As a CMO, you need to build a strong, trustworthy team to help you navigate the new world of marketing and drive the results you want for your company. Building a team for a company is no different. My co-founder Katherine and I often heard successful leaders say, “people are everything”. Now, as we look at the company we have become, we completely understand! Having a great team has been the only way we’ve been able to scale and move our company forward. Why? Because great people equal progress. We’re so excited about the team we’re bringing together (including CMO and VP Customer Success announcements coming soon!) and thought we’d share some of the things we do to ensure we have a great team:
1. We hire in our network: In Aileen Lee’s Welcome To The Unicorn Club: Learning From Billion-Dollar Startups, her research showed that companies with leadership teams who have a history together have built the most successes. Every member of the Allocadia Leadership Team was someone that came from either Katherine or my network. Many came from Crystal Decisions/Business Objects, a Vancouver-based company that scaled to the top of the enterprise reporting software market before being acquired by SAP. Others were clients of ours when we had our marketing services business. By leveraging our networks to find the right people, we know what we’re getting before they join us — awesome people.
2. We built a strong leadership team early: Your leadership team will define what the rest of your team looks like. With them, you will set your company strategy and execute. They will help define who your company becomes and where you go as a company. For Katherine and I, the most important factor in hiring a leadership team is trust. We know we can’t micro-manage or we become a blocker to growth. If we trust our leadership team, we can move quickly and continue to grow. We have confidence that everyone on our team is here for the same reasons we are: to build and create a category leading company that is all about the customer. (Mark Organ, Founder of Eloqua, also wrote about the importance of having a strong leadership team early in How to create a billion dollar category.)
3. We look for cultural fit: When we are hiring new members of the Allocadia team, one of the most important factors we consider is cultural fit. It’s so important to us, we created a “cultural fit” cheat sheet document (similar to core competencies) that we use in interviews. The document identifies traits such as: a) Willingness to dig in and roll up their sleeves, but also able to think big picture and strategize. We need thinkers and doers, rolled into one, at all levels in the organization; b) Must be ready for an entrepreneurial adventure. We need to ensure people are ready for what it means to be in a rapidly growing start up vs a large established business; c) Must be a continuous learner. If people don’t know something today, they need to be driven to learn what they need for the role or company. Our culture has evolved organically and now is inherent to the entire Allocadia team. We’re a family-oriented, passionately customer-focused team, committed to operating a smart, well-run business.
4. We are diligent in the hiring process: While it’s important for a rapid growth company like Allocadia to move fast and be agile, there are some things we try to be fairly strict about. Our hiring process was created to ensure we pick the right people for the right roles. This includes: a) Involving others in the hiring process to get a second opinion. Although sometimes we often listen to our gut; b) Conducting “tests” for new candidates. All sales candidates do a sales demo based on a mock situation, engineers do an engineering test, marketers do a writing test, etc; c) Checking references. I think this one goes without saying!
5. We don’t compromise: When you find the right person for the job, sometimes you need perseverance and patience to bring them on board. This can mean multiple phone calls and meetings over time, but persistence usually pays off. We don’t compromise our vision for the team. This extends to not hiring candidates (or in a more tougher situation letting go current employees) as well. Having great people on your team — everywhere and at every instance — is the only way you will continue to bring on great people and grow a great team. And, it’s the only way a great team stays and builds a great company.
As CEO of Allocadia, I’ve had to learn to lead in a rapidly growing, fast-moving market. And as marketers building Allocadia, we have learned a lot about selling to CMOs: their needs and challenges, and the exciting opportunities that lie ahead in this new Marketing 2.0 world. This Leading in Change: CEO Blog Series is intended to help inspire CMOs and marketing operations to lead and build data-driven marketing organizations.