Sendoso CMO Daniel Frohnen on his team’s response to this year’s challenges and his advice for early stage companies.

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Episode outline

[01:30] Daniel’s background

[03:39] How Daniel started out at Sendoso and what attracted him to the company

[04:50] How Sendoso adapted their business strategy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

[06:48] The three most effective ways Sendoso engaged their customers during the pandemic

[08:22] How Daniel approaches the challenge of keeping organized and keeping his teams aligned

[10:05] How Sendoso prioritizes ICP accounts

[11:40] How Daniel approaches partnership with the sales team

[12:54] The importance of taking the time to establish the proper framework as an early stage company

[15:22] The difference between Go-to-Market and Marketing

[16:50] Daniel’s favorite creative campaigns and what makes a good campaign

[20:07] What Daniel does outside of work to have fun

[22:00] Daniel’s mentors and inspirations

Daniel’s Inspirations

Gwen Bailey-Harbour

Curtis O’Keefe

Steve Rio

Maria Pergolino

Connect with Daniel



Daniel Frohnen | Sendoso – TRANSCRIPT

All right. We are live, uh, really excited today, Dan front and on the show. Um, Dan, you are the CMO at San DOSO, which like this conversation from one marketer to the next, I'm just. Super soaks to bombard you with questions about, uh, like some of the most creative campaigns you've seen in Sentosa, but we don't have to start there.

We can start at the beginning, uh, first off, welcome to the show, right on. Thanks so much for having me alive. So I'm excited to talk, shop and geek out with you. So I know from previous conversations, I mean, you have been a career marketer, right? You, you went in, you knew that you loved marketing and you've just worked your way up.

To the point where you are at right now in your career, is that true? Yeah, so, I mean, I, you know, I had a couple years in my early career of doing like project management and some editorial work. I worked at a publishing company, but about three years into my career, I, I discovered marketing and just, it became this massive passion for me.

And I went and learned about it when I wanted to do every single marketing function I could. And then, you know, just follow, follow that journey of just passionate about it and learning about it. And then. Getting the muscle memory to be better with it and have the good fortune of managing teams along the way as well.

I feel like, I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd imagine your time in project, management's probably really beneficial because it helps you keep things on rails and organize is that, are there things that you pull from that time and that experience. 100%. Cause I think one of the things with marketing is like ideas or ideas are great, but ideas are also really cheap.

Right? And it, and it really fundamentally, it comes down to like the execution of things. And the more you can have a rigor around that project management piece and operationalize your marketing, the more you can actually focus on ideation and the creative elements. And I used to have the same when I was younger in marketing.

Um, and I don't think it was smart to say at the time, but I laugh at it now is like I was the laziest marketer on the planet. Cause I wanted to operationalize things. I wanted to anything that could be set it and forget it from a process standpoint, I wanted it out of my face and I want it to be focused on the stuff that really needed my time and attention.

No, that's what if I ever get up on a soap box about it? It's always along the lines of. You know, teams will start obsessing sometimes about the creative and like just trying to make it perfect at the get go, and just not putting things out in the world that are rapid cadence. And that's usually where those plans fail.

It's like not publishing fast enough. Um, cool. So now let's dive right into Sandosara just cause like I can't help her. So, uh, first off. So you joined a little over a year ago. What, I mean, what attracted you to the company at that time? Gosh, um, first and foremost, it was the fact that I was a customer. Um, and when the CEO reached out, it was just very intriguing.

It's like, okay, this is sitting on my technology stack. It's actually helping me solve a real challenge that I have. And, um, I'd love to just go meet the CEO. Like what do you have to lose? Right. We'll go connect with the CEO, have an amazing conversation. Um, and as, and as I was going through the interview process and meeting the team, I realized that they just had something very special from a.

A brand standpoint from the initial marketing team that they had hired their product market fit. And, um, you know, I just couldn't help myself. I had to go and jump in and be a part of it. Cause I knew it was something special and, and very timely. Um, and it's been even more timely with COVID in terms of.

You know, it's applicability in, in, you know, all these events and business travel being gone. So it's been, it's been a fun ride. It's been a challenging ride, but, uh, fun, nonetheless. So I mean, it must've been a shock to the system as it was for everyone else. But with, with COVID hitting their, you, we all talk about, you know, they're the businesses that have headwinds from that and businesses that have tailwinds from that.

And, you know, You are lucky to be one of the tailwind businesses. Uh, how, but how did you embrace that? And like what, what was your process for figuring out how to take advantage of that without, you know, like. It coming off the wrong way, or I, you know, it's, everybody tries to be sensitive there, but you guys are obviously well positioned.

So I'm curious to hear about that time in the company, which you must've been only a couple months then at that point as well. Yeah. It was like six months in six or seven months in. And it's interesting because, um, we were right at the beginning of Q1 and. Our entire Q1 and Kutu strategy was predicated on going to a bunch of events.

We, you know, part of our brand pillar is that we really believe that being a, uh, uh, the ultimate kind of experience that lands on your desk. We want to be in front of our audiences as much as possible and not just digital. Um, and when our events started to get canceled, uh, we literally, um, I remember our head of events saying, um, you know, all of our events got canceled now, what, and our head of, uh, of content said, well, we write about it.

And that's, that was really our strategy for. Uh, covenant. It was actually just kind of born out of the fact that we needed to figure out what we were going to do. And, um, and the first thing we did is wrote a blog about all of our events got canceled. Here's 10 things we're doing to engage our audiences instead.

And that really became the platform for us, deciding that instead of trying to go out and sell ourselves as a hard sell, we were going to go out and educate the market. And, you know, we're, we're fortunate enough to where we, um, we market to marketers, we market to sellers, we market to a lot of tech and tech adjacent companies that were going through what we were.

So we took the education approach, um, and it, and it worked quite well for us. So of that 10, like you had 10 hypotheses put them out there and started executing. What were the, what were your three favorites now in retrospect, which were the most performance? Yeah. So one was going and, you know, going to like highly curated kind of digital experiences, which we've done a lot of.

So we have. Like a lot of different offerings on the Sentosa platform right now, like virtual wine tastings, uh, some other things that we're really seeing in October. Um, so we, we, we embraced our own platform and we went out and did field marketing activities where we got people together and send them wine ahead of time, how to someone yang in a zoom meeting and just had a good conversation like we would, if we were all together, uh, the other one was, um, you know, taking what we were going to do.

At a physical event and, uh, taking it and packaging it up as a digital, uh, experience. And we had our own, uh, virtual events shortly after, um, shut down, started, uh, called, uh, the show must go on. We got about two and partners together, curated content and. Brought the experience to people to kind of teach them what we were doing to keep things moving.

And then the third piece was really, um, kind of doubling down on, uh, engagement and not thinking about people in terms of like where you're going to see them from a marketing tactic, but more thinking about people and accounts and how you're going to engage them holistically. And those kind of three things have really served us really well.

So as a, as a marketing leader, I mean, that, that is hard to, can be hard to keep organized and to keep a team or teams aligned behind one unified view of customers and prospects. How do you like to approach that challenge? Yeah, it's, it's interesting. So, I mean, I think, you know, for COVID in particular that the challenge from probably March 15th until.

The end of that quarter or the end of April, may. Um, we went on to like a, a six, seven, eight week marketing plan where we literally week by week by week looked at things we had, um, like a North star, which was our revenue number. And we had a North star, which was the virtual event that we did. Uh, and we really treated those early days as being as agile as possible.

And then we transitioned into a three month plan. Like we traditionally would, uh, after that first quarter was up. Uh, and then know, so that was how to deal with it in the early days. And whenever there might be some sort of crisis that you have to encounter from a, you know, from a holistic business standpoint, um, there's been this whole notion of, uh, account-based everything and really taking an account based everything and really using that to define.

Who your target ICP is from an industry perspective, from a size of company perspective, from a geography perspective, and then on down to like the people within those companies and getting your marketing sales and customer success teams aligned to that entire notion. And then that really helps marketing, uh, vibe with the rest of the company and to be able to achieve goals.

So I know you're a systems guy and you know, the ICP and personas can be this moving target sometimes. Right. Or it can shift over time. How do you like to accommodate for that? Yeah. So, I mean, yeah, it's, it's gotta be done in near real time. So, you know, I'll take a covert again, when it, when it hit, um, I saw a list going around one of the various sales communities that we're all a part of.

And, um, someone had published a list of like 60 sub-industries and like a score from one to five on how they're going to fare during an economic downturn. Like we're. Uh, encountering right now. Uh, and the first thing was to take that and then match it against our database and, and anything that looked like it.

Wasn't going to farewell. If we couldn't identify that we had an entrance or a reason that we were going to help them do as well as they could, then they had to leave our ISP. Our our ICP. We couldn't spend our precious energy on that. Um, when we knew that we weren't going to be able to help them. And then, um, secondarily it's like, it's constantly looking at windows and the funnel in those ICP accounts and how we, how we prioritize them.

And we at, at San DOSO. Prioritize them as tier one through three. So, you know, if you're doing it right, then you're actually going to see the reverse of up until the right. You're going to see up into the left, where tier one is going to close and then two and three are going to close and you're going to have that beautiful slope to know that you're prioritizing your time in the right way.

Um, so we, you know, we'll look at that data, um, at least weekly, uh, and then at the end of every quarter, uh, you know, make any adjustments that we need to make. I'm curious, do you, when you review that data, do you do that with sales and when you adjust those targets or adjust any kind of internal levers, is that done in partnership with sales or do you kind of as a marketing or make those decisions and then present and agree with sales?

How do you approach that partnership? Yeah, so, I mean, I'm extremely fortunate at Sandoz, so to have a CRO counterpart that is just, uh, about as good as they get. So, um, he. Um, he offers up the resource of the sales ops organization. So sales ops is involved in that conversation, marketing ops, myself, our SDR organization, uh, as well as like our, our chief operating officer, um, just to, just to look at the data and validate it.

But, uh, by and large, like we, we all see the data. We're all data-driven and we, um, make necessary adjustments. Uh, which is, which is awesome. We have that, um, we kind of have that data framework that everyone trusts and we have the trust of the people that are looking at the data and, you know, making sure we get buy in and then we move on.

That's really that's my, that makes all the difference. It really does. Yeah. So, you know, you were, you were at Aptis during an interesting time as the vice president of global global demand gen and sales development through the acquisition. I'd imagine there were some pretty big takeaways that you are, that are guiding you today.

Curious what those are. Yeah. I mean, the interesting thing about Aptos is they had, um, A different approach to go to market. When they first started, they were very much, um, embedded in the Salesforce ecosystem. They had a lot of really good like referral business directly from Salesforce. Um, Maria, who was the CMO over there?

Um, just did a phenomenal job of growing the brand, doing a ton of it events, a ton of field. Um, and then the SDR team and kind of the demand generation piece was kind of predicated on, in play. So, you know, get 90 SDRs in a room and. Have them call down all these lists and then, um, set up meetings and that that's that right.

And, you know, as the company started to scale and, um, you know, we had this, uh, this machine going where marketing had to go do database email to create MQL, that would then go to the SDRs. Like you started to see the conversion rates falling off because we hadn't, um, actually defined, uh, our target market in like, uh, like a framework, like.

He did it send DOSO? Um, so a lot of what I was doing was actually working with our sales, uh, operations, or there were a much larger go to market team. There's like a hundred AEs plus in the field. Sales ops had I think six, seven people on their own. So we actually had to go and you know, that sales word wanted to have the gut method where, um, certain RVPs would just say, this is a good account because I said it is, you have to trust me.

I've been in this market forever. And then, you know, marketing and sales ops working together and saying, okay, from a data approach, this is actually a good fit. So my big learning there was that, um, you know, if you, if you're in an early stage company, Take the time to get the operational part, right.

Because it matters. And that doesn't always mean I'm going out and buying technology. It means just getting the framework right. And making sure that you have a good man, but then also, like, it also means that when you're in a larger company, it's never too late to actually peel back and do it right. If you have to.

And it is possible to do that at scale as well. So I've heard you say, go to market a couple of times, and I love that you're using this terminology. It seems like there's an increasing push to describe the marketing motion and the ways in which teams organize and execute as go to market. What to you is the difference between go to market and marketing?

Yeah, I mean, to me go to market as a strategy. So go to market is actually saying. In order to achieve the business result that we need to, which on the revenue side is going to be net new revenue. It's going to be a certain amount of retention. It's going to be a certain amount of cross sell and upsell to really have that healthy SAS business.

It means like what are the inputs and working backwards and not. And then when you look at marketing marketing without. Uh, the North star of what those actual metrics are is, is really just kind of like scatter gunning, a bunch of random things out there. So to me, it's like that kind of that connection point right.

Of how you take that male, female plug and actually make it pump electricity or whatever you're trying to get through the wires. Yeah. It's like, it's like the difference between a. When people, when leaders are like, okay, we need, I know we need to be doing content marketing and I know we need a field strategy and I know we need as, instead of to your point, here's our North star metric.

How do we reverse engineer that, that is our go to market strategy. Yep. Yep. Um, So now I'm curious. I mean, you are working for one of the heart hottest companies in the Valley. You're pushing the needle in, uh, all things, marketing, all things, really sales, both full sales and marketing use cases for Sendo.

So what, what are some of the most creative or out there, like what's pushing the limits of the platform right now in a really cool, effective, creative way, whether it's things that you are doing, campaigns that you're running or. Clients send us her clients. Yeah. I mean, there's a, there's a couple that, that always kind of come to mind for me from a customer standpoint.

So like my favorite campaign hands down, which actually happened pre COVID and it still happens today is gong, um, uses us to, uh, what I call wake the dead. So if pipeline goes. Uh, dark they'll literally send their prospect a lantern, um, and say, Hey, you went dark on us. I want to make sure you're still there.

Do you need help getting out of the cave or wherever you are, which I just think is fricking brilliant. Um, and then another one that I, that I love is it it's from Terminus and, um, they're, they've done this amazing job of, um, kind of being that. Kind of leader in the ABM space and really kind of going out with what it takes to do ABM.

So they actually created an ABM cookbook as a thought leadership piece, but instead of just like sending it digitally or even just sending it physically, they, they included like, um, cooking utensils and some fun stuff in there so that you can actually, you know, not only look at their ABM cookbook and have fun with it, but then.

Some Terminus branded little utensils that you can have in your kitchen as well, which I just thought was brilliant. Wow. And then one that I I've had a lot of fun with. It was send DOSO force and DOSO cause we use our product quite a bit as well as, um, we recently did as part of one of our product launches around, uh ABX or account based, everything is, is really go out with that notion that personalization, um, As like, hi, first name is really not personalization.

That's like all that can be automated. At this point, we, we had a, a campaign through our STRs where I did a video that talked about our new product release that helps you personalize it scale. Uh, and then, um, with an offer for us to send you more information on that. And the box and packaging was all high first there just to kind of make fun of that.

Uh, but then also a can of spam in there and it says, Hey, don't you just don't, you hate to get spammed. And then by the way, um, we can help you with this and some literature on how we can help them as well as like some third party validation, um, from some leadership stuff that we have, uh, via G to a, which resonated really well.

I mean, that, that was definitely a kind of a mid market. A higher mid market enterprise play, where we got a lot of, um, pretty big logos, um, to the table, uh, and, uh, generated some decent pipeline, which was amazing. I love that the spam can I I've got that. The Halloween edition for gongs lantern is they should send people like a ghost figurine or something like that and play off getting ghosted.

Be very, uh, Mmm. So now I always love to ask like personal stuff just because, you know, we crank and crank and crank and at some point it helps to, you know, take your mind off the business and get creative and open up space for more energy. So what do you do to outside of work to have fun? Yeah, so, I mean, I have two little kids, so one's three and a half one's five.

And, um, my time outside of work is very much spent, um, with them. Uh, whether that's swimming, whether that's hiking, whether that's just hanging out. And, you know, we have a Friday night tradition, which is called movie night. So. Um, they're bragging to their teachers, their friends, that they get to have a movie night with daddy every Friday.

And that's my religion. So Friday is amazing. And then, you know, just good time time with my wife every weekend. Uh, my dad recently we're retired and he lives very close. So, so him and I are both ex musicians. So, um, I. Picked up playing bass again, and my dad plays guitar and we're, we've been jamming pretty much every weekend for six months.

So kind of an amateur bass player again. So that's amazing. Does that kind of stuff, just having a good time. That's amazing. I, one of these days I'm going to have to go back. Through my notes and all the musicians that I've had on the show, we need to have like a zoom band. That's probably not possible technically, but I just fun to hear with other people with creative outlets like that.

Well, I think it's interesting. A lot of people in SAS are actually kind of musical, which I thought was interesting, particularly in like sales marketing. And then a lot of founders I've realized actually play music. My last CEO was actually a drummer, which was fascinating. Yeah, the, uh, I had, um, the CMO at envision on last week and we were talking about like jazz piano and jazz sax.

And I was like, Whoa, this is not your typical SAS chat, but, uh, alright. Last question for you. As we wrap this up, um, who are some of the folks who have been either mentors or inspirations to help you along to get to you to the point where you are today? Gosh, that's a, that's a long list of people. Um, there's some that are SAS and there's some that aren't.

So, you know, one of my earliest influences was a lady named when Bailey Harbor, um, who I worked with back in the publishing world. And she was actually a VP of sales and brought me into my first director level marketing role, where I've actually supported the sales org through trade-marketing, um, and always be super grateful for that.

She helped me figure out what my strengths were and. Um, how to, how to basically progress in my career. Um, I think a couple other people, um, a gentleman by the name of Curtis O'Keeffe, who. Um, actually helped me land my first tech job. Um, he was a previous CFO and he's an entrepreneur. And then, um, one of my early CEOs that I reported to Steve Rio, um, just really amazing that, um, helping me refine kind of my VP of marketing and CMO chops.

And then, you know, most recently, um, you know, working with Maria Perkin Lino over it at Aptis, uh, it was just a phenomenal opportunity to go to what I would call. Like demand gen school. She came from Marquetto and just knew kind of traditional demand gen like the back of her hand. And, um, just learned so much from her, uh, and internally grateful.

And then, you know, nowadays it's, um, there's just so many wonderful, like a peak community that is headed up by Sanger Rome and, uh, revenue collective and networking and talking to other leaders. There has just been amazing as well. Fantastic. Well, Dan, great to have you on the show. Thanks for this conversation.

It was a blast. Thank you so much. It was a blast.