Ops Cast

Landing & Evolving at your first Marketing Ops Job with AJ Valles

November 22, 2022 Michael Hartmann, Mike Rizzo, Naomi Liu & AJ Valles Season 1 Episode 75
Ops Cast
Landing & Evolving at your first Marketing Ops Job with AJ Valles
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Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we talk about  we are joined by AJ Valles to talk about his journey in different Marketing Ops roles. AJ is currently Senior Marketing Operations Manager at Saviynt. Prior to that he has worked in marketing operations and marketing technology consulting as well as in-house roles. In addition to his “day” job, AJ is also a sports enthusiast and is an NCAA basketball official. 

Tune in to hear: 
- AJ's experience with In-house vs consulting and he how would describe the similarities and differences between the two. 
- How his experience prior to Saviynt set him up for success in his current role. 
- How AJ went from zero to one in a company with no Marketing or Revenue Operations.



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Michael Hartmann:

Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of OpsCast, brought to you by marketing ops.com. Powered by the Mo Pros. I'm your host, Michael Hartmann. Joined today by both Naomi Liu and Mike Rizzo. So we've got the full crew here today. Today we are joined by AJ Valles to talk about his journey in different marketing ops roles. AJ is currently senior marketing operations manager at, Saviynt you're gonna have to correct me if I get it wrong here, AJ. Prior to that, he has worked in marketing operations and marketing technology consulting, as well as in other in-house roles in addition to his day job. And that's in quotes. AJ is also a sports enthusiast and is an NCAA basketball official. So aj, thank you for joining us today. I promise we won't yell at you like those crazed fans.

AJ Valles:

Thank you. Appreciate that. That's much appreciated. And yeah, great, great job on the pronunciation as well. Uh, I've heard probably every other pronunciation, uh, but you got it right on the dot

Michael Hartmann:

All right. Yeah, it happens. You know, even a broken clocks rate twice a day, right? So, all right, so, uh, let's get started here. So, I, I, now, I'm like the whole thing about officiating basketball because now as a parent of teenage boys and seeing, especially at the, the earlier smaller league stuff, like my older two play six man football, my younger's in middle school, and the way that some people, the expectations for officially, like, how did you get into officiating and like, how do you deal with this? And that's like us parents.

AJ Valles:

Yeah, I was so, I wasn't one of the parents, but I was actually one of the. Adult league players that would really kind of talk back to the ref. And that's kind of how I fell into it. Right. So, um, I was playing in an adult league, um, and I, I already, I knew the, the referee from, you know, high school basketball, um, when I was playing. So, you know, gradually, like once you're done playing, you know, unless you're. Playing division one basketball or, or basketball somewhere else. Um, you know, you play in the men's league with, you know, a bunch of your buddies that you played with at high school. So I was actually one of the more, uh, vocal players, you know, in that adult league. So, um, you know, one day he, I was kind of telling him about, you know, how he messed up on a call, um, you know, and he was like, well, if you think it's so easy, why don't you come out here and, and try it out for yourself? So, um, I took him up on that and it was, it was so hard like you. Things are flying by so fast. There's so many things you have to think about, and you have like a split second to really kind of make a decision and process what you just saw with your eyes and either blow the whistle or not. Um, and I could, I just kind of fell in love with that. You know, the first, the first month was rough, right? Like, you're missing calls, people are yelling at you, you're, you're kind of getting a taste of your own medicine. And for me it was just kind of like, Like a way to kind of stay connected to the game and like continue to just kind of get better at officiating and see the game from, you know, a different lens. So it's kind of how I fell into it. Um, that, that was when I was like 20 years old. And, you know, I, I refered high school basketball for about six years. Um, and then it wasn't until 20, the end of 2017, where, um, I went to a camp out in, uh, Dallas. So I had no year in Dallas, right, Mike? Um, it was down in, it was down in Duncanville. Duncanville High.

Michael Hartmann:

Oh yeah. Sure.

AJ Valles:

they host a, a big, big 12 consortium. So all the sort of, uh, you think South Lab College, you think, uh, lone Star, uh, conference, you know, all of the D one sort of conferences in that region as well. They always hold a consortium and that's kind of where you go and sort of get seen by other, um, coordinators, if you will.

Michael Hartmann:

Gotcha. Yeah, that's pretty fun. I mean, I, and it's, you know, for our listeners, we're recording this in November, right? As I think the season's just getting going for NCAA basketball, so I'm sure you're busy these days.

AJ Valles:

Yeah, it started to, the, the schedule started to sort of, you know, get, get sort of, you know, ramped up pretty much.

Michael Hartmann:

All right. Well, so one, you know, let's, let's switch to, you know, your day job, I guess, um, and getting into marketing apps. So one of the things we always find interesting is just how people kind of found their way into a marketing ops role. So maybe now share that other, that journey as well a little bit. Like what were some of the high points, you know, maybe some key points where, you know, you could have shifted from one place to another. Something like,

AJ Valles:

yeah, definitely. So I, I, uh, I graduated with, uh, one career sort of goal set in mind is to work for, you know, one of the sort of major sports teams, right. And, uh, I graduated with a degree in business law. So it was just kind of looking at contracts, making sure. Uh, contract activation is happening, you know, are you fulfilling all of the terms of each one of your sponsor contracts? And that's, uh, a lot of my internship experience was, was really kind of tailored to that. Um, once you actually graduate though, you, you quickly realize that there's only 32 jobs available and, and they're not really available for you cause someone's sort of sitting in that seat. Um, and. It was just kind of a, it was a, it was sort of a crossroads where like, okay, well I can go and wait and, you know, see if something becomes available or take a job as, as a salesperson, you know, at one of these teams. Cuz they're always hiring sales salespeople.

Michael Hartmann:

Oh yeah. I know. They call me all the time.

AJ Valles:

right? Um, so they're always hiring salespeople and it was either, you know, taking a sales job and waiting for something to open up. Or, you know what, what was hot back then is going on Craigslist, and I found this, um, I found this job on Craigslist. Uh, it was a marketing coordinator job. Very generic. It was in commercial real estate. They didn't really mention what the company was. Um, but they did mention sort of the marketing automation tool that they're using. You know, it was called Marketo. I didn't know what it was at the time. You know, I, I, you know, I knew like Constant Contact and MailChip cuz that's sort of what a lot of the teams were using. Um, and we kind of heard that word before. So, um, yeah, I just kind of applied. They brought me in. Um, it was actually a really big, uh, commercial. Company, uh, one of the biggest in the world. It's based out in Canada. Um, so, you know, I took a job there. It was a very generic sort of marketing generalist role, and they had just gotten Marketo. They didn't really know how to use it, and I kind of became the guy that they hired, like go out and figure out how it works. Um,

Mike Rizzo:

I

Michael Hartmann:

So I'm just like, like blown away.

Mike Rizzo:

happening in that

AJ Valles:

and it was funny though

Michael Hartmann:

They just bought Marketo without

Mike Rizzo:

I just

Michael Hartmann:

use it. I'm like

Mike Rizzo:

like a

Michael Hartmann:

just shaking my head.

Mike Rizzo:

My, yeah, my perspective on this is like, um, uh, my wife has worked in commercial real estate for, for quite some time and these organizations own, often own lots of real estate, lots of land, and have lots of revenue. Profitability is one thing, but revenue, certainly lots of it. And here you are talking about like, Um, a massive, you know, company that, that probably has some pretty decent amount of square footage in their portfolio that has decent, probably some decent budgets. Um, and like they're recruiting through Craigslist, like, which is a free thing, right? And then on top of that, they're like, well, we got this thing and we're just gonna like, bring in the Marketo, like, or bring in the coordinator person to like figure it out. Like there are so many things happening there where it's like, Okay, this is exactly why this community needs to be around, right? Like we need to help educate people that they shouldn't just be like, you know, arbitrarily like pulling in. Like good for you for getting a start in a coordinator role to like have go like, what is it called? Like dip your toe in the water or what have you, and like, go build your career that way. But goodness, like that is such a scary endeavor from a corporate perspective.

AJ Valles:

it was so rough. So, um, they had had another, another sort of marketing coordinator, but his focus is really on Adobe Photoshop and doing a lot of the brochure designs for them. And he was kind of like figuring out Marketo on his own as well. But when the story that he told me when he joined, They had an intern running Marketo, uh, like a real estate intern. And, um, you know how we use sort of the, like, who downloaded or who clicked on a certain flyer on, on the website? Well, they had that working, but they had it going to the person who clicked on it, right? So if I was on their website and I downloaded it an offering memorandum, uh, I was getting an, I was getting an email, like a send alert email to myself. I clicked on this and this person downloaded this instead of actually sending that to the salesperson. So when I heard that story, I'm like, okay, I can only go like, we're at the bottom right now. I can only continue to go up from here. I can only improve this organization's Marketo function.

Mike Rizzo:

That's right. That's the secret. That's the secret to success in any platform whatsoever is figure out the things that are broken and just start fixing That's awesome.

AJ Valles:

Yeah, no, it was, it was really great too. Like to start off, Anything that they would, they would allow me do a lot of, like prod depths of anything on the Marketo University site that they offered when, uh, you know, Marketo had that up and I believe they still have it up. Um, but before it was almost like a very strategic sort of coursework from like the very basics to all the way to actually building things out and, and putting things together. Anything I would go out and and learn, they would let me come back and like build it, which was kind of cool. Like, um, a preference center for example. Like I went and learned about that and what Marketo was doing with it

Michael Hartmann:

you did a preference center as a, as an as that experience. Like you went to some training, you did a preference center for Canadian based company right around when Castle was going. Okay, got it.

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah.

Michael Hartmann:

Here comes, here comes, Naomi, I think is about she.

Naomi Liu:

No. Well, I mean, I, I still, I still say like, since Castle went into place, I get more emails than I ever did before. I honestly don't feel like it did anything to be honest.

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah, I probably didn't

Michael Hartmann:

Nope, sorry. So aj, we're totally derailing you here, but there was so much to unpack on that one.

Mike Rizzo:

No, I just love, I love your journey, right? And I think it's so indicative of the commonalities of how a lot of us fall into this function, right? It's just, it's wonderful that we've all had such similar pains and experiences and you know, thankfully it seems like you've thrived and you've continued to stick with it. But you know, that might not be the case for everybody but hopefully that's changing

AJ Valles:

yeah. No, totally. Um, yeah, and I was there for about, uh, three years or so. Um, and I took a, a different role at a FinTech company, um, right around the holidays and I'm, I'll never do that again. Cause when I took that time, I, they had some change in leadership where then in January when I was ready to start, uh, my job wasn't available anymore. So, Uh, it, it sort of, uh, kind of put me in a weird spot where I already kind of gave my two week notice and then in January that that role fell through. Um, but it actually led me to sort of another endeavor and I had already kind of made a ton of connections with like different brokers at different organizations and I just kind of reached out to a bunch of them. I was like, Hey, like, do you need help with your day to day marketing? Right? Cause I kind of knew. The industry look like the commercial real estate industry look like. It's very sort of broken. You know, they have a very generalist sort of just. Building out, you know, MailChimp or building out a constant contact. There's no real, uh, there's no real like marketing operations function for a lot of these, you know, even like these very high performing teams in commercial real estate. Uh, so I, I figured that was a good spot until I found something that I really wanted to do. Um, so for that, for period of like eight to 10 months, I was just kind of reaching out to different brokerages and, you know, seeing if they needed help with day to day marketing. You know, anything I. Help out on the day to day side, building out email templates, you know, working within their list, helping anything, uh, you know, building anything is outta Salesforce that they might need. So things like that. Um, kind of got me through. Um, and then through that position, um, I actually fell into B2B tech, which is, um, a strange way to kind of make your entry into EDB Tech. Um, it was at a sort of small, um, like agency. Consulting agency, they kind of just took a chance on me. Um, I applied for the role, it was like a junior Marketo consultant role. Um, they make you do like a presentation and you know, after that presentation on, uh, lead scoring that I gave, they, they kind of gave me a shot and kind of brought me off the word. Um, so yeah.

Michael Hartmann:

And then, and then you, then you, that from there, you were at, at ent. Is that kind of the, the,

AJ Valles:

so, so I worked at, I worked at the consultant agency for about two and a half years, three years almost. Um, you know, working with, you know, very sort of high growth companies, um, you know, seriously or better sort, sort of companies. Um, and yeah, I mean, I, I love working with, you know, that were experiencing, you know, really a lot of growth. They had a lot of sort of funding and, you know, working inside of all of those different instances. So, you know, different Marketo instances, different ways that people built out that Marketo instance. Um, working inside of Paron, working inside of HubSpot as well. Um, and just kind of like. Looking for ways to optimize that, the way, the way their Marketo was set up, the ways that, the ways that they were going to market. Um, yeah, revamping, lead scoring, figuring out ways to, um, really just kind of move the needle and help sort of make better decisions from a marketing perspective.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah.

AJ Valles:

Okay.

Michael Hartmann:

right. So you've done, you've been in consulting, you've been in, so you were in house. Couple times did your own, I'll call it your own consulting basically, right? And then in house, and then then consulting some more, and now you're back in house. So yeah. From your perspective, kind of working in kind of both sides of both internal versus consultants, like how do you, like, do you think there's a lot of similarities, differences? So you, do you think you learn more in one versus the other? Like what do you, what's your take on.

AJ Valles:

Yeah. So I think, I think when we're in the consulting world, like I think we've learned a lot quicker, um, just because you're experiencing working at, you know, three to four different companies at one time. I feel like, um, you get to see sort of some of the things that are working at certain companies and some things that. Um, and, and you get to use that experience of, you know, what worked at the last company, how can we sort of use what worked there and, and sort of improve a different organization. So I think the amount of learning that you do at a consultancy is, is almost like two to three times what you would do, just kind of working in house. Um, and then you get to sort of feed off of other consultants, uh, other consultants on your team. Right. So the way that, uh, the, the, the place that I was working at is, you know, we've always had time for professional development. We also had sort of, um, you know, marketing operations sort of. Consulting meetings where we would kind of meet up and talk about, you know, different win learn changes that we had throughout that week and just kind of feed off one another even though we might not be working with that client. We, we heard about, you know, challenges. We heard about some wins from other team members within the organization. That kind of really helped us like. Either expand on that to see if a client that we also had was having that same issue and seeing how they solved for it, and just really have that open discussion. Um, the one thing I would say about, um, consulting was that,

Michael Hartmann:

Okay. For our listeners, that's some construction in the background. Something else.

Mike Rizzo:

I was like, that sounds like a dog grunting or something.

Michael Hartmann:

Hey look, this is, this is, this is real here, right? So we've got, you know, for those of you who are OGs with us, right? We used to be live and who knows what was, what was gonna come up in the background. So there you go.

Mike Rizzo:

Yep.

AJ Valles:

Yeah, it sounds like they're working right on top of me right now, so I apologize for everyone listening.

Michael Hartmann:

good.

AJ Valles:

No, No, but I, I did wanna just kind of expand on that is, you know, I think working in house is, is, is awesome as well. Just because, um, the, the thing that was wanting me like. Like getting me going to move in house is really just kind of not having that client long enough to really see a lot of the different projects that you launch, um, to full fruition, right? Like we'd revamp, you know, lead scoring. We'd revamp all of the program templates inside of Marketo and um, you know, really change the lead life cycle, you know, the scoring, you know, the way that. Um, you know, SDRs are receiving leads and dispositioning leads and things like that, and seeing if, you know, a lot of the projects that we did is like, did we actually make a difference? Um, and, and in my mind, I, I believe that we did, but we never got to a point where we had that client long enough to like go back and check. Um, what, what would happen is someone would either be transitioning out of that role and moving on to another company and we kind of step in until they. You know, a new marketing ops manager or, or a new sort of face, uh, you know, full-time employee in that seat. And then, you know, we'd kind of just like send them off. We'd lose all of our access. And you, you never really know. And for me it's really just kind of like the curiosity of like whether or not what we did, you know, really made a difference. And is that company still using that today? Um, how do we go

Michael Hartmann:

that, that, that's, I, I had some of the same experience early in my career when I was doing consulting work, and I, I still remember we had one client that we did this short from a timeframe project, but strategic one that every time I would hear from my former colleagues at that company was still using it 5, 10, 15 years later, the work we'd done, it was really satisfying. So, Totally get that. All right, so one of the things you and I talked about, kind of prepping for this is that you thought that the, the experience that you've had up to this point really sets you up for your role as sa and to be successful there. So kind of in, in, from a high level, right? What do you, what do you, why do you think you, that was the case. Why do you believe that that was the case? That the, that everything was kind of a set up for this?

AJ Valles:

Yeah. So, you know, I think when coming into, um, there was really kind of like nothing in place, I would say. Like it was almost like a. A complete sort of tear down and rebuild from, you know, everything that you can think of from just having, uh, lead sources, um, lead statuses, um, having an actual marketing automation tool that was, you know, set up correctly. Um, you know, you guys, I hear it a lot on the show from previous folks, but like attribution, like knowing what's. Helping drive revenue or create pipeline for the team, um, was just not in place. Right. And, and the reason I say that is because when I, when I joined ent, they had one leak source and it was just called marketing inbound. And I went back and looked, um, you know, all of the campaign sources that they had. They did a lot of different things. They did trade shows, they hosted events, they had their own conference, tons of webinars, analyst reports, a big Gartner sort of co-marketing, uh, you know, Webinars with Gartner. They, they, Gartner has covered us in the past. So, and, and for me just finding that, I was like, why don't we know like, what's working? Why don't we know like what everyone is engaged with? Like, everyone that was in the database, it was either sales or marketing inbound. And I was like, we need to like figure this out. Like, and I, and I wanted to join that, you know, I wanted to be part of that, like rebuild. Um, and then, you

Michael Hartmann:

uh, can I interrupt you? So, did you know that, did you, did you have any insight into that before you took the job or did it something you discovered after you started?

AJ Valles:

It was something after I already started, so I knew that the most of the marketing team was new. So, uh, Wade, Wade, tip key. He had just joined maybe four or five months before I did, and he, he kind of gave me the rundown of like, Hey, we're doing an entire rebuild. You know, we don't know. How everything works, to be honest with you, uh, there wasn't a lot of sort of knowledge transfer from the previous person. Um, but you know, we're, we're looking to, this is what we're looking to do. We're looking to, you know, understand, you know, what our marketing team is actually doing and, you know, we don't know what's going on right now. So, um, it was, it was just one of those things where I was like, okay. Um, you know, what are you guys using for like a marketing automation tool? Um, you know, it was pardo, you know, speaking with other folks on the team that were still on the marketing team. Um, it was just, it was just, uh, for me it was like a good way to kind of come in and really hit the ground running as far as like, you know, being able to like, contribute right away. So little hanging for fruit. Um, so yeah.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah, so I know from. Experience, like coming in and, and realizing you had to kind of tear things down and rebuild all while still running leads and stuff through your systems is a little bit daunting. Um, so you, you got to salent, uh, you figured out like there was a lot of things that were, brokens maybe not the right word, but there are a lot of opportunities best, right? In terms of what you could be doing or could be doing. So how did you, like, did you just start addressing stuff? Did you kind of take a pause. Like come up with a strategy and approach on how you were gonna do it. Like what did you like, just how did you start from there? Once you realized kind of what the situation was.

AJ Valles:

Yeah, definitely. So, so once I kind of just got the lay of the land and, and really kind of understood. What was working like, you know, even from like before even speaking to anybody, like just going in and like filling out a form and seeing what happens to your record all the way through to getting assigned to someone, uh, was something that I just was just kind of taking documentation down and then trying to understand what's kind of like what systems are touching. Leave when it comes in and how it sort of progresses through the system. Um, and then really just kind of taking a step back and speaking with, you know, different sort of stakeholders within the organization. So speaking with our SDR team, speaking with, you know, other folks on the demand gen team that we're sort of running the current tool. Um, and seeing sort of how their, how their workflow was. Like how do you go about building a campaign? How do you go about, you know, doing list up uploads, like where do you do it? Um, and, um, you know, speaking with sds, like when you get a marketing lead, like how do you look at it? Where, where are you looking to understand, um, how you got this lead? Like how do you know how to, you know, put this person into an outreach cadence to, you know, properly address what they filled out? Cause everything was coming in. Uh, no lead source detail, but it was just coming as marketing inbound. So I was trying to figure out how they go about shaping that conversation. How could, how can we sort of help them, you know, just kind of make their job easier? So before going in and like ripping things out and making recommendations, just kind of talking to the people that you know already exist, uh, within the organization and understanding, um, how they see, uh, you know, a, a lead or a contact in our instance.

Mike Rizzo:

I love that seat to understand first thing that's, that's like so, so, so important. Naomi, were you gonna jump in? I thought I saw

Naomi Liu:

Yeah. And I, I, I actually, this is kind of a selfer question because I, next week I'm speaking to a group of about 200, uh, high school girls on marketing ops and my career path and, and women in tech, that kind of thing. So I'm curious like, If you were to Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm, uh, I'm, I'm both like excited but also terrified at the same time. I haven't stepped foot in a high school since I was in high school, and like, these are like senior students, like 200 of'em, and they're submitting questions to me, so

Mike Rizzo:

That is just so cool though. I mean,

Naomi Liu:

yeah.

Mike Rizzo:

literally today on this recording of this, like we did a LinkedIn live thing today and I was just talking about how we need to pull this stuff down into like all levels of seniors in high school all the way into college. And here you are

Naomi Liu:

Yeah. And I'm doing it, you know, I'm like, you know, I'm like, uh, reading your brain. Um, but this is a self-serving question because, and I'm gonna be taking notes as you respond to this, because if you were going to be talking to yourself back when you were, you know, trying to figure out what it is you wanted to do, and. What, you know, like what kind of, I'm curious, like what kind of advice would you give yourself, um, when you were starting this career and even like now, like, you know, someone who's 15, 16 years old thinking like, oh, you know, I have to go to university and become a xyz, but I could actually go into marketing ops, like tricks of the trade things you've learned. What are some, as I'm like writing down notes to see what I can say next week too.

AJ Valles:

Yeah, I mean, I think for, for myself, if, if I was kind of like talking to, you know, my 18 year old self, it's really just kind of, you know, Understanding the basics of, of what it actually takes to be a good person in marketing apps. And I think that like just having that general curiosity of how things work. Is very important in our role to be successful. Um, you don't need to have all of the answers. That's kind of something that I've learned, especially when I'm, you know, when I started consulting, like, you know, these companies are, you know, pushing, you know, unicorn level numbers and they don't have it figured out. So it's okay to not have, you know, everything figured out all at once and you're gonna be doing a lot of on the job training, I feel like. So, you know, just kind of always, like Mike said, right, like seek to understand. even when you don't know. Um, there's, there's tons of, you know, even back then I felt like the, um, the community, the Marketo nation was always really good about responding to, to a ton of questions, you know, early on, like, I don't even know what my profile would be like. I think I was using like the company profile back then. But, um, tons of questions were, were asked like at the beginning. And I think, um, you know, that's also a big part of, you know, sort of. You know, allowing yourself not to be the smartest person in the room, cuz you know, I think that's kind of where the growth happens,

Naomi Liu:

Yeah, I'm going to figure out that messaging because this is, like, they're a very, it's a very academic school. Um, high, very high achievement rate, you know, into, uh, it's a university prep high school, right? So, For me to, I have to figure out, how do I say to them, you know, you don't have to have all the answers. It's okay not to know things on the job training,

Michael Hartmann:

Can I, can I, can I throw out an idea? So I, cuz I used this recently as like

Naomi Liu:

Mm-hmm.

Michael Hartmann:

be confident and humble, right? I think that you wanna be both. Cause I think those get to it, right? You could be confident that you can figure stuff out. You can, that you know, things at a point in time. But you can also be humble about like, I wanna learn, I want to like that. I don't always have it all figured out. I think that's, those are a combination of traits that a lot of people don't think go together, but I think. I think actually a lot of people who are high performers or smart have both of those traits,

Naomi Liu:

Yeah,

Mike Rizzo:

I can confidently say that I am uncertain about the answer to this question, but I do know how to find the answer

Naomi Liu:

Yes. So I'll update you after. I'll be like, I'm either gonna, I don't know. We'll see. I, I'm excited for it. It'll be good, I

AJ Valles:

And if there was a framework for like successfully being a marketing as person right there, Mike. Uh, that's the way to go about it.

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah.

AJ Valles:

don't have all the answers, but I'm gonna go and find out and I'll come back and let you know what I find.

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah. Yeah. I'm a wicked good Googler

AJ Valles:

is.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah. Yeah, I, I mean I think you hit on that like curiosity, I think is what I think every one of us was nodding our heads while you were saying, you know, be curious. And I think that's always been one that we've talked about.

Mike Rizzo:

It's just the, it's the trait that keeps coming back time and time again for without any prompting, right? Every single marketing ops person that we speak to, Will somehow get to the point of saying that word be curious, curiosity, right. It's just, it's incredible. I just want to go back to a point real quick though, and just say, You know, I know it is good to accept that you're not the smartest person in the room. Um, but you know, sometimes you really do know a lot about how these things work and it's okay to also show that off. So I think as you build out your confidence in the career, um, it is okay to be. An advisor, but just, uh, find that, find that balance, right? That coaching and that advisory sort of balance between, um, asking, because you generally want to know how things work or why the why behind the ask, and then figure out how to then coach or advise beyond that. So you do, you do get to pick up a lot in this function, I think, Naomi, for, for, for those women in the. Uh, you know, I think that's really cool. That can be really empowering, right? Eventually you, you end up picking up so much that you see, you see a broad stroke of how a business works in a way that, you know, we all know in this function. Frankly, you just don't get that visibility in any other spot. Um, well, for what it's

AJ Valles:

And I, yeah, and I think that's great that you're doing that at the high school level cuz I have, you know, a cousin that just graduated from college and he doesn't know what the marketing ops function is. And I've sent him like, you know, things of, you know, I think you guys had, what was the, uh, the highway? Um,

Naomi Liu:

Highway Ed.

Mike Rizzo:

Ed, highway Digital.

AJ Valles:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Highway Digital. I was like, look, like if you want, I think that's probably the best, the best way to kind of get an intro to it. Like you already graduated. There's not like a ton of programs I feel like in college to really kind of go towards this function. But I think as companies grow and as the function grows, I think, um, I think, you know, colleges will start, you know, kind of focusing on it. I'm not sure if you do it now. I haven't been in college for like 10 years, but yeah. See,

Mike Rizzo:

But I, you know, we're working as a community collectively, like, you know, another call to the, to the ether. Anybody listening to this, you know, if you have connections into collegiate environments or you know, curriculum leaders that are, you know, teaching courses or their heads of departments and they, you know, you think that there's a chance they would be open to. Um, having some curriculum brought in, please let us know. Um, I'm working with Julian at Workado. I've worked with some folks at HubSpot. Uh, they all have ins and collegiate environments. And as a community, uh, I said it earlier today on the recording that we did, oh, it's our responsibility to try to find ways to bring this into the, into these educational environments. Um, And you know, we're not all asked to go talk to a group of women like Naomi is, cuz we're not as cool as Naomi. But it's our responsibility. I'll show you the

Michael Hartmann:

please do. Please do.

Mike Rizzo:

I think it's great. I think it's tremendous. It's, it's, ugh,

Naomi Liu:

take a, I'll take a selfie at the very end and be with the, with the group and, and be like, you know, I don't know. I'm, I'm both, I'm both excited and terrified, so we'll see.

Mike Rizzo:

The path is so different now though. Like if I could recall a couple things you said, um, AJ right. Your, your use of the Mar Marketo, specifically the Marketo Nation, sort of, um, you know what that means for someone who's listening to this and isn't familiar with that, right? It's like your online forum for being able to ask all the questions and all the things. Uh, and then beyond that, they had another number of other activations to help you connect with other leaders, um, uh, Marketo user groups and champions and so forth. Um, HubSpot's done things similar. Uh, all of them really aimed at helping to elevate those things. But the path today is so different, right? Like, so Naomi, like I think that's something you could easily touch on. And for all of our listeners now, I think, gosh, you know, between us and Mops pros and op stars and, you know, there's just. A number of places for you to go tap into the collective knowledge of the communities that are built now, uh, that we didn't all have. And I feel like an old crotchety guy when

Michael Hartmann:

No, like I, I

Mike Rizzo:

you're lucky. Ha ha, ha. But like, no, it's great. Like, take advantage of it.

Michael Hartmann:

Like I, I, I'm, I'm blown away about how, how many people ask and then, Yeah, questions. Those are willing to ask questions and then they get, they get help from all over the place. Right. People that just want to help and I think that's truly amazing. So, and I, I echo that. Like, I think, I do think, cuz I am an old crotchety guy that yeah, that, that it would've been a different, like, I don't know that, you know, no regrets or anything, but like, I don't know that I would've been in the same. Today had this kinda stuff been around and the first time I saw it was similar, so you've talked about Marketo and HubSpot and so my start was with Exact Target and Equa and they both also, like they were early ones I think, who did that. And I was never a big Salesforce person, but I assume a Salesforce had a similar thing where they really like fostered their user community as experts and built them up and showcase them. So

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah. Yeah. I think that, you know, the difference now is that you've got, as long as you're willing to, again, sort of like humbly, uh, express that you're, you don't know. Uh, one of the ways that you can do that is just by tapping into all of the resources that are out there and just asking the questions, right? And, and getting that. That real time-ish kind of feedback on how to go solve a problem. And, uh, the problems are very nuanced these days, but

Michael Hartmann:

Naomi, what you could do is you can just have us come, like, we can join in video via video if you want.

Mike Rizzo:

pulls in virtually

Naomi Liu:

Yeah, I mean, it's an all girls school, so I think they want female, uh, speakers,

Mike Rizzo:

yeah, that makes sense. Yeah,

Naomi Liu:

Yeah, yeah. They don't need the, you know,

Mike Rizzo:

yeah. No, you can say it. Go

Naomi Liu:

Yeah, no, I'm

Michael Hartmann:

They don't need, they don't know how people look like us, is what you're. Uh, okay. So aj, like, I think we've totally derailed what you were sharing with us about how you kind of got into the situation, but I know you've been at Savet now for a few years. Let's go back to that, you know, from where you were. How many years has it been? Is that two years, three years?

AJ Valles:

yeah, just, just a little bit over two years

Michael Hartmann:

Okay, so a little over two years. If you kinda look where you were and where you are now. Right. What do you think, I'm gonna kind of put this into like how do you, like, what do you think is the most significant change? Like what do you look back on and go like real, like, I'm really proud of X and I wish, then maybe the counters like, what I wish I had done this differently.

AJ Valles:

Yeah. Um, I think. You know, when, just looking back on what we've done that two year period, um, you know, we've, we've built a great foundation with an, with a very, very sort of well integrated sort of, you know, but still nimble tech stack, right? We don't have every tool out there, but we have. Uh, I feel like we have, you know, a good sort of, uh, foundation and they all kind of work together. We're kind of maximizing the amount. Uh, I guess we're, we're maximizing like what the tool can actually do. Um, but we only have like maybe like six tools at like, like we're going through, uh, you know, 23 planning the other day. Like, I think like for marketing ops we use, you know, six tools and then we integrate sort of zoom info and, and like lean data a lot into what we do. Um, yeah, I mean, looking back on that, like super proud of that. But um, aside from the tools, it's, I think it's really just kind of changing, um, the way that I think sales and like other people in the organization look at marketing. Um, so before we weren't responsible for a number. We weren't like, no one was really asking like, how did this trade show go? Or how did this webinar perform? It was just kind of like, I felt like when I joined, like marketing wasn't just a cost center and now we're kind of. Responsible for driving pipeline for, you know, figuring out, you know, what, what trade shows are working in the sense of, um, you know, the number of leads that come in, but also, you know, sort of the, the opportunities that were influenced by, you know, attending this trade show or hosting this webinar or this live event. And I think just the questions that we were getting like very early on of what we were trying to figure out and stuff that we're being asked today is like totally. you know, 180. So that's some of the stuff that I kind of look back on.

Mike Rizzo:

I was, I was gonna say earlier when you were saying that everything was like inbound marketing source, like one source, I was thinking, gosh, like as a, uh, As a marketing leader, just, just to be able to be like, yeah, look, I'm doing great. like, like every source is, is attributed back to marketing or whatever. I was like, wow, what a win for that. But, but what's fascinating is that what it sounds to me is that it's like nobody was actually paying attention. No one was actually asking the question yet. Uh, which is a, which is a slippery slope, right? Because you can immediately get into the place where someone sort of, It's like you put a crack in the door and like suddenly it can be thrown wide open, and they're like, wait, can you tell me? If the person who saw my LinkedIn post became a lead you're like, okay, okay. Hold on.

Michael Hartmann:

When they start to realize what's possible, right?

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah. It's like as soon as they start to see it and then it suddenly turns into this rabbit hole of like, analysis paralysis. And, and so are you combating that now as you, as you've sort of evolved this operation and started taking ownership of sort of results, uh, reporting on the results of activities, Are you combating like a little bit of the like, Hey, we've gone too granular now. We went from like everything is one source to now we've got a hundred sources. Like what's going on

AJ Valles:

no. Yeah, no. So as far as like getting too granular, I, I don't think we're there yet. Um, I

Mike Rizzo:

Stay away

AJ Valles:

the, some of the questions I think are starting to get there, but, you know, we're really good about sort of pushing back on like what we think is important as far as, um, you know, the types of campaigns, the lead sources that are important. Um, and we really, we, we use, um, an attribution tool, and I know that. A buzzword in here. I've listened to a ton of the episodes before me. So, um, but we don't use attribution in a sense of, you know, going in and like showing, you know, the e team, like we are responsible for X amount of dollars. Um, this is what our attribution is showing. We go in and actually look at sort of, you know, use attribution almost as a signal. Things that are actually working, um, from like a pre opportunity perspective and a post opportunity perspective of, you know, what's actually helping generate the pipeline. Um, and we use a very sort of, A pretty tight timeframe compared to the, the deal side or like the, I guess like the, the how long our, our deals actually sort of are in an open status. Um, and then we're also able to kind of look at, you know, post opportunity, what's actually driving things further down the pipeline as well. So,

Mike Rizzo:

See, I like that kind of stuff when I, uh, I've, I'm sure you've engaged with some of the content before, certainly on the state of the Mopro research. You know, when I see, um, marketing operations professionals sort of being measured by pipeline. Um, it's, it's a little, it's a little bit scary, you know, like we're not supposed to be creating campaigns that suddenly generate, you know, top of funnel leads, right? Uh, but we should be influencing throughput and making sure that the time to sort of getting through those channels is being influenced, uh, you know, appropriately, right? Like speed to lead is a, is a thing that we can impact those kinds of things. Uh, so that's really cool that you, that you are looking at sort of those. Downstream impacts of like, how long has the deal been left open or, or those kinds of things. That's great.

AJ Valles:

Yeah. And, and I'll just touch a little bit more on that. It's like until we get a tool that can actually sort of measure the, the sales output of that opportunity and like combine those together and then figuring out what that math is. Um, going in and like saying, you know, you've driven X amount of dollars, like just from a pure marketing perspective, just is it always gonna sit well with like other, it might sit well with your CMO cuz you, he can kind of go out and say he owns that number. But, you know, amongst the, i from what my perspective, like amongst every everyone else, it's like, Unless you can measure that sales sort of effort. And a lot of that is just sort of calling and, and emailing back and forth and, and, you know, sequencing and things like that. Um, we can always just use attribution as a, as, as a very strong signal. Um, And the way that we do it right is like looking at trade shows that we attend. We, we attend a lot of trade shows, but we can also look at sort of the number of, the number of opportunities that, you know, we have open, whether it's pre or post opportunity, but like how many of our actual potential customers that we have in an opportunity attended that trade show. We'll see some that are like very, like off the charts, like, yes, we need to go to this, but there'll be some where like, you know, we might have talked to one person or like there's, we literally generated no opportunities off of that trade show and it cost us a hundred, a hundred K to kind of attend. Um, and that, that's just sort of like what I'm going back to is like using some of that as a signal, um, to understand what we do going forward.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah, I like, I like that. I mean it to me. So like when, when I think about the negative sort of side of attribution modeling, I think that it's been misused a little bit as an attempt to get ROI for marketing, right? Overall. Right. What's, and, and or take credit for pipeline revenue. But I like, I like that sort of middle grounds, like it's, it, it has, you can talk about how it's impacted pipeline revenue, but I, I think it's more appropriate to use it the way you're talking about where you're really evaluating the effectiveness of. Maybe a specific channel or specific, you know, tactic or integrated campaign, right. To look at that. Um, but I also, I've also believed for a long time that you need to get to that, what I would call the storytelling piece. Whereas you're looking at those opportunities and you're working backwards to see on individual ones, right? Not at an angry level, like when we won this deal, can we look back and see what were the touch points that happened? And that, cuz I think that has way more power than talking about. You know, marketing's influence on pipeline or marketing's influence on revenue at the aggregate level kind of gets like eyes rolled back of the head for a lot of people. So,

AJ Valles:

Totally

Michael Hartmann:

anyway, so that's my rant for today. You're welcome, aj. So we.

Mike Rizzo:

And this so ends. Mike's rant, Michael Hartman's rant. We're gonna do a new segment in pot. In OpsCast.

Michael Hartmann:

There we go. We, we could do some shorts. Right. That seems to be the trend now, right? Right.

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah.

Michael Hartmann:

spans are shorter. Uh, anyway, uh, AJ so we, I'm sure we could keep going for a while, but it like, is there anything that you want our listeners to hear about, like lessons learned or whatever from your journey? For your time, ATIENT that, uh, we didn't get a chance to cover it. You really were like, Hey, this was an important piece of my journey.

AJ Valles:

Yeah, no, I think, um, I think the main thing is just kind of, you know, there's a ton of tech out there and, um, for, for, for listeners out there, it's just kind of like, don't feel like you need to go out and buy every tool cuz it does, you know, one thing for, for the organization, I think it's important to just kind of build that foundation and then go back and iterate and like, Sort of, you know, get better each time you go back, right? So go, go in, you know, figure out, okay, build a foundation, integrate another tool, and then go back and iterate and just like, you know, incrementally just continue to get better. And that's kind of where we are now is like, We've set up a, a good sort of foundation and now we're sort of going back and figuring out where can we get better. So, you know, for us it's going into looking instead of looking at all the marketing generated leads altogether, we're going into cohorts and we're, we're looking at it separately based off of content syndication, intent leads, direct website, sort of inbound leads. Um, That's sort of what we're planning on going forward, right? So it's just like, okay, we, we've got everything we, we know we can track, we know we have a good foundation, and now we can kind of go out and split that up and figure out, you know, now in cohorts, go in and iterate each one of those that you can kind of break out and, and make each one of those better going forward.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah. I like for our listeners, like I was just sitting here nodding alone, right?

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah, I was too. I just kept smiling on my, my, my good friend just today was like, you know, he, he's been in his portal now for about a year at his new organization and, and very similar, uh, phrasing, um, came out of him today. Which was, gosh, I just keep, you know, adding more and more, it's like HubSpot is becoming more and more robust because I, I'm improving incrementally on, on the functionality that, you know, that we have. Right. And that's the key is like all this stuff takes time and refactoring is an important part of the, the process. Um, so I love that you called attention.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah, I think that to me that's the, the, uh, counterintuitive that marketing automation actually requires a lot of non automation work to make it automated. Right.

AJ Valles:

Okay.

Michael Hartmann:

So, um,

Mike Rizzo:

it

Michael Hartmann:

is that, is that irony? I don't like, I never know. Like that Alanis Morrisette song with ironic. I'm like, that's not ironic. Nope, that's not either. Sorry.

Mike Rizzo:

I always forget

Michael Hartmann:

Bad coincidence maybe. But anyway, sorry I'm off off on another tangent, so. Alright, so aj, we may have to come back at some point and pick your brain on cohort stuff because I think that like that is something you just threw that out there and I suspect a lot of our listeners may. Know what that means to do sort of an, cuz that's a fairly advanced, I think, analytics kind of concept. So, uh, appreciate you sharing that. Hey aj, this has been great. Thanks for sharing. I mean, I think you're, it's really interesting to hear your, kinda, your two stories there about the basketball stuff and then, and then your path into this role at sa. So if folks wanna keep up with you or ask you follow up questions once this goes live, what's the best way for them to do.

AJ Valles:

Yeah. Uh, best way would probably be LinkedIn. So it's just, uh, Anthony j Baez, um, on LinkedIn or, uh, if you're already part of the Mo Pros, uh, community, I'm always on the slack sort of looking at questions. If you. Send me a message on there, um, probably quick to reply on there as well, so,

Michael Hartmann:

Excellent. Well, aj, thank you again for this. It was insightful. Appreciate it. Naomi. Naomi, Mike, as always,

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah. Thank you aj. It's good to be on.

AJ Valles:

Yep.

Mike Rizzo:

Appreciate you coming on

Naomi Liu:

You.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah. All right. And thanks to all our listeners and we will be back with another episode shortly, I'm sure. And thank you for supporting us and if you've got more ideas for guests or topics, or you wanna be a guest on any topic, let us know and we will be glad to work with you. Until next time, bye everyone.