This week I’m thrilled to feature Melissa McCready, founder and CEO of Navigate Consulting Group. Melissa has helped numerous organizations with revenue operations, content marketing, events and more. She’s also actively involved in sports and arts with local schools. Here, in her own words, is how she gets everything done.
Location: San Clemente, CA, but in Silicon Valley a lot
Number of unread emails right now? Personal >1K, Business = 0
First app checked in the morning? LinkedIn
First thing you do when you come into work? Manage through email and prioritize for the day
What is your email management strategy? I have different email boxes for personal and professional. My business email accounts have folders set up by priority of projects/clients. I check email on my phone regularly.
Most essential app when traveling? My calendar!
How do you keep yourself calm and/or focused? I scheduled out my day and put a list together of what needs to get done and what can wait and try to work through it all with the expectation I cannot do everything.
What’s your perspective or approach to work/life balance? Pace yourself. Make sure to give yourself breaks, whether it be 15 minutes to grab a coffee or just step outside to breath. Remind yourself you are not in a job of saving lives and you cannot control everything. The balance is in choosing what to react to and finding ways to plan ahead so if you need to shift things, you can with limited disruption to everyone.
Are there any work rituals critical to your success? Checking email often, reading the new both globally and in the industry, keeping up on social media posts.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? LinkedIn, SFDC, Marketo, Slack, Uber, Flipbook, IFTTT
What’s your workspace like? I have a dedicated home office, otherwise I am at clients’ sites and events.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack? Calendar everything and if you cannot finish, push it out so you can keep deadlines and not kill yourself doing too much…coming from someone who has a super tight schedule.
What are you currently reading? This survey (ha!). For real, “Aligned to Achieve: How to Unite Your Sales and Marketing Teams into a Single Force for Growth: –by Tracy Eiler (Author), Andrea Austin (Author)
Last thing you do before leaving work? Check my calendar for the next day and then check LinkedIn.
Who are some mentors or influencers you wish to thank or acknowledge? A lot to list and this is a mixed list of mentors and influencers – Norma Watenpaugh, Amy Guarino, Meagen Eisenberg, Jocelyn King, Karen Steele, Didi Dayton, May Mitchell, Jill Rowley, Pierce Ujjainwalla, Matt Heinz!!!!, Dr. Debbi Qaqish, Laura Ramos, Loren McDonald, David Lewis
Name some supportive people who help make it possible to do what you do best? I am fortunate to have a husband who is supportive and will arrange his schedule with mine. Having a partner like this is key to being successful and knowing when to ask for help!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Tell the truth because it is easier to remember than a lie.
Name a guilty pleasure TV show – Dr. Pimple Popper
Anything else you want to add? If you have a lot of stress, give up caffeine. It only makes it worse!
Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see BLANK answer these questions. I’d love to see Latane Conant!!!!
By Josh Baez, Engagement Manager at Heinz Marketing
As B2B marketers, understanding our target audience is essential to every single thing twe do. Our audience influences the content we create, the messaging we write, the products we help bring to market — everything. And without a clear sense of who we’re targeting and why we’re targeting them, the work we’re doing is little more than random acts of marketing — screaming product pitches into the void hoping that someone, somewhere, answers back.
Yet all too often organizations lack the necessary details around their target audience to be able to actually do anything meaningful, leaving marketing teams to fend for themselves when it comes time to “launch a campaign,” and audiences overwhelmed with woefully underwhelming marketing experiences.
As an agency marketer, this situation is even harder to get out of. That situation where all we have to go off of are titles — maybe there’s some information about industries — but there’s definitely nothing around psychographics, focus areas, or even pain points of the people we’re tasked to market to.
The common mistake that organizations make when it comes to identifying their target audience is assuming that these people want to hear about the product, when, in fact, a majority of them don’t.
Successful marketing requires a gap to be bridged — a gap between those people who want to hear about the product and those who don’t, let alone those who aren’t even aware they have a problem that requires a solution to begin with.
The question is: How can organizations begin to bridge those gaps?
Here are three key areas to help you better identify, develop, and engage your target audience so you can more effectively and consistently drive pipeline for your organization.
DEFINE your ideal customer profile
DEVELOP your personas
MAP your target audience’s challenges and needs across the buyer’s journey
DEFINE your ideal customer profile
The first step to develop your target audience is to define your ideal customer profile. This exercise is to help you really narrow down who, ideally, you want to target. It will also help to ensure you’re actually going after the right people in the right accounts with the right materials, messages, and offers.
Consider the following criteria to get you started —
General Firmographics: these are your typical criteria that most LinkedIn profiles, or even Google searches, will provide.
Required titles in the company
Specific Firmographics: these qualities are more specific based on your company’s products and services. For this example, let’s assume we’re building an ideal customer profile for a technology company. What more specific profile details would a technology company need within an ideal target account?
IT budget: of course, a technology company would want to make sure their ideal target account actually has budget for their solution
Technology requirements: an ideal account would also be invested in the right technology, or at the very least, a baseline set of technologies, that could indicate traits like organizational maturity or a willingness to grow.
Situational Criteria: these criteria are based around potential situations that have recently happened within an ideal target account. We’ll continue to use a technology company as an example to identify potential scenarios that could indicate a good account.
Leadership change: if there has been a leadership change within the organization, it may present an opportunity to reach out and determine if there are areas that need extra coverage or support.
Recent data breach: a company who’s just suffered a data breach is likely rethinking their entire technology structure, and that presents a perfect opportunity for a technology company to throw their name in the ring.
There are, of course, other criteria you could include in your ideal customer profile. The key here is to ensure that whatever criteria you do decide on using helps you build out a more robust depiction of the accounts you’re going after so you can better target and market to them.
DEVELOP your personas
Persona development is the next key factor in building your target audience framework. These personas should go well-beyond simple titles and job descriptions, encompassing details around psychographics, role in the buying decision, internal and external influences, and pain points.
Typically, we like to organize our personas into three roles determined by their titles:
Decision Makers: the end-all of the decision — typically C-Suite or VP level.
Champions: the person within the target account who helps rally the buying committee — typically director level.
Influencers: the end-user of the solution — this is the person who is using the product or service day-to-day.
And, if you want to get even more specific, you can further break these three roles into focuses:
Business-focused: meaning that the persona is more focused on strategy, outcomes, and the overall value the solution provides to the business.
Technically-focused: meaning that the persona is more focused on the technical aspects of the solution — what it does, how, and what they get out of it.
And now, it’s time to tie these all together with title information, goals, pain points, etc. Here is the criteria we typically utilize when developing our personas:
Internal influences: who within the company has influence over this persona’s decision making?
External influences: what external forces could influence this persona’s decision making?
Job focus areas: what is this persona responsible for within their organization?
Attitude and reputation: how does the industry typically perceive this persona? Are they technically-savvy? Business-oriented? Skeptical of new solutions? Are they on the line for revenue?
Business goals: what does this persona hope to achieve in their role?
Pain points: what does this persona struggle with when attempting to achieve their goals?
Use cases for the solution: what are some use cases where the persona would utilize and benefit from your solution?
MAP your target audience’s challenges and needs across the buyer’s journey
Lastly, it’s time to map your target audience’s challenges and needs across the buyer’s journey. This is likely going to be the most challenging step of the three, as it requires you have a detailed understanding of who your target audience is, what they care about, and how they make decisions.
This piece is all about mapping your personas’ needs, challenges, and focus areas to each stage of the buyer’s journey. You can see in the example below a framework of how we typically do this:
Along the top, you see columns for the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel. These columns will each house specific messaging as it relates to those three core buying stages.
The first row, in dark grey, is your primary message. Putting your personas aside for a moment, what are you ultimately trying to say at each of these buying stages? What is the primary message you’re trying to get across from awareness to consideration to decision?
As you go down the lighter-grey rows, you’ll want to input your key personas. These rows are designed to take your primary messages at each stage and boil them down so they are relevant to the personas you want to address.
And, as you move from left to right, you will start to be more product-focused.
In doing this, you’ll be able to more consistently identify what you want to talk about and how you want to talk about it with each persona as they move from the top of the funnel to the bottom:
Top of Funnel: the top of the funnel is designed to generate awareness for a need and should be completely product-agnostic. Identify the challenges that you’re addressing, the benefits that your solution provides, and the outcomes that your users achieve — but without ever addressing your solution.
The goal of this stage is to get the lead to be aware that they have a problem to begin with — identifying that they could be doing more if not for the seen and/or unseen hindrances that are holding them back.
Middle of Funnel: at the middle of funnel, your lead is aware there’s a problem and they are actively looking for a solution. This is the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey, and here is where you can start sprinkling in more specific tie-ins to your company.
The goal of this stage is to get the lead to consider your solution — do what you can to continue the messaging from the top of the funnel and tie in more specific benefits of using a solution like yours (without being too heavy handed).
Bottom of Funnel: at the bottom of the funnel is when you can be very specific about your solution and what it will bring to the table. Here is where you can mention, more specifically, your features and benefits as they relate to your prospect’s overall pain points.
The goal of this stage is to get the lead to decide that your solution is the right solution. Reinforce what your organization can do to enhance what they’re doing now and help them accomplish even more in the future.
Developing your target audience may seem like a lot to consider — and from an ideal customer profile to personas to an entire messaging framework — there are undoubtedly a lot of moving parts. But these pieces, while time-consuming, are essential to your success as a marketer. This level of detail will influence everything you do, and will allow you to be smarter, more thoughtful, and more strategic about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.
“From recipe recommendations just for you to handy tools and helpful videos, Yummly has everything you need to improve life in the kitchen.”
I first heard about this website when I started googling the individual items I had in my fridge/pantry that were going to go bad if I didn’t use them quickly; a few weeks ago I looked up “sweet potato zucchini chicken” in Google and it spit out 27,500,000 results in .41 seconds, one of which was a Yummly webpage titled “10 Best Zucchini Sweet Potato Chicken Recipes”.
A search couldn’t have gone more perfectly! That’s when I decided it might be worthwhile to download the app version. Here, I’ll walk you through that process so you can see if this app makes sense for you.
The first page you see once you open the just-downloaded app looks like this:
It has 26 different types of cuisine to choose your favorites out of! I could’ve chosen all 26, but I decided to let the app do its personalization, so I only selected 9..
After hitting the “Next” button you’re taken to a page asking about allergies and diet. The allergies the app lets you choose from are dairy, egg, gluten, peanut, seafood, sesame, soy, sulfite, tree nut, and wheat.
But to me, the diet section is the coolest. It lets you choose from: ketogenic, lacto-vegetarian, vegetarian, low fodmap, ovo vegetarian, paleo, pescatarian, and vegan. Although I’m somewhat allergic to dairy, I don’t choose it because I love cheese too much! But I do opt for the “low fodmap” diet, since I’ve heard I should try it out.
Next, Yummly asks if I dislike any particular foods. There are many options but there’s also a “fill it in yourself” type of box if you don’t see the food you dislike as an option. Since there’s nothing I don’t like, I skip this step
The next page asks, “How would you describe your cooking skills?” Since I’m fairly new at this, I choose “beginner”.
Next page asks me to select what recipes appeal to me, and I’m given 30 recipe options of all kinds. Some desserts, some dinners, some drinks! In my experience, this way of gathering preference data tends to produce pretty spot-on suggestions.
Now my customer experience is fully personalized! At this point, I can start saving recipes to different collections so that if I need a recipe for a side dish, I can open up the “Sides” collection and choose something quickly.
But what I’ll use the most—hands down—is the search page, which prompts you to “use up an ingredient you have on hand.” Maybe even unintentionally, this app turns out to be a great way to hold myself accountable for reducing food waste!
So, if you enjoy cooking or want to learn how to cook at your own level with your own food preferences in mind, give Yummly a shot! Your grumbling tummy will thank you.
There is a generational shift happening within buying committees. Millennials are taking the reigns as decision makers, influencers and project managers. Sure, we all saw it coming eventually—every generation grows up and moves into bigger roles with more influence and responsibility. The question is, are B2B sellers making the necessary changes in their approach in order to find success when it comes to engaging a millennial stakeholder or buying committee?
The following points will provide a bit of guidance and insight as companies consider their approach to marketing, selling, and engaging millennial buyers as this generational shift continues.
Some important things to know about millennials…
They do a large amount of individual research before getting in contact with a salesperson. With so many unbiased tools and research options at their fingertips, talking to a company representative before using these tools seems like putting the cart before the horse. As illustrated by Forbes, the top 4 ways millennials gather information includes product demos, 3rd party user reviews, free trials, and then the vendor or product’s website (in that order).
Millennials trust and prefer having their own experience with the product with unbiased reviews before diving into the self-promoting product content from the company’s website or speaking to a salesperson.
That being said, companies should view their online content (including both the website and social media content) as the first “salesperson” or “representative” that a millennial buyer will interact with and gain insight from.
Younger members of this demographic prefer to engage with social media as a form of information as it highlights short pieces of information and focuses on visuals (HBR).
Millennials are more likely to look for solutions to personal problems, or to problems they have been assigned to find a solution for rather than team issues (b2b.snapapp).
Think about what might be troubling a millennial buyer on a personal level based on their title and firm. This brings us to the importance of buyer personas. Organizations should create targeted personas of millennial buyers that include “basic demographic details, behavior, goals, pain points, and buying patterns” (Newberry). Tune in to the engagement channels and communication methods that are most likely to resonate with and influence this demographic, such as social media and live chat options, as this age group finds phone calls interruptive and annoying (Almquist).
Trust is key. When these millennial buyers do reach out to a sales rep, they are usually wanting to “…confirm product limitations and negotiate pricing” (Barcena).
If your sales team is approached by a millennial stakeholder, they are likely already far along in the buying cycle and are looking for specific information. Handling questions or issues honestly and directly makes a big difference in landing a deal with a millennial prospect.
At the end of the day, as this generation continues to move up the corporate ladder, a company will be doing itself a disservice if it doesn’t consider millennial buyers and influencers as part of the buying committee. To find success in engaging this group, content must be authentic, nonintrusive, and available on a variety of platforms.
I hope these tips give some insight into the minds of the B2B millennial consumer. For more information check out the in-depth research by SnapApp and Heinz Marketing here.
Periodically moving forward, we will feature a new B2B sales, marketing or business leader here answering what have become the standard “How I Work” questions. You can catch up on everyone we’ve featured thus far in the “How I Work” series here.
This week I’m thrilled to feature Rebecca Kline, General Manager, Growth at PagerDuty. Rebecca has led marketing teams at some of Silicon Valley’s fastest-growing tech companies including Malwarebytes, SentinelOne and Ascentive. Here in her own words is how she gets stuff done.
Location: San Francisco
Number of unread emails right now? Three
First app checked in the morning? Twitter
First thing you do when you come into work? Check email and faithfully make my To Do List on paper. Every day.
What is your email management strategy? Not inbox zero, but less than 50 in Gmail so can see all in one view. Anything more and I tend to lose sight. I work out of inbox, so anything remaining in inbox needs actioning. Pro-tip, as we are a Google Suite shop having an ex-Google Cloud employee on your team really helps! She has a whole deck of amazing productivity hacks that she built for new employees who are feeling the learning curve of acclimating to G Suite.
Most essential app when traveling? Do I have say only one? I love Swarm and check-in everywhere. There are still many of us loyalists out there. Swarm has a global map of every place I have ever been, with a decent search feature. Useful for remembering restaurant names, locations, and any late night antics that you can’t quite recall due to jet lag and/or booze. Also, I pay the $50 or whatever a year for TripIt – going back many years. I think it’s the only mobile app I pay for? And then United, because I’m one of those people. When at home I also track planes with Flightradar24, because aviation is cool.
How do you keep yourself calm and/or focused? Calm? Lol. Focused I use active calendar blocking and also take advantage of working on Sundays for deep work.
What’s your perspective or approach to work/life balance? Work hard, play hard. I’ve hired good people throughout my career and have never and will never let childcare, personal obligations or other issues become “team commentary”. Good people will deliver and be accountable. And when people need to take time, they take time. Overall though, I’m not a workaholic or anything like that. I mean I think about work 24/7, but I’m not always working Going out for hikes or downtime/vacation is when the best ideas come. Working smarter, empowering folks to make decisions, and quickly identifying issues helps teams be unstoppable. Likewise, not addressing issues is the killer of teams.
Are there any work rituals critical to your success? I do like a good plan, broken into iterations. I believe in agile teams. Time blocking and planning is everything.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? G Suite is the absolute best for collaboration. File storage and accessibility aspects are not great, but collaborating in real time on slides, docs, spreadsheets makes everything go so much faster. It also drives team mentality, collective ownership, and shared learning.
What’s your workspace like? We just expanded to a new floor at Pagerduty and it’s a nice change of pace! We grew so fast and were just packed to the brim on one floor. Leasing space in a place like San Francisco is an art in of itself. And on the homefront I do believe in dedicated work spaces. In my office I have inspirational pictures and personal mementos, as well as writing apparatus of all kinds (Le Pens, Sharpies). Starting by drawing or writing just clicks for me. Am a big fan of pen to paper.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack? Home isn’t much different than work. G Suite, Calendaring, Reminders, To Do Lists. Goals all committed to spreadsheets, every year. Nothing too wild. I do have a pending weekend “for fun” project to see what I can start to automate with Zapier.
What are you currently reading? Had a yearly goal to read two books a month this year. Made it to about 5 books, and then stalled. I do still keep buying the books though. Books all over the place. I just end up reading Twitter though. Not recommended for obvious psychological reasons, but alas…it’s a goal in progress.
Last thing you do before leaving work? No end of work rituals really. I try to walk home a lot, so typically change back into sneakers. And then GTFO.
Who are some mentors or influencers you wish to thank or acknowledge? I have a lot of people who help me, depending on industry or sector. My cyber friends help with cyber. Sales with Sales. Marketing and so on. I also strongly believe in returning the favor, doing good deeds. The Weak Ties in networking is real! So no names, but a lot of people have helped me be a cross-functional go to market and technology leader. I am forever grateful, and always do what I can to help others in return. Lifting others up is a fundamental piece of who I am.
Name some supportive people who help make it possible to do what you do best? Husbando for sure. He’s a biologist. We are wired similarly. His presentations more high pressure than anything I have ever had to do though. Imagine a pack of nobel prize winning scientists picking apart your work!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? There’s a lot of advice out there, but you have to know you. Do what is right for you. And you can’t let others define you (or your work).
Name a guilty pleasure TV show. I watch all of it. This and Twitter are why my book goals not being met. Loving Killing Eve right now!
Anything else you want to add? Matt Heinz 4 prez!
Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see BLANK answer these questions. How about Kathy Macchi over at Inverta? She’s a boss!
With the onset of warmer weather and the ending of the school year upon us, travel plans are likely on your mind and on your to do list.
To help make your travel as carefree as possible, consider the following list of travel apps top business leaders can’t live without…. whether traveling for business, pleasure or both!
As part of our weekly “How I Work” series, we asked sales and marketing leaders “What is your most essential app when traveling? Here are a handful to consider (and their “why”).
Deb Calvert, author of the best-selling book Stop Selling & Start Leading. I need them all! Uber – hotels – airlines – Yelp – Google maps… Couldn’t imagine traveling without these anymore.
Ali Selbo, chief experience officer for Tegrita Consulting Group. Yelp, Slack and SleepMachine. Yelp for a good recommendation for food and drink to keep me happy, Slack keeps me connected to the team on the go and SleepMachine creates a continual soft white noise, which helps drown out hotel and airport noise to get the best shut eye in new environments.
Tricia Montgomery, a long-time marketing executive who now serves as an interim CMO for fast-growth companies. I use two – Uber and yelp.
Suzanne Calderon, Global Partner Marketing Director at Oracle Marketing Cloud. Uber is a given and then Yelp because I love great restaurants and don’t like wasting time and money at ones that aren’t. New places mean exploration and I love to explore food!
Michele Aymold, VP of Marketing at Parker Dewey. Facebook – I’m lucky to have friends all over so a quick post for suggestions helps me find things to do, places to eat, and coordinate meet-ups.
Andrew Warren-Payne, managing director of Market2Marketers. Tripit, which is great for just sending flights and hotels and all puts it together in one place, makes it really easy.
Jen Zug, a phenomenal writer who has helped organizations in a wide variety of industries improve their communications and storytelling. Yelp. I love to find bars and restaurants the locals love.
Ray Rebello, Director of Product Marketing for Acumatica, I use Google search for so many things and I would miss that if I no longer had it.
Barb Mosher Zinck, CEO at BMZ Content Strategies. Messages – to keep in touch with the family.
Mark Sims, founder and CEO of Fikes Products. In terms of most essential I’d have to say Google Maps because whether it’s domestically or internationally I find it crazy accurate to get me from point A to B!
Aaron Harden, director of sales at Apex Facility Resources. The maps app for sure. I really am a map nerd and like to know the layout of a city, building, park, etc. in my head before I go. I like knowing where I am at all times.
Meg Goetsch, vice president of revenue operations at JW Player. When traveling for work Gmail and Slack apps are the most essential and whatever travel service I am using for the trip.
Deidre Moore, director of demand generation for TimeTrade. Google Maps (especially subway and walking directions when I’m in NYC—genius!) Some favorite podcasts also made a summer of traveling to visit colleges with my son a little lighter, and started some great conversations as well.
Jonathan Smalley is the CEO and Founder of Yaguara. Slack: It’s how I communicate with our team when I’m traveling. Slack makes it easy to leave myself a note or send one to the team when I’m running between meetings.
Jo-Anne Jaspan, founder of Jaspan Consulting. Tinder ( kidding !! ) … Spotify, Audible and Podcasts, along with a good set of noise cancelling headphones. Oh – and Universal Translator (you know, for when I visit the deep South or New Jersey).
Patrick Welch, President & CMO at Bigtincan. Depends on where I’m traveling, but apps like the American Airlines or Marriott applications are critical for me.
Your employees are essential to your customer’s experience with your brand. While marketing efforts may be the doorway into your organization, your frontline employees are the living room. Long term, sustainable hospitality within the “living room” of your brand is the lifeblood of customer retention and referrals. It can’t be faked or haphazard! It has to be intentional and genuine.
But “customer experience” is a squishy term and can mean different things to different people, which is why it’s important for organizations to be clear and specific about what success looks like. Three things to keep in mind:
Have a customer service strategy in place and bake it into the DNA of your company culture.
Set tangible objectives around customer experience that are actionable and measurable.
Provide thorough training in customer experience that is pragmatic and connects actions to outcomes.
Following are some best practices that we at Heinz Marketing think about in the relationship between our employees and our customers. If you find this helpful, use it as a framework for building a customer-centric culture within your own team.
Set tangible objectives and regular reporting cycles. Establish a framework for how customers journey through your brand using metrics that can be measured and reported. Examples can be found here.
Live and breathe your customer’s experience. Every memo, email, and decision should center around your customer’s expectations. Help employees tangibly see how they’re connected to your customers through an org chart or a job description. If they can envision their place in the customer journey, they’ll be more engaged in it.
Coach your employees into stronger hospitality habits. When you have positive feedback for your employees, connect it to the customer’s journey and encourage more of the same. When you have improvement feedback for your employees, be specific, provide alternative actions, and connect it to providing a better experience for the customer.
When in doubt, tell a story. Nothing impacts team morale like a hearing a good success story! This is particularly important for employees who work behind the scenes and don’t have the privilege of direct contact with customers. Being reminded of the real people who are impacted by their hard work reminds them why they love doing what they do, and keeps them motivated during challenging days.
Establishing a strong customer experience culture begins with connecting your employees to their place in the customer journey, defining the metrics and objectives, and supporting your employees through coaching and training.
Now it’s your turn: Where do you see the greatest opportunity for improving your customer experience culture? Share your hunch in the comments!
We’ve featured an impressive list of guests covering a wide range of topics with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities. We publish transcripts and recordings every Monday. You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on Spotify, iTunes,
We talk about this idea that the sales pipeline just appears over the horizon. I ask Chris, in his experience as a serial entrepreneur, is sales pipeline development that easy?
“It’s prospecting, generating leads is always something which requires work. Even if you have something that’s awesome that everyone wants, you need to really educate your market, educate the leads, and put a lot of work into that. I actually was reading a quote recently that was saying especially for startups, people always overestimate how hard it is to build the product and underestimate actually how much effort it is to acquire customers. I think that’s very true. It takes a lot of work to get your pipeline and get lots of customers for your product.”
Listen in and/or read the full transcript below.
Matt: Thanks everyone for joining us to another episode. If you’re listening live on the Sales Funnel Radio Network and you haven’t tuned off already, thank you for sticking with us and joining us for another episode. For everyone who’s subscribing to us on the podcast feed, thanks so much for joining us. Our numbers continue to grow. It’s gratifying and humbling to see the number of people we’re driving into Sales Pipeline Radio. I think we’re up to like 75,000 downloads. It’s amazing. Amazing. So thank you so much to everyone for joining us.
And every episode, if you want to catch up over the last 150 episodes, just like your catching up on Game of Thrones, getting ready for the premier, if you want to catch up on every past episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, pass, present, and future, you can find them all at Salespipelineradio.com. We are featuring every week some of the best and brightest minds in B2B sales and marketing. Today is absolutely no different. Very, very excited to have joining us today, the CEO, co-founder of SketchDeck, Christopher Finneral. Christopher, thank you so much for joining us.
Chris: Thanks for having me, Matt.
Matt: So let’s talk about this idea that the sales pipeline just appears over the horizon. In your experience as a serial entrepreneur, is sales pipeline development that easy?
Chris: It’s prospecting, generating leads is always something which requires work. Even if you have something that’s awesome that everyone wants, you need to really educate your market, educate the leads, and put a lot of work into that. I actually was reading a quote recently that was saying especially for startups, people always underestimate … Oh, sorry. They always overestimate how hard it is to build the product and underestimate actually how much effort it is to acquire customers. I think that’s very true. It takes a lot of work to get your pipeline and get lots of customers for your product.
Matt: I love that quote. I love that quote that people overestimate what it takes to get a product to market and underestimate what it takes to sell it. I became familiar with SketchDeck a little over a year ago working with the folks at On24 on the webinar world event, and they got me in touch with you guys to help me with my presentation deck. And I was really impressed, not only with the quality of the design but the process. So talk a little bit about what you guys have done at SketchDeck to kind of marry good design with good technology and process and why that’s working so well for companies that are just continuing to drive new innovation, new growth, new merit, new design and efforts there.
Chris: Stepping back a little bit and giving some context. SketchDeck, we focus on company’s every day design needs. The term every day design is something that we coined to really reflect the things which are not really enormous projects that you want to spend tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars on in some cases, but you might work with a specialist boutique agency or a brand agency. But really focusing on those things just come up every day as the name implies. And what we realized about these types of needs, and these are things like presentations, reports, white papers, social media ads. There’s so many things which a business needs pretty frequently that’s visual. Is that there’s lots of them, and often they help come with quick turn around time needs, budget constraints. The actual needs around these types of design is different. So if you’re thinking about this one ginormous project where you’ve got months to spend on it and tens of thousands of dollars potentially.
So with this in mind, we realized we actually didn’t just need to do like a team of designers. You actually needed to have a way of managing this efficiently so that we could deliver projects quickly within the right budget and within the right quality. So that’s really what we’ve done with SketchDeck. We have this awesome team of designers that are all around the world that work with you, and we have a software platform that actually makes the whole process really easy. So it starts on how you create a brief for a project. It’s really nice online ordering experience where you can describe the project, it prices out for you, and then you have a really great feedback exchange just in where you see your design inside the browser, and you can get feedback directly on top of design, add your colleagues to share and collaborate. And then finally, kind of bring everything together in one really nice interface where all of the design projects that we’ve worked on with us live together, and you can easily find that project that you did last year rather than try to search back through your email, which is the way it often happens today.
So we’ve really kind of believe in this marriage of both really talented designers and this powerful platform to deliver these every day design needs.
Matt: You and I talked a little about this last year. After I used SketchDeck to get my presentation ready, are you a design company or are you a technology company? Because you really do have good design, and I think a lot of companies, a lot of people have good design, but you marry that with a really efficient process, and a great tool that just makes it easy to review, makes it easy to submit new stuff. Maybe you need to find the old materials, like you mentioned. How do you guys think about the business, how do you balance that where design agency but also focus on the process of technology that makes the overall process and means of getting the right design, the right deliverables done and done well and done quickly?
Chris: Educating the market’s very important, and that’s something we’ve had to do because we truly see ourselves as both. We really do see ourselves as a software company and a design company, and that’s what makes us unique. There’s lots of our companies that we work with, there’s a bit of education up front because they know, they’re saying, “Well, normally we work with only design agencies. Only design, nothing else.” But we’re like, “Yes, we have design, but the platform is a crucial component to it too.” But honestly we really see ourselves as both of those things coming together, and that’s really what makes us unique and able to offer something that’s quite different to traditional services, which are just focused on design or some platforms only about the platform but you need to bring designers onboard yourself.
Matt: Love it. We’re talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Christopher Finneral. He’s the CEO, co-founder of SketchDeck, and we’re talking a lot about the intersection between design and technology. And because most of our audience is in the B2B space, we have to qualify what’s the difference between design and B2B design. Basically I want to talk about the blueprint for B2B design you guys have. You got some eBooks around it as well. I think a lot of hardcore pipeline marketers think design oftentimes can get a little too whimsical, a little too focused on winning awards versus driving conversions. What’s the first question you guys have that makes B2B design different and unique?
Chris: Yeah. I think it comes from that starting point, which is I think there is still a perception that design is something which is only important in B2C, and B2B doesn’t need to worry about design. I think we’re seeing that that’s changing a lot. I mean, the first thing I’d say is there’s growing research in this area around impact that design has. The fact that design can have real impact on the bottom line of companies. I know recently there was a report out from McKinsey & Company that references this exact piece, and it was talking about companies in all industries. I think they had things like professional services in oil and gas, services away from B2C as you can think. They were having design companies invested in and focused on design for having revenue impacts of upwards of 10% in comparison to their peers. So thinking about design for B2B companies is now something we’re starting to prove out that there is real value to a company in doing this.
And my perspective on what’s causing this and what’s driving this is actually the fact that millennials are now very dominate in the workplace, and they grew up in the ’90s would be surrounded by good product design in the B2C space. And now they have a strong connection with good design. They make decisions based on things they like and like the look of. And now these millennials, they’re in decision making positions in companies. And they’re playing that same design aesthetic that they grew up with into their B2B design making. And it’s true. People now in making B2B decisions are choosing vendors they want to work with based on how they feel about that vendor and do they like what they see from their brand and brand obviously tied up immensely in the visual aesthetics that was coming across. So really B2B design is definitely something that people need to take seriously now. I think it’s going to continue to grow in importance.
Matt: I would agree. I think it’s always been really important. I think buildings don’t write checks, people do, and I think people, like you said, appreciate good design. Design implies clarity and confidence, and I think you can differentiate you from others. I think a lot of B2B marketers recently that are maybe more focused on pipeline, maybe wondering where’s the intersection between design and performance, right? Design that actually sort of creates a level of confidence and differentiation and even beauty in a B2B audience, all of which are important. But also if we’re thinking about tactical design elements like emails, like landing pages, how do you connect, how do you create something that is great design but also drives performance to a pipeline or to a map driven marketer?
Chris: When I come back to the fact that one of the things that we focus on with every day design is this ability to deliver things quickly and within the right budget. Budget enables more iteration. Within marketing, we should always be thinking about AB testing, for example, when we’re thinking about emails and different ads, designs and stuff as well. And if you’re some more traditional solutions might take months to get projects turned around. Whereas, we enable things to be turned around within a few days or a week or so. That enables its ability to test different things out and figure out within your own lead generation funnels which things are having the most impact. So you can optimize conversion rates and such. So yeah, that’s super critical for marketers.
Matt: We got a couple more minutes here before our commercial break. How much education do you find that you are doing with clients on sort of the right balance of design, performance? Not watering down design to get good performance; not watering down performance to getting both sides. How much of what you’re doing is education versus execution?
Chris: Many of the marketers we work with do understand the importance of design. I think we’re still very much a startup and working with people who are innovating in their own companies. So those people often do understand the importance of design. So I’d say most of the education that we’re doing right now is about like our model and how it’s different to a traditional agency. Most of them already grasp design. But I’d say within the broader market as a whole there’s still a lot of education that needs to be done, and we’re trying to do that with things like our white paper on B2B design because I think a lot of people in the market still don’t appreciate the importance of it. And also, what the challenges are to actually make B2B design happen and work at the scale that is needed. So yeah, there’s still more work for us to be done towards the broader market.
Matt: We’re going to now take a quick break, pay some bills. We’ll be right back with more of Chris Finneral. He’s the CEO and co-founder of SketchDeck. We’re going to be talking more about B2B design, including some materials that SketchDeck has that can make everyone who’s listening be a smarter, better B2B design expert. We’ll be right back on Sales Pipeline Radio.
Paul: Okay. As we head back to Matt and his guest, I only have one question for Matt. What did the daddy tomato say to the baby tomato as he fell behind?
Matt: I don’t know.
Matt: That’s highly relevant to Heinz Marketing there, Paul. I liked it a lot. Since you gave a dad joke, I have to give a quick dad joke as well.
Matt: Paul, did you not know that the Swedish Navy invented the barcode? Did you know that?
Paul: I didn’t know that. No.
Matt: So Swedish Navy, very advance, sea faring country for trade, for war, for exploration. They got shippers all over the place, and it’s hard to keep track of them. So they created what really became the predecessor to the modern barcode, and they did that with one main objective because they wanted the ability to Scan-da-Navy-in.
Paul: Do we wait for the other shoe to fall?
Matt: No, it’s Scan-da-Navy-in. Get it?
Paul: I got it. Took me a while. A little slow.
Matt: Paul’s like, I got it. It just wasn’t funny.
Paul: That’s exactly it. Well, we’ll try and improve our jokes next time.
Matt: That’s a better joke in person because you can all just kind of go ha-ha and say please stop telling jokes in person.
Paul: I think people should send in jokes, and we should read them here. That should be our new segment.
Matt: That’s right. If you want, anybody that’s listening if you want to send me Matt@HeinzMarketing.com, if you want to send me your best dad joke, we will give you credit. We will link to you in the show notes.
Paul: That’s right.
Matt: Maybe that is our new post-commercial tradition on this show that already doesn’t last long enough. We’re just going to waste more time with bad dad jokes.
Matt: But not anymore today because I got a lot more that I want to talk to with our guest today, Christopher Finneral, who is just waiting for us to be done telling dad jokes. He is the CEO and co-founder of SketchDeck. And I do want to talk about some of the assets you guys have available. So if you want to learn more, I highly encourage everyone to go to SketchDeck.com. We’ll have a link to that in our show notes. Have a link also to your B2B design eBook. But I also want to talk about something you put together called the blueprint for B2B Design. Talk a little bit about what that is and why B2B marketers and sales professionals quite frankly should be going and getting a copy of that.
Chris: Yeah. Sure. So what we do with this white paper is we really wanted to take a look at what design looks like inside B2B organizations. So it covers a little bit of things we talked about so far initially about the importance of design and I mentioned already some of that research that points towards the actual impact that design has inside B2B organizations. So that’s kind of where it begins. And then it talks about what are the challenges inside organizations to getting design happening because we see lots of organizations who now start to care about design, but they still struggle. And one of the concepts we introduce here is what we’ve called the B2B Design Pyramid.
So we really break down the needs of design inside an organization into three components. If you kind of have in your head a pyramid or a triangle, we break it down into the top section, which we think covers brand strategy. So this is the real tip, the most high profile part of a brand, and it’s about designing an organization. It’s really about just finding the look and feel of that organization. It’s your logo, it’s your color, color palette, it’s your kind of visual kind of storytelling that you’re doing. It really defines what that brand is. That’s really at the top.
And then there’s the second layer down that we really think of as flagship design, and this is things like if you were doing some big ad on TV or you’ve got some kind of big event experience. The projects that really stand out for the business, very large events.
And then with that, the final section we think of then is this every day design, which is all the things which go on every single day inside the organization, which don’t quite have the same individual recognition that a big site really has but with many of them.
And what we talk about is what do you need to do at each of these different phases of the pyramid. I think one thing that people fall into is think like, “Oh, we just need one design solution. That will cover all of our needs.” The reality is that does not work. Typically what we really see is that very top section, that brand strategy section, that is where you want to be engaging with the best brand agencies out there, and they’re the ones that can really help cross that and guide that. And that’s normally in conjunction as well with some kind of internal head of brand or creative director as well who are kind of working on that.
And then this next section down, these flagship events. This is where some smaller agencies come into play and other agencies that specialize in these types of activities really come into own. Some companies build out teams internally to cover these types of activities as well. So you can see already the different set of needs and a different solution there.
And then finally with the every day design, this is where we really feel we come in and can play strongly here, which is you need to have a solution which can really keep up with the scale of those needs and deliver things at the speed and the budgets that are acquired for those design needs. And it’s often this bottom section which fails because organizations try and work with maybe their traditional agencies for this and they can really struggle, or they try and build out their own internal teams to cover this type of work. And that again doesn’t quite work, and we go into details as to why that is the case.
So yeah, we really wanted to kind of create this framework to people to really think about how to think about the needs that are happening inside the organization, make sure they’re really taking the best solutions for each of those needs that they have.
Matt: I like the way you think about that, and I think it’s a good framework for people to do. You mentioned that too many companies will just go with sort of one design solution. What are some other mistakes that you see people making relative to B2B design either tactical or strategic? What are things that people should either watch out for or avoid?
Chris: Yeah. So I mean, the first one we talked about is not pretty important on design at all. So that’s an easy one to fix. There’s lots of evidence to say that design has impact, make sure you value design, and invest in it. That’s one. The second one is kind of appreciating that design is important but ignoring the problems. And this is one we see a lot where … I mean, so we primarily work with marketing teams, and some of the perspective customers we speak to come to us because they say, “Hey, I’ve got marketers in my organization who I’ve hired as marketers who are spending 25% of their time as designers.” And this comes from the fact that people are ignoring it. They’re like, “Ah, we don’t need to worry about this. It’ll solve itself.” And you end up having people in your organization doing things which they’re not best skilled at, trying to then be designers and taking a lot longer to do things, and not creating the quality of work that’s required. So definitely kind of watch out for just kind of ignoring the problems, sweeping under the rug because you do still bare that cost. It still needs to happen.