Q&A

Leadership Advice From A Software Veteran

Source: Software Executive magazine
Claire Alexander, Capterra’s New General Manager

A Q&A With Claire Alexander, Capterra’s New General Manager

Claire Alexander brings nearly two decades of experience in digital strategy, new product development, and go-to-market leadership across the media, clean tech, education tech and advertising tech industries. She sat down with ISVinsights and Software Executive Magazine shortly after starting her new role as General Manager at Capterra to discuss evolving software purchasing habits, software marketing, and leading a growing tech company.

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How has B2B software purchasing/the decision making process changed in the last few years? How should software companies adapt to these changes?

Finding the right software has always been complicated, but with the explosion of new entrants to the market, the process can be even more time consuming and overwhelming than ever. In addition, software buyers now expect to be able to learn a lot about products before they ever talk to a vendor -- which is why our site sees more than three million visitors every month!

As a result, software companies must show up where buyers are looking online. They must be very clear about exactly what problems their software solves, and what type of buyer they serve best. We’ve seen that the more specific vendors are about who should be interested in their products (e.g. SMB vs enterprise, FTE counts < 10, etc.), generate much better lead quality than vendors who try to attract everyone. Ideally vendors are also leveraging social proof in the form of quality reviews and customer testimonials.
 

What are some of the biggest marketing mistakes you’ve seen software companies make? What do software companies with successful marketing strategies do better than their competitors?

  1. If you build it, they won’t automatically come. Having a great product is key to a company’s success, but no one will be able to use the product if they don’t know about it. You do need to market yourself.
  2. The more clarity you have about your perfect buyer, the better. Know, specifically, where your ideal customer reads news, hangs out, and how they spend their time. Then be relentless in fishing where that type of fish swims. The more specific you can be, the more successful you will be.
  3. Make sure you communicate the “why” of the product, not just the “what.” Articulating a clear vision for your product and the problem it solves will help you better communicate what you do to potential customers. People may not feel they need a chat app, but they probably need a faster and more streamlined way to have conversations between remote workers.

You were previously the VP of Marketing and the Senior Director of Product Marketing at two software companies that were acquired by Oracle. What did you learn from that acquisition? What do software executives who are seeking to be acquired need to keep in mind about that transition?

Oracle has a very rigorous M&A process and truly cares about the quality of the underlying technology. If that’s your end goal, make sure what you have is fantastic!

We don’t even want to ask this question, but diversity in the tech space is a problem many companies are struggling to address. How can software companies find a more diverse pool of candidates? What can software companies do to elevate more women to leadership positions within their organizations?

I think the first step is caring enough to ask that question. We’ve had some very candid conversations about what diversity means to us at Capterra, and ultimately landed on the truth that we want to attract and retain the very best talent. We care about diversity -- not for appearances, but because we can achieve our talent goal by being inclusive.

With that clear, there are some things we’re doing at Capterra that I think lots of software companies can improve upon to find a diverse candidate pool. We’re making more specific, proactive efforts to let wider networks of people know about opportunities at Capterra. We’re also working internally to make sure every employee feels valued and understands how to progress within the organization. And best of all—it’s not driven by me, it’s being driven by our employees here. I just create the space, permission and support to allow my colleagues to help us live our values.

You’ve worked in a wide variety of roles throughout your career (consulting, operations, marketing, product, etc.). Which roles are most critical to a software company’s success? What new roles/responsibilities have you seen evolve that software companies need to pay more attention to?

For me, it’s all about product marketing. Does your product actually solve a problem that buyers care about? Does the experience of working with your software solve truly the problem they have? Are you thinking about ways to differentiate from the competition through your entire offering (e.g.: sales, customer support, onboarding, marketing), not just your software product? If you run a customer-focused software organization, you stand a much better chance of getting it right.

Every company, regardless of industry or vertical focus, claims to have a “great culture” or a “strong value system.” What about Capterra’s culture attracted you to this position? How do you plan to continue to build the culture at Capterra? What can software executives do to ensure culture is a reality, rather than just words on a website?

That’s so true!

I was initially attracted to Capterra because of the values on our “Team” page -- do great work, keep getting better, seek the good, and be ridiculously helpful. I fell in love with the company after witnessing those values in action during my interviewing process; they are very in line with my personal values. For me, authenticity is everything.

In the same way that we are what we eat, our culture comes from how we act. And of course, whomever is at the helm sets a very strong example.

I think leaders need to take a good, objective look at what they personally value. If those values are out of line with the organization, there’s probably going to be trouble. Similarly, if everyone claims to value the same things, but aren’t acting in ways that reflect that truth, then leadership needs to address that discrepancy head on.

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Claire Alexander is the new General Manager of Capterra. She brings nearly two decades of experience in digital strategy, new product development, and go-to-market leadership across the media, clean tech, education tech and advertising tech industries. At Capterra she oversees all day-to-day operations and leads the strategic vision for the organization. Alexander is a graduate of Harvard College and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She is passionate about learning, the great outdoors, and building organizations through best practices and collaboration. Alexander resides with her family in Washington, DC.