergolino: So happy to be here. Thank you.

Harry Stebbings: I would love to kick off today with a little bit about you. Tell me, how did you come to make your way into the wonderful world of SaaS and really come to be one of the most well-known and public CMOs of our day, now as CMO with Anaplan?

Maria Pergolino: That’s a big question. I appreciate it and very kind. I think that the way that I arrived to where I am today is just a really big focus on my discipline. I am a passionate marketer. I then have moved through some great organizations. That’s come from, I think, my discipline in marketing and really understanding how to size a market, how to understand where opportunity is. I’ve fallen in love with B2B marketing, where you’re marketing to other organizations, often trying to solve big problems that are going to have a big impact on business, society, all of the things that we care about. I love what I do. I just keep taking challenge after challenge. I love it.

Harry Stebbings: I love that kind of go-getter approach. I do want to kick off today with one of my favorite conversations, actually. One of my kind of nerdy passion projects, which is decision making. If marketers are accused of anything it’s being maybe just slightly intuition-based in their decision making. Maria, starting on this, can I ask, is there anything fundamentally wrong with instinct-driven decision making in kind of B2B marketing?

Maria Pergolino: I think this is such a good question and I think one that is hard to tackle even if we were to take a day. Our instincts are good. That’s why we think about instincts as a positive thing. Often, they are in a great direction. I don’t want to, when somebody has a gut feeling, it’s often important and something that should be explored. We often use that to create a strategy. Strategy is the most exciting part of marketing. To me, marketing is the front of the ship. It is the part that the outside of the company sees and it is what provides direction for the entire organization. It’s definitely the voice.

What you see from great marketing organizations is great strategy. What then I think gets people into trouble is then using that gut to say this is then how we’re going to move forward. This is how we’re gonna execute. The problem with that is is that the thing that really connects strategy with execution is a plan. Without that plan you can’t come up with the metrics that you’re gonna measure success with. You can’t come up with targets or forecasts of what you’re going to achieve. You end up just doing a bunch of things. You may have a great strategy and there may be some great intuitive points but how do you know if it’s working? I think that in order to have great decision making you have to have a great plan.

Not to jump the gun a little, but it’s what brought me to my new organization. I have been passionate about that plan. I did not know that there was a company out here trying to solve that. To me, Anaplan was what was going to really make it that I could master my discipline because it was gonna allow me to connect that strategy to those tactics.

Harry Stebbings: If we agree then that there’s kind of a role for intuition-based decision making, if we kind of also agree that there’s a role for, as you kind of mentioned, that kind of metric-driven approaches too, is there a way that marketers can make better decisions that they can actually confidently back up with substantive proof?

Maria Pergolino: Yeah. One, I think that when you come up with that plan there’s not one right way. That’s the exciting part about marketing. You can use some of that intuition. You just need to make sure that the things that you’re gonna move forward with get you to the net of your strategy. You want to come up with, “Hey, we’re gonna go conquer this market,” and “We’re going to become the leader,” and “We’re going to,” whatever it is that your organization is trying to do. You come up with a set of those tactics but really use a discipline to understand if you do those things, are they gonna equal what you wanna do.

Then it gets even more interesting because you may look at that list of things and it may be 100 things. Maybe you only have staff to do 20 of them. How do you then alter that plan? Maybe it’s that there’s a passion in one particular area. I think where the intuition piece both helps and hurts us is that not having one right way. Instead you can say, “Hey, I’m gonna do whatever this thing is.” Something Jason and I talked about is that you shouldn’t just have a single path to success. If your CEO comes and says they’re passionate about some, let’s say, they really want to do radio and it’s just not what you’ve done before. It’s not that that’s wrong.

As a marketer you can say, “I’m gonna make this the tactic,” and you can build a great plan around that. You just may need to round it out with other things. You may need to add in other pieces to achieve up to that strategy. Being able to put that together is what you need. It’s not that the intuition’s wrong, it’s how we then organize it, put it together, and create a full marketing net to get us to that success.

Harry Stebbings: I mean I absolutely love that kind of plasticity and flexibility to the plan. Can I ask, though, I’m always a big believer in focus. How do you think about applying focus to the plan itself, the strategy? When is too many tactics maybe a tactic overload?

Maria Pergolino: Yeah. This is something that I think every marketing department struggles with. People get excited. There’s a new technology, a new vendor, a new piece of collateral, something that you wanna use. You’ve been implementing something. You’re getting tired of that message and so you want to switch to something new. It is often that repetition in message, the repetitions in tactic that creates that voice and makes it something that’s lasting with our prospects, with our customers. I think we’re very often too fast to move on, too fast to add in another strategy or tactic.

The hard part about that is as the CMO you don’t want to be sitting there telling your team, “No, we can’t do this new thing.” But I often think that less is more and that we do have to set the priorities and then reward the success of a particular tactic, not the volume of tactics. Just a simple example, I’ve watched companies do 10 webinars getting 100 people on each one or one amazing webinar that they spend time building and getting 1000 people on that one. I think when you look at the net amount of work, way easier to do the second but we end up just going on volume and doing that, “Let’s do the ten.” I think we do have to help. When we are creating that plan I think we do have to make sure that we’re not adding too much in and having confidence in the fewer tactics that we pick.

Harry Stebbings: I’m sorry, going off schedule but I’m just always too intrigued to ask. You said there about kind of the time that it does take sometimes for messages to hit and the repetition required. How do you think about the balance between that time that we know it takes for messages to hit and resonate with an audience versus when something’s not working? How do you think about the balance between the two?

Maria Pergolino: Yeah. We have watched things that we would’ve said would never work still end up being successful. Somebody brought up an example the other day, the term desktop publishing. That at the time it was so confusing when that was first being used. It didn’t make sense to people. They didn’t think it would stick. Now we’re all familiar with that term and it was one that had quite a life to it. I think you can make almost anything stick. If you and I just come up with something with no thought and put it out to the market, I mean that’s not gonna be successful. If it is it’s just pure luck. But when you do good market research, when you have done some testing and then you land on a message, I don’t think we should be scared to stick on that and move forward.

Now if the strategy changes, if we say, “Hey, that’s not a market we want to go into,” or the company has some change that makes it that that strategy changes, it’s okay to then change that message, change the tactics that go with it. Otherwise if you have a message that you believe in, there’s no reason to pivot.

Harry Stebbings: I completely agree there. In terms of kind of the strategy and the tactics that we employ, a core element of that is kind of rallying support of your team. We had Joe Chernov on the show the other day and he said that kind of that’s where you especially have excelled in terms of kind of building that army of support around you. I’m really interested. What have you found to be most successful in rallying yours and other teams and stakeholders behind you?

Maria Pergolino: I should be very fair. Joe is an amazing marketer. I appreciate his kind words and support there. I think it’s a challenge for all of us. Marketing is hard. Everybody has an opinion on it. You can implement such an exciting thing. It can be tied to that plan that we talked about. Everybody has a, they like this color, they like this font, they like this image, they like this previous campaign. What I try to do first is make sure that people understand that the success is in the repetition, not in the tactic. Let’s say you and I start a company. We come up with a tagline, and half the team loves it, the other half the team does not like it. The reality is it doesn’t matter. What matters is the repetition across everybody. It is in that reuse and that recognition that creates the success, not whether you like it or not. Making sure people understand that, I think, is very important.

I think beyond that it’s really easy to rally a team when the team’s feeling successful. You can tell I have a strong opinion. I go forward with some big ideas. It’s hard to get support of those sometimes. When they work and when there’s lots of success that comes to them, the team then rallies around that. If you create a winning situation, nobody argues the strategy of the coach when they win the Superbowl. I think just making sure that you are aligning to success is something that really does help rally.

Finally, and one that we often miss, is what I always call, and I need to find a better phrase for this, but what I call marketing your marketing. It’s about communication. You have to let people know, not just the strategy but what is the plan to that. You have to make sure that that’s not just available one time when you present it, but all the time so people can refer back to it. Then you need to make sure that you’re highlighting that. I say anything needs to be, that we do needs to be celebrated three times. When we plan for it, when we’re doing it, and after we complete it. It’s just in that consistency and highlighting what you’re doing and why it’s working or why we’re continuing to do it that I think allows for that.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah. Absolutely. No, I couldn’t agree. I love the marketing your marketing. I think you should coin that one. I do want to ask, in terms of the strategies themselves, you’ve been incredibly early on a number from ABM to the conference craze when it was actually called user events when you started. Tell me, and I have to give credit to Joe Chernov for this one. He asks, “How have you developed this nose for the future?” Let’s start with that.

Maria Pergolino: I have been lucky to have been a part of or started a number of trends in marketing. I think a lot of that comes from just being very hands on in the marketing. My CEO has mentioned the word inspection before. He means it in totally a positive way. To be involved, know what’s happening, have an idea of everything that’s working and not working on the team. That’s not micromanaging. It’s not telling everybody what to do but creating an awareness of what’s happening. I think there’s lots of ways to do that but think the first thing we think about is reporting. I would say that reporting is the aggregate. It doesn’t tell the whole story. Choose one campaign. Choose one rep. Really dig in and see what’s happening. Get a real true sense of, for an individual, for a specific customer, how they are learning about the company, how they’re getting a sense of your brand. I think that really helps spot trends.

I think beyond that we trade some of the trends. Part of what I set as a goal for the team is to be award-winning. That’s not out of ego to have some award. It’s about this idea of giving back and sharing what’s working and not working. It’s part of why I’m on this call today. I have found a true gift in even being able to leverage on a plan, like how I now can show off that plan. I share that with people the same way I shared the cool things we were doing in marketing operations when I was at Marketo, or on the events side when I was working at Apttus, as a way to share back with my peers. When a group of people, Joe, who you’ve mentioned, is one of those that shares frequently. Heidi at Engagio, Matt at Everstring, all of these marketers that I worked with at Marketo or who were in the marketing automation ecosystem at the time. We’ve all really created this obligation to ourselves to share what’s working and what’s not. That’s ultimately what’s created the trends, I think because people then take those ideas and move them forward.

I would encourage every marketer to really take it as part of their responsibility to see what’s working. Share something that seems basic. Think about when you go to an event how many times you’re like, “I want to see some cool trade show ideas or some cool swag ideas or some cool email idea,” and you go to the internet looking for those. The only way you find them is by people sharing. Please encourage everybody on the call and anybody that you talk to to share what they’re doing because that’s how those trends start.

Harry Stebbings: No, I couldn’t agree with you more in terms of that kind of openness and collaboration. We mentioned the events there. When we have spoken before you’ve said to me that events are not dead. It’s funny you said they’re not dead. I’d say they are too alive that it’s actually a bubble and maybe even a problem, so to speak. How do you evaluate the current event thinking and landscape in the sea of events that we have?

Maria Pergolino: Yeah. I have specifically focused the work that I’ve done in category creation in places where there is a fundamentally better way to do something. When we think about this on the consumer side we think about brands like Keurig, who gave us a new way to make coffee, or Uber and Airbnb, who gave us a new way to travel. When you think about that on the B2B side, brands that probably come to mind are Salesforce or Workday or Service Now. The type of marketing that you have to do in category creation, not by my opinion, but by craft, by textbook, is really around education. That education needs to come, think about how you heard about Uber. It probably was not from an ad or from their website. It was somebody saying to you, “Hey, this is something cool I’m using. Don’t get in that taxi line. Check this out.” Only once that category rescaled did you then start seeing that broad brand marketing like on TV.

I think I am specifically attracted to those challenges but on the B2B side. With that what you need is a lot of education. Events are really great for education. They’re an amazing way to get people to put aside their day to focus on learning about something from their peers, from other individuals. In my view there is absolutely a right time for events, especially as it ties to education.

There’s also wrong times. There’s also like if we all know how to do something, doing an event on how to do it may be five percent better, maybe that’s not a great way. Then you see companies having events that maybe aren’t as fruitful or that are focused more on things like vanity, like who is the big speaker names, things like that.

Harry Stebbings: No, totally. I think you’re absolutely right there in terms of that. When we chatted, though, you said that don’t you think of specific channels as broadly less or maybe more effective? Can I ask, what do you mean by this, maybe in relation to events?

Maria Pergolino: Yeah. I think you could today say, my CEO could walk into the marketing department and say, “We’re never gonna do an event again,” and this company or any company could be successful. Tomorrow you could say, “Maria, you cannot have a website,” and the company could still be successful. It’s not that any one channel has to be leveraged. It’s that you have to put a marketing mix together that leverages some channels to success. We get so caught up in a certain way of doing marketing but really, where I see companies move forward, and if you think about some of the brands that may come to mind on the B2B side, the ones that have been successful, they probably don’t do everything from a marketing side perfect. They probably don’t run perfect events and have a perfect website and have a perfect partner strategy. It’s normally that they’ve chosen a few things to anchor on that they do just really well.

I think when I think back to Marketo, people knew that purple and knew that brand. It’s because it’s something we didn’t change. We’ve consistently reinforced and leveraged. The conference we did there, it’s something that we made a major investment in, it used up a big chunk of the budget. We didn’t peanut butter it and spread it across and kind of do it halfway. I look at other brands that use virtual events and spend months getting a virtual event together to great success, but what they give up to have that is maybe doing an event or some other tactic. It’s not the individual tactic that matters. It’s really just doing it to great execution.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah. Remaining on event before we discuss the financial kind of commitment towards it, how do you and your team really look to get the most out of events?

Maria Pergolino: I am passionate about events and just jumping ahead to the second part of your question a little bit, but to me they bring together that education, with often very great lead generation, with a brand presence. The key to it is differentiation. When we go to a show the goal of the team is not just a lead number or just scans or whatever the companies may look at. It is one, to differentiate across all of the other brands. If there are 20 sponsors in a room, if somebody was to walk out and say, “Tell me two or three sponsors you saw,” that we were consistently named at every one of them. That’s getting, making sure we’re leveraging that brand presence as a part of it. If you’re one of the other 20-some that they don’t remember, then maybe that wasn’t a great sponsorship for you if you are counting that brand presence.

I think beyond that I don’t think the success of an event comes after the event. If your strategy is to go to events, stand there, wait for people to walk up to you, sitting in a chair behind a booth and then follow-up with some emails from the event, you probably shouldn’t spend your money that way. Instead, we spend a lot of time trying to understand who’s going to attend, setting meetings with the people that we wanna see there, making sure that we’re engaging our customers. As a first and foremost at Anaplan, our customers come first so making sure that we let them know we’re gonna be there. We find interaction points with them that we’re making our office or our space available to them. All of those things are what is needed for the success of the event. It takes a big effort to do that. I appreciate all the brands that don’t take that approach because it allows us to differentiate even more.

Harry Stebbings: For sure. No, I completely agree on that differentiation and the benefits of it. We mentioned the kind of financial commitments towards events. As a channel, Joe Chernov, again referring to him, says on the show that to do events you have to have an appetite for losing money. Always blunt from Joe. How should one think about resource allocation towards events? Are there any nuances?

Maria Pergolino: You know what I appreciate from Joe there in like that idea of if you’re doing events you’re losing money, my guess is Joe would not proclaim himself as a great event marketer. Probably not where his passion lies. He is really quite a master at leveraging marketing technology. I know he’s put a lot of effort into account-based marketing. What I love about that is what you’re probably not gonna see is him go do a major event and throw all of his marketing into that. He’s owning what he knows and he’s putting those tactics forth. I would suggest that every marketer really think about what the personality of your company is, what the strength of your team is, and leverage those tactics. If events aren’t one of them, it is just okay. Your CEO or your board is probably gonna be happier if you’re focusing on the tactics that are the right ones for your organization. We all sell different things to different audiences at different times. It makes sense that not every tactic is the right one for all of us. That’s just okay.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah. No, I couldn’t agree more. I love that kind of playing to your strengths, so to speak. I do want to though finish and before we move into the quickfire round discuss the marketing playbook, kind of often the hailed term in this world. Starting super broadly, what does the term marketing playbook really mean to you, Maria?

Maria Pergolino: You can take marketing playbook as two ways. If you’re coming into an organization with a playbook of what’s worked for you in the past, I don’t know that it’s an overly positive term. I think our CEOs, our boards, our employees have a vision for the company that may not align to your past playbook. You want to be careful about counting on what’s worked before to create the success of your future. You just heard us talk about trends. I think that even adds to the complexity. I don’t think we all come with one playbook. I do think we want to play to our strengths but there’s a balance there.

I think if we’re talking about a playbook though around how we execute, how do we have a great event, how we put together a plan, what our planning looks like, how we make decisions, I think then a playbook can be super powerful and ultimately be what differentiates our organization.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah. No, I couldn’t agree more in terms of what differentiates the organization. In terms of SaaStr Paris, kind of reverting back to the events and integrating it with this, you said on stage that marketers can let their own playbook get in the way. I was so intrigued by this. What was the thinking here and where do you often see marketers making mistakes regarding the playbook getting in the way?

Maria Pergolino: Yeah. That’s that first part there I was talking about. If you walk into, this is, and Jason Lemkin and I have talked about this in the past. If I walk in and I say to my CEO, “Here’s the ten things I do and I promise they’ll work,” and he says, “I really want these other two.” Let’s say you disagree. What you’re gonna end up doing is spending all your time trying to run out those ten things and proving to that CEO why your playbook is the right playbook when really that’s not what he’s looking for. He’s looking for you to make his vision a reality and maybe take those other two things and make them a success.

This happened specifically to me. I had a Chief Revenue Officer that I just appreciated so much, had great vision. But he came with an idea that I just, it wasn’t in my playbook. It wasn’t what I wanted to do. To get really specific, he wanted to put together a certification program that was available to everybody. It was gonna be complex. It was gonna be technically difficult to do the way he was looking for. I went home and I really thought about it over a weekend. I decided that, you know what, I’m gonna put my playbook aside. I’m not gonna let it get in the way. We are gonna execute it as if it is my own idea. We executed it as a team. I stood behind it. He stood behind it. We made it something that was a key part of the success of the company, something that grew beyond marketing, almost became the foundation of our university and certification programs broadly for the organization. He was a champion for it and for marketing the next five years that we were there together.

It was really losing that ego and putting my playbook aside and really hearing somebody else’s idea that ultimately created not only my personal success, but I think alignment between the teams as well as the success of a program. I would caution people. Any time you’re sitting there trying to prove your CEO wrong or saying like, “Let’s get the data,” maybe not a great approach.

Harry Stebbings: You mentioned though the conversation with your CRO. I’m really interested, and this really is the final question. I could talk to you all day about this but final question before the quickfire round. What is the optimal relationship between the Chief Revenue Officer and the CMO, Chief Marketing Officer?

Maria Pergolino: Yeah. I think that is should be a great relationship that has some built in tension so that each are challenging each other. Ultimately, the relationship between the CMO and the CRO should be the best in the organization because it’s the two groups that have the exact same goal. It’s so specific in that like you’re both trying to maximize revenue. Marketing is, when you look at a B2C organization, there’s likely not a direct sales group. It’s just either through eCommerce or retail. It’s really marketing that is setting that strategy and rolling out those pieces. In B2B you get this new thing which is direct sales, which then is responsible for that one to one selling.

The reason you don’t just do it all in direct sales and not have marketing is marketing creates a great efficiency in the front. It creates brand affinity. It creates longer-term customers. The two need each other. It’s not that one is better than the other. It’s that both need to be there. Marketing creates an efficiency for sales that is critical for us to be profitable. Recognizing that and that great symbiotic nature of the two, the tension comes in and where does that efficiency stop? When do you stop having marketing and when do you have more direct sales? That’s something each organization has to work on together. It’s something that should be an active dialogue.

I always say if all we’re trying to do is get to the Starbucks down the street, if that’s that shared goal, who cares really about exactly how you get there? Why not just walk there together? Ultimately that’s what sales and marketing is doing. If you were to say things like challenges with marketing and finance or marketing and IT, to me those are groups that maybe have some different goals and it should be maybe a little harder. But the idea of sales and marketing alignment being an issue is just almost absurd to me.

Harry Stebbings: I mean my word, I feel like that really is a book or a blog post really in the making there. There’s so much to discuss. But I do want to move into my favorite element of any interview, being the quickfire round, Maria. I say a short statement and you give me your immediate thoughts. About 60 seconds per one. Are you ready?

Maria Pergolino: Yeah. Let’s do it.

Harry Stebbings: Tell me a moment in your life that’s maybe served as an inflection point and changed the way you think.

Maria Pergolino: I think there was an amazing time at Marketo where I just had a rare opportunity to work with some incredible marketers that many people have probably heard of. Jon Miller, Matt Edmondson, Heidi Bullock. It was a great group of people and we challenged each other. We argued, we won together. Everything was so amazing and it really has created a great path for me today.

Harry Stebbings: Who is killing it in SaaS marketing today and why do you think so?

Maria Pergolino: Off the top of my head, I just mentioned Jon Miller who is the CEO of Engagio. I think they’re just doing a tremendous job in creating an opportunity and serving a need of marketers that is critical.

Harry Stebbings: Advice in SaaS you most commonly hear given that you disagree with?

Maria Pergolino: I’d have to say probably just about having to perfectly report on anything. I would argue that that plan and forecasting and all of those pieces that we don’t talk about in marketing is probably, I mean shoot, I just chose a company, I could have picked any company in the Valley and I chose Anaplan to help me get better at this because I thought this was the most important part. I think it’s something that we barely talk about and instead we report on everything that’s happened after the fact. I would argue that maybe who cares about the history, let’s think about what’s going forward.

Harry Stebbings: Penultimate question, what makes that truly special CMO?

Maria Pergolino: I treat my craft the way I imagine a surgeon treats his discipline. I’m constantly learning. I take that education very seriously. My personal time is often spent with others pushing the industry. I think that truly special CMO, we’re never perfect leaders. We’re never perfect marketers. I think really trying to understand what makes success in your discipline is something that is special and something that you can then give back to the organization and team.

Harry Stebbings: Then final one, and probably my favorite of all. What do you know now that you’d wish you’d known at the beginning? This can be at the beginning of your time in marketing, at the beginning of your time with Marketo, at the beginning of dot dot dot.

Maria Pergolino: Yeah. The thing I wish I knew in the beginning, you know what, I would have to say that I didn’t maybe see the potential for myself that was in me. I limited myself. I owe a lot of great people a lot of the credit for allowing me to have done as much as I had. I wish that I had seen more of that in myself and set goals bigger because I think I would have been able to impact B2B marketing, SaaS in a bigger way sooner if I had. I appreciate deeply all of the people. I mean you mentioned Joe. I’ve mentioned a few, Jon and Matt, just that have had huge impacts. I wish that I had seen more of that in myself but I appreciate those that have helped me so much.

Harry Stebbings: Maria, as I said, I heard from so many people what a truly inspirational CMO you are. I knew it was going to be a special episode but it’s absolutely blown me away. Thank you so much for joining me today. I really have so enjoyed it.

Maria Pergolino: This has been fun and I just love hearing some of Joe’s thoughts. You’ve talked to so many great people in the industry. Thank you so much.

Harry Stebbings: What an incredible guest Maria was to have on the show. If you’d like to see more from her you can find her on Twitter at InboundMarketer. Likewise, we’d love to see you behind the scenes here at SaaStr. You can find us on Instagram at HStebbings1996 with two bs. It really would be great to see you there. As always, I so appreciate all your support and I cannot wait to bring you a very special episode next week.


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