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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome & Advocating for Yourself and Your Team

With Chelsea Kiko, Director, Marketing Operations at McGraw Hill

Chelsea Kiko, guest speaker "Overcoming Imposter Syndrome & Advocating for Yourself and Your Team"


Chelsea Kiko shares how to overcome imposter syndrome to advocate for yourself and your team. You’ll also learn more about why lead scoring may not be the best way for your organization to qualify leads for your sales teams, and the nontraditional way McGraw Hill tests potential leads.

Meet Chelsea

Chelsea Kiko is the Director, Marketing Operations at McGraw Hill. She is a five time Marketo Champion, Fearless 50 member, MUG Co-Leader, 2019 Champion of the Year Revvie Finalist and 2020 Adobe Experience Maker Award Winner.

Chelsea advocates for the strategic need for marketing automation and creative, technical marketing influenced campaigns to help drive that close-win with sales.

Top Takeaways

Advocating for Yourself and Your Team

How do you advocate for yourself and for your team?

I have such a hard time advocating for myself. It’s much easier to advocate for my team. Advocating for yourself means overcoming imposter syndrome.

I try to look at what I’ve done for the organization. I need to be okay with that and have the confidence that I have made an impact for this organization, so I should be treated that way.

A lot of times when I advocate for myself, I try to think of my accomplishments to date. How am I an asset to the organization compared to the industry or my peers? 

No, I haven't done this work all by myself, but I'm a strong leader and I'm trying to grow and learn.If I have to advocate for something, I usually make it pretty tangible. I'll write down what we've come up with as a team. I'm really lucky over here that our dashboards can showcase revenue, so I can show that data.

I really try to stick with the facts when I advocate for myself or the team. Whether that’s for a promotion or an extra budget piece for a MarTech stack that I want to develop.

I look for soft skills when I advocate for my team members. I'm a big believer in being able to teach the marketing automation skill sets and data skill sets, but soft skills really make a person an asset to the team.

I’m experienced enough in Marketing Ops to know the general range of compensation, for instance. If I see someone as an asset to our team but they’re underpaid, I can make an argument for why they should get a raise to bring them up to market standard. People move around the industry all the time. If you don’t advocate for that person who’s such a big asset to your team, they’re going to move on.

Managing Tech Stack Budget

How do you manage a tech stack budget as CMO that’s often larger than that of the CIO?

I’m lucky in that a lot of our tools are shared. That brings more people on your side who can see the impact that they have, even if they’re a more expensive tool like Marketo or Salesforce. I don’t get too many questions about the tech stack we use because my team is good at communicating what we use it for, backed up with data points.

At one of my previous roles, I tried to onboard an email verification vendor, and I got a lot of questions about that. In that instance, we were struggling with our email deliverability rates. I pulled some data from the marketing automation platform we had on how many bad emails we had.

I was able to show leadership how our deliverability rate was tanking month over month. Then I went to the vendor's website and found some case studies that they had (a lot of vendors have case studies as promotional materials). I did my own documentation of how bad our deliverability rate was, and my prediction that we could get to a better metric using the email verification vendor.

It goes back to KPI. Sure, this tool may cost $30k a month but with it we avoid a blacklist event. We could avoid our emails going into spam more because people are opening them. I communicate the benefits in that way and do my own research with our live data in our system to make my case for the budget to include that tech.

A Non Traditional Approach to Lead Management

What makes the approach to lead management at McGraw Hill different?

I've been at organizations before where lead scoring worked for us. I've also been at places where we weren't even ready for lead scoring. We have kind of a different type of routing model at McGraw Hill. I love to showcase this and talk to people about it, not because I'm saying lead scoring isn't a cool thing, or that it's not a great thing to implement, but sometimes you just don't need it.

Too often people think they have a new Marketo or HubSpot instance, let’s do lead scoring and get into the lead life cycle. Then they just set it up. That's not how it always happens. I'm trying to break that stigma a little bit. I'm not anti lead scoring. I want to make sure you don't just run with it. Make sure it works for your business first. 

That’s what we do at McGraw Hill. I inherited this process from the great work of people before me and we just kept enhancing it. We don't do any type of lead life cycle, lead scoring, really nothing along those lines. We do what we call master forms. They are really legit, almost sales qualified, call to actions that we're asking in those forms.

If it’s a request for a demo or printed sample, it can be forwarded to a sales rep. We don't route anybody who hits a threshold just because they attended an event or looked at a content piece.

This is why I say make sure it works for your organization. Our brand is pretty reputable. People in the education space know of McGraw-Hill we've been around for 130 years. Because of that, we get a lot of organic traffic to our website.

We get a lot of requests coming to our forms naturally because people know who we are. We get so many requests that sales can only keep up with the hand-raisers right now. Our SLA is usually around two days to at least get back to the customer. Until we can consistently respond within two days, year over year, month, over month, I am not going to give sales more leads that did not raise their hand.