Garnering Broad Support for an Outsourced Win-Loss Program

Transcript

Braydon:                                              

Welcome to this session of WinLossWeek, the world's largest online event dedicated to win loss analysis. My name is Braydon Anderson, and this event is hosted by Clozd, in partnership with the Pragmatic Institute, Product Marketing Alliance, Modern Sales Pros, and the Competitive Marketing Summit. The title of this session is Garnering Broad Support for an outsourced win-loss program. Today we're joined by J.J. Haglund and Adrienne Whitten. J.J. earned his MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management in 2015, and has been doing product marketing and competitive intelligence at Adobe ever since.

He founded Adobe's Competitive Center of Excellence in 2018, where he ran the win-loss program for Adobe Experience Cloud. Adrienne is the director of enterprise product marketing at Adobe, where she helps drive thought leadership, innovation, and the go-to market strategy in the enterprise digital experience cloud. Specifically focusing on digital transformation and demand marketing and Marketo Engage. Thank you both for being here today. We're excited to have you with us.

J.J.:                                                  

Yeah, thanks Braydon. Great to be here.

Adrienne:                                              

Thanks. Appreciate.

Braydon:                                              

So I think just to start off, I think it'd be helpful for the audience to understand why did Adobe start doing win-loss analysis in the first place?

J.J.:                                                

Sure. So I'll take that one. Since Adobe started doing win-loss analysis before Marketo was acquired and then Adrienne can give her perspective from a Marketo point of view. But like you said, I've been with Adobe for about five years now. And initially I was on the product marketing team for the Adobe Experience Cloud, which is like the umbrella brand for all of our digital marketing and CX applications. So before I took ownership of the win-loss program, each team within the Experience Cloud did some of its own win loss research, and sometimes that was on their own or they would hire a third party to do some of that research, but it was never really done programmatically. It was always ad hoc, sort of one-off and not usually done on an ongoing basis. When Marketo came on, that was one of the notable exceptions, because they actually had a great program in place when Adobe acquired them.

As the business evolved, more and more customers started buying multiple applications within the experience cloud suite. And we knew that there was a need to create sort of an ongoing win-loss program that coordinated with all of the applications. So for me, the start of the win-loss journey was really about getting buy-in from those product marketing teams to consolidate the work that they had done and sort of centralize and create this sort of standardized win-loss program. So that was why we started, it was sort of just the business evolving parts coming together and centralizing our efforts.

Braydon:                                              

Yeah. I'm curious, Adrienne, from your perspective, because you were at Marketo when you guys started the win-loss program before the merger of Adobe-Marketo. is it a similar story to you or what happened there?

Adrienne:                                              

Yeah, it actually is a surprisingly similar story and it might've even been the same timeframe happening. I came in, as you said to the Adobe, through the acquisition of Marketo and I started in Marketo in 2016. Prior to that, I had actually run win-loss programs at three other companies. And so when I came to Marketo, very similar to what J.J. said, there wasn't really a formal program. There was sort of an informal, more ad hoc program of the product marketing team should get on the phone with customers and interview them whenever they have time. And so, because I had programs in the past, I was like, you know what, product marketers never have time. This is a terrible idea, right? That is really the reality. Product marketers do a lot of things that are super busy and it's just really hard to programmatically and systematically get enough interviews that you're getting good data. So I advocated to bring a program into Marketo along with a few other folks. That's when the program started, which was in fact before we got acquired.

Braydon:                                              

Yeah. So I'm curious then, at what point of this decision to start doing win loss, did you realize that it needed to be done with a third party? Did you think that it should be done in-house?

Adrienne:                                            

I don't know. J.J., I know you and I have different thoughts on that, too. When I first started, my very first time, I ran a win-loss program at another company, we tried to do it in house and again, we didn't have enough bandwidth and we didn't have enough interviews. I then moved to an individual contractor, which I think is what a lot of folks probably do, and that was better. But it also had the same kind of limitations. We just weren't able to scale the program. And so when I came in to Marketo, there was no question in my mind that you needed a third third-party to do it. So that's where I started advocating instantly for the budget to get a third-party.

J.J.:                                                

Yeah. I'd actually say that we're pretty aligned there, as well. I think that's a question of 1) bandwidth and 2) scale, like you said. For us, we have eight different product marketing teams within Adobe experience cloud, and those teams are pretty lean. Each one of those teams has one person that's sort of the point person for competitive intelligence, but it's not their full-time job. On average, I'd say 10% to 20% of their job is dedicated to competitive intelligence. Then win-loss is sort of a subset of that. So we really liked the idea of a third party handling all the logistics of the program, the customer outreach, the scheduling, the interviewing, all those things that are very time intensive. But then as we started to scale, we realized that like Adrienne said, you definitely need that third party because we started out with a pretty small program just to test things out and grew it to the point where we're doing between 100-200 hundred interviews a year. There's no way that we would have the scale to do that with just in-house resources.

Braydon:                                              

Yeah. So especially at that size, I'm curious, did you think that the cost for using a third party was justified then? Was it a challenge to get buy-in for this cost?

J.J.:                                                

Yeah. It definitely is a challenge. That's part of the reason why we started small. Right? Eventually it became one of our biggest budget items, but we definitely couldn't have gone from zero to that, just overnight. So what we did is we started just really small with our own internal data to see what kind of things could we pull from our CRM, identify who the top competitors are, how often were we winning or losing? And that sort of created this appetite for more information. All of this is great data, but now I need some more. I need to know why we're losing or why we're winning to these specific competitors. So initially we could work with sales and get their point of view on why we were winning.

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