VMware’s CMO wants to change the conversation about marketing’s contribution to pipeline

VMware's CMO Robin Matlock
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VMware’s CMO Robin Matlock is working on a lot of things to change the way the cloud and virtualization software maker is seen within the enterprise, but one of her most disruptive moves might be to reimagine how her marketing organization’s work is evaluated by the rest of the company.

Last year Matlock and her team launched a video and other assets around the concept of “realize what’s possible,” a way of elevating the role VMware’s offerings play in helping its customers pursue business transformation. That messaging will likely continue over the course of this year and beyond, she said, amid a possible reverse merger with Dell. VMware has enjoyed as much as 85 per cent market share in areas like virtualization, which allows organizations to vastly increase their ability to utilize the capacity of IT infrastructure. In a sense, that market share has become a problem as organizations turn their attention to more innovative areas involving digital technologies and artificial intelligence (AI).

“Our success was so dominant that as we broadened our portfolio, we found ourselves boxed into this concept of computer virtualization,” she told B2B News Network. “The  personas we targeted would know us for one of two things: our product and our stock price, versus the value that we were creating. That was really something that just wasn’t top of mind, which put pressure on us to sell higher in the organization.”

Selling to more senior executives, however, comes as Matlock has been taking a deeper look at the metrics that really matter from a marketing perspective — and those that might not matter as much as one would think.

“I’ve really started to disrupt how we think about our contribution to pipeline. I think it’s something of a flawed measure,” she said. “In a complex selling environment, there are so many touches as (customers) are going through the buying journey. It could be the sales engineer, the system engineer, and so on. And there’s not just one buyer, and they could all have three influencers each.”

Instead, Matlock wants VMware’s marketing results to be judged by the quality of engagement with its various programs, breaking that engagement down based on vertical markets, target personas, a product lens and other areas. This could mean if a customer watched an educational video from the firm, for instance, assessing whether they watched to the end, and if they shared it. All that engagement data can then be correlated with pipeline data to give a more accurate view, she said.

Driving the right engagement also means more along the lines of “realize what’s possible” because VMware’s products and services can essentially allow organizations to manage the resources they need to do those innovative things, Matlock explained. It’s not always necessary to have a product to push, she said, but a point of view.

“We have to facilitate a conversation that is anchored around business outcomes,” she said. “Everything we do as marketers, even in terms of field enablement, is to help sellers start those conversations. What are the strategic priorities that IT needs to deliver? Somewhere down there you have technology that enables all of this. It’s about orchestrating that conversation at a very different altitude.”

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Shane Schick

Shane Schick

Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.