Interview With Ashley Kramer, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer at GitLab

Daria Danilina
Interview With Ashley Kramer, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer at GitLab
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Ashley Kramer is the Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer at GitLab. She is responsible for GitLab’s product marketing, brand awareness, communications, analyst relations, community, competitive positioning, marketing ops, and revenue pipeline generation including all digital and sales development efforts. Ashley also leads the strategy for product-led growth and code contribution to the GitLab open core platform. Besides her current role at GitLab, some of Ashley’s other professional contributions are as an Angel investor and Startup Advisor.

The team at Salesroom had a chance to sit down with Ashley at the SaaStock 2022 Conference in Dublin, to discuss today’s economic climate and how sales and marketing teams need to evolve in order to succeed. 

Here is a highlight of our conversation:

  1. What tools should be in every CMO’s toolbox?

“The number one thing I have always looked at is First Order Sales Accepted Opportunities. Different people will call them different things, but what that means is everything we’re doing in the awareness and consideration phase of the buyer's journey actually turning into a conversion – actually turning into something that sales can leverage to help them decide whether or not they are speaking with a potentially great customer. From my perspective, it’s about making sure net-new pipeline is being generated.”

  1. What makes a successful GTM team?

“The culture is critical. I think just for a company's success, a culture of collaboration and transparency is key.”

“For example, instead of a private conversation between just you, the salesperson, and me as the marketing person, we would want to make that more transparent to the rest of the team. One of the things we do at GitLab is use open Slack channels within the GTM team. I think that’s important, because communication in a siloed manner only helps the two of us progress, but we really want the wider team to be successful, and we want everybody in sales and marketing to understand what’s happening. So, we believe that when possible, the transparency and open communication goes a lot further than just that 1-1 conversation or that quick email.”

  1. How do you generate urgency with buyers?

“Your buyer might be OK today. Your buyer might think their developer productivity is OK today. However, get them to think about what may happen. We’re going into a recession (or we’re in a recession, depending on who you talk to). What happens if layoffs occur? What happens if they can’t spend as many dollars on R&D? They will need to future-proof their business now. Then, tell them three customers who made this decision two years ago and the ROI that they’re extracting today.”

“So, from my perspective, that’s how you really (when you’re talking to the buyer), start to get them to see that urgency, because everybody wants to know what everybody else is doing. As a CMO, I talk to around three CMO’s a week. It doesn’t matter where they work. But I want to understand what they’re seeing and the things that I should prepare for, and I think you can do the same thing with buyers.”  

  1. What should sales and marketing leaders be thinking about right now?

“Most important right now is leaders instilling confidence in the team  – that what we’re going through is OK. We’re following science more than art, and maybe branding and messaging aren’t as fun as it used to be. However, it’s what customers need. It's what the company needs to really thrive. And so from that perspective, I think it’s about inviting everybody on the wider team – all the employees – to really understand that they’re part of a mission and things are fine. And when you open up that communication, you’re going to really see how an engineer or a salesperson (even those who this may be their first job) have really creative ideas on what to do. Building that team culture can help with retention over the next few years. That keeps people engaged. That keeps people as part of the mission and the team. And while sales and marketing leaders tend to be very numbers-driven because that’s our job, I think that’s an important aspect that can be missed.” 

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