Episode #001 - Ambiguity in Lead Generation

Transcription of Episode

Chris: All right. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Intent Topics, the weekly podcast for growth leaders to come and gain actionable sales and marketing insights. My name is Chris Battis, and today I'm here with Union Resolute's mad scientists Logan Kelly.

Chris: Hey Logan, how are you doing today?

Logan: Hey, great. Thanks for having me Chris.

Chris: Oh, nice. Nice. I'm fired up today. Listen, I want to chat with you about a blog post you recently published about the evolution of B2B marketing, lead gen in prospecting. And you were chatting about how it's more ambiguous than ever. Talk to me about that.

Logan: Yes. So, so what we have is at this point companies have put out so much content, and it's so easy for prospects to sort of self serve to answer their questions and to solve their problems.

Chris: Right.

Logan: But ultimately where everything ends is a prospect engaging a little bit more deeply with the actual company in most cases.

Chris: Okay.

Logan: So really the challenge here is answering the question of "What is a lead?" And that's kind of where we're getting that ambiguity.

Chris: Okay. Okay. So how are people adapting to this shift?

Logan: Well, I think the real answers they haven't, right? So still to this day we've got people who download an ebook and are getting us a phone call from a salesperson or, more likely, the sales teams have kind of self selected that they don't want to respond to inbound internet leads. We're seeing that as a bigger and bigger problem, you know?

Chris: Okay.

Logan: And so what's happened is a lot of what is "a lead" are being skipped over or missed or not handled correctly. Even though they're not something that the sales teams should be handling, it's certainly something that the company should be paying more attention to.

Chris: So you're saying it's kind of like the marketing team's feeling like it's a qualified lead, and the sales team goes to work it and they don't think it's far enough along because it's simply a form submission, right?

Logan: Yeah. Yeah. And I think I've been on both sides of the coin, like at the same exact time, sales and [crosstalk 00:02:31]

Chris: Right.

Logan: And so I don't want to to stoke the sales versus marketing fire whatsoever.

Chris: Sure. Of course not.

Logan: What I'm saying here is you have people coming into the sort of funnel of a company, and that would be what we would typically call an MQL. Right?

Chris: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Correct.

Logan: Think about this. The last time you were trying to get some information, researching something, you probably went and downloaded an ebook.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah, actually-

Logan: Yeah? Go ahead.

Chris: I actually did last night for the first time in a long while I went through the whole form, email, even phone number.

Logan: Yeah?

Chris: Right? And I was like, "This sucks." What's that?

Logan: Did you put the right phone number in?

Chris: I did not.

Logan: Yeah. So this is what I'm saying is there's so much self service going on, which is great. The inbound revolution created this.

Chris: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Sure.

Logan: And I think that that's really where as companies and as marketing teams and as sales teams, we have to adjust to this, that the leads that are coming in in the inbound are not necessarily SQLs, which is fine. But we need to stop treating them like that.

Chris: Yeah. I remember my early career, I was always doing entrepreneurial stuff and I was always, whatever venture I was in everyone was like, "Oh, Chris, you're the sales guy, right? You're outgoing. You don't mind talking to people. You do the sales, right?" And it was terrifying for me, right? But I was doing all the sales. I'm trying to do all this outreach and stuff, and I discovered inbound marketing. I'm like, "This is great. I don't have to talk to people. I can just get people to fill out forms." Right? And that didn't work. Right? I mean, I got leads, but we weren't selling more. And then I ended up having to adjust.

Chris: But I definitely empathize for that revolution in how there's this notion that they just kind of come in and you fill out a form and that's a qualified lead and, next thing you know, you have revenue, right? It kind of didn't work out that way.

Logan: Right, right. And I feel like it is such a good answer to the question. Nobody wants to cold call. Nobody wants to quote prospect, because many of the ways that it's done right now are miserable. Right? It's not data driven. It's the same stale list that the companies had for a year. Right? They buy a list and half of it, the contact information is wrong.

Logan: So sales prospecting has just been miserable for so long that inbound is a great answer to that. It's 10 years old, inbound, mature inbound strategy. They've been out for a long time. So I think that's where we need to see a shift. And I think when we see that shift in companies, it's really delivering great results. And it's not super hard to do.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah. So I've known you for awhile, and I remember a time when you were creating a ton of content and really, really committed to the inbound kind of methodology. And I've definitely kind of seen you transition back into more of an outbound or an outreach approach to selling. Talk to me about that transition, how that's been for you.

Logan: Sure. So really what we've seen is this difference between the world we lived in in 2010, 11, and 12 and the world we live in now. So the self service world has really sort of ruined inbound in my mind in the kind of ventures that I've had.

Logan: So what I've done is sort of flipped that on its head and in the article Bain put together that fantastic sort of needs pyramid. And really at the bottom was the most objective needs. And at the top were kind of the less objective or purpose and aspirational, the squishy stuff. Right? Bottom is hard, top is squishy. And so what I've really been doing is saying, "Okay, in the process of inbound we are trying to answer questions at different stages of the buying cycle," right?

Logan: So we're providing an Ebook. We have a blog article. We have this and that. And I still believe in blog articles. I still believe in content. That's why we're here.

Logan: But the idea is, "Okay, when I'm messaging can I deliver a message, can I deliver it narrative, in that outreach that helps sort of solve or answer the questions that are being asked by the prospect right now?" And I think taking back control of that, it's been very, very powerful because we don't have to skip a beat. We can enter into a conversation. We can answer questions that are sort of elicited by what we're doing.

Logan: So that's been ... it's outreach, but it's not smile and dial. It's not spray and pray. It's very focused based on the needs of the buyers.

Chris: Yeah. So in this ... Well, so I've known you for awhile as I mentioned it, and you've been a tried and true sales salesman, for lack of a better word, for almost a decade. Right? And so how do you, while doing this outreach, manage or suppress the kind of, "I'm getting sold" alarms when you're communicating with people, right?

Logan: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. So tone really does matter here. I think there's so many things we can read about, great stuff. Jeb Blount with the sales EQ. That's one of my favorite books right now. He talks about matching the language that you're selling to, so if you're selling to a factory, you're selling it to a tech company, they've got two different sort of vocabularies, two different worlds.

Chris: Sure.

Logan: But the way that I've really managed to do this quickly, and you know, here at Union we have clients in many different industries. It's to keep it conversational, right?

Chris: Right. Totally.

Logan: We call it like the cocktail party messaging, so I'm not trying to write direct response emails and I feel like what the aspiration of people is to do is to write direct response. And I would say the the only person that direct response writing sounds good to in a sales environment is the direct response writers club.

Chris: Right. Of course.

Logan: I don't think it does anything for us, but keeping it conversational allows us to enter into a conversation with a piece of information that can start that conversation.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah. And speaking of which, on top of being conversational, you can use some of these tactics that we've been hearing about for years, but just personalization, right? And how do you kind of weave personalization into your outreach content?

Logan: Yeah. So personalization, I think, really needs to be segmented into two pieces. You have the technical personalization. So we talk about with Hubspot, it's what, a token- [crosstalk 00:09:54]

Chris: Right. First name or company, et cetera. Yeah. Yeah.

Logan: Yeah. And then you have the more ... the squishier personalization, which is a lot harder. So a token, you put in a field, you upload a CSV file, and that's always going to spit out. And people have been pretty creative with how long the personalization is, right? So you you could put a token as a paragraph, right? In some systems.

Chris: Sure. Sure.

Logan: And that's outrageous. So I think first name, that's table stakes, right? A company name? Table stakes. But really what I want to see is, is can we go get some information about that company? It's out there. It's out there on many platforms, information about a company that doesn't just look like I've done research. Because I think it's easy to say, "Oh, I see this about your company."

Logan: Let's ... you could probably save a lot of sentences of your email by truly trying to make a connection between yourself, the salesperson or if you're a sales leader we have some tools that we can provide that actually help salespeople think about what kind of research they should be doing and how they can sort of standardize the front end, the research work. So they got apply it to the work on a daily basis.

Chris: Kind of in essence, you're saying there's the real easy way to do it, which is using tokens, right? But the hard ... you've really got to put the hard work in and actually do some research and then personalize the message to the needs of the person. And there is software to help you discover what that would be. But it's not as simple as just adding a token to an email or a landing page or something. Right?

Logan: Right. Right. I think one of the big things that all this automation software has enabled people to stop doing is like, "Oh, you can probably automate that. We can automate that, and it'll make our lives easier." But when we're talking about making a connection with a person, you kind of have to think about that. And I think that's the piece that we really need to reincorporate back into our sales is-

Chris: I agree.

Logan: ... These are people we're going after, the stop automating that. A value proposition of your company is probably something we can leave in there, right? You can say the same value prop to many different people, maybe in the same industry or the same vertical. But when you're trying to make a connection to a person, it needs to be real personalization. And I think that's a big piece here.

Chris: Cool. Cool. So this is great. I guess, how would you advise someone listening to this to apply this to their work this week? You know, like right now?

Logan: Yeah. So if I was a sales leader walking in, say on a Monday morning, the first thing that I would do is really look at who has engaged with us over the last couple of weeks. Say two weeks, so most email softwares that we're using you can see opens, you can see clicks, right? So grab that list with each salesman. Have them sit down and do it, and then have them find three pieces of information that's easy, or interesting but easy to start a conversation about.

Logan: And then challenge them to say, "How would you start a conversation using this?" And if you can get into the rhythm of "I'm going to find three pieces or five pieces and really try this out and see, okay, what works and what doesn't," because it's different for every salesperson, right? We can't standardize this.

Logan: And if we really start following up with our prospects in a way that's not canned, but it seems at least well thought out ... And really, how long does this take? Two, three minutes? But we've got eight hours a day, and sales people that are working more than eight hours. So let's fill it with something that's meaningful.

Chris: What's up? Today's episode of Intent Topics. I'm Chris Battis.

Logan: And this is Logan Kelly. Thank you so much for listening today. Like us, and share us on whatever podcast app you are hearing our beautiful voices.

Logan: Also, if you want more, visit us at unionresolute.com

Logan: Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

PodcastChris Battis