Drift CMO Tricia Gellman discusses her new role, key priorities and the future of conversational marketing

Drift Tricia Gellman
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When they first told her she was going to be reassigned to the marketing department, Tricia Gellman went home and cried.

It may seem like a surprising reaction for someone who has helped lead demand generation and brand-building for firms like Salesforce and Adobe, but Gellman, who was appointed CMO of Drift last week, started out as an evangelist at Apple. It was a role she loved, but a restructuring forced her into new territory — territory she has been exploring ever since.

“I feel super-fortunate that my career has grown as marketing has become more sophisticated,” Gellman told B2B News Network. “I had initially thought that marketing was really fluffy. When I think about how things have changed from those days, there’s just so much more — more data, more tools that you can actually play with and the ability to solve the problem in entirely new ways.”

Gellman joins Drift from Checkr, a startup that has automated the process of conducting criminal background checks (Disclosure: ShaneSchick.com has provided content marketing services to both Checkr and Salesforce Canada while Gellman led marketing at those firms). Along the way, she said a consistent theme has been fostering greater collaboration between teams that help attract customers and those that wind up closing deals.

“Drift is really cool in that that it’s becoming a catalyst for reframing how sales and marketing work together,” she said, arguing that the firm’s chatbot technologies can help meet the changing expectations about how B2B buyers want to investigate and make purchases.

“People don’t want to receive phone calls after they fill in forms. What they really want is to have a meaningful engagement,” she said. “Now we have Drift automation, so the engagement can be more free-form, because a bot can learn from conversations that are happening at any given moment, and (what it learns) can become really great qualifying questions for a buyer.”

Gellman said she was attracted by the work Drift has already done in establishing the concept of “conversational marketing,” and that her main priority was helping more of the world’s largest organizations to adopt it.

“I do think people think of it still as ‘But that’s just putting a bot on my site.’ We need to elevate the message and the brand and help people understand what the business value is of having these conversations,” she said. “I think we need to expand it so that the message is relevant for the Fortune 10 enterprises.”

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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.