How to Hire a Chief Marketing Officer
Setting the Stage

 

In this interview series, we discuss how to avoid burning cash on your marketing strategies (or as we call it, the CMO Money Pit), by showing why it’s important to start with quality at the source; when you hire a Chief Marketing Officer. Our full Case-Study / Case-Interview featuring Darryl Praill and VanillaSoft can be found here.

When a group of inside sales reps needed a more efficient way to optimize their time and make more sales, they tried a number of existing lead routing software solutions to help. They found that nothing on the market focused on what they needed most – streamlining the call process and driving more sales – so they decided to build one themselves.

Presto! VanillaSoft.

Darryl Praill is a highly regarded marketing executive who had worked with industry giants like SAP, IBM, Airbus, Kinaxis and UBM – along with helping raise millions in funding and taking companies public – before starting his own boutique marketing firm.  

By his own admission, Praill was very happy running his own shop. He wasn’t looking for a job. And although he’d been approached by recruiters countless times, Praill had always turned them down flat. “Every single time a recruiter had called me up, I’d actually said, ‘No, go away. I like my life,’” he says. “I had a good quality of life. I had a steady, predictable income. I had good relationships with my clients.”  

But then executive recruiter David Perry came calling. He was looking to hire a chief marketing officer role at up-and-coming software firm VanillaSoft and knew Praill was the perfect candidate. At the time, VanillaSoft was a relatively small but successful sales engagement company with around 750 global clients and superior technology but was dwarfed by some of its competitors. The company needed a top-tier marketing mind like Praill’s to help get it on the map.  

Little did Praill know at the time, but he also needed VanillaSoft. And even though he turned Perry-Martel down at first, he soon changed his mind. Because Perry-Martel’s entire approach to executive recruiting was different than anything he’d had ever experienced – and for all the right reasons.

How to Hire a Chief Marketing Officer
How to Avoid the CMO Money Pit

 

https://youtu.be/h1xL2L_Uz8Y

How to Hire a Chief Marketing Officer
How to Avoid the CMO Money Pit – Transcript

 

How to Hire a Chief Marketing Officer - Peter Clayton
Interviewer – Peter Clayton
Producer/Host – Total Picture Media
Recruiter 1 – David Perry
Managing Partner – Perry-Martel International Inc.
How to Hire a Chief Marketing Officer - Anita Martel
Recruiter 2 – Anita Martel
Senior Partner – Perry-Martel International Inc.
How to Hire a Chief Marketing Officer - Darryl Praill
CMO – Darryl Praill
Chief Marketing Officer – VanillaSoft

Interviewer: Peter Clayton

About three and a half years ago, VanillaSoft, the industry’s most successful sales engagement platform, hired Perry-Martel International, an executive search firm, to conduct a search for a critical role in their senior leadership. They came to them to hire a Chief Marketing Officer. According to Ad Week, across the corporate landscape, the length of Chief Marketing Officer’s tenure with a company is becoming shorter, with the average now roughly less than the amount of time it takes to get a college degree. That’s why this series is titled, How to Avoid the CMO Money Pit. With that shorter tenure at the senior executive level, let’s face it. Everyone loses.

Hi, this is Peter Clayton with TotalPicture Media. In this new series, I’ll take you inside the search, the hire, and the results of VanillaSoft’s CMO search. Having covered the talent acquisition, recruiting technology, and HR technology space for well over 15 years, I can tell you CMO roles are the shortest lived in the C-suite.

Why? Expectations rarely live up to the reality. Also, according to a Marketing Dive brief, aside from overseeing all branding, marketing, and advertising activity, including much, or all of the related tech, many brands now are also expect the CMO to bear key responsibility for customer experience, personalization, and company revenues. In other words, you’re going to need a unicorn as a CMO, and there aren’t many of them.

VanillaSoft, having a unique perspective on the market, knew they had to go outside to fill this role. In this video, we’ll take you through the process step-by-step. The first episode is titled, The Setup, Finding a Unicorn, and features the principles of Perry-Martel International, David Perry and Anita Martel, and Darryl Praill, the unicorn. Enjoy.

David, you’ve known Darryl Praill for over a decade. Why were you committed to discussing the VanillaSoft CMO opportunity with him? And more importantly, how did you convince him to get even curious? He had no interest when you initially called him. He was perfectly happy doing what he was doing.

Recruiter 1: David Perry

So why Daryl? Because he fit the profile. And in going after Darryl and presenting the opportunity, it’s the same way I went after everybody else. The first thing we do is produce a long list and then we cut it down based on these are the requirements, things that we were looking for. And Darryl hit all five things we were looking for. And therefore, I made the presentation. And when he said, “No,” it is what it is, right? I assume that’s my inability to articulate my value proposition and Darryl would laugh and say, “Yeah, you didn’t do well.” So I just repackage and represent and repackage and represent. And at one point I finally said, “Darryl, you know me. I know you. Enough. I know you’re not looking. I just want you to go and have a meeting with these guys.”

Chief Marketing Officer: Darryl Praill

He approached me out of the blue for an opportunity he was filling and he was a character. He was different from all the other recruiters I’d ever met before. He was blunt. He was direct, colourful, lots of stories, lots of real life examples of what works, what didn’t. And for the first time ever in the recruiting process, seemed to care as much about me as he did about the employer and making a successful arrangement, shall we say, between the two parties. And what I loved about my experience the first time with David was that I always knew what was going on. I had both an advocate as well as a counsellor, as well as somebody who would tell me as it is whether I want it to hear it or not. So that was refreshing. And that’s how we began not your typical startup relationship, but, and it’s only been that way again over the years. So he’s a character

Recruiter 1: David Perry

So first thing you have to understand is Darryl was … Yes, I do know Darryl. I’ve known him for probably 10 or 15 years. I recruited him into another opportunity 15 years ago. He did a fantastic job, but he was just one of, literally I counted this morning in the record book because we produce a binder at the end of every search that says, “Here’s what we did,” and there were 156 candidates. He’s actually second from last in the list because it’s alphabetical, according to where he was at the time at company.

Interviewer: Peter Clayton

So Anita, Darryl refers to David as a character more than once, actually. What do you think he’s referring to? After all, you know this guy better than anyone.

Recruiter 2: Anita Martel

David has quite a sense of humour and he uses that sense of humour throughout the whole process, whenever we meet anybody, whenever we interview people, it puts them at ease. He also is a type of person that really thinks outside the box. So when people are usually stopping at a certain area, he’ll look around and he’ll find other ways to be able to reach out to them. The other thing, too, is he’s just not afraid to talk to anyone. He talks to everybody in sight. So this breaks down a lot of barriers and it makes things go much, much smoother.

Interviewer: Peter Clayton

Here’s Darryl’s perspective.

Chief Marketing Officer: Darryl Praill

David was an interesting character in the sense of because he’s exposed to so many different opportunities and clients and needs, as he talks to all the people looking for a high talented individuals with a specific set of skills, that he sees over and over again, a lot of the same mistakes being made.

Interviewer: Peter Clayton

In my intro, I introduced VanillaSoft as the industry’s most successful sales engagement platform. So tell us a little bit more about the company and how you ended up working with them.

Recruiter 1: David Perry

Oh, they actually found us on our website and the CEO pinged me and say, “Hey, we’re looking for a VP of Marketing. Do you want to talk?” David Hood knew exactly what he wanted. He knew where they were the market space. He understood who his challengers were. He understood why they were better. They had 800 customers at the time, 800 customers, probably the best known secret in Ottawa because not too many people knew who they were.

So this is a company that had just done what they’re supposed to do and grabbed market share. And now they were ready to go to the next level. It wasn’t a company that suddenly got a whole pile of money infused. These guys had bootstrapped everything, and that really amazed us because we tend to work only with serious companies. And by serious company … So we specialize in three things: real estate, big buildings, construction, and tech. And in tech, we focus on companies that are actually solving real problems, not companies that are making technology in pursuit of a problem to solve. We want companies that are actually solving a problem. And the problem they solved was they actually have a have a platform that makes salespeople be able to make more money doing what they’re doing.

So it’s a platform, sales engagement, it’s a platform for sales guys actually make their number. Now that’s unique, that we thought was something that was well worth taking to the market in a big way. And the only piece they were missing was that market maker, that marketing, that the Chief Marketing Officer that actually understood what it was like out there in the real world, and wasn’t just looking to, they weren’t just looking for someone to make pretty brochures. They wanted to hire a Chief Marketing Officer that was going to, Steve Jobs would say, “Put a dent in the world.” And that’s what Praill’s done. That’s for sure.

Ottawa’s got 2,100 tech companies. There are, last time we looked, about 18 VPs of Marketing, Chief Marketing Officers in Ottawa that have international experience. When you want to hire a Chief Marketing Officer, that’s the key. We needed someone who had international experience and can go up against American companies, European companies, and go toe-to-toe, not just local talent, and that was the deal. And we knew that by doing this, we were going to help this company grow. And we did. I mean, I don’t think we can’t tell you this, but a year later they’d already, Darryl had already hit his three-year objective at the end of the first year. And they came back to us and asked us to hire 87 more people. And we said, “It’s not what we do.” So we hired a Director of Talent Acquisition instead and put her in.

Chief Marketing Officer: Darryl Praill

And I had been recruited multiple times throughout the years as happens. And every single time I actually said, “No, go away.” I like my life. I had a good quality of life. I had a steady, predictable income. I had good relationships with my clients. So I actually, despite having a personal relationship with David, I wasn’t interested in his overtures towards me and the opportunity with VanillaSoft. What was interesting about that situation was that David knew aspects of the opportunity and the company and the people who work at the company that obviously I did not. So when I rebuffed him initially, he persevered. And finally by about the fourth time, he basically yelled at me, as friends and professional colleagues can do, and essentially he said, “Praill do this for me. This is a good fit for you. This is a good fit for them. I wouldn’t waste your time,” only he said it perhaps more directly and more colourfully.

And based on knowing David, knowing his ability to identify opportunities, his talent, his discerning eye, and his tendency to protect not just the employer, but the employee me, because I’ve seen it firsthand, I did it. So, and then of course the last thing you can do is tell David that he’s right because then he just lets you know that he’s right, so which is part of his charm.

Recruiter 2: Anita Martel

Dave, I’ve known Teddy for 40 years now and he looks much younger.

Recruiter 1: David Perry

Thank you.

Recruiter 2: Anita Martel

He’s very tenacious and he doesn’t stop until he gets … If he’s committed to something, he won’t stop until the job gets done. And I always found that a very encouraging and grounding quality about him. It’s one of the things that attracted me to him in the first place was because of that. And when we started our business, I knew, at that point, that we would be in pretty safe,. it was a pretty safe bet if the business grew and continued to grow that together, and just with that quality that he has, being so tenacious, that we’d have success.

Interviewer: Peter Clayton

Can you speak a little bit to how David’s and yours approach to something like the VanillaSoft opportunity, as a team working as a team, how do you go into an assignment and split up the responsibilities, so to speak?

Recruiter 2: Anita Martel

We both look at things in two different ways.

Recruiter 1: David Perry

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Recruiter 2: Anita Martel

So David is very technical. He’ll look at all the qualifications, all of these types of things that they’re looking for, whereas I will look on the human side and I’ll look on a lot of … Usually I’ll be very quiet in the interviews. So for when we start a project from start to finish, we are both in the room for every single step. So the interviews with the candidates, the interviews beforehand with the client to get to know the client, figure out what their strategic plans are, where they want to be, how they want to go about doing the search, what they’re comfortable with, what they’re not comfortable with. And we spend a lot of time just talking with the clients, which right there, I think, makes a big difference between us and other search companies.

Whereas other companies will maybe have a phone call and that’ll be half hour and then they’re done. They take the assignment and off they go to the races. Well, we’re not like that. So we will speak with them. We will meet, well, before COVID, we would meet with them in person, but now it’s over Zoom. And then we usually have regular check-ins every single week with the client, so that we can discuss what’s going well, what’s not going well, where we have to adjust our plan. So as a team, we really truly do work like a team with our client company. And when we find the candidates, we pretty much get down to the same process with the candidates. But you have to remember that oftentimes in our industries, we’re uprooting somebody from where they are and we’re moving them from one end of a country to another, or even from one country to another. And so that’s not it not to be taken lightly.

So you have a very moralistic view on that, where we want to be really sure that the person, before they commit and before they’re moved into this new position, if they’re the ones that are chosen, that it’s been vetted very carefully and it’s a serious matter to them. So we want to be short that one year guarantee comes into play, for sure. We don’t want … We spend a lot of time on search, but it’s because we want to be sure. So we do a 360 all the way around with the clients, with the candidates. I’ll do an emotional intelligence assessment day. We’ll do the references, which are 360, and we do a very complete process.

Interviewer: Peter Clayton

A tremendous cost of bringing, especially the senior executive, into a role, and if it doesn’t work out, it’s an emotional cost. It’s a financial cost to the company, and it also affects the morale of the employees in the company.

Recruiter 1: David Perry

Every candidate we ever hire, my goal is to understand who their friends are, their top performing high profile friends, and I want access to those people. So, of course, we treat them like royalty, both sides, but especially the candidate side, because our ability to bring changemakers to the marketplace or rainmakers to the marketplace is predicated on our ability to reach out to them and our reputation in the marketplace. And that all comes from candidate side, in this industry, more so than the client side.

How to Hire a Chief Marketing Officer
The Hirer, The Fit, The Results

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqNHhnAKifM

How to Hire a Chief Marketing Officer
The Hirer, The Fit, The Results – Transcript

 

How to Hire a Chief Marketing Officer - Peter Clayton
Interviewer – Peter Clayton
Producer/Host – Total Picture Media
How to Hire a Chief Marketing Officer - David Perry
Recruiter 1 – David Perry
Managing Partner – Perry-Martel International Inc.
How to Hire a Chief Marketing Officer - Anita Martel
Recruiter 2 – Anita Martel
Senior Partner – Perry-Martel International Inc.
How to Hire a Chief Marketing Officer - Darryl Praill
CMO – Darryl Praill
Chief Marketing Officer – VanillaSoft

Interviewer: Peter Clayton

Welcome to TotalPicture Media. I’m Peter Clayton, and thanks for joining me for part two of How to Avoid the CMO Money Pit. If you’ve not done so already, I recommend you watch part one titled The Setup, Finding the Unicorn before you watch this video. I’ll take you inside the search, the hire, and the results of VanillaSoft’s search to hire a Chief Marketing Officer. Part two is titled The Hirer, The Fit, The Results, and features the principles of Perry-Martel International, David Perry, and Anita Martel, and the unicorn, the rainmaker, the rockstar, Darryl Praill in July.

Chief Marketing Officer: Darryl Praill

I’ve been recruited numerous times in multiple jobs, and I’ve had the opportunity to be exposed to multiple processes along the way. Often what they’re trying to do is trying to match a skill set with a need, and they’re viewing it from the point of view solely of the employer, which makes sense since they’re paying the bills, and they want to protect themselves to make sure they present a good candidate, that they look credible and that they don’t have to worry about the candidate leaving and them having to backfill a warranty that may be provided as product or services. I get that, they have a business to run, it’s all about margins. They do it right, and life is good.

The difference between what I’ve experienced before and David and his process is multiple. One, he is far more candid and straight shooting with you as the prospect, the candidate than any other recruiter I’ve been with before. Two, he will tell you why you’re a good fit or why you’re not a good fit, and he will give you blunt, candid feedback throughout the process, which is often difficult to get out of other recruiters. They tend to protect the employer and share a little with you. Three, he will coach you on the questions that you need to ask, because he understands how you’re motivated. So he gets into your head as far as what you prioritize in life and what it is that you want out of a job, because he understands it’s more than just matching a job description with a candidate who can fill it. He understands that the company, the employer and the prospect, the candidate, need to have a cultural fit, need to have a meeting of the ways when it comes to their integrity and how their work style is.

Recruiter 1: David Perry

David Hood, who’s the CEO of VanillaSoft and the team around him all said that they wanted someone that was going to challenge them, really challenge them. Remember that? Really challenge them. So what’s the first thing Praill does when he comes to a, quote unquote, interview? Is it was another business meeting for him, he asked those three questions, he drove right down to get at the answers. He was satisfied, and then he turned and let us do our meeting. That’s when I knew. That’s what I knew he was going to take it seriously, and that’s when I knew we had the right guy.

Chief Marketing Officer: Darryl Praill

The other part that I really like about David is that he tells you what you need to do to make this opportunity work, which means he’ll be forthright with you on, shall we say the weaknesses or the challenges the employer is experiencing and where they really need your soft skills, not just your hard skills that are on a resume, but your soft skills specifically. So that was incredible. When it comes to the actual process, it was the most thorough vetting I’ve ever gone through. Whilst I initially said I wasn’t interested, and then I went out of obligation because I trust David, and then I had interest, and then I wanted the job, and then I had to slow down because he goes through a very intentional process. Much of that is out of the sight of the candidate, out of me, because he’s working with the employer, getting all of the stakeholders aligned, making sure expectations are managed.

If not, dealing with the employers, they have their house affairs in order. He does communicate that to you, but that does also affect the schedule and the process. So you know what’s going on, but sometimes you have to trust them. He’s always right. He’s never been, he’s never misled me. His advice he shares on, where the strengths and the weaknesses are in any opportunity have always proven to be right, not just in the moment but three months, six months, a year down the road, you can look back and say, “Yep, that was right. And that’s why.” And now I really see why I was the right candidate versus somebody else for this opportunity. The part I found most challenging, candidly, was part of the due diligence. When you’ve gone through the whole interview process and you’ve made the connections and everybody agrees that you’re the right fit, the process doesn’t end there.

Doing additional testing, like emotional testing and everything else to make sure you’re going to be a cultural fit, so he can manage the expectations with the employer on how to properly manage the candidate so the candidate will succeed and go above and beyond is, I can say in retrospect, excellent. But at that moment of time, very frustrating because you just want to move on and you want to get the deal done. And instead he focuses on making sure there are no surprises for all parties. So I’d like to think of him as part matchmaker and part counsellor. But the counsellor part is the secret to his success. The beauty is, he’s got it in a defined process, it’s documented. He shares it with all parties. They’re all looking at the same thing, so everybody on both sides of the equation know exactly what’s going on, know exactly where you are in the process, and know exactly what the next step is. So it’s repeatable for him, which is great, but there are no surprises for either side, the employer or the candidate.

Interviewer: Peter Clayton

One of the observation Darryl makes in his interview is that, quote, skills are transferable, fit is very specific. Which is something we’ve been talking about in this series. So how do you assess a candidates fit? You had talked about doing emotional profiles on people, because although someone may check all of the qualification boxes, in reality it won’t work. So how do you ensure that the employer and the candidates have those really hard conversations that get to emotional intelligence, and get to the culture of an organisation to assess the fit?

Recruiter 2: Anita Martel

Technically, I’ll do the emotional intelligence assessment and probably with the finalist. And basically emotional intelligence is how somebody interacts with their environment. So we see it from that, the assessment is used, really for leadership qualities and for development, if that helps that way. But to see, to look at the fit we will, like I said in the interviews, I’m watching everybody during the interview and I’m looking at the different interactions and the nonverbal cues that are coming out. At the end of every interview, after the candidate leaves, we debrief with the client and that’s when I’ll call them on certain things that I’ve seen, that I’ve observed.

And then we’ll talk about it and things come out there. So we get information that way. There’s also the same thing that happens after with the candidate. After the interview, we’ll call up the candidate and then again, I’ll call them on certain things that I’ve noticed. But this finalist, really one of the big things that we encourage clients to do, we get them to go out to lunch or dinner together, even with their families, bringing their wives to see how everybody mingles and gets along. It puts down everybody’s guard, it’s a social gathering. And that really brings out that non-verbal sixth sense that people have, whether or not they’re going to get along with somebody or not.

Chief Marketing Officer: Darryl Praill

In our particular hiring process, I would say there’s more emphasis put on the fit aspects than even the hard skills by far. Now that could have been a by-product of VanillaSoft and the leadership with the CEO and how he led his company, that could have been David. My suspicion is it’s both, because I think David understands that you can have the skills, but if you don’t have the fit then people are not going to be happy. Skills are transferable, fit is very specific. So that process, to your point, was interesting. He did it, not just in the standardized testing processes, again, perhaps around emotional fits, but also one-on-one. So case study in point, during the initial rounds of interviews, apparently I was the candidate of choice of all participants involved in decision making process. And then the second or third interview in, somebody, one of the people who had really liked me initially decided I had said or done something that made them second guess me as a candidate. And that was a surprise to David, as well as other stakeholders in the decision making process.

So they had two choices, right? They could have kept on going, or they could have explored it. And they did the latter, they explored it. And then what they decided to do was to have that individual and I go off one-on-one in a conversation to physically see, were we going to get along? What was the root cause of the disconnect? And that was phenomenal. What we realized very quickly in this case was the individual said, “Darryl, I’m going to travel a lot with you as we do our thing. And we’re going to be stuck in airports often. Are you an individual that I can be stuck in an airport with? That’s what I wasn’t clear on.” So once we realized we had a lot in common and we could hang out together, now that’s not a skill thing, that’s a do we get along? Because he and I were both responsible for revenue. Then it was good. Now you would think it would end there. Okay, the one objecting individual has no longer concern. No. It happened again, in which everybody said I was the guy, then the CEO and I went out for a meal to break bread, have a coffee, whereupon he put on the table his concerns and asked me to do the exact same thing.

So we knew before the process began expectations and concerns, and we had a game plan to make sure that both parties were able to go into the job with milestones, and deliverables, and outcomes, and shall we say permissions and how to interact with one another before the process ever began. So there was multiple times along the way where the soft skills were dealt with. But what was consistent from start to finish was that David was there warning me, telling me, counselling me. And I knew he was doing the same thing for them. So he truly is a matchmaker when it comes to personalities, which is, I think, the difference between what David does and what so many other recruiters do. They focus on, do they have the hard skills as this match? Yes, he does that. But he also looks at, are the soft skills there? And then he has standardized testing to ensure the soft skills are there and it’s not open to interpretation.

Recruiter 2: Anita Martel

So I think just the small thing that Dave has more or less alluded to is that we see them as people, they’re not transactions, candidates are people, the clients are people who are dealing with their lives, a huge part of their life. And so we want to be careful about that.

Interviewer: Peter Clayton

You have told me about something that you call the Texas hold’em versus fantasy football as your secret sauce. So can you talk about that a little bit?

Recruiter 1: David Perry

Texas hold’em versus fantasy football is an interesting theory. I was trying to figure out when I was writing Executive Recruiting for Dummies. How to explain why things fail when you’re doing a search. So Texas hold’em is why things fail, and here’s what I mean by that. If you’ve ever played Texas hold’em you know there’s 52 cards in the deck, and however many people you’ve got around the table, you deal out the cards, you see what some of the things are. And some of it’s hidden. But the point is there’s only 52 cards. That’s the entire marketplace. So when most companies and search firms go out to fill a role they’ll advertise, and they’ll advertise and they’ll get a slice of the market, those people that are looking. And they might get lucky, but it’s like Texas hold’em, you might get lucky with those 52 cards.

Whereas fantasy football, come on, how many teams do we have? We have dozens and dozens of teams, right? We got cards on everybody. We know how, and we have stats on everybody. So if you look at your search like fantasy football, where you’ve got a limitless supply, so you go after everybody, not just the people that are looking, but you go after the entire market, it’s like fantasy football. And with LinkedIn, you can look up someone’s record. You can see how many touchdowns they’ve done, how many yards they’ve thrown for, how many blocks they’ve done. And that helps you narrow down who you want to talk to. And look at the back of the card, find out a little bit more about them so that when you pick up the phone for the first time, you actually know who you’re talking to. It’s not just a name and a number in the next dial. You actually called that person on purpose with a purpose of talking to them about an opportunity. So that’s fantasy football.

Interviewer: Peter Clayton

Anita, you were talking about this, that you actually get involved for the first two, three, four months in the whole onboarding process. Why do you do that? And why is that important?

Recruiter 2: Anita Martel

Like I said before, it’s a difficult time for anybody to start a new job. It’s not so much on the technical side that we get involved, it’s more on that fit side. We want to have success in this search and we want the person to be comfortable, the company to be completely satisfied with the person that they’ve hired. It’s important to do that.

Recruiter 1: David Perry

By the time you get to the end of our process, what you have is you started with a complete stranger who’s now enthusiastically onboard. They’ve done their candidate presentation to the entire search committee. They’ve said, “Here’s what you said is important. Here’s how I’m going to handle that. Now this is my first 30, 60, 90 days. Are we on the same page? If not, where do we need to adjust?” So that there’s no wasted time. They don’t come on board on a Monday, and then spend two to three or four weeks or six weeks getting to know the place. No. They have a tactical battle plan. They got a roadmap and they’re good to go.

That’s what you get out of this. You get a dedicated individual who joins with enthusiasm, with an actual plan that you understand as an employer, that you understand that you know they’re going to execute on. And that’s what we did with Darryl. And it was a vastly radical plan, it was a radically different plan than what the people around the table originally thought was needed. In fact, the term sales engagement was not a term that was used anywhere in the industry until Darryl came in at about month number two and said, “We’re in the sales engagement business. We’re not in this business where we’ve been competing. We’re the sales engagement business. And this is what this means. And here’s how we’re going to position our company.”

Chief Marketing Officer: Darryl Praill

I tell people, “The reason I’m having so much fun at VanillaSoft is because my colleagues and I are so much alike, we just get each other.” So therefore we’re allowed to do our jobs and we trust each other, but we hold each other accountable to outcomes. In other words, we’re aligned on the philosophy and the metrics, and how we approach our day-to-day activities. Was that an accident? No. We all know that this was put together very intentionally by David Perry in consultation with what he was told the employer, VanillaSoft, needed along with his observations of the stakeholders and his ability to intuit what they needed, even though they might not have expressed it. This transition for me, from having my own company to be back into work for somebody could have gone off the rails quickly. It’s been flawless because we are all aligned. And I look at, that started the day David Perry got involved.

Interviewer: Peter Clayton

So Darryl has been with VanillaSoft now for almost three and a half years. And he was recently promoted to Chief Revenue Officer. So tell us a little bit about the story of what has transpired at VanillaSoft since Darryl joined the team?

Recruiter 1: David Perry

I can tell you that SQL, sales qualified leads, are up by a multiple of, I believe, six, and MQLs, marketing qualified leads, are up by a very similar number. So the volume of business has more than beat their expectations. A lot of people that we looked at when we were hiring for this role were VPs of marketing and CMOs that were coming in from software related businesses. But a lot of telemarketing businesses. And what Darryl has been able to do is not just increase the number of touchpoints and calls going out, but actually increase the volume of queries that have come in, asking more questions and asking to try the software. So that’s been the biggest major change, it’s gone from an outbound, primarily outbound sales organisation to an inbound sales and marketing organisation.

Chief Marketing Officer: Darryl Praill

In my first calendar year of employment, I was able to quadruple the actual lead flow from historical track record of the company, quadruple it. Now you can’t quadruple that just because I’m a rockstar. I may be good at my job, but I need to be given an environment, I need to be given the budget, I need to be given the permissions to do what I say needs to be done. I had that. David Perry made sure that I had that when he matched me up with the CEO. He knew what I needed, and he knew what the role needed. That was huge. That was just quadrupling it. I can look at silly things like social media engagement, the last six months versus a year ago. The last six months, social engagement for VanillaSoft alone has increased over 600%, all right? We look at our website traffic just on our blogs alone, the same timeframe has grown almost 100%.

I was out for a meeting with a client this morning and he says to me, he goes, “You guys went from being nowhere to being everywhere.” I’ve managed personally to be coined the hardest working marketer in high-tech by a number of people online. But that’s not true. All that is, is just me doing my job and because leadership of VanillaSoft have a hot product and have allowed us to do what we need to do to get the job done. So what I find so amazing here is, this is a really important thing that David Perry is going to pick up on, the leadership team here knew they needed marketing but they didn’t know how to do the job. That’s why they needed to go hire somebody.

David Perry was able to hook up the right individual for the right opportunity, such that I was able to do what I’m good at doing and the rest of the leadership team here, and the investors, we had to reflect back and say, “We don’t know how you did it but we’re glad you did it.” And the reality was, I tell them, “The only reason I was able to do it is because you gave me the bandwidth to do it.” Okay. So we have two sides there working together. Who brought those two sides together? That was David Perry, all right? And he did it because he was able to communicate, manage expectations, make sure everybody knew what the expectations were, and that the personalities fit.

Recruiter 1: David Perry

When David Hood hired us at VanillaSoft, we were complete strangers. I had given him a copy of Hiring Greatness: How to Recruit Your Dream team and Crush the Competition, and I had given him a copy of Executive Recruiting for Dummies, and he had read them. By the time we showed up for our first one-on-one, tete-a-tete with the group. And he was asking questions out of the book, and, “Where was that question coming from?” It took me about 15 minutes to realize, “You read the book?” He goes, “Absolutely.” So he followed us, a lot of them did, they followed us step by step through the process. And that’s why we did it. It makes it easier for everybody to trust each other that we’re doing the right thing.

Recruiter 2: Anita Martel

And it’s safe, it’s safe for the company.

Recruiter 1: David Perry

And it’s-

Recruiter 2: Anita Martel

It’s very grounding. They know where everything’s at. They’re still in control. They haven’t lost touch of the process. It’s good for them.

Recruiter 1: David Perry

Yeah. We took everything out of the black box, right? Smoke and mirrors is gone. The black box disappeared ages ago. Put everything on the table, and we did it because Wiley asked us to do the book, and he asked us to do the book because at the time, I don’t remember how many searches we had done, but now 32 years later, we’re over 1500 searches. We have replaced six people in 32 years.