Are you frustrated with your sales & marketing results? Is it a marketing problem, a sales problem, or a little bit of both? In today’s episode, sales expert Brian Williams, Founder & CEO of Perspectivity, helps us break down ways that leaders can identify where challenges lie and ways to address those issues.
Brian tells listeners:
- About the need for a shared language between sales and marketing
- Why it’s so important for marketers to become better versed in using data and analytics
- How sales and marketing teams can become better partners
- About the importance of empathy between these two teams
Want to get in touch with Brian online?
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Alanna Jackson: Welcome to the B2B Mix Show with Alanna and Stacy. Each week we'll bring you ideas that you can implement in your own marketing strategy. We'll share what we know and advice from industry experts who will join us from time to time here on the show. Are you ready to mix it up? Let's get started.
Stacy Jackson: Hey everybody. I'm Stacey Jackson.
Alanna Jackson: And I'm Alanna Jackson. We are the co founders of Jackson Marketing and in case you still haven't heard, we are also sisters. We're bringing you episode 30 of the B2B Mix Show. Stacy, what's the topic of today's episode?
Stacy Jackson: Today we're going to talk about how to know if you have a marketing problem or a sales problem. We've all been hearing a lot about sales and marketing alignment. It's all people talk about lately, but a lot of companies still struggle with getting their teams to collaborate in a way that produces results in success. And one of the problems many companies face is not knowing is it a problem we're having with sales or marketing or both when we're trying to get those corporate goals and revenue goals. So we brought in Brian Williams to help all of you listeners out there diagnose your problems a little more easily and he's also offering some tips on how to solve those issues. Alanna, why don't you introduce Brian to our listeners?
Alanna Jackson: Brian is after 20 years in the Silicon Valley tech industry working for companies like Cisco, Motorola, and Ericsson. He left and started his own firm called Perspectivity. They provide sales training, sales enablement and advanced sales presentation skills for clients such as AT&T, Citi, Altran in the Paris and France areas and Cisco as well as many other small businesses. He's delivered hundreds of sales presentations in more than 10 countries. He is a Toastmasters world champion of public speaking finalists and here are some personal tidbits about Brian. He has a bachelor's degree in computer science from Texas A&M. He lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife and four children. He's a fitness fan, vegetarian, avid runner, amateur photographer, and is a leader and working in prison and homeless ministries.
Alanna Jackson: And we would love to hear more about your ministry work sometime because I have a big passion for ministry work, so we'll have to take that offline. But right now we're here to talk sales and marketing and I'm kind of wondering how you're still standing because it sounds like you're always super busy and always on the move. So we are really excited that you found time to meet with us and chat with us. So welcome to the B2B Mix Show, Brian.
Brian Williams: Absolutely awesome introduction. Thank you so much for that and I am excited to be here with you guys. Great meeting you when we met in Boston and I'm glad we're able to do this again. So thank you.
Stacy Jackson: Me too. Your session was one of our favorites.
Alanna Jackson: Yeah, it was.
Brian Williams: Awesome. Good to hear. Very cool.
Stacy Jackson: So Brian, as I mentioned a moment ago, we've heard about a lot about sales and marketing alignment. Some companies feel like working on it, but maybe they're still having issues hitting their sales and marketing goals. How do you advise people to go about diagnosing that ultimate problem when it comes to hitting those goals? How can they tell if it's marketing or sales or both?
Brian Williams: So I'd like to start with some simple definitions, right? Because sometimes when you keep things simple, it aids in understanding, right? So marketing is creating awareness, right? Which produces leads and sales is using sales skills to convert leads into paying clients. So I think just yesterday I spoke at this event last night and I was having a conversation and the lady was saying that she had the same question, right? So I said, "Listen, do you have enough qualified leads?" And I use that term specifically. Do you have enough qualified leads coming in every month? What is that number and what is your conversion ratio on those qualified leads?
Brian Williams: So let's say you have 10 qualified leads that come in every month and you turn three of those into clients. That makes a 30% closing ratio. So if you can predict the number of qualified leads that you have coming in and you can exercise that same closing ratio every month, you can predict what your revenue will be for the next month or the next year, right? So if you have a certain number of qualified leads coming in and you can explain how those leads are being created, right? And then you have sales skills, sales processes, sales strategies in place to convert those into clients, now we have an effective marketing and sales machine and we can grow a business predictably and eventually hopefully sell it. I'm an entrepreneur at heart. Sell it when we've created that kind of machine.
Alanna Jackson: One of the things that when we were at Inbound and attended your presentation, you talked about communication and the language that sales people and marketers use. They're speaking different languages and what are some of the ways that companies can prevent that problem from happening in their own organizations? Because if we're not speaking the same language, we're having a problem right there. Right?
Brian Williams: Right. For sure. So one way to think of it is most people on the marketing side, they talk lead and ad and websites and brochures and colors and [inaudible 00:05:25] all those things, right? All the marketing speak and the sales folks, they do the same, right? Closing ratio, prospecting, sales scripts, all those things. And there's nothing wrong with either one of those. The problem is if each side only speaks their own language, right? So the marketing teams must learn what prospecting is like, what the sales people are going through, right?
Brian Williams: What a qualified lead looks like because marketing says well lead came in and sales are saying, well but were they qualified leads? Meaning are those people that are remotely interested in what we do as a business? Because a lot of times marketing gets excited because leads are coming in, but the quality of those leads may not be quite as high. So it's just learning the value, the language that each is really about understanding the value that each side brings to the company and then speaking in a language that they can value and appreciate. So we can't throw out all marketing speak if we're in sales and we can't throw out all sales speak if we're in marketing. We have to bridge the gap and learn how each of those two worlds work because ultimately the company thrives when they work better together.
Stacy Jackson: And that's a good point. I think that goes back to what you were explaining about the how to diagnose if it's sales or marketing problem because marketers may think, "Oh yeah, we got a thousand leads in one week, it was great." And then sales is like, "These leads are trash." So having that shared definition and shared language, that definitely helps. But beyond just definitions, what can marketers do with analytics to make sure their processes and strategies aren't part of the problem? What do they need in place to really make sure that they're doing the right things to support sales?
Brian Williams: So now, good question. Now this is going to sound maybe a little bit country to some folks, like it may not work, but I will say that I would go have a conversation with the sales team and say, "What are you guys expecting? What do you think about the leads we're producing? What do you think about the quality of leads, the quantity of leads that you have?" What do you guys want to sell more of? How are you selling it? The more insight that you have on what the sales team is going through, the better you're going to be able to help them do what they need to do, which is generate revenue so everyone gets paid, right? So I would just have a conversation because that just doesn't happen a lot. So when I was in Silicon Valley, it was this huge high tech startup that everyone would know if I said it and I was in software test at the time.
Brian Williams: Well software design. So that team would write all the code and we would test it to find all the bugs in a phone or a computer, whatever before we shipped. Right? So we had a meeting so when the development would finish the software, they would meet with tests. So software design has done. Software tests is about to begin and the software design team would meet with us and say, "Guys look, this is what's happened. These are the features we created. These are some problems that we saw that you might want to poke around cause you're probably going to find a lot of issues there. These three areas we think are rock solid." I would spend a lot of time and we would get together and have a conversation. Design and test would talk and communicate and design would equip us with areas to address, areas that are probably quite strong, you might not want to spend too much time there.
Brian Williams: So we had what's called insight. So we would know where to go or not to go and I can't tell you how effective and productive that was. I've worked in a lot of tech startups, lot of large tech companies. That was the only company that I saw that did that. And I don't see that happen enough between marketing and sales where they are intentional. Like that was part of our process. You do not begin test phase until you have this handoff meeting with design and that was an hour, hour and a half long meeting where we got really deep into the details. But I can tell you it made us much more effective. We were able to finish faster and we actually found more issues in the software as a result of that handoff meeting. So I would recommend the same between marketing and sales.
Stacy Jackson: Yeah, that's a great point.
Alanna Jackson: One of the things that I've seen in some companies is a lot of times they're trying to have the conversations like you were talking about where sales and marketing or trying to have those conversations, but the problem is sometimes it's only at the high level, so it's the managers having that conversation and it's not always getting passed down to the people that are actually doing the work in a way that is making an impact. Do you find that that's an issue across most organizations that maybe they're trying and they're having it at high level, but it's not coming down and trickling down into the people that are actually doing the day to day stuff?
Brian Williams: So, exactly. And even in the example that I use, it was a software design team and the software test team. No managers were needed. We were down deep into the code. We had literal lines of code on the screen. And talking through it, notice here, if you guys try to stress the system out over here, you're going to find problems because look at this code. See how that's designed? I think we could make it better, but right now it's not quite there yet. Now to their credit, now notice what I'm saying, most software design think that every line of code that they write is flawless and perfect and there's no problems with it.
Brian Williams: But these guys, they were admitting issues. They were open and honest and vulnerable. And so when marketing and sales gets together and not at a really high theoretical level, but down in the weeds, let's get analytical and personal and specific about it. So if marketing is sharing, we have been trying to do LinkedIn ads let's just say. We're spending this many thousands of dollars a month. How many leads is it producing? We're very excited because we got 800 leads last month. Well, the sales team is going, "40 of those were quality."
Brian Williams: So now we can save ourselves a lot of time and money if we have these healthy conversations. And I use that term specifically. Healthy conversations where we're open and honest and vulnerable and were sharing true information so we can generate true insight as a result of having those healthy conversations.
Alanna Jackson: Hey folks. Let's take a break to hear about today's sponsor.
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Alanna Jackson: And we are back. I was going to ask one question about are there specific tips that you can give to the people that are doing the actual work in marketing to help and the people, the sales reps to help them think about ways when they're in their day to day processes. Okay. I need to be doing this to make sure that we're aligned better.
Brian Williams: So yes, here's the best tip I can give. Considering I don't have the details of each company, but from a broad perspective, I would start having those conversations. Because here's the thing, I'm a big believer and my aunt Nanny [inaudible 00:13:21] She's married uncle Lacy for 57 years. So I catch her in the kitchen one day. I said, "Aunt Nanny boy, you got to tell me. How you guys been married this long and you're always so happy?" She said, "Baby, what's Your uncle Lacy like I do and what he don't like I don't do." She was done with the whole conversation after that. And she said, "He does the same for me. Things I like, he does. Things I don't like, he doesn't do. He does with his friends, family, whatever." So I would say marketing, go to sales and say, "Guys, what do you like that we do? The things that we do. The leads that we produce? Like what is it that you like and what do you not like that you see?"
Brian Williams: And just ask that honest question and then be quiet and start writing. What they like, write it down. What they don't like, write it down. Continue to do one, stop doing the other. Sales do the same thing with marketing. Mention things that you like and mention things that you don't like. So each side ask that question to the other and then take notes. And it's amazing. So now we don't have to spend our time doing things that have no value to the other side. That's called a waste of time and effort. Now it takes some courage and boldness to ask that question.
Brian Williams: And some people get offended because the thing that you love most they say brings them no value. But if that's the truth, I say embrace that truth. And find out, "Well why don't you guys value that?" And then they may say, "Well, we tried it and it's just not working for us. Like we don't find we get clients through that channel that you're open for us." And if that's true, we need to find another channel. So I would just say have that conversation of what you like and what you don't like. Take notes and be open and honest. You have to have the right atmosphere to do that so you have a healthy outcome. But instead of handing off tips and tricks that may or not work, you know what works in your organization and what doesn't. In fact, if you don't just ask the other side and trust me, they will be more than happy to answer that question for you.
Alanna Jackson: Yeah. And one of the things that Darryl Praill, the CMO of Vanilla Soft has mentioned, he did a presentation about how marketers need to be holding salespeople accountable. Do you think that that's something that needs to happen as well? Because I think the stat is like 44% of salespeople or sales reps give up after one follow up. And so there needs to be a cadence and making sure that the sales people are making those because it can take what 5 to 12 contact attempts for sale. Are there things like that that need to be happening to hold each other accountable?
Brian Williams: Okay. So let's beat up on the sales side a little bit because ... So I'm happy to do that cause I work with those guys a lot now.
Alanna Jackson: We can beat up on marketing, too.
Brian Williams: So another company comes to mind where a number of healthy qualified leads were produced every single month and the sales team, they just were not doing an effective job of converting and so I didn't know where the problem was. So I started listening to their calls. So on one hand, yes you're right in that it does take multiple follow ups before you're going to get in contact, which will lead to a conversion. One or two, it just won't cut. That's never going to happen. But in this case, when they did get in contact, because there was a few, they were very persistent in pursuing the prospects, pursuing leads. But then when I started listening in on the calls, I've found the problem. Their sales conversation skills were quite weak.
Brian Williams: They just didn't have the sales skills needed to convert leads into clients or the listening skills in some cases to convert leads to clients. So yes, I would agree with you that if, again, a healthy number of qualified leads or produced every month marketing has done their job. Your job is done. If you can check that box, you go to sleep well at night because now we produced. We've given sales what they need. Now you need to go bring home the bacon that's on you now. If you've gotten a number of healthy qualified leads, it's your job to have the correct CRM, sales conversation skills, sales presentation skills, whatever that might be to convert those leads into clients. And obviously there's a lot that goes into that on the sales side, but I would say if they're producing the right number of leads and they're quality, I think marketing should sleep well at night and now sales owns the problem of converting those quality leads into clients.
Brian Williams: And quite honestly, if you have the right skills, that should not be very difficult. I have to generate the leads and close in my business. I have someone that helps with that now, but that's a much tougher job. If you being spoon fed qualified leads, that's a coveted position to be in in sales. Let me tell you that. And if you don't value and honor leads that are given to you that you didn't even have to pay for or work for, you're spoiled. And I meet lots of spoiled salespeople. They don't value the leads. And so they don't hustle. They don't call six, seven, eight times. They don't develop quality sales conversation skills because guess what? They're going to get more quality leads next month and they get spoiled and entitled. And it's pitiful.
Alanna Jackson: Yeah. So what about if we beat up on marketers a little bit? So what are marketers doing? I mean, should they be putting certain words into their content? Should they be doing certain things that pull in the right leads?
Brian Williams: Good, good question. So here's what some marketing teams that I've been able to work with is I'll say, "I want you to start talking like sales professionals. You don't have to be sales professionals, but begin thinking and talking like sales professionals because I understand you're in marketing, I get that. But the closer you can sound like salespeople, the more effective you're going to be in marketing." Because we want to start the persuasion and conversion process before the sales process starts. It's your job to grease the skid so it's a smooth transition from marketing to sales. So what does that sound like?
Brian Williams: Not just talking about the pitching products and service and why we're great and why we're awesome, but finding out what problems does a prospect have? What is their day like? What is emotional trauma do they go through during the day that makes it a hard day in the life of running their business and try to find out, like get into their world and start using their vernacular, their terms, finding out what their fears and emotions are, and then speak specifically to that as opposed to pitching and position.
Brian Williams: Because we see a lot of that from the marketing side. All you got to do is open up your LinkedIn account. And now it's become spam central all of a sudden. In fact, I will share this with you. So to answer your question specifically, I had a client out of Houston call us and say, "We want to get into the largest prison system in the state. Largest prison system in the country and the largest hospital system in the state," I think it was, and I was able to do all three for them. But here's how I did it from a marketing perspective. I went on LinkedIn, I found the one of the people that they wanted to get in contact with at this large prison system. And they were doing tele-psychiatry by the way. You would get on a video call with a psychiatrist and they counsel the people from there.
Brian Williams: And I found out a little bit about the person. I went on their LinkedIn profile. I actually read their profile. I watched a couple of videos on the website. I found out that because the guards are not trained on how to handle inmates with mental health issues, they end up hog tying them, handcuffing them, tasing them, and putting them in solitary, which is extremely unfortunate and the number of deaths and accidents they have in the prisons because the guards aren't trained on how to deal with mental health patients, like many people aren't. And so I dug into the pain that they're going through, what is their day like? And this is what I did next. I watched some videos on that. I read a few articles on that and then I did all of that work before I ever reached out to the guy and then I finally put my LinkedIn message together.
Brian Williams: Hey John, let's say. Glad to connect. Listen, I got an idea of what you guys might be going through. I understand your guards, what they're being faced with. They have these mental health inmates that are sometimes going to be out of control mentally and physically. It puts them in danger. Your guards in danger. They don't know how to handle it. They're hog tying. I put all that stuff in. I just heard about the law that was attempted to be passed to help with this, but you and I both know it's going to be a couple of years before that ever happens. Listen, if you're going through some of these things, I think we might be able to help with our tele-psychiatry services. If you have any interest, you'd like to talk, here's a number. That's it. I said nothing about my company.
Alanna Jackson: Right.
Brian Williams: I said everything about what he's going through, the problems they're facing. I almost became a mini expert at the issue that they're facing and guess what? Two days later he reaches out. Next day we're on the phone. They end up doing business with this client. Now all that was marketing. Then we have to have some sales skills and things that we put in place to convert that lead to a client. But to answer your question, I got totally into their world. It has nothing to do with pitching and positioning and why we're great and spamming them with email and all these cool technology tools we have. Now, this is a high stakes B2B sale, which is a little more complex. But that's what was required to get their attention and eventually have them become a client.
Alanna Jackson: Right, because you spoke to what they needed. They had a pain point. Here's this situation and you learned about it. You spoke to them about it and didn't even push yourself. And that's what drew them in. And I think a lot of marketers today just are creating content just for the sake of having new content. They're not looking at it from, "Hey, let's talk about what is actually happening with our prospects and what they need."
Brian Williams: Yeah. And you know what I've learned from talking with Mark, it's fun to create cool content and graphics and video and websites. All that stuff is fun. You just get to talk about what you like and enjoy and you push it out there. Well guess what? It took time, intention and effort to go find out about this guy, watch all these videos and see all these inmates and watch all the ... it's work. It's effort because guess what? That's not my passion. I don't know much about present systems and guards and mental health.
Brian Williams: I learned a lot going through the process, but that's not necessarily fun. I mean, I like learning about other people things, so I just started researching all these things and looking at these articles and these laws that were attempted to be passed and then put a very clear but concise message together that touched on those things, which sent a message to the other side that said, "Man, this guy knows his stuff. It's like he's been in the prison the last eight months." Nope. Anything you want is available online. Right. You just have to care enough about the prospect to go research.
Stacy Jackson: It sounds like a lot of the issues, whether it's sales or marketing to prospects or sales and marketing to one another can be resolved if people are kind to one another and have that sense of empathy for one another and the problems that each other face.
Brian Williams: You know the very talk I gave last night dealt with this. It was a sales talk and I'm talking about empathy and listening and kindness and integrity and vulnerability. Because ultimately you're dealing with people and it's so easy to engage with technology because it doesn't talk back. It does whatever you want it to do. You push the button and it happens. People are a lot more difficult. And what I'm finding is we're leaning more to technology because it's easy and we're avoiding the complexity of dealing with people.
Stacy Jackson: So as far as things that could maybe help with that empathy or at least help improve how sales and marketing work together and how they serve the customers, do you have any recommended procedures that each team should have in place or a type of technology they should use together? Just any last thoughts on how to really bring home the bacon for the company by working together well?
Brian Williams: Yeah. I was talking to this one company that's really, I think has cracked the code. So they've done two things. Number one, they have a chief revenue officer. So the head of marketing and the head of sales reports into the CRO. So there's one leader. There's not just sales and marketing with this chasm between them. That was one thing they did smart. The second thing they did that's really smart, marketing is incentivized to bring in quality leads. So if you bring in a certain number of quality leads and those leads get converted into clients, marketing gets a cut of that action. I thought that was awesome. So, guess what?
Stacy Jackson: I do too.
Brian Williams: But I thought it was so cool because marketing is now more focused than they've ever been. They value the quality leads over any lead. They're not just producing content and pushing it out there because they're saying to themselves, "If that's not going to generate quality leads, I don't want to spend time there because I like these bonuses that I'm getting all of the sudden."
Brian Williams: So number one, they had a CRO that was over both marketing and sales and that CRO did a really good job with bringing synergy between those groups, creating those healthy conversations. Secondly, marketing was incentivized to bring in quality leads that sales obviously valued because they make their quota the more quality leads they have. And on the sales side, we did have to do some work on working on their sales conversation skills and using the CRM because they were using one that was really kind of complex and complicated.
Brian Williams: So having a simple CRM that easily reflects where that company may be in its growth. Because some people are using Salesforce and it's just way too big and complicated and expensive and they don't need it. And so having the right CRM is what that particular company needed and working with the sales people, sales conversation skills, empathy being a big part of it because of the industry that they were in, we were able to make some huge turnarounds as a result. So having a CRO, having marketing be incentivized and creating those healthy conversations. And then four was working with the sales skills in the CRM with the sales team.
Alanna Jackson: Okay. So we have one last question for you and it's a really tough one. Okay?
Brian Williams: Sure.
Alanna Jackson: So if you weren't CEO of Perspectivity and you could do anything, what would be your dream job?
Brian Williams: I would be doing more motivational speaking, let's say exclusively because as I've gotten older, I'm moving from being focused on income and increase and more interested in impact and influence.
Stacy Jackson: I can see that. You have the personality and you seem like you really care about people and what's going on. So I could see you doing that for sure.
Brian Williams: Thanks for that. Go ahead.
Stacy Jackson: I felt motivated to try and be a better salesperson for the company that we have after your session at Inbound for sure. And I don't like to sell. I'll be honest. I totally respect sales people. It's a tough job.
Brian Williams: That is true. You know that is true, but I will say it actually speaks to what you were just saying a second ago. First of all, I appreciate your words and about the session at Inbound. I'm grateful for that. Secondly, I'm finding genuinely caring about people if you look at sales as I genuinely care about this person I'm talking to so much so that if I can help them, I will. And if I can't, I won't. I will simply just leave the conversation and tell them have a great day because I can't help you. My desire is to go find someone I can help. I'm not trying to sell something. I want to go help someone.
Alanna Jackson: Right.
Brian Williams: If I have something that you need and that will help you, I will offer it to you. And if I don't, I won't. If we can look at it in those simple terms, I think it just changes the game and how we view sales.
Stacy Jackson: Well. Brian, thank you so much for joining us and telling our sales and marketing listeners that things they need to look out for when it comes to getting those teams aligned and working together to meet those corporate revenue goals. If our listeners want to reach you online, is there a preferred way for them to get in touch with you?
Brian Williams: I am a LinkedIn junkie so you can find me on LinkedIn if you just search Brian Williams and my company named Perspectivity. You will find me there.
Stacy Jackson: And before we close out, we didn't get to ask you at the very beginning, but is there anything you want to share about Perspectivity?
Brian Williams: We're a company that focuses on three things. We're willing to go up against anyone in these three areas and that is creating your ultimate value proposition or your sales pitch, working with you on your sales presentation, both design and delivery and how to craft professional sales conversations. Be it phone, email, in person, so sales pitch, sales, presentations and sales conversations are what we believe were the best in the business.
Alanna Jackson: Well. Again, thank you so much for joining us. And now all of our listeners know they've been told what to look for to diagnose your sales and marketing problems and how to fix them. So it's up to you to take the action and do what Brian has told you to do. Now, if you want to get in touch with me or Stacy, you can hit us up on social, on Twitter. You can find Stacy at @Stacy_jax. That's S-T-A-C-Y underscore J-A-X. You can find me at @Alanna_jax. That's A-L-A-N-N-A underscore J-A-X. And if you don't like Twitter, you can always find us on LinkedIn. Stacy Jackson and Alanna Jackson. And finally, don't forget, you can leave us a voicemail on the Anchor mobile app on our show page or on our show page at b2bmix.show. Have a great week guys.
Alanna Jackson: The B2B Mix Show is hosted by Stacy Jackson and Alanna Jackson of you guessed it, Jackson Marketing. If you need help with your B2B inbound marketing efforts, visit us at jacksonmarketingservices.com.