SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Eric Westerkamp, Chief Executive Officer at CaliberMind

Eric Westerkamp, Chief Executive Officer at CaliberMind discusses more on the key changes that are impacting data management and B2B marketing-sales practices in this short Q&A:


Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Eric, tell us about yourself and your B2B tech journey, we’d love to hear more about being CEO at CaliberMind…

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with SalesTechStar! I received a degree in Computer Science from Virginia Tech and began my career as a software developer in an early startup. A few years later, I was fortunate enough to found QuickStream Software, one of the first Java and web-based document management products.

After running QuickStream for nearly a decade, we sold the company to EasyLink Services, a spin-off of AT&T. I held several roles there, including leading product management and channel operations. We grew EasyLink into a $200 million-plus operation and were acquired by OpenText. After the acquisition, I oversaw sales in the business messaging division at OpenText. Then I joined FrontSteps as the EVP of Sales and finally CaliberMind–which was a seed stage SaaS startup at the time.

My journey in B2B gave me hands-on experience across a wide range of business functions. I don’t know many people who have held roles in software development, product management, channel sales, and direct sales. The big lesson that persisted through each transition was that the leaders who understood trends and data were more successful. I also saw first-hand how difficult it is to derive solid insights from the multitude of data sources that touch a company’s customers and prospects.

CaliberMind is instrumented to help marketers prove their impact by considering every touchpoint we can record across an account and then provide the closest estimate possible of customer acquisition cost and return on marketing investment.

Can you share a few thoughts on the need for better sales and marketing intelligence in B2B today and how leading brands use business intelligence to drive ROI?

Several major changes are affecting B2B marketing and sales teams today. The biggest is the decline in the effectiveness of many of the tactics and tools currently used in B2B. For example, email blasts that come from either marketing or sales. Many of us have lost patience with the spray and pray email blasts that used to yield results.

Another significant change is the degree of tolerance prospects have for first-party data mining. More countries and states are cracking down on data privacy (CCPA, GDPR), and several developers are instituting privacy-first design. These changes are causing disruptions in how browsers handle cookies or other personally identifiable information, making it much harder for marketers to target engaged consumers directly.

Finally, there’s a new generation of marketing and revenue operations professionals who are more comfortable using data to make decisions. However, they have difficulty filtering out the noise created by the mountains of data their teams generate. Up to 91 cloud-based applications are used–just by marketing–in an enterprise organization. The most progressive B2B leaders understand that fixing their insight problem involves centralizing, cleaning, modeling, and visualizing data–which means more revenue at a better ROI.

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What are some of the common mistakes you notice in B2B teams when they try to implement business intelligence / sales-marketing intelligence to drive their customer cycle?

There’s rarely a single point of failure for any problem, and BI is no exception. At CaliberMind, we see several common mistakes when implementing business intelligence to drive more efficient customer cycles.

First, companies rarely take the time to clearly define and align on the metrics and insights they need to improve their customer life cycle. Are they looking to optimize advertising spend efficiency or decrease the cost of goods sold? Are conversion rates across funnel stages the biggest issue? What about the time it takes to move prospects down the funnel? Without a good definition of the main business drivers and which key performance metrics are tied to them, it’s impossible to get people to focus on what matters most.

The next issue is that companies assume all of their data can be wrangled into a central system and slap a BI tool on top. Voila! Perfect insights. It’s never that easy. Data is messy, and without real domain knowledge–an understanding of how data from different systems interrelate and the ability to stitch and fix data–it’s almost impossible to generate insights that will move people or processes in the right direction. Most companies start with a visualization tool when they should really start with fixing their data. Even Salesforce says 91% of CRM data is missing or stale, so everyone should make this their priority.

Finally, executives can set unrealistic expectations if they believe their B2B sales motion–from first touch to signed contract–is a linear journey with a single point of contact. According to Gartner, B2B buyer committees average six to ten members. Dozens of interactions across those contacts are needed to push a sale over the finish line. Oversimplified thinking leads to CEOs asking for an exact balance sheet of marketing activities and the dollars generated by each interaction instead of accepting data-backed estimates. At the same time, marketers need to set realistic expectations and use the data they have to calculate return on marketing investment.

As martech-salestech platforms become more intuitive to boost how teams across the hierarchy function: what best practices do you feel they should keep in mind to ensure an always consistent data and intelligence flow?

The mantra we’ve adopted as we scale is to keep it simple and consistent. Determine the one goal the executive team is marching towards–typically a revenue number or sometimes a profit margin goal–and instrument your dashboards to fuel activities that help you meet this goal. Watch your numbers weekly and give your team plenty of time to react to a positive or negative trend.

For example, suppose marketing consistently uses attribution to track pipeline and bookings contribution from marketing channels. In that case, they can look at lead volume, meeting volume, and pipeline volume weekly throughout the quarter and know where there will be gaps based on leading indicators. If they’re behind the pace needed to meet a goal, they can do something to bridge the gap in month one of the quarter instead of reporting a more considerable loss at the end of that quarter.

Honing in on three to five metrics and watching them throughout the quarter helps business leaders pivot where they need to. When business leaders learn to integrate data into their normal workday, their team’s contribution to the business and the executive’s conversation with the board is far more positive than the business leaders who wait to be surprised at the end of the quarter.

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A few best practices you’d highlight B2B teams follow to build better end to end revenue systems?

We’ve seen many business leaders assign one person in their organization a data hygiene goal and then refuse to allocate budget to tools that will help a person solve the problem at scale. Instead of giving someone an unrealistic goal and blaming them for lack of progress, make it an organization-wide priority and put some money behind it. With how much more complex data privacy laws and privacy-first design are about to make data collection, business leaders must prioritize getting the one thing that can help them scale–data–in a consumable state.

I would also encourage the C-Suite to align on their key performance indicators. This means giving each department a goal that will further your overall objective. For example, if I give my marketing leader a lead volume goal and don’t have her focus on pipeline and bookings, I shouldn’t be surprised if people on her team begin sending a higher quantity of leads with lower regard for quality. You wouldn’t build a sales compensation plan without considering behavioral outcomes. Do the same as you help your leadership team adopt metrics.

The job market has been bizarre, and we’re hoping things stabilize, but if you have leaders and analysts who have a knack for translating insights into efficiency plays, keep them happy. Unfortunately, finding people who can read the data and track down what causes the numbers to change is hard.

A few thoughts on the future of salestech as a segment and how you feel this space will shape up?

B2B will be severely impacted by privacy first design and privacy laws. Unfortunately, many of us have been ignoring experts raising red flags about what these changes mean for how marketing and sales do business. As identity resolution (identifying the people interacting with your brand digitally) gets more complex, it will become more critical than ever for B2B to become familiar with the concept of a customer data platform (CDP). CDPs look across a business’s technology stack and essentially unifies information across people and company records, even if the source system identifies them differently.

Some businesses have opted to build a data warehouse and visualization layer in-house, but marketing and sales teams adopt and drop technology so quickly that it’s cost prohibitive to support. Companies that research how to incorporate a CDP today–and build or buy the domain knowledge to normalize and cleanse that data–will have a competitive edge in a data-hungry market tomorrow.

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CaliberMind connects to all your key marketing systems and works with you to identify your data’s weak points. Our 5-Star customer success team will suggest best practices to clean your data and keep it pristine so you can focus on what matters – producing more pipeline and revenue faster.

Eric Westerkamp is the CEO of CaliberMind, a leading B2B platform for revenue insightst. Eric is a highly experienced executive, sales leader and entrepreneur with 20 + years of success helping companies achieve high-growth. His particular strengths are in recruiting and developing motivated enterprise and B2B sales teams. Eric previously served as an advisor for Four Points Funding, exploring early stage organizations in the AI. He also led sales for FrontSteps, a private equity SaaS roll-up and ran the cloud sales and channel operations for OpenText, the leading provider of Cloud B2B and Workflow services. Prior to that, Eric led Quickstream Software as Co-Founder, President, CTO and Board Director before it was acquired by EasyLink Services in 2006. Eric is based in Colorado and earned a degree in Computer Science and Math from Virginia Tech.

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