Today’s guest comes from the marketing side of the business. And while that may be an unusual choice for this podcast, what Chris Dayley has to say about digital marketing can be useful for prospectors as well.
Chris is a digital marketing entrepreneur, speaker, and neuromarketer. He is also the VP of testing and site optimization at Disruptive Advertising in Utah. He’s skilled at helping people understand the impact of website landing pages, testing, analytics, and psychology. Listen to the episode to hear what Chris has to say about how his work related to outbound sales and different ways to use data, metrics, and testing.
- How Chris’s work fits into an outbound, targeted approach
- What Chris is doing with analytics
- Using data to refine the pitch
- Metrics that can help prepare for contacting prospects
- How Chris uses testing
- Technology used for testing in sales
- How best practices can vary from company to company, even within the same industry
Marylou: Everyone hi, it’s Marylou Tyler. This week I have a really interesting guest. He’s not someone that we normally talk with in our area, but I think what Chris has to say in terms of digital marketing and how the different channels interact. You and I have talked about the different types of behaviors and where people are at, relative in their mind as to their purchase intent.
Well, Chris Dayley is a digital marketing entrepreneur, speaker, and also a neuromarketer—we want to pick his brain about that—who is really great at getting people to understand the impact of website, landing pages, testing, analytics using psychology. He is a principal or founder of Disruptive Advertising at Utah. I’ll put all of his information on his page so you can contact him. He’s currently serving as VP of Site Testing and Optimization. Welcome, Chris, to the podcast.
Chris: Thank you for having me on, Marylou.
Marylou: Very good. Where do we begin? I mean, there’s just so much to cover here. Let me just give you some background about where we are in the scheme of things. We’re typically targeting people that we want to talk to. By definition, we should have some level of understanding, maybe not under purchase intent, but definitely the sweet spot, because we’ve done our homework on the ideal account profiles. We kind of know the people because we’re picking these people to start a conversation with. We don’t have a lot more than that in some cases, so I would like you to help us understand the work that you do, how it could potentially fit into an outbound targeted approach, because you’re all about attraction, inbound, and getting people to come to you. You’re doing some really cool things that we could probably leverage off of.
Then secondly, I’d like to understand what you’re doing with analytics because that is what Marylou Tyler personally loves to do. I think some of my audience, too, gets a little excited about metrics and how to do what I call utilized quantitative information, and even qualitative to that extent. Let me start by asking you, where do you see the connection between the type of work that you do and this outbound targeted approach that our audience is mostly involved in?
Chris: That’s a great question. I’ll give a couple of thoughts there. Any time you are trying to sell somebody on anything, there’s some level of marketing that’s involved. I always pair sales and marketing together because in my mind, they’re one or the same. You’ll say, “Well, of course you think that way, Chris, you’re a marketer,” but anytime you are exposing someone to a new message and then trying to sell them, there’s some level of marketing and salesmanship that’s required.
Any time we start working with clients on a marketing campaign, we always start with some of the foundational basics. Some of those questions that we will often ask are number one, who is your target demographic, or who are your customer profiles, or personas? That’s something that most companies I think have a general idea of. Great sales people are usually able to kind of back into a great customer persona just because they’re talking to so many people on a regular basis.
A good sales person should be able to say, “Well, the average person that I sell or that I close has this and this trait,” or whatever or, “is from this and this type of company.” You can usually back into some sort of persona and then based on those types of personas, we usually have a good idea. I’ll just give you one disruptive advertising’s target personas. We were just having a sales marketing meeting right before this call. This is fresh in my mind. We were realizing, when we are working with clients that need advertising on Google or Facebook, the best people for us to be talking to are people that are already working with another agency that have seen a dip in sales or a dip in performance over the last three months.
On the one hand, that’s very specific, and on another hand, it’s pretty broad. Just about any type of company could fit into that from any location around the world. This is where some of the analytics will come in. This is where it’s really helpful to go back, take a look in as much data that you can possibly get into, it’s helpful to look at what are our conversion rates. For this type of customer, if I can look at all of my customers, wherever we have them, in some kind of a CRM or whatever, if I can look all the customers that I have sold, what are the other metrics that I should layer on top of this?
All of the people that we’ve worked with that were working with an agency before us, that’s probably a list of 500 clients. I’m just going to estimate. We have a list of 500 clients we’ve worked with that have previously worked with an agency, that were attracted to us in some way, shape, or form. What are some of the additional characteristics that we can layer on top of that? Is there some commonality in terms of location? Is there some commonality in terms of job title? Is there some commonality in terms of budgets or anything else? All of the things that you would ask for if you were qualifying a sale, I want to try to figure out as much of that information before I actually engage with these people as possible.
The messaging that I’m going to give to a CEO is very different than the messaging that a sales director, or marketing director, or HR director, or whatever is going to respond to. The types of value points and the type of value propositions or selling propositions, or the types of pain points those people are going to have, it’s all going to be different. This is part of what good sales in marketing is. It’s learning how to personalize your pitch or personalize your messaging based on the person that you’re talking to. That’s a lot of what I do on the website and I view a website as just a microcosm of the entire sales process.
A lot of what we do on a website is we try to figure out how much information do these people want, what order do they need to know this information in, and can I pull out some data. If I am hitching verbally 10 people, can I do something on five of those pitches and something on five of the other pitches? Can I do one thing different and find some kind of cause and effect in there? If I tell my pricing at the beginning of the pitch versus the end of the pitch, what ordering do people prefer at certain levels? That’s a little bit of what we do. It’s trying to boil down and figure out, what do people need to do in order to make a decision, what information can we give them, what do we need to say, how do we need to say it, and how can we use data to prove some of these things so that we can be continually refining our pitch.
Marylou: We do some of that very similar analysis. First of all, why do we matter? Why change? Why now? Why us? The value proposition you talked about that we call value themes, getting an understanding by persona, by role whether they’re decision makers, direct influencers or indirect influencers, depending on who we pick to talk to—remember, we’re picking the people we want to talk to here—we’ve developed this matrix of, “Okay, am I having a strategic conversation with decision makers? Or is it meeting visionary? Or is it going to be something like business outcomes of how we can be more efficient, more effective?” Getting rid of this problematic thing has stymied us for so long that we can’t get past it. What is that activity, that job, that challenge in that level that we could talk about from a business use case perspective?
We also can talk about service, how we differentiate with our people, and then finally products. We put product at the end, the least sexy thing to talk about because we have made the assumption now with the internet, it’s just if they are savvy about the kind of work that we do, that they know a little bit about the why and how maybe is not too clear, but that’s what we’re going to be talking to them about, and also really reinforce why us over anybody else. We do a little bit of what you just talked about. The nice thing about what we do is that we can immediately test our hypotheses, we can get a list, get a small little data set, try these conversations out, and look at the metrics.
The metrics for us are gold, are so important. Like I heard you say, you’re looking at all these different things and sort of layering on top, and feathering in. How does one know what to feather in and what to layer on top in terms of the metrics? Is there a formula or a thing that you look at? In my book, we talk about firmographic, we talk about socio information, heuristic information. Do you do similar things in your world to preparing it ready? If so, are there go-to metric that you always look at that seem to outperform the old 80/20 rule?
Chris: You bring up some really great points. One of the things that I love about what I do is we kind of take a combination of all data sources and then ultimately put them to the test. I’m sure that you talk a lot about AB testing in terms of the pitch, putting to the test what we are able to identify and learn from analytics. I’ll share in terms of data that we typically collect, I’ll share a couple of things that is usually helpful, and then some interesting things that I have seen.
I’ll start with a story. We got together a group of clients, one of our customer’s clients. We did a survey. We said, “Out of all these different types of things, which one do you like the best? Which one would you most likely to respond best to? What type of messaging would you respond best to?” et cetera. We were able to extrapolate some information from that. We put it up to a test and ran an AB test—granted this is on a website—we presented both of these experiences, and then we compared the data of the test against the data of the survey. One thing that was fascinating to me is we got the complete opposite result. What people told us they wanted was the complete opposite of what they actually responded best to.
Marylou: Their behavior versus what they’re telling you.
Chris: Exactly. It’s very interesting, all of the data that we gather, all of the information that we gather can be informative and it can help open our eyes, but I think one of the most dangerous traps for any type of business person, sales or marketing, to fall into is to make assumptions based on data that’s been gathered. If somebody tells me that they want something, I need to just automatically start giving that to people going forward.
There was an interesting study that was done I believe Harvard. They studied what percentage of a purchase decision is conscious, like it takes place in the conscious mind. They found that that 90% of a purchase decision is subconscious. In other words, only 10% of our purchase decision we are conscious of the reasons why we’re purchasing. Of course, there’s probably some difference in the percentage, depending on the price, or the scope, or the number of people that are involved in the decision, but by and large a lot of the decisions that people make are gut instincts. If you ask people what they want, or if you are trying to base your pitch, your marketing efforts, your sales efforts off of what people are saying they want or people are telling you, you’re just getting the tip of the iceberg, the top 10%.
The only way to get beneath the surface, the only way to figure out what do people really want to hear, what should I actually include in my pitch, because I can include every pain point that my potential audience might have. I can include every value proposition that my business has, but if there’s only one pain point that they really care about, and only one value proposition that they actually want to hear about, if I spend too much time talking their ear off, I’m going to lose the sale, even though I told them the thing that they said they wanted to hear. I told them too much.
A lot of what we do is picking apart some of these data points, some of these customer demographics and psychographics that companies piece together, and basically throwing this up against the wall and saying, “Let’s put this to the test. Let’s see if all these assumptions that we’ve made about these audiences are actually true.”
Marylou: Or actually valid, and you put your ego in your pocket and you test. That’s really the beauty of all of this. You brought up such a great point. My entire life and I still am a market research analyst. We do a lot of focus groups and you hear things in a focus group that just contradict what you see in a survey, which directly contradict what you end up seeing if you do some type of CRM or loyalty type of exit interview type of thing. It is very difficult to kind of know what is true, and where truth lies. The only reason that I bring that up is that testing is really where you start uncovering. Then maybe 180 from what you thought, and be prepared for that, and be okay with that.
Chris: I think that the most important skill or the most important behavior, whether you are sales, marketing, whether you’re an entrepreneur or an employee, whatever. The most important behavior for people to have is the willingness to challenge your own assumptions. The ability to be open-minded. One of my favorite quotes is, I believe it’s from Jim Rohn where he said, “Your level of success in life will rarely exceed your level of personal development.” To me, personal development is being willing to constantly learn, change, and adapt.
All of this kind of comes together for me, especially in any kind of sales capacity as you were talking about evolving your pitch over time. Being willing to challenge your own assumptions, being willing to challenge what you’ve heard before, what you’ve done before, in order to continue learning, and in order to continue adapting.
Marylou: This is really interesting because you’re definitely a kindred spirit for me, even though you are more marketing than probably sales. You probably favor that side of the house which by definition, I think marketers—they’re going to kill me for saying this—seem to be more analytic in really taking as many data points as possible to have it paint a picture. It may not be the right road map, but it’s a road map to get started on, the data split testing and all these other principles that we learned way back from direct mail and prior to the internet which is where I grew up. We tested everything. We tested subject lines. We tested headers. We tested the envelope, what was written on the envelope. Everything was tested because we never really knew that ideal conversation, that ideal way of presenting something to prospects.
Like you said, there’s a variety of prospects that either are the decision maker themselves, are heavy influencers in the decision process, or are the type of people who let us in the door, the warm referrals, the indirect folks, all of which we have to tune our sales conversation and hone it so that we get them engaged, we get them interested, they’re compelled to give us what we want which is that meaning, that next step in the sales process.
Marylou: I wish sales would borrow more from the operation side of marketing, people who are like you that are just diving into the weeds and pulling out those data points. There’s just so much wasted effort on our side by people not willing to do that homework ahead of time, and also to learn for what’s actually in execution to make those changes and to pivot if necessary. We tend to want to waste data and waste in fatigue our list, to the point where we just drop our hands and say, “This just doesn’t work for us,” but that’s not the case.
Chris: Right. There’s another interesting study. There’s some very cool technology nowadays that a lot of retail stores are using to try to determine the optimal store layout. Retail stores have been doing this for decades. Walmart will test different store layouts to figure out, “What should we have by the entrance versus by the cash register? What order should people walk through the store in?”
There’s been some interesting research that’s been added to their efforts in the last 10 years or so in the form of EyeTracking. They will literally have customers walk into a store and they will put these glasses on them where they can track where their eyes are pointing and in what order. It’s a very simple thing, some very simple things can really influence people’s purchasing decisions. For example, Walmart has tested, does the color of our sale banners that we put over different sections in the store, does the color of that impact sales at all? What they found is that it did. The color that that sale banner, or the color that the price is in, is going to draw attention in either a positive, or a negative way.
You can have a blue sales banner with the price. You can have green, you can have red, you can have orange, all these different colors. Different colors are going to draw different amounts of attention to them. It’s interesting to look at some of these things and try to apply it to a sales mindset. What does that mean for sales? Obviously, a retail store is a very different ballgame than pitching somebody in person. Many of the principles, the same principles apply. What happens when I show them this particular presentation in this order? What happens when I talk to them and I address these specific questions or these specific points in this specific order versus this other order?
I’m affecting the way that their brain is thinking, the order that they’re thinking about things, and the level of buying that I’m getting at different stages of the conversation. Some people are very naturally gifted at this and some people are horrible at this. A lot of people will take one approach and try to refine it to death without even trying something different and throwing everything up against the wall. Anyways, I think it’s very interesting to understand what we need to say, in what order, and how in order to really resonate with somebody else, like “What is it going to take to really get this person to make a decision?”
Marylou: Right. I keep coming back to our world. We have this concept called sequences and cadences which give us multi-touch ways to reach our prospects. Order is very important. Order of the sales conversation, order of the touch itself, what kind of touch. Is it a phone call? Is it an email? Is it a social touch? Is it direct mail, sending out a postcard? What is this order for the ultimate high conversion rate? So many people out there don’t think that way when it comes to putting these sales conversation engines, these new ones that are out there, the follow up systems that allow us to have multiple conversations at scale. But we’re not thinking about the order of the conversation and how they should resonate, in what order do they resonate. Is it a strategic conversation maybe, or a business conversation? Or when do I introduce the product? That kind of planning very seldom exists.
Chris: Yes. The other piece of that is, it’s going to be different for just about every business. I think one of the most dangerous things that I see with a lot of professionals is people who move from one company to another or one industry to another, and bring all the best practices from the last company into the current company instead of testing everything all over again. I see things that work for sales people in one industry that completely fail in the same industry for a different company.
You can’t just take best practices. There are some best practices that, as a principle apply but in the actual application… For example, you talked about sequencing of messaging. When you’re reaching out, what’s the best way to reach out, and what’s the frequency of that touch? Those types of things are going to be different on a case-by-case basis. It’s so critical to keep an open mind, to continue testing, and challenging those ideas, especially when you have a new message, or a new audience, or a new business that you are presenting.
Marylou: Like you said earlier, I don’t know if we were recording at the time, but you said earlier on, the channel. We may not have multi channels like we think about for attraction-based marketing and inbound, but we do have conversations where we’re not cold, we’re warm, or maybe they came through and had a relationship with us but it fell out for some reason. It wasn’t the right time so we put them into a nurture cycle.
The starting point is also something we have to think about, is where they are relative to being in their head, this thing you were talking about the neuromarketing. What level of awareness are they at or do we think they’re at? Do we need different sequences based on the levels of awareness? Whether they’re interested now but they weren’t six months ago, what was that pending event that caused them to jump back over into a conversation with us?
We can track all that now. We have the intel, so that when we do get them to bubble up, we route them to the right sequence. A lot of that is not even really thought of or planned ahead of time as to whether these different road maps and routing of records that I need to consider. Because with you guys, what you do, you have to think about that because you’re getting people from all these different channels in various states of awareness by definition.
Chris: Yes. In fact, I’ll tell a funny story. I spoke at a conference last year and we tried a new approach for sales. I would call it a mid-funnel offer. We had an eBook that I had created. In my session of the conference I said, “Hey, if you’re interested in getting started with data testing, go to this URL. You can download this eBook.” I told the sales team about it, “People are going to come here, they’re going to download this eBook, and there’s a little box that people can check if they’re interested in talking with our company.” But the problem was, because it was somewhat of a new process for us to try, our sales team was not taking into consideration the point of origin for these links.
People were coming to my conference, downloading the eBook guide, and checking that they’re interested in talking with us. Then our sales call is going to call them up and say go into their bottom of the funnel, bottom of the sales funnel-type questions to start pitching. It totally didn’t resonate at all. In fact, it rubbed people totally the wrong way and we had a lot of complaints. We had to modify that process pretty quickly. It really highlighted to me again what you’re talking about right now which is if somebody is upper- to mid-sales funnel, or in other words they’re not entirely sure that they want what I have yet, or maybe they’re sure that they want what I have, they’re just not sure that I’m the company for them to go with, if I just start talking to them, if I start hitting them with all the stuff at the bottom of the funnel, they’re not there yet, they’re not ready for all that yet. Again, it’s so important to the other leads that we were generating, that’s where they were at in the sales funnel. We could either nurture them to that point or we had market it to them in that point. Anyways, I think it’s just so incredibly powerful to be able to adapt your sales process and your pitch to the level of where these prospects are at.
Marylou: Right and we have the luxury with multi-touch to sequence these conversations in different orders to test them, but also like you said before, we’re not bombarding them with 10 pain points in one message. We’ll pick one. Pick one, make it short and sweet, give them the punch line, it’s like an episodic television. We’re going to give them the punch line, we’re going to solve their problem, then they will introduce another problem and say, “Wait until you hear what we’re going to tell you about that one.” It’s really all about that engagement, that dating, keeping people interested to want to get that next email, or see what else that we can help them with, transform their day, and these little tidbits.
I think we’re so focused sometimes on just vomiting on them with everything that we can do that we forget, “Oh wait, they’re at A, we’re at Z.” We need to kind of jack it up and get to A with them, and then take their hand and walk them through. It may take a little bit longer, but because we can mechanize these conversations now, we can put a lot more in and feed a lot more in at the top. The people who are ready in scoring themselves, self-directed scoring, will want to talk to us if we organize our sales conversations in the proper manner.
Marylou: Chris, how do people learn more about you and your company? And what’s the next step if someone’s listening to this saying, “Okay, I get it. He’s speaking the language that I need to learn more about,” what we do?
Chris: Yeah, great question. The first thing, again my area of expertise being marketing, we do all kinds of different types of marketing. My area of expertise being website conversion rate optimization type of focus. We have a variety of different resources that we have put together. I mentioned just a minute ago a starter eBook that we put together for the conference last year. We also have just a variety of blog posts on our website that are focused again on marketing, but marketing principles, conversion principles, and analytics principles.
People can find those just at disruptiveadvertising.com/blog. We’ve got a phenomenal content team that works together with me and some of the other experts here at Disruptive to create some of the best content pieces. I would love for people to go check out the blog, check out some of the blog posts. I’m on LinkedIn, on Twitter if people want to reach out to me directly, I’d be happy to answer any questions and that’s @ChrisDayley.
Marylou: Okay. I’ll make sure all your contact information is on your page that we put together for the podcast. One thing I want to note for everybody who’s listening to this, you can think of your sequences which are those multi-touches over a period of time as many funnels. They really are acting like funnels. A funnel is usually a marketing term of how to get people into the top, and then get them through the middle, and towards the bottom of the funnel.
Each of our sequences should be treated that way as many funnels that we do. The thought that goes into how those funnels operate, the velocity at which they operate, and the conversion rate at which they operate is how we should be running our outbound, our outreach, people that we want to contact. That’s how I teach my folks, by utilizing the concept of marketing in the funnel, and also the preparation that goes into exactly what the conversation should look like, what order as Chris was saying they should be in, and then testing along the way to see the conversion rates of each of the conversation pieces. The subject line, the click throughs, the actual body of the message, that’s all being tested as we move them through this sequence or mini funnels in order to get them for us to that first meeting, that’s where we’re trying to go.
What Chris does and the work that he does can be directly applied to the work that we do. The smarter sales executive and professional will take this information and apply it right away. You’ll start to see that your list fatigue will go down, that your conversion rates will go up, and you’ll be maximizing your return on effort which is what we’re trying to do here.
Marylou: Chris, thank you so much for your time today. I very much enjoyed you coming on the podcast and I hope and wish you more success as you work through this. Hopefully, some of our guys will come over there, pick your brain, and start interacting with you on the work that you do.
Chris: Thank you, and thank you for having me on the show I appreciate it.