In the second episode of The Storied Future Podcast, Chris talks to Jamie Cleghorn and Rishi Dave of Bain & Company about how to create alignment across the B2B organization, from the buyer to the boardroom.
Jamie is a Senior Partner focused mainly on growth strategy, go-to-market effectiveness, and organizational alignment. Rishi is an Expert Partner in the firm’s commercial excellence practice with deep expertise in B2B marketing and digital marketing.
This conversation covers a ton of ground and centers around a few core principles—perhaps the biggest of which is how to get buy-in and achieve alignment across the enterprise. You’re going to get a lot out of this episode, especially if you’re trying to craft a strategic narrative with integrity from the top of the organization down to the frontlines.
In this conversation, Chris, Jamie, and Rishi talk about:
- How to use the B2B elements of value— a framework designed to help B2B brands measure and deliver what customers want—to drive growth
- What it takes to create strategic narratives that authentically align everyone from the boardroom to the frontline
- How Bain and Company’s Sales Play System helps close the gaps between marketing and sales
- Why CMOs can’t afford to not invest in brand AND demand
- How a blank piece of paper can be a powerful tool for realigning your thinking
And much more!
002 Bain and Company: Aligning Everyone From the Buyer to the Boardroom
Rishi Dave 00:00
More so than technology data demand gen, digital, unless you have the right narrative messaging, nothing else will be as effective.
Chris Hare 00:07
It's getting product marketing and sales into the same room and doing that hard work around messaging around the story.
Welcome to The Storied Future Podcast, with Chris Hare - a show that provides the knowledge and inspiration C-suite leaders need to shift the future. Hear from experts, innovators, and purpose-driven leaders who have harnessed the power of strategic narrative to create lasting change.
Chris Hare 00:33
Hi, and welcome to The Storied Future Podcast. My name is Chris Hare, and I'm glad you're here. Each episode, I interview C-suite leaders, experts, and innovators who have created strategic narratives that change minds, change behavior, and change the future. My goal in starting this show was to talk about business transformation. You're going to get that in spades from some amazing guests, but you'll also hear stories of personal transformation. My guests on today's episode are Jamie Cleghorn and Rishi Dave of Bain and Company. Jamie is a partner in the Chicago office of Bain and Company. He's a member of their technology and sales and marketing practices, and he partners with clients to drive transformational change primarily in the areas of growth strategy, go-to-market effectiveness, and organizational alignment. Rishi is an expert partner in the firm's commercial excellence practice with deep expertise in B2B marketing and digital marketing. He partners with CMOs and management teams to drive marketing transformations and build modern marketing capabilities. When I started this podcast, Jaime was one of the first people I reached out to because I have so much respect for his work. In 2018, he published an article in Harvard Business Review with Eric Almquist and Lori Sherer, entitled “The B2B Elements of Value”, a framework that's designed to help B2B brands measure and deliver what customers want. I've used the B2B Elements of Value in countless conversations with brands that focus on the functional and the rational, and fail to recognize that buyers are people, too - people seeking to reduce anxiety advances or careers, discover their purpose, and find meaning in their work. In this episode, I talked to Jamie and Rishi about how they use the B2B Elements of Value to drive growth, what it takes to create strategic narratives that aligned everyone from the boardroom to the frontline in an authentic way, how the Bain and Company Sales Place System helps to close the gaps between marketing and sales, and why CMOs can't afford to not invest in brand. Let's dive in.
Rishi and Jamie, thanks so much for joining The Storied Future Podcast.
Rishi Dave 02:37
Jamie Cleghorn 02:38
Thanks for having us, Chris. Glad to be here.
Chris Hare 02:39
So, Rishi, let's start with you. I'd love to hear a little bit about your role at Bain and a little bit about your journey as a marketer.
Rishi Dave 02:45
Yeah, definitely. I actually started my career at Bain, coming out of college. And then after that, I left Bain and I took on a number of roles in sales and business development and at startups. And I kind of fell into marketing. So after business school, you know, I started in corporate strategy, which makes a lot of sense for being a consultant. And then in my career at Dell, in corporate strategy, I moved into digital marketing. And then over time, I really grew at Dell, in the marketing role, eventually ran digital marketing globally for the B2B businesses there. And then I moved on to a number of CMO roles after that at public tech and cloud companies. And then eventually, I came back to Bain. And my role at Bain, which won't be a surprise, is really focused on helping clients with kind of B2B marketing, as well as really driving that connection between sales and marketing to drive top line growth. And so that's both looking at marketing operating models, marketing processes, capabilities like digital technology, data and analytics, as well as kind of, you know, and we'll get into this, our Sales Play System, which is really how sales and marketing work together to drive growth.
Chris Hare 03:58
Awesome. Well, thanks for that overview. Jamie, for you, I'd love to hear about your current role. But you've described yourself as a born and raised data marketer, we'd love to hear about, kind of, your early days and how your family influenced the journey that took you where you are today.
Jamie Cleghorn 04:12
Yeah, thanks, Chris. My dad was a data marketer. So that was there. And actually his dad was a journalist and an ad man, when we said such things. And on the other side, I've got psychologists. So sort of sitting at this intersection of data and communications and influence has really kind of been – I come by it honestly, perhaps. But I never subscribed to a magazine using my own name, because I knew it was gonna get sold. So I'd make up a name and track where it got sold. So sort of had an awareness of this stuff very early on, and it's kind of been a through line, through my education and my career. Majored in history because I’ve been fascinated by why societies change and why people do what they do. And here I am, 20 plus years later, having done a turn as a strategist at Bain, really working on sort of that intersection of strategy and the market. We call it the customer strategy practice. And it really is that. It's as soon as the strategy leaves the boardroom and needs to flow through the front end of the business and intersect with customers in a way that's compelling. And that's what I spend my time doing is helping companies do that.
Chris Hare 05:22
Thanks for that overview. And I know Rishi kind of mentioned the same thing of like, how do you get the strategy to flow all the way to the customer? And I love that, you know, with other content of yours that I've read over time is that, kind of that obsession with the customer. And looking at how things break down on the way there, right? So, Rishi, I know you all spend a lot of time helping companies close the gap between sales and marketing and the customer. Can you talk a little bit about the Sales Play System that you all have developed? And why it's so critical in aligning GTM around the customer?
Rishi Dave 05:51
Yeah, definitely. Many companies and many of our clients are really focused on driving that top line growth. But they're often challenged by a number of things. Is sales really proactively selling? Does marketing actually have the capabilities to actually support a high growth business, so driving top line? Are sales and marketing working together, actually, and not in silos, and on the same page to drive top line growth? And then also, it's just hard, you know, when you're a big, large company, dealing with a lot of complexities, where do you even start, in terms of really revamping how you go to market between sales, marketing, and product. I mean, product plays a large role as well, so that you can scale and grow. And so that's really where Sales Play System comes into play, is really around how you, in an agile way, work together to drive growth. It's really comprised of three things. Number one is what we call a sales play factory, where we actually define very specific plays that we want to run. So things like we want to increase share of wallet at this particular company, we want to drive upsell against our existing customer base, we have a new product and we need to get it to market. Here's how we'll get it to market. And so we build a very practical sales play that has everything you need to do that. So, right down to exactly whom do you target? What is the cadence in which you're going to that count between sales and marketing? What content you use throughout that process? How do you leverage your technology data to be effective? And then how do you measure it? The second part of that is what we call a win room, which is a command center, which really looks at a) how are the sales plays doing?, b) what new plays do we need to put in our backlog? and c) what do we need to improve in our existing plays? - what's working, what's not, so we can evolve them and grow. And the last piece is really how does sales, marketing, product work together to execute. So that's kind of the Sales Play System. And then what's kind of fundamental to it is having a very bottoms-up understanding of whom you are targeting. And so we have, you know, a capability called Money Map, which is a software technology that actually allows you to build up a bottoms-up view of the opportunity, all the accounts that are out there, what your current share wallet isn't what your potential share wallet is. And that's kind of your true north and how you target these things. And so it's very practical, very agile, and really eliminates complication, and getting going to drive that top line growth.
Chris Hare 08:29
I want to get into the, kind of, with Jamie, of the research that you all have done that kind of supports that framework in a little bit here. But Jamie, first, you know, you've referenced elsewhere, Adam Smith's pin factory, as analogous to what happens within sales and marketing. Can you talk a little bit about why that's such a great analogy?
Jamie Cleghorn 08:47
Yeah, happy to Chris. I told you I studied history. So, there you go. So Adam Smith was an economist, really a theoretician at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. And what he said is, a craftsperson making a pin - you know, a push pin, for sewing - it's not efficient. What you should do is you should have someone that makes the metal shaft, and then someone that puts the head on the pin, and someone that sharpens the pin and have the specialization of labor. And really, that underpins much of the modern economy and much of the modern manufacturing economy. That's dense specialization of labor. But when you have specialization of labor at the front end of a business, if you've got professional specialist marketers, professional specialist salespeople, professional specialist product people, oftentimes what they are not very good at is building a useful pin for the customers because product’s doing one thing, marketing is doing another thing, and sales is doing another thing. And even if they're integrated and aligned at the highest level, really getting that orchestrated down at the operational level, at the day to day level, at the account level, is often not happening. And so you really just see this big disconnection. And so that the pin factory really is increasingly the wrong model. The model we need is something that gets all these people aligned in the same direction rowing in the same direction and focused on the same micro outcomes and micro goals. That's the only way we know how to do to get that to happen. Because the marketplace is too dynamic, customers are too dynamic, to put a perfect logic model around it. Instead, you need principles of engagement in the field, and you need objectives that people can rally around.
Chris Hare 10:25
So Jamie, I want to sit with that for just a second. You talked about the micro actions that you're trying to drive, you know. A lot of what you all do is, yes, it's about changing the direction of a business or changing the way a business performs. But it comes down to individual decisions that individual people make every single day, right? So how do you ensure that kind of alignment of everyone around that vision?
Jamie Cleghorn 10:48
Yeah, you need to make it bite-sized, and you need to take the focus away from the specialization and put it on the customer. And so an SDR who thinks their job is to develop leads, that's not actually that useful. An SDR that's working with a marketer and an AM - a marketer upstream and AM downstream - to have a really clear messaging objective, a really clear outcomes objective for that customer interaction, and is aligned with where that customer is on their buying journey and sort of scratches the itch that that customer has around discovery or education or consideration and into decision making - that's really what it's about. And so it's about figuring a system that lets all those constituents work together in a way that gets the customer what they want.
Chris Hare 11:38
And Rishi, we're going to make this a little bit personal. So, going back to your days as a CMO, is there a story that comes to mind of when you were kind of dealing with the silos between sales and marketing and that breakdown on the way to the customer?
Rishi Dave 11:53
Yeah, definitely. You know, I took over as CMO of a company that had been around for a long time. I came in when a new CEO came in, primarily to really modernize the company in every dimension, from a product perspective, from a brand perspective, from a go-to-market perspective, from a data technology analytics digital perspective. And so the real challenge there was that marketing, their job was really just to kind of do whatever the sales team asked them to do, which ended up being a lot of just super tactical, like, get me this slide, get me at this event, build this one piece of collateral, all those kinds of things. Marketing was not really creating the leverage that the company needed to drive top line growth. And also, you know, it wasn't really a strategic function. And so what I focused a lot on is, number one, what is a core value prop messaging content that we need to drive? We made sure that the sales team as well as customers, it resonated. And it took a lot of time, a lot of evolution, a lot of changes, both from sales and customer feedback. The most important thing was getting buy-off from both customers as well as sales teams. And then from there, it was very important not to continue the silos between sales and marketing, working with a team to jointly say, Okay, what accounts are we going after? How are we going to go after those accounts? When we get leads, what is the handoff process to the sales team? What should we not hand off? What should we hand off? How do we measure that? Doing SLAs, between marketing and sales, saying Real Marketing says we will make sure that we do XYZ, but you have to kind of follow up and here's how we'll measure it, and here's how we jointly look at Pipeline, etc. And so really driving that alignment with the sales team and working together with the ultimate goal of driving growth was very critical. I mean, tactical things matter. So for example, making sure that the marketing organization didn't just measure themselves on MQLs, by just say, “Oh, we got a bunch of MQLs” and declare victory. I made sure that the marketing team was also measured on, Did you generate pipeline that actually close at a reasonable rate? So the sales team felt like we were measuring ourselves as much, and as close as possible, to how the sales team is measuring themselves. And that creates a lot of alignment as well. And so all those elements of kind of joint metrics, joint buy-off on whom we're targeting and what we're saying, and then really defining processes that will work for both sales and marketing - all those things are very critical to drive that top line growth and work together and not in silos.
Chris Hare 14:42
And I'm curious if there's a memory you have of a time where you kind of had a massive breakthrough, kind of what was that experience like? But then also potentially a dip, even from the emotional level, right? Like, it's hard work to move that ship over time, right? I'd love to hear a little bit about that.
Rishi Dave 14:58
Yeah, a great example of a huge dip was we would do quarterly QBRs. Every company does that. And so we did one. And it was the classic like, Let's go for a day, go to an off-site, sales team reports out how they're doing, marketing reports out how they're doing, etc. And my team got up there - this is early on - and said, hey, look, here are the programs were running, here are the leads were generating, we're doing really well, etc. And I'm in that meeting, and then then the CEO turns to the sales, Head of Sales for that region and says, how are these leads working for you? And he's like, I don't get any leads. They don't help me at all. There's a lot of reasons for that. One is we didn't get buy-off; two is they were getting it but they didn't realize it; three is that we didn't have that alignment on kind of “what is a lead?”. So all those kinds of things were not in place. And so you can imagine that that was a pretty embarrassing moment, for me as a CMO. And even for the head of sales, right? It showed that we weren't aligned. And the CEO was definitely not happy about that. And so that was kind of a low point. I would say one of the big high points was I was at a company, Dun and Bradstreet. And that's like 175 year old company, right? That was, and we were really trying to modernize the company. And we did a pretty significant rebranding of the company, right. And it's not just about look and feel, it's about the messaging, it's about the content. It's about the digital experience, and not only how it looked, but how it drove lead gen, etc. And I think that launching that was a big high point, because a) I saw that everyone was using that messaging consistently, the whole hierarchy, b) it generated a lot of excitement, from the sales team, from the employees, not just kind of emotional, but the numbers also change in terms of engagement for my sales team and our employees, and c) it was also clear that the sales team was excited, because as we launched the brand, when people, when customers actually came to them for the first time, customers knew what we did. It was actually the right thing that we do today and where we're going now what we did 100 years ago, and it made the sales team more productive. And the sales team acknowledged that. And so that was kind of a high moment where people don't often think of the importance of branded B2B and narrative and messaging content. But actually doing it in a way that worked was very exciting, and acknowledged it.
Chris Hare 17:26
Yeah, I really appreciate you being so candid on your personal experience. So often, when we talk about businesses, you know, it's very easy to talk about it as this just very rational thing. But when you're in the CMO role, and you're in that pressure cooker, right, like there's emotion can drive so many decisions, good decisions and bad decisions, right? And so I appreciate you sharing that.
Rishi Dave 17:44
Chris Hare 17:46
So Jamie, would love to go back to kind of the genesis of the Sales Play System, right. So we talked about kind of why it's important. And Rishi talked about the three pillars of that. But if you can take me back to what sparked it to begin with and your work in that area. And then what did the research show?
Jamie Cleghorn 18:02
Yeah, great question. And Rishi, I love the story, my stomach dropped in there a little bit when you told the bit about the CEO asking head of sales, you know, how about those MQLs? And I don't get any MQLs? I don't know what an MQL is. I think that's the genesis of it, Chris. The CEO doesn't care about MQLs, the CEO doesn't care about SQLs. The CEO doesn't care about pipeline, the CEO doesn't care about Closed Won, really. They just care about, you know, are we getting results? Are those results sticky? Are the customers staying with us? Are they happy? Are they referring other customers and so, that's because the CEO is running a system, the system of product and marketing and sales. And too many of the execution methodologies that businesses use are not systematic across the whole front of the business, too many of them are marketing systems or selling systems, or product systems. And you can go really deep on product systems and product design methodologies, and all that fun stuff. And you can go really deep on branding methodologies, and all that fun stuff. But there's not a lot of things that knit those together. And so that was the genesis of Sales Play System. And what we set out to do is really define and distill down, what are the core elements of those companies that can make it operate as a system that can make product, marketing, and sales work together in a way that creates happy buying customers that come back for more. And when we distilled it down, there were really five elements to that. And what we found is that the companies that did those five elements well were three times more likely to be in the outperforming section of the market than the underperforming section of the market. And so the question is, What are the five? Pretty intuitive, but maybe not. So let me lay them out. The first one is, we call it the sales play factory, but its upstream. It's getting product, marketing, and sales into the same room and doing that hard work around messaging, around the story, around an offer, and who is the persona, and what is the happy path from awareness and into discovery, into consideration, in through to purchase. And mapping that out as sort of the baseline, industrialized go-to-market process. On the other end of that spectrum is the execution. So taking those happy path plans that are integrated across all and getting sales and marketing to actually execute those in a way that's somewhat on script. Between those two is something we call the wind room, and it's really a command center. And what the wind room is doing is saying, which offer do I want to match to which opportunity in the marketplace and what's the playI want to run there. And so the wind room really sits above and is the integrating force. And the wind room is only as good as the data it has. And so the fourth element is that customer prospect database, we call it the money map. It's a map of where all the money is in the market, where all the whitespace dollars within your existing customers, within your new customers by product category. And when you're armed with that kind of information, you really have the world at your fingertips, which you can say, okay, great in customer X in product Y there's Z opportunity, how do we go get it? How do we go put this opportunity in front of a customer to buy what we have? And that level of precision is a massive unlock for a lot of companies. And then the last piece, the fifth, is the technology to make it all work. And so this is the realm of, of course the CRMs of the world – the Salesforces and the Dynamics, but also all the other domains. And in fact, what we found is that most companies have a lot of technology in place to do this kind of stuff, marketing, automation, sales automation. In fact, there was a cohort of customers that on average had eight pieces of technology installed. And we were like, wow, eight, that's like they're really invested. And that group that had eight is actually the group that failed. That's the group that was losing market share, that was undergoing in the market. And the group that was winning, they had 11, right, and so but you say eight versus 11. Like, it's not about having the technology, it's not about having bought the right toys. What we found is that it's actually about how well it's mapped back into processes and mapped into people and integrated together. I can't tell you how many companies I've talked to that said, oh, you know, we tried Gong, or we tried CRM, or we tried Clary, or we tried Marketo. And it just it didn't work. Well, I'm pretty sure it worked, it didn't work for you, because you didn't set it up right. And not only that, you have to make them all work together. And that's why you sort of see this rise of this person called Rev Ops. You know, Rev Ops wasn't even in the vernacular five years ago. And now there's this whole talent class out there of people that, for a living, really understand the process flow of how all this works, what are all the different tools out there, and they knit it together in a way that drives disproportional outcomes for their companies. And so that's it. Those are the elements of Sales Play System. And the companies that do it well, they grow, they grow, they outgrow the market, they take share. And then that creates a virtuous cycle in and of itself.
Chris Hare 23:19
Is there a story, a success story that comes to mind, where because obviously, you do the research, and then there's kind of the lag time before between when people start to implement it, right? But is there a favorite story that comes to mind?
Jamie Cleghorn 23:31
Yeah, I mean, I'll just point to one, like the last couple months, there's a client we're working with that did this. And within two months of launching, and this is not a super-fast sales cycle, but decently fast, the sales leader came back and said, My win rates are up over 10%, my pipeline’s up almost 20%, and my cycle time on deals, my time to close, is down 5%. And you get data like that, and say, Boy, like, this is like one of those miracle diets like, Hey, I've been doing it for two weeks now. And I've already dropped 20 pounds, right? I mean, you kind of hear stats like that, and you say, boy, this is too good to be true. And if you think about, you know, the average tech company's going to have 20 30% of their revenue invested in go-to-market. And you say, boy, if I can get 10% more and 5% more efficient. That's a huge, huge, huge impact, I mean that’s millions and millions and millions of dollars of efficiency, and efficiency the way we like it, which translates to effectiveness. So it's pretty powerful stuff.
Chris Hare 24:31
I think you've come up with the next Bain and Company ad campaign, the miracle diet! Except you're gaining - you're not shedding pounds, you're gaining revenue and gaining profit and efficiency.
Rishi Dave 24:43
Chris, to your point earlier on, you know, business is emotional, and it's not like a rational thing. And, you know, Jamie and I have worked on a few projects in Sales Play System and one thing we've done better and better at over time is thinking about what is the change management portion of this as well as you implement it. How do you get buy in from the marketing team, from the product team, from the frontline sales team? How do you make sure that you get feedback from them to see, is it working? Is it not working? Do you accept this culture change or not? How do we do the right training? That's not just kind of mechanical, like, here's how you X and Y, but also, you know, change management oriented? How do you, you know, manage your teams differently? How do you manage yourself differently? You know I think, over time, as we've done more of these, to your point earlier, that's as important as the actual process itself. And to Jamie's point, why we're suddenly getting results faster and faster is that we're making that a fundamental part of how we do this. And I think it makes a big difference and the speed to growth.
Jamie Cleghorn 25:50
It's not just training, it's the whole, it's the science of change management. So one of the things that I've found to be true more than anything else I can tell you, after nearly 20 years of being a consultant, is that if there's one thing human beings do not like to do, it is change. And they experience change as loss of control, they experience change as trauma, their ability to absorb information drops, their willingness to listen to people drops, and everything we're talking about is taking people that used to be doing their jobs one way last week, and we're asking to do their jobs differently next week. And that is not a pleasant feeling. And so doing the training, doing the reinforcement, doing the coaching, getting the right people involved, give them the tools to be successful, putting the feedback loops on, hey, I'm doing this, this is working, hey, this is fun - you really got to kind of walk the team through that first valley of despair or else they're not going to get there. And this is why so many of these transformations fail, you know. Hey, we've invested all this money in CRM, how come it's not working? Oh, we spend all this money on our advertising, how come it's not working? And that's because there are no quick fixes, there are no silver bullets, you can't just throw $5 million at a piece of your system and hope it works. You need to build the system, and you need to build the people, build up the muscles in the people that operate within the system.
Chris Hare 27:04
So I would imagine that, in order for that to be successful, you need that very clear alignment between CEO, CFO, CMO, etc., at the top in order to drive that kind of change, versus some of the levels that some companies I've seen tried to do it at it, I guess.
Jamie Cleghorn 27:20
That's exactly right. I mean, we're happy to talk to CMOs, we're happy to talk to CROs. But if they're not talking to their colleagues, and if they don't have buy-in across the whole enterprise, it's not worth doing anything that smells transformational, because it's gonna fail, full stop.
Chris Hare 27:42
Yeah, I would love to pivot a little bit to just talk about strategic narrative and kind of setting that narrative that aligns, kind of, the business. Rishi, can you talk a little bit about how you all define strategic narrative and why that's so critical to the success of your work?
Rishi Dave 27:58
Yeah, you know, as we talked about, you know, we think a lot about whom we're targeting, right, that Money Map that we talked about earlier. But then when we actually want to run the sales play or the motion against that, we have to think, fundamental part of that is, whom we're targeting, and what we're saying to that person, right. And not just kind of when we're selling to them, but content, digital marketing, etc., making sure it's consistent, making sure it resonates, and making sure that you know, it's what they want when they want it from a customer perspective. And so getting that messaging right and consistent, when we're doing this kind of sales and marketing execution is actually pretty fundamental and pretty critical to the way we do go-to-market. So that's kind of within the context of sales play. I think, more broadly, from a brand perspective, in B2B especially, getting that top level messaging right, and that messaging hierarchy correct, is pretty critical, not only because you need to make sure that you come up with something that really drives your differentiation, and gets the right perception out there, but it also kind of aligns your teams - both employees as well as customers - on kind of what you're doing and where you're going. And so getting that narrative, right is so critical. And then the last piece is how do you get that top level narrative and that frontline narrative to work together to drive your go-to-market and your growth? We talked about that. That's again, how we leverage that Sales Play System or process to make sure that that narrative is actually embedded in the day to day processes of how we do sales and marketing.
Chris Hare 29:33
Yeah, in just a minute, I want to get into your framework that helps really align around the buyer. But, Jamie, you've talked about previously that a lot of companies really aren't good at creating that narrative that really hangs together and is integris from the boardroom to the frontline. Can you talk a little bit about why you think that is?
Jamie Cleghorn 29:49
Well, it's a lot of things, but part of it is sometimes the portfolio is just hard, right? The portfolio is so big, or so disparate, that to build a narrative platform that is actually coherent for the portfolio, it has to be almost meaningless, or so abstract that could mean anything. And so it's a little bit the problem that a big political party has. They're trying to take people from the left side and the right side, in the middle and up and down and get it all together - they end up saying things that don't please anyone and don't really mean anything to anybody. And I think that's, if you look at some of these big companies that have big portfolios of disparate products or disparate solutions, or disparate views, that you know, that's where a lot of them are. Or you'll end up with something that is so aspirational, and so high level that it can be connected almost any way you want. So sustainability is a great example here. Lots of companies out now with narratives around sustainability and sustainable future and greenwashing. And they wouldn't say greenwashing, but green things. And you know, then as a product marketer who's like, trying to integrate that back down to a data security product, or electrical switch, or a business service, it's just fear very hard to make that feel useful, relevant, everything to the buyer persona. So some of it's just the trouble of altitude. The corporate marketing, the corporate brand is going to fly at 100,000 feet, and a product marketer needs to be relevant down to 10,000 feet. And so there's just a lot of airspace between those, and it's hard to make the connection. And so what you end up is you end up with either messaging that is too adherent to the top, and so therefore, it's not relevant. It sort of panders to the top. So it works in buzzwords, but it just doesn't feel real to the front. Or ignores the top. And those are those the rogue business units that corporate gets upset about. So it can be a pretty frustrating situation or pretty hard place to live. And so a lot of it comes back to just defining really around, what's the customer that we're going for? What's an outcome we're driving towards? And how do we give people a map from that 100,000 foot down to that 10,000 foot so that our brand marketers and our product marketers actually have a coherent throughline?
Rishi Dave 32:13
Yeah. And what I would add to that as well is, to Jamie's point many times when companies say, Oh, we have a messaging problem, or a narrative problem, etc., when we actually dig in, it's a strategic issue. To Jamie's point, like, you haven't really defined who you target, and why you're different. And then the second thing, especially in B2B, especially in B2B technology, like, what do you actually sell? You have this massive portfolio of things. How do they all come together? Is that one set of products that are for a particular segment? Or are they multiple products for multiple segments? What do you do? How do you articulate why you're different? And so sometimes, we have to start there, before we even get into the messaging. And that becomes a pretty long exercise, but a critical one.
Chris Hare 33:00
Jamie, can you talk a little bit about the framework that really supports that kind of, that connection from the top to the bottom, right, so that you can really kind of connect with both the hearts and the minds of buyers? And then kind of move them along the journey over time?
Jamie Cleghorn 33:15
Yeah, would love to. We developed a framework that does exactly this. It's basically a toolkit of modular messaging Legos, value prop Legos, if you will. And so I was, I'm old enough that my Legos when I was a kid were just sort of like, you know, eight dot or six dot or four dot Legos, and like in any different colors, and you really need something that simple. So my kids’ Legos today are a little bit too complicated and only ever work on the one thing they were designed for. So we've developed kind of those old school Legos, and there's 30 of them in the B2C and 40 of them in the B2B. And they're logical, they're rational, and they speak to pragmatic, objective, qualitative value that a product can convey, an offering can convey. And some of those are very functional around speed and efficiency and cost. And some of those are very emotive around heirloom value and security and hope. And then there's that middle ground, particularly in B2B, which is really just about easy to do business with. And so how do you make yourself the easy button for a customer as they interact with you. And you can configure those Legos in lots of different ways to create all sorts of unique value props. But if you use those to create your strategy, then you can bring them down to the frontline and say, here's the Legos. Here's what's underneath this. This is the source code of our strategy. This is the source code of our value messaging. And if everyone is using the same Legos, it's all going to fit together in the same family. It's all going to look good together. And so that really is the key is, how do you distill it down to the essential elements, not something that feels high and fluffy, but something that actually is rooted in customer need. And something that creates value for customers and have that connecting your corporate strategy, your B2B strategy, your product strategy, and your messaging strategy.
Chris Hare 35:10
You definitely hit the nail on the head. I mean, when I take the B2B elements of value and overlay it on whether it's messaging or content from a lot of big B2B brands, they have the top of the pyramid. And they have the bottom of the pyramid, and nothing in between, right. And I love how it kind of gives that step journey, but also that Lego approach like he talked about, that's cool.
Jamie Cleghorn 35:30
Well, that's the classic B2B sales. B2B marketing is the bottom of the pyramid, right? It speeds and feeds and we've doubled our MIPS and all these things. And then the top of the pyramid is something super aspirational. And the value pyramid is the middleware that connects those things together and creates something coherent.
Rishi Dave 35:48
It's like Silicon Valley, that TV show where they have a joke, where every tech company, their mission is we do XYZ to make the world a better place. So they just, they say their product, and then they just add “to make the world a better place” in every one of their brand messaging.
Chris Hare 36:07
Yeah, that's about right. Well, Rishi, how can leaders ensure that their narratives are really customer pulled versus company pushed?
Rishi Dave 36:17
Listening to customers. I don't think that companies do that enough. I think they spend a lot of their time inside out, especially if they're working at the bottom of the speeds and feeds. And so what I found was most effective… And by the way, getting great narrative and messaging is probably the hardest part about being a CMO. More so than technology data, demand gen, digital, is unless you have the right narrative messaging, as we've been speaking about, that's practical and usable and differentiated, nothing else will be as effective because you need something to actually say. And so really, the way to drive great messaging, what I've seen as effective from a practical standpoint, is to make it iterative. So what I've done historically, is I've said, okay, look, based on what we know customers are saying, what the sales team is experiencing, here's a message that we can use for a program, get it out there, test it, see if it resonates or not, if it doesn't, adjust it. And so keep testing, seeing what works, seeing what resonates, and then scaling what works. I think we're in a world now, where now we can do very quick testing, getting feedback very quickly, and then see what resonates, etc. So, you know, I think from a kind of demand gen sales play etc. perspective, we very much take an agile approach. Who are we targeting? What do we think the right messaging is? What are we hearing? Is it working or not? And then do we have a system where we can adjust it very quickly? So I think that's ideal. Now, that being said, that doesn't, you know, many times, you do need to actually do the focus groups and all of that as well, especially when you're launching something new that hasn't really been a market. But I think, really thinking from a perspective of outside in and test, learn, and scale versus inside out, I think is the most effective way to do that. And then I think then over time, when you hit the right message, then you really get that pull and scaling.
Chris Hare 38:11
Yeah, I love the view, kind of the picture that I'm getting as you're talking is obviously, in your engagements, you come in and you drive a long-term transformation. But at the same time, there's that agile, experiment, test, learn, etc, as you go, which I think is really critical. Because so much of so many strategies start and there's been like complete turnover in the in the C-suite by the time the strategies done, right. Versus being able to get in and drive change right away.
Rishi Dave 38:36
Yeah, absolutely. No. And that's why it's not just the what you need to do. It's the how do you do it? How do you set up that agile meetings and system etc? How do you measure it, so that it's a sustainable thing? I think that's as important as, kind of, what you do is, kind of, how you set up that culture process system and change management, as we talked about earlier. That's continuous.
Jamie Cleghorn 38:59
There's a very simple skeleton key to that customer research piece. And it's the question why? Ask yourself first, why did they buy us? Why are they thinking that? What were they doing? You when you ask them? Why did you buy it? Why? Why Why? Why did you pick that one? And you'll get there. It's actually not that hard. It's just not convenient.
Chris Hare 39:21
So Rishi, is there an example that comes to mind for you of a company that you've worked with that really had like a really transformative narrative? And if so, I'd love to understand kind of some of the cultural elements and leadership traits that made that a success.
Rishi Dave 39:37
Yeah, definitely. So I had worked with a company that really, they were kind of viewed for what they used to do a long time ago, not kind of what they do today in the direction that they were going, right? So they will company that historically was consumer oriented. And that's what they were known for. And that's where they spent all their money. And they really kind of said like, we're now a B2B company, we're now an enterprise company, we want to look like we have credibility with the enterprise and enterprises can take a risk with us, because it's very different selling a consumer product versus an enterprise product. And so, for us, the real catalyst for that, the only way to really get a game changing narrative, is really to have a felt need across the company. And so, in this case, the sales team was feeling significant pain. They are responsible for hitting their number. And they were not able to convince customers that the company was a legitimate enterprise company, because the company was perceived as a consumer company. And obviously, a consumer company doesn't have the right security and will not be around for a long time. And, you know, can't bet the farm on a consumer company because they don't understand how to scale and all that kind of stuff. And so that was a real challenge for the sales team, where they just went out productive, because it was hard to get into accounts. And then secondly, not only was it hard to get into accounts, when they were in an account, they would spend an inordinate amount of time, just saying the basics of what the company did, and how it was different and all of that. So they would lose a lot of productivity that way. And then they would have to actually do the sale and convince the company versus a competitor, who's been in enterprise for a long time, who had the credibility, who had the brand, etc. And so that was a real felt pain for the company. Many times when customers and prospects are ready to buy in your space, especially in B2B, they kind of already have a top of mind set of companies in their head. And research we did recently said that almost like 90% of the time, they tend to go with somebody on that list. And so we knew that if we don't get our word out there on what we do today, and the direction we're going, so that when people think about buying a space, we're not on that original list, it's going to take a lot of work from sales and marketing to really get in those sales cycles. And so we really focus a lot on really understanding our customers, really understanding what is the unique value of what we do from a product perspective and a solution perspective for enterprises. How is that positioned differently from the competition, and then really going back to what I said earlier, really coming up with messaging, testing it, getting out there with demand gen, the website, digital, influences, analysts, getting feedback and optimizing that over time. And really, you know, through feedback, as well as just, you know, numbers and demand and lead gen, we could start to really hone in on what worked and what didn't work. And then to the point earlier, bringing that to the frontline, in the sales process. So really thinking about how do you enable the sales team and train them on that messaging, give them the right content, give them the right demos, etc, to execute. And so, you know, we, by investing both kind of top of funnel brand, but also taking that all the way down to the frontline, and making sure that there’s some level of consistency in that narrative and messaging content. And then really getting the feedback from the field, and the digital and the customers and the sales teams on how we need to improve our messaging over time and listening and improving. That was a pretty big game changer for the company, that it did all the metrics over time. It's not short term, it takes time, but show that we were changing perception. And we knew we were changing perception in two ways. Well, three ways. One way was that the traffic that was coming to our website was very different from who was coming previously. So the type of things people were searching for, how they were coming to our website, who was coming to our website, so enterprises will come in over time, more and more, etc. That was a good indicator in the short term. Obviously the sales process, and who was coming as a lead was changing as well. And the cost per lead was going down for businesses and enterprises. And then the qualitative surveys in terms of how people perceived us, like that was shifting as well. And then obviously, over time, the numbers actually demonstrated it as well. So, you know, I think that narratives can play a very large role in changing the perception of a company overall, but to the point where you have to bring it to the front line.
Jamie Cleghorn 44:09
One red flag I see with companies is if they say, I want to be the one stop shop for X or the single pane of glass for Y, usually that's a sign of a bad strategy. You know, if you want to be the one stop shop, Jeff Bezos already started that business 30 years ago, and you got a long way to go to get there. But “I want to be the one stop shop for something” is usually code for sloppy product management, sloppy strategy. And that's the wrapper. People want very specific things that solve very specific problems. And unless you're a commodity, they're not looking for a one stop shop.
Rishi Dave 44:41
Yeah, and there's no better proof of that. I'll give you a very tactical proof of that, is that when I was a CMO, some of the highest performing demand gen campaigns and search campaigns were ones where the technical person was saying, “How do I do this one technical thing in the language I'm an expert in?” Or “How do I accomplish this very particular thing?” Right? So people are looking for very specific things that address their issues, which again, you can do in the world of digital now.
Chris Hare 45:11
I feel like the thread to this entire conversation is pretty simple. It's just talk to people, right? It's that we had a client that their brand creative, they thought it was really clever. It wasn't, but it assumed that people knew they had a problem, right? And people were feeling stressed, but they didn't likely know why they were feeling stressed. But then you go to Sales, and 51% of their losses were due to people not knowing that they had a problem, right? And it's literally, you just go have a conversation and ask like, What's the hardest part of your day? What's driving you crazy, right? And doing that with customers, doing that with sales and account management, etc., I think it seems simple, but no one seems - very few people seem to do it.
Jamie Cleghorn 45:53
The problem is, they got to get that campaign out last week. So there's no time to talk to customers, you got to get the campaign out to talk to customers. It's the doom loop that every marketer’s caught in.
Chris Hare 46:03
Rishi, you started to talk a little bit about kind of the building the brand. And then Jamie, you talked about kind of that short term, we've got to hit this goal, right. So many I feel lately the conversations that I'm having around exactly that, which is, hey, we didn't hit our goal last quarter. Or, you know, we didn't get enough MQLs or whatever. So we're gonna just gut any spend on building the brand for the long term. Right. And it's all about lead gen or sales activation. Can you guys speak to that a little bit?
Rishi Dave 46:34
Yeah, I think nowadays, it's changing, though, that perception. So first of all, we recently did research where we talked to a large number of enterprise salespeople. And they actually, historically, they used to say, I want marketing to give me leads. Leads, leads, leads, leads, leads. So that's all I want. That's changed quite a bit. I think in our recent survey, something like 83% of the sellers we interviewed, or we surveyed said, No, we want marketing to build our brand, right, in addition to driving leads. I mean, leads was still there, I think 90% of still said leads. And I think what's happening now and what's changing, is that sellers are realizing that a) customers are self nurturing, self educating, everyone kind of talks about this now, before they even talk to a seller. So it's important for customers to make sure that what they're reading on the web, the research they're doing on their own, is actually, you know, reflects what the company does, right. The second thing is that I think sellers also are realizing that when they get a buyer or prospect, who already knows them, already knows what they do, and already knows why they're different, it makes the seller much more productive. And then the third thing is that sellers also realize in B2B - and I mentioned this earlier, and our research recently showed this - that if you're in that list of initial buyers that come to mind, when a big enterprise is thinking about buying, 90% of time, the people who they pick are off that list. They do all the research, and they add people to the list, and they make sure that that initial list makes sense and all of that. But end of the day, you know, if you're not on that list, you're going to have to do a lot of work to get on it. And so I think sellers are realizing that and they're realizing, okay, we have to invest in brand. Second thing I would say is that we've oftentimes separated, like we've said, that's brand spend, and that's performance marketing spend. And I think, in this world of digital, the two kind of support each other in a way that you can measure. So, for example, you know, I ran this very large brand campaign, I ran the campaign digitally against a specific segment of customers who didn't understand what we did. And I kind of drove that message. And I could almost immediately after we launched the campaign see an improvement in my performance marketing metrics. So my cost per lead, you know, started getting better, my inbound organic traffic started getting better, I got the right type of customer that I was targeting for my new product that I could kind of bring to my website and retarget them. And so I think nowadays, this older world where here's my brand spend, and here's my performance marketing spend, now you can actually see the impact of both. And that's even the case with things like you know, when you spend on billboards, you know, with digital billboards, you can actually measure that impact now, and so the world is changing as well. And so, all those reasons, I think, B2B companies are getting more and more comfortable with spending on brand. The last piece I would say is that we have proven B2B companies that have invested in a brand have done phenomenally well. Number one is Salesforce, right? Salesforce is one of the pioneers and significant spend on brand. And time has shown that that has been very successful.
Chris Hare 49:49
So that's very heartening to hear. And I'm actually having a conversation with a company right now where their sellers have come to them and said exactly that, like we need the brand. And we need you all to invest in the brand. Also talked recently to the national sales director at an enterprise SAAS company. And he said, you know, from just a retention and attraction standpoint, he's like, the top sellers will not work for a company that doesn't have that brand, right? So that's great. But I also wonder, too, how much of that is like back in the day with ‘bring your own device’? Like, hey, there's this groundswell, and it's going to convince the business because people are demanding it. On the flip side, Jamie, can you speak to a little bit about, you know, coming back to some of the behaviors that you see at the top that are kind of sometimes pushing the other direction, right? Where it's like, especially with CMO tenure, and how much pressure they're under pressure to make bad decisions, I guess.
Jamie Cleghorn 50:41
We often get the call when someone's new in chair, and it's a good test to see if they're frantic, or if they're not, because if they're frantic, they're probably going to do something short-term oriented. They're certainly gonna project their stress down to the organization. So it's all about finding that right horizon to deal with. And if you're not thinking out at least 12, 24, 36 months in everything you're doing, you're probably making some really bad short-term, really bad long-term decisions. So it's sort of balancing those agendas.
Chris Hare 51:09
And do you see typically, like in someone working with you, if they have made crazy commitments, or they are kind of fear driven? Do you see that you're generally able to help them course correct? Or is that generally kind of baked-in like, that's the direction they're going to just keep going?
Jamie Cleghorn 51:25
We have a saying in our business, which is the data will set you free. And so a lot of what we try to do very early on, is trying to pull back the camera a little bit and open the aperture and say, what are the things that are gonna matter today, but what are the things that are going to matter when budget cycle comes around, and next year when you're leading this? One of the cases I did years and years ago, for Bain was in the coffee business, and it was for two leading coffee brands in the US. And one of them, if I named it, you could sing the jingle in your head, it would automatically bring up the jingle. And it's because they push that jingle for 25, 35, 45 years. And the other one, you'd be like, hmm, what color is it? And the story of those two brands is fascinating. Because the one that just put brand dollars year after year after year into building the equity, just ran the table, the space. And the one that didn't… And there were disruptions along the way. And the category shifted in their premium players and all of those things. But when you got down to the core of the core business, which was mainstream coffee in America, the one that had stayed the course on brand equity massively, massively over delivered in share and a margin those things year over year. And it was so painful to sort of do the retrospective of the different campaigns. And the other brand would pivot every two years, every three years. And you know, we didn't do this level of analysis, but I'm sure every one of those pivots was an agency change, or brand manager change or VP change. And, yeah, there's just no coherence in it. And so you got to figure out, I mean, the rules of CP are that most categories are repertoire categories. You got to be in a consideration set and then the consumer is going to buy the cheapest one on the shelf. And so you gotta get yourself in the consideration set, that's the barrier. And so you know, the one that was the trusted brand was always in the consideration set. So that's the kind of thing you need to look at. And no one wants to hear that on their first day in the job when the world appears to be on fire. But if you got equity, build your equity.
Chris Hare 53:32
And, you know, Rishi, going back to when you're a CMO, obviously, the relationship with the CFO is super critical. What are some of the challenges that you see in your work? You've either seen in the past in that relationship, or that you've seen with some of your clients? And what are your recommendations?
Rishi Dave 53:48
Yeah, you know, I think that nowadays, I think the biggest challenge is still with that, you know, aligning with the head of sales. And number two is product. I actually find the CFO is still hard, but not as hard as the other two. The reason why is that, over time, I think CFOs have gotten more comfortable with what marketing does. And there's two reasons. One is that obviously marketing has become incredibly digital, quantitative, technology-oriented. So that gives a bit of comfort to CFOs knowing that a degree of it is measurable. And so that helps a lot, you know, making sure that you're aligned with the CFO on how you're measuring your return on your marketing spend. You're aligning with the CFO, who oftentimes even though they're a CFO, they also do a lot with the strategy of the company as well beyond finance. You aligning your marketing go-to-market with the overall strategy of the company. You know, having those continuous communications with the CFO I think are very important. I think also framing these investments in terms of you know, hey look, this short-term stuff that we can measure and there’s longer-term investments that we need to make. And these longer-term investments are not building expenses, they're building assets, right? And the time horizon is longer, and kind of being very clear with the CFO on the different time horizons that you're operating on in your investments as a marketer. So for example, you may do a whole year investment on changing perception. But you're really saying that this investment is for change your perception, it's over this timeframe, here's how we're going to measure it over this timeframe. And here's what we hope to achieve, and why etc. And saying that, look, my short-term is about driving leads and pipeline. But my longer-term investments are about building the asset, which the brand is an asset, right? The perception of the company is an asset, all these things are assets, and they take time to build. So framing things the right way with CFOs is very important. And being very clear on how you're spending, why you're spending in the time horizons and how you measure it, I think are all effective ways to work with a CFO. But I have seen over the last 10 years, that CFOs have become more savvy and understanding of the role of marketing.
Chris Hare 56:08
I love that though. And I actually haven't heard that from anyone before just in terms of positioning it as this is an asset, right? Because I think what I often hear is it sounds a lot more like a transaction, the CFO gives me this much budget, and I'm going to show that I've generated this many MQLs. Right? And they're not quality. But hey, there's a volume there, right, versus showing that it's an asset, and then also showing how you're going to grow that value over time. Awesome. Well, thank you both. This has been a blast. I've really enjoyed the conversation. As we wrap up. Jamie, do you have any parting thoughts and you as well, Rishi in terms of, you know, as you look to the remainder of this year, and as our audience continues to face a lot of challenges, do you have any encouragement or things that you're excited about?
Jamie Cleghorn 56:51
Well, I wanted to encourage you on your podcast here. I actually love the name. And one of my go-to devices in my own career, my own life is, whenever I get stuck, I pull out a blank piece of paper and I write the story. What's the story I'm trying to tell here? What's the story I'm trying to tell this client? What's the story I'm trying to tell internally? You can call it the elevator test or whatever you want. But stories just so powerfully help us rise above and create a narrative of the facts and give us things to align around. And so this is good work you're doing. And it's a good reminder to me, and maybe for all of us in these trying times, to when the stress gets too much, hit the pause button and pull out a sheet of blank paper and figure out what the story is.
Chris Hare 57:39
Well, thank you. Thank you. I really appreciate that. How about you, Rishi?
Rishi Dave 57:44
Yeah, I mean, I think from my perspective, I mean, obviously, you know, we're getting into tough times. But I actually think this is a time when all the great companies kind of do well, when times are challenging. Because there's actually less noise. If you're high quality and you have a high quality product and a high quality go-to-market, where you're actually helping customers and helping them achieve 10x the value of what they do today and explaining it well, it's actually exciting. And so I actually am excited about kind of the second half of the year, and the opportunities it's going to give us to really helped customers succeed.
Chris Hare 58:21
Awesome. Well, thank you both. I really appreciate your generosity with your time and looking forward to continuing the conversation down the road.
Rishi Dave 58:28
Jamie Cleghorn 58:29
Thank you, Chris.
Chris Hare 58:32
We covered a lot of ground in that conversation. And I hope you found as much value in what Jamie and Rishi had to share as I did. If you want to create lasting change in your organization, it has to begin and end with your customer. And the key to creating the future you and your customers want is a strategic narrative that aligns everyone from the buyer to the boardroom. With all that's going on in the world, perhaps you feel a bit stuck right now or a lot stuck at your company or even personally. With that in mind, I want to close by reflecting on Jamie's words at the end: “Whenever I get stuck, I pull out a blank piece of paper and I write the story. Stories just so powerfully help us rise above and create a narrative of the facts and give us things to align around.”
And that's it. Until next time. Thank you for joining The Storied Future Podcast. Please subscribe and be sure to visit TSFpod.com. That's TSF - as in The Storied Future - pod.com, for show notes and to check out other episodes. To learn more about Jamie Cleghorn, visit linkedin.com/in/jamie-cleghorn-bain, and to learn more about Rishi Dave, visit linkedin.com/in/rdave. For show notes on this episode, visit TSFpod.com.
The Storied Future Podcast is a production of The Storied Future, LLC, produced and edited by Ray Sylvester, audio engineering by Ali Özbay, logo design by Evan MacDonald, theme music by The Brewz. Your host is me, Chris Hare. Learn more about our work helping leaders create great B2B narratives for a change at www.thestoriedfold.wpengine.com.
Jamie Cleghorn is a partner in the Chicago office of Bain & Company. He is a member of Bain’s Technology and Sales & Marketing practices. He partners with clients to drive transformational change, primarily in the areas of growth strategy, go-to-market effectiveness, and organizational alignment.
Jamie leads Bain’s B2B Commercial Excellence products globally and had led the development of the B2B Elements of Value® for value proposition development, Go-to-market Transformation for go-to-market system re-engineering, and Sales Play SystemSM for strategy translation and revenue execution management.
While at Bain, Jamie has worked extensively across industries, including technology, telecom, industrial goods, healthcare, and consumer products. His client work has spanned a variety of areas including corporate and business unit strategy, customer and go-to-market, performance improvement, organizational effectiveness, and M&A.
Prior to joining Bain in 2005, Jamie worked in healthcare marketing.
He has an MS in Marketing from Northwestern University and a BA in History from the University of Illinois.
Rishi Dave is an expert partner in the firm’s Commercial Excellence practice with deep expertise in B2B marketing and digital marketing. Rishi partners with CMOs and management teams to drive marketing transformations and build modern marketing capabilities. Rishi also serves as an expert on the implementation of Bain’s B2B Marketing Diagnostic and Sales Play System.
Rishi has held global CMO roles at public technology and cloud companies including Dun & Bradstreet, Vonage, and MongoDB. Prior to these roles, he served as the global head of digital marketing for Dell’s B2B businesses. Rishi started his career at Bain & Company.
As a marketing executive, Rishi built world-class marketing organizations and capabilities that drove top-line growth leveraging the right marketing technology, data, analytics, and content strategy. Rishi drove major brand and messaging transformations, reimagined digital customer experiences, and built and scaled go-to-market models.
Rishi earned an MBA in Marketing from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania as well as a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and an A.B. in Economics with Honors from Stanford University.