6sense is a fast-growing company with incredible employees all over the world. Our Employee Spotlight series introduces you to the people behind the technology that’s revolutionizing B2B revenue creation.
Rachel Zerilla isn’t one to shy away from a challenge. Before joining the B2B sales and marketing tech industry and becoming a Product Marketing Manager, she began her career as a teacher for an alternative high school, where she helped teach English to kids who had been expelled from other Chicago public schools.
She also tutored, taught fitness classes, coached tennis, and ran the school’s yearbook program.
When she later moved to Tennessee, her career took a big turn when she was hired by fashion retailer Anthropolgie as an Operations Manager. She quickly rose through the ranks working for luxury retailers such as Kate Spade and TAG Heuer, where she was the Director for their boutique in Santa Clara.
We recently spoke with Rachel about her role at 6sense, her unusual journey to marketing, her most recent project, her passions outside work, and more.
Driven to Make a Difference
Retail work gave Rachel the opportunity to become an operations manager, a role where her background in education proved handy. “I did a lot of team onboarding and training and development,” she said. Her ability to understand what drives students, or in this case, employees, helped her align creative solutions with expectations. “People want to be heard, understood, and advocated for,” she said.
A combination of life events, a desire to be near friends, and a pull towards yet another career shift led Rachel to San Jose, where she was again recruited into a new role by a colleague, this time building out a B2B customer program for tech hardware brand Seagate.
“I was essentially a PMM without the title,” Rachel said of her role, in which she moved from enablement to go-to-market, running PR, field marketing, channel distribution, OEM partnerships, and other go-to-market activities.
Falling in Love with MarTech
Rachel has been a Senior Product Marketing Manager with 6sense for more than a year, and she’s already accomplished great things, including the recent release of data packs. But Rachel’s so much more than a PMM.
She’s also a mother and an adventure enthusiast. She doesn’t want to spend every hour of every day chained to a desk.
Rachel described the earlier days of marketing, before tools like Hubspot came onto the scene. The lack of data and automation was frustrating. The ability to use data to demonstrate the efficacy of marketing initiatives helped her develop a love for martech.
Enter ABM, and platforms like 6sense and its competitors. Rachel had the opportunity to work with a 6sense competitor, and felt like it wasn’t meeting her needs. Research into alternatives uncovered 6sense. She gave it a try, onboarded, and, in her words, “I was just blown away.”
The ability to work more efficiently meant she could hit goals faster, accomplish more, and save time.
It wasn’t just her hands-on experience with 6sense that attracted Rachel to the company. The people element was critical. “Everyone who I worked with on the 6sense team was amazing and brilliant,” she said. That led to her for a PMM with 6sense role.
“6sense is just the best place to be,” she continued. “We’re doing all of this work that companies need to grow their business.”
But again, it’s not just the technology that makes Rachel so passionate about what she does. “When I was interviewed, I could tell it was about more than just my skillset. They knew I had the skills, but they were interviewing me to see if I would positively contribute to the 6sense culture. We get hung up on hard skills, but it’s soft skills that create a community.”
What does community at 6sense look like? “People talk about work-life balance,” Rachel explained, “That can mean a lot of things. For me, as a mother, it means I have to drop off and pick up my child for school. And I can say to my coworkers, I need to go do this, can we push it back a few minutes? And they’ll come back and say of course, let’s move it to tomorrow.”
Having worked in the tech industry for a while, Rachel observes that this mindset of putting your family and yourself first is an anomaly, but it works for the benefit of 6sense and its employees alike. “You contribute more when you’re free to prioritize what truly matters.”
Rachel, like everyone else at 6sense, is so much more than her career. She’s also the mother of a three-year-old and has a husband that works in technology sales. Family takes up a lot of her time. She’s also a Muay Thai boxer, which she’s been doing for ten years — though not competitively, she explained.
“We live in Arizona, so we do a lot of swimming. We also do a lot outdoors. We go hiking, play tennis, play soccer — my husband’s an ex-soccer player, so there’s a lot of soccer time.”
Rachel’s Role as a PMM
Product Marketing Managers get products to market, work on product positioning, craft messaging, and shape storytelling around the products. “We also help our customers understand the benefits, which means getting close to the customer and understanding what their needs are.”
One product that Rachel oversees is data packs. While most 6sense customers subscribe to the platform to take advantage of a full array of ABM and sales capabilities, some customers have their own data science teams and mainly want the underlying data we capture.
Data packs are a new offering that meets that demand, providing an a la carté data options for companies that prefer to use their own data analysis modeling.
Rachel was part of the team that determined which types of customers and use cases would be the right fit for the new product. “We had to understand what we were taking to market, how we were positioning it, and to who, what our differentiators are, and what makes our data better.”
For example, some customers rely on closed-source systems to enhance security. This makes deeply integrated solutions like 6sense’s platform difficult to get approved. With data packs, they can leverage the same high-quality data with their own internal solutions.
Advice for Job Applicants
True to her teaching roots, Rachel stresses the importance of staying curious, learning, and embracing opportunities.
“Education isn’t just for your career, it also teaches you how the world works, and how you work,” she said. “Once you start putting your education into practice, you’ll see what you do and don’t like. Don’t stay in anything that isn’t for you.”
Rachel emphasized the importance of learning about a wide array of things. “Take courses online. It takes time and work to explore what you’re excited about and what you’re good at, and you can’t know until you put in the research.”
Set goals, and don’t be afraid to pivot. “Data makes all decisions have better outcomes.”