The blurring lines between sales and marketing with Anna Griffin of Intercom

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Welcome to another episode of 3-Minute Marketing, the world’s only podcast that interviews today’s top growth marketing leaders and distills their insights into three-minute blocks of brilliance for your listening pleasure.

Today’s guest is Anna Griffin, CMO of Intercom, an awesome SaaS company that breaks down the sales and marketing divide. Anna is a seasoned marketing leader with previous stops at CA Technologies and Juniper Networks.

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As business technologies evolve, so are the ways that companies go-to-market. As a result, we’re seeing the “silos” that separate what used to be discrete business functions (particularly sales and marketing) starting to break down. So my question for Anna is, “Where do you see the blurring lines between sales and marketing going in the next few years?”.

Show notes:

  1. There’s been enormous growth opportunity since the rise of the internet for businesses, but particularly in the past five years with so many new business models and innovations.
  2. In that quest for growth, the line between sales, marketing, support, and product has blurred.
  3. It’s no longer just the sales organization’s job to sell. Marketing, product, and support are all selling. Selling is happening across the entire customer life cycle in a push for growth.
  4. In a world where there’s so much overlap, you want to find a platform that allows for seamless interaction between all the different functions of the company.
  5. The ability to have a single customer record and easily pass things off to various departments is important.
  6. Third-party data is going away. In a cookieless world, you have to be dependent on first-party data.
  7. Engagement is the future of business and an untapped area for the next generation of growth.


– You’re listening to “3-Minute Marketing”, where we interview the world’s top growth marketing leaders and distill their knowledge into actionable bite-sized insights. Now here’s your host, Chris Mechanic.

– [Chris] Hello, everybody. Welcome to another episode of “3-Minute Marketing”. Super excited to be here today with the one and only Mrs. Anna Griffin. Anna is a very seasoned marketing executive. She’s currently CMO at Intercom, which is an awesome growth plan that kind of breaks down the sales and marketing divide. Previously, she’s been at CA Technologies and leadership roles at Juniper Networks, and just a very, very impressive individual, and fun talking to, as well as, it turns out. Anna, thank you so much for joining us here today.

– [Anna] My pleasure. Excited to be here, and thanks for inviting me.

– [Chris] Absolutely. All right, so Anna, today I’d like to talk to you about sales and marketing and basically how they’re, before our eyes, merging almost into one. And I know that, with Intercom, you’re basically at the forefront of this emerging space, so I’m really curious. What are you seeing out there on the front lines, in terms of new innovations, or where do you see it going in the next two, three, four, five years?

– [Anna] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, think about it. There’s been so much enormous growth opportunity in the past 20, ever since the rise of the internet, for businesses, but particularly the past five years. Grow, grow, grow. There’s all these new business models and all this energy and innovation to be able to grow, and in that quest for growth, what happens is those lines start to blur between sales, marketing, support, even product. Whose job is it to sell? It’s no longer just the sales organization’s job to sell. Marketing’s selling. The product’s selling. Support is selling. Selling is happening across the entire customer lifecycle in this push for growth. And so when you think about it, the roles really do get overlapped. So let’s say a sales representative is on the phone and is answering a support question from a customer on a free trial in order to convert that customer to a paid plan. Or maybe a marketing representative is upselling a new product while leveraging a customer’s historical usage or support interactions. And so you can even see how customer support starts to jump in as a marketer, trying to talk about upcoming product releases and with customers. So you see this big overlap, and in a world where that’s happening, you really do want to find a platform, if you don’t mind me saying Intercom as the platform to do that, that allows a seamless interaction between all of those different functions of the company, that ability to have a single customer record, that ability to pass off to sales if you know that you’ve got a very hot lead, or that ability to pass over to support if you know somebody actually needs support more than they need a transactional moment. And so I love where the future is going and that ability to have a single customer record to do that, a platform to do that, and what I really love is what AI and first-party data is enabling in those transactions. So Intercom is rich, rich, rich AI platform that allows every customer interaction across the entire customer lifecycle to essentially learn and build. And so from the very first moment it might interact with you on a website into a product demo or a trial, or over into an engagement with the product, it knows everything that you shared about it, and then it can actually create these really rich experiences, which really matters in a world where third-party data’s going away. In a cookie-less world, you’ve got to be dependent on first-party data. So I’m excited when I see the technologies for deep, deep engagement. I think engagement is the future of business, is the future, is the untapped area for the next generation of growth.

– [Chris] Wow, that was amazing, Anna. I have a hundred questions for you. I want to be brief, and we can talk more later, and if you guys are enjoying this, you can check out the extended coverage. But if you think about it, it’s like, first, there was sales and marketing, completely siloed. Now we’re in this kind of phase where they’re integrated and most folks know that they ought and they see the value of integrating them, but it’s still very much an analog thing. It’s like analog integrated. But you just gave us a glimpse toward a potential future where we actually put some technology, we point some technology at that to identify these opportunities, because the fact is, right now, your support people aren’t salespeople. If there were a salesperson on that same call, they would be like, oh, this is an upsell opportunity. Oh, let’s, and upsell. But they can’t sit on every call, so what’s the next best thing? It’s tech. So I want to learn more about what your vision is, but I do want to wrap. If you could, real quick, for the folks listening, how can they learn more about you or Intercom?

– [Anna] Well, check us out at, and you’ll see all of our solutions for the customer lifecycle and how to more deeply engage, realtime, in context, in the moment, and you’ll see how it can be a game-changer for acquiring customers, engaging customers, and ultimately supporting customers.

– [Chris] Awesome. Very good, Anna. If you’re liking this, please drop us a like, comment, share with a friend. Anna and I will continue talking. I’m curious to learn more about Intercom, as well as some of the other applications for this kind of tech. So stick around. You’ll probably find a link somewhere in the show notes or around this video, or it might just start right after this, if you’re on the website.

– [Anna] You think about the technology and what’s possible with food delivery apps. So let’s pretend you’re a food delivery app, and you’re a customer. You’ve ordered, let’s pretend you ordered from Wendy’s, and your driver, the technology knows your driver is going to be held up ten minutes in traffic. The technology alerts, or the app alerts Wendy’s, that says don’t put the French fries in because the driver’s going to be there in ten minutes and the French fries are going to get cold. It proactively sends you a message that says, hey, your driver’s ten minutes late. Here’s a $5 coupon off your next order. We’re so sorry that we’re having a delay that we can’t control, but we want you to be happy. Your food arrives on-time. Your driver gets tipped because expectations were set that he was going to be delayed, and your French fries are hot. And so you’re pleased with your Wendy’s experience. So when you think about what is possible across those customer experiences, how you support the customer, how you proactively point out problems, how you proactively create the best, optimal experience for the end user, it’s all possible and it’s happening today. And that’s just through food delivery. Imagine how that could be put across anything and in any business model today.

– [Chris] Wow, that’s at the same time exciting and scary, ’cause just think about how much it costs to not have that. So if you don’t have that, what do you have? You have a pissed-off driver. You have ice-cold fries. You have a bad review being left for Wendy’s and I might not go back to that Wendy’s ever again.

– [Anna] 1,000%.

– [Chris] That’s really expensive.

– [Anna] Yeah.

– [Chris] Like really expensive, especially if you multiply that out by however many customers, like–

– [Anna] I love your thought. What’s, certainly there’s a ton to gain, but oh, my gosh, what are you going to lose if you can’t deliver that type of experience? Because that is now, that’s the expectation. I read a great book once, and I love this, in the book was the notion that it doesn’t matter what business you’re in, who is your competition? It’s Uber. Once Uber created a seamless, frictionless experience, that’s the new customer expectation. So every business has to change ’cause that customer expectation is now for that frictionless experience, and that’s going to be required in every interaction they have, particularly now, going into B2B. So it’s a fascinating time to be in this next evolution of tech and what’s going to be possible. It’s crazy fun.

– [Chris] Yeah, well, we could talk for hours on this. Will you come back one time again?

– [Anna] Oh, I’d love it. Anytime. I’d be delighted.

– [Chris] All right, let’s do that. Well, for those of you still listening here, this is riveting. I’m about to go and take some action right now. I’m about to go check out Intercom myself, ’cause I was very familiar with Intercom in your earlier days, but I’d since kind of stopped tracking. But I’m excited to go see what you guys are up to on the site right now. But this was absolutely awesome. I mean that’s just what you got to do. You have to integrate those different silos together. So anyway, I’m going to keep it short and simple. Anna, thank you very much. We’re going to be definitely in touch and would love to have you back sometime. In the meanwhile, I’m going to check out Intercom and I would suggest everybody else do, as well, ’cause it sounds pretty badass. I mean if you can do that for a non-food delivery app, then I’m a buyer.

– [Anna] I look forward to it, and I can’t wait for you to see what’s possible. Take care

– [Chris] Awesome. Okay, cool.

Anna Griffin

Anna GriffinCMO

Chris Mechanic

Chris MechanicCEO & Co-Founder

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