May 3, 2024
31 min
Episode 68

TOP CMO: Ed Breault, Malbek - 'Innovate or Stagnate'

Ed Breault - Malbek  00:00

If you can get the prospect to say, tell me something I don't know. And then you respond with value, you've opened that door to be successful.

Ben Kaplan  00:08

This is the podcast where we go around the globe to interview marketing leaders from the world's biggest brands, fastest growing companies and most disruptive startups. I am a telephone. This is TOP CMO with me, Ben Kaplan. Today I'm speaking with Ed Breault, CMO at Malbek, a legal technology company specializing in Contract Lifecycle Management Solutions, and has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, data analytics and change management. He started out as director of decision support at Rolls Royce before jumping into strategy and consulting at FIS, and at Primo. He's held leadership positions at Teradata and a primo, where he also hosted a podcast.

Ed Breault - Malbek  00:55

Welcome to another episode of marketing cheat codes. My name is Ed Breault.

Ben Kaplan  01:00

So why should every marketer be well versed in sales psychology? What does extraordinary influence mean? And how can it help businesses penetrate markets? Let's find out with Ed brown belt. Ed, I love your background in Mar tech, where you've been a marketer marketing to marketers, but what is it like to then jump over to a different type of industry, the legal technology industry, where the industry itself is not known for being an early adopter of technological solutions? You're providing a technological solution? How does your mind space have to shift when you've done 20 years of kind of one type of audience? And now suddenly, you have a new audience? Yeah, I

Ed Breault - Malbek  01:44

think it's one of those shifts, where even if I didn't leave, I should have done some of these things, which is reengage with the personas, because even marketers off today aren't the same that they were, but really was the the folks in the legal tech space. They're all brand new to me. Legal procurement, finance, sales, you know, everywhere, there's contracts, Contract Lifecycle, those folks that add value in the contracting phases of a business, those are the people that I needed to, to learn, I need to learn what keeps them up at night, their emotional pain, their objectives, you know, what is success for them their language, I had to learn all of that and walk in their shoes a bit. So did a lot of I'll call it anthropology, if that makes sense, like study these humans, you know, in the deepest way, so that I as a marketer can create experiences, create value utility, that meet them in their moment of need, along their their journey, and then understand how they would think about the pain points that I would address with gain points with the technology of Malek. How

Ben Kaplan  02:48

do you approach that? Because you've been, I think, on the job, not long, I think just a few months, what is your advice for other marketers other CMOs, about how to engage that process, particularly when, you know, you have deep experience in area, maybe it's changing, maybe it's evolving, like you said, for marketers, but you already kind of speak the language, you have a baseline, you go into a new area, that could be an exciting opportunity. And if I was gonna say one common thread among your career is that using technology to solve unsexy problems when businesses scale, right, whether that's contracts, whether that's, you know, in your past digital asset management, other things, that's probably so there's a throughput, but it also can be daunting, particularly when you have a wealth of experience that you can draw upon to go something new. So your three months on the job, maybe there's another CMA out there who's going to like in adjacent field where they don't have deep knowledge, they know about marketing. What is your advice? That's kind of the step 123 that you're experiencing right now.

Ed Breault - Malbek  03:47

Yeah. And I like to you said unsexy, I like to think that Malbek is the Justin Timberlake of contracting. Okay,

Ben Kaplan  03:53

there you go. That that's that's the new positioning. That's the central unified idea. We're the Justin Timberlake. We know we're not in sync or Justin Timberlake, okay. But you're making something which can be a very lucrative business, right, which is making unsexy things sexier to an audience but sometimes the reason they're unsexy is because they're done a certain way and built up over time because there's compliance issues and, and legal issues and all these people that you now need

Ed Breault - Malbek  04:19

to reach in that's what's cool about and why I joined. The origins of this company are based in technology, not in a call it the legacy business of where a lot of the competitors come from, like they they came from legacy and sort of more of that unsexy business and they've, what they've had. They've productized a lot of legacy into their platforms. And that's created a lot of technical debt. Whereas Malbek that we basically said our founders, they got to a point in their life. We want to build a better product or something. That's because they had the problem at their previous companies. They were the ones who were managing the legal operations. processes and had legal tech in their stack. And it was some of their biggest pain points. And they said, Hey, we've got a vision, his vision is to build a platform for legal operations that does not exist today. And so I think them attacking it and us now attacking it from marketing standpoint, with technology, first origins has brought a whole new narrative to the GCS. General Counsel's out there,

Ben Kaplan  05:23

how did you start learning this? Is there anything? Either you did, right? Or you did wrong that you've like, oh, I probably should have done this way. In hindsight. Absolutely.

Ed Breault - Malbek  05:32

It I always start with data. I'm definitely data first in terms of research. So put a lot of market data on the space with, you know, companies who cover it. It's a it's a formal category out there. Companies like Gartner, Forrester, who've covered the space, you know, just binge on their research. Okay,

Ben Kaplan  05:50

so you get a little like, broad context for the space gives you some, like, ways to hang information on so you have an overall sense. Okay, so that was kind of step one, yes.

Ed Breault - Malbek  05:58

Start with the market data. To get this understanding of the total addressable market. It's a $30 billion industry. And I was just floored by that. I didn't realize, you know, I had been in marketing martech. That's like my world. That's all I was seeing. And it didn't cross over into that space. But when I found it discovered, I was like, Wow, there's so much rich opportunity here to disrupt this $30 billion industry. So I started with that market data. And then I applied the, you know, where is the highest growth potential, and that was absolutely in the enterprise segment of industry, you know, call it 500 million and up in annual revenue.

Ben Kaplan  06:38

So you start with just market overall, now you're trying to like, apply a little bit more, I guess, focus? Did any of that exist before you started? or No? Where were you hired to set a direction that nobody's gonna go?

Ed Breault - Malbek  06:51

That was very much it, you know, it was it was there, but it wasn't formalized into a strategic long range growth plan. And so that's what I've been working on bringing on new capabilities of growth, how to penetrate into these other sectors to grow that sales, addressable market from the theoretical. And then I got into understanding some other things in the market, like some, some macro economic changes that were happening, societal changes of the people. So I start with data, but then I'm looking at the people. And you have a lot of these folks who are the economic buyer in the space, these GCS are there now, digital natives with technology, and they're coming into leadership, and they're looking at their organizations and saying, there is a better way out there. And they're that transformative leader. So it was really the market, the legacy, the new leadership coming into play, and the growth potential,

Ben Kaplan  07:43

how do you get over some of the resistance, because this is not an industry necessarily early adopters Summit, so that I know lawyers and law firms and others that were like, we don't even put anything in the cloud, right? Like, if we're not even at that point, that can be a significant obstacle. And there's going to be a wide range of adoption of technology. But you're going to encounter that in the legal field, which is like for security reasons for other things, we just can't even do that. So how do you start thinking, Do you try to overcome some of those objections? Or do you be like, Okay, if someone's like, hasn't even adopted, like, storing things in the cloud, they're not our customer. And we're gonna just not focus on them right now. Because there's going to be an uphill battle to convince them.

Ed Breault - Malbek  08:24

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, and that's the art of the ideal customer profile modeling, the psychographics, that you were mentioning some of those attributes of the account, those are massively important to understand. So that's one of the first things I did to I got with the founders of the company, the sales team, and a marketing organization, we sat down and we looked at modeling out the ideal customer profile from Technographics, firma graphics psychographics, geographically, where are they? And then what are those key attributes of them? Are they more advanced and thinking? Do they already have similar technologies? They just need better technologies? What

Ben Kaplan  09:00

are some of those aspects of the ideal customer profile that a make total sense? And are there any that be maybe are surprising are a little bit that you you know, you came in and thought you'd be going after customer a, but it turns out no, even though it seems obvious, that's actually a hard customer to sell?

Ed Breault - Malbek  09:17

Yeah, I think the industry is were easier to understand. The revenue bands were also easier to understand. It was really the psychographics and the attributes for me that I was surprised by the idea of having the psychographics meaning you have that transformational leader in the org, who actually wants to be a call it weaponized with a Change plan for their company, otherwise, they're not going to, you know, fight through the legacy, you know, red tape, bureaucracy. They're not going to go, you know, go to the table, and I'll call it burn some political capital to make a what could be a risky bet because there's research that says 50% CLM. Implementations fail. Nobody wants to be that wrong. 50% that. So that was very surprising to me that is psychographics for sure. The podcast that

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Ben Kaplan  11:03

do you then think about or identifying that transformative leader? I mean, is this like, you know, hey, I went to the LinkedIn profile says transformative later. Slides, people put that on there. Okay, there's one. Do you look at any other indications from the company itself? Do you look at for instance, something that we've done for clients instead of our lead gen work is like, okay, when people transition jobs, right, so when shifts a job, you come into a new job, then maybe that's an opportunity, because there's sort of this sense that you're going to bring a new system or some new energy or something fresh? Maybe you were hired for that reason? Because we need change? What are some of the markers? If someone's not going to identify easily for you, I am transformative leader who is part of your ideal profile? Yeah, for

Ed Breault - Malbek  11:47

sure. Are they in that position is it is transforming a priority for them? So that what you said is exactly what we're doing? You know, we've got systems that were listening for various different triggering events out there. Some data sources let you know, when folks transition jobs, you could look at their title, as well and understand it, you can see what when you're from an Account Based Marketing standpoint, when you're doing research on an ICP account, understand some of those leaders, what they're putting out in market, are they producing content that speaks to it? Are they sharing, liking, you know, sort of understanding their digital, body language and fingerprints, we can pick up on on some of that, for sure. And then the various different industry pings that we use with intent data shows us like we can actually put our sights on our ICP accounts from a technographic firmographic. And then we get this intent data that shows what exactly they're they're putting out in the market on third party data networks. So you know, where they have head and longtail keywords that match like transformative topics, we'll definitely put them in our sites and go after them.

Ben Kaplan  12:54

So how much of this is you mentioned, Account Based Marketing. So those of you who are listening or aren't familiar, just like these are our exact targets, we're treating them like VIP leads where we're really getting to know them deep, what percent has time is spent on that versus, you know, more like we're gonna look for a category or a type and we're gonna be much less focused and much more broad. How do you think about that split?

Ed Breault - Malbek  13:16

Yeah, for sure. I look at it, as you know, there's inbound. And then there's ABM. And then with an ABM, there's strategic, there's named and there's programmatic. So we actually have three different flavors. And I would split those by 5050. So inbound and ABX inbound is that marketing flywheel that's one of the best ways to earn commercial traffic. And you do that over time. You do that with a marketing flywheel, you do that with, you know, great content marketing, you dealt with great SEO, etc, you do that with great lead magnets of of content that are out there and experiences and then ABM is the other half. But that's where you can make, you've got a lot more levers. And I call it amount of powder to spend on creating the demand cycle versus just being there whenever another demand cycle was created, maybe by a competitor. So with ABM, you, you're actually creating the demand cycle, plus you're doing responsive demand capture earlier on in the process. So of that 50%, you've got about a third of that broken down by strategic and named and programmatic programmatic, which is all system driven. It's marketing automation, named is one too few, which are like clusters of accounts. So these are very bespoke campaigns for industries or for certain personas. And then one to one is absolutely VIP tailored where you're making a bigger bet on a larger payoff and you're actually going after a wider buying center. And I you know, I looked at you know, a lot of the wind loss data from my last company and even this company, and I got down to one qualitative factor which is called an extraordinary influence is what I call it extraordinary. influence is why and when we win. And so that's why, you know, if you're going to win a consensus buying process, you have to do consensus selling and make sure you get to a large portion of that buying center. And we do that with Account Based Marketing. And

Ben Kaplan  15:14

you mean by that when you say extraordinary influence, what you mean is that you have extraordinary influence within their organization, you have a buyer, you've got to the right person, who has an extraordinary influence to make it happen in an individual, what is the nature of what do you mean by you've achieved extraordinary influence, which means you're going to convert, yeah,

Ed Breault - Malbek  15:33

you're saying exactly it, which is buying center penetration. So you know that and oftentimes, if they're coming inbound, I call that the scout. And you'll have one individual who represents the buying center coming inbound doing research, they're researching the market, and they're coming back to a group, a buying center of folks from maybe various different stakeholders in different functional areas. And then you've got layers of decision making made there. And if you're just talking to that Scout, you're at a disadvantage to those who are talking to everyone in that buying center, who has an influence, you know, a rat of fire an economic buyer, just an influencer with on the decision. So that's extraordinary influence means that everybody in the buying center to as much as you can penetrate is knows your brand knows your strategic relevance, differentiation, economic impact from a value proposition standpoint, feels comfortable, you know, is consuming your content. And actually, whenever they hear about you being a potential option in there, they're not hearing it for the first time, they've actually they feel comfortable with you being evaluated in the process. So it's getting to all those folks. And that's not just the call the folks within the organization, but it's also those around, too. So that's partnerships, as well. What's important to understand is, you know, what's that tech stack look like in the organization and those complementary technologies. And if you have technology partners in the account as well, that's another layer of extraordinary influence, that's also earned. And then also, it's with influencers in the market. And analysts, you know, mentioned Gartner, Forrester, you know, they're recommending you or, you know, they're, you know, if you're being seen with other industry experts, we've got some awesome industry experts, we work with the talk about Malbek and talk about some of the same thought leadership topics. If you're brought up in those word of mouth conversations. That's great. And the gold and I absolutely love this. It's something you just cannot fake, which is that customer social proof. When you've got a customer who goes on to, you know, ratings reviews site like G two, and they leave a review in it's a five star star review. And they talked about why they chose you, and why they're willing to put their personal brand on yours for somebody else to get some research utility to help. That is the ultimate in terms of influence, because that's the that's where trust is truly built.

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Ben Kaplan  18:36

the midst of all of this, how do you think about buying cycles and timing reaching people at the right moment, there can be individuals or groups that have extraordinary influence. But there could also be moments of extraordinary influence in an organization, right? Where no matter how good an idea is, if you sort of hit the timing wrong. This is, you know, you mentioned that 50% of implementations fail, they don't want to be the ones that fail. And so it's just not the right time for them. How do you start thinking about the time dimension when, you know, usually, if we're talking about an Enterprise Client, it's all of their contracts, you've got to kind of be at the right place at the right time, or I'll stay top of mind long enough to when they can pull the trigger. That's right.

Ed Breault - Malbek  19:19

Yeah, I call that meet them where they're at. And that's one of our first goals when we work with, you know, a new brand, which is where are they in their buying journey? And once you're able to establish that you're then able to gauge okay, what's the playbook I want to run to give them those moments that matter for them right now. So if they're super early stage, you're talking about them sort of identifying their problem. Once they know they've got an issue and they know there's a solution, quantifying what that problem is helping them build a case for change and then you as a brand having those capabilities to offer. Once you find out and meet them where they're at. Once they know they've got the issue helping them with How would they actually go out and evaluate the market. So having things like an RFP template, or you know, a buyer's guide, because now they're in a buying stage, having somebody capabilities in house, that can be a resource for them, a concierge, if you will, of, you know, identifying content that would meet their needs, having the content arc in your brand assets to be able to serve up at those moments. And then, you know, once they are ready to engage in commercial conversations, having the ability to qualitatively and quantitatively understand what are the right set of requirements that they have? And then how can you meet them? And so that sort of qualifying event, you know, having that established in place? Yeah, it's really the timing of getting to understanding where they are in their journey. And then what do you have inside your brand in order to offer them to move them along and be valuable in build trust, which is ultimately, super important. And, you know, what you're doing is, from a brand promise standpoint, you're establishing your brand, what that promise is, but then when you actually deliver, that's when you truly get to what, uh, did you deliver on what you promised. And I

Ben Kaplan  21:13

think one of the challenges I mean, if you're not talking to that extraordinary influencer within the organization, is you just have an add to added challenges, which is one, your messaging has to be so clear. And so on point that a facsimile, a photocopy of your message communicated by someone else has to still be clear enough, right? So if you're not talking about decision maker, or the person who has the influence, because basically you need them to relay the right points, that's challenge one. Challenge two, though, is that you now have to address the needs of potentially two different people with different goals, right, you have that maybe it's the scout, or the gatekeeper, or whoever it is, they may have their own agenda in this of what you have to do to communicate so that they look good to others, but then to have that other person that may have so what is important for that Scout may not be what's important for the other person who you need to sign off on. So what do you think is easier? Is it just do what you can to get to the right person to the short influencer? It's easier to do that and get the other stuff, right? Or are you like, hey, no matter what you do, at some point, you're not going to get there. And you've got to hone your message. And you've got to have like, buying guide for general counsel plus Buying Guide for legal operations person and you got to actually be on point on both. If you're going to have to deal with both what's easier? What's the shorter path? Yeah,

Ed Breault - Malbek  22:30

I think those that do it that will get to easier. I mean, none of it's easy, but those that do it well teach Taylor than take control of that situation, having the ability to know who you're talking to know, what is important to them, what's the altitude of problems that they're trying to solve. And then you being able to adapt to all of those, I would say, like, the perfect timing of the easiest is when you can find out there at that sort of sweet spot of getting in market and you planted a seed planted an idea that can be thought leadership, that could be a better way commercial insight, messaging, you reframed the way they think about their problem better than anybody else did. Once you get that hook, the rest is much easier, because you're the one who's on the downhill, and everybody else is still pushing uphill,

Ben Kaplan  23:25

or a more practical way we do some of this with our clients our own work is sometimes you don't have to communicate all the answers that you want them to know like, this is the answer for how you solve this. This is the answer for how you solve this is the answer. He's got to get them to ask the questions you want. And those questions will ideally be questions that kind of navigate them to you. So if you have the question, which is like, hey, of all of the software tools you might be using, regardless of who you choose, ask this question. And maybe I'll give you an example. You can give me a more specific one back what you're saying, like, okay, maybe your tool is more flexible, and it can adapt to the situation, then you say, ask yourself, Well, hey, when my needs change in a year, when my needs change in two years, are we gonna have to do this all over again? Do we have to do this or ask the provider? Can you be flexible enough to change with me? And if you know, they're asking that question, and you know, it may be in your Gartner quadrants and other things like that, that you're high on flexibility. You get them to ask that question, they're going to come to you and that can be a way to try to outflank other competitors. Yeah,

Ed Breault - Malbek  24:25

I mean, I think in our business, it's how are you preparing for not being the wrong 50% of failed implementation? You know, so they're not even they're not thinking they're gonna fail at that point in time. They're thinking that I've got a problem I'm gonna go solve it I'm gonna buy the best technology, but is that the best partner to help you who's seeing you can be can grab you by the hand and how to avoid any of the problems and get to value quickly that there's, yeah, there's two different two different paths there. That would absolutely be one getting them thinking about problems. They don't need to know they'll have down on down the future, that's where you also establish trust and are effectively training them.

Ben Kaplan  25:05

Strange political reference, but Donald Rumsfeld quote, or something was like, we know what we know. But we don't know what we don't know. And if you can help them know what they don't know that they don't know, then you can add a lot of value. That makes sense at all Ed, it did in my head. So in terms of adding value, understanding what someone's needs are understanding an ideal persona, that's an added layer, right? Which is like, okay, they have questions, things they don't know, you can answer them, they have things they think they know, maybe you can shape that. But if you can help them know what they don't even know, they don't know, then you can add your valuable partner, right? Because very rare that you can find someone who can do that, and certainly in a partner doing a major implementation, maybe they can help you with some of the ways that you could fail that you don't know. And that's the expertise that you and Malbek bring. Yes,

Ed Breault - Malbek  25:56

I think success. I love what you just said, if you can get the prospect to say, tell me something I don't know. And then you respond with value. And you actually have that knowledge, you've opened that door to be successful. We've actually had that several times when they're like, Okay, great. We did, we did the requirements, we saw we got the reference calls, you know, we see that your customers love you. We did the research, we know the risks, but tell me something I don't know. And that gives you the chance to be to be a thought leader to them to be that trusted advisor, which we all want, especially when it comes to these transformational events, you want a trusted adviser, somebody who will proactively reach out and be there for you have you avoid any potential challenges and maximise on the upside of things. And

Ben Kaplan  26:44

also it's part of value that any business can offer. Because the alternative to get like a well executed software implementation transformation, whatever it is, the alternative is like be really well planned out. No every contingency, no, ever you have a plan B for everything. But the issue is that for most of us like that's difficult, it's something new, we don't know. And we might miss something. So if you're not going to have it all mapped out and have plan A and plan B and Plan C and contingency plans. alternate approaches, have a trusted advisor that will help you through whatever may come your way I got yes, we've got your back. So either a in your marketing, and particularly, as we talked about the sales driven or lead driven oriented marketing, it's either a, you've got to be very well planned out with this kind of methodology that is a methodology people haven't seen before or be, you've got to be a trusted partner. So whatever comes our way down the road, we're there with you. And you know, if you buy our side, you'll be fine. Either way. To wrap up, we've gotten pretty far down sales, psychology, lead psychology, are those important things that marketers should know that sometimes don't have this lead generation or sales generation back, and particularly your field? It's not SAS software or something like that, where it tends to be a little bit more oriented, though. Absolutely.

Ed Breault - Malbek  27:55

You know, marketing is the leading indicator of sales, sales is a leading indicator of customer success. If marketing doesn't understand sort of the downstream of the value creation in your process. How do you know what you should be doing? How do you know what your objectives are? How do you know how you're going to be successful? You absolute marketing absolutely needs to know the value they're creating and generating from all the various different options out there. Because how I simplify what marketing is, is that it just makes sales easier. It makes sales easier for the buyer, marketing makes sales easier for the sellers. And if marketing can burn its powder, spend its money spent its resources, creating value and leveraged opportunities for sales, then you're doing the right things for you not to know is marketing with no direction,

Ben Kaplan  28:48

well said. And it's one of the reasons why a lot of marketers should spend more time on a sales call, such as more time understanding products. And it's usually it's one of those things that when I talk to a lot of from CMOs on down, people are like, I never have time for this. But then like I do it, it's like such time well spent just one of those things, where you just you sort of make the time you find the time, and it just gives you that much more insight, which makes a lot of marketing questions that are hard. Otherwise, if you don't have that first hand experience a lot easier. You just draw from experience, you can see it and I like your notion of what is value creation at every point in the chain from top of the funnel all the way down to close the sale all the way down to you're now a happy customer are we consistently imparting and adding value and if we do that, it's pretty hard for us to be an unsuccessful business, if we're adding value at every handoff that has to happen for a successful client relationship. Yeah,

Ed Breault - Malbek  29:44

a tactical recommendation for marketers how to do that. We actually have technology it's called, or Gong. There's all these conversational intelligence platforms out there that record all the calls. We actually look at all the questions we look at the questions that are asked in calls, we look at the questions that are asked in RFPs and we To create content to make it discoverable early Marcus Sheridan is a you know Marcus but awesome evangelists for sales and marketing. He had this super cool quote, which is like the synthesis for any content marketing strategy, which is just answer customers questions simply like just answer those questions. What questions would they ask you have an answer make that answer available. It's as simple as that like marketing's job is to answer customers questions and whoever does it earlier and becomes discoverable shapes the rest of the their buying journey?

Ben Kaplan  30:34

Well said Ed, three alt CMO at Mall back and you have the brain of a marketer but the heart of a sales operator and sounds like that serves you well and interested to see exciting and great things from walbeck ahead.

Ed Breault - Malbek  30:49

Awesome. Thanks for having me on.

Tom Cain  30:54

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