Why is it that separate Sales and Marketing divisions from the same company, with the same goals, and the same direction, can spend so much of their valuable energy competing against one another?
On this episode of Coach the Sale, we discuss valuable strategies and techniques that can assist once mortal enemies of the business world, and help them to successfully collaborate so that all may benefit.
My guest is Darryl Praill, the Chief Marketing Officer at VanillaSoft. Darryl has been widely quoted in the media including television, press, and trade publications. He is a guest lecturer, public speaker, and radio personality and has been featured in numerous podcasts, case studies, and best-selling books.
In this episode we cover:
- How Sales and Marketing departments can leverage one another.
- What causes the lack of collaboration?
- How do you define a lead?
- How the two departments can work together towards the common goal of earning revenue
- Ways to manage cadences and speed to lead.
- Embracing the spirit of cooperation.
- Getting senior leadership to set the tone.
- How marginal gains can equal overwhelming results.
- Should you be seeking an alignment between Sales and Marketing, or a collaboration?
- Is Marketing merely a support vehicle?
All this and a lot more on this episode of Coach the Sale.
Matt: Darryl, welcome to the show. How are you doing?
Darryl: I am doing so well, sir. Thank you so much for having me.
Matt: It's great to have you on the show. I've followed your work at VanillaSoft for some time. You and I have spoken online, and offline a few times as well, which has always been a pleasure, so great to have you on. So we're talking about sales and marketing, it's something that we're both involved in. Two marketing people talking about sales, what could possibly go wrong?
Darryl: I always find that hilarious. Right? I always tell people, "I'm a marketer, but I'm talking about sales." And I'm like, why do people even take me credibly? I don't understand it. But, in fairness to me, I have been a salesperson before. I have carried a bag. I've even held the title of VP of Sales. But I much prefer marketing. Just between you and I.
Matt: Yeah. And my background as well, when I had my own agency, I was involved in sales there. So I do have some experience similar to you. We have a very similar background in that regard as well. Let's just briefly-
Darryl: So you're good looking too? Is that what I'm hearing you saying?
Matt: Phenomenally. Yeah. Phenomenally. That's why this is an audio only podcast, so that you can tell.
Darryl: All right. I'll shut up now so you can actually get some focus on the show. Go ahead.
Matt: So one of the things I thought when we were putting together ideas for the show was around the concept of sales and marketing alignment. I don't know about you, but I'm not particularly comfortable with that phrase, alignment, because for me, that sort of, it sounds a bit like there are two parties, two warring fractions, and they need to be forced to sort of combine with each other so that they both think the same way. And I'm not entirely convinced that's the right way to think about it. My personal preference would be collaboration. What about you? What's your take?
Darryl: I don't have a problem with alignment. Collaboration is, in fact I think collaboration and alignment are almost two different aspects. And I can explain that, what I mean. For me, alignment says that we both understand, respectively, you know, shall we say the sales department and the marketing department, or the sales leadership and the marketing leadership. We both understand the rules of engagement. Right? Because I'm top of funnel, sales is bottom of funnel. Right? I have a quarter by quarter to year or multi-year outlook. They have a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly outlook. I mean our views on the world, and the expectations of us individually, depending on where we're at, are vastly different, and it's so easy. I saw, literally last night, this is a perfect example. So I'm on LinkedIn, and you may or may not be familiar. There is a character called Corporate Bro. No one knows who Corporate Bro is. Right?
Matt: Yeah, yeah.
Darryl: Although I have my suspicions, and Corporate Bro posts something along the lines of, and Corporate Bro, if you don't know Corporate Bro, folks, it's a cheeky parody of sorts, of sales people. And Corporate Bro makes a comment along the lines of, "I have to go back and hammer out another thousand cold calls while marketing sits around debating the color of what lanyard, the lanyard should be at the next trade show."
Matt: I like it.
Darryl: And of course, the marketer in me gets indignant right away. And my response was, "You guys cold-call? I thought you were all just busy spamming everybody with templated emails, looking for 15 minutes on their calendar." But that was me. And right there I think you have the perfect aspect of, you know, sales has this stereotype of what marketing does, like picking out colors for lanyards. And marketing has the stereotype of what sales does. They never pick up the fricking phone. I don't know what they do. Right?
Darryl: And so to me, alignment is all around rules of engagement. What do I do, and what do I expect of you? What are you doing? What do you expect of me? What are our shared performance metrics? What are our sales level agreements, our service level agreements? Sorry, our service level agreement between the two teams? Let's get aligned around that, so then we can do what we need to do, respectively.
Darryl: Collaboration to me says, "Hey, how are we going to tackle this together?" Maybe it's a trade show. What do you need from marketing? What is sales going to do? Or maybe we need a topic. Or maybe we need to go after the competition. We need a one up, let's collaborate, and let's take that hill. That's kind of how I would differentiate the two.
Matt: Yeah. I think that's fair. I think my resistance to it is more that it sees the two functions as very separate, and they need to be brought together.
Darryl: They do.
Matt: And that may be because of the nature of the debate around it. And I think that's absolutely true, I agree with you, they definitely do. But I think when you're in there day-to-day, the closer those two teams work, and if that then fosters a culture of collaboration, which almost supersedes the idea for this constant process of let's make sure we're all in the same direction and check in, it should be de facto understood that that's exactly what we do day-to-day. It's then about collaborating to make it work for both parties.
Darryl: I agree with you. And I'll give you even an example. So I view both parties as really we are colleagues, we are teammates. We are, I'm using more military metaphors. We're in that foxhole together, side by side, we have each other's back. And we're trying to earn revenue. It's as simple as that. You have, one's a sniper, and one's in another role. Whatever you want to call it. My point being is that we have unique sets of skills that, when combined, allows us to generate revenue. And that's how I view it.
Darryl: What I find funny, and I've had this conversation on more than one occasion. And, by the way, this goes both ways. I had a salesperson recently say, “Yeah, but Darryl, marketing isn't, they're not compensated to really get the sale. You could go and do your show, and make your leads, and if nothing happens, nothing happens.” And it's a lot of these falsehoods that are held by both sides, because there are fine people on both sides. Who am I parroting?
Darryl: And like I said to them, I said, "Really? Do understand, at least at my level, I've got a large portion of my compensation tied to how much money this company makes, and that's falling on you. And I can't speak on the phone for you, or draft your emails for you. So I'm 100% relying that you're not going to screw up the leads I give you. So I'm motivated, dude. I'm motivated." And you can see their eyes get this big. And that's the thing. Both teams are, in fact, motivated, compensated, incented, held accountable to generating revenue.
Matt: Yeah. I think you've used a, you've used a military analogy. I'm always disappointed on our podcast if we don't include at least one sports analogy, so I'm going to include-
Darryl: I'm going to get to the sports. Go for it. Yes.
Matt: I'll beat you to it, because I've got one ready to go here. So, from my perspective, I think that marketing ... If you take professional cycling, Tour De France, that type of thing, these big, big pelotons of cyclists going many, many miles an hour, or kilometers an hour, down these roads, all of the teams have a support vehicle. And in that support vehicle, they have people who are giving them maybe the necessary things that they need. Maybe it's hydration, maybe it's some nutrition, whatever it might be. But it could also be insights, it could also be reading the road ahead of them, giving them team advice. And I see marketing a little bit like that support vehicle, working alongside sales, to help them get where they need to get to, but providing them with some extra resources to make them better at what they do. How's that for a sports' analogy?
Darryl: I love it. I love that sports' analogy. Although I was disappointed, because I was expecting you, with your fine accent, to give me a football analogy, and I don't mean American football, I mean what the rest of the world knows as football.
Matt: And that's the reason why I didn't.
Darryl: But well done because you recognized me and said, “Darryl probably doesn't know a damn thing about it.” So you went to cycling, well done, know your audience, there's a marketer right there.
Matt: Thank you very much. Thank you very much.
Darryl: All right, so let me ask you this, so what do you see, whether we call it alignment or collaboration, what do you see happen on a regular basis that is causing a lack of alignment or a lack of collaboration?
Matt: For me I think where I'm at at Refract, we are ourselves a led organization, and I've come into Refract knowing that from the outset. But I think in other businesses, what's probably going on is that marketing historically has done those things that have led to that parody that you talked about a moment ago about what color should we put on here? Or what should we do there? My approach is I'm more of a direct response marketer. I like to put material out there, I like to see what comes back, I like to look at the data, iterate and improve, and be able to demonstrate impact of the work that I've done. So I think some of that alignment historically hasn't been there, because the types of activity that those two departments are involved in is actually quite different, and doesn't necessarily have that commonality where the hungry sales person wants the leads, the hungry marketer wants to give them the leads. So I think that's one of the reasons, it's because historically the activity has been quite separate.
Darryl: I have a theory I want to bounce off you.
Matt: Fire away.
Darryl: I am a firm believer that a Sales Rep needs to spend a period of time, let's call it a month, three months, no more than three months, but let's say a month, in the marketing team. And that the marketing people need to spend a similar amount of time in the sales role. I'm a firm believer that if we were to have this role swapping, that the two teams would be far more aligned, and a lot of the stereotypes and misunderstandings that exist today would disappear. What are your thoughts on that?
Matt: Yeah, I think it's something that I see at Refract, because I share an office with the sales team. We're constantly conversing, they're constantly giving me feedback on some of the material that we're putting out, I'm constantly hearing what they're doing. That conversation happens all the time, so rather than it be a discrete event like you're suggesting, it's something that just happens by osmosis almost. We're in the same room, that's constantly happening.
Matt: But I think as well it's also about my willingness to embrace sales, and understand the process, the methods, the technology around sales. And I think equally there's a part of the business that the sales team in particular are keen to find out more about how I work and the work that I do. So I think it happens naturally, but I could imagine in larger organizations, if they were to spend that dedicated time, I think a lot of good things would happen, definitely. How does it work at VanillaSoft?
Darryl: So we don't do this at VanillaSoft, I mean we, just because I bring it up doesn't mean I'm doing it, just so we're clear on this. But how it does work is my counterpart in sales, so his name is Scott Amerson, and he's in a different geography than I am, but through the powers of the telephone and the wonderful capabilities of Slack, the messaging platform, we talk a gazillion times a day. And what's interesting about Scott and I is that we literally did have that rules of engagement discussion when I came on. Because I've learned over time that if I don't do that it blows up in my face.
Darryl: So for us, we sat down and we went through just some basic stuff, right? So we kind of said, and I said, “Okay Scott, just so I'm clear on this, I'm going to give you leads, right? Marketing qualify leads.” "Yup." “Okay, great. How do you define a lead my good friend?” “Well that's a good question. Well what do you mean?” “Am I talking revenue? We're talking employees size? We're talking industry? Talking what? Like what? How do you define a lead?” So we had that conversation. Then I went on and I said “Okay, so whose our target persona?” And it was, they'd never had that conversation. That conversation alone became like three hours-
Darryl: Around the whole executive team, right?
Darryl: Just because what we learned by doing that, was how we all thought, and we all agreed at the surface level, that we knew what our target persona was. You know I was the Head of Sales, we'll go with that, it's the Head of Sales, start with that. That persona there, great, what does that mean? And all of a sudden, are they 20? 30? 40? 50? 60? What's their background? What products do they read? Do they read? Are they on social media or not on social media? Do they go to events? Do they not go to events? You know, yada, yada, yada. And all of a sudden we realized when we drilled down on this persona, we were all light years apart.
Darryl: So it was all said and done everybody was like, “Damn, that was a really good conversation.” So some basics, and then it got a little more tactical. “Okay, Scott if I generate a now, we have a consensus on the lead definition, if I give you a lead, a marketing qualified lead, in what timeframe do you commit you will follow up with that lead?” And next, “How many touches do you commit you will do before you finally say I give up?” Just those two little things, you know? What's the speed to lead, and what's the cadence?
Darryl: And getting that down pat, just those little basic rules, what's a lead, who's the target persona? What are our target industries if you will. And then what are the rules of engagement once a lead has been generated by the sales team themselves? Says, we now have a common understanding of expectations. Then we went a step further, we said, “Okay, what's the consequence?” And ironically we didn't come to an agreement on what the consequence was, other than we both have permission to call each other out, and there can be no offense taken because we defined the rules of engagement.
Darryl: So if I said, “Scott you need to follow-up with a lead within eight hours.” A new lead, and I can look back and say, “Okay, I spent the last, I looked at the last 30 days of data, and I see that on average we're taking 28 hours. Scott, what the hell's going on dude? You're killing me.” We all know the percentages drop like a rock. And now that's where the collaboration comes in. Okay, instead of me blaming him I just brought it to his attention, he's not offended with me. Okay, lets colaborate on what we can do together to improve this metric so that we all gain on the revenue side. So that was what worked really, really well for us. And when I don't do that, man is that just a mistake. And what's really important here in all this is none of this is done with an expectation that anybody's trying to screw anybody.
Darryl: It was just done around, “You know your rule, I know my rule, let's agree on how we're going to engage together and let's go.” And we all want the same thing and that's really, really important to understand. We all want the same thing.
Matt: Yeah, I went through a similar process when I started at Refract. I sat down with nearly all of the sales team and went though that ideal persona, and it was so, so valuable for me to be able to understand. You know I had my preconceived ideas about who would be buying Refract, who would be one of our good fit prospects, but it was only when I talked to the sales guys that I actually understood that this started to, some patterns began to emerge. And even just talking to one of the sales team I wouldn't have got that picture. It needed to be the SDR's, the BDM's, Head of Sales, it needed to be across the board for me to really understand who that persona is. Who are those personas, and how can we find them and get to them in the right way?
Matt: And one of the things actually that came out of that was we, early on we started to develop some lead magnets, going back to my background in more of a direct response. We started to put together some lead magnets, and one of the things that we, some of the assumptions that were made to begin with, were that anybody who was a good fit persona would find the lead magnet useful. But again, talking to the sales guys I recognized that actually we really are working with two distinct, different groups. We're working with people who don't listen to sales calls currently, and we're also working with people who do listen to sales calls. And just that important distinction meant that we could target those different markets with different lead magnets, different follow-up sequences, in a completely different way that's more relevant and better for those two. And that only came about through a conversation.
Darryl: So let me ask you this, so you did all this, so then once you established that alignment, that spirit of collaboration, how did you as a marketer subsequently benefit? What happened that you gleaned new intelligence? You able to achieve a win that you might not have otherwise achieved without having done that?
Matt: Yeah there's, I think there's the macro and the micro. The big picture is that I understood who we were really trying to speak to, and what we were trying to say, and the nuances of that. But on a micro level, it was also about improving things like the click through rates, the conversion rates, some of our acquisitions, some of our paid acquisition costs would come down, we would have better fit prospects. And all of that went into a snowball effect of me producing better content. So it was both big picture and small picture. I got so much value, and get so much value from being involved in that.
Matt: And in a way, one of the reasons for setting up this episode was to advocate on behalf of marketing to the people who listen, who are sales people, sales leaders, was to say to them, "Look you have insights, you have deep, deep insights that you probably work on, on a completely subconscious, unconscious basis when you're working with prospects." That data, that information has a huge value to a marketer like me. Not just big picture, but even down to the type of cover we might have on a lead magnet. Does that speak to that person? Does it speak to their aspirations? Right the way through from big picture to small picture it's hugely valuable and I can't do it unless, I can only do it when I'm listening to calls, listening, using Refract, listening to some of the calls our guys make, having conversations with them, and making it a conversation as opposed to something that's done and then put on a shelf.
Darryl: So I've heard, to your point, I've done a lot of the similar things, and for me what I find interesting is that every Sales Rep, you can give them a script, you can train them, but they are going to personalize the value prompt, the messaging, blog, the instruction handling, all that usual stuff. And what's interesting about that is often when you eavesdrop, or you listen to the recordings, you hear them express things, or use a metaphor, an analogy, that you yourself hadn't thought of. And you go, "Oh my goodness, that is frickin brilliant. Why didn't I think of that? That is gold." And then I turn around, and I use it in all my outbound messaging, etcetera, as just one more way to convey our value prop and hook the lead. And I wouldn't have benefited from that without that spirit of cooperation.
Darryl: And it goes both ways, you know? I've had it before where I've had sales people staff events, and I've listened to them engage and then I've gone over to my sales leadership colleague, and I've said, "I listened to Suzy, and Suzy was asked a pretty straightforward question." And Suzy went "Whomp, whomp, whomp, whomp, I don't know what I'm talking about, whomp, whomp, whomp." And I said, "I just spent 30, 40 thousand dollars on this show, and respectfully I never want Suzy in my booth again." And I like Suzy, I just don't want her in my booth.
Darryl: And what I love about, when you have alignment is that your colleague will listen to that and instead of getting offended and defend their teammate, they'll go, “Yup, I get it. No problem. Dealt with.” And when you have that spirit of cooperation because you're both so singularly focused on the same thing, the organization just goes bonkers on achieving its goal. But now let me ask you this, in your opinion, is it incumbent upon the Head of Sales, and the Head of Marketing to initiate this alignment, and this spirit of cooperation? Or does it start even further up? So for example typically a CEO, a Managing Director? Or maybe, oh yeah lets start with that, and then afterwards I want to talk to you about what your thoughts are on the role of a Chief Revenue Officer. But lets, so what do you think? Is that incumbent upon the two leaders to do that? Or is it incumbent upon the actual, their shared mutual boss?
Matt: I've always, this sounds like a get out, and I will answer the question, but I'm always cautious about trying to develop a universal theory of everything. There are lots of nuance to the question that I want to preface my answer with. So one would be the size of the organization and the maturity of the organization. So at Refract we're quite a young start up, ambitious, similar values across the team, known people for a long time, people have worked together for a long time, I sit next to our Head of Sales, it's a constant, it echos everything I've said. If you came into the office today everything I've said would be on display for everybody to see, that collaboration, that working together is there.
Matt: Now for a bigger organization, for a more mature organization, a more corporate organization, it may be completely different, and I do think that there is an element of setting the tone, the senior leadership need to set the tone. And they need to set the tone with some specific ways in which the two teams can work together. I agree, I think there are lots of places where there will be discussions about what's an MQL, MQL handover, what's an SQL, what's the SQL handover process look like? I think, from my perspective, I'm always keen to see the culture, the senior management set the culture, set the tone, and not necessarily for it to be, to have an undercurrent of blame, which I think some of those MQ or SQL hand over conversations can have.
Darryl: It's all about blame, yeah.
Matt: Exactly. And it's rife, and I think what it needs to be is there needs to be genuine pockets of collaboration which they themselves have clearly defined outcomes associated with. That then set the tone, and set a precedent for other people to follow. So one or two examples maybe where sales and marketing have worked together on smaller projects, but they have born a lot of fruit. I think things like that set a tone, and set an expectation amongst the rest of the team, but ultimately senior leadership needs to take responsibility. So what about you? What are your thoughts?
Darryl: I believe it's incumbent upon the two individual leaders to proactively work together. I believe it's going to be far more successful if it's either initiate ... Well let me rephrase that. I believe it's going to be more successful if it's sponsored, encouraged, supported by the leadership. Where I don't think it's going to work as well, but it's still necessary, is that leadership, in this case the CEO in my example, if they start it. If they say, "You two folks, Head of Sales, Head of Marketing, you need to get together and sing kumbaya, and make sure you have an understanding, and I'm going to hold you accountable to that." It's tough, yes that has to happen, that has to happen, but I genuinely think the leaders of sales and the leader of marketing should be the one proactively initiating that. It should not, if it requires the CEO to jump in and say, "You guys haven't done this yet, you need to do it." Then to me there's some symptoms going on there, you may not have the right leadership in one or both of those departments.
Matt: And that's where I think there needs to be some diagnosis of the reasons why that's happened.
Matt: As opposed to saying, “Right, come on guys, we need to really do this.” It's actually to spend the time and energy on the diagnosis as to why that's happened in the first place. I think that's probably going to be far more revealing than just standing in the ivory tower saying, “Come on lets really knuckle down and do this, and let's make this happen.” I think for me it's about the deep reflection, deep diagnosis on some of the reasons why it hasn't happened.
Darryl: Now, I'll speak up on behalf of markers out there, specifically. This is a legacy thing, many people just don't understand what marketing does. We understand sales, sales ... I may not be a sales person, but I understand sales. Sales makes the money that keeps this company's doors open. God bless sales. I get what you do. You may not do it well, but I get what you do, and I'm going to keep you even though your kind of eh-eh in your results because if you were not here I'd have no results, therefor I get sales.
Darryl: But marketing, you know, you do trade shows and press releases. Do press releases work anymore? And social selling, come on guys does that generate anything? I don't know, there's a lot of airy fairy stuff going on there. And I guess I'm being tongue in cheek, but a lot of people think this way, they don't understand marketing. So when you've got a leadership, again a managing director or CEO, whatever you want to call it, who doesn't understand the role of marketing, because they've never had to do it. Often CEOs have come through the ranks of either finance or sales, traditional tracks. It's not often it comes from marketing. So they just don't get it.
Darryl: This is why it's so important for the Head or Marketing, if nobody else is doing it or stepping up, you need to be the one to step up and say, "We need to get together and understand our roles and our responsibilities, and how we are going to achieve this, and how we are going to be held responsible, and held accountable." Because your the odd man out. If they don't know what you do, you're going to get your budget cut, your staff cut, or they'll just replace you because they don't know. But if you take the initiative to say, "I get it's all about revenue, how can we do this?" Then all of a sudden the role of marketing and what you do becomes far more accountable, and respectable, and valuable. And again, your winning, sure, but the company is winning because marketing is critical to fill in the funnel for sales.
Matt: I also think as well, you've got, with marketing, marketing is such an incredibly broad church, there's so much that could go into it. Print, advertising, versus SEO, search engine optimization, it's such a broad church, and I think the way you and I both come from an agency background. And my approach when I was working with clients was always to, it was almost to be tactic agnostic. Which to say, "We're not going to go down a particular route first, explain to me what it is you need in detail. Is that a lead? Is it a sale? Is it an E-comm sale? What is it you're looking for?" And then use that as the outcome, and then use a bag of tricks, a pool, or resources to try and make that happen.
Matt: And I think that there's definitely, where I am at Refract, there's definitely a culture of that, which is, "We want marketing qualified leads, we want them to fit this broad, these broad parameters. Now go make that happen. But keep us in the loop, and let us know, and educate us on how your doing that." And I think that's probably what's missing a little bit, is more of a focus on if you have a particular background, you're strong in events, you're strong in print, you're strong in PR, that that then, if you are a part of the marketing leadership, that then becomes what marketing does. So I think its about understanding that marketing as a whole is a huge area, and that there will be technical specialists in all of those areas. But the focus should always be, what's our outcome, and what methods are we going to use to achieve that outcome?
Darryl: I love everything you're saying. And that's the way I always, when I work with my colleagues, I always say, “Let's not focus on tactic, what's the outcome we want?” You tell me what you want as an outcome. It could be awareness, it could be leads, it could be something else, it could be a combination, I don't care, just tell me what the hell the outcome is. And then let me move the pieces that I have available on the board to me, to make that happen. Because that's why you hired me. And I've worked at companies where the CEO, or the Head of Sales, were powerful personalities and they had control issues, and they would say yes and they could never do it, they had to micromanage. And those companies failed.
Darryl: I've been blessed here at VanillaSoft where everybody on the team goes, "Okay." And that's like, be careful what you ask for because if you said, "Let me do what I do, because this is why you hired me." And then you don't deliver, and it might not even be your fault, but you didn't deliver, you're not in a good position. So, but I love that, and if I could tell anybody whose in a marketing role, or even a sales role, the same thing applies here, when you're looking for that next job that you're going to take, a big part of that is what autonomy do I have? It's like, measure me on outcomes, and then incentivize me on outcomes, financially or otherwise, and let me worry about the little things and you go do something else because we don't need two of us micromanaging sales, or two of us micromanaging marketing. You should be doing something else while I do this. And when I've had that culture, wonderful things happen.
Darryl: I mean there's a funny story, when I came here at VanillaSoft, and after the first month or so I had my bearings. "Okay, I get what we do." I thought I knew but now I really know. I went to my CEO and I said, "Okay, so I got a plan. I've been here a month, I've got a plan now. Other than the 100 day plan I told you I was going to do in the interview, I've got a real plan." And he's like, "Okay." And I'm like, "Okay, but it requires some ground rules." So this was with my CEO and not with my Head of Sales, but it's the same thing guys, alignment and collaboration is okay.
Darryl: I said, "First things first, there's two speakers for this company." He's like, "Okay, who are they?" And I said, "Its you and it's me. No one else. No ones allowed to talk, or open their mouth, or say anything." "Okay, got it." I said, "Rule number two, we have roles." He's like, "What's my role?" And I said, "You're the good cop." And he goes, "And you are?" "I'm the bad cop." And he goes, "I like it. I like being the good cop, but what does the good cop do when you're a bad cop?" I said, "You clean up after me. I'm going to make a mess. And you clean up." And he's like, "I can do that." So I said, "Fantastic. And rule number three, for me to do what I need to do to move those pieces on the board, we need to promote me more. Historically the social media here at VanillaSoft was on the corporate channels and I said, but people buy from people."
Darryl: So I said, "We need to promote Darryl more because I am one of those two spokespeople." Or Darryl and David because he's the other spokesperson. I said, "So there's more of a face to the company not just this unknown, anonymous vendor.” And he's like, "You need to invest in you?" And I'm like, he goes, “I'm already paying you, now you want me to invest more in promoting you? So then you'll get poached and I'll be starting all over again.” I said, “Yes. But I promise not to get poached right away, so we're all good.”
Darryl: But once you have those rules, so here we are with my CEO, he let me move the pieces on the board you know? And it's amazing what happens, everybody wins. And what I would do is, when I was doing stuff they hadn't seen before, I would explain it with them, because this is in my own selfish interests. "Okay guys, just so you know, so this is the outcome we want. These are the pieces I'm moving, and this is what I expect to happen." And they'd be like, "Oh, well that makes sense." So you do that a few times and then you know it settles in with the revenue team between sales and marketing, it's a wonderful thing, trust takes place.
Matt: Yeah, for sure. And also as well I find that you get, you have as a marketer, now this is a sales podcast, and we're going to get on to some specific tactics in a second, particularly around LinkedIn. But I think it gives me as a marketer the creative freedom to try new things, to try out new approaches when that trust is there, and to take some risks. And sometimes those risks might pay off, sometimes they might not, but ultimately it's a lot more freeing, and certainly a lot more creative freedom to try the things that I'd like to try. So yeah, I agree I think it's super important.
Darryl: The funny part with that is even in the communications side because again, communication is really, really important to sustain that alignment. So even when I'm experimenting, where it might not pay off to your point, and I've done that many times, I'm straightforward about it. So I'll give you a simple example, we sell those sales engagement solutions, so historically our audience has been sales folks.
Darryl: Early into my career here, I had a bit of an epiphany, which most people would say I was slow having it, but my epiphany was like, it's great we're talking to the sales people, we shouldn't stop that. But you know what, nine times out of 10 sales doesn't own the actual tech stack, that's owned by marketing. Marketing's got the budget that pays for all that tech stack, not sales in nine times out of 10. So why am I going to all these sales trade shows and events, and conferences, but no marketing conferences?
Darryl: So I went to my leadership team and I said, "Here's my theory, I want to go drop 30 thousand dollars and try this marketing show out." And they all, God bless them again, because that trust had been built, they said, "Okay, lets drop 30K on a one time thing and let's go see what happens." Turned out, best decision ever. We do way more marketing shows now than we do sales shows, because it was exactly what we thought. The marketers had the stack, the marketers had the budget, the marketers were the ones actively looking for solutions to the problems. And often being sponsored by the sales guys, and sales women saying, "Yo marketing can you find us a solution to fix this problem?" So for us, that was an example of experimenting by communicating what I was doing, explaining there's going to be a risk, this might be a bust, I might lose us money, but at least we'll be a little smarter afterwards, and we won't do it a second time.
Matt: Yeah, that's a brilliant example and I'm gonna share one as well, and with one eye very much on the fact that we've got sales professionals listening to the show. I wanted to share an example of how sales and marketing, a refractive work particularly well using LinkedIn. I think LinkedIn, to your point around that personal brand, I think has never been as important as now on LinkedIn. I think it is so phenomenally important for sales professionals to be on LinkedIn, to have a presence, and to be their face of the company, I think it's never been more important.
Matt: But let me just share an example of a time when it's worked well for us, that collaboration, or that alignment. We put out a video just over a month ago, our CEO his 10 year old son told him that he wanted to come in and have a go at cold calling. So we jumped on this opportunity, and in one of the school holidays he came in and he did some cold calling. We gave him some coaching, I as the marketing person was there filming, and editing everything down. But we had him come in and he was practicing his cold calls. So imagine the scene of this 10 year old kid calling up these prospects, calling up these companies, and having these sales conversation with them. Now as you can imagine that got traction, we had over 100 thousand views organically on LinkedIn, and we had 50 thousand paid view on LinkedIn as well. So we got a huge amount of traction.
Matt: So the traditional marketing approach is to say, "We put it out there, didn't we do a great job? Look at all this attention, look at all of these eyeballs." But our approach at Refract was for then the sales team to go in to all of the comments on those videos and respond to those comments individually. No real science behind it, just if you're free and you, at one point we were getting comments literally coming in by the second, just jump on LinkedIn, post a comment, a thoughtful, valuable comment, thanking somebody for their input, whatever it might be, and start to generate that relationship. And we got huge engagement and sharing off the back of that, and we generated deals.
Matt: But it was about those reps taking that piece of content that I had created and seeded, and then they had amplified it with their own techniques, and their own approaches. But in doing so, back to your point, had developed a community, and a following around them, as a representative of Refract, and that worked incredibly well for us. The difficulty is, how do you engineer a viral hit? It's very difficult to do it, we're working on a few ideas. But that approach, that alignment worked phenomenally well for us.
Darryl: Total sidebar, I love your example. If you figure out how to intentionally generate a viral hit, you will share that with me, right? Just so we're clear on this?
Matt: Well I've got two ideas, we're working on two ideas at the moment that I bet one of them is going to be a hit. But I'll absolutely, I'll let you know how to do it, for sure.
Darryl: And you know the funny part of that is for example, the other day we had, at a webinar we did, a big debate with Keenan. I don't know if you know Keenan.
Matt: I do, yup.
Darryl: But Keenan is, in the case of gap selling he's quite the influencer, and Keenan has a reputation for being colorful with his language, let's go with that. So I got him on this debate, and I was going to hint him around his language, talk about generating a viral aspect. And we got him two months in advance to this date, and hooked it all up, and worked around his schedule, and all I said to my crew was, "This is going to huge. We got Keenan, I'm going to call him out. People know I'm not afraid to debate people, so they know my reputation, they know his reputation, this is going to be epic." And it was a good show, but it was just kind of like a blip in the night. You cannot predict what's going to be viral and what's not going to be viral. But hey, if you haven't watched it guys and gals, go watch it, it's a great show.
Darryl: Anyway that was my story. Unable to manufacturers a viral video. Your video you guys did was fricking awesome. I was, I will fully admit to being a little bitter, and a little jealous that you had that, and I didn't. So a very full hat's off.
Matt: You wait till you see the next one we've got coming up, I'm really excited. But again, like you who knows, it might just be a blip in the ocean no one ever hears about it. But to bring it full circle, back to the listener, some money in sales, all of that goes into me getting the feedback from the sales guys as to what's working and what's not working, so that we can create more content like that. And one of the things that I did, that I tested, because I'm always testing. That's the other thing as a marketer, I'm always testing. Whether it's ad copy, whether it's method, whatever it might be, I'm always testing. And one of the things that I was doing off the back of that video in particular, was reaching out to people who had liked that content.
Matt: So not people who'd commented, I'd done a little bit of that, but that was the sales guys were on that. What I decided to do was lets take the list of whatever it was, 15 hundred, nearly two thousand people who liked the video, and let's find within them some interesting people, possibly prospects, possibly good fit prospects, and what about reaching out to them? And not reaching out to them necessarily with "Hi, saw you liked the video, would you like to buy Refract?" I'm being glib, but you get the idea. That kind of old school pushy approach. But actually say to them, "I'm pleased you found the video enjoyable, by the way did you know we also have a podcast? We also have this piece of content."
Matt: So I shared two pieces of content and that itself allowed me to grow, I probably did a 500, 600% increase in my followers on LinkedIn not by being pushy, but by playing the long game. By looking at how people were engaging with some content that I knew we had something that would compliment, and reaching out to them as well. So from a sales perspective, that's how me as a marketer, I can test out ideas in the wild, then I took that approach back to the sales team, and that's something we now do on a regular basis.
Matt: We look for people who are engaging with content, giving it a thumbs up if it's just that, that's fine, letting them know that we have other content, if that resonated we have other content. And that for me is what collaboration is all about, me trying out ideas in the wild, seeing what works, creating a bit of a lab, and then sending to the sales guys these ideas for them to run with. So for me, that's what collaboration's all about.
Darryl: And the beauty of what you just described, falling upon those likes and offering additional value, is something that somebody in sales, or somebody in marketing, or both, collaborating on your divide and conquer strategy can do. And-
Darryl: It opens up great chances to have additional conversations with the sales crew, or with the marketing group, it grows your social influence, it grows your reach, it grows your cred, and that's what it's all about. That's totally what it's all about. So I love what you're doing, we have, we started doing something similar several months ago where we would always look for content on LinkedIn that was, for lack of a better word, contentious. You know? "The dress is blue. No the dress is gold." And you have all these hundreds of comments which, "Its blue, it's gold, it's blue, it's gold, it's blue, it's gold." Whatever.
Darryl: And then so we would do a webinar, or a video, or whatever on, is the dress blue or is the dress gold? And we would go on LinkedIn and we would identify every single person who commented, and we would personally message them and say, "We saw you jumped in, you had a strong opinion on here. You may enjoy this live event we're doing between dress manufacturer A, and dress manufacturer B, where we debate the merits of blue versus gold. And if not, you don't have time for that, sign up anyway and we'll send you the on-demand recording."
Matt: Love it.
Darryl: That did it, because they already had somewhat pre-qualified themselves as having, you know-
Matt: Of course.
Darryl: They'd taken sides, which I love. Once you've taken a side, then as a marketer, or a sales person, you can leverage that to build upon their emotion.
Matt: And somebody clicking the like button, I know it's now different because they have added reactions in the last couple of days.
Darryl: They clap, they can love, but yes.
Matt: They can do all these reactions, but in the good old days a like, a comment could be positive or negative. A like is a lot easier to differentiate. But yeah, I think that's absolutely it. It's about creating those novel approaches, finding out what the outcome is, and then working back from that. So yeah, phenomenal. So just one eye on the time Darryl, any other thoughts or, in terms of insights, how could somebody working in sales take what we've been rambling on about for the last 40 minutes and implement it? Somebody in sales particularly. What advice would you give somebody in sales who wants to improve what they, their results by working with marketing? Any thoughts or ideas for them?
Darryl: So this is what I do on a regular basis with my team here, and they seem to value it immensely. And I've heard a lot of comments back like, "I've never had this experience before with a CMO." Which I shake my head at. So here's my story. If you're in sales I would be on a first name basis with the key colleagues in your marketing team, including your Head of Marketing. Do not let a title intimidate you, all right? They're just like you, I've got news for you. And ask them any question you want.
Darryl: I bet you I get pinged a dozen times a day with my sales guys, saying "Hey, I see you're connected to John Doe, can I reference your name when I reach out?" Sure. Or, "Yeah I'm connected, but I don't know who John Doe is, whatever." So we have those conversations. Or, "Hey, can you do an intro for me?" Or, "Hey do you have a piece of content?" Or, "Hey I got this objection, how do I respond?" Or, "Hey they want to know if we have any content that does this or that." You know? Again, don't wait for marketing to initiate the conversation, the one who is proactive and asks for stuff will do a couple things.
Darryl: A, they'll get the attention of marketing because marketing just wants to help you, believe it or not, we genuinely do. B, you will become the inspiration so then we'll make stuff, and whatever we're making we have lots to make, if you're asking me for it, chances are I'm probably going to make that first because I know there's a need for it. And then C, you can influence how marketing spends their money.
Darryl: So, it sounds stupid, but if you have a certain patch, or a certain product that you're advocating for because that's what your job is, but you getting in front of my face non stop about that product, chances are I'm going to maybe do more shows, or do more adware spend, or do whatever to get more leads because I just want to shut you up. So engage your marketing team, their actually wired to help you be successful because if you have success, this is the part that you guys forget. If you ask me for something, and I do it for you, and that results in more sales, guess what I get to say? I get to say marketing drove that revenue, and that's what gets me up every single morning, how can I help my company drive more revenue?
Matt: I love it, I love it, and I absolutely endorse that. And for my side my take on that is, sales person, sales leader listening to this, you have within you, huge untapped resource around understanding pain points, demographics, frustrations, lots, and lots of data, lots of information around your prospects, share that with marketing. And one approach I would advocate you try is put yourself in the position of your ideal prospects.
Matt: You're waking up in the middle of the night, you go on to Amazon, you're trying to find a book, you're trying to find something that is going to alleviate this concern, this stress, whatever it might be. What would that book look like? What would that book contain? If you start to jot down those ideas, pass that to a marketing person who is sympathetic to your cause, get them to work that up into a lead magnet and test that, and I guarantee you will see positive results.
Matt: But it has to come from the idea that you have insights into those pain points and what keeps that person up at night. Put together some of those ideas, send it to marketing, get them to create a lead magnet, test it in the wild, and I guarantee you'll see big improvements in the quality, and number of MQLs that you start to get through. So that's my take on it as well.
Darryl: Brilliant. What you said.
Matt: So just as we wrap up, Darryl how can people find out more about you guys? We didn't start the episode with a big long intro about you and your products, so maybe now is the opportunity. If they've lasted to 50 minutes, maybe now is a good chance to introduce VanillaSoft and what you guys do. How can people find out about you, your work, and what vanillaSoft does?
Darryl: If you're still here after 50 minutes, I want to tell you that you should be busy selling guys. Just get on ... Why are you listening to me? I'm Darryl Praill, I'm the Chief Marketing Officer with VanillaSoft. VanillaSoft is the industries longest standing, most successful sales engagement platform. We help you make more contact attempts via phone, email, social media, whatever, than anybody else in the planet. So if you want more revenue, come check me out. I am available on LinkedIn, Darryl Praill, do a search you'll find me. You can always find any of my posts #prailltale, P-R-A-I-L-L-T-A-L-E. Or find me on Twitter with a rather unique handle called OpinionHated, with a capital O, capital H. So that's me.
Matt: Fantastic. And I never in these podcasts talk about Refract, or talk about my work too much at Refract, but if you have a team of sales leaders or sales professionals, and you want to have better sales conversations in seconds, then go to refract.ai and find out more about how we can help you improve those sales conversations, those quality of sales conversations, using artificial intelligence. It's like having a virtual sales coach sitting in on every single sales call, surfacing insights, and then sharing them with you on a silver platter for you to implement. So give Refract a try, refract.ai is the URL, have a look at that. And thank you very much for your time Darryl, it's been great chatting with you, really enjoyed it, and hopefully we'll speak again soon.
Darryl: I look forward to it. In the meantime happy selling folks, we'll talk to you soon.
Matt: See you, bye.