Community Spotlight: Ben Pollack

From BDR to Head of Growth. Spotlighting Ben Pollack's career in Marketing
Ben Pollack
May 24, 2022
Community Spotlight: Ben Pollack

Product-Led Sales (PLS) Community Spotlights celebrate members of our PLS community. In this series, we shine a light on our forward thinkers, uncovering the career paths that brought them to the product-led space and highlighting their advice and predictions about the future of PLS. 

Meet them for yourself or get a chance to be featured yourself when you request to join Pocus’ invite-only Slack community here.

Meet Ben: Head of Growth Marketing at ChartHop 👋

New England native Ben Pollack, Head of Growth Marketing at ChartHop, started his career as a business development rep (BDR) before pivoting to marketing because he was “more interested in the overall pie rather than my slice.” (Love that!) 

Ben ran the demand gen side of things at his previous company, Reonomy, before they exited for $200 million. Now at ChartHop, Ben is enjoying the opportunity to run growth marketing more holistically. As the 25th employee, he’s seen the company grow to over 200 in just a year and a half. Ben’s team is responsible for driving revenue outcomes across the business through marketing ops, rev ops, demand gen, performance marketing, and all things product-led growth (PLG). 

What is ChartHop? 

Founded in 2019, ChartHop is an HR technology solution. One of their shining features, according to Ben, is a highly-flexible API that integrates with all the different HR products businesses use to manage payroll, equity, employee performance, applicant tracking, and beyond. ChartHop collates data from all of these sources and surfaces it to a single, clean interface with which HR leaders, people leaders, and business leaders can engage to make fast, informed HR decisions. 

ChartHop Goes PLG 💰

Very recently, ChartHop launched a free self-serve product that is free for companies with less than 150 employees and has a trial period for those greater than 150 employees.

For Ben, this new, additional go-to-market (GTM) approach has changed a lot

With the addition of a CTA on their website that invites visitors to go play with their self-serve product, everything is different, from how they measure to how they engage; what they expect; how SLAs are structured; the relationships between sales, customer success, and marketing; and more.

In light of this exciting new PLG opportunity, Ben says his team is working hard to concoct the right “cocktail” of GTM strategy, paid spend, operational flows, and SLAs that makes customers happy and drives revenue. 

The Evolution of Ben’s Role and ABX GTM

When Ben originally joined ChartHop, his focus was primarily on demand gen. There were just two people on the marketing team and four in sales. At that early stage, a lot of pipeline came directly from investor intros and word of mouth from customers.

Today, ChartHop’s sales team has grown to over 50 folks, and the marketing team is approaching 20. Their GTM strategy has also developed along with this growth.

Ben says they’ve gone from "Let's throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see what sticks." to a much more measured approach that starts with “We know our product market fit is best within this segment. Why? What's the use case? What's the pain point? What time do we want to hit that? What’s the right messaging?"

Ben calls this an account-based experience (ABX) GTM approach because all of their account-based efforts begin with curating databases on an operational level. The evolution of this more sophisticated GTM has created strong pipeline and generates a good portion of revenue growth for ChartHop today. 

“I quickly realized that growth comes up from operational foundations, so I spent a lot of my time building out our mar tech, rev tech, and sales ops stack early on. I then started leading a broader growth arm that encompasses different types of revenue and marketing operations.”

How Curiosity Has Helped Fuel Ben’s Trajectory 🐈‍⬛

For Ben, a sense of curiosity has underpinned his growth from BDR to marketing leader. 

He realized early in his career that demand gen wasn’t complete without the behind-the-scenes operations that facilitated it, helped track and attribute it, and ran the necessary experiments to improve upon it. 

So, he let his curiosity take the lead. Ben went from working primarily in AdWords to training himself on tools like HubSpot and Salesforce, learning what data infrastructure looked like, and figuring out how different operational tech and verticals all worked together. By asking questions and developing relationships, Ben has created exposure and ownership for himself that’s propelled his quick rise to growth leadership. 

"Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it propels the growth marketer. At each step in my career, I think what's propelled me to learn more scope and therefore earn more scope has been curiosity."

Advice and Resources for Those Earlier in Their Marketing Career 

Ben shared some key pieces of advice for anyone who’s looking to follow a path similar to his: 

Follow your curiosity: Of course, Ben’s first tip is all about being curious. He advises anyone who’s trying to further their career to lean into the curiosity — ask your mentors the hard questions, spend the extra time learning, adopt what works for you and leave behind whatever doesn't, experiment and pivot when it feels right. 

Have patience: Ben says his drive in the early days was sometimes difficult and perhaps too persistent, so he’s had to learn to be patient and at peace with the fact that growth takes time. For companies as well as for individuals, growth is not usually shaped like a hockey stick, instead it comes in waves. 

Make connections: You can probably tell that Ben really likes to connect with people, and good thing because it’s something that’s helped him grow his career. Especially if you’re just getting started, Ben says a great way to learn is to start genuine conversations and develop real relationships with people who are where you want to be.

Start small: There’s no shame in starting with a more entry-level role, such as BDR. In fact, that’s how many people break into the tech world, and how Ben got his start. In many orgs, BDRs are often able to “graduate” into other verticals, such as recruiting, marketing, rev ops, etc. 

What PLG Marketing Looks Like Today

Ben shares how he’s seen PLG marketing change in the past decade, especially as companies have prioritized using customer and product data to inform their approach.

The old way of demand gen was full of things like almost-cold outreach emails that shot out automatically to everyone who downloaded an ebook, etc. Intent and value add were an afterthought. Today, the process Ben and other modern PLG marketers follow might be pretty operationalized, but it’s also pretty personalized and thoughtful: 

1. Define and identify PQLs and their intent signals (email signups, downloads, accessing gated content, time on page, etc.). Figure out the best messaging/channels to deliver these users value and solve pain points. 

2. Operationalize the actions that each PQL receives at each trigger using your GTM systems like Salesforce, HubSpot, etc. 

3. Go to market, and measure the impact! This is where a marketing lead will work across BDR teams, paid teams, brand teams, and more to ensure a consistent and effective go-to-market.

Human in the Loop: Where PLG is Heading ➰

In the next five years, Ben sees the pendulum swinging back from the automate-damn-near-everything approach to a more humanized approach that is often referred to as “Human-in-the-loop” (HITL).

HITL is based on the fact that humans still want and need to talk to humans for many things. Instead of trying to replace sales through automation, the PLG motion should just make their jobs easier so they have more time to help and bring value to the customers who need it. 

At the end of the day, Ben says there still needs to be a human somewhere in most sales loops — setting up customized demos, choosing the best solutions for specific use cases, and doing other things that require a level of understanding robots don’t have. 

Rapid-Fire Questions: Faves Edition 

Favorite TV show? Tokyo Vice (That’s on HBO, if you were curious like us.) 

Favorite emoji? 🔥

Current travel fantasy? I'm visiting Amsterdam, Paris, and London in a few months and I'm super excited for that!

Connect With Ben and Other PLG Leaders in the PLS Community

Connect, swap stories, get feedback, and more with a wide variety of product-led experts from  Zapier, Slack, Asana, and dozens of other amazing PLG orgs when you join Pocus' Product-Led Sales Slack community. Request an invite now. 

Want to nominate a member of the community to be featured in a spotlight? Connect with our Head of Marketing Sandy once you’re in our PLS Slack Community.

Community Spotlight: Ben Pollack
Ben Pollack
Head of Growth at ChartHop
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