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Episode 80: Interview with Mark Kilens - Revenue Acceleration, Building Insights & Community

by Doug Davidoff | Aug 16, 2021 9:00:00 AM

Today’s episode is a special one as we welcome guest Mark Kilens, VP of Content and Community at Drift, to the show. You’ll receive expert insights into the topics of revenue acceleration, building insights from data, and community. We are so excited to share this episode with you all, and thank you Mark for joining us.




Show Notes

Black Line Podcast-Mark Kilens

Editor's Note: If you haven't already, leave the podcast a review either on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

If you would like to follow Mark, you can find him on: 

Twitter: @MarkKilens

LinkedIn: Mark Kilens

Let's get into it!

Mark Kilens is the VP of Content and Community at Drift. He has four teams underneath his responsibility including, content, community, events, and learning and development. He and his teams come up with a plan to use channels to take content and offers and match them to the sales team. They work together to drive revenue. 

The unique and interesting part about the structure of his teams is that SEO and content aren’t tied together in his teams. SEO is not the driving force, and that’s because if SEO was the driving force, their content would be serving the algorithms, not the audience. 

This structure came about as Drift thought of it as audience and goals. They try really hard to match those things up as much as possible. And they can take a look at how their doing by having a 3 month and 9 month plan. 

Drift is a revenue acceleration platform, what does that mean? 

It means that Drift helps businesses unify their marketing and sales teams to engage customers on their terms. The customer has all the power. We as a consumer have been put in complete control of how we want to live our lives because we have so many options when it coming to how to buy something, where to buy something, how to learn, how to communicate, and more. We live in a hyper-accelerated, always on world. When you’re trying to sell someone a solution, you need to maximize the way you do that. 

While Doug mostly agrees, he doesn’t agree that the customer is in complete control. They definitely have more power, but complete control is an overstatement. We have flipped the supply and demand constraints and we as buyers have more choices and can interact how we want. The downfall is that this puts buyers in a state of being overwhelmed.

We treat acceleration as the elimination of all friction so that it makes the process slick and easy for the customer to do what they want. Mark adds to this by saying revenue acceleration is something that all businesses would like to have. When you say friction, that’s how someone perceives it. Do they see the process as being easy or not easy. 

Habits are also changing. There are so many inflection points due to the rise of commercial internet that our habits of how we buy and live have changed. From a Channel perspective a business needs to be more considerate with how they engage with someone. 

How do you assess if the juice is worth the squeeze? 

Every situation deserves the context, the job to be done. The most powerful thing Drift is starting to build is insights and using AI to help you come up with the right insight so you can present it in a way to the customer that helps them. That’s the future of sales and marketing.

There are millions of conversations within Drift across all customers. They can use those conversations and the meta data, contact level data, and more to create generalized insights and specific data insights. For example, based off of this persona, here are the most common questions and the success rate of answering those questions. In some cases there are questions being asked on a page where the website is not even talking about the topic, so people have been able to go in and change their messaging and copy to be more compelling. 

Data is insightful and can help you build your hypotheses. Don’t see the chat bot questions as a bug, see them as a useful tool to find what you’re looking for. 

Moving on to the consumer economy, what advice do you have for selling to a group of people rather than one person or a few people? 

There needs to be a tremendous amount of collaboration with sales, marketing, and services. You need to have a very well thought out sales methodology to be able to align those in the group so they understand that they all have a similar problem and that your solution is going to be the one that will deliver. 

The thing is we identify a problem and come up with a solution, and as Doug mentions this goes way beyond methodology. What we’re all doing is creating software. It isn’t always digital, but it is software because you always have to be tweaking it and improving it. It isn’t something that is one and done. 

Why do revenue acceleration efforts not work? 

Mark says that there’s a myriad of things that lead to this, but some of the ones that come to mind are: lack of skills, lack of knowledge, lack of understanding change management (workflow design), lack of understanding how that affects the people, and more. 

The way we are teaching and training is in yesterday’s paradigm. As tech gets used more, the importance of system and process design, of empathy, and of how to have a conversation becomes extremely important. The system thinks so much for us today that we don’t know how to talk, and if we don’t fix this now, we’ll run into a wall. 

It comes down to critical thinking. Mark mentions that we have to help salespeople and marketers by having mental models so that they can make inferences and connect dots. You have to teach it to really learn it. And to master it you have to learn it and teach it often. You have to take the machine out of the human. 

Switching gears a bit here towards the end of the show, we discuss how Mark was an employee with HubSpot, specifically working on HubSpot Academy. The question posed: what’s changed since then? 

Mark’s response was that the objective hasn’t changed much in this space, but just about everything else has. Mainly his title change was a big one because everyone is doing content, but not many people are doing content really well. There are still content issues as people are serving the business and the machines rather than using content to serve the customer. 

Content is an extremely incredible spark for your community if you do it right. And community is a loaded term. It’s belonging, it’s belief, and it’s a shared experience and feeling among people. It can also be brand. Community is getting more personal to what you really care about in this time of your life and those things are going to change over time. We all have to be better critical thinkers, and communities are a good way to do that. They’re going to be a powerful force.