Episode 3: You Can’t Buy a Beer with an MQL

In the latest Banzai Pipeline Podcast, Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing, let’s marketing professionals know that their role needs to be about more than measuring retweets. Marketing is in a unique position to impact the buyer’s journey at every stage. Though it seems unconventional, Matt encourages teams to explore creating content for an audience of one, especially if it means generating revenue. Listen to the latest podcast and gain insight into:

  • Matt’s path to becoming a marketing leader
  • How marketing can go beyond MQLs
  • The value in developing content for an audience of one
  • Marketing metrics that matter
  • The power of a checklist
  • Investing in the 46%

Follow Matt on Twitter @heinzmarketing and learn more by visiting www.heinzmarketing.com.

You can read the full Pipeline Podcast transcript below:

Joe: Welcome to the Banzai Pipeline podcast. Today we’re sitting here with Matt Heinz. Matt is the CEO of Heinz Marketing. Matt thanks for joining us today.

Matt: Thanks, it’s a pleasure.

Joe: Matt, I feel like you’ve done so much really incredibly cool stuff. It’s almost challenging to figure out where to start. But I thought a good place to start would just be to learn about you personally a little bit more.

Matt: In my very first job I was a courtesy clerk at a mom and pop grocery store in East Bay, San Francisco Bay area where I grew up. It was a family run grocery store and my job was to stock the dairy and to break up boxes in the back and then do all the dirty work at the end of the day.

Matt: It was a good job, I learned a lot. In terms of marketing, I mean this literally has all been a giant mistake. I was a musician in high school, I intended to study piano performance in college. My music teacher talked me out of that. I ended up studying journalism and political science.

Joe: You know it’s serious when your music teacher talks you out of it.

Matt: I think she’s like if you want to be a professional musician just know that the fun will be sucked out of it very quickly. Her husband was a professional musician and whenever things like the Phantom of the Opera would come into town like he’d be in the pit orchestra and making good money. When there wasn’t a Phantom of The Opera in town. He’d be at Six Flags playing Deliverance over and over and over again as part of the Dixieland band. He was like, “be careful what you wish for.” So long story short I studied Journalism and Political Science and became a reporter out of a school. Loved the writing, hated the career I realized. I was a reporter for The Bremerton Sun which was, for those not familiar with Seattle, it’s on the Olympic Peninsula. I was stationed in Olympia, so I was a state government reporter for Kitsap County and I really did enjoy it. I just didn’t see it as a long-term career. My then girlfriend now wife was in Seattle starting her teaching career.

Joe: You had some incentive to be closer to Seattle?

Matt: I like Seattle, Olympia’s fine. At the time like I wanted to do Woodward and Bernstein, I wanted to do investigative reporting and I think I started to see other things that were interesting to me. I’d taken some PR classes in school and so I ended up going to a PR firm in Bellevue. Worked there for a couple years. One of our clients was Microsoft, talked one of them into hiring me. I worked at Microsoft for a while and that’s where I really started doing more b2b marketing. In a couple of the groups we worked in, I started doing more buying journey, customer journey, marketing. Started to think more about sort of the revenue outcome of what marketing represented. I went to a couple startups for about 7 years total and really dug into it.

Joe: Seven years a long time you know in startup.

Matt: I was at one for about five and a half years. Went through an IPO. Went through the up times, went through some downturn and some layoffs. Not always fun but it was in that first startup where I really learned the power of sales and marketing working together. We didn’t even realize it was sort of a special or unique thing. It was just marketing had a goal that sales had as well. We just work together. In that environment marketing ran the inside sales floor promotions. I didn’t think it was weird. It was just like well we’ll take it on and we’ll do it and we’ll do it together.

Matt: Then about 10 years ago I just decided to try to do my own thing which was a really bad idea because it was November 2008, the market just tanked, and my wife was pregnant with her first child and I decided to give up my salary and try to do this on my own.

Joe: Well you know what they say you never want to start the top and work your way down. It’s a lot better to just start at the bottom…

Matt: If I can make it in the Great Recession… The advantage of being a consultant is there’s no inventory, there’s no real estate. It was me, a laptop, and a bus pass for like the first year. There were no employees. It was just me and it was it was enjoyable, and I was able to eke out a living for a while and then it started to grow.

Joe: How many people are you guys up to now.

Matt: We’ve got twelve people based in Redmond. We have clients all over North America and we really refined what we do around this idea of helping people build a predictable pipeline. The fact that a lot of b2b companies ended up doing random acts of marketing and sporadic things that create lumpiness in their pipeline. Sometimes they hit their numbers sometimes they don’t. We created an approach and a methodology to really help iron out that lumpiness and give companies more predictability and scalability in their sales pipeline development efforts.

Joe: You wrote a LinkedIn post a couple of weeks ago and I’m sure that you’ve done other writing about the topic of how sales and marketing can work together, and a lot of companies traditionally think of this as horizontal. Marketing is top of the funnel sales is the bottom of the funnel. You were saying to turn that on its head. Can you elaborate on that?

Matt: Well not necessarily turn it on its head but just to recognize that, especially when you’re doing enterprise selling, when you’ve got these complex buying cycles, it’s not enough for marketing just to be done when a lead is generated. It doesn’t really make sense for sales to just automatically appear in the middle of the process as well. I think there’s a role for sales and marketing at every stage, particularly an enterprise buying process. Marketing may lead at the top and sales may lead at the bottom. It’s unfair for marketing to throw their hands up and say we’re done once the lead has been generated.

Joe: Like here’s your MQL, good luck.

Matt: The lead could have been generated three years ago and the prospect wasn’t ready. So, what are you doing to move them from a passive state to an active state where they understand there’s a problem, where they have seen some kind of insight or reframe that gets them to actually challenge the status quo inside their own organization? There’s plenty you can do as a marketer to not only increase urgency and interest amongst leads that have been generated months, quarters, years, in advance, but I also think there’s a huge opportunity for marketing to impact deals that are about to close. Let’s say it’s the last week of the quarter, and you’ve got two deals that are going to make or break whether your company hits their number. Not the sales team, but the company. Most marketers say they’re done.

I wish this was just a funny story. There was a company I worked with where at the end of the quarter, sales was grinding it out, the sausage making of closing those deals sometimes is not pretty. Sales is trying hit their number while marketing is at the bar celebrating that they hit their retweet goal for the quarter. Their retweet goal… What I would rather see is that marketing can go in and say why aren’t these deals closing. Who’s the member of the buying committee that has not said yes? What is their objection? Let’s create content for an audience of one. Most marketers would say that’s ridiculously inefficient because a lot of marketers are focused on what we think of as the marketing of more. I want more clicks, I want more traffic, I want more likes, I want more lists. More has its purpose but at the end of the quarter for you to hit your number you need a specific message to a specific person to get them to say yes like everyone else in the organization. It’s absolutely worth it to create that content for an audience of one at that point, if it helps you get your number that would allow everybody to keep their job.

Joe: The idea is marketing is doing 90 percent of the lead gen work at the top and sales is doing 90 percent of the sign on the dotted line at the bottom. But in between there’s going to be integration or support on both sides that buying lifecycle. Is that a good way to put that?

Matt: I think so. A couple examples of that. We did some research last year around the concept of multichannel marketing and we tried to create a correlation between the nature of multichannel marketing that companies we’re doing and the likelihood they were hitting their revenue number. Not surprisingly we found the companies using more channels tended to more likely hit their sales targets. What we found though is no matter how many channels they use when they approach those channels in an integrated way, when they had an integration of message in sequence across channels including sales and marketing, they were far more likely to hit their number. Far more likely to hit their revenue goals.

I think at the top of the funnel even when you’re still building trust and rapport to leverage the sales organization as one of those channels is a huge opportunity that a lot of companies miss. Once the lead has been generated independent of that last week of the quarter, I think there’s a progression of the buying journey that continues, that you don’t have to let the sales team create content on their own. Typical B2B sales rep spends only 25 percent of their time actively selling. The three things that they spend the most time on when they’re not actively selling is time and CRM, that can be a whole other podcast. Number two is creating content number, three is finding content. From a sales enablement standpoint how well do you understand the buying journey of different members of the buying committee that your sales team is working with to enable them with content whether that’s case studies, whether that’s email templates, whether it’s PowerPoint decks, that they can leverage and not have to create themselves. At least not have to create entirely themselves.

Joe: You can give them some kind of library to pull from.

Matt: Exactly. I’ve never seen a slide deck that sales reps use every time in a sales meeting. There’s no such thing as a sales script. You get on a phone call live with the prospect, that’s a version of improve. You have to know what messages you want to get across and where you want to take that. But when you hang up the phone and the rep is fumbling through an e-mail and agonizing over every word they should use. By the way, there’s four other reps across the sales all writing the exact same e-mail at the same time. That seems really inefficient.

Matt: Generating the leads may still be an important component for some marketing things. But increasingly, we’re seeing more enterprise marketing teams put a greater focus on sales enablement at every stage of the buying journey because that’s where the real leverage in efficiency comes in. Not driving marketing generated business, but marketing influenced revenue.

Joe: So it’s not just about, “Hey I need to drive a bigger and bigger pipeline.” But it’s more about how can we improve the efficiency of that pipeline? Close more deals. I loved this phrase that you used earlier, “the marketing of more.” Trying to drive bigger and bigger numbers every quarter may not be the right approach. Maybe it’s a focused approach on the bottom of the funnel we need to do less and less but be more significant.

Matt: To be able to have that mentality that we’re going to focus on the metrics that matter that we’re not going to tell the leadership team that we care about open rates and click rates and social follows. Those may be important components of building an audience, and building a brand, and building trust and rapport in an industry. But you can’t buy a beer with a marketing qualified lead. The metrics that really matter are at the bottom of the funnel and it can be harder to measure marketing’ s direct influence but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still prioritize your activities accordingly.

Joe: There is a lot of conversation right now about the explosion of new tools in martech. One of the latest martech vendor universe had like 3000 vendors on it or something. Frankly, were contributing to the problem there I suppose. Tell me about what you see as the future of those new tools and techniques. What do you see that’s coming out that you think is going to have staying power in the market? What do you see that you think is just a passing trend?

Matt: You know it’s a good question and I think the last infographic recorded on the martech community had about 4800 tools on it. Every time you see more and more acquisitions and consolidation, we assume the number is going to get smaller. It’s not. It’s becoming more and more efficient for us to solve smaller and smaller problems. If you’re an organization looking at your sales pipeline overall, there’s a million tools that can do a million things. But I think you have to start by looking at where are your constraints? Where are the bottlenecks that keep you from doing more or doing more efficiently? That’s where you want to go to find technology that can solve for that. Where are you doing things manually that should be done in an automated way? Where do you have people doing things that should be done by robots and can be done just as well if not better by robots?

Joe: An example of that would be chatbots on your home page instead of life agents?

Matt: I think chatbots on your homepage is one place. I think the tools like Outreach and Sales Loft that create a systematic way of keeping up with a follow up sequence with leads as opposed to making you remember to set a bunch reminders in your calendar. I think those tools are valuable. There’s a tool called Lead IQ that is a side bar on the side of my browser and if I’m on LinkedIn and I see someone that I care about and then I want to add to my list or add to my contact list, I click one button and it finds their phone number and e-mail address, adds them to salesforce and it automatically adds them to an Outreach or Sales Loft cadence of my choosing. All with one click. That would’ve taken me 15-20 minutes if I was doing that manually. Those are examples of places where you can create some great efficiency. I would say too often we look at technology as the strategy as opposed to the implementer of the strategy. I’m a big fan of assuming things are manual until you prove that they shouldn’t be. One of my favorite tools for inside sales organizations is just a checklist. We’ve developed with some clients a beginning of day checklist, an end of day checklist, a before you call and after your call checklist. Here’s how to nurture your network checklists. In my in my backpack right now I have a laminated piece of paper and it’s laminated because I travel a lot, it’s my daily do list. It’s a reminder of those daily habits I want to follow to feed my network, say Happy Birthday to people, to follow up on my calendar from yesterday, to look at some of my LinkedIn alerts of new people that I should be adding to my prospect list. I’ve got a checklist so I don’t have to think about it. I’ve got a checklist so I don’t have to remember it. I’ve got a checklist so that I’m doing the daily discipline things on a consistent daily basis. Some of the things on that list are aided by technology. Some of them just are more efficient just to have on a list and get done after a minute or two.

Joe: What you were saying earlier about how the tools can help you do this, there’s a big conversation going on right now around AI and how AI is going to replace all the jobs and everyone’s going to be out of work. It sounds like what you’re saying AI is going to be a tool that can help you do things faster or technology in general can help you do things faster, but it’s not going to replace that human relationship.

Matt: Well I think there are some that are looking for it as a way of replacing human relationships.

Joe: Do you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing.?

Matt:  It’s both. My dad sold Caterpillar tractors for 35 years and I still think about the contractor community today that he used to sell into. They wanted to shake your hand, they wanted to look in your eyes. They want to see that they can trust you. They’re components of the communication processes, components of your content that you can certainly automate. That you can certainly create artificially, but if you think that you’re going to create an artificial enterprise sales rep that manages the entire process, that builds trust and credibility and rapport with your prospects, you’re lying to yourself. You know for decades we’ve claimed that this new technology, this new automation is going to make people obsolete as early as the 30s and 40s as computers started to take over, like oh my gosh what are people going to do with their time?

I think the question isn’t necessarily are we replacing ourselves but are we adding more value? Is this the more valuable way of doing business for both sides? I think there’s an awful lot of benefits to AI in terms of making better decisions, being more precise. One of my favorite applications of AI in selling and marketing is account selection, identifying companies based on who you’ve sold to in the past. Companies that look like that, you should also approach. Looking at 100 companies in your target market and deciding who are the 32 you should focus on this week for whatever reason. The Internet and Big Data is the greatest library in the world but all the books are on the floor. So, I can help you figure out which books to read and where to focus, but what you do with that is a whole other story. Like a lot of the AI tools in the account selection and the predictive tools in B2B marketing today, they may help you figure out who to sell to, but they don’t necessarily give you a clue to how to engage. There is a difference between access and attention. There’s a difference to me knowing who I should reach out to and actually getting some of their time and attention and building trust and rapport. There is very much as a science to sales and marketing today. But building that relationship is still very much an art as well.

Joe: Let’s say, “Hey I’m Matt Heinz. I’ve seen a million different companies try a million different things, all of these 4,800 products,” like you’re talking about now in martech. If I’m starting a company, let’s say I’m starting a new business and I’m trying to figure out how I go from my first five customers to my first hundred customers. What’s your advice? Is it content marketing? Is it paid ads? What are the first couple of things you do?

Matt: I think you go to your content marketing person and you triple her budget to start with.

Joe: Our producer Corrine is going to love that.

Matt: So Gartner did a sales readiness some sales readiness research last year. They looked across a bunch of different markets and they found that in any given market about 3 to 4 percent of companies in that market are actively buying. They know they have a problem and they’re actively short term looking for a solution. 46 percent of those prospects, the people in those industries are what they call poised. They’re not actively buying but they have the problem, they have a need. They’re just not pursuing it right now.

Joe: That’s 15 times the size of the group that is actively buying?

Matt: I think that’s exactly half of your overall market. There is 50 percent where you are like screw it, let’s no event waste time with them. I think your job as a marketer, your job in terms of building predictable pipeline over time is really to work that 46 percent. If someone comes to you when they’re in the 3 to 4 percent, if they don’t have a relationship with you, you’re more than likely a commodity. You can still win some of those deals, but you’re going to win a lower percent of those deals. If you invest in building trust and rapport and credibility with the 46 percent, you may convince some of them to move more quickly into actively buying than others because they see the problem. They see the opportunity cost of not solving the problem. But no matter how good your content, is no matter how good your sales process is, most businesses are so complex you’re not really going to change when they buy. When you can invest in the relationship, invest in their understanding of you, invest in the likelihood that they recognize and trust you as an expert in something.

Joe: Trust your brand or your people or whatever it is.

Matt: Exactly. You then have the benefit of the doubt. Even if they have to go to RFP you get to write the RFP. You have the inside track and it doesn’t mean you’re going to get all 46 percent of those deals. We still call this a sales funnel not a sales cylinder. There’s going to be deals that you lose but I think that if you have a short-term mentality, “I have to hit this number next quarter,” then you have to go find the 3 to 4 percent. That is expensive and difficult. If you plan on being in business for a while you can invest in relationships with the 46 percent. Ten years ago, when I started my newsletter I had 65 people on it and it was friends and family and I told them there is no unsubscribe button. You are the seed list. You can never unsubscribe ever. we were just doing them in Constant Contact. Ten years later we’re almost at the hundred thousand mark. It’s taken a daily effort of creating good content and building value, building trust.

Joe:  If you could go back to Matt Heinz, the 23 year old reporter for The Bremerton Sun,  and you could say here’s one piece of advice or one word of wisdom. Look don’t screw this up or whatever it is. What would that be?

Matt: There’s three things I often recommend to people that are right out of school that are interested in marketing. First is invest in relationships around you. Don’t just collect contacts, invest in relationships. That’s a reciprocal thing. It’s an ongoing thing and it has compounding value. I wish I would have worked on building my network earlier in my career than I did.  Two is to start creating a paper trail of the way you think. It can be a blog. It can be Linkedin updates. It could be a podcast, it can be videos. Don’t just do a bunch of dumb selfie videos or you just like walking to get lunch. It doesn’t matter who you are or how many people follow you, you start creating a record of your opinions of your perspectives. You will over time generate an audience and that audience may help you become a consultant, help you get a job. It may help you get your next deal. Create that paper trail. Number three is go get a job in sales. If you want to be in marketing, go get a job in sales for a couple reasons. Over your career you will have far greater empathy about what it takes to be in sales. You also make a lot more money than if you go get a junior level marketing job. When you look at an SDR job or an inside sales job and you crush it, you make some money. You make a lot more money than as a junior marketing person. And I’ll tell you what, the organizations that are worth their salt would love to have marketing people come from the sales side, that understand what it means to be a salesperson.

Joe: They really understand that challenge, what it’s like to be in the arena every day. Not just look at spreadsheets. That’s great advice. Matt thank you so much for your time today I really appreciate it. Tell everybody how they can get in touch with you.

Matt: Well your all welcome to the farmhouse anytime we have nine chickens and only five people in the house, so you do the math. We have extra eggs a lot. You’re all welcome. Otherwise heinzmarketing.com. Lots of content. We blog every day. We got a bunch of white papers and best practice guides. You can find me on Twitter at @heinzmarketing or just send me an e-mail. I’m just matt@heinzmarketing.com

Joe: That’s awesome. Ok I am coming by for the eggs later.

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