Pierre has been focused on growing B2B SaaS for the past 10 years with Growth and Account Based Marketing. He’s passionate about Sales & Marketing Alignment and he recently launched a newsletter on the subject (align.substack.com).
In this episode we talked about how he started designing websites at the age of 10, what made him get into B2B and SaaS marketing, why soft skills are more important to marketers than technical skills, how teams should be thinking about data implementation, how he stays up-to-date on digital marketing with the help of online communities, and more.
Full Episode Transcript:
Kenny Soto 0:01
All right, we are now recording and 54321. What’s up guys? Welcome to Kenny Soto Digital Marketing podcast. We are now on episode 30 of the podcast. And as always, I’d like to thank the audience for taking their time to listen to another episode and another interview. And I want to just put a caveat out there.
Yeah, I am in Johannesburg, South Africa, experiencing a cyclone at the current moment. So if you hear rain in the background, I’ll mute myself whenever there’s thunder, and I’ll do my best to just compensate with that. But putting that aside today, I have a very, very special guest. His name is Pierre Pierre, how do you say your last name?
Pierre Lechelle 0:44
Kenny Soto 0:46
So my, my guest today is Pierre to show, he is been focusing on growing b2b service as a software as a service companies for the past 10 years of growth and Account Based Marketing. He’s passionate about sales and marketing alignment. And he recently launched a newsletter on the subject called a line that substack.com welcome here.
Pierre Lechelle 1:08
Thanks for having me.
Kenny Soto 1:10
Now, Pierre, before we started recording, I gave you a rundown of who we’re basically talking to, which are entry level digital marketers, or digital marketers who have like three to four years of experience. And I always like to start these interviews off by asking the guests why they got into digital marketing. But I’m going to ask you a different question. Because I read your bio, and I like it a lot. You started doing website design when you were younger. And I want you to start by basically telling the audience why you started doing website design specifically.
Pierre Lechelle 1:45
It’s, it’s, it’s kind of a funny story. So when I was about 10 years old, I learned how to program computers, I used to program and like HTML and PHP and all the, the, let’s call them basic web development. Languages. And, you know, when I, when I was 15, I was I was hanging out on a lot of like online forums.
And I got to meet like, people and like Indian they were, they were kind of Intrapreneurs that were looking for help on like how to like building their websites. And so at age 15, I realized that I could make 300 bucks, building a website, and I was I was kind of amazed by it. So I asked my mom to create an entrepreneur, a Lego Company in France, so that I could start invoicing and charging clients. And so that’s what we did.
So I initially got into the building websites, more than designing them at that age, so that I could make a little money for myself on the side. And, and it kind of grew because like i At first I was, I was of course selling websites that were very cheap. And then you know, started selling more and more. And this is how I got into business, b2b marketing, all that stuff.
Kenny Soto 3:05
Now, you started off that way. When do you have like a specific memory of when you made the shift from doing website design to what you’re doing now?
Pierre Lechelle 3:15
Yeah, actually, when, when so, I was 15. At the time when when I was building these websites, out of my room. When I was about 18, I moved to business school. And at the time I was I was looking, I wanted to like build a bit of a bigger business. And so I programmed myself and accounting solution.
And so the accounting solution was supposed to help me invoice my clients and making quotes for them, which I did. But so I learned during that time, that was really good that like marketing, the software, but I’m pretty terrible at like, I’m not gonna say creating the software, but like, you know, understanding the needs of the buyers like more of the product side.
And so I kind of knew after, after three years, I had one client that was paying me 30 years of monthly recurring revenue. So it was not an impressive story. But I knew how to like get people on the website, how to talk to them, you know, how to get them through my free trial. I just didn’t know how to like build something that would answer their needs. And so at the time, I was like, Okay, so, so that’s fun.
Yeah, I know how to like market a software. I don’t know how to build one. So it seemed like marketing was the easy answer. And so this is how I got early on, on the on the marketing side. And then after that, I was in a small incubator. It’s a pretty tiny city in France called renewable next 3d apps. And that incubator I knew a lot of people that there that were asking me for advice as to like, How can I increase my trip? Fake How can I, you know, earn more money with my startup and like, How can I grow it? And they were all pretty much b2b SaaS companies.
And so I started giving them free advice, you know, as a, as a as a side thing to do for my friends. And after a while one of them is asking me like, why are we I think we should pay you for your advice, I think they were very valuable to us. And so this is how I got out of school and into like more of a consulting position right out of school, and it was only b2b SaaS. So I kinda knew at that time that I wanted to new b2b Sales Marketing.
Kenny Soto 5:38
Now, I’ve seen also in your bio, that you have a list of core skills, and I’m going to list them out. So your core skills include growth, marketing, slash growth, hacking, paid acquisition, and analytics and business intelligence, and conversion rate optimization. Now, I want to hone in on the one skill that you think is the most difficult to learn which one of those you think is the hardest one to learn? And why?
Pierre Lechelle 6:09
I think it’s like all of these skills were learned by like doing the work, and you know, actually, like practicing and like, trying to learn what’s going on from an analytics perspective. I think from my marketing, toolbox D, I’m going to speak about two skills.
The first one from from a heart skills point of view is the, I think the strategy aspect. As to like going to the next step, you know, going from, oh, we’re going to use this channel as as like Pay Per Click advertising, and go from that, to the strategy, which is, you know, your boss tells you, hey, Pierre, I need to like create five millions in pipeline this year, how are you going to make that happen? And I think the fact of like, building that strategy melts a lot of the skills that you mentioned, from analytics, paid advertising, and all that stuff. But it’s also about, you know, understanding the bigger picture as to like, how can you like, really grow a business.
And I think that’s one of the most valuable skills that average, the Arwen, and I’m going to speak about soft skills this time, because I think like, we sometimes tend to overlook soft skills as like, you know, not necessarily part of like the marketing toolbox. I want to say that, like soft skills are, in my opinion, the most important skills, if you only have to, like work on one, I would, I would advise you to work on soft skills.
And I think it’s about communication, and probably a bit of a teamwork kind of thing is like, how can you communicate efficiently within a team or to your internal partners. And I think it’s really hard to, like, communicate within a business that, you know, if you have 30 employees, or 15, or you’re just like five, or, or more than, that doesn’t really matter. It’s always extremely hard to like, communicate, but the right things communicate about what matters to others. Because quite often, you know, you are very deep into your your thing, and you know, all about, you know, searches and like cost per click, and like CTR, and all that stuff.
But like, quite often none of that really matters to the CEO, the board or even, you know, other people within the organization. So I think, you know, knowing how to communicate to everyone around this is a very important skill.
Kenny Soto 8:54
Would you say, Pierre, that, because I want to piggyback off what you’ve just said, would you say that a lot of marketers early on, start off by focusing on oh, I need to learn Google Analytics, per se, or I need to learn how to use Facebook advertising and Facebook Ads Manager, but they don’t take the time to focus on those soft skills, which when you think about it are typically more important for career growth, because the technology is constantly change, you’re going to learn something and it becomes outdated.
But what’s more important is knowing how to talk to your manager, the CEO and other stakeholders in the team when you say That’s correct.
Pierre Lechelle 9:31
Yeah, absolutely. I also think it’s like way easier to work on your hard skills than it is to work on your soft skills, right? If you want to learn Google Analytics, you log in there and and you know, you you you click everywhere you want and like you know, you play around and you experiment and you know, after a couple hours, you’ll have learned the basics of GA and you know, you’ll do more and more time and you’ll learn Learn more about it. But for subscales, I think it’s like much harder.
And, and to be honest, I don’t think there’s like a clear way to they’re like, whoa, I’m going to work on my Soft Skills. And you know, you, I do these yearly retrospectives, I do, like, not yearly, but I do them like quarterly as in like, years is something that I want to improve. And I think it’s really hard to like, put a project, you know, behind, I want to work on my communication skills. And like, how do you make these goals like smart, right, it’s like, completely impossible.
So the only thing that you can really do as like, you know, try to get better and like, do your best at it, but it’s, it’s harder to, like, get better on it, and to like, measure your progress. So I think that’s why like, a lot of like people in that not only speaking about marketers, but like, you know, we tend to overlook soft skills, because it’s like, really hard to improve them. And quite often, I think, it comes from actually, you know, doing the work and being in team like every day, and you know, sometimes you say something, and you see the other person’s face, and you say, and you think like, oh, I shouldn’t have said that.
And, and this is one of the learnings that like this is one thing that you’ve got to make is like, make mistakes, and then you’ve got to learn about them. So I think it’s really like soft skills are definitely the most important skills. But it’s also I think, the hardest to improve.
Kenny Soto 11:29
Now, in terms of getting better, not only with software skills and hard skills, but just overall in your career, what do you do, to stay up to date in your industry, and to make sure that you’re competitive against other people who also do the same services that you provide?
Pierre Lechelle 11:51
So I think one of the one of the things that I constantly do is like, try to like be connected with as many people as possible. I’ve recently joined a community with a couple of 1000 members called the revenue collective, where you know, it’s basically a Slack group and you organize tons of events.
And basically, you know, in that community, you ask questions, then you say, Hey, I don’t know how to handle this situation, or I don’t know how to do that, like good, like how you guys solve that in the best. And you want to get tons of answers. And so this is one way that I do. But you know, connecting with people.
I’ve been pretty active lately on LinkedIn, as well. So a lot of people will reach out to me and be like, hey, Pierre, you would like it would be good to get coffee, and surfing, you know, when you do these one to one connections, I think it’s really, it’s really useful.
I do read a lot of books as well. So I always have making all of me and like, my Kindle is always full of nonfiction books about like business and marketing, or data, or communication or whatever. And I think that helps me a lot. In the past, I used to follow a lot of like newsletters, and you know, follow a lot of like, various blogs, but I found it to be like, a lot harder as time went on.
But like, you know, following about all that stuff, and like, you know, making sure that I wasn’t missing anything. I’m a kind of Inbox Zero geek. So whenever I leave my desk in the evening, I’d like to think study, and quite often having you know, all these emails, like made that made that meant that hard. So what I do today is like, I use pocket. So, you know, whenever I see an article, and I’m like, Oh, I would like to read that I pocket that. And now my pocket is like becoming like, a very large list of things. So I will go to but how I go about that in the future. But that’s pretty much how I found out.
Kenny Soto 13:57
I’m so glad you mentioned Sorry to interrupt. I’m glad you mentioned books, because my audience and personally myself as well are very keen on books and figuring out what are the best books to read. Now, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a recent book. And I’m assuming you read Have you read a lot of books.
My main question now is what’s the book that’s been the most impactful to your career? It doesn’t necessarily need to be about marketing could be about business or whatever. But the one that you’ve read that as soon as you finish, you’re like I know exactly what to do to grow in my career after reading this.
Pierre Lechelle 14:37
thing. It’s funny if I if I think of it, I think if I think about it, you know, I immediately think about the blue ocean strategy. And it’s a kind of a funny one to say because it’s one of the most that had the most impact on my on my on my work. But it’s also one that was really helpful at the time when I was reading it.
So I think like, you always have to link the books that you read to like what you’re doing today. I think one of the writers that I like very much as I do not know how to pronounce his name in English is like Seth Godin, who obviously always write very good books, and I kind of like to go. But so yeah, the Blue Ocean Strategy was very helpful. There’s also it’s a, it’s a consulting firm, they’re called Winning by design, and they’ve started writing books.
And and I think their books are really helpful as in like, you know, I don’t I don’t remember their titles, they have like, quite complex titles to members. But I would advise, like, read them, they’re really handy.
Kenny Soto 15:54
Now, in terms of current events, I’m assuming that COVID 19, and 2020 was crazy for you as well. What do you believe, are some things people need to prepare themselves for this year in 2021? Obviously, it’s hard to predict the future.
But for the most part, it’s important to try to guess what’s going to happen in the business world so that you’re prepared. A lot of people have been doing remote work. But that was people mainly in tech and in startup world. So they were already prepared for the remote work landscape, whereas other people had to just get pushed into it.
What are you think? What do you think, excuse me is that the next remote work or the next thing that people in tech are currently doing? That the rest of the workforce is going to basically get slapped in the face? And discover it the hard way?
Pierre Lechelle 16:51
I think it’s a difficult question. I’m not that good about predictions, but I’m gonna go with the with, about, you know, all of that digital thing, I think, for us digital, like being like, natives, and digital, and like I’m going to see through and I think it’s all very easy as an MC, you know, we, we go from the office to like, fully remote, just like this. But like, for most organizations, this has been quite a transition.
And from a marketing perspective, you know, for instance, when we were preparing for 2021, and we made our strategic year for the year, we actually, we wanted to invest more in events and like physical events. Now, as you as you see, the year unfolds, you’re like, oh, maybe that’s like stupid, and we’ll never do physical events in 2021. So I think like the, we kind of like, we need to go back to being agile, much more than what we did before. I think like, we cannot do yearly planning anymore, we have to do it, maybe it’s scary, or maybe itself the year or whatever. But like we we need to like live day by day. I think it’s also important that like, as people, we focus on our personal health, I think for everybody, it’s been quite a stressful period.
And for me, I mean, like, I’m starting to be very tired of like, not being able to, like, go out and see my friends and all that stuff, because you can decompress. So I think it’s important that we read that. And in terms of like, this maybe going with for digital, but I think most organizations are not very strong on data. And so I think there’s gonna be this is gonna seem stupid for most of the marketing, folks. But when you think about a lot of big organization, they’re not that strong in terms of data. And so I think the full digital world enable more and more about that transformation.
Kenny Soto 19:10
How, how was your team, what you’re currently doing, and you can explain what your current your current job is? How does your team currently prioritize data? Because when people hear data, some of them, they just think Google Spreadsheets, but other people when they think of data, they think of SQL and parsing, reams of data to make huge customer profiles.
And they’re using things like Mixpanel, for example, to optimize their products. So data is very a big term. How do you focus on data right now?
Pierre Lechelle 19:46
So I think it’s not necessarily about the how you query data. It’s more about what you do with it, and nothing what we do with our team is like making sure that we use data whenever or at least like as much as possible. When taking decisions, especially when you think about the projects, for instance, and the one we run, recently, someone suggested that we you know, we run a very specific retargeting campaign.
And when you, when you try looking at the numbers, it didn’t really make sense, you know, we’d spend more time actually building the campaign than then what it would benefit to us. And I think that what really matters is that we tried to get data to steer yourself in one or the other direction.
That’s not, I think we at least from my experience, you can never get the full picture from data. Or you can need to have like, both quantitative and qualitative data. But I think it’s about using that to steer the boat. And so one way that we use data is that all of the projects that we run are prioritized through what we call an ice scoring, which has impact cost and ease of like, you know, doing the project.
And we rank that based on it on a scale of one to 1010 being the highest, and one being the lowest. And we use data as like supporting facts of that scoring. So you know, when whenever we’re going to run, you know, for instance, that retargeting project, you, you look at the size of the audience, and you’re like, Oh, they’re on the 500 people in there. So 500 People times your click through rate times, blah, blah, blah, and then you’re like, oh, but so we can only expect to have five leads, or 10 leads from that. That’s the Is that does that really make sense? For us or take that project?
Kenny Soto 21:48
Now, if you’ve mentioned something that I haven’t heard of, which is exactly why I do this podcast, ice scoring, if I or someone who’s listening right now wanting to learn more about ice scoring and how to use it, what resources could be used, you know, that he?
Pierre Lechelle 22:06
I think online, if you if you look for ice scoring, you can you can probably find something about it. I don’t know, I don’t have
Kenny Soto 22:17
a specific resource
Pierre Lechelle 22:19
specific resource in mind. It’s something that I’ve been using for the last couple of years and really useful and like, you know, making sure that whenever we go about a project it, you know, you start to see like, how does it fit within the picture of like, where do we want to go? But so yeah.
Kenny Soto 22:40
Okay, so just for the audience, who anyone who’s listening right now, I’ll personally start doing some research. And I’ll post it within the show notes of this episode, different links that you can use to start learning high scoring. And with that being said, Pierre, I want to ask you my final question, it’s a question that I ask all my guests just to close out with a nice touch. If you can go back 10 years, knowing everything you know, right now, how would you speed up your career to get where you are now faster.
Pierre Lechelle 23:15
So I think early on in my career, I’ve decided to like work as a consultant, and also work by myself for four years. And on the one end, it was it was extremely, it made me a, you know, more of a strategic person. And I was I was, I was talking to CEOs at the time, or CMOS, so it made me more strategic.
But I think during that time, and during those four years, I kind of missed a bit of the operational things that like you do at the beginning. And so I’m not sure I would change it, because it was a great period. But I think in the end, it’s something that you’ve mentioned also in the introductions, but, you know, doing the work and making sure that like, you know, you are driving your results. And I think, if early on, you really focus on like, where do we want to go strategically? Do we want to acquire new customers who want to acquire new logos? Or do you want to expand our current customer base, and you know, really focus on that, and then, you know, experiment as much as you can, and like, try as many things as you can, you know, to, but in the end, it’s all about, you know, doing the work and something that like, someone with 10 years of experience will do is like, you know, they’re like accumulated experience about things that has worked in the past or didn’t work or, you know, you did the project in a certain direction and you said something that was hurtful to a team member.
And it’s all that knowledge that’s like really useful, but as long as you’re really focused on like, the right priorities I think I think you are learning. For me, I was also very curious, early on in my career surfing, I would definitely advise people to do that. I also really enjoy b2b SaaS. So I kind of focused on that very early on. And it’s good. Because like, you know, I know, like, people within the industry and I know, you know, between us, we talk about companies and strategies and like, and I think that that helps. I don’t know if if I would focus so early within my career, I think it’s also good to see like what b2c has to offer what, you know, b2b as well. But so yeah, I think that’s the, that’s the main couple of advice.
Kenny Soto 25:48
And just to make sure that I was paying attention completely, I would say the main things I learned from our conversation is one, don’t just focus on the hard skills, soft skills are important to making sure that as you’re learning, trying to keep a generalist approach, so that way, you find what you’re looking for, don’t specialize right away, play around, and eventually, you will fall into the right group.
And then the third part is, I definitely want to repeat this so that I can keep it in mind as well, as a team don’t, you can plan for an annual strategy, but know that there might be some changes, maybe something as drastic as COVID, but maybe not as drastic, but you still need to keep that in mind. Where it’s more feasible to do a quarterly plan now, as opposed to a one year plan, just because things are changing so much. Would you agree with that?
Pierre Lechelle 26:41
Yeah, I think the last thing and it goes with the subskills is learn to like really listen to you know, whoever is your internal you know, clients quite often you’ve got your, your internal plan is your sales team in b2b.
And quite often, like as marketers, we’ve got our own point of view. And I think it’s really important to like, be able to like, listen, and like make sure that your your, you know, your the alignment with this team is like, you know, top notch. So, yeah, that’s definitely the listening and like, you know, building empathy is where I was really weak at the beginning of my career. And so I think I’ve like I’m getting better and better every day.
So I think this is definitely where, you know, I would I would advise people to like really focus in terms of like, how can they get better at this?
Kenny Soto 27:40
Even with 10 years of experience, even you’re still learning. With that being said, Pierre, if anyone wanted to connect with you online, where could they find you?
Pierre Lechelle 27:49
Yeah, they can find me on LinkedIn. I answer every messages. So if you’ve got questions, or feel free to reach out to me,
Kenny Soto 27:59
perfect, and every one you just listened to Episode 30 of Kenny Soto Digital Marketing podcast. As always, thank you, Pierre, for your time and thank you to the audience for listening to another episode. Bye.