Without an efficient sales funnel, your marketing efforts may not create the revenue that you desire. Marylou Tyler has created a formula that takes your leads through a pipeline that is both compelling to potential clients, and scalable for business owners. Marylou is a renowned sales process improvement expert and the CEO of Strategic Pipeline. She shares her system to create value, pull your leads in, and close sales.
Hello, and welcome to Marketing Speak! I’m your host, Stephan Spencer, and today, we have Marylou Tyler. She’s a renowned sales process improvement expert, author, speaker, and the CEO of Strategic Pipeline. She’s helped businesses like Apple, Bose, and UPS grow their revenue by increasing their sales pipelines. Marylou’s passion is helping B2B sales professionals go from cold conversations to qualified opportunities. You might be wondering, “Why a sales conversation, a sales expert, on a marketing podcast?” Well, marketing include sales or sales includes marketing, depending on which side of the fence you’re on, but either way, it’s a component, and we need to look at strengthening your sales pipeline and getting better lead generation going as part of your marketing system. So, Mary Lou has a new book coming out, which is called Predictable Prospecting, and it’s one of multiple books that she has. This is book number two, and you’re also working on a third one right now, correct?
Yes. It has a working title called, Compel with Content.
Yeah, so you’re busy writing amazing books. Your first book was Predictable Revenue, and it was co-authored with Aaron Ross, who I’ve had on the show, and he was great so, listeners, be sure to check out Aaron’s episode, but now this book is a bit different from Predictable Revenue so, what makes this book a must-have in addition? This book is coming out this month, right?
It is. It’s a target right now, but the hard cover version is available now and on Amazon. Barnes and Noble, I believe, it will be next week, and then the Kindle version, so far, is targeted for August 31st, 2016.
Yay! That’s amazing. It’s like birthing a baby, right?
I know. It’s like three times birthing a baby.
Let’s talk about what’s different between these two books because, I think, our listeners want more predictable revenue in their businesses and would resonate. Why would they want predictable prospecting, and how is this new book different? What makes this book a must-have as well?
Well, the main thesis for this book really came from a formula that’s located on page-42 of Predictable Revenue, and it talked about the predictable formula of the formula of predictability so I took that and made that my thesis for this book, Predictable Prospecting, which included additional five years of field work with active clients. A lot of our clients from Predictable Revenue started off gung-ho, and we had an email engine-we leveraged the e-mail engine to start conversations, but they quickly got stuck in the pipeline and increasing the lag. Now to have a robust pipeline, that’s predictable and consistent and that you can scale. You have to really get your arms around not only the high targeted accounts, but also reducing the lag in the pipeline itself so Predictable Prospecting really focused on what do we need to do once we get someone to raise his hand, what do we need to do to get somebody to raise his hand, and then how do we help pull them through the pipeline so that we are sending them compelling sales conversations whether it’s e-mail, voice, or other mediums like direct mail, and we’re taking that and creating a holistic ecosystem around starting conversations and getting it through to qualification, and at the same time, reducing the lag.
Right. What do you mean by a holistic ecosystem?
Essentially, in working with clients, it became very apparent that a five-step system that was described in Predictable Revenue didn’t fit a variety of client profiles so, we really needed to look at the blending of other modalities like the phone or like email, and creating different streams or channels in the marketing terms that we could blend into one system and utilize depending on the situation so we had multiple tools in our toolkit instead of the one tool of Predictable Revenue.
Mm-hmm, okay. You also mentioned meaningful conversations, does that presume that most conversations that companies have with prospects are not meaningful?
I think that the term vanity metrics is something that is-I think the red circle with a line through it? What we really want people to think in terms of meaningful conversations is very simple-if you’re going down the freeway and you’re at a mile marker, a meaningful conversation will move you (A)-to the next mile marker on the freeway or (B)-move you out of the exit, exiting the freeway. If it’s not either forward movement or out, it’s not meaningful in nature because you didn’t learn something new, and a lot of times we get and see and hear people saying, “Just checking in, wanting to know if you got my proposal,” or “Wanting to know if you’ve got this white paper or this use case study.” Those aren’t meaningful because you’re not learning anything new so what we try to focus on is actionable steps, actionable conversations, leveraging technology, people, and process in order to be able to advance the sale to the next step, and next step, and next step, and do it in a way that combines multiple modalities in a system as opposed to one stream, which Predictable Revenue was.
Okay, so I’m guilty of this kind of e-mailing, “Hey, just checking in. Make sure you got my proposal-”
“Can we have a call to discuss any questions you have?” That’s, apparently, not a good email?
No. If you really you know thought long and hard about it-are you adding value, Stephan? Is that email adding value to your reader?
Oh, shoot! Okay, no, it’s not.
Okay, so what we really do in the new book is, we talked about what I call frameworks, which are really methods and systems to be able to craft really good emails and really great voice mails that put the prospect first, and you, marketers, out there who are listening-this is your life. You’re always thinking about the prospect, you’re always thinking about the buyer, and what it is that you can say, do, or act in such a way that they’ll act, they’ll engage, and they’ll want to move to that next step of conversation with you. We’ve essentially taken a lot of those marketing concepts, but we have condensed them into a persuasive methodology of having that sales conversation so that every conversation is meaningful.
Okay, so let’s redo this email that is adding no value to my prospect-what would be a better version?
A better version than just checking in-
Would be to elaborate on the previous correspondence that you sent. I mean, I’ve looked at your website, and especially our podcast websites-you’re adding social proof, you’re adding value, and you’re getting people feeling comfortable that you can solve their problems. You do the same thing in the body of the email. The difference is, it’s billboard-size now. You have to really think through how to wake up the chill of these people in a very short number of words, but still get the point across. When I’m with clients, I teach them about, “Think billboard.” You’re going down the freeway 50 miles or 60 miles an hour, you see a billboard, it catches your attention. Something about it captured your attention or triggered you. That email has to have the same type of emotional pull.
Okay, so let’s say it’s an SEO proposal that I’m following up on, and it’s been two weeks, and they said that they would be following up in a week so, I’m starting to wonder what’s going on. I want to touch the prospect, see what’s going on. I could call and, I don’t know, something about picking up the phone these days, I just feel a little bit nervous about doing that because it seems almost invasive nowadays like, maybe I should text first, “Are you available?” “Is now a good time?” or “Should we set up a time?” rather than just picking up the phone and calling at some unannounced time, and probably getting their voicemail, and leaving a voicemail. First of all, am I just making an up stories in my mind? Should I just not be afraid of this, just pick up the phone, and leave a voicemail? Is that more effective? Secondly, what would be an example of a billboard-size adding value in the case of like an SEO proposal?
Well, yes, the answer is to the voicemail, but even that, you have to use a cadence that’s comfortable so you’re not going to call a daily call me but daily voice mail. You have to use your judgment there. I’m not saying you shouldn’t dial that number every day, but whether you choose to leave a voicemail or not really has to fit in your whole method of, “What is the next sales step that I’m trying to get these folks to? What is the purpose of this voicemail?” Everything we do has a purpose. That’s the difference. You have to really think through. Like with your SEO proposal-what is the purpose of them getting the proposal? What do you want them to do? What should they be seeing? What should get them excited to want to respond back to you? You have to prove with specificity around the proposal itself why they shouldn’t wait.
Okay, so could that be maybe, “Hey, I found something on your site that you might want to know about,” but I don’t want to give them too much for free before they say that they’re going to work with me.
Exactly. You found something on their website that maybe it’s a conversion rate or some rate number, and it just popped out at you. Why? Because the same thing happened to a previous client of yours, and when they worked with you on this particular metric, they were able to increase the conversion rate by 80% by just doing one thing.
That gets people like, “What did they do?” Curious-what did they do and are they like me?
And so, you’ve really got to kind of build that sense of wonder into every email, into every voicemail, and into every conversation that you have. It’s not easy, but it is something you can learn, it’s teachable, and we just have to get our minds around not being sheepish. You sound very sheepish to me right now. “I don’t want to text them. I don’t want to…”
I don’t want to bother them, yeah.
You know what? That’s telling me your product is unreliable.
Oh, okay. Right, so show up with confidence.
Yeah. Conviction and confidence that you have a something that they can’t live without. Everybody has to have something that their prospects and buyers can’t live without otherwise, why be in business?
Yeah. Would it make sense, maybe, to get access to their analytics? To their Google Search Console, for example, as part of the pitch process? Because, normally, I don’t get that until after they’ve signed and it makes it harder for me to add value before they’ve signed if I don’t have access to their data.
What you really need to do is think about where you think they are along the spectrum of awareness of the problem.
There are five levels, and that’s what we incorporate into our targeted streams. You have to understand that they’re somewhere along that spectrum of either unaware or completely aware and suffering, and you write and you talk with those levels in mind. Each level is designed to move them to a more awareness level, and this is based on Eugene Schwartz’ 1960 advertising methodology. I mean, it’s called, Breakthrough Advertising. They had to reach the minds of the buyer with disruptive products, with products that people knew they didn’t need, and you’re in the same boat so, you can talk generically and then get more specific, but if you’re wanting to create a system out of this, then stopping to do research on every single account before you craft your email, voicemail, or you call them may not give you the system that you’re looking for.
Yeah, not scalable. Not scalable.
Right. It may be one-armed. I mean, we have a lot of clients who have this cold engine as one stream, and there are accounts that go in that bucket, and then we have another engine called, “account-based marketing,” where we are going to spend that time and go into that account because the return on investment is so high for us.
Got it. Right. It’s kind of a fork in the road where you decide is this an account that has enough value, enough revenue, potential, and so forth that it’s worth putting that kind of effort into, and then there are the other-what was that other bucket called?
There’s a cold bucket, which typically are targeted accounts that have a higher revenue potential and a higher likelihood of closing.
And then there are, maybe, the supreme accounts, which is account-based marketing, and those are the ones that you’re going to build a relationship with and you’re going to spend money in trying to get them to be a client of yours. Like for me, when I was selling back in the dark ages, I had six accounts. They were all account-based marketing because I only had six so I worked really hard on building relationships within the six accounts. My entire funnel was account-based marketing, but you may have some extended universe accounts that they’re great to have, but you don’t want to spend the resources on them until they get to the point where the probability is high and that they’ll close-those are great accounts for this called engine.
Got it, right. One thing that struck me as you’re describing this is, like account-based marketing, which is pretty much what I do. I don’t do the other kind. One campaign that was really successful-this is back when I owned my agency. We would send out a pair of wool-hunting socks in a FedEx tube to prospects, and this would really surprise them, and the connection there is, well, we got Cabela’s-our client, Cabela’s-to rank number one for wool-hunting socks and many, many other keywords. Now, it’s just one example, and so that is a tangible representation of our results for clients like Cabela’s, and it definitely stood out, and it got us a lot of calls back so that was pretty cool.
There you go! It definitely is-and I want to correct one thing you said-you said, “There’s a fork in the road.” Not really. What there is, is a value grid that you’re developing before you build your buckets-before you assemble those buckets-and in in goes the accounts. Before you turn on the engine-whether it’s an account-based marketing engine, whether it’s a cold engine, whether it’s an inbound engine, or whether it’s a direct mail engine. Whatever it is, you’re deciding ahead of time based on your formula for predictability. In my case, predictability is what I get out of bed in the morning for. It’s to build predictability for my clients. But you’re figuring out of the universe of potential clients where each of those fall based on value-value to you as a company. Then, they’re fed into the funnels-the different streams-and then they may cross over and they move may move over depending on what happens in the sales conversation, and that gets fed back to marketing.
Okay, so you’ve mentioned the value grid. What are the X and Y axis-I’m assuming if this is a grid, there is an X-axis and a Y-axis?
Yes. I mean, there are characteristics that are important to you, as a company, for clients so they can be the ideal account profile, which we talked about. I think it was called the ICP in Predictable Revenue, and it’s called the IAP in Predictable Prospecting. There are the personas so, I would put those over the top-the kind of people that you’re trying to engage and capture their attention, and then the characteristics of those people, and then somewhere in the kind of like Z-axis is the ideal asset size or the revenue size of what these accounts will generate.
Okay, so now you’ve got this grid, and you’re going after the most valuable aspect of this grid so, high revenue potential or whatever in just your sweet spot in terms of their persona and so forth. This would be that bucket that you go after and do your account-based marketing, you invest the time and energy into, you send them the FedEx tube and really surprise them and that sort of stuff.
Yup. You have the executive briefings. You invite them to a breakfast in some major city, and they spend half a day with you going how to improve their operations. It’s expensive, but these clients are your cream of the crop.
Right. What would be some really remarkable examples of account-based marketing initiatives either that you’ve done or your clients have done that when you hear it, it’s like, “Wow, that’s genius!”?
Well, I think the direct mail is coming back, people!
Whether it’s a postcard, whether it’s a FedEx tube, whether it’s lumpy mail. I was a direct mail person back in the day so, those types of learnings from direct mail are definitely working today. If I was doing an account-based marketing, I would definitely incorporate a direct mail or some type of package within the sequence, and I would really think long and hard about where to cadence that direct mail package so that it lands instead of with a thud, it really lands and is impactful, which means, again, we talked about these levels of awareness, I would make sure I’ve warmed up the chill to a point where they’re ready to receive something like that.
Mm-hmm. Right. So, something that stands out, presumably, like a package or whatever, or a lumpy envelope. Something that will make them go, “What the heck is in there?”
That there’s something intriguing, right? Or, a really big postcard. Something that stands out, not like a normal-size post card or even a big postcard, but an insanely large postcard that doesn’t even fit in the mailbox.
Or, like the current fun technical widget. I had one client do one of those things when you’re tracking your walking?
Yeah. I can’t remember, but they sent those out. $99 bucks a pop or $49 bucks a pop or something like that, but it was worth it because one conversation, one account raising their hand was a million plus dollar opportunity for them.
So, an actual like, Fitbit-
Yeah, one of those legit ones. Not like a $3-dollar pedometer that’s a piece of junk. Got it!
Yeah, an actual. But, going back to that value grid, a lot of thought was put into ahead of time in planning who would be the best recipient of this item. Out of the personas that could engage atop of funnel, which one or ones would be the ones that would be so thrilled to get it that they would call us and say, “Yeah, come on down,” or “Yeah, let’s have the conversation,” or “Yeah, let’s do a demo or whatever it is your next step in the sales process.” That’s where you want to get with this.
Right, and presumably, it wasn’t the “couch potato” persona that got the Fitbit.
Exactly! Or, the folks that come in, swoop in, grab all your time researching, having you explain stuff, and then disappear. We’ve all been there.
We get our little champion who we think is going to help us advance to the next sale stage, and they end up being a dud.
Yeah. The tire kicker or the Lookie Lou’s-
One thing that I know to look for is, when somebody says, “Hey, can I pick your brain for a moment?” That is my signal to turn and run. I don’t want any brain pickers or cherry pickers who go, “Can I buy you a coffee?” Like, my time is a little bit more valuable than a cup of coffee, which I don’t even drink so-
It’s like, “Really?”
So, you see, we all have this inherent-our gut is telling us. We know what these are. The planning process gets it out into a grid format that you can banter back and forth with your team and really scrutinize so that when you’re ready to press the activate button, you’re not just guessing and you’re not spraying stuff out thinking, “Let’s hope that it works.” There’s a lot of planning that goes into the networks and the systems that I help clients assemble.
Right, so the opposite of that would be like, you are at a big trade show, and you sponsor a party, and anybody and his brother or sister can come to that party.
So, that is not targeted and it’s just kind of a mess versus you have, let’s say, an executive breakfast at that same conference, and you handpick the people that you want there, and you get a guest speaker who’s got a lot of brand cachet and name recognition to come and speak at that breakfast briefing, and it’s a very select group.
A select group and you have a strong call-to-action of what do they do next because I’ve seen those as well where you just shake hands and goodbye. No. Everything that we do has some type of action that we want them to take-whether it’s a passive action or a true call-to-action. We don’t just shake hands and go. I’ve seen lot-even in these executive briefings.
Right, okay. Let’s talk a bit about the funnel, Because there’s this idea of a funnel with a particular set of steps that’s just like the internet marketing kind of funnel, right? So, the sales funnel, marketing funnel starts with the lead magnet, and then goes to the tripwire, and then after the trip wires, the core product, and then after that, it’s the profit maximizers, but that doesn’t fit for everybody, right?
So, let’s say that you’re an e-commerce online catalog site. You’re selling consumer goods-that’s not really a useful model. How would you define a funnel? What are the steps in a funnel from your standpoint?
Well, first of all, this funnel has been tested with business-to-business sales. I have worked with business-to-consumer clients, but again, we’re kind of expecting a multi-persona sales conversation so, they’re highly-targeted accounts with a high revenue potential and a higher likelihood of closing so, let’s start there. What we do is, we, first and foremost, with all of the funnels that we work on, we put in the predictable revenue baseline model to start because we don’t know if the audience personas are going to be receptive. Step one is that we’re looking for the right person. Now, you may say, “Gosh, with all the technology out there, you should know who the right person is!” No. Because if you think about a large enterprise with 18 different marketing titles, how do you really know where to start conversation in marketing for your particular product or service? You don’t necessarily know, and they call themselves all different things so the first and foremost email engine that we use is really looking for the right person with whom to have a conversation, and looking for that internal referral. It’s the same thing as predictable revenue. From there though, it just morphs into something a lot more impactful-meaning that, depending on the client, we can take them through an email-only engine, the way predictable revenue was, and I call that the “While-you’re-sleeping” engine because the only time sales gets involved is if there’s a response to the actual email and that’s it. Response is the first metric. Now, in a blended environment for sales conversations, we’re looking at responses and we’re also looking at click-throughs so now, we’re getting and borrowing marketing’s great content, flipping it sideways, and creating billboard-like attraction pieces that we can say, “Hey, go here, and read a little bit about this,” or “Look at this one-page use case,” or “Here’s an executive summary with all of the return on investment numbers that we were able to generate with clients,” and we watch. We watch to see whether they are clicking through, and we have metrics that we get clients to a minimum level of because we know that if they get to that level, that allows us to have enough meaningful conversations that can then turn into qualified opportunities. It’s all about finding the right guy, getting them through an nurture fit sequence just to make sure that they’ve got everything from our value grid that classifies this account as the right account for the stream, and then we take them through a disqualification process finally on to opportunity. Then, it’s handed over, typically, to an outside field quarter-caring sales representative that takes it from opportunity to close. That’s also predictable revenue, which is what we call, “the separation of sales roles.”
Wow! Sounds like I need to read the book!
Yeah. What I love about this process is that, we have metrics that are actionable metrics, and we have minimum metrics we know we need to meet so it takes all the emotion out of, “God, that’s a crappy email!” It’s just like, “No. We have to get a 7-9% response rate for the sequence,” of which one-third of those have to be positive, one-third are usually neutral responses, and one-third maybe negative. That allows us to say, “Okay, we need to feed the beast with this many records in order to generate at the other end”-the qualified ops that you want, and if you want to scale it, then we can actually tell you right down to the record how many records you need to feed this thing with in order to generate more opportunities.
Cool! So, you’ve got response rate as a key metric, clickthroughs would be another metric-are there other metrics that are important to measure in prospecting?
What are they?
In a blended environment, remember I talked about there’s the email-only, while-you’re-sleeping engine, but if we have to use human resource to find the right person, which is also called “mapping through the organization,” if we have to use the phone, then we track that as a metric because that tells us whether our technology-our email engine-is sputtering, or if it can support the team-versus the team having to-like you were telling me just a moment ago-cold-calling in to find the right person. We try to limit that so that the team is only working on those people who have engaged-whether through clickthrough or whether through response to the email so that particular metric tells us voice versus email of how we got that first conversation started. That also tells us to turn on the stopwatch for the pipeline itself-ready to go like, “Okay, we’re starting now.” The next metric we use is, the “Are-we-a-fit?” sequence, which is the first level qualification. Not all clients have a first level and then discovery level. They may blend the two together, but we’re looking to see-of those people who responded, how many turned into fit conversations? Then, from fifth conversations, we go through qualification so we want to know-of the fit people, how many are actually qualified to go to an opportunity, and how many qualified out? The reason we want to know that is because that tells us a number of things like sales skills issues that the team is experiencing, and it also tells us the quality of our list.
Hmm. Okay. So, this “Are we a fit?” call is, essentially, like a triage call, right?
So, should I proceed with this person? Are they going to be a good fit for me and I’m going to be a good fit for them? Or, are they going to be too much work for me-just a painful client? Or, are they not going to get the value for me if I don’t have the expertise that they’re looking for? Or whatever, right? How long of a triage or “Are we a fit?” call is sufficient? Is this like a ten-minute call? Is it a 30-minute call?
It’s usually 10-15 minutes, and I’ll add one more parameter, and that’s time because remember we are focused on lag so if the initiative that this problem will solve is nine months out, they may not be a fit now or they may be a fit someday so we’re going to, probably, put those folks in a nurture sequence through marketing to kind of bubble them up to the top when they’re ready. Again, the fit parameters are based on that value grid of what it is that you want as a client, and we have to take into consideration the average deal size, the funnel itself, and time.
Got it. Okay, so this nurture sequence that you just mentioned-what does that look like?
It’s the traditional marketing nurture sequence that’s value-loaded. The difference is, the signature line is of the sales person as opposed to generic marketing people like sending out nurture.
Okay, and these are what? Like, articles? Case studies? Videos? Invitations to attend webinars-what sort of thing will keep that lead warm without irritating them, I guess.
The fact that, depending on where they exited out of the funnel, if we got them to an “Are we a fit?” sequence, then we know their pain point. Since we know their pain point, we’re going to feed them a funnel that really talks primarily, or at least hits some upfront, with the pain points that mattered to them. It may be once a month or it may be once every two months, it depends on how this persona likes to consume content because remember we’re very targeted. We’re thinking about people. We’re also thinking about what pains they actually engaged with, and we’re also trying to figure out they may have engaged with the pain point number one, but they ended up talking about pain point number three so, the sales people have got to track that for marketing after they have a meaningful conversation to make sure we’re still on track with the pain points that resonated, and whether they used language that was different than we’ve heard before, we need to feed that back to marketers so that they have this nurture content that’s spot on with their language, with what they’re concerned about, and how others like them have resolved these problems.
Right, so we understand what their pain point is from this “Are we a fit?” call. That goes into the CRM or whatever sort of system is behind the scenes there, and then, when he you touch that prospect to keep the opportunity alive, you want to stretch the gap, because where they are now versus where they would like to be in that particular area where they have that pain, you want to remind them how far they are from getting the problem solved.
And how painful it really is for them as well as give them something to chew on that will help them to, at least, look at this need or this particular problem that they have.
Right, and we basically break it down again by those levels of awareness because some of the content may resonate at a certain level and some may not so, we want to sprinkle in. They won’t be unaware now because we’ve talked to them-hopefully-and they would be problem-aware perhaps, but they still may not be solution-aware, they still may not be vendor-aware, and there certainly is no sense of urgency so, those three levels, which are typically the levels that inbound, is written. The content is written for inbound. Those levels, although with specificity around a pain point and specificity around how this person consumes content, would be added to this nurture sequence along with the signature of the sales reps so that if they reply, it’ll go directly to the inbox of the rep.
Mm-hmm. Okay. So, just for clarity purposes for our listeners who are not really clued into this whole sales world, there’s some terminology here that we’ve thrown around like “inbound.” There’s also some terminology that they may have heard of that we haven’t talked about yet like “demand generation.” Can you define these for us?
I think inbound and demand generation are very similar in nature. You’re trying to create demand in demand generation so that nurture sequence would probably be more like a demand gen, but we’re focusing on three levels of awareness, and we’re adding specificity around pain and the persona. Whereas, demand gen-I mean, it’s getting better, but you’re pretty much casting a wide net out there, and hoping to get minnows and whales-well, we’re working with the whales.
Mm-hmm. Got it! Okay, we’ve talked a bit about some metrics that matter like response rate, clickthroughs, and so forth. What about the vanity metrics? You mentioned there are some earlier in the conversation, but what are they?
Dials is one.
Okay, so what kind of dials are you referring to?
You pick up the phone and type in a number.
Okay, got it. I was thinking like a dash board like dial them and-
No, this is actually picking up the phone to call somebody.
Okay, so it’s a number of calls made per day from your sales team. It’s a really horrible metric.
In Marylou Tyler’s opinion-yes. Because it says nothing to us. At the end of the day, we want to know how many meaningful conversations they’re having, and we want them to have five a day. We know that number. How many dials it takes is going to depend on, once again, the persona. It’s going to depend on the time of day they’re making these calls, and it’s a roving target.
Got it. Okay. Any other metrics that are vanity metrics?
The deliverability rate is important, but we’re making the assumption that our lists are good, but it’s a metric that we want to look at, but it doesn’t add into the conversation for, “Look at me! I’ve got a great funnel going!” It’s something that you keep on the radar, but it doesn’t impact-I mean, it does in some sense, but when you’re working with your boss, and you’re giving him an update on the project, it’s not going to go in there at all in the benchmarks. There really isn’t. So, that’s one. Then, the same thing with how many emails we sent from a personal point of view because a lot of those are “just checking in” emails so, we want to reduce those to more impactful ones. The emails that are sent personally by the reps are not counted unless they result in a response of some sort.
Right. A meaningful conversation would be a great response. A great outcome from that.
Yes. At the top of funnel, I know marketers know this-if you look at the story arc for our emails, we’re trying to trigger them in some fashion. Curiosity is a big one for a lot of my clients. Fascination. There, maybe, some prestige. Whatever the trigger is, we have to decide by persona what that is, and then we take them down into, “Life is not good,” and then we contrast it to saying, “But here’s how your outcome could be!” That’s the emotional side of things so, it really tugs at people. Then, we overlay with that for the second half of the email with specificity around, “Here’s the opportunity,” “Here are the others that have come before you,” or if you’re a brand new company, you could state basically, “Here’s the opportunity for you, and if you’re an early adopter, this is the best, new, shiny thing you could ever have, and here’s why,” and then it closes with the call-to-action that’s actionable.
Hmm. Very cool! You’ve mentioned that there is a five-step system that was kind of laid out in Predictable Revenue.
Did you talk about that system yet? I don’t think you did, right?
No. Not in this episode. With the Predictable Revenue model, people are still just getting the book, and it was published in 2011 so there’s a lot of, for the newbies, out there, it’s a good book for people to sort of get their arms around what the stream is all about, but it really talks about the fact that you’re going to build and you’re going to assemble a predictable engine using the five steps for predictable revenue, which is all about, essentially, finding your ideal customer profile, figuring out the size of your lists, having these conversations we call “sell the dream,” and then, basically, passing the baton over. The steps are in order-your ideal customer profile is one. You build your list from that. You can see right now, there’s nothing in the book talking about personas so that’s a big portion of the new book. Then, you run email campaigns. That’s also different now because we have three different flavors of campaigns we run. Then, you “sell the dream,” which is the combination of the AWF call-the “Are we fit?” call and a discovery call, and you pass the baton, which is the handoff to the sales folks in the field. We’ve expanded on the “sell the dream” section. We’ve expanded on the persona development for sales, and a big kind of pushback that sales always gives me is, the persona development for sales. That they have to build a persona for their sales conversations top of funnel.
Okay, so you’ve mentioned that it’s important for sales to feedback to marketing-
And, basically, for marketing and sales to talk to each other. What are some of the ways that’s done most effectively?
If you have a tracking system like a customer relationship management or as you said, CRM or database, we teach the reps to do something we call “Wrap up,” and that’s kind of left over from the call center days. Every time we hung up the phone, we had to wrap up the call. Why? Because the systems needed to know where to file that call next. It had to have a place to go so, you had to disposition the call, and you had to tell it why you’re dispositioning it in that fashion. It was very efficient, it was very effective, and it made lots of people lots of money because we were effectively filing things so that we knew when to recycle. We implemented a very simple similar process in the CRM called “Wrap Up” that the reps need to wrap up the call, and I give them three or four different things, and depending on where we are in this kind of crawl-walk-run cycle of assembling this actual system, we add in the pain point, we add in any language that they heard that sounded different so that marketing sort of gets a heads up as to, “Hey, they’re calling this that.” Like, you’re asking me inbound versus demand gen-we’re looking for words like that on the call, and then the next step is, they have to say what they did for that call so that we know-from a coaching standpoint-where that record should be filed.
Mm-hmm. That makes a lot of sense. Are there any particular CRM’s that you would recommend for folks? I use Capsule CRM, for example. I used to use SalesForce.com when I had my agency, Netconcepts. That was an overkill for me now. I mean, I’m still offering consulting services, but it’s at a smaller scale so Capsule CRM does a good job. I also have Infusionsoft, which I’m not really using as much as a CRM. I’m using it for emailing, I’ll be using it as a shopping cart, and I guess, I’ll use it as a CRM once I have my first information product out there and launched. What are some of your favorite CRM’s that you’d recommend?
Well, since I work with upmarket clients, there’s a sampling of top. SalesForce is, by far, the one that’s used most. Microsoft Dynamics is used.NetSuite is used. These are big systems. I’ve had clients where we used Excel so, anything that you can track and create a report off of or any database is going to do the trick. Look to see where your records are housed, and then look to see if you can add a field to disposition what happened during that call-like, logging the call and see if there’s a feature that would allow you to log the results of a call, and then what I do with people is, I just use short codes that you can parse-meaning, you can take a report and say, “If it contains “MKT::”, then that is a directive to marketing to look at these words. If it’s “P.N.?,” then that’s the pain point,” so it’s very simple to just add a couple codes in, that the reps are trained on, that you can run weekly reports on to see the movement and also see what transpired during that call. And instead of waiting to the very end to pivot-meaning, “Oops, our marketing to hit the mark,” you’ll know in a weekly basis where you are relative to goal.
Okay. One of the features I use in my CRM is the pipeline report so I can see where I’m dropping the ball or where they’re just not responding. It also gives me a sense for the likelihood for closing.
So, if it’s at a proposal stage, that’s whatever percent-50% or 60% or whatever. If it’s at the statement of work stage, if it’s just at the meaningful conversation stage-these all have percentages assigned to them so, how important is that kind of feature functionality?
We love to have that because, again, the formula is, predictable revenue is the lag time, the ideal customer, asset size or the revenue you’re generating from the deal, and the funnel itself. If we know, in trust stage, conversion rates, and if we know inter stage, conversion rates-that gives us the ability to predict how long something’s going to take from that first conversation through to close one or close last. The more that we can look at pipeline movement, the better we’re going to be able to help our reps with their sales skills issues, and also to coach them through how to get from initial conversation through to close faster.
Mm-hmm. So, what would be some examples of kind of coaching tidbits that you would give somebody? Let’s say that the data shows that they’re really falling short and they’re cold-calling-what sort of tips would you give somebody like a salesperson who is kind of falling short on their cold-calling?
I am a big fan of roleplaying all different types of calls so, what I would do with this person is, before he did what we call “block time,” which is setting aside time where you are making phone calls and you’re not multitasking on anything else-you’re not texting, you’re not emailing, you’re not looking something up, you’re not researching, you’re on the phone-we take 15 minutes of that block and we roleplay with them on the areas that they’re struggling.
Okay, and let’s say that the struggle is with getting to the person to agree to a next step.
Then, we, basically, work through-we try, if we can, to tape some of these calls and then, what we do is, give them tips on what they should be saying in the form of us building an objection tree, for example, where we have the objection and all the ways to kind of move through that that they can practice, and we listen to see how natural they are in progressing that person from that objection state all the way through to the next sale step.
Hmm. I love that. That’s great! I’ve never even heard of that term before-objection tree. I like it.
That’s, again, the new framework. I don’t want to make this daunting for people, but the five-step framework has evolved into 28 steps, but they’re broken down into: Assemble, Activate, and Optimize. These trees and matrices are in the assemble and activate stages, and we’re constantly tweaking them and iterating and making them better because we’re getting smarter as we learn more on the sales conversations themselves. There’s no more black hole with this process. It’s all built on feedback loops because we can’t generate predictable revenue without it.
Right, so with objections-this is something that’s a real challenge for a lot of people. How do I overcome the objections of the prospect? One thing I’ve learned, which I think is brilliant, is to preempt objections with your testimonials. If you have a video testimonial-before you get the person to record that video, ask them to recall what were the objections that they have prior to signing, and to reiterate those on the video so that, “Well, I thought Stephan was a little expensive-well, actually a lot expensive, but you know what? It was actually worth it. Every dollar I spent, the ROI was incredible, and blah-blah-blah,” so by incorporating that little bit about the objection, that allows you to preempt the objection of the person who hasn’t even articulated yet. That’s super powerful, and a lot of people don’t do that in their testimonials-whether their video or written testimonials. Any other tips for objection handling or preempting objections?
We put that directly in the cold email streams so, those streams that we’re generating-those emails-we do eight emails that we’re sending out-we put objections in three through seven to sort of get that person uncomfortable like, “How do they know I was thinking about that?” We are constantly patiently-persistent as opposed to confrontational, but we definitely address everything head-on because we don’t want to waste their time, and we certainly don’t want to waste our time.
Mm-hmm. Do you incorporate some testimonials into the email stream?
Yes, but their bite-size chunks because we are working-now, this is the cold engine,-we are trying to figure out where these folks are in their state of awareness so they’re short and sweet. They’re to the point. They’re called “persuasive emails.” It’s a style of copyrighting that a lot of companies don’t necessarily have figured out or wired, but if you are a student, like I am, of all the advertising greats of the 60’s and 70’s, their style of writing the direct mail teasers is the style that we use for writing the emails for the cold engine.
Right. Who are some of your favorite of these legends of these greats from the past?
Well, Eugene Schwartz is like-I love him! I mean, he’s my favorite guy. Joe Sugarman. Denny Hatch. There’s some-Bob Bly. Victor Schwab. I think I have everybody’s book, and it’s on my desk where it’s readily reachable-all those guys. They’re all ancient. They’re old, but what they said, how they said it, and how they teach is exactly the way we need to write these emails, and exactly the way we need to leave these voice mails, and exactly the way we need to have these conversations.
Yup, I agree. There’s a really great book from, I think, it’s from 1930’s or 40’s or something, it’s not Scientific Advertising. It’s-
It’s going to nag you now.
Yeah. I mean, Scientific Advertising is one of the books that’s one of the greats-
-like Claude Hopkins, but-oh, Tested Advertising Methods.
Yeah, I’m looking at it right now.
Yeah, by John Caples.
Yes, it’s another one. David Ogilvy’s books is another one. There’s a couple of Madison Avenue ad execs that if you look on YouTube, you can see their interviews. I mean, they’re just fabulous. Yeah.
We only have a few more minutes. I want to get a few things before we finish. One of those would be sales enablement. Can you kind of describe what that means because that is not a term that I hear really at all?
Maybe I’m not in the same world as you, but that’s just not a term I would ever hear, and it’s an important, new buzzword so, could you talk about that?
It’s, essentially, the repurposing of the importance of involving marketing in the sales process. Enablement is, basically, enabling the reps with all the tools, leveraging-as I said before-that people, process, and technology. Leveraging all those things so they have a really robust tool kit that they can pull from, depending on the circumstance they find themselves in in the sales conversation so, it’s enabling them to be champions of the process by giving them the tools that they can use as a baseline, but allow them to personalize for the intended target or buyer as they march through the pipeline.
Okay, so an example might be a set of templates-email templates-which they could choose from and then personalize?
Right. Because as we talked before, the cold engine-it’s a “while you’re sleeping” engine so it’s going to rely on data to personalize, not humans, but once they move into this working status, and we’re trying to get them to an “Are we a fit?” sequence, we rely very heavily on highly-personalized e-mails, but we want to make sure that the sales message-the essence of why they should talk to us-is still embedded in the email because otherwise, left to the his own devices, the sales rep is going to say-like you-“Just checking in. I’m wondering how my proposal was,” so we give them a robust and rich email that they can personalize, but it’s still getting the why change, why now, and why us inside the body of the message.
I love that. I’m going to change my emails now! All right, so one more question-social proof. What would be some of your favorite forms of social proof? I mean, we talked about testimonials already, but there are other ways to provide social proof that convinces people that, “Hey, this is a train I should jump onto!”
Yeah, I think I’m still a fan of Cialdini and that Influence book of his-The Six Principles of Influence, and how those are activated and accentuated. I think testimonials, endorsements, use cases, case studies-there’s a plethora of documentation, depending on, again, the buyer that you can put to your arsenal. The other thing that’s becoming really fun and you mentioned this already is, the video and the GIF files are getting attention in corporate. They’re fun and they’re light, but they still get the message across. Using those different modalities and media to build on those three things I mentioned before of why change, why now, and why us is going to give you what you need in order to create impactful social proof.
Right, and use cases, case studies, endorsements, and testimonials are all examples that you could learn more about in Cialdini’s book, Influence.
Is that something that you also cover in your new book?
Not really because we are at the point where leveraging existing content from marketing so, what we teach them to do is to turn the lengthier marketing pieces sideways, pull out the relevant information, and, maybe, add an infographic. Something that we can do easily so it doesn’t go into depth of what the content to is to create. Now, the next book, I definitely go into the types of content that work at those five levels of behavior or awareness, and how long they should be in terms of consuming that content.
Awesome! Listeners, definitely check out Marylou’s new book, which is called Predictable Prospecting, and the website for Predictable Prospecting is where?
Yup, and you have a podcast as well. What’s the website for that?
Awesome! And then, if somebody wanted to work with you or hire you as a consultant, how would they get in touch?
If you go to my website, www.maryloutyler.com, there’s a contact area that you can leave me particulars about what you’re looking for, and I will get back to you. I like to do phone calls, but I also like you to work a little bit for it so I have a survey that I ask you to fill out to get an understanding of where you are in that pain level and also the awareness level.
Yes, and hopefully, you’re in a lot of pain.
All right, thank you, Marylou. This is awesome! Thanks, listeners! This is Stephan Spencer, signing off. I will catch you on the next episode!
- Strategic Pipeline
- Predictable Prospecting: How to Radically Increase Your B2B Sales Pipeline
- Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into a Sales Machine with the $100 Million Best
- Practices of Salesforce.com
- Aaron Ross on Marketing Speak
- Breakthrough Advertising: Eugene Schwartz
- Capsule CRM
Your Checklist of Actions to Take
☑ A simple sales system may not fit your business needs. Be sure to look at blending other modalities, like phone or email, and utilize the systems that work best for you.
☑ Think about a billboard-it catches your attention. Your correspondence with leads has to feel that big, and it has to pull that same type of emotion.
☑ Check out Marylou’s new book, Predictable Prospecting, for more information on how to create killer sales funnels.
☑ Create blocks in your schedule. When you set aside the time where you are just making phone calls or sending emails, you can become more productive and focused. Don’t multitask during that time.
☑ Show up with confidence. When you have confidence that your service or product is something that people can’t live without, your potential leads will feel that passion, and will be hooked.
☑ Stick with your generic sales system or email funnel at first. Once a lead has shown a high probability of closing, then move into a more personal approach and add more value.
☑ Always consider if you are having a meaningful conversation before connecting with someone. Is what you are about to say adding value, and does it include an actionable step?
☑ Practice connecting with leads before you do it. Work with a colleague and create scenarios that could come up if you were pitching your product. Be ready to move them through the pipeline.
About Marylou Tyler
Marylou Tyler is a renowned sales process improvement expert, author, speaker and the CEO of Strategic Pipeline. She has helped businesses like Apple, Bose and UPS grow their revenue by increasing their sales pipelines. Marylou’s passion is helping B2B sales professionals go from cold conversations to qualified opportunities.