Marketing and sales may intersect more than you previously thought. In fact, there are good reasons why sales should have some involvement in designing marketing for a product or service – after all, it’s the sales team that ultimately has to convince their prospects to buy, so it makes sense for sales to have some input into the marketing process.
Today’s guest is Sean Campbell, CEO of Cascade Insights, a B2B market research firm. Sean is also the host of his own podcast, called B2B Revealed. In today’s episode, Sean brings his perspective from the marketing side of things to talk about what’s going on in sales. Listen to what Sean has to say about some sales terms that you may not have heard yet, how saying “no” can actually help you sell, and why the sales team should be involved in the marketing process.
- What Sean’s research firm does and how he got into it
- New sales and marketing terminology
- Why it’s important for companies to define boundaries
- How saying “no” can help you sell
- Why sales needs to be involved in marketing
- The importance of choosing the right people for a sales research study
- How the GDPR is affecting email lists
- The reason why salespeople should send more tailored messages in narrower channels
- Why you need to have a waterfall
- How to stack good habits
Email Sean at email@example.com
Marylou: Hi everybody. It’s Marylou Tyler. This week’s guest is Sean Campbell. He’s a CEO of B2B Market Research Firm that’s focused on the tech industry. He has got some great knowledge that I think we can all benefit from coming, maybe, from the marketing side a little bit more but understanding what is going on in sales.
I wanted him to come on the podcast to talk about his theories, his passions, as it relates to top-of-funnel, especially. Some of that newer things that are coming out, some of the newer terms that really resonate with us as we start working through to figuring out how to be heard, how to be seen, how to get in front of people, he’s really focused on that.
Welcome to the podcast, Sean.
Sean: Thanks for having me.
Marylou: Tell us more about the research firm. What got you interested in it and what are you guys working on these days?
Sean: Well, I promised to keep this short. We’ve always found ourselves probably, if you listen to podcast enough to listen to seven minutes intro, I promised I won’t do that. If you want to find out more, we’re in cascadeinsights.com.
I’m the CEO. The firm’s co-owned by another guy named Scott Swigart—we’re equal owners—been running it since 2006. Really narrow front door to the firm. We just focus on working with technology companies, which we predominantly mean computer software by that. We do market research and competitive work form. We’ve been doing it for a while now.
I got into it because I like research, I like helping companies solve problems. We get hired for one of two things: either paying or opportunity. Paying in the form of a competitor that’s causing some kind of grief and opportunity, because they may be launching a new product to renew initiative into a market segment.
Boutique company of about 12 employees in Portland. We’re always interested in talking to folks that want to move to Portland, which usually is pretty easy for us, it’s an easier area to recruit firm.
I’ve been a business owner for 20 years. I had a previous company before that, that I grew and sold too. That’s basically the bio.
Marylou: Okay. We’ve talked off line a little bit about some topics that we thought might be of interest to my audience which are mostly sales professionals who are responsible for business development, typically net new logos.
You hit on a term that I was like, “Alright, I really want to know this.” What they don’t do was one term that you’ve mentioned. Marketing the invisible was another. Then, you started talking about personas. Pick either one of those and go. Tell us what you think we need to know—top-of-funnel, building pipeline for net new sales.
Sean: Yeah, sure. The interesting thing, I think, about marketing these days—this is something I talked a fair amount about in my show, B2B Revealed, that with a lot of marketing leaders and stuff too. People are living on the age of narrow. I don’t know if I coined that phrase so for those of you out there if you found the post that already has it in it, you can tell me that I didn’t. Just send me an email and say, “No, you didn’t coined it. You just hadn’t come across it yet.”
I don’t think I’ve seen it yet. Everybody has the narrowcast, nobody broadcasts anymore. Yet, companies are still broadcasting. We’ll do brand studies for tech companies and they are completely undifferentiated. They use the same colors. It’s like they hired the same graphic artist. They hired the same people that wrote the messaging which probably is true because they left from one company and went to work to the other one so they wrote the messaging the same.
The ads were all very safe. Nobody says what they don’t do—they just don’t. They never find any boundary to their area of competency and yet there must be a boundary. I see people kind of fight me back on this and say, “I don’t want to miss out on any opportunity.” I’m like, “Okay, we’ll, do you build rockets?” You know what I mean? There’s things you don’t do. There’s some limits to your firm’s capabilities, “We might do that.” Yes, and when you do that, and you can prove it, and you have testimonials, and you have all kinds of things you do to prove things, then say, “We’re going to move the fence post out a little further. Now, this is what we don’t do.”
I think there’s just a hunger for it in the marketplace. Everybody is overpitched. They’re pitched by seller emails that are on 17-step email chains, to the point that you’re like, “Oh, wow. That’s the same email chain from what I saw yesterday. Different company, though.” But it’s the same chain. They all read the same prospecting book.
Nobody seems willing to say, “What’s my boundary?” As a side note, I think that’s particularly important for services firms. There’s a reason I say that. Product firms, by definition, you’re a little bounded by your product. We also know that’s great. We have a data center applying to those—everything. Our platform—platform is always code for “just buy it from us,” it’ll do anything you want, which never really plays out but that’s what platform, sometimes it’s used for and so…
Services firms are even more fungible in a way because it’s consulting and it’s using brains as opposed to software directly. There’s this tendency for consulting firm owners in particular to say like, “Sure. We could do that. Let’s go hire some folks and grab some contractors and we’ll get it done.” I think, what I sometimes call “marketing the invisible,” which is a play off a book—very direct play so I want to pay homage to it. There’s fairly famous old book called Selling the Invisible.
When you’re marketing the invisible, your marketing professional services, I think it’s incredibly important to differentiate on what you don’t do. Just try it once, that’s what I would tell people. If you’re like, “He’s out of his mind. They must lose all kinds of opportunities.” Okay, fine, take one call and burn it. Get on the call and start the call by saying what you don’t do. I guarantee you’ll probably sell that person on whatever it is that you do because I’ve seen it over and over again.
Another way I’ve said it sometimes is you win more by saying no than yes. People, they just don’t hear it. They’re not used to it. Again, it’s a smart no. It’s not an obnoxious no. It’s not an arrogant no—it’s just a smart no. If you know when to use it, I think you’re in a really good place. That’s to me all about the age of narrow. You have to let people know what lane you’re in. At least, for that call, that opportunity.
Where I think that helps marketing is, there’s so much content out there. I’ll stop after this point. I want to chime in and ask whatever questions or direct to me however you like, but one of the other things I kind of rant about sometimes is that the content marketing intelligence. I go to these conferences over and over again they’re like, “You need better quality content.”
I’ve always said that something said solemnly and slowly doesn’t make it smart. We’ve seen these a million times. You’re in a meeting and a guy says, or a woman says, “We need to take a focus on accountability.” And you’re like, “What’s new about that?” We’ve been accountable since the middle ages. I understand. Quality doesn’t do it anymore. It’s not enough. It’s simply not enough.
Now, you have to decide, “How am I going to narrowcast that? Am I going to write the right ad and narrowcast to it for pay-per-click? Am I going to put in on the right properties at narrowcast? Am I going to even broadcast?” Sometimes, the phrase they use broadcast on Channel 800. “Am I going to broadcast on Channel 800 because I know it’s going to exactly get into my buyers.” Maybe I have another campaign on Channel 801, for the other thing I offer. But I’m not going to try do this thing where I broadcast everything on Channel 800. My brand, my logo, and my funnel looks just like everybody else.
Marylou: Right. I can totally relate to saying what you don’t do. I just launched a class myself and it’s a 12-week instructor lead i.e. me class. In the video for the classes that I’ve introduced, I said, “Basically, do not take this class unless you’re ready to commit to a 12-week-college-style course where I want you to finish it. You can’t abandon me halfway through. If you think you’re the abandoning type, don’t even bother to register. You’re not going to get value. I’m not going to get value.”
To have the courage to eliminate, which is probably the most of my market because we all know the abandonment rates of all my courses are very high. Now, I have a solid student body that’s taking this class. I know we’ll be successful because they’ll do the work.
I can totally relate to saying “no.”
Sean: I would take that one step further. I think the thing is also what does the class not do? What is this class not for? Who should not read this book? Who should not listen to this podcast?
You’re right—saying no. A funny vignette on training, you’re very smart to do that. Early in my career, one of the things I got started, full disclosure, I’m 47. I’ve been intact for awhile. I was doing technical training—teaching networking, software and database, and programming. These were five-day courses when that was kind of the thing. I remember every Monday, I do something religiously.
“How many of you read the outline before you came here? Before you flew to Denver from all around the world? How many of you read the outline?” Consistently, the early market research in me—it was like 5% of the room. Part of me as an entrepreneur is like, “I’m not flying anywhere for five days if I don’t know what I’m going to get” Who does that? I have things to do. I just sit with my kids and go take them fishing instead or write something.
I’m amazed at how many people kind of walk into the room and I’m not trying to knock listeners or anything. Ask yourself, how many times did you go somewhere just kind of because you were following everybody? This seems like a good idea and it sets up such a huge problem for both sides because by Monday afternoon you feel like you shouldn’t be there. The instructor feels like they can’t answer your questions because you shouldn’t have been there.
It’s just that degree of polarity that I think we have to kind of just shove out there. It’s on the brands and the companies to do it because they are the ones sending the messaging.
Marylou: They’re sending the messaging in business development, we’re parroting the messaging because we’re reaching out and we are basically the human billboard for the company. The words, the language, the usage, the used cases—everything—is driven by what we’re told to say to gain interest.
Sean: Let me stop you there. One of the things that I think should—there’s a talk I give sometimes called Marketing the Invisible, I just kind of brought that thing up before. I think, one of the things I say is that your messaging should come from sales.
Marylou: Yes. Amen.
Sean: How effective we’ve seen it, we’re like, if you are in your average enterprise company, they’re going to have a message meeting. Who’s going to be in the room? I know this is true because we do market research on messaging. We will come into the stakeholders and I will meet the stakeholders. We love our stakeholders—I don’t want anybody stop working with us. But I will go and meet the stakeholders. This will be some fairly big technology product. I’ll go around the room and 75% of them will be from marketing. There’ll be somebody there from market research. There’ll be somebody there from product development. There’ll be nobody there from sales.
I’m like, sales is the ultimate qualitative market research source you could find. We did a blog post of this on our website called Sales Need to Stay in Strategy. All we said in it was, we get sales has their biases. They’re always going to complain about price and they’re always going to complain about certain things—we get that. Sales never has good enough leads. I don’t care what they are. But at the end of the day, sales is having messaging conversations. That’s what they’re doing.
I’m talking about B2B more than B2C. In B2C, that’s a space I play in a bit. I could see why you want to push messaging down into the call center a little bit differently. I think there’s even a point of doing this there where you kind of take it back and you say, “Who has the best conversation? What are they saying? What are the phrases? What is the language are you using? What’s the tone?” And then say, “Does our messaging look anything like that?” I think what happens a lot of times is the messaging is vanilla, generic, or off-target, and sales has to fix it live. It’s like giving an actor a script that’s busted and broken. They have to go up on stage and kind of adlib until it’s right. I think that’s a wrong way to fly.
I do understand the risk when some marketers probably listen to saying, “Ask sales.” That seems crazy. Ask yourself. Who’s actually having the conversation that changes minds? Probably sales.
Marylou: Yeah. We did a test recently in one of my classes where we had, I’ve ran into this situation all the time so I’m feeling the pain that you’re talking about. We had marketing create, our cadence, our rhythm, our secret sauce of how we talk to clients. They put it into a touch sequence. We took a couple of the marketing generated emails. I had my students pretend they were talking to the prospect belly to belly, record in their phone, the sales conversation, get it transcribed. Then, we assembled a test email to compete against the marketing email.
Overwhelmingly, the response rates and the conversion rate of the sales generated talk track kind of buckled together versus the marketing speak, won. We had tremendous response rates compared to what marketing did.
We used their baseline. We used the sentiment. We used the pain points and the way the argument was positioned by marketing but we transcribed it into sales speak and it resonated a lot more with our target audience.
Sean: Yeah. It makes sense. In one caution that I’m sure marketers are thinking too, I’ve never seen a salesperson who avoids a run-on sentence.
One of my favorite movies is, A River Runs Through It, and my marketing manager’s nickname it half as long and if anybody’s ever seen that scene in the movie where like, he tells him to rewrite it and tell him to keep making it shorter. Then, in the end he says, “Throw it away.” It’s really comical because she’s about five feet tall. She finds it doubly funny like this is her nickname. I didn’t necessarily gave it to her. I told her about the scene and she was like, “I loved that. I like sentences that are half as long. I really love them.”
I think it’s this relationship that needs to be there. Everybody’s talked about that. I just haven’t really seen anybody brave enough usually to say sales needs the kind of drive a lot of the messaging. Then, marketing’s more in the assistant role.
Marylou: Right, when we go up market for sure – when we go up market, I just retained a new client, for example, where marketing came in on the initial call. Very feathers’ ruffled, you can feel it here and see it the voice like, “Why are you here? Why are you doing this? Why are you setting up these sequences?” This is our job. This is what we do.
It’s starts off a little rocky but then as we start working together, and this development is the perfect area for the blend and the collaboration between marketing and sales, I think.
Sean: Yeah, I would agree. That’s why I said, if you’re selling stuff out of a call center and it’s B2C, I understand if you put a 19-year-old on the phone and they’re selling—heaven forbid, although I know this happens—you put a 19-year-old on the phone and they’re selling complex cyber security solutions at an FDR rate. Okay, please give them a script. I understand that.
The belly to belly, B2B selling, is different. I know we were going to talk a little bit about this, it’s probably a good point to segue, I guess or bring me back if you don’t want to go here. But that whole point about websites kind of targeting the wrong persona, that has kind of a similar plan I think.
Marylou: That’s a big one for me because a lot of times—and this is sales’ fault. Sales’ sitting out there, this is your fault because we’re taking the marketing personas as ours. The call to action on the marketing persona is typically to gain interest. The call to action on the business development is to get the first meeting. Just by definition, we have two different persona definitions.
One is landing more towards sales. We can use marketing’s persona and we loved what they have done but we need to add on to that to create the selling canvass of what we’re trying to do which is to get that first feed and get our foot in the door and start building those relationships.
Sean: Right, exactly. I think one of the places where the skits misaligned is that—we’ll get brought in to do research and one of the normal things people will say to us is like, or we asked them I guess, as we say, “Who are the right people for the study?”
A lot of times people will say C-levels or VP levels or whatever. We always probe that because one of the things we find is not only, is it maybe wrong because it’s not where they spend the bulk of their sales time, which is how a pivot form sometimes. We’ll be like, “How much of your sales cycle is spent in the C-level’s office?” “What do you mean?” I’m like, “Really, how much of this cycle you spent there?” They’re like, “5% toward the end.” Do we have a front funnel problem we’re trying to adjust with this research or back funnel problem because it’s two different things.
Same thing with the websites, if you go through your average tech company website because that’s a space we hang out in, if you go through and look at them, they’ll have C-level language all the way through.
Do C-levels go to Google and try to find vendors to solve marketing automation, cyber security document management…
Sean: AI, no. The idea that your website is aligned with these senior strategic perspectives, I think it’s kind of a fail because it’s should be aligned with the people who are going to come and visit it. Like you were alluding to earlier, there’s multiple people in the sales C, D, said it, and everybody also said it. It’s funny, no matter how many times people say that like 5.4 people, 6.8 people, 3.2 people—whatever statistics you want that’s greater than one, people act like it’s one, they do it over and over again. They title lock on this one persona. I don’t know if it’s an expediency thing, I don’t know if it’s just a human nature thing, I don’t know what it is but they have a really hard thing blending in a meaningful way and giving on-ramps to each time of person.
There are companies that do it well. Surprisingly, Microsoft is actually one of them, which might shock anybody listening because usually they’re the punching bag for certain things. If you look at some of the portions of their website, they target individual types of buyers and technical folks—I’m not talking about the consumer side of their business, they sometimes do a pretty good job with that.
Anyway, that’s another place where there’s a lot of room for improvement. That’s also a relationship between sales and marketing because they can talk a little more about, “Where do we spend the bulk of our time in the sales cycle? What’s the initial contact like and who is that?” All of that stuff really matters.
Marylou: I think there’s a little bit of a mystique around, if I start too low from the sales perspective, then I’m going to get stuck in the lower echelons. But if I start high and get referred down, then the cultural biases and behavioral biases will help me get in the door of the right people, eventually. If I start high and work low, I’m going to have a better success than starting low and working high.
That’s I think—partly sales issue where they don’t want to get stuck at a certain level and not being able to go up. You hear that all the time. Just sell to the C-suite, they’ll refer you down to the right person and then eventually you can work with the right people to get further into the cycle.
All of the marketing for us starts higher level to get, “Hey, go take a look at these people. Go look at these guys, they sent me an email. I like what they’re saying.” That’s I think why we do that as well. We start higher then lower, it’s easier to carry further down.
Sean: Right. But if you went into the database and said like for all those contact form sales, how many of them said CIO at the bottom?
Marylou: Very few.
Sean: They’re very few with the CIO right. I think you get higher up, that’s where marketing can help like in the sense of with more of maybe not, maybe the front door to the site but things that actually can be directed to. You can get some mind share with those upper level folks because if somebody underneath them forwards them something, that’s fine. But that’s different than the front door to the site that’s going to be discovered initially by that kind of lower level person which is all tied to the idea that a lot of these sales funnel has become digital.
If that wasn’t true and it was simply a matter, where do I choose to enter the atmosphere in this company’s home planet? It was old school selling and we were just dialing for dollars, sure, start high. I’m going to enter the atmosphere and land there. That’s where I want to go. But if it’s organic and I have to wait for them to move a little bit, then, I just have to deal with reality. The CIO’s not web searching.
Marylou: No. Hence, the reason why there are multiple ways that we get in into an account. That’s not just digital, there’s analog versions, there’s direct mail—it even has a comeback for some of the work that we do to bring awareness around or offer our service, why we matter, why they should change, why now.
I think having an arsenal of what my friends calls the toolkit of getting in the door, various things depending on the persona but you can’t narrow the personas to the point where you’re just talking to one person type. You’ve got to branch out and get multiple opinions, multiple conversations going so that finally someone’s going to invite you in because you’re persistent.
The persistence of a good message, I think, that gets you more often than targeting the right person so to speak or going to the CEO or the CFO. You’re going to be banging your head against the wall half the time trying to get in.
Sean: Yeah. Persistence definitely matters, that’s for sure. I think that’s been true in sales for a long time. Appropriately pursued accounts are going to get one, I mean all the stats show it. You look at the number of responses to email sequences. There’s this huge bump when you get to four, five, or six, that’s why we all get seven or eight of them. That’s been true for a very long time.
Marylou: We all get seven or eight, but some of them are not worthy of responding. I get like you’ve said before it’s so resonating with me. I think I’ve seen the same Yesware template fifty times in one week in my inbox. Let’s get a little bit more creative, people. How we address our target market, if I hear this one more time about, “Just checking in to see your—did you get my previous email? Did you see my previous thread?” I was like, “No, I did not.”
Sean: I actually interviewed somebody for my show way back. We had a really good conversation but I’m not trying to throw him under the bus. We had a conversation about something and I asked him a little to the side and I said, “Do you think that the fact that you own one of these sales automation platforms that helps people generate lots of emails—” I said it a little differently but to summarize it for this show like, “It’s contributing a lot of evil to the world, you really think that’s possible?” I wasn’t quite that pointed right.
“All of these emails that nobody wants.” He said, “No, absolutely not. If they don’t want it, they could just delete it.” I’m kind of like, “Okay, well…”
Marylou: “That’s not the point.”
Sean: He said a lot of other great things but then that one area, I felt like it’s a misfire. There’s a lot of bad that’s being done with those tools and I don’t think it’s entirely going well. Although, I will say GDPR has put a nice chilling effect with some of that kind of behavior.
Marylou: No, it’s definitely good. I don’t know if you’ve been looking at that, the delivery rates, the bounce rates, are off charts now. Things are not going through.
Sean: Well, right. I was jokingly telling our staff because we ended up getting a lot of work in the last few weeks even just from GDPR rolling out. In our world, a certain percentage of the work is done with the customer’s list. We will do our own recruiting for research, certainly we get that a lot. There are lists though, they’re not sure how clean they are. These are very large companies, and who knows if somebody loaded something into it a long time ago and there’s issues with GDPR isn’t about the domain that person’s from. What citizens they are of—the country they’re of, they could be in a different locale at the moment. It’s really really fascinating.
We’ve been joking about the fact that I’m sure all of next year’s marketing session or conferences are going to be things like, how GDPR killed our email lists, how we survived with our email letter with GDPR.
It’s not going to be the same world. There’s a lot of other stuff that tie with that too—the fishbowl, the trade show. If you’re following the letter of that law and we all know that we’re 20 court cases away from really understanding what our law does, because there’s lot of edge] cases that have to be played out.
It’s just a sign that some of that kind of slammed the universe with a bunch of emails kind of stuff—it’s just going away. They’re going to have to figure out what to do after that.
Marylou: I double opted-in on my email list and I sent out an email to my list prior to GDPR saying, “Hey, we’re starting from scratch.” “This is my last email to you. If you want to come join my list again, we’re going to have to go through everything all over again with the notices for GDPR.”
We went from x to zero overnight.
Sean: That’s interesting because that’s actually exactly what I said a few weeks back. I said there’s a lot of small companies that will just make the decision to basically delete their list and start over, not because they were doing anything wrong, it’s just they don’t have the ability to go through a full compliance regime. It’s easier to just say that we’ll come back.
One of the funniest things I saw on that, I don’t know if you saw it, but there’s a court’s article that came out right around the day GDPR launched. The reporters had collected all the subject lines. They were receiving and they categorized them by emotion. It was like, angry, dismissive, sad, depressed—you know what I mean? “We don’t want to lose you from our list.” It’s just really funny.
Marylou: Yeah, more funny. It’s like, “Here we are. We’re getting ready now.” I mean, and on my list, I got complaints to send out that last email. That’s the first time I ever gotten complaints when I sent out that GDPR email.
Sean: Complaints in what way?
Marylou: When they click the complain button, I don’t know, just when it showed up on my automation system it said a percent complaints of the email itself. I’ve never gotten that red little flag on any of my emails that I sent out over the years—it’s first time.
Sean: I think first thing about the email chains—we went through a period of experimentation with kind of a little more broad-based email campaigns, a few years back. We actually shut it all down and invested more in the top-of-the-funnel marketing, kind of like drive engagement.
One of the reasons I shut it down finally was I realized when somebody can send you an email where they’re basically not even reading the email, you can just tell. They’re your right kind of buyer and all they do is say, “Take me off your list. I don’t know how you got my name. I have nothing to do with you.” This was the right persona with the right message. In a sales conversation, that exact same language would resonate, it just tells me that I’m just annoying them. They justified that an email inbound from a vendor they don’t know just gets vaporized.
Worst yet, I probably left a stain with them that if they ever remember who we are, and I have a sales conversation later, we’ve got an issue.
Sean: That doesn’t mean all of those email sequences need to go to content heaven—they don’t need to all die. I just think that our content hell, I guess in this case, only good stuff should go to content heaven. I think it’s a matter of time before that stuff has to just evolved. Honestly, a lot of these automation platforms have created a problem because there are some young startup with three people and they go do it.
Listeners might be thinking, “What’s the solution?” I would say, it’s back to the age of narrow. You have to decide what are your channels—800, 801, 802, 803, that you’re going to broadcast on. You’re just going to send messaging that is just really tailored to them.
There’s no excuse in digital. You can make targeted stuff like that. That’s really the thing, and the other reason people are doing it is because broadcast is technically easier than narrowcasting—at least, that’s what I think.
Marylou: No, I mean it’s in the mindset right now. It’s the rhythmic mindset of that’s what you do is that you just throw it out to the wind and hope for the best and then you’re okay with the response rate that’s optimal. That means you have to get 3 out of 100, that’s better than nothing.
I see the narrowing happening. I know even me, from my work, when Predictable Revenue came out, we talked a lot about transactional type of emails. Now, it’s hyper-personalized and it’s looking at signals that are coming in, leveraging some of the tools that can see when people are talking about you, that’s a nice way to kind of segue into, “Hey, I saw you were talking about me in this article. I’d like to introduce myself, thanks for saying that.” or whatever it is.
It gives you a reason to have a conversation. I’ve seen more of that. We’re back into our 20-30 accounts a day. We always were. Where we worked the 20 accounts today and we find something unique and different to discuss with our 20 accounts and the people within those accounts.
We keep hammering away pleasantly and persistently until we get to a point where we decide—maybe we should put them in incubation and bring somebody else to replace that account.
Sean: Yeah, it’s basically a more humane way of selling your marketing into what people want. I think you’re right about the 20-30 accounts.
Marylou: My friend, Anthony said 40-60. I personally cannot do 40-60 a day. I don’t know how he does it but he’s a machine. But I do 20-30 and that seems to work just fine. That’s my number and I can get those done and still have a life at the end of the day.
Sean: Yeah. I think it’s really a number of contacts at the end of the day. It obviously depends on—depending on where you’re at in the sales world. Are you kind of managing a couple of mega accounts or are you managing the individual accounts but you’re right. You have to know your limit in the number of catch points you can manage if you’re related to complex sales processes, without turning yourself into some transactional robot or having too few of those relationships too.
Marylou: The key for us is the waterfall. I can’t tell you how many people don’t have a waterfall. How many opportunities do we need for a month to generate revenues we’re looking for to get the commission structure or the life that we want. You work it backwards from that and that’s your number.
I can’t tell you how many times I had to put students through what is your number? What does that mean in terms of conversations or discovery calls and fit calls. That’ll back up all the way up the funnel to how many accounts you need to be looking at on a daily basis, how many conversations you need to be having on a daily basis to make that number. People won’t do that.
Sean: No, they don’t. The other thing that I think is interesting on that point, we have a little tool that we use internally for my team of seller-doers. We’re a consulting firm. Outside of my role as leading sales and marketing, and business ops, we don’t have quite a dedicated seller and I’m not a full-time seller either. That’s typical of consulting firms. The principles will sell some and different levels of people in the company, they’ll do seller-doer activities.
Related to what you’re getting about knowing how your activity leads to an end result, we have a little bit of a leader board that I include all the sales activities that somebody should do in a month. We kind of keep track of it in a fun leaderboard kind of way. The other thing that happens is you just forget to do the hygiene. You fall into the habit of taking seven phone calls with your favorite sales friends that you call and you forget to go out there and just prospect on LinkedIn and see who changed ops and see what’s going on, and then you forgot to freshen up you Twitter account.
Whatever those 20 or 30 things that you need to do a month to keep going, some of them you do—I’ll give my business partner credit for this phrase, he said, “We’re either busy or busy trying to be busy.”
I think really good business owners, that’s kind of where they at. There’s no other switch than those two things. You need to have a framework for the second part of that. That’s more than just a couple set of actions.
Marylou: Yeah. You need to have it stacked up that was a term actually my doctor gave to me because I was trying to do a handstand when I turned 60. That was my goal, to do a handstand. He said, “Have it stacked Marylou.” I’m like, “What the heck are you talking about?” I couldn’t even do a push up at that time. When I got my coffee, I would do one push up. Now, I’m up to 20 pushups while I’m waiting for my coffee. You add on to these good habits and eventually rather than grit and discipline, it becomes habit. That’s what we need in our role to continually generate the revenue and the opportunities that were looking for.
It’s a process but we can get there but we can’t do this sort of shiny object thing and go to the next thing without finishing the task we had at hand. It’s tough to teach that, very tough.
Sean: I love that, though. I’m going to steal that—habit stack. I think the staffs going to hear that from me the minute this podcast is going to be over. I think I’ll send that an email.
Marylou: Very good. Speaking of which, we’ve got way over our time and that’s okay. Sean, how do people get ahold of you to learn more about you, your firm, and what you do? What’s the best way we can connect with you?
Sean: Few things, if you want to hear my voice more, if you haven’t heard enough of it already, check out our show, it’s called B2B Revealed. It’s on all the major podcast players. We interview a lot of B2B thought leaders, book authors, folks focused on marketing and sales. We also hit some hot button issues sometimes. We cover business neutrality. I recently did an interview on CEO activism that’ll go live in a few weeks.
Sean: That was really interesting. In terms of the company, it’s cascadeinsights.com. There you’ll find a bunch of stuff about us in terms like who we work with, what we do, and what we don’t do. You’ll get some sense about that too.
Finally, anybody can reach out to me directly if they want. My email’s firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for having me.
Marylou: I’ll be sure to put all these on your page. If you guys are driving right now and trying to find a piece of paper, don’t worry, it’ll be on his page with his beautiful picture at Portland, Oregon where we stood in line for Voodoo Doughnuts one time for almost an hour just to get a doughnut.
Sean: With many people, if you go through PDX we usually use the same, even if you’re a native, pretty much any flight out of PDX, there’s somebody holding a pink box of Voodoo Doughnuts almost guaranteed on their flight. That’s definitely a good place. On a later show, we’ll do it again. I’ll tell you all the places to go in Oregon.
Marylou: Perfect. I love that. My little girl is looking at Vancouver, Washington because she loves that area up there. She’s in college right now. We have ways to go but she definitely has her eyes set on that area. It’s a place to potentially open up a trampoline gym, of all things.
Sean: That would work out here. This is definitely an alternative sports land in a good way. I was a Midwest kid, grew up in Chicago, moved out here 25 years ago, so I can totally fake native here. I joked that I’ve done everything but shoot something meaning I haven’t hunted.
I love the outdoors here. I’ve got a boat, a trailer, we fished, we camp, hike, and everything. The city I grew up in, we all talked baseball and football. Out here, everybody has an alternative sport. Trampoline gyms, skiing, kickballs—there’s kickball leagues here. My business partner has been in a few of those. That’s kind of a fun thing. It’s a great place to do those kinds of things and a bunch of other stuff.
Marylou: Wonderful. Sean, thank you so much for your time and we enjoyed the conversation. We’ll be in touch and I will put all the notes on your page so people can get ahold of you to find out more. Thanks again.