How to succeed in your first 90 days as CMO with Kevin Alansky

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Welcome to another episode of 3-Minute-Marketing, where we interview some of the world’s foremost growth and performance marketing leaders and break it down into nice, snackable, three-minute segments for you.

I’m super excited to have Kevin Alansky with me today. Kevin is currently CMO of Jedox, but he’s already known as a legend in the DC-Northern Virginia corridor of tech CMOs. Kevin had been at Blackboard, Cvent, Higher Logic, and more before landing at Jedox, and they’re very lucky to have him.

My question for Kevin is, “how do you succeed in your first 90 days as CMO?”.

Show notes:

  1. The first 90 days are critical. They’re sometimes referred to as the “honeymoon period”, but a better way to think about them is as the extended interview. You go through a laborious and hard process while interviewing, but that should stop on day one. You’re being evaluated by your CEO, board, and team in those first 90 days and you have to get a lot done.
  2. Gaining alignment and trust are the most important factors. Are you setting up things well? Do you have the trust of the CEO, the rest of the executive team, and the marketing leadership team?
  3. Get close to the business. Spend time in one-on-ones with your team so you can understand what’s happening at the ground level and have a strong sense of what they’re doing.
  4. Ultimately, it’s about setting up your quarterly plans. Make sure you set accurate targets and have the right alignment with the sales team. Set up the right cadences to be able to measure success and the performance of it.


– [Chris Mechanic] Hello again, everybody. Welcome to another episode of Three Minute Marketing. I’m your man Chris Mechanic. Here at Three Minute Marketing, we interview some of the world’s foremost growth and performance marketing leaders, and then break it down into nice snackable, three minute segments for you. I’m super excited to have here with me today, Kevin Alansky. Kevin’s currently CMO of Jedox. But you’re really a legend man, like in the, you know, in the DC Northern Virginia corridor of these, like, you know, tech CMOs. Kevin previously had been at Blackboard, Cvent, Higher Logic, Logi Analytics, and now has landed at Jedox. And they’re very lucky to have you, welcome to the show Kevin.

– [Kevin Alansky] Yeah, it’s great to be here, Chris. And thanks for giving the nod. I guess it’s good to be a local legend. I, of course I saw Udi on your show recently, I’m a big fan of his. And he’s definitely got a lot of national level spotlights, so it’s good to be here.

– [Chris Mechanic] And you probably will too soon because I know Jedox is.

– [Kevin Alansky] Oh, yeah.

– [Chris Mechanic] Jedox is-

– [Kevin Alansky] I could be, if I could be put in the same vein as and level as Udi, that’s a huge compliment, so good.

– [Chris Mechanic] Absolutely. Cool, well I’m super excited to speak with you. I’ve got a relevant and timely question for you and for many others. And so if you’re ready.

-[Kevin Alansky] Let’s do it.

– [Chris Mechanic] So the question for today is, you’re a CMO, first 90 days, what’s your plan to maximize your success and impact?

– [Kevin Alansky] Yeah, so it’s relevant because I’m right in the throws of it, I’m about 60 days into the role here at Jedox. And, you know, the first 90 days are so critical. Often it’s sometimes refer to as the honeymoon period. But a better way that I think about it and something I’ve learned along the way, it’s really the extended, it’s really, you should think of it as the extended interview, right. So you go through this pretty laborious, especially for a CMO, role. You go through a very hard and thorough process on interviewing, but it really shouldn’t stop on day one. Really you’re being evaluated by your CEO, your board, your other executives, your team, and in those first 90 days are critical, and you got to get a lot done. And it’s also a unique time right now because we’re thinking about 2022 planning. And to being able to execute, and plan, and build out our plans in concert with me, ramping on the business is just a unique time to join a company. So basically, you know, to me, the important factors are really gaining that alignment and trust, you know. Do, am I setting up things well, that I have the trust of the CEO, the rest of my executive team, my marketing leadership team, the board, the sales team, most importantly, right, so that we can have our go to market motions being prepared and kind of align as we’re thinking about that way. The next thing I’d like to do is get close to the business. Really spending time with one-on-ones with my team. Really understanding what’s happening at the ground level to really have a strong sense of what they’re doing. And so, as I’m thinking about things and the impact, I’m going to, that I can drive, such as reorging the design of the marketing team so that we can optimize better, rebuilding our demand funnel. So the only way that happens is to get close to the business and close to the people, so they’re truly can understand what you’re doing. And then, you know, ultimately it’s about setting Q1 campaigns in this particular case for 2022. So for, you know, again, back to the first 90 days here, it’s really setting up your quarterly plans. Making sure you set accurate targets, opportunity stage, if you’re still in a lead gen model, thinking about things in those capacity. And then just having the, you know, getting the right alignment with the sales team and then rolling it out and setting up the right cadences to be able to measure success and the performance of it. So in a nutshell, those are the ways that I like to think about it. So think about it as the extended interview. Getting close to the business, and gaining trust would be my top three things within the first 90 days.

– [Chris Mechanic] That’s great, that’s awesome. And thank you for that, for that summary at the end. I usually do the summary at the end.

– [Kevin Alansky] Oh, well then there you go.

– [Chris Mechanic] But you summarized it perfectly, um.

– [Kevin Alansky] So you get 30 seconds back.

– [Chris Mechanic] So getting close to the business is huge. Obviously, aligning with the teams are huge. And then that concept of extended job interview, I think is also, is also pretty interesting. And there’s some stuff to unpack. So folks, if you enjoyed this, please give us a like, a comment, or share with somebody to help us grow our reach. And then Kevin, if you could just let the, let the folks know where they could learn more about you or Jedox.

– [Kevin Alansky] Yeah, no. Jedox is What we do is financial planning and analysis for all sizes of companies, a lot in the enterprise. And they can, you can reach me on LinkedIn. Last name is Alansky, and yeah, or on Twitter or other places, so cool.

– [Chris Mechanic] Awesome, thank you. Stick around or look around this video for some show notes or for some bonus footage, ’cause Kevin and I are going to continue talking here for a few minutes. And we hope you enjoyed.

– [Kevin Alansky] Thanks, Chris.

– [Chris Mechanic] I think that pretty much each of those things can be unpacked and I’m interested to know sort of like, sort of like micro level detail. Like for instance, when you get to know a business,

– [Kevin Alansky] Mm-hmm.

– [Chris Mechanic] What are your tricks, how do you approach that?

– [Kevin Alansky] Yeah, I think the interesting thing is, at least a unique case that I was entering in most recently here with Jedox and of course we’re backed by Insight Partners. Insight Partners has a tremendous organizational structure themselves, where they offer a marketing center of excellence and the folks who lead that are fantastic, you know, former CMOs themselves.

– [Chris Mechanic] Yeah.

– [Kevin Alansky] And they bring a very powerful network, you know, great companies that are in there. In fact, one of the Mar Tech tools, 6Sense, their Insight backed and, you know, to get to know Lonne and other folks there and have that relationship. So when you get close to the business, you are also learning the best practices of what’s the latest and greatest what other companies are doing. So you have like a high level thing on one side coming from the, the Insight Partner network. And then on the other side is just taking my experience and to really evaluate where we are today. So when I’m learning and getting close to the business, my brain is kind of turning and thinking, what are the opportunities, what are we doing well, what are we not doing so well, what are ways that I can kind of make improvements over the time. And I think one thing I’m careful now is to make sure that we master certain things, because if the team hasn’t never done these motions before you got to get ’em to crawl, walk, and then run. So some areas of the business are much further along than I expected. Some are about what I expected, and then taking in the best practices, plus my experience, plus where we are in a current status, then I’m trying to map out, quarterly, how do we, how do we ramp up the team and get ’em to a certain perspective.

– [Chris Mechanic] Yep. That makes a lot of sense. I have more questions about that, but for the, for the purpose of time, I want to move on to kind of the people side of things.

– [Kevin Alansky] Yup.

– [Chris Mechanic] And um, and you and I have known each other for a long time. Before we met, I’d actually seen you speak at an event. I think it was the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit.

– [Kevin Alansky] Yup.

– [Chris Mechanic] Nice room, you did a great talk, but for whatever reason, I just, I didn’t think you were an asshole, but like, I didn’t, you didn’t like fit the picture of like the perfectly nice guy. But then in working with you,

– [Kevin Alansky] Yup.

– [Chris Mechanic] you know, I saw the way that you interact with your team and it turns out, you know, you’re very understanding and very empathetic. But still kind of hard driving at the same time.

– [Kevin Alansky] Yup.

– [Chris Mechanic] So how do you approach, like, say your own marketing team to earn their trust and the sales team as well? Like, do you take them out for a beer or like how. You know, what’s your,

– [Kevin Alansky] Yeah, no it’s a good question. I mean, a few different things. One, you have to really relate and pay attention. You know, and if you’re really listening, which is good, and in this age of working remotely and, you know, notifications from Slack and other things are kind of bombarding us. So if you really can concentrate. I try my best and sometimes it’s not always good enough, but I really try to listen. And what I mean by that is focus, right. Really try to focus. And I think people will naturally say and feel that Kevin is really listening to me and they, and I build up a sense of trust. So once I could do that, then you get more stories, you get more of their concerns. You, again, you get this opportunity and this privilege really of working with your team and the more they can open up to you and the more that they can trust you, then you’ll get more value out of it. Yes, I’m a nice guy. Yes, I demand success, I want to win. I mean, I want to win in sales, just like, you know, my sales counterparts and, you know, and trying to move the needle there. But I think with people understand where it’s, if it’s coming from a good place, I’m also, I also get personally invested in people’s careers. I’ve had a number of people who work for me, who are VPs or CMOs in their own right. And nothing could make me happier. So I’ve had a lot of good mentors along the way that you know, careers, relationships are often longer than careers. And, you know, to me, that’s a good mentor of mine. Tim Hill gave me that feedback. So I try to embrace some of the things that I’ve learned along the way and give back to the team in the same capacity.

– [Chris Mechanic] Yeah. Now, before the call, we were talking about how the CMO seat might be the hardest seat in the C-suite. I know a lot of, you know, CEOs are all about marketing and they believe in it, some are more skeptical.

– [Kevin Alansky] Mm-hmm.

– [Chris Mechanic] And there’s some stat that’s like says, you know, some 70% of CMOs consider marketing, like a necessary evil, or an expense, et cetera.

– [Kevin Alansky] Yeah, yeah.

– [Chris Mechanic] How do you go about building and developing the trust and the buy-in with the very top level leaders? Do you have any, like, roles, or any rituals. or routines, or report, or anything that you kind of proactively do to like, you know, tell your story, kind of?

– [Kevin Alansky] Yeah, you know, it’s interesting, I’m in a unique situation now. This is a truly, I mean, I guess it that, you know, there’s different roles that I’ve held at the CMO that, you know, maybe, maybe you can stretch the title to say you’re global, but this is truly a global, I mean, I’ve got 26 people on my team. Only three of us are based in the United States. So that means I’ve got 23 people all around the world from Singapore, to Australia, to France and, and Germany. So you’re talking about time differences. And my CEO, he’s based in Germany. And so you’re talking about a six hour time difference. So I really have limited periods of time. So a couple of things. One, our one-on-one’s a little bit more extended where we have more time to focus on some of the issues. And we come in with pretty tight agendas to make sure that we’re covering all the things that we need to cover, make sure, have the resources and all that. The other thing I’ve been doing more lately is sending ’em quick soundbites. And I’ll send ’em a quick email, like, here were the highlights in just bulleted fashion, and say, you know, kind of keep ’em more connected to what I’m thinking. And, you know, kind of that constant communication is, has been good to kick it off that way. I think it’s always hard. CEO’s are always extremely busy, pulled in multiple directions, but for me to do my part, just to make sure he feels comfortable, want to gain his trust, just to make sure I do even just quick sound bites over Teams, or over email is key, you know, to make sure we stay in constant touch.

– [Chris Mechanic] Yep, I think that’s absolutely key. And I think that, you know, the proactive, you know, proactively reaching out is something that we always talk about, you know, internally here is with clients is, you know, tell your story proactively. Like, don’t wait for them to ask for a report because at that point

– [Kevin Alansky] That’s right.

– [Chris Mechanic] you’re already dead in the water, you know. Just get out there and be proactive and tell that story.

– [Kevin Alansky] Absolutely.

– [Chris Mechanic] Easier said than done, I know. But um, but it sounds like you got a, like, you got a pretty solid plan. Now, what is your, I know, you know, you described your whole onboarding plan. What’s your major focus right now? Is it building the team, growing leads in the short term? Or like, what’s your, like, if you have like your top three, like, what’s your number one?

– [Kevin Alansky] Yeah, it just, I would say alignment. Alignment and the go-to-market motions. We were set up quite uniquely before. We had a previous CMO who was also our Chief Product Officer. And I love the fact that, Ralph is his name. Ralph is still with the business and he’s focusing exclusively on the product. But he had been managing the team for several years and it’s really, as we’re growing and expanding, it required dedicated leadership in the product area, and then marketing. So I’m in a pretty, also again, a unique position where my former head of marketing is still with the company. So it’s a great position to be in. So I’m leaning very heavily on Ralph, and his, and his wisdom here. But as I’m thinking about it, the org structure, is, need to change where we are thinking about more about our global motions and how we launch campaigns and, you know, our effectiveness there so that we have a single story in which we’re telling that gets into the field. And then where at, previously, it was very field driven and lots of reasons positive, but some of the challenges that message could be ill timed in different parts of the region where, you know, when people go back to the website, they may be seeing a different message and region as opposed to what they’re seeing on a website. So, my job is to just get that orchestration moving in one direction with one global motion and aligning the team and the growth positions that we want to hire so that we have those global motions and we build one funnel, and we have one set of campaigns that are going out. More of the 80/20 role of how we roll things out, so.

– [Chris Mechanic] Yep. Well, I’m excited to see how it goes. I’m sure you’ll do fantastically well,

– [Kevin Alansky] Well thank you, yeah.

– [Chris Mechanic] As you always have. Let’s go ahead and move to wrap here. I know you’ve got a hard stop.

– [Kevin Alansky] Yes.

– [Chris Mechanic] But we really appreciate your time. And I would love to have you back on.

– [Kevin Alansky] Be great, yeah.

– [Chris Mechanic] Cool.

– [Kevin Alansky] Yeah, no. If, maybe I can get six minutes next time, you know, if you, if you double my quota, I will fill it with some, some additional air time.

– [Chris Mechanic] Nice, all right. That sounds perfect. Well hey, I thank you very much. And again for you all still listening, please do drop us a like, a comment, or our, share this with one of your friends. And check out also Kevin Alansky on LinkedIn and Jedox, J-E-D-O-X, coming to a search engine results page near you, I’m sure.

– [Kevin Alansky] Well said Chris, thank you for meeting with,

– [Chris Mechanic] All right.

– [Kevin Alansky] thank you, and I enjoyed being here.

– [Chris Mechanic] Talk soon.

Kevin Alansky

Kevin Alansky Jedox

Chris Mechanic

Chris MechanicCEO & Co-Founder

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