Transcript from REVstars interview with Jessica Fewless
Speaker: Jessica Fewless, VP, Customer Experience at Demandbase
Interviewer: Sydney Sloan, CMO at SalesLoft
[Intro, musical overlay]
Sydney: Hello. Hello.
Jessica Fewless: Hi it’s so great to see you.
Sydney: Have a seat. Have a seat.
Jessica Fewless: Okay, thank you.
Jessica Fewless: Thank you.
Sydney: And congratulations honestly.
Jessica Fewless: Thank you so much.
Sydney: I’m so happy.
Jessica Fewless: So, I’m Jessica Fewless, VP of customer experience at Demandbase.
Sydney: My favorite word currently is “badass.” I just love the word, it’s inspiring, I would like to be one one day. I think of you as a badass. So what do you think about being called one, and who would you put in your camp?
Jessica Fewless: Well, to be clear, I would not rather be called a badass by anybody but you, Sydney. [laughs] When I think about it I think about, honestly I think about women when I think about being called a badass. I think about people who are trailblazers, I think about people who are assertive and who see something they want and they go after it. And not with disregard to other people but it’s like, “Hey, I want to go do that. I’m going to go do that.” And regardless of if anybody tells me I can’t do that or what, I’m going to go make it happen.
Sydney: The first time we met, the concept of account based marketing, sales, everything, whatever we call it these days, so account based was super new. And so, you were at the forefront of that, and so I’m curious, how did you approach going into helping create a market that didn’t yet exist?
Jessica Fewless: It was a bit intentional and it was a bit accidental. So I mean the reason I went to go work for Demandbase was I saw this account based marketing thing and it was like, wow, having started out my career in sales and understanding the conflicts and just the competition between marketing and sales. And the reason I went into marketing was because I saw that they weren’t doing what sales needed for them was why I made that career shift. So when I saw the concept of the company’s marketing, I’m like, “Duh, this makes so much sense, I have to go work for this company.” So that was my first entree there. The building the category was a little bit accidental I think and definitely under the leadership of our CMO, I certainly would not have —
Sydney: Peter [crosstalk].
Jessica Fewless: Peter. Peter. Yeah, I certainly wouldn’t have done it on my own but it was like, “Well, so how do I fit into this puzzle of making it a category?” And at the time I was running field marketing and so I was like, “Well, we need to educate the marketplace on account based marketing,” and so we did that through our field marketing events. And then, our CRO at the time, which is why I think I’ve now ended up back in sales, he came up to me and he was like, “You’ve built all this great content, we should really do a certification program.” And I was like, “You’re crazy. Who am I to write a certification program?”
Jessica Fewless: So anyways, it sat with me for a week or two and then I was like, “Yeah, we’ve got to do it,” so we did. And then, two more layers of certification after that. And then we wrote the book this past spring, which was crazy yet again to me but it was all accidental, but with that guiding star of we want to build a category, we want to be world-class marketers. And so, that was the way I played into it.
Sydney: When you think about what you do in work and what you do in life, what’s the thing you put the most of your heart and soul into?
Jessica Fewless: People, honestly. And I know that’s going to sound a little disingenuous, although I have to say like Brené Brown is a little bit of my spirit animal. And so, but I do, I just, I value my friends like family and honestly my employees, they’re people first. Yes, I need them to do a certain thing for our company, but they are people and they have families and they have lives outside of the work. And they all have unique value that they bring to the team and unique skill sets that they bring to the team, and it’s a matter of harnessing those things because not everybody’s going to be a carbon copy of you. And in fact you don’t want 54 or 58 carbon copies of you, you want people that bring different skill sets. We just had our 2020 planning and my leadership team couldn’t be more different from each other.
Sydney: How have you been able to uncover people’s potential? What do you look for and how do you help them realize it if they haven’t figured it out yet?
Jessica Fewless: Yeah. First and foremost it’s asking them like, “What are you looking to do with your career, with your life,” those sorts of things. I mean when I took over this team I did 54 half hour one-on-ones just to understand, just to hear it in their own words, hear their frustrations about the team, hear what their career aspirations were and those sorts of things. And then, it was, “Okay, we re-org the team,” and then it was a period of the last four months have been a little bit of observation and talking to their managers about these folks and my own observations and stuff. And now we’re going into a period of, “Okay, so here’s what they told me. Here’s where they are. Do we think they can get there?”
Sydney: What’s bringing you the most joy in your life?
Jessica Fewless: I think paving my own path. I think having gotten to a place where I was able to leave the city, move to Truckee, be in nature, be active, be athletic, but also hold this really great role. I feel so fortunate and lucky. Yeah.
Sydney: Awesome. Well, we’re so happy to have you as a REVstar. You so deserve it and I’m so excited that you were nominated and got in, and just continue to lead others and inspire others and break the mold. You’re the first person I think I know that’s sales, marketing and customer success, which is just amazing. So keep fighting it and keep delivering great value.
Jessica Fewless: Well thank you. I appreciate the honor.
Sydney: Awesome. Thanks.