Episode 143: Podcasting as a Sales Tool – Matt Johnson

Predictable Prospecting
Episode 143: Podcasting as a Sales Tool - Matt Johnson
00:00 / 00:00

Podcasting is still a new and growing medium, but it has a lot of exciting potential as a sales tool, among other things. Today’s guest, Matt Johnson, is the founder of a podcasting production agency and he has explored some interesting ways to use the medium that may be valuable to sales professionals. Listen in to hear about Matt’s LinkedIn script, his strategy using podcasting, and the results rates that he’s seen from his methods. 

Episode Highlights:

  • What Matt does and who he serves
  • How Matt’s LinkedIn script works
  • Matt’s response rates, and how they compare to the average
  • The overall reaction to Matt’s lead generation
  • Matt’s overall strategy
  • Developing relationships with people in different parts of the sales process
  • How podcasting relates to problem solving and expertise
  • Where to start in podcasting
  • Where to look for podcasts that are a potential fit
  • Goals for beginning podcast hosts and guests


Pursuing Results

How to Get Featured


Marylou: Hey, everybody. It’s Marylou Tyler. This week’s guest is going to really help us think outside the box when it comes to lead generation. A lot of us are focused on the touches that we do, the systematic follow-up. The guest today, his name is Matt Johnson, is the founder of a podcast production agency. You’re probably wondering, “Why are we talking about this, Marylou?” I will let Matt take it away because he said a couple of things to me that were really intriguing and I know that you guys are going to love this discussion. So without further ado, Matt, welcome to the podcast. Start by telling us what you do and how you serve.

Matt: Thanks so much. First of all, I’m super excited to be here. I read the book, Predictable Revenue, years ago so this is a little mini-dream for me to be here as it is. The skinny is that I accidentally stumbled onto some really interesting lead generation strategies that use podcasting in unconventional ways. We’ll get into more of the tactical side of it, but suffice it to say that when I first got into podcasting, I was able to generate 15-minute appointments with people just by reaching out with very simple script on LinkedIn and offering to introduce them to a podcast host.

I was doing it partly for networking and relationships. That ended up getting me directly onto the phone with potential clients and those intro 15-minute calls would turn into sales appointments. Some of my best clients and good friends, frankly, came from that strategy including the man that I now consider my business coach and mentor actually came from that strategy.

Then there’s all kinds of fun stuff you can do. You can actually run a podcast as a lead generator or you, as a sales executive, can build your own brand by getting featured on podcasts as a guest. We’re going to talk about the interesting, out-of-the-box ways to use podcasting to generate sales appointments or build your personal brand as a sales executive and present yourself as an expert in what clients do so when you get on the phone with them, there’s already a built-in level of respect and they know that you know that they’re business. That’s the short version.

Marylou: Okay, very good. I know that some of you are thinking, “I am an SDR. I am someone, a sales development rep, just starting out. How does this work for somebody like me?” Matt, if you could just walk us through a typical scenario. Matt prefaced this as any level of skill in the sales chain. So, whether you’re a marketing response rep getting in-bound calls, if you’re an outbound person, if you work on referrals, if you do account management, or a sales executive, any of those roles are applicable to what Matt’s going to teach us today when it comes to lead gen and getting those 15 minutes for what we call AWAF, the “Are We A Fit” call. Matt, walk us through how does it work and when we would want to use this?

Matt: If I were an SDR starting out in today’s environment, knowing what I know about podcasting, here’s how I would do it. I would go out and I would look at the podcast where my potential clients might be a good guest for that show. I would put a list together of let’s say 10 or 15 of those podcasts. There’s now 700,000 podcasts on iTunes. Believe me, there’s probably more out there than you think that would apply very, very specifically to the people that you want to sell to. If you know who you want to sell to, if you know who you want relationships with, then it’s relatively easy to find the podcast that they should be listening to if they’re not already, so go find those podcasts.

My first step would be to reach out and start building a relationship with the host. I would track down their email and I would just send them a short cold email that goes something like this, “Hey, my name is so-and-so, I work with XYZ company, and I constantly meet good people that I think might be good fits for your podcast because they’re in such and such industry. Here’s who they typically are. I noticed that you run a podcast in this space. I was just curious if you’re open if I want to call somebody that I think might be a good guest, would you be okay if I introduce them or pass them along for you?”

Speaking as a podcast host, that’s a no-brainer yes for me. The only question is, “Are you going to follow through?” and “Are you going to send me people that are a waste of my time?” If they say yes, great. Run with it. If they want to jump on a call and tell you who their ideal client is, by all means do that because that’s your core, your foundation, the relationships with a couple of handfuls of podcast hosts, that’s your leverage now then go to step two. You build those relationships with the podcast hosts.

Now, you’re going to step two which is to go out into the market and either find the cold emails of the people that you want to reach out to or even better yet, as your building out your LinkedIn presence like I was, a lot of my potential clients were 1–2 steps removed on LinkedIn. I was starting to build my network to the point where when I found somebody on LinkedIn that I wanted to reach out to, I personally knew one of those mutual friends.

Then I would send a very, very short message with a connect request or something like that, that went something like this, “Hey, John. I noticed that we’re connected through Mandy McQuillan. I just talked to her the other day. She’s awesome. I just happened to check out your profile real quick and thought you might be a good guest for this podcast I know. If you’re interested, let me know and I could either shoot over some details or we can jump on a quick call.”

It’s two very short, essentially 2–3 sentence messages. I think my response rate back in the day—it’s been a couple of years since I did this as an active lead gen strategy—was insane. When I’m dropping a real mutual name, it was over 50% was yes. A lot of times those yesses were to a 15-minute phone call. That was really impactful because I was able to get on the line with my ideal clients and even the influencers that were one level above them, and build really good relationships.

Of course, the natural question is, “Hey, what do you do?” I would just give the idea behind my company like, “This is what we do.” Because they were a good fit, because I was reaching out to people who were my ideal clients, their reaction was, “Oh, well maybe you and I need to have a conversation.” Of course, that leads to, “Great. Let’s set up another call.” It was kind of an exploratory or discovery call.

That very simple progression of build relationships with podcast hosts, which is what gives you the excuse for step two, to reach out and offer to introduce them. But the principle there, you could do it without podcasting, but it works a lot better right now using podcasting as the bait because it’s just the environment we’re in right now. The principle is the same, which is you reach out with an offer of a strategic introduction that adds a legitimate value to that person’s life. Then, the only question is just how do you execute on making the introduction and do you ask them to do a phone call first or make the introduction and then follow-up later?

Marylou: Right. Let’s compare that, everyone, who’s been knowing my waterfalls. A 50% response rate, let’s say it’s 40%, the average sequence we are hoping for somewhere between 11%–20% response rate over the course of X number of touches. In the old Predictable Revenue book way back in 2011, we are hoping for a 7%–9% response rate on one email.

These numbers, just think of how valuable the list would be. We wouldn’t be wasting names in the list and you don’t have to do this with a ton of records. Basically, you’re working to fill up your funnel with accounts that you think are a good fit, and you would use another tool in the tool kit for you to be able to start having conversations, because that’s what it’s all about. It’s starting conversations with people we don’t know and getting a relationship started so that we could move them and advance them in the pipeline towards an opportunity.

When you first approached people with this process and this concept, Matt, what is the overall reaction of people to do this type of lead generation? Are they scared? Are they excited? Are they somewhere in the middle? What did people think?

Matt: Well, we’re in an interesting time with podcasting because people are very, very open to it. There’s a few industries where I ran into where there is a little bit of suspicion. Financial advising, wealth management was one of them, just an old, very traditional industry. I was booking rank and file financial advisors on a podcast at that time, just testing that and seeing how it went.

I do think there are industries where podcasting hasn’t made as much inroads, where there’ll still be some fear and hesitation, but even then, my response rate was still really good and out of the people that I introduced or booked on a podcast, it was half of the people. I could do maybe twice as much of the work to get them booked and nailed down, but it wasn’t that much more. Then the influencers in that space were just as eager as influencers in any other space.

Even in industries that you think might be a little stodgy and out of touch with the podcasting angle, still give it a try because it might just be the rank and file people but it takes a little bit of extra hand holding, but everybody else in that space might be gung-ho and ready to show up on the show and that’s all you need. All you need is that openness because that’s what gives you the ability to reach out and get that easy yes to a phone call or to an introduction.

Marylou: Right, and I will tell you all that the first one of building a relationship with a podcaster, I love it when you guys reach out to me and tell me, “Hey, you should have so and so on your podcast.” or “Hey, I’d love this topic discussed on your podcast.” I’m always looking for talent. I’m always looking for content. I’m always looking to enrich the work that we’re doing with this podcast so that you guys feel supercharged, ready to go out, and do your lead gen.

The other thing I want to say, Matt, that I use it for this type of work is to get referrals because if you triangulate and you say to the guy, “Well, not a good fit but hey, if you have a colleague or do you know a colleague or two that might be interested in this?” Now you’re starting to grow your list of potential prospects, also potential people who can help out later on in the sales process. I use it for that as well. One call gets me two referrals. That’s always my goal when I’m working on that.

Matt: Yeah. I just interviewed somebody the other day and they said something similar and I love that approach. In fact, I don’t always utilize that as much as I should, personally, even though I do think of things in the realm of relationships. I don’t always keep that in mind, tell on every phone call, ask for referrals of some kind.

It’s true though. Anytime you’re on the phone with somebody that’s in the right space, they all know that all of their peers, all of their colleagues, everybody knows somebody or a couple of people that is a good fit for whatever you sell. So yeah, don’t be afraid to ask.

Marylou: This is any level podcasting lead gen, getting us to that 15-minute AWAF, the “Are We A Fit” call. Let’s segue over to the other type of way to use podcasting. You mentioned that we can look at it as building our brand for social proof. For me for example, the author of two books, that gives me a certain level of clout that with podcast is only enhanced.

For example, no one has ever asked me for a reference in any of the accounts I’ve worked in, ever. A lot of that is because there is this presumed expertise that I possess or that they think I posses. A lot of it is because of the fact that I’m out there all the time, speaking on the topic, talking to people who are experts in the topic, talking to people who are practitioners of the topic which is always a wonderful thing to do. Let’s talk about that side of it, what you’ve seen there, and if there’s a process around that. I’d love to hear that as well.

Matt: I want to comment on the overall strategy first because you’re right about that. There’s a presumption of expertise and I think we can have expertise on two levels. Obviously, we want to be an expert in what we’re selling. But one of the things I noticed, that I didn’t do as intentionally but I happened into this strategy because of how I came to podcasting, was by interviewing all of the top people in the niche that I was selling into. I’d read all the books. I knew who all the players were. I knew who the coaches and influences were so I unintentionally became an expert in what they did.

When I was having conversations with people but eventually turn into clients, it didn’t very much revolve around my service. It was more about their business and I was able to have very, very in depth, intelligent conversations and ask really good questions because I understood their business at a deep level. I became an expert not just in what I did, but I became an expert in what my clients did, and that really changed the […] for me.

The sales conversations were less about my service. The actual description, talking them through what I did, and getting them to sign up was like five minutes. It was 45 and 50 minutes of talking about their business and then the bigger strategy and stuff and understanding where their head was at and what their goals were. They were like, “Okay. Now, how can this help me?” I would give them the elevator pitch and they’re like, “Yup. Send the contract over. Let’s do it.” There’s a change to the conversation.

Marylou: That’s great. There’s also the perception that, especially if you look at our bullseye of influencers that we work with to get people to close, there’s decision makers, there’s direct influencers, there’s indirect influencers, stakeholders. There’s a lot of people with whom we have dialogue with and all of them need to feel comfortable that we know what we’re talking about, that we got their back, and that we’re really focused on the business.

This gives a nice way of really getting in deep with people and having you represent them in the sales process and the sales cycle as a champion of what they’re trying to accomplish—what challenges they have, the outcomes that they’re to pursue, and also, the new normal of what you can do, what you can bring to the table that they might not have even thought about. To get to that discussion, you typically have to have a better relationship with the stakeholders in order to get to this new normal. They’re trying to just satisfy what they think is the solution to the problem, but a lot of times when we’re selling, we want to be able to bridge the gap with what they actually want and what we can provide them. That is what sets us apart from the competition.

Matt: I’m curious, just from your perspective, how many of the percentage of the audience, how many of them do you feel like you’re selling something that their potential clients are not expecting to be pitched versus they’re selling something that fits into an established category or a line item in a budget where they already know they need it. The only question is who are they going to get it from.

Marylou: Well, there’s a combination. If we draw a box and then a vertical line and a horizontal line, you’ve got four quadrants. My guys fit in all those quadrants. They’re selling existing products to new and existing clients.  They’re selling new products to new and existing clients. At any given time, there is going to be a conversation in one of those areas.

I think that this prepares them to be able to have those conversations and to switch, depending on where they’re at in the sales process and also with thom they’re speaking with. A lot of times we do have to sell above the expectation because people are supposedly well-educated these days and know the outcome that they’re trying to achieve. To sell better, we have to be able to satisfy that outcome but also, start to talk to them, get them to buy into what this new normal is of the opportunity that only our company or I can provide.

That requires the relationship. That’s why this is a beautiful way, I think, to get into that because you start adding and flowing with people. They get an understanding of your expertise. They get a comfort level. There’s this implied relationship already starting because they think they know you. They’ve heard you. They’ve listened to your passion, your enthusiasm. They can see the smiles coming through the lines of his face. It just gives you a heads up in so many ways, that whole, building that relationship. In certain industries, it’s hard to break in. I have some clients who work with scientists and they’re not necessarily a chatty bunch versus marketing people.

Matt: Yeah. I have a client who’s in the innovation commercialization space in health care, and yeah, exactly the same way. She went on and got a PhD in marketing, partially, to be considered on their level. Scientists are not interested in talking to people that they think are dumb. Let’s put it that way.

Marylou: You’re right. Education could be that way, too. When you’re working with professors and things, they’re writing papers, “Are you published? If you’re not published, we don’t want to talk to you.” There’s a lot of hurdles to overcome. Again, this is another tool, everybody. It’s not replacing anything you’re already doing but for those of you who are looking for ways to stand out from the crowd, as they say, and also to really home in on what your expertise is and how you could help solve problems. Podcasting is a great way to do that.

Matt: Yeah, 100% agree. I’ve got a friend of mine who I was introduced to by my business coach and he is a high level executive recruiter. He has two sets of clients he’s trying to put together which are, on the one hand, the boards, the C-suites, and the private hedge fund guys that are hiring people. Then on the other side, you’ve got high powered C-suite executives that are being placed. It’s a tough, cut-throat business.

Not only does he get interviewed on podcast, but he runs a podcast called the Aerospace Executive where he presents himself not just as an authority on recruiting, but an authority on leadership. He gives his perspective on the industry so people get a sense of the fact that he actually has opinions and really deep level of expertise in the industry itself, that position. When he walks into a meeting with a board of directors to hire a new CFO or something, it puts him on an entirely different footing even though at his heart, he is a sales person selling his ability to sell the right person to come work for them.

It’s 100% rails all the way through and through, but he walks in on a completely different footing versus if he walked in there as just some guy that was an independent recruiter. Whether you get interviewed as a guest expert on podcast or whether you host your own, it puts you in the same position as an expert in your own right. You walk into a client meeting as a peer and a colleague and not as someone that they’re just going to pay to do a job.

Marylou: Yes. The other thing is you’re a trusted advisor because you walk the walk. Whether you have a degree or not. If you’re working in the steel industry and you don’t have any steel products but you know what goes on in the steel industry and you know what problems they have, what challenges they have, you just immediately get a seat at the table.

That’s really what we’re trying to do here is I’ll give you guys the tool so that no matter who you’re talking to, you have a seat at their table because you’ve earned that. You’ve earned that by doing these other things to build who you are, your authority, and your brand. Even if you’re working for a company, you’re building your expertise on the topic that your company solves.

This is so great. Now we’re all like, “Wow. This is really cool. I think I want to figure it out how to podcast.” Equipment, what do you do? You can’t use your computer. You and I, we’ve been […] the audio here with my thing, but you can’t use, typically, the standard computer audio. What’s the next step?

Matt: Well, I would say before even looking at starting your own podcast, if you’re a sales executive or someone that has something to say about your industry, focus on getting interviewed first because that’s a much easier place to start. It requires a lot less commitment and consistency. You can dial in how much you want to be visible and stuff like that by how many shows to go after and get featured on.

The really simple place to start is you don’t need anything fancy. Most of us have laptops that are just fine, good enough. Really, what you need is just a good microphone that’s made for something like podcasting, that doesn’t have to be in a pristine recording studio and environment in order to sound good. For example, I’m speaking into what’s called an Audio-Technica ATR2100 and that cost me the princely sum of $80 on Amazon.

What’s funny about that is I’m a musician. I recorded my own album, I’ve been in recording studios a lot, and I used to have a really nice, more expensive vocal microphone that I used for all my podcasting, and this sounds better because it’s not made for a studio. It’s not made for an environment where everything is absolutely controlled. It’s made to be used out in the real world where the other day, I was recording a podcast and a helicopter flew over head, then there’s a leaf blower 20 feet away from me, and all this stuff. Or you have to record from the hotel and the maid is cleaning the room next door with the world’s loudest vacuum cleaner.

That’s it. That’s just the way podcasting is, if you’re a real human being with a life and you like to travel and stuff. You don’t need an expensive microphone. You need the laptop that you probably already have, an ATR microphone from Amazon, and you’re set. If you have that, and you just show up on time and prepared, podcast hosts are going to love you. They’re going to appreciate the effort of you having a decent microphone and that’s about all you need.

Marylou: That’s great. As Matt said, there are a plethora of podcast shows that are out there. Do you suggest looking through iTunes or are there other places that people would look for potential shows that would be a good fit for them?

Matt: Yeah. I would always start with thinking about who you’re selling to and thinking about what podcast they’re listening to. You can also go to Google and type in, “The best of,” or “the top 10,” or whatever podcast of your space, so, “The top 10 podcasts in real estate,” or, “The top 10 podcasts in areospace.”

Some of those are going to be a list put together by other companies in the space. Some of the podcasts on that list are just going to be good entrepreneurial podcasts that they think people in that space should listen to. Some of them are going to be specific to that industry only. It’s going to be a grab bag but that’s the two places I would start. I’d start with iTunes and then start with a Google search for “the best of” or “the top 10 podcasts” in your industry and just start there.

A lot of times, if you find two or three of them, if you go into iTunes and you pop the name of one of them in and you find their show page, scroll all the way down to the bottom of iTunes and iTunes is going to suggest 10 or 15 more. A lot of times, that’s when you’ll find the smaller shows that you might not have found through a Google search but are maybe even more influential in that space because they’re more niche.

Marylou: That’s nice, nice tip. Just like LinkedIn when they first started, if we had a prospect that we wanted to go after, on the right hand side was all the colleagues he was connected to which helped us build our influence map. This is just really nice. Love it. I want to be respectful of time because we’re hitting the top of the hour here. Where should we look for you or if someone really wants to have a conversation with you, what’s the best way that we can pop in and talk to you?

Matt: You can check out the website in turnkey production services at pursuingresults.com, and then, I’ve got a training. So, if you’re an influencer who’s listening, if you’re a sales executive or maybe you’re a CEO founder and you want to get your company more attention by you getting out and building your personal brand—I think everyone of us in this economy needs to do anyway, even if you don’t think you need to—just go to howtogetfeatured.com.

I did a training there where I did go really deep on how to find the right podcast for you, how to leverage the right audiences, how to make the podcast host your friend so you actually build more of a strategic referral relationship, how to be a good guest, how to come up with a compelling story hook or an angle so that when you reach out to a podcast host, you can tell them why they should have you as a guest, all that fun stuff, as well as how you can push all that work, the behind-the-scenes stuff, down to an assistant, a virtual assistant, an intern, or maybe an SDR on the team, something like that.

There’s a way to get all of the behind-the-scenes work done for you by someone on your team so that you’re not the one doing all the research and scheduling. You can just show up, hit record, and have fun conversations like this.

Marylou: Okay. Well, last question, Matt. The audience is understanding that there’s workflow behind any success. We do things in blocked time and we do things repetitively to build habit. If you’re starting out, what’s a good goal to podcast or be a guest on a podcast? Is it one a month, one week, one a quarter? Do you have some round numbers you can help us understand the landscape of this?

Matt: Yes. If you’re going really heavy duty, you can set a goal to be featured on 100 in a year. That’s actually only two a week and that’s entirely doable. But to start out with, especially if you’re really just getting focused on being interviewed in places where your ideal clients are listening, I would just set a target of one a month.

Marylou: One a month. Okay. Very good. Matt, thank you so much for being a guest on the podcast. Now, everybody, I’ll put all Matt’s information, including that website about howtogetfeatured.com. I’ll make sure that all of those are written as notes and from there, you guys should really look at this as an option. I know for me personally, podcasting has been such a rewarding process.

I launched a book in 2016 and I said to myself, “Well, I should probably do a podcast.” So for the first 30 days, I did 1 a day to launch the book because that sounded right. I don’t know. I had no idea but now, I’m up to 140. I just love it. I think it’s the best thing and I hear from so many of you, how rewarding you think it is, that you try some tips from these podcasts, you actually put them into play, and they’re working. It’s all good.

I do appreciate you taking the time to come and speak with us about how to integrate this type of lead generation into the daily activities of anyone—any level or to build your brand and expertise. Thanks so much, Matt.

Matt: Thanks, Marylou.