4 Lessons I learned from my friend Sarah

Sarah Franklin is more than a board member for Qualified, she's a friend. We’re excited to see how Sarah uplevels Salesforce’s innovation at Dreamforce.

4 Lessons I learned from my friend Sarah
Dan Darcy
Dan Darcy
September 1, 2021
min read
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Qualified has a long, storied history with Salesforce (and you can read all about that here). But what most people probably don’t know is that our connections with Salesforce are much deeper than technology and funding—I made many of my best friends at Salesforce when we all worked on “Marketraz” aka Marketing-Alcatraz, an isolated area in our 6 Spear office where we were separated from the rest of the marketing floor!

My journey with Salesforce started out in 2008 when I joined the team after a friend, Jager McConnell (now CEO of Crunchbase), reached out. During my time there, I ran the technical product marketing team, aka the demo team, and helped build a world-class global enablement team until I joined Qualified in 2021. One of my best takeaways from Salesforce was meeting one of my all-time favorite colleagues, Sarah Franklin.

Fast forward to 2021, Sarah Franklin is not only on the Board of Directors at Qualified, but also the President and Chief Marketing Officer of Salesforce. I’m pretty sure our younger selves would laugh if they knew where we’d end up in the future.

Running a team through the transition to a digital-first world has been everything: challenging, exciting, exhilarating, energizing, exhausting… you name it, I’ve felt it. Throughout it all, I’ve learned some incredible lessons from my friend Sarah, and as we kick off September and head into “the biggest selling event of the year,” I want to share my favorite pearls of wisdom, about marketing and leadership, she’s exemplified and shared with me.

Lesson 1: The customer sits at the center of everything

Sarah’s path to marketing started when she learned the importance of connecting the dots between how customers used the technology she was helping create. As the director of platform product marketing, Sarah was a product ninja and eventually made her way into the hearts and minds of Admins and ardent Trailhead fans.

One of Sarah’s guiding principles has always been that the job of a marketer is to help demo solutions of the future to customers. It’s paramount to put the customer at the heart of every strategy, event, campaign, or activation. That type of positioning to customers is something that excites me about running the Qualified Customer Success team every.single.day.

The Qualified platform is the number one conversational sales and marketing platform for teams that use Salesforce. There’s no doubt in my mind that we have the premier product in the market and I get so energized when our Customer Success Slack channel lights up with our customers who are seeing the future of B2B sales and marketing with the power of Qualified.

Qualified’s customers sit at the center of every decision we make, every feature we roll out, and every new innovation we bring to market.

Lesson 2: Marketing is the heartbeat of an organization

As I’ve transitioned from marketer to enablement to Customer Success, my heart will always skip a beat when I learn about a new campaign, go-to-market launch, or even a new e-book theme.

Like Sarah says, “marketers build community by creating authentic connections with customers. But [they’re] not just asking how [they] can engage everyone externally, [they’re] also asking how [they] can help employees, align vision and values with our products and services, and ultimately get companies back to growth. Marketing is first in line to answer all of these critical questions.”

The marketing organization is the heart and soul of any organization. The team is uniquely positioned to tackle the challenges of our customers and provide a solution in a creative narrative. 

I challenge myself to bring this energy to my Customer Success team at Qualified. From implementation calls through strategic planning sessions, our CSMs provide best-in-class solutions that help solve our customer’s most challenging problems; we’re the customer-facing extension of the marketing team’s efforts, bringing each campaign, tagline, or slogan to life in our day-to-day customer interactions.

Lesson 3: Leading through change

The last 20 months have been tough on everyone. There’s been great positive momentum with vaccines, but the “new normal” is still being defined. Running a team throughout this has been a personal test in the best way possible. Sarah talks a lot about how she brings her whole self to work, she’s authentic, and she’s courageous with her vulnerability as a parent and as a boss. 

I channel Sarah in our daily Customer Success team status calls. With my team distributed across the country, it’s important to bring everyone together to double down on our V2MOM, learn, and bring a little light and levity to our culture.

Not only am I leading my team of CSMs through a time of great change, we’re guiding our customers through the biggest digital transformation of this century. Never before have teams worked, sold, and marketed from anywhere—the Qualified platform leads the way for customer’s shift to digital-first operations.

Lesson 4: Never give up

This is short and sweet: Sarah never gives up. Every time the going gets tough or we hit a speed bump in the roadmap, you stay with it and find a way to persevere. Resiliency is hard. It’s a simple lesson that packs a wallop of a punch. 

Sarah is a force to be reckoned with, and I, personally, can’t wait to see what magic she’ll bring to Dreamforce, Salesforce+, and beyond.

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