Andrea Carter is Senior Director of Marketing EMEA at Sophos, a cybersecurity-as-a-service company. I recently caught up with Andrea to find out more about her role. She talks trends in B2B marketing, the alignment between sales and marketing, and lessons from the pandemic.
Tell us about your role – what does a typical day look like for you?
I run Field Marketing for North (UKI & Nordics), South (Italy, France, Spain & Benelux) and Emerging (Middle-East & Africa) EMEA at Sophos. Sophos provide advanced cybersecurity services and solutions worldwide through reseller and managed service providers.
A typical day depends upon if I am working from home or attending face-to-face meetings at one of our Sophos offices. Predominately the purpose of my team is to drive awareness, generate demand and enable our channel. A typical day may include 1:1s with my team members, strategy meetings with sales leadership across the regions I work on, a review of KPIs and how we are tracking in each region in terms of MQLs, SQLs, Billings etc. and various project meetings working with colleagues around the globe to build the strategy around key activities such as new product launches, the latest messaging or areas like the structure and development of our teams.
What trends are shaping B2B marketing right now, and where does your particular focus lie?
In terms of trends I would say digital remains a huge focus and key investment area. A particular focus right now is ABM, or more recently known as ABX (Account Based Experience), we have recently implemented new technology which will help us to drive our ABX strategy and we are continually adapting and developing automated nurture content, target lists, sales engagement etc to drive optimal results.
I think that ABX brings even closer alignment between sales and marketing teams within a business and it’s exciting to see this entirely joined up approach taking shape to drive our business.
Other trends of note would be customer experience, the importance of customer advocacy programs, AI developments such as our recent use of chat bots and a focus on engaging issue-led content such as video, surveys, interactive Q&A webinars etc.
Finally, social media remains an important element of our strategy. An interesting trend is watching to see what happens with the return to live events – we have all got used to consuming content via online formats, therefore a live event needs to ensure it isn’t delivering what could be delivered more easily online so I predict more networking/social style events than a return to presentations delivered in a lecture theatre!
How do you facilitate a strong working partnership between marketing and sales teams?
The partnership between sales and marketing is something I am really passionate about, especially as I started my career in sales! I think it’s key to have shared goals and objectives, a marketing strategy that has been built with the input and approval of sales and a cadence of regular reporting on marketing KPIs including 2-way feedback on lead conversion/quality of leads.
At Sophos the SDR function is part of marketing and the EMEA function sits within my organisation, this is a fantastic way of ensuring that we pass qualified opportunities to our sales team and not MQLs which maximises conversion. A really simple thing but the biggest advice for anyone in marketing wanting to work better with sales is to listen and be present – ensuring you attend a sales QBR will give you a deep insight into what is working, where any obstacles are and makes it then easy for you to translate this into a marketing strategy to support where needed.
You were named in CRN’s 2022 list of Women in the Channel. Do you have any advice for women working in tech?
I am lucky in that my experience of being a woman in tech has been largely positive and I have benefitted from working directly for several inspirational female leaders. Although it is slowly changing, I have seen and still see a big difference in terms of the number of male and female colleagues I work with, especially in senior leadership roles.
I have experienced on numerous occasions being the only female in the room, but I am glad to say this is now starting to change. I have been delighted over recent years to see more and more women in highly technical roles and we have many talented ladies at Sophos working in our labs, support and product development.
Tech can be complex but realise you don’t need to be able to tick every box on a job ad description to apply – research shows that often women will choose not to apply for a role if they can’t tick every box in terms of experience whereas their male counterparts will often feel happy to apply with only the ability to tick half! Ask questions and seek out women already in the industry who will often be very happy to give you advice and guidance. It is great to have a network of female role models you can reach out to and work with.
How did you navigate the pandemic? Any long-term lessons?
I think the most important thing was to keep communicating and ensuring that Zoom calls were not just all about business and tasks, I added in catch up calls for my team and fun activities like quizzes and even an online cooking activity where we all took to our kitchens and had a cooking lesson from a professional chef.
Another key learning and one that I hope to continue beyond the pandemic is flexibility – I think we have learned during the pandemic that people can deliver even if they flex their hours to make it work for their home environment, Sophos is a really fantastic employer who encourages flexibility, this enables my team to balance their work and home lives to suit them while still getting the job done.
Another lesson I think we learned was that constant Zoom calls is hard going on people, so as a team we did our best to implement ‘Zoom free Friday’ giving people a break from being on calls, as well as ensuring people get concentrated time for projects. I think that webinars have really gained traction since the pandemic and we have learned that maybe some content can be delivered to larger audiences online than running costly and resource intensive live events.
What’s next for Sophos?
In terms of what is next, I think deeper integration and leveraging of ABX, a change to the format of how we run live events and some really exciting new product launches and new messaging due to hit the market this year. Busy but exciting times!