SalesTech Star Interview with Garth Harris, VP of Operations at CAKE
Tell us about journey into Marketing and Sales Technology. How did you arrive at CAKE?
With some things in life, you just get lucky by being at the right place, at the right time. And that’s the case with me and CAKE. I stumbled into the Marketing Technology industry and am so grateful that I did. It all began when I went to pick up a friend from his workplace, a Performance Marketing software company called CAKE.
While there, I met the President of the start-up and we instantly clicked. I was impressed with the company and could easily see the potential and sense the excitement. The following week I started at CAKE on the tech support team answering tickets and customer phone calls.
That was nine years ago and since then I’ve loved every moment of my journey with CAKE – from my various roles with the Client Success, Sales, and Product teams, to opening CAKE’s UK office and currently as the company’s VP of Operations.
What is CAKE and how do you differentiate it from other Performance Marketing platforms?
CAKE is a global provider of Performance Marketing software that offers best-in-class customer service. Since the company’s inception, our mission has been to embrace a truly customer-driven approach and deliver innovative solutions for Affiliate Marketing, Lead Generation and Multichannel Marketing that enable our clients to create new revenue opportunities. And that hasn’t changed since the day I started.
The white-glove approach to client partnerships is one of the things that stands out from the rest. We’ve elevated the typical customer-and-technology-provider relationship into a true partnership founded on a deep understanding of the customer’s unique business model, company goals and success measurements.
Over the past decade, CAKE has on-boarded thousands of customers and through that process gained a collective knowledge that none in the industry can match. We’re also a one-stop-shop. It’s amazing to see clients doing Affiliate Marketing, Lead Generation, Multichannel Marketing, E-commerce and Mobile all in one platform.
Tell us how you prepared for your acquisition by Constellation?
As CAKE continued to grow we were searching for a strategic partner that understands the opportunities in the Performance Marketing industry. We spoke to multiple organizations but we’re determined to find the perfect fit that could help take us to the next level.
Constellation acquires, manages and builds market-leading software businesses that develop specialized, mission-critical software solutions to address the specific needs of its customers. Since CAKE’s inception, our mission has been to embrace a truly customer-driven approach.
We intend to continue our tradition of delivering trusted technology and services driven by and for our SMB and enterprise clients and are thrilled about the continued innovation the Constellation partnership will enable to drive our customers’ continued success.
How would it impact your Operations and Sales?
Constellation has demonstrated its ability to acquire and integrate companies with great success. The partnership with CAKE is a clear endorsement of our strategy and technical expertise in Performance Marketing. That said, now we also benefit from Constellation’s 25 years of experience and powerful backing.
For example, through acquisitions of numerous companies, Constellation has an extensive set of KPIs and metrics, plus operational knowledge that we aligned with our current strategies to elevate our company goals. We’ll also be tracking and monitoring client discussions and tickets, plus investing time with them in a strategic way that enables us to deeply understand their needs.
This allows us to continually build innovative technology for the future of the dynamic Performance Marketing industry.
What are the core strategies you focus on at CAKE for Global Business Development? How does it impact your revenue channels?
CAKE is the leading global provider of Performance Marketing software. We’ve established and retained this status by focusing on core company-wide strategies:
- We listen to our clients. We form close partnerships with our customers to secure a deep understanding of their specific business needs. This equips us with the knowledge to deliver solutions that meet and exceed their requirements.
- We continue to innovate. At CAKE, we embrace our rich history of innovation, from offering the only platform combining affiliate marketing and lead distribution capabilities to delivering industry-firsts related to campaign redirects, scalability (CAKE handles more than 271 billion actions per year) and reliability.
- We intend to continue our tradition of delivering innovative technology and best-in-class services.
- We are committed to growth. As our business has expanded, it’s been clear that our value is tied to the competitive edge we bring to our clients. The partnership with Constellation extends and enhances this strategy. CAKE is poised to raise the bar once again.
How do you differentiate—Customer Success vs. Customer Service at CAKE?
We approach customer success as an overall company methodology as opposed to just a customer service team philosophy. This holistic, client-focused methodology goes beyond basic customer support and spans every department at CAKE from Sales and Marketing, to dev operations and the executive team.
Customer success impacts more than just technical support or account management. For example, CAKE’s engineers and product managers have a customer-centric mindset and that really changes how we design and implement code.
We don’t build solutions unless our customers need and want it. Innovation is good when coming from within CAKE, but turns into something great when reviewed and approved by clients.
What role does building high-performance Sales teams help you to achieve your quarterly and annual goals?
Of course, Sales play a very valuable role in an organization’s profit and growth, including at CAKE. We consistently hit our quarterly and annual goals, and attribute those achievements to the approach we’ve taken to build our high-performance team. There is no ‘perfect candidate’ but the right one is a highly motivated, team player. Additionally, we invest in our team ensuring each Sales rep receives in-depth training, understands the product and industry, and is equipped with Sales Enablement tools.
Furthermore, our Sales team is comprised of individuals with former experience working at Performance Marketing companies running Affiliate Marketing programs using CAKE’s software. As mentioned, company alignment is also a vital key to success. It can be a challenge, but we make sure Sales and all company departments are aligned on the company vision and offerings.
What role does Customer Success play in retaining these customer groups and the consolidation of revenue opportunities?
Customer success, when executed across an entire organization, highly impacts retention. While clients need integrated solutions to grow their businesses, they also require support to maximize their technology investments. And customers want to partner with organizations they like and trust. Period. We understand this. Our customer-first approach fulfills client needs with our product development and innovation roadmap, in addition to 24/7 phone, email and ticket support. The Performance Marketing industry is dynamic and CAKE has maintained industry-leading customer success practices that consistently and reliably deliver value to our customers, plus contributes to CAKE’s revenue growth.
What is the Sales culture that you represent? Why is it important to build a sales-focused culture for any business?
Our Sales culture is guided by CAKE’s company pillars – commitment, innovation and in particular, growth. The Sales team is on the front line, presenting and highlighting how our products will be a value-add to each prospect. So we arm our team with the best tools – training, support, product knowledge, and team alignment. Additionally, collaboration is a vital element of our Sales culture. Our Sales reps collaborate together within and outside of the department, and this empowers them to continue achieving individual, team and organizational goals.
How do you achieve this culture-balance at CAKE? What percentage of this is driven by the application of technology, reporting tools, and coaching?
Our philosophy is to achieve a balance that combines all three of these elements:
- The technology itself, leveraging best-in-breed technology that aligns all teams and upholds our company pillars of commitment, innovation, and growth
- Our reporting suite, making sure we deliver actionable insights that contribute to our organization’s success, and
- Coaching, ensuring all team members understand the CAKE’s vision and are provided with the tools and resources to achieve individual and company goals.
Tell us how you achieve Marketing-Sales alignment. How does it impact your targets?
Open and real-time communications, plus establishing common KPIs are the keys to how we achieve Marketing and Sales alignment at CAKE. It’s also vital that our collaboration is not sporadic but consistently spans across all phases including strategy, planning, execution and reviewing results. We ensure the basics are covered by constantly asking:
- Is Marketing delivering quality leads for the Sales Pipeline?
- Is Sales responding to lead inquiries in a timely manner?
- Are we closing the loop in terms of feedback from both teams?
- How are leads progressing through the pipeline and are there challenges we need to address?
- What Sales Enablement tools are required and how should they be leveraged?
- What are other ways can we improve Marketing/Sales processes to deliver the best user experience?
- Lastly, we are champions of each other and celebrate hitting goals among both teams.
How do you leverage AI and Automation for Sales performance?
We use Salesforce to improve Sales reps’ productivity through automated workflows. For instance, contracts are generated with a click of a button, fields, and pages are filled in based on a user’s action, plus emails are triggered to nurture different processes during the Sales process. Reducing the amount of time Sales reps spend on administrative tasks allows them to invest more time selling, which in the end improves overall Sales performance.
Which Sales tech automation and tools do you use? How do they make your work easy?
CAKE leverages the following tools to effectively and efficiently streamline our customer acquisition processes:
- Salesforce: Collects and manages all lead and customer data, which every Sales rep uses on a daily basis.
- EchoSign: Easily shares contracts that can be signed immediately by laptops or phones.
- Salesforce Navigator: finds and builds prospect lists with advanced filtering capabilities.
- SalesLoft Cadence: Automated email distribution that eliminates the manual task of actually sending emails on a one-off basis.
- LiveChat: facilitates communications to generate leads and support customers.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Sales Technology leader?
While AI has a place, it also can’t replace the human interaction required to develop authentic relationships. However as AI continues to become more sophisticated Sales leaders are enabled to perform time-consuming tasks in a shorter amount of time, with better results. So, how to prepare for an AI-centric world?
Here are the general steps to get started.
- First envision how your team would work (with each other, across other teams and with customers) if the ‘grunt work’ and data crunching were to happen much quicker, with higher quality results.
- Considering the additional capacity to your teams, adjust workstreams and KPIs.
- Then create your strategies and tactics.
- Monitor progress and optimize accordingly
Which events and webinars do you most occasionally attend and why?
CAKE participates at all Affiliate Summit (East and West), LeadsCon (East and West) and Affiliate World events (Asia and Europe), in addition to China Joy, GMIC Beijing, DMEXCO, Mobile World Congress and many other vertical industry events. Staying involved with events is one way we keep a finger on the pulse of the Performance Marketing industry and also offers opportunities for relationship building with clients, partners and others.
Your advice to other CMOs and Sales professionals in the AdTech industry?
- Know your industry.
- Know your competitors.
- Know how to sell within each vertical i.e. Mortgage, Health, Finance, etc.
- Hire motivated Sales reps and properly train them.
- Ensure that your Sales process aligns with the other departments to provide the most streamlined communication and implementation for onboarding new customers.
Thank You, Garth, for answering all our questions. We hope to see you again, soon.
CAKE provides Performance Marketing software with solutions for affiliate marketing, lead generation and multichannel marketing that enables advertisers, networks and publishers to manage, measure and optimize marketing performance in real-time.
Affiliate Marketing Solution: Manage and measure partner marketing programs, optimize performance for the highest profitability and attract valuable partners.
Lead Generation Solution: Maximize lead generation efforts through a holistic view into the management and optimization of traffic sources, lead buyers and lead quality, and determine to route across available lead buyers for the highest revenue, in real-time.
Multichannel Marketing Solution: Measure true customer acquisition costs across channels against the customer lifetime value and enhance campaign performance and multichannel strategies along the customer journey.
Bill Hu joined Certain from Layer––a provider of messaging software for apps––where he served as the vice president of Sales, leading go-to-market Sales strategies and tripling revenue growth in one year. Before Layer, Hu was the regional Vice President of Sales at Gainsight, and director of Sales for cloud-based Sales performance management software company Xactly, where he led the highest performing team, helping drive company growth from $5M to $75M in annual recurring revenue. As a first step in moving Certain’s Sales strategy forward, Hu plans to expand the Sales team and welcome additional enterprise representatives to build the organization to scale.