In this episode, Stacy sits down with Todd Hockenberry, the owner of Top Line Results and the co-author of “Inbound Organization: How to Build and Strengthen Your Company’s Future Using Inbound Principles.” The two discuss just how much a company’s success is dependent upon a well-developed mission, strategy, and action plan.
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Stacy Jones: 00:36
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). I’m Stacy Jones. I’m so happy to be here with you all today. I want to give a very warm welcome to Todd Hockenberry, co-author of Inbound Organization: How to Build and Strengthen Your Company’s Future Using Inbound Principles.He also is the podcast host of Industrial Executive. He and his company, Top Line Results specialize in leading top line revenue growth at small and medium size companies with a focus on B2B, manufacturing, technology and capital equipment. Over the last decade, Top Line Results has been a leader in educating and helping B2B companies adapt to the new realities of internet driven changes in buying behavior.And today we’re going to talk about how companies who align their mission, their strategies, their action plans and tools with the way buyers think, learn, discover, and purchase will have a huge competitive advantage. We’ll learn what has worked from Todd’s experience, what maybe could be avoided, and where others are missing the mark. Todd, welcome.
My pleasure. Thank you Stacey for having me on the show. I’m looking forward to it.
Stacy Jones: 01:37
I am super happy to have you here because as I was mentioning to you right before when we were chatting, just the fact that you have in a book title, the word inbound, I was like, my ears perked up. I’m like this, anything inbound. Inbound is the future. It’s the current day, so, I’m so happy to have you here today.Todd: 01:54
My pleasure. I’m glad to be here. I was very fortunate, the co-author of the book is Dan Tyre, and he was, I think employee number six at HubSpot where kind of the Inbound revolution started, or at least named at that. It was a lot of fun working with him and really spending a lot of time with HubSpot. Inbound has been an idea we’ve been working with for almost 10 years now. So, we were kind of early adopters of the idea from not only businesses that I work with. But then 10 years ago when we started our company, we were really delivering inbound and the ideas around inbound marketing to B2B and more traditional companies who really had no idea what that was.
Stacy Jones: 02:30
Yeah. And I get that. I actually learned about inbound and when I did big deep dive into it and trying to figure out what we were doing, because I wanted software, really I wanted software for our blogs, and then I’m like, “Yeah, look, you can do landing pages. Oh look, you can do these things.” I went with HubSpot because they had written a book and it made it so easy to understand. So, there’s some power not only with HubSpot but with books as well.
I’m a big fan of books. Yeah. Big reader. And we were very fortunate because we spent… I’ve spent a lot of time with Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, the founders of HubSpot, and they were both all over the book. And it’s really interesting how we kind of started. A couple of years ago, Dan, Tyre and I were speaking at an event in California, and we were having coffee just catching up. And I’ve know Dan since like 2011. And we both got really excited, which doesn’t take a whole lot for either one of us. But we realized that both of us were speaking and talking to people about the Inbound Organization. And the premise is that the ideas that animated inbound marketing 10, 12 years ago when it started aren’t enough anymore.That the ideas that animated inbound now need to be applied to everyone in the organization, across every group in your organization if you really want to deliver on the promise of inbound marketing. That’s really where the book came from. We both realized we were kind of thinking about the same way, and we said, “Hey, we should write a book.”
Stacy Jones: 03:56
That’s awesome. Before you got to writing that book, and before you delve into that, what’s your background? You seem to have a lot of experience in sales.
Well, I’ve earned this gray hair honestly. Yeah, I started out in the automotive industry, and I was working with automotive suppliers for a number of years, and then I moved on to running sales and marketing for manufacturing companies. And I did that for about the first 20 years of my career. And then just almost exactly 10 years ago, I got fired, which was a little humbling, and never happened before. It was right in the middle of the great recession, and I was selling lasers and nobody was buying lasers. So, the market’s just kind of dried up. And I found myself kind of sitting with my wife saying, “What are we going to do with the rest of our lives? What are we going to do?” And I realized that I had been part of teams that had grown companies significantly.
And then all the businesses that I’d worked for up to that point had grown significantly. So I said, “Look, I’m just going to have my own company, and we’re going to do our own thing, and go teach people what we know and help them grow.” Very soon after that, we realized that the clients we were working with had no idea about how to generate leads online, had no idea how to create content beyond just a flyer or a catalog, no idea how to use, certainly not social media at the time, but even email marketing, learning how to use that to kind of create value in it, and educate people. They were used to… These companies were used to go into trade shows, or advertising in trade magazines and just hammering people with product, product, product, and compete on price, and really didn’t understand how to do it.
So, we started to work with companies, and it was great, because we ran some new markets where people weren’t creating a lot of content. So, there was a lot of room to run. And our early clients saw massive success, just huge amounts of it lead increase, and sales growth. I remember one of the first case studies we ever did, the subtitle was, “How to grow your business 86%, and do half as many quotes in one year.” So, that was actually, it was a real story from an actual client who saw that much growth, actually doing less quoting than they did before. It was so targeted, and so focused on the right audience. So we’ve just been kind of moving from kind of inbound marketing and moved in inbound sales, and really just trying to help companies understand how to apply these ideas.
And now it’s consulting and advising across the entire organization where we’re now talking to CEOs about why it matters that the way you think about your mission, and the kind of culture you have, and how your service department responds to questions or issues, and how you send bills to people, and how you do things like terms and conditions. And I’ve never met anybody that disagrees with our basic premise, because if you just think about all the companies you work with, and all the companies you interact with, think of the interactions which you feel good about, and you’re happy about, and then stack those up against the ones you’re not happy about. And it’s probably eight or nine to one negative to positive for most people. Or if you’re lucky, most of them are just neutral.
So, people would say to me all the time, they’ll say, “We’re all customer focused. I mean, of course we’re customer driven. I mean, of course we put the customer first.” And it’s like, “Yeah, no, you don’t. If you did, more people wouldn’t treat people the way… Like most of the company’s ideal with would treat you.
Stacy Jones: 07:28
Right. What I love about your philosophy of what we’re talking about, taking inbound marketing that we all know about, inbound sales, but bringing in inbound into your organization, because everyone with all of these things, a big hurdle for people I think is thinking about, and structuring it where you are not pushing across what you want to be pushing across, but you’re actually working in an environment where you’re educating, and you’re giving information, and advice, and entree into what the customer actually wants, including how they want to be treated, I’m assuming.
Yes, exactly. I just finished doing something that was like kind of a, one of the my life goals. I just finished up in the spring semester, teaching a class at a university, and I taught intro to sales. And one of the first things I did on the first class, I wrote on the board, “Selling is.” And then I wrote a blank line. And I asked them, “What is that? Fill in the blank.” And it was amazing the answers I heard. These were collage sophomores to seniors, and I got, “Selling is pushy. Selling is annoying.” I got a lot of that stuff. “Selling is kind of a little bit around teaching.” But the one word I didn’t get was the one word I think is actually selling, and that is helping.
Stacy Jones: 08:50
Yeah. Or problem solving.
Problem solving is helping. I grounded into their heads, selling is helping, and anything you’re doing in your sales process, if you’re not helping, then you’re not doing the kind of sales that people want. I’m dealing with a large media company right now, and they’re kind of struggling with this issue, and they have a cadence for their salespeople. It’s kind of like we have to do 40 calls a day, or 40 touches a day. And it’s so arbitrary, and it just ends up being this kind of just repetitive, I’m going to pound on you and tell you, “Relent and buy something from me.”
And none of the outreaches are really helpful. It’s just meeting some artificial metric that internal people set to drive so-called accountability, or to make them feel like they’re actually working. But in reality, I’d rather have two really good, helpful phone calls a day that I can drive value, and create the beginnings of a relationship that I can build on. I’d rather have far fewer conversations if they’re better, and more helpful than… And how many of you have ever done this? Have you ever sent a quote out to somebody? You don’t hear back from them for a week? And then you call them back say, “Hey, I’m just circling back to see how you’re doing, and see if you had any questions about that quote?”
That’s the worst call ever. And again, I’m exaggerating a little bit, but the reality is a lot of our outreach is that. It’s still annoying, it’s still bugging people. It’s still like, “Hey, when are you going to give me something?” It’s not helpful. And that’s where inbound has, the ideas behind inbound have seeped into marketing, and… What about service? I mean, a lot of the companies I deal with on the service end, service is like, “Well when they call us, we’re here. They know how to find us.” It’s a reactive thing. I mean, how many people are really proactively helping their customers before they need a problem? Are they educating? They’re teaching them, “You had our product for a year, these are the 10 things you should do to make sure it’s working correctly.” Whether you’re getting value from it.
So, we’re really pushing the ideas of inbound marketing back to the customers. To their current customer base where educate your customers, make sure they know everything you do, make sure they know the new ways you’re helping your other customers like them. And in software, you hear a lot about customer success is kind of a new, a relatively new idea, and a lot of SaaS companies do this where they use the technology to monitor your usage of it. Are you getting… HubSpot’s a master at this. They look at how you use the product, how many of the tools you use. Are you getting more leads? Are you getting more traffic? They’ll look at the metrics to see if you’re successful. But every company can do the same thing. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in. You should think the same way. To me, that’s applying the ideas of inbound marketing to your entire process and your entire business.
Stacy Jones: 11:44
Yeah. It’s a 100% and what you’re saying about HubSpots is true. Their educational platform, they offer for subscribers is unbelievable. That’s, “Hey, let’s help you make better quotes. Here’s lessons on how to make better quotes.” It’s not just, “Yeah, we offered quotes. Are you using them?” I mean, they really do go through that service, which is very beneficial, much more expensive platform than some of their competitors, but it is also something that provides you with ease of use, and a lot of value.
Yeah. It’s funny. I’m going to address that price issue. My hair goes up on my neck when I hear that HubSpot’s expensive. If you’re a two or $3 million company or anything above that, meant to spend 20 or $30,000 a year on that world-class marketing automation and these kinds of tools. It’s easy money, and it will quickly return a value to you. And again, if you use it correctly… And again, I see people, they’re penny wise and pound foolish with that kind of stuff. HubSpot can connect you to your customers. This just happened to be this afternoon today. I use HubSpot with a client to set up some email campaigns that were going out to a customer list that hadn’t been really touched for a while.
This client’s about six months old for us. So, we were trying to figure out the activity level and how we can engage his client base. So, we were sending out some emails talking about some new services, and new opportunities this company had. And we created lists for each of the salespeople that were contacts that had not engaged. So, then we created the engaged contact list. So, we sent out a marketing email, and the people that opened that list, we handed them to the salespeople and said, “Okay, this is who you want to call.”
This isn’t that tough, this isn’t that complicated. And today this one salesperson, last 24 hours made, I think it was nine calls, got four deals set up, and one sold job in 24 hours. Just using some basic marketing automation, sending helpful emails, not, “Hey, I want you to buy from me.” It’s, “Did you know we do this? Did you know you can do this?” And then following it up with a phone call when there’s some activity. That’s where companies can use tools like HubSpot to connect all this stuff together. And that particular client in one day, literally, they paid for HubSpot.
Stacy Jones: 14:01
Sure. And that’s a brilliant case study.
There you go. Again, to me that’s inbound. Sending somebody an email that’s already somebody you know isn’t interruptive. If they are on your list, and they’ve opted in, you owe it to them to educate them. They want to know what’s going on. So, you’re the expert in your role, so make sure that you know how to help them and then do it.
Stacy Jones: 14:22
Yeah, 100% agree. So, where else, when you’re working with a company, what are you looking at? What are the red flags? Where are people going wrong?
I love red flags. First thing I often do is I’m going to look at somebody’s website. I’m going to look at the… I don’t care about design, I don’t care about graphics. I don’t care about… I mean, unless it looks like it’s from 1997. I look for the messaging. Is the messaging, is language on this site, is it about me, me, me? Or is it about you, you, you. Is the tone and the approach, even the voice, is it in the voice of the customer from their perspective, talking about them and their issues? Or is it me talking about me, and showing you pictures of my building and my equipment, or “Here’s our products lists, here’s how great we are.” That tells me a lot about their mindset. It tells me the way they think about their business, and the way they think about their customers.
And then I, this is maybe sounds strange, but I oftentimes will look at company’s mission, and I’ll ask them, “What’s your mission? What’s your focus? What are you trying to do?” And it is, maybe it isn’t shocking, but it is oftentimes I get this, “Uh, well, um, I’m not, uh, well.” They don’t know. And I was just in a workshop with a client that’s a global company, name everybody would know. And the CEO is in the meeting, and maybe 30, 35 of the top sales and marketing people. And I asked that question, “What’s your mission?” Right off the bat, right at the beginning of the workshop, I said, “Who knows the mission?” And the only person in the room that put their hand up was the CEO. One person. I said, “There you go. Not much of a mission if nobody knows what it is.”
And I learned this from Dharmesh Shah, at HubSpot, this is in the book, he talks about vectors where everybody in the company’s a vector, and you have a velocity and a direction and everybody’s pointed some way. But if you don’t have a mission that unifies everybody’s understanding of why you’re here, and what you’re supposed to do, and who you’re doing it for, and what the expectations are, then everybody’s going in different directions. To get everybody pulling in the same direction. You have to have a strong mission. And we teach people that’s got to be tied to your customer, and it’s got to be tied to how you help them, and the outcomes they get. The mission isn’t to be best in class, world this, quality. If I see those words, it’s garbage. If those are the mission statements, nobody knows.
So, I look at those two things up front a lot. And again, I shop a lot of our clients. I’m going to call them. I’m going to see how they answered the phone, or do they send me in some rabbit trail, whole of voicemail hell that I can never get out of. Do they want to hear from me? Or am I annoying them? I’m going to look for those kinds of things. I’m going to search around when look at things like Glassdoor, and see how other people, what they think of them working with them. I’m going to really try to get a sense of how people are treated by them, the experience they get working there, or doing business with them.
And again, I’m really surprised at how many companies don’t do that basic kind of homework. And so, a lot of times for us, one of the first things we’ll do is, we’ll do, when if we get engaged with somebody, we’ll do some in depth interviews with customers and prospects, and people who they work with that left. We want to understand from that-
Stacy Jones: 17:49
And again, I’m constantly surprised at how many companies really don’t understand why people buy from them. Those are the things I’m looking for red Flags wise. Nothing too crazy. It’s just kind of put myself in the shoes of the customer, and try to understand what it’s like to be around you.
Stacy Jones: 18:10
And I love the fact that you brought up and mentioned Glassdoor, because I remember the first time a prospective client had… We were sitting there, we were in a meeting, and they’re like, “Oh yeah, I looked at your Glassdoor account.” And at the time I’m like, “Wait, what is Glassdoor?” And I kind of knew, but I didn’t really know. I’m like, “We have an account? I never set up something called Glassdoor.” So anyone who is listening to this, or you don’t know about it, you should Google, and you should find out what is actually being said about your company by people who worked for you, or who interview with you, because it gives you so many insights that you’d never expect to have.
And the outcome of that, the reason that’s important is that if we go back to the idea of this inbound organization, and the idea that competitive advantage today, and in the future is really going to be built around the experience that you create in working with people, and how much you help them. Product differentiation and design differentiation, things like that are difficult to obtain today. So, many competitors, everybody’s so close. So, the experience is the big differentiator. And if your people aren’t happy, if your people don’t have a mission, if they’re not focused, if they don’t really put the customer first, and get rewarded for putting the customer first, you have no chance to make that customer happy. None.
One of my favorite quotes in the book was, we ask people the question, we ask them, “What should be the priority? Customers or employees? Because there’s lots of quotes out there about both. The best answer I heard was a gentleman named Frank Auger, who’s the CIO of HubSpot. And he said, “Do you love your mother? Or do you love your wife?” I loved that answer. I said, “That’s exactly right. It’s both.” Your leaders have to focus on your employees, and put them first, so your employees can put your customers first. And that’s how it works. It’s really all three matter. But if you don’t put people first, customers, employees first, you have no chance to succeed today. Your product’s not enough.
Stacy Jones: 20:13
Yeah. And well today really your employee is actually a customer. You’re actually treating them in many ways just as you’re romancing, you’re enticing, you’re making sure they’re happy the same way that you’re doing with customers, because it’s that important.
Exactly. We talk about the book about the inbound operating system, how you use inbound principals to create a structure of your business internally. And one of the things we talk about is inbound recruiting, where you apply this kind of educational thinking to the recruiting and onboarding process, or even interviewing. And the outcome is if you treat people poorly in that process, or if it’s kind of like a meat market approach, they’re going to tell other people about it, and the people that you bring on, if you don’t have a process where you help them onboard quickly and in an organized and focus way, they’re going to tell other people. Because people have options. The best talent can go anywhere they want today. So, you better have your employees best interests at heart, and you better create a process for them to become the best they can be at helping your customers be what they want to be.
Stacy Jones: 21:30
Absolutely, it’d be with that. So, what else do you look out for? What else is something that you go in, and see where the apple cart might be a little upset?
I look at, it depends on where the project is. If it’s a marketing project, I’m looking for kind of focus, and where the impact is. My thinking has always been, I’m going to find out where customers are, and then I’m going to go there. Sounds complicated, real deep. The quote I wrote in the book was, “You determine your strategy. Your customers determine your tactics.” And you figure out how you’re going to go to market. You figure out how you help people the most. And from a marketing perspective, your customers where they are, determines your tactics. And I see too many marketers that want to chase the shiny thing. “Oh, it’s Instagram. Oh, it’s video today. Oh, I got to do this. I got to do that.” Well, no, step back and ask the question, “Where are my customers? How do they want me to communicate with them? Where are they going for information?”
And let’s just not assume it. Let’s know it, let’s know where they are, and then do a lot of that, and do a lot less of the other stuff, because maybe just feel sexy, and interesting. I’ve never met a company yet in 10 plus years of consulting that I thought was really good at referrals or getting connected to people one on one. Like really asking for referrals and getting their existing customers to help them get more customers. It’s an often overlooked idea, but it should be the simplest thing in the world. If you’re helping people and you’re making them happy, they want to tell other people about you. They want to, so make it easy for them to tell other people about you. Make sure they know who is your ideal persona, and how you [inaudible 00:23:18]. Give them content, put the dots close together. My wife always says that to me. “I got to put the dots close together for you.” And put the dots close together for your customers so they can refer you. Things like that.
I tend to go back to the basics. Did you call your customers? Are you growing with your existing customer base? That’s a big one I look for. Ongoing revenue, increasing revenue, retention, ongoing sales. Are you connected to your customer base? Or do you spend all your time trying to get net new? And if you spend all your time trying to get net new, you’re probably burning through a lot of marketing budget with a lot lower return. If you’re not focused on your current customer base, and I’ve literally had companies tell me, “We don’t know who all of our customers are.” They don’t have a good list. It’s true. It’s happened multiple times.
Stacy Jones: 24:09
So, well, are they not buying from… It’s obviously not an e-commerce, and they’re capturing email and so forth. They’re selling at locations? Or how do they not know?
Yeah. These would be these would be more traditional business. The most recent one I had actually sold food processing equipment for the consumer packaged goods industry. This is stuff that costs like a half a million dollars. I mean, it’s expensive. And they told me, “Yeah, we’re not sure where all of our equipment is.” And then they-
Stacy Jones: 24:36
They shipped it somewhere. They shipped it to location.
They did, the records were bad, they were going to have to go through, dig through invoices and pull, they were going the paper trail, and then, a lot of their people that had their equipment, they didn’t have contacts, because people leave. They go somewhere else. So, we had to recreate their customer database. That was like job one. But again, I see it all the time where companies, they don’t really have a robust marketing campaign to their existing customers. Huge opportunity to improve sales quickly. Those are things I look for.
Stacy Jones: 25:10
That makes sense. And then when you start working with a company, so you’ve realized that obviously hopefully they have a customer database of some sort that is modernized, and not little steps and pieces of paper that are just like notes written down all over the place. What is the next thing that you do with that management team? Where do you sit down and direct them to go?
Again, it’s going to depend on the goals of the company, what they want to do. But again, in general, I’m going to make sure they have a robust customer retention marketing plan in place first. You got to keep what you have. You’ve already generated these customers. Even if they’re unhappy, you’re better off spending time and money to make them happy than it is to try to go start over. And then I’m going to figure out why you made them unhappy, so you don’t do that anymore. I think that’s a really foundational piece. Just make sure you’re taking care of your customers, make sure you’ve got a process in place to educate them, and stay close to them. Because again, if you’re not, your competitors are going to.
Where are we going to go from there is, I’m going to try to understand their mindset in terms of marketing. Are they thinking of it as a cost, or an investment? Did they invest longterm in things like educational content for a website to establish ranking and optimization? I mean, SEOs changed a lot, but the end of the day, it’s 90 some percent, 98% of B2B searches start with the Internet. So I mean, you better be there. So, I’m looking at that, and there better be a commitment there to create content, and stay with it. Have a longterm strategy to create content so that people can find you. And again, basic inbound marketing kind of stuff. Again, I see it all the time. I see large companies that are very successful, that are getting just battered online by smaller competitors, because the smaller competitors recognize that that’s where they can build leverage.
So, I’m looking for that, I’m looking at is it, if it’s a smaller company, or is there an opportunity to go after some big companies, or if it’s a bigger company, are there opportunities to defend against some upstarts to get the digital inbound world? Again, I’m going to be looking at kind of, again, the strategy, a lot of companies talk about strategy, but in terms of really understanding of a strategy, the way customers want you to have a strategy, I see it rarely done well. And what I mean by that is you may have a strategy for your products, you may have a strategy for your design or pricing strategy, but what’s your strategy to create a kind of that experience across your entire business that is unique and different? And to me, that’s what the inbound world is now. It’s about how do I create this culture internally that can create this experience across my entire business?
Sometimes we get brought in to do a top down thing where somebody gets the whole concept, and they say, “Yeah, we want to have our whole business be this way.” And other times I’m brought in to solve a small problem, and then we kind of scale up to that side. So, it just depends on how we brought in, and what is the trigger for somebody to pick up the phone and call me.
Stacy Jones: 28:31
And then, are you traditionally looking at it from every little aspect of that company? So, you’re looking at it from employees, you’re looking at it from marketing, you’re looking at it from sales, and you’re looking at it from just overall corporate governance of how the company is being run?
Yeah. Again, it depends on how we’re brought in, and who brings us in. But yeah, ultimately that’s where you want to get, because if the CEO, the leader is saying, “You got to hit these numbers no matter what. And just hit the cadence, and make the calls, and spend the money on the ads.” And that’s all they’re thinking about. Then it gets harder to sit back and think about the customer and go with their pace. I mean, think about a salesperson who’s got a bad fit prospect. Think about your culture. If you have a culture that says, I got to hit my numbers, I got to close business, I got to get the numbers. Then they’re going to do whatever they can. And even if it gets to selling that bad fit business, well guess what? What does a bad fit business do? Even if you sell them. They get to the point where they don’t see value. They don’t see the return, they don’t see the benefits, and they’re going to leave, and they’re going to get mad. Maybe they give you bad reviews, and they tell other people. And you’ve wasted your time and theirs.
So again, you may have won in the short term, but you’re going to lose in the long term. So, your culture and how your salespeople and your team is going to handle those opportunities is going to make the difference. And the culture matters. The leadership and what they push down hill makes a huge difference. And the companies that really get this, selling is helping, basic stuff. If you really can live that, and stick to it, then you’re going to be just fine.
Stacy Jones: 30:16
And then, with the whole world of inbounds in general, when you’re looking at, there’s less information using inbound, and they say they’re using it for marketing, and they say they’re using it for sales. But as we all know, sales and marketing, and never the two shall meet in many businesses. They don’t necessarily walk the same walk, communicate internally with each other. What are some of your best practices that you suggest, they’re trying to mend those fences and bring people together? Because some companies that are now going down, and they’re creating just a sales and marketing team and department, but there’s still a lot of companies out there who have both entities.
Yeah. And that’s true. And I would add the third piece of that is the, this idea of customer success. They should be, because the after-sale is part of the process too. And I think the separation of the departments, there’s lots been talked about this marketing, You’re going to kind of bring them together. Again, I think it goes back to the mindset issue. It’s, well, we do this, and there’s this wall between marketing and sales. And again, I always challenge executives to say, “Do your customers care where we’re it drops off from marketing, and goes to sales. So they really care?” Or is it, make sense in terms of their experience that it’s a easy, simple handoff, and is the experience adding to what I learned?
So, if your marketing department gets and is creating all kinds of helpful content, and I’m searching and I find you, and then I realize, hey, these guys might be able to help me. And then you get on the phone with a sales person, and the experience goes to, it becomes a high pressure sales pitch kind of thing ,and all they’re doing is trying to get you to take a quote, and get an order. It’s not, it’s disconnect. It doesn’t fit, and customers are smart enough, and their senses are up on this stuff. It doesn’t work anymore. You’ve got to have a unique kind of continuum of experience that adds to, each step adds to it. That departments have to be together. There’s a lot of ways to do it. You can have a chief revenue officer that kind of sits over the whole process. You can have them cross functional teams where you’re all working in the same prospects through customer, through the life of that contact.
One of the things that we see as a huge issue is technology, where there’s no centralized view of the customer. So, what marketing knows, sales doesn’t, and what sales knows, services doesn’t. That’s a huge issue where we see a disconnect. So, if there’s no unified view of that customer, then it gets difficult for people to have the right context. I mean, I don’t think it’s all that complicated. I think you have agreements between the different groups, service level agreements that say, “Here’s what we’re going to do, here’s what you’re going to do.” And you meet regularly, and you go through the process of looking at actual leads, talk to them and ask about the handoffs and the process. Is it adding to the customer? Did they like the experience? And then you build it off, build it from there.
But one big area I see where marketing falls down a lot with sales, is marketing doesn’t identify the value proposition, or understand the end users value on what they get out of it enough. And I think sales then, they think they know, and sales will go off and think that this is what they actually get. So, there’s this disconnect between what marketing is saying in their ads, or in their outreach, or their content. And then sales kind of goes in a different direction.
And I think that’s an area where if you go back to kind of their value proposition, like why we’re different, what we deliver, why somebody would buy from us, what are the biggest outcomes we deliver? And if marketing can drive that, because marketing should know, because they should be talking to them after the sale. They should be getting all this feedback, and they can educate the sales team, and the service team. And again, I think that’s a big goal of marketing. It should be a goal marketing. Because I look at marketing as over top of sales. Like marketing is this big thing, and sales is a smaller piece-
Stacy Jones: 34:10
Component. Is like a component of the overall organization.
Exactly. So, marketing to me has that responsibility. They should know better than anybody. How the customer is impacted by your solution. So, marketing should, driving that message through the sales department, through the service and success departments. And marketing should be driving that. And marketing too oftentimes it’s just viewed as the tactical. “Run those ads. Get that webpage up. Do that catalog. Do this.” And they don’t think about that. So, that’s somebody else figures it out. So, successful companies in the future, marketing’s going to have their fingers on the pulse of the customer. They’re going to know them the best they should, and they should be sitting at the table in board meetings. They should be with the CEO. Frankly, more and more CEOs should be for marketing than they are.
In my world, in B2B companies and a lot of industrial companies, the CEO, or founder tends to be technical. They’re an engineer. So, their marketing to them is like, they don’t think it’s that critical, but that’s something else I look for. Is this driven by a technical person who’s going to be more often than not very product focused. And that’s an opportunity where you can apply inbound principles and see a big impact. So, whatever way companies do it, they got to get all these, anybody that touches a customer, needs to be on the same page.
Stacy Jones: 35:29
And they need to have the human element right into it.
Yeah. I mentioned before the whole voicemail hell thing. Don’t put me in that. I hate that. Press one for this, [inaudible 00:35:40]. I hate that. That’s bad. Don’t do that.
Stacy Jones: 35:43
And don’t call to followup for a folks say, “Hey, did you have a chance to review my quote?”
Don’t do that either. I know you want the answer. I know you want my business. Help me. Give me an answer. Send me something helpful.
Stacy Jones: 35:55
“Hey, here’s an opportunity. Hey, here’s an article. Hey, I was just thinking about this the other day, I thought this might help you.”
Todd: 36:01 Yup. Think about how valuable your attention is, and how much you hate interruptive phone calls, or low value added, or here’s another pet peeve of mine. It’s Friday afternoon. So, its pet peeve day. The email where somebody sends it back, and said, “Thanks.” And that’s it. Don’t send that email. My goodness. Do something. If I’m going to give you any attention at all, give me something. Link to a blog post, an article. One of Stacy’s podcasts. Send something.
Stacy Jones: 36:32
Try something. Show that you’re giving effort. [inaudible 00:36:36].
Stacy Jones: 36:38
Yeah. There’s this tool on Linkedin that, it bothers me. So, if you’re in a conversation with someone going back and forth, or you’re connecting with them, and they’re connected with you, it’s like, who can have the last word? And that’s what your thanks. Reminds me of. And so, what people do is they hit the thumbs up, so they get something. You don’t need to respond. “Hey, thanks for the connection.” Really great. Well, you could respond with, “Hey, let’s do this. Let’s have this conversation. Here’s an article.” If you just thumbs up, like it’s the same thing as to say thanks. That’s such a wasted breath.
It is. And that’s fine if it’s your mom. But if you’re in a business, be professional. Add value, you should have… I teach salespeople that you should have a long list of value added tools, guides, links, and you should be adding to it regularly. And you should be able to dip into your list, your resources anytime, and be able to share that without even really having to think about it. And again, even better, you shouldn’t be able to put things in the context of that specific person, because you know enough about their specific situation that I’ve got 10 things in my, that I’m going to share with this person to help them out. And again, it doesn’t always have to be a link.
It could be a comment. A good question. “Did you know that this? Were you aware?” Ask a good question. A good question that gets them to think about things differently is so powerful in our minds. It’s just so powerful. And I’m not talking about the kind of basic discovery questions that you should already know the answers to. “So, what’s your biggest threat? Or “What keeps you up at night?” Oh, goodness gracious. Don’t ask that question. It should be something that is in their context that gets them to say, “Hey, yeah, I never thought of that.” Or, “You’re right. We have that problem. How can I learn more about that?” That’s our job. Is to challenge, and to push, and to help. And we rarely do it with catalog, or brochure, or website page that’s showing a product. It’s got to be about them. Always has to be.
Stacy Jones: 38:41
Yeah. I like making little notes on this little piece of paper that I’m slashing here. Because I think I do well sometimes remembering to do that little list of value. But I’m not sure all of our team does. And so, that’s the thing, even as an organization that you don’t need to leave it up to your employees to do maybe. And it’s something that your team could actually put together a concentrated effort of, “Hey, here’s things, or here’s the tidbits of the week that are the most valuable that you might want to share with people.”
And if you’re using good sales tools, you should get feedback on those. Which links were clicked, which files were open, and you should share that back with your team. These should be conversations on your sales team or your marketing team. What’s engaging people? What’s getting more attention? And you can start to share it. And I mean, heaven forbid you actually ask your customers questions. I mean, you actually ask them good questions, or you list the questions they ask you. This is my friend Marcus Sheridan. And I Talk about another book. Great book. They ask you, you answer. It talks about content. They ask you questions, you answer them. Pretty simple. Great Book. It’s a great idea. Think about every question your customers ask you, and then create content to answer them and to share it with your team. How tough is that?
Stacy Jones: 39:56
Well, that’s how we have a blog, because I got to white where I was listening to clients, I was pitching on clients that we had, and I start talking to them, and that’d be like, “I going to write them a note.” And my little note would be a 25, a hundred word entry that… Yeah, it’d be a little more lengthy than just a little quick email. And so, it turned into a blog, and then that was once a week, and I pushed myself to do these, and then we started blogging up to three to five times a week like we do now. And then those, I turned into podcasts as how to help me type things. And so, you really don’t, if you’re listening to your customers, you really have so much content that you can create. Because I constantly talk to people and they are like, “Ah, I don’t know how I could get content. How do I create content?” It’s like, what questions are people asking you? And then answer them.
And everybody’s creating content all day long. People just don’t recognize it. The phone calls your voicemails, your emails you’re sending people, your presentations, the sales conversations. They’re all content.
Stacy Jones: 40:59
Record them. Send them to Rev, or Temi, and transcribed them. Turn them into a blog, turn them into an article, turn them into an E-book, turn them into quotes for your social media. It’s endless.
If I was a buyer and say a complex sale, I would love it if my sales person had a podcast like we’re doing right now, and they interviewed and talked to people, I would be like blown away. Hey, this is the person who’s the expert talking about these issues. Podcasts are great. You can multiply the content and podcast in a hundred bays. People need to think out of the box a little bit. The communication tools are there. It’s about thinking about it and whether you put the effort in to think about things from the customer’s perspective. Nobody wants to hear you talk about you, or their products. They want you to talk about them, and their problems and their issues.
Stacy Jones: 41:51
Yeah. Provide solutions. Give me ways that I can be better, do things better, and make less stupid mistakes. That’s like the answer to everything.
Yeah. I think most good consulting starts with those kinds of basic things. If, are you doing the blocking and tackling? Are you so in your own head that you’ve forgotten these kinds of basic things? I spent a lot of time with things that are kind of second nature to me, but it’s funny when I’m working on my website. I was working on my own website this morning, and I had to bring in somebody that I know who’s an expert at messaging, because I was so stuck in my own head. It was terrible what I was writing, I gave it to him, and he came in, and we spent two hours together, and he asked me five or six questions, and I was just like, “Yeah, you’re right. I didn’t think of it that way.”
And I’m talking to you about what you’re supposed to do. And I still got stuck in my own head when I was doing my own website. And I think that’s the issue. It’s so hard to step out of your day to day operations, and put your habits of thinking, and to be challenged is the key. To step out and look back and say, “Hey, I didn’t think of that before.” And that’s why it’s so important for marketing and salespeople to be asking their customers about the experience and about the process. And for business leaders to understand that it’s not just about the product, it’s about this experience, and what experience is my company creating? Or what culture have I created as a leader that results in a poor experience for our customers. I think more and more leaders need to be asking those questions to get out of their own head, and think about things from the way the customer view their company.
Stacy Jones: 43:24
That’s great advice. So, since your book has so much more great advice in it, can you share where people can find it? Any other additional information about it so our listeners can race out, or jump on Amazon and purchase it?
Yeah, it’s called Inbound Organization. We have a website, inboundorganization.com. There’s a ton of information there about the book. There’s a lot of information about Dan and I. There’s a lot of other free resources there. Big shock giving away free stuff. [crosstalk 00:43:52]. There’s an assessment on there that you can take free. We’re not asking you for email, we won’t even ask you to convert you. We’re just giving it away. We’re going to ask you some questions about your business, and see how inbound you are, and give you some tips on where you might be able to improve. And the book’s available everywhere. Amazon’s great. You can find it in most Barnes & noble. 800-CEO-Reads, where if you buy books you’ll be able to find it. And my company’s website is top-line-results.com. If you want to learn more about what we’re doing, and I’m easy to find on Linkedin and anywhere else. So, I’d love to talk to you, and hear your feedback about your company, whether you think you’ve got some interesting inbound attributes. I’d love to hear your stories, and learn more about how you guys think about inbound.
Stacy Jones: 44:39
And Todd, any last parting words of advice to our listeners?
Yeah. Look at yourself, look in the mirror, shop yourself. Look at your website, like I said before, look at the messaging. Really take yourself out of your own shoes. The best way you can. Get somebody you trust that’s a peer in another business to shop you, or to look at your marketing, look at how you’re doing your sales. This is the biggest mistake I see, is that it’s not from the customer’s perspective, and why would I care? That’s the biggest thing I see. That’s the biggest issue. Because that gets back to your mindset. It gets back to the mission of the company. It gets back to the culture internally. And again, that’s the thing I’m looking for. And you can do it. You have to just put kind of a different hat on, and think of yourself in a different way. And yeah, I think that’s the biggest thing you need to do, and then go inbound.
Stacy Jones: 45:34
Perfect. Todd, thank you so much for being here today. It was a pleasure. I learned a ton.
Thank you. It’s my pleasure to be here Stacy. Next time I’m going to have you on my podcast. I want to ask you the same questions.
Stacy Jones: 45:44
That sounds great, would love to do it. And to all of our listeners, thank you so much for listening to marketing mistakes and how to avoid them. We’ll chat on our next podcast.
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