Today’s guest is someone that you’ve heard on the podcast before. Donato Diorio joined us on a previous episode to talk about the virtue of voicemail and how to handle voicemail properly. Today he’s with us to talk about a different subject.
Donato is the founder and principal consultant at a company called DataZ, and today he’s going to talk about data. Listen to the episode to hear what Donato has to say about what led him to put together a strategy for assessments, where the data that he uses comes from, and the importance of considering sentiment in data assessment.
- What got Donato interested in putting together a strategy for assessment
- What led Donato to build the systems and frameworks at DataZ
- How Donato differentiates between different roles
- How Donato can quickly assess the health of the pipeline based on the data
- Where Donato’s data comes from
- How sentiment factors into Donato’s work
- How to get a data assessment from Donato
- How Donato’s services can help clients in specialized industries
Marylou: All right. Hey, everybody. It’s Marylou Tyler. This week’s guest has been on my podcast before. His name is Donato Diorio. He originally talked to me about the virtue of voicemail and how to do it properly and we still, by the way, use his process for that purpose today in part of my assessment and actual activation of the voicemail systems that we use for prospecting. Today, though, Donato’s going to talk to us about data. He is the founder and principal consultant at a company called DataZ, and it’s all about setting up and assessing a strategy for having a predictable pipeline that you can scale, that’s consistent, that generates revenue and a reliable forecast. Welcome to the podcast, Donato.
Donato: Thank you, Marylou. It’s great to be back.
Marylou: Yes. I know and you know putting together a strategy for assessment is a daunting task, one that I wish there was a tool for that, and I’m hearing now that perhaps that is the route you’re taking. My first question to you is: What got you interested in this particular type of strategy for assessment and what led you to build the systems, frameworks and methods that you currently have at DataZ?
Donato: Great. As you know, in the past, I founded and grew a company called BroadLook which was acquired by RingLead. I served as CEO for a while and then later as an adviser. During the time at RingLead, I had a lot of engagements with people that were looking to fix their data. That was a challenging process because I had this 15-20 years of experience with data, data-mining, analysis and all these things, and then you’d have a unique situation of Company A is very different from Company B.
You’d have a four to five-hour conversation typically over a period of weeks or months, and then it came to the point where, “Let’s get your data to look at it.” By the time everybody approved it and we got the data and we looked at it and I’d come back and I’d understand everything going on because I’m an expert at data, I’d say, “Well, it seems like you’re having this issue,” and it’s like, “Actually, no, Donato. The data that you did, the analysis of, we only used a third of it. This other stuff is hidden in our CRM.”
So let me go back again. I’d say, “Okay, let me look at that one-third of the data that you do use and analyze that.” Over time, it doesn’t take long to get beat on the head to realize, “Wow, there are series of questions that I do ask. I need to encapsulate them.” That is the hardest part. Luckily, my wife, who is a PhD in psychology and understands testing, gave me a short course and a bunch of books to read on testing, and validation, and creating a test that is valid. What I ended up with is I have a humanistic data assessment tool because, invariably, you could look at the data and say, “I see this,” but then the salesperson says one thing and the marketing person says something else. It’s not their experience.
By crafting, it’s actually 90 questions. It takes 10-12 minutes and it’s on what’s called a Likert scale. A Likert scale is, if you remember it, “strongly agree” or “strongly disagree” so they’re only putting in a number. That’s it. You may ask a question. Let me throw out a simple question here, something like, “We have identified consistent data standards for all our systems that contain account company and/or contact person data.” That’s a question to ask them. It’s a positive data question.
If they say, “No, we’re horrible at this,” I know they have a problem with their data strategy. I know they have a problem with their best practices. I know that normalization is an issue. By looking at the sum total of the 90 questions that touch on different concepts in data, I am able to get to the heart of the issue very, very fast. That five-hour back-and-forth conversation, ask questions, get the next person on the call, get a sample of data, all that is brought down to a 10-12 minute assessment and then a 15-minute initial call which we talk about the findings.
Marylou: Now, in this assessment, you just mentioned before that you hear one thing from marketing, you may hear something else from product management or sales ops. In your test, did you differentiate by role? Is that an option to say, “Hey, tell me about your role,” first or is there some demographic?
Donato: I can tell you’ve been doing this. Yes, I have a sentiment analysis in the test. There’s a role. The questions are random so when you see the questions, you don’t see them in order, like, “This isn’t an admin question. This is an admin and another admin question,” or sales, and sales, and marketing. There’s a role for each question in terms of who it’s heavily weighed to answer that correctly. That is a sentiment. Questions are either positively or negatively stated. What I’ll see, first off, is I’ll do a sentiment analysis and if I see that all the negative sentiment is “9, Strongly Agree”, I know there’s some serious problem.
The nice thing about this is I’ll show them the result and say, “Here’s the area you scored a 9 on for the negative and here’s the ones you scored or actually shows a 1 on for the positive-related questions.” What that leads to is one of the first things I do is I’ll say, “Who’s on your team?” What I like to hear is sales, marketing and admin-related persons. If I give them all three the test and sales answers this question, “Marketing is delivering fantastically. We have all the company and company data we need to sell effectively,” and sales says, “Uh-uh. That’s a one on a scale of nine,” marketing says, “That’s an eight,” I stop right there.
I’ve got them all in a room. They’re looking at a screen and I’m saying, “Guys, we can’t go forward until we get alignment.” Then, the next step I have them do is, “You have to take the test together. You have to take the test together and agree on where you are on that continuum because if you don’t have alignment, that’s like the kiss of death for a consultant.” You start engaging with somebody, you get buys and some sales, marketing, who may have a budget for data and things like that, says, “Uh-uh,” and the administrator–we may need somebody who’s trained in sales force, trained and more credible, trained in the local but he’s not, and we also assess that. What’s the skill level of the people that are doing the process?
The first thing that I do is I look to get alignment and, if not, then, “Okay, you’re not ready to move forward. No matter what you do, you’ve got one person saying one thing, one another, and a third person. You’ve got to get alignment first.” After alignment, then we look at the setting and then we start looking at all the other things.
Marylou: Okay, very good. In the course of 10 minutes, you can really assess the health of not only alignment and enable it and everything else but also the physical aspects of the pipeline that they have in place currently. Is that correct?
Donato: Correct, and I focus on the data. I am not doing anything within this test as it relates to sales training or sales effectiveness because all those things are a dependent variable where the data is that variable that everything is focused in. I want to focus on the best of my expertise. Yes, as you know, I can go in and teach them how to sell effectively and how to go a three-by-three approach, voicemail and all that stuff but my focus–there’s a lot of people that do all this stuff. I really want to focus on the strategy because I can bring the highest value for the time spent.
Marylou: Definitely. I always say, for me, I’ve got the funnel sales process. That process really amplifies and accentuates where their skills or mindset issues are festering. It doesn’t solve them; it points them out in glaringly obvious details as to where things are falling apart or leaking but it doesn’t fix it. It gets them to what I call a prioritization list of, “Okay, we’ve got 36 things wrong. What are we going to fix first?” and try to organize it with them and impact versus the actual effort to do that. I love this idea, and I know I am one of those people where it takes four to six weeks to figure out where we are on average. It’s a huge time-waster for consultants and for the client because we’re biting into our activation timeline by doing all those assessments that take weeks, and weeks, and weeks upfront. This is great. What do they have to provide you when you say “data”? Where are you grabbing data? What are the sources of the data?
Donato: The thing is I’m not actually getting the data because what I found is that you take the data without the story that comes with it and you have misinformation. After you look and the data comes later when you get an agreement–and, sometimes, that’s when I might tap out. I’ve built relationships with all the data vendors. Of course, I’ve got relationships. If they need something that my old company, RingLead, does, I could send them there. I found one company that was looking–what it call came down to is they were a machine-learning application and they needed massive amounts of data from big tractors, the real-time, internet-thing data.
They’re trying to build this whole process on not enough information. I went out and I found the company that has that data as an exhaust and I connected them so they got a billion records of data of this real-time data in terms of what tractors are doing. They are like the big CAT type tractors. Looking at what the underlying need is, getting to that fast, it was clear. They thought it was their sales process or they identified the wrong people, and what it only came down to is they didn’t have their algorithms changed because they didn’t have enough data to input to it so I found it for them.
Again, that’s an offshoot but it happened by going through this process. It’s like, “You don’t have a sales marketing or a data management problem; you have a data input problem. You have a lack in data.” The interesting process is that you mentioned, “What do you do first?” The category that each question affects are, from the top, data strategy, the core strategic choices that you make. What are your philosophies? Then, best practices. Then, documentation. If you don’t have the stuff documented it’s not real, it’s like a goal. If it’s not written down, it’s a whim. What are the company goals? Is it written down?
Then, tools. What tools? What data sales marketing systems are you bringing in? Because if you try to bring tools in and you don’t have your strategies assigned, a lot of times, vendors get a bad rap. Somebody goes and buys something because a sales rep wowed them, which happens. There’s some great reps out there. It’s like, “Listen to this one guy. I’ll buy anything this guy shows me because he’s just so good, but do I need it? I don’t know.” You get the tools only after you get the strategy down.
After the tools, how is your admin? Do you have the right admin people? Are they trained correctly? Are they certified? Data, strategy, best practices, documentation, tools and admin are the first six and each one is in a hierarchy with data and strategy being in the top. When you said, “What order?” I know the order asking the question because I see where the biggest problems are and I could then say, “Look, if you make these changes in your data strategy, your score–” because I do give them a score on the areas–”Your score will dramatically improve if you fix something at the base of the pyramid.”
Then, you’d go through all of the things like more data manipulation things like normalization strategies, re-duping, segmentation, fixing your account data then identifying your total available market. If you don’t know what your total available market is, you don’t know how to sell. You’ve got to break it up. How do you attack it? Then, your contact data, then segmenting titles and then your email verification. Then, of course, you’ve got compliance. If all these things are in I’m rattling them off because it’s nothing that I’ve been doing except this last six months but it’s brought clarity to my own 15 years of interactive Q&A. It speeds it up.
Marylou: I love this idea. You heard me. I’m stuck on, “What data are you pulling? What is the descriptive data that you start with?” and you’re like, “No, I don’t start there. I start with the people, the strategy and the sentiment.” I heard you say “sentiment” and it just went in one ear and out the other but now it’s coming back in. Tell me about the sentiment, a perception of a marketing person versus reality. How do you prove that when you’re showing them the report? When you tell them to get alignment, what does that mean for the marketing person who’s convinced that the data is clean? How do you go about, then, giving them the instructions of, “Okay, here’s what you need to do next.”
Donato: I think what happens is the sentiment helps to address the deeper problem, which is the first thing, which is the alignment. The way I do the sentiment and the alignment is each of the questions–I have a bar chart that I give them. It’s very simple. It’s very dumb and simple to look at. I break it up by role, which is sales, marketing and admin, and then by the different areas, the data, strategy, best practices, documentation and tools. What you’ll see is, in each of those categories, you’ll see where sales, where marketing and where admin scored in one thing in terms of how they felt they did and the other is how often–because you could actually leave questions blank. If you don’t know, you are allowed to leave a question blank.
I can score the test on, “What’s the ultimate you can do if you answer every question?” or I could do an adjusted score saying, “Of what you’re comfortable answering, here’s how you did,” because, the first time through, I gave somebody a really low score that was doing really well and I had to go back and re-factor. They were like, “Donato, this area here isn’t important to us. We don’t have companies. We only have contact data because we’re consumer-focused.” It’s my mistake. So, back to the drawing board, that’s when I came up with the idea of having an adjusted score so if they start going, “No,” like, “Okay, we’ll go to the adjusted score.” Yeah, that makes sense.
Testing is a tough business and having a valid test and designing it correctly. A lot of times, you’ll see it in a test like a personality test, an NPI. It’ll ask you the same question in different ways, and what they’re actually doing is they’re asking with a positive sentiment and they’re asking with a negative sentiment, and there’s a differentiation between how you answer. You could tell that some of the–if you answered a 7 on a positive question of the same topic, then you should answer a 2 because it’s balanced on a scale of 9.
If you don’t, that’s how testing works. You could determine how that person is leaning in the test, that they tend to weigh things negative more than they weigh things positive. Again, my clients don’t ever have to know any of this stuff but what the end result is it gets them shaking their head, “Yes, this is me,” when I start going over the results. That’s the simple of what you want to get to after them taking the 10-12 minutes. I just stop 20 minutes past.
Marylou: Yeah, the assessment. I understand now where you’re going. I love this in so many ways, especially this whole idea of planning makes predictable rather than execution. You mentioned it with tools. I see this all the time. It’s form over function and we have the same issue where they’re enamored with the tool. “The tool is something that everyone has so I need to get one as well,” but then they find out, “My business processes are not mapping to the tool. I have to change my business processes to work with the tool,” and it’s the wrong way to do it. I see it over and over again so I’m so happy that you’re adjusting that.
I’m sure people in the audience are salivating over this, thinking–we’re in the fall of 2018 when this is being recorded. We’re getting ready to do our planning for 2019. Boy, wouldn’t this be smart to go into Fourth Quarter, planning sessions, to have a better picture of where we truly are on the spectrum of “Are we ready? Do we have what it takes to create a predictable engine?” How do we go about reaching out to you or what do you got to offer the audience so that we can start this process and learn more about where our disconnects or gaps are?
Donato: I made it simple. I had it all developed on the website so you can go right to my website, which is DataZ. From there, there’s a top link that says “strategic data assessment” and, under there, there’s actually two assessments. One is the strategic data assessment and you just click on it. It brings you right to a Google form. You fill your stuff in and that’s it; it’s that simple. There’s no interaction you need to do with me. I’ll get notified, and I’ll do a 15-minute free consultation in terms of–you don’t see the results.
The results are tapping on the call. I’ll probably have a streamlined version that is automatic. Right now, there’s still a lot of backend stuff I have to do to press a couple of buttons but, right now, we get together on an UberConference like this where I show them the assessment. Some people are like, “Okay, let’s go. What do we do next?” Then, of course, we talk about the consulting. Sometimes, it’s like, “Donato, this is great. This reaffirms what we’re doing is correct and it gives us a better level. We’ll keep your contact information.”
It’s a great engagement method for me because, now, I get my business exclusively from the result of this. I said “no” a couple of times because they were like, “Marketing and sales have different answers and they both have to approve – let’s wait, guys. Let’s get this down first.” I want to win. So far, I’ve got testimonials from 100% of my clients so that record, I want to keep and make sure that we’re right for each other.
Marylou: Right, and it’s so important to start knowing the baseline. You’re giving them that option of really understanding, “As we move forward here, are we as a team ready to this, A, and do we have a good fit with you, the consultant to take us to where we want to go?” This is great, Donato. What I’ll do is I’ll put these links inside of your bio on the page for us and, if they want to get ahold of you, let’s finish this conversation by giving us an idea of–we know how to get to the website. How else would you like us to reach you?
Donato: I’m on LinkedIn. They can connect with me that way, and all my contact information is on the website as well. They could reach out to me. If you Google me, I’m the easiest guy on Earth to find.
Marylou: With your name, Donato Diorio, I would think so most definitely.
Donato: By the way, there is a second questionnaire on there. It’s a dataset questionnaire. Let’s say somebody has a list that they want to do something with. This is just 10 questions that help me understand what they’re trying to do with a particular set of data. I can give them, “Okay, you need to go to this company, this company and this company.” I don’t do the data manipulation myself; I point them to the direction of the great vendors that are out there and do that. I focus on how to get them and giving them the sorts of steps to get them where they want to go.
Marylou: What about the opposite of that? I’ve worked with a lot of clients who are having a difficulty finding a list vendor based on their ideal account profile. I’ll give you an example. I have a client right now who’s Europe-based in Americas and they’re looking for diagnostic centers. That’s not a zoom info type of thing or this typical lead sources. Could this help them for finding what they need to do, including maybe outsource, and build the list manually or is this more of, “Hey, here’s your list and go.”?
Donato: Part of what you’re talking about as far as designing and acquisitions strategy, that is something that I do in the consultation process as well. I’ve got one that I’m building right now. They’re looking for restaurants. They sell a scheduling software and they want to get every single restaurant around. They’re setting up vertical datasets. That is my other business that I do. I have a list that I build right now, my primary list of government. Everybody at the city, county, state and federal level, all the contact data in that verticalized dataset.
Marylou: Wonderful. For those of you out there who are needing to find an alternative to the standard list companies, which most of my clients are in that boat, then this is another test that can be taken on Donato’s website in order to get a starting point of where these best contacts are, especially as we’re working through the design of the ideal prospect personas, the influencers that we can talk to. Now, I’m getting into the sales process but the list is our lifeblood and, a lot of times, the current standard lists that are out there are not working for us, especially if we’re in specialized industries. Donato, thank you so much.
Donato: You know, you always make me better. I was going to say, based on what you’re saying there, I think I need to create a third assessment, which is, “I want to build a list,” because usually we really don’t focus on that. You see that? You just upped my game there, Marylou. Thank you.
Marylou: I would definitely send my clients over to you because I do have–it’s not boutique per se but it’s a dataset that is not a standard dataset. These are not tech companies selling to sales and marketing or IT. They’re companies that have very real needs, very real markets but they’re not necessarily the standard scraping that’s out there with all these list vendors. I’m going to hold you to that and build that assessment, Donato.
Donato: Okay, you’re the guinea pig. You know that, right? You know that now.
Marylou: Yeah, I’m fine with that definitely. Again, thank you so much for your time, Donato. It’s always a pleasure speaking with you. I’ll make sure, for everybody, these notes are out there. Go take that assessment, you guys. This is the Achilles heel of putting in a predictable system, is to get that planning piece, the assessment piece. This added overlay of assessment is so important for cultural change as you move strategically to where you want to go, which is increased revenue and a reliable forecast. Thanks again, Donato.
Donato: Thank you, Marylou.