Heinz Marketing blog provides daily B2B Sales & Marketing Insights. Heinz Marketing is a Seattle area marketing agency focused on Sales Acceleration. Each member of the Heinz Marketing team hold themselves to the highest standards of integrity, focus and professionalism.
If I hear one more marketer tell me that the sales team is their “eyes and ears to the customer” I am going to scream.
There’s no doubt that your sales team is likely on the phone with current and prospective customers more than you are. But their job is not to build your personas for you. They are not there to help determine who the active members of your buying committee are.
Your sales reps shouldn’t be expected to objectively develop personas that represent your market. And just because one sales rep had one phone call with one prospect, doesn’t mean the nature of that conversation reflects how the rest of the market feels as well.
In an ideal scenario, what you hear from your sales team represents clues and triggers that might help you identify new trends or themes worth pursuing. Their insights are indicative or directional, not definitive.
More often, those random insights will just distract you and make your personas far more inconsistent and inaccurate than they should be.
Marketers, accept no substitute for your own first-hand market research. Get on the phone with your prospects and customers more often. Commission your own research (it doesn’t have to be hard or expensive) to establish market trends, needs and objectives.
Gather as much evidence as you can from the customer-facing teams around you, no question. But take direct responsibility for the marketing intelligence and persona/buying journey detail that will (or at least should) serve as a foundation for the bulk of your marketing efforts.
For some time we’ve been doing our own #HowIWork series of B2B sales, marketing or business leaders answering “How I Work” questions (starting with my own answers). Check out the updated the questions below. Missed any past guests? check out everyone we’ve featured so far… many you’ve heard of, all you’ll enjoy hearing from.
This week I’m excited to feature Jim Ninivaggi – Chief Readiness Officer, Brainshark, Inc.. Jim previously spent almost six years directing sales enablement strategies at Sirius Decisions following years of operational sales and marketing leadership. He’s also a founding member of the Sales Enablement Society and a member of the Forbes Business Development Council. Here in his own words is how he gets stuff done.
Location: I split my time between Waltham, Massachusetts, where Brainshark is headquartered, and Sarasota, Florida, which is home. The reality is that, like a lot of folks, my office is everywhere, since I travel pretty extensively.
Number of unread emails right now? About 20. I hate having that number creep up!
First app checked in the morning? The Wall Street Journal – every morning (except Sunday). I feel unprepared if I don’t read it.
First thing you do when you come into work? In my home office, it’s check and respond to email. If I’m in Waltham, I hit the coffee machine and network with folks. (Since I’m not there all the time, there are always new folks to meet.)
What is your email management strategy? OCD :-). As I mentioned before, I hate looking down and seeing 20-plus messages that need to be read. So I tend to manage on an ongoing basis by reading them and doing one of three things: 1) discard, 2) take action, 3) flag for follow-up.
My wife has 572 unread messages in her inbox (I am looking at her red alert as I write this). That would make me break out in a cold sweat! All you have to do is look at our desks in our home offices to know how our inbox management strategies might differ. Every inch of her office is piled with stacks of papers and folders. My desk has nothing on it. I actually wish I were more like her – and was not a slave to that red alert!
Most essential app when traveling? I actually have three essential apps for travel: 1) Uber/Lyft for getting around (often cheaper than renting a car), 2) Yelp to figure out where to eat (I love to eat), and 3) my Deep Sleep Sounds white noise app that blocks those annoyingly loud hotel guests yelling down the hallway at two o’clock in the morning.
How do you keep yourself calm and/or focused? I’ve applied the concept of interval training to work to keep me focused. With interval training, instead of setting a timer for half an hour on the treadmill, I run in blocks of eight minutes, alternating my pace. Similarly, I’m a big believer in working in blocks like this. So instead of sitting down and thinking I need to write an entire blog post (which ends up seeming overwhelming, and I procrastinate), I’ll set aside 45 minutes to write what I can in that time. I’ll let you know how I keep myself calm when I figure that out!
What’s your perspective or approach to work/life balance? I think it’s less about balance and more about integration. There are simply times when work and life just smash up together, and you need to be able to be present in the moment. I do have an office I go to in one of those shared workplaces when I’m not at my office at Brainshark HQ in Waltham – which helps me separate work/life. And when I’m home, I try not to peek at email or take a non-critical business call if I’m out with friends and family. The reality is, our minds are always working in the background. Some of my best business ideas came while I was running or enjoying a cigar on the back deck, when I was not trying to think – the ideas just came. Integration.
Are there any work rituals critical to your success? I’m a notorious list-maker. I’ve tried to go electronic, but I like writing things down – even if it means re-writing a list several times as it changes. I know it’s not super-efficient, but it works for me.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? I am into writing instruments and love the feel of writing on great paper. My favorite pen is my Waterman Laureat fountain pen. My favorite notebook is from Kunisawa. It’s from Japan, and the paper is great for writing with a fountain pen.
What’s your workspace like? My desk is neat! In my office at Brainshark HQ, I have photos of my family around and some really great artwork from my father-in-law, who does amazing metal sculptures. Probably the most unique thing in my office is my collection of vintage lunchboxes from the 1970s (when I was a kid). I have all my favorite TV shows represented: The Partridge Family, Kung Fu and Happy Days. They are a great conversation-starter – and hopefully let people know that while I work hard, I also like to have fun.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack? Rao’s Marinara Sauce. I love to cook and eat Italian food, and used to make my own marinara. Now I use Rao’s in any recipe that calls for marinara (like my killer Barolo-Braised Short Ribs).
What are you currently reading? Lawrence in Arabia for pleasure (I love biographies and historical fiction), and The Power of Negative Thinking by Bobby Knight for business. In the book, Coach Knight talks about how it’s not the will to win that is the differentiator, but, rather, the willingness to prepare which is key. Great lessons for sales.
Last thing you do before leaving work? Clear off my desk. Neat desk – neat mind (or something like that).
Who are some mentors or influencers you wish to thank or acknowledge? My first sales boss was Terry Nathan, who taught me the power of strategy and the written word. Eileen Garger and I worked together at Learning International/Achieve Global – she’s one of the most creative and positive people I know. Joel Morse was the CEO at C3i where I ran sales and marketing – he’s one of the smartest people I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Jim Dickie was on our board of advisors there and taught me to know what I don’t know. Tony Jaros at SiriusDecisions taught me how to think and write more strategically, and to think outside the box. Greg Flynn here at Brainshark teaches me every day what true leadership is all about.
Name some supportive people who help make it possible to do what you do best. The executive team here at Brainshark is amazing – we are all aligned on our vision and mission for the company and on what sales enablement is supposed to be about internally. I have an amazing sales enablement team here at Brainshark – truly best-in-class! And my wife, Barbara, who is my greatest supporter and knows how to kick my ass as a presentation skills coach. She is simply the best trainer/coach I’ve ever worked with.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? “There’s no excuse for bad manners.” My Grandma Fitzpatrick. Reminds me to always try to be gracious, even when it’s not easy. I don’t always succeed – and when I fail, I can still hear her voice in my ear.
Name a guilty pleasure TV show: The Voice.
Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see BLANK answer these questions Jim Dickie.
For tips on productivity and work-life balance, check out our free guide. Who would YOU like to nominate for this series?
After years of following him online, I finally got a chance to meet Godard Abel yesterday at the SaaStr Annual Conference. Godard is a serial successful entrepreneur, having built and sold numerous companies after taking the kernel of an idea and making it a scalable, profitable reality.
His latest company, G2 Crowd, is on a similar path – quickly growing in scale and impact amongst B2B customers worldwide.
Our discussion yesterday focused on the concept of ideas – why they are important and why they often fail.
In a nutshell, Godard quickly enumerated two big reasons why most ideas fail:
Many people have the same idea. Ideas aren’t scarce, nor are they often unique. Key to success is effectively translating that idea into something the market wants and will pay for. Ideas are easy, execution is by far the hard part.
Your first idea is probably wrong. According to Godard, the idea is merely an excuse to start. Once you expose that idea to the market with something practical and accessible, you learn a ton about whether your idea has legs and can scale, or whether you need to adjust your thinking to make it scalable.
Godard says that the ability to listen and accept critical feedback is crucial to taking your idea and making it your customer’s manifestation of that idea. Rarely are those two things the same up front. Unfortunately, many founders and entrepreneurs stay so focused on their initial idea, failing to adjust to market feedback, and their opportunity stalls out of the gate.
I’d highly recommend joining me at Revenue Summit on March 1st in San Francisco where Godard will be talking more on stage about ideas, entrepreneurship and what it takes to build scalable, customer-centric businesses. Use this link to register and enter the code HEINZ at check-out to get 20 percent off your registration fee.
As of this morning, that post has been viewed more than 1.3 million times and generated more than 5,000 likes and 1,000 comments. Crazy.
In reading through the comments and discussing the issue with colleagues over the past few days, I’ve noticed that most of us who struggle with the dark side of social media have one or more of the following challenges:
A lack of self discipline (to stay away or limit time on social channels)
A lack of confidence and/or self esteem (such that we are negatively impacted by seeing other people’s successes)
A lack of motivation (in this case, to go spend that time doing something more productive)
I raise these challenges not as a commentary on others. I face each of them as well, some more frequently or intensely than others.
One response to these challenges is to do what I did, and eliminate the source altogether. But if you want to strike a better balance, enjoying social media for its many benefits while mitigating the above challenges, below are a handful of summarized recommendations also culled from the comments:
Mitigate distractions: Turn off pop-up notifications and other alerts that pull you into social when you have other things to focus on
Resolve first: Know your goals and your limits. Be intentional about how much time you want to spend on social. Define those limits up front.
Celebrate your wins, big and small: Name them, share them, celebrate them. Take credit for how awesome you are, to build up your confidence daily.
Express gratitude: To others and yourself, make a daily habit of appreciating what you have, and appreciating what you see amongst others.
Affirm and recommit to your goals & desired outcomes daily: Have a bad day? Blow through your diet? Lose a big deal? Recommit to getting back on track tomorrow (or tonight, or from this minute forward).
Use social media time as a reward, not an idle activity: Give yourself XX defined minutes of social distraction only after you’ve accomplished something else more important on your to-do or milestone list today.
I’d love to hear your experience, struggles and resolutions related to social media usage as well.
Late in 2015 we started producing a bi-weekly radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which runs live every other Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific. It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.
We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into and throughout the year. We’ll publish similar highlights here for upcoming episodes. You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.
I’m super impressed with how effective G2 Crowd lists have been, both the overall top XXX lists by segment as well as the metro area lists. We’ll talk about Ryan’s approach to B2B PR, how that impacts sales pipeline (directly and indirectly). Check it out and learn more about G2 Crowd here (Top 100 Best Software Companies for 2018).
More about Ryan:
► Incredibly passionate, self-directed and confident senior executive leader with fortified marketing, management and organizational skills evidenced by ongoing customer, partner and team success.
► Extensive experience across B2B and B2C marketing and sales development has led to a strong understanding of the processes behind the job, refined interpersonal skills and an advanced understanding and track record in achieving strong positive return-on-marketing-investment and business growth.
Matt: This is our last episode of January. I can’t believe we’re already getting into February. Best laid plans at the beginning of the month, at the beginning of the quarter, beginning of the year are now facing reality. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s a challenge. Wherever you are in your journey for 2018, thanks for joining us here at Sales Pipeline Radio. For those of you joining us live, as you do every week at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern, thank you for joining us. We’ll make this worth your while. For those of you that are subscribed on the podcast, thank you for listening to another episode. You can always find us on the iTunes store and on Google Play. And every episode past, present, and future of Sales Pipeline Radio always available at SalesPipelineRadio.com.
Every week we are featuring some of the best and brightest minds in B2B sales and marketing. Today is no different. I’m very, very excited to feature with us today, Ryan Bonnici. He is the new CMO at G2 Crowd. Boy, do we have a lot of talk to talk about. A lot of different ground to cover. But Ryan, first of all, thank you so much for joining us on Sales Pipeline Radio today.
Ryan Bonnici: Hey, Matt. Thanks so much for having me. It’s exciting to be here.
Matt: Awesome. Well, I appreciate you taking time. I know the beginning of the year for you guys you are new in your role, it’s new in the year. You guys have a ton of stuff going on. I appreciate you taking a little time out to talk to us. Suffice it to say your background and reputation certainly precedes you. You have been at Microsoft, at Exact Target, at Salesforce, at HubSpot. You have made the rounds in a fairly short amount of time. Very impressive. What have you, as you come into this new role at G2 Crowd, what are some of the things you bring with you in terms of assumptions around how B2B marketing is working today?
Ryan Bonnici: Well, look, Matt, I think it’s really interesting actually. At the G2 Crowd space what’s excited me about the company and about the opportunity and I think what I’m bringing to it is that unlike, I think, a lot of software businesses which is where I’ve worked in a lot of my past companies, G2 Crowd’s quite unique in the sense that we’ve got this double-sided market place similar to, say, an Airbnb or a Yelp or a Glass Door. We’ve got millions of consumers, I mean, business consumers you might want to call them that are coming to our site every month that are looking and learning about different software tools. They’re rating and comparing them. And then they’re choosing to buy certain ones of them. That’s a big part of our business, right, is ensuring that we’re creating content that helps them find the best software for their business.
Then on the other side of the marketplace, we’ve got vendors that we work with to help them find the best users and leads for their software as well. It’s a really unique opportunity in my mind to lean into my B2B marketing skill set. It’s more enterprise focused from Salesforce and Exec Target and Microsoft on the vendor side of the house. And also then, I guess, lean in a bit more to my hottest spot skill set which was much more focused on content marketing and inbound marketing to attract more of those business consumers and users to our site so that they’re learning about software and leaving more reviews about the software that they use. I don’t know. It’s a pretty exciting opportunity and I feel really grateful and lucky as a marketer to be able to lean into both B2B and B2C skill sets. It’s quite fun.
Matt: Yeah. You guys are in a really fun space. I think if you’re not familiar, definitely go check out G2crowd.com. It is an online review marketplace for technology. It is very much in a disrupt the gardeners and the foresters of the world space. And they’re doing some really, really interesting things. You reference the supply and demand side of the business where you’ve got reviewers. You’ve got suppliers. Fascinating for me is the marketing implications of having content as the product and the product being in the manufacturing side of the business is really both, it is product. It is something that is monetizable. It is also very much part of the content that you can use to market the business, to drive additional viewers, to drive repeat users, to drive word of mouth. You reference the work that you guys did at HubSpot. How is that different now at G2 Crowd where you do have a greater overlap between product and, I guess, marketing?
Ryan Bonnici: Yeah. It’s really interesting, I guess. The thing that was quite different at HubSpot and, I mean, at any software company that I’ve worked at is that the product typically can’t be used until someone buys the product. Right? Further down the sales cycle. The product itself and the content within it and how great it is almost is less influential in those situations because, yeah, it doesn’t have that same lever that it can pull for you. I guess what’s cool about our website and having this content that’s so available to everyone online is that it drives a lot of SEO and a lot of our traffic is just coming in organically. Actually the majority of our traffic, sorry, is coming in organically to all of those product pages, those category pages, as comparison pages. And the crazy thing, I think, to me and I think it’s really unique is that all of that content we haven’t actually created.
That’s the most fascinating thing to me. There’s been over, I think, we just broke the 340 or 350,000 review mark on our website just last week. Almost half a million people have come to our site and left a review on the software that they’re using, the software that they love, the software that they dislike. And the things that they love and the things that they dislike. The momentum and the pace of the business is just accelerating faster and faster not only as the traffic increases to people that are learning about different software, but the same people that are leaving reviews too. It’s pretty interesting to be in this side of the business where content is still so important and it’s driving so many business outcomes for us. But it’s almost that content is out of our hands in some degree, which I love. Having that ability to be a bit distant from the content, I think, provides us with a little bit more objectivity. I think that’s why it’s been super-easy for us to generate a lot of press and to generate a lot of interest in journalists and T1 publications because we’re not saying that we’re this analyst on a high mountain that has decided who should be on this list. We’re actually, in fact, letting real users of the software decide and tell us what does work and doesn’t work.
Matt: I think you’re right. The fact that you don’t have full control over the content, I mean, look, it presents its challenges for sure, but I also think it lends an element of authenticity that a lot of other companies just don’t have access to in the same way. And another thing I want to spend some time talking about today is just how G2 Crowd has been really, really smart about leveraging some of that content for PR purposes. It is hard to navigate the B2B content world, the B2B marketing, the news sites and LinkedIn feeds without seeing some of the lists that you guys have recreated. I think because you have directories of companies in various geographies and various segments, you’re able to build some rankings of those and build some listical, so to speak, of those companies. And you’ve been getting a lot of PR for that. It’s been written up. You’ve got companies that are high up on those list of top tech companies in Boston, top tech companies in Austin, top tech companies in the mid-market space, or certain industries and verticals. The PR’s been great. Talk a little bit about that campaign.
I think, not only the results and success that it’s had, but it seems like a lot of companies have that opportunity to take some of their own data, some of their own content and repurpose it into formats that can drive a lot more virility.
Ryan Bonnici: Yeah. I think it’s a unique kind of challenge that other companies face a little bit more significantly than we do here. I think for us we’re creating these lists, like for example the B2B tech scene in San Francisco or Boston or Seattle or any of these big cities. Not so that we’re functioning as a curation and we’re positioning it in a different kind of segment than it would normally be on our site. But again, we’re still going back to all our user generated data in the first place and then just reorganizing that and showcasing it in different ways. In some ways, it makes our job a little easier because when we are going to market and when we are talking to journalists and when they’re reaching out to us, which more so the case, we’re not talking about ourselves. We’re talking about their industry or their city, if they’re a journalist in a certain city, or what they care about. I think that’s where so many B2B marketing executives and CMOs and heads of PR go wrong is that they just have a tendency to focus on themselves and only create content and only create, sorry, attempt to create news about themselves. Insert company name X did Y. We did this thing.
I think the challenge when you are going to market and just talking about yourself is that no one wants to talk to or listen to someone that only wants to talk to themselves and talk about themselves. If you just think of yourself at a party, I mean, the person that asks you questions about you and talks about things that you’re interested in is the person that you want to be around, not the person that just talks about how great they are and boasts. I think B2B PR is no different there. However, I think CEOs potentially don’t understand how to leverage their CMO and their director of Coms or the director of PR properly. I think oftentimes, they try and leverage PR for something that it might not be built for. A good example where I think a lot of CEOs try and force their PR teams to focus on is generating links because it helps with their CO. But journalists and publications are less and less likely today to include links, especially on those keywords and things that you want for.
I don’t know. I feel like when you’re trying to use that PR function in the incorrect way, it just ends in that team not being satisfied and the CEO not being satisfied with PR. I don’t know. Does that kind of give you a high level in terms of my thoughts there? I can go into more detail into any aspect of that. But just want to stop there and give you a chance now.
Matt: Yeah. I think it’s a great place to start on that. I think you can definitely if you go to G2Crowd.com if you check out Ryan’s Twitter handle @RyanBonnici, you can see some examples of some of those lists. And I think your caution for companies around PR is certainly important. I think that there are certain channels that you really can’t ask to do more than it’s capable of doing. And I think when you take something like PR and to a certain extent content marketing and try to make it too much like a direct response channel, you’re trying to create value and you slip in a demo request at the end, it can neuter the impact and the authenticity of the entire piece.
We’re going to have to take a break here in a couple of seconds. But, can you give a quick comment on how do you think about PR? And how do you justify PR, especially to an executive team in the age of the growth hacker? In the age of every single, little thing that marketing does has to have some kind of an immediate ROI or be measurable to revenue? As much as I like revenue responsible marketing, sometimes PR’s a different animal.
Ryan Bonnici: Yeah. 100% with you there. I think with PR, if you want to do it properly in the B2B space, I think that you need to focus much more on relationship building and truly getting to know some key journalists, the key publications that you care about. That could be any publication ultimately. It will be different for each company. But I think once you start to build those relationships and take those people out to lunch and educate them on the industry and help them learn things that they might not already know, just naturally they’re going to start to learn more about you, more about your company. I think over time, then, that helps you create some of that. I think of it as company culture/pillar content for a business. It might be the New York Times or Wall Street Journal kind of column all about your CEO or your CMO or about your culture as a business. Those kinds of pieces don’t often come from PR people sending out pitches. They come from a lot of relationship building.
But then also actually having a great product that you’re pitching. In PR you’re pitching your company, you’re pitching your culture, you’re pitching your product. If those things are best practice or better than best practice, then why on earth would a journalist want to cover it in the first place? We were chatting with our PR agency yesterday and talking about areas where we could further develop our company culture so that we were not only creating buzz-worthy content that the media would be interested in, but also creating content that would push our culture forward as a company. Focusing on important values to us. I think there’s an interesting opportunity for PR people to actually sit a little bit more in the driver’s seat and be a little bit more involved in company strategy if they work with their PR teams to truly understand how can we differentiate in our marketplace?
You know, you’re going to just install a nap room. That’s not going to work in terms of the PR strategy because there’s a lot of companies, Hub Stop was one of them, that kind of pioneered that nap room, the sleeping pod thing that Google did. And now it’s no longer news worthy. I think it’s a really interesting space. But there’s definitely a lot of strategies and tactics that are still very applicable today.
Matt: Awesome. And we’re going to get more of that after the break. We got Ryan Bonnici today. He is the new CMO at G2 Crowd. After the break, we’re going to pay a couple of bills. We’ll be back. We’re going to talk more about B2B reviews and the state of B2B reviews amongst the buying cycle and amongst buyers today on B2B. Talk a little bit more about the mix of PR in a revenue responsible marketing world. We’re going to pay a couple of bills. You’re listening Sales Pipeline Radio.
Paul: All right. Back to Matt and his guest.
Matt: All right. Paul, we kind of forgot to reference this at the beginning of the call, but I think a couple weeks ago we talked about we were coming up on our 100th episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.
Paul: I know. Blew right through it.
Matt: It was last week. It didn’t do anything. We didn’t celebrate. There was no confetti.
Matt: We had no sound effects. Honestly, I think it’s kind of representative of the show. We put our heads down. We do the work. We bring on good guests. We let them take the spotlight and that’s just kind of how we do.
Paul: I think people really appreciate that.
Matt: Thank you for the canned applause. Well, and thank you everyone for joining us. If you have listened to all 100 and now 101 episodes of Sales Pipeline Radio, please let me know. We will send you a sticker or something that would be really impressive. If you send me a tweet and tell me who our very first guest was without looking at it, I’ll send you two stickers. Thank you everyone for joining us as we continue this interesting journey. A little bit more with Ryan Bonnici, the CMO at G2 Crowd. Coming up next couple of weeks, next week we will be featuring Eric Spatzer. He is the senior manager of sales enablement for Citrix. We’re going to be talking about how to launch sales enablement at enterprise scale and how that can impact any business that want to improve the efficacy of their sales team. Week after that we’ve got Manny Medina. He is the CEO of Outreach.IO. They are a sales acceleration company. We’re going to be talking about how to trust your sales team with technology to help them be more successful. And then into the rest of February we’ve got the CMO for RingCentral, the CMO for On24. We are just CMO-centric over the next couple weeks on Sales Pipeline Radio including today’s guest, Ryan Bonnici, the CMO of G2 Crowd.
Ryan, before the break we were talking about the importance and value of PR. I want to go a little further into that and talk about the right mix of PR and really brand in a startup organization. I think a lot of companies when they think about marketing, they equate it to acquisition. There’s a lot of focus on driving demand and driving leads and feeding the sales team. Sometimes brand is an afterthought. Sometimes PR is reactive. Talk about the importance of having good balance between feeding the acquisition and growth end of the business but doing that by also building a foundation of a strong brand and PR strategy as well.
Ryan Bonnici: Yeah, it really depends on, I think, the type of business you’re in. If you’re selling a product to SMB’s and/or it has a freemium component to it whereby people can start using it immediately for free. And then as they start to use it more and more, they then potentially move into being paying customers. I think there’s definitely more flexibility for those kinds of companies to actually go directly to PR as an avenue to gain awareness for their free product, assuming that it is in a space where maybe there was only pay products before and that can then become news.
I’d probably say for most B2B companies, they’re typically more focused on the enterprise, in my experience. I think because they’re focused on the enterprise, they don’t often have free products or free trials that are available. That makes the go to market a little bit more difficult. I think in those instances it’s really hard to actually connect PR to the demand-gen machine in a more basic way in the sense of lead-gen or MQL-gen. But I think where PR can be incredibly useful is actually in terms of creating opportunities or accelerating opportunities for a B2B sales team. What I mean by that is if a publication creates content about your culture or anything like that, obviously going to help you get in front of new prospects that might then go to your website a little bit later, Google it or go directly to it. And then learn a little bit more about you.
But typically, I think, where it’s most useful is actually allowing sales reps to send some of those articles to people that they’re in an active sales cycle with. It functions similar to a case study or a customer success study. But it’s just that other social proof point that allows a sales team to help, I guess, satisfy a potential buyer’s concern about buying a new piece of software. I think that’s where it can be really valuable. That’s why I think it’s important to focus on higher level topic that are more aligned with thought leadership or culture or strategy versus trying to focus your PR efforts specifically on your products or features. When I saw feature-style PR it won’t get coverage by the main and bigger publications.
Also, that’s not really the kind of article that you can then email to a CEO or a CMO or whoever your senior executive is that you’re trying to sell to kind of nurture them along in the sales process. It’s just like, again, talking about yourself. However, if you can post them an article that talks from yourself or from your CEO or CMO, about unique strategy that they’re applying to the way that we hire or the way that we do our marketing, then it’s more thought leadership. Then, I actually think that senior buyer that you’re trying to sell to..
This is the latest in a series of weekend posts highlighting a wide variety of applications we think are pretty cool. Most have to do with sales, marketing and productivity. Check out past featured apps here.
Field events can be a critical component of your B2B marketing channel mix, especially if you’re trying to gain attention and engagement with high-demand senior decision makers. One of the best event formats we’ve seen work for the past 1-2 years is a highly-curated set of peers at a classy dinner. No pitches, no Power Points. A lightly moderated topical discussion over dinner, drinks and peer-to-peer networking.
You can do it yourself (everything from invites to reminders to venue to everything) or Voray can do it for you. They will create and execute a custom campaign targeting your most valuable prospects, partners and other decision makers.
If nothing else, check out the upcoming list of events they are hosting to see if there’s something in your city and for your function.
Quite frequently we have the opportunity to work with companies where sales is primarily done by field-based relationship sellers. These are reps who remind me of my father – hard workers, driven and focused, high on building personal relationships that create trust, integrity and loyalty.
Unfortunately many of those reps also operate at random, without a process or a disciplined, consistent way of building and converting their pipeline. They make their number because they’re great at selling, yet they leave a lot on the table without a more disciplined approach.
These reps also often are the most defensive or resistant to change. They hold a ton of power in their organizations, and God forbid they get hit by a truck because most of your prospective customers, their deal status, etc. is locked up in their heads.
When we see these types of organizations, I often make the following four observations and recommendations. If the above sales environment sounds like yours, even a little bit, hopefully this will help you too.
You can’t scale without a system
I have no doubt that your existing sales reps are very good at what they do, but without being able to articulate or execute on a systematic way of building and managing pipeline, it will be next to impossible to replicate their success with predictable results in new sales reps. The good news is that if they’re selling successfully, a lot of what they are doing is working. If we can start from there, codify it and build from it, we can not only increase their success but get new reps up to speed and similarly successful more quickly. https://www.heinzmarketing.com/2010/12/if-you-cant-define-your-sales-process-you-cannot-scale/
Relationship selling is important but not sufficient
There’s no doubt that personal relationships are critical in your industry, but people don’t buy purely because they like you. Building and demonstrating value, early and often, is also critical. Delivering insights, challenging their status quo with polite persistence, is also critical. There are elements from The Challenger Sale that we can incorporate into your sales and marketing efforts that, combined with relationship selling, can be very powerful. https://www.heinzmarketing.com/2016/12/the-25-most-important-tenets-of-the-challenger-sale-approach/
The right system will make your existing sales reps more efficient & successful
We have no interest in scripting what your reps say, or getting in the way of them executing on the art of selling. But I’ve seen countless times what a little process & discipline can do to exponentially increase their productivity and results. Some veteran sales reps take a little longer to come around to that, but I’ve seen the crustiest old-school reps ultimately buy completely into the system once they see what it does for them. https://www.heinzmarketing.com/2010/04/a-three-step-process-for-effective-sales-territory-planning/
A disciplined approach to lead & pipeline management can provide dividends quickly
From what we have heard thus far, I bet there are leads and opportunities somewhere in your existing pipeline that might be more ready to engage than you think. A little more follow-up, a few more status-quo challenging insights, and you’re not starting from scratch in existing markets either. The system we put together for a new market can be leveraged in existing markets as well to generate incremental results quickly. https://www.inc.com/rebecca-hinds/how-to-increase-performance-of-your-sales-marketing-teams-without-training-them.html
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.
Chad is a proven sales and marketing executive with 20+ years of experience building successful revenue generating teams. Relentlessly focused on training and coaching to leverage the ValueSelling framework, Chad has a tireless dedication to helping companies focus on the value-creation chain.
He has built global sales and marketing organizations focused on the F500; trained teams and executives on strategies to increase revenue and market-share, and worked on large-scale, enterprise projects in a variety of industries with clients including Verizon, Microsoft, Minnesota Vikings, Ingersoll Rand, and others. His unique style and dedication to the success of people he works with makes Chad a force to be reckoned with and an invaluable asset to companies focused on growth.
Here in his own words is how he does it:
Location: Denver, CO
Number of unread emails right now? 6
First app checked in the morning? Smart News
First thing you do when you come into work? Check calendar and confirm all meetings, handle all unread emails
What is your email management strategy? I use email as a task list – keeping those that are important marked as unread. This allows me to see things I need to take care of quickly and easily. From there I file every email I receive…I’m a bit of an organizational freak show.
Most essential app when traveling? Uber
How do you keep yourself calm and/or focused? Working out or riding my Harley – both relieve stress and help me focus on what’s important
What’s your perspective or approach to work/life balance? I chased this elusive dream of work/life balance for years before I realized the old cliché is true – doing what you love means never working a day in your life. I love what I do and now find it blends with my life. Essentially I don’t worry about the so called balance anymore, I accept what my life is and my ability to control what I do, when and for how long.
Are there any work rituals critical to your success? I’m not sure I have any rituals. I work out, I make sure I respond to everyone and I focus on being authentic and centered.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? I can truly live without any of them – but there are some where it would be painful. Email, my calendar and Linkedin are the ones I use the most and that make my work more efficient.
What’s your workspace like?First and foremost – clean and organized. I have a reclaimed wood standup desk and a large, wide format monitor. I’m a minimalist – so I keep the clutter to a minimum, ensure the space is orderly and bright – a lot of natural sunlight.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack?I spend 30 minutes every night preparing for the next day…ensuring I am prepared, I have outcomes identified for the day and focusing on how I can ensure each interaction delivers value. Usually this is done in silence, but regardless of where, if I don’t do it, I can’t sleep. It makes sure the next day is never a fire drill and key to staying consistent for me.
What are you currently reading?I usually have two or three books going at a time…right now it’s:
Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio
Incognito – The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman
How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mlodinow
Last thing you do before leaving work? I don’t ever feel like I’m ‘leaving work’…I work from home and wherever I happen to be working with a client. So last thing I do at the end of the day is ensure I’ve achieved the outcomes I set the night before and there is no one waiting on me for something.
Who are some mentors or influencers you wish to thank or acknowledge? Jerry Walters has been an amazing mentor and friend, a Sherpa into the world of B2B enterprise sales and what it means to be a respected leader. Rick McAninch has, for the last 17 years, continued to show me the power of connection using a simple, elegant framework – and taught me how to be a better consultant.
Name some supportive people who help make it possible to do what you do best? Tonja Husak – one of my business partners is a business development ninja and amazing sounding board. She enables me to focus on a different side of the business, keeps me laughing and brings in the new clients.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Time is the only asset you have a finite amount of – use it wisely or wind up with more regrets than memories.
Name a guilty pleasure TV show: The Last Kingdom or Game of Thrones
Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see BLANK answer these questions. Tonja Husak, Rick McAninch, Townsend Wardlaw