#11: Sales Funnel and Marketing Zen with Matt Heinz
Sales and Marketing guru Matt Heinz joins me to discuss CRM and the Sales Funnel. We talk about marketing and sales playing nice, the future of sales automation, and breaking into the sale field. Matt has a ton of great insight for students of sales and marketing, early professionals, and those looking to make a career move.
Video of Scott's Interview with Matt Heinz
Podcast Audio of Scott's Interview with Matt Heinz
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Transcript of Scott's Interview with Matt Heinz
Scott: Hi Matt, thank you so much for being here, I know you are super busy, so it's such a huge benefit for me and for my students for you to be able to join us. You're my 11th guest on “To Market.”
Scott: And I believe you're my first sales expert, so I'm really excited!
Matt: That’s cool.
Scott: Yeah-yeah, this will be a cool one I think, so we'll just, if you don't mind we'll just roll right into the questions and we'll let it flow.
So, the first thing I want to ask you about, and I'm very self-aware as an academic that we kind of have these notions about how things work in the real world with sales and marketing, but honestly deep down we don't know if they're really reflected out there in industry. So, first I want to ask you about the interaction between sales and marketing. So, in the classroom we kind of build up this inherent tension that exists between the sales team and the marketing team and I want to ask you about how accurate that is, do you see this manifested in the real world?
Matt: I would say it is all too often accurate and entirely unhealthy. You know, I think oftentimes you've got a sales organization that does not believe that marketing understands what it means to be revenue responsible, to be accountable for a number. I think you've got a lot of organizations that think that marketing is essentially the glorified arts and crafts department, you know putting logos on pens and doing tradeshow booths and like not really having accountability for anything other than clicks and likes and retweets and whatever else.
So I think that the mistrust often comes from a lack of alignment and a lack of consistent objectives. I think it's entirely unhealthy. You know, it's unproductive for both teams in, you know in B2B which is where, we kind of, where we spend most of our time, you know we really are focused on helping marketing teams embrace that revenue responsibility to, you know, you have to execute and you want your emails to get opened more and you want to get more, you know, pass along amplification to your social content. I get it, but none of that matters unless you can convert your activity into the sales pipeline and close deals and you know customer lifetime value. So, if you can get marketing to step up to the table and embrace the same objectives the sales organization has and then put their actions behind it, you end up with not only a better and healthier relationship between sales and marketing, you end up with better results and we've got some data that shows a direct correlation between the interaction and productivity between sales and marketing and sales number achievement.
So yeah, I mean you're not, you know, to summarize, you know your characterization of the tension exists but that needs to be fixed.
Scott: And is it… do you perceive it to be something that's getting better now that there's kind of more awareness of this tension or not?
Matt: I don't think that the awareness of the tension is inherently making it better, unfortunately, and I'm, you know, I'm a lifelong marketer. I mean, we kind of tread the line between sales and marketing and we think a lot about sort of sales outcomes of marketing, but as a marketer I will be the first to say this tension is largely marketing's fault. You know, when the sales organization at the end of the month and the end of the quarter is grinding it out trying to hit their number and the marketing team is at the bar celebrating that they hit their retweet goal, like that is not alignment and so I think it's, you know, and marketing has always been measured on things that may be leading indicators but don't directly lead to sales. I mean, one of our VPs in here internally has said that you can't buy a beer with an MQL. Now you may have students that can't buy a beer period and that's okay for now, but like you… I want metrics that marketing owns that you can actually buy things with and that you actually make money off of. Sales, closed deals, people to pay their bills, lifetime value, recurring revenue. So, I think marketing has to own stepping up to the table, embracing that, and unfortunately just because there's awareness in many cases, the awareness is leading to greater defensiveness, a greater fear from marketing organizations, so you know, I think you know this is oftentimes a cultural challenge more than anything else and I know we're going to get into this a little later but you know for students that are coming out of school that are getting into marketing roles or even getting into sales roles, to know that both teams, sales and marketing, have the best of intentions and then to sort of align behind the same objectives and the same metrics. that is the foundation that is going to be successful moving forward, and that is the mindset that your leaders, the people that are going to be the stewards of your careers, are going to want to hear.
Scott: Right, right. And is it, so is it a sales funnel problem where we kind of look at marketing as owning the front end of the funnel or the top of the funnel and then sales is at the back end? Should they… should sales and marketing be involved throughout the funnel or is it just simply a goals problem and leadership needs to make marketing maybe more of a profit center than a cost center?
Matt: I think it's all of the above and I think, you know, I've seen it work successfully in a variety of different approaches. I think is traditionally marketing is on the top of the funnel and sales is on the bottom of the funnel, that may be traditional but I think, you know, even if you do that too often marketing has a lead goal that has nothing to do with a sales goal, right? If you still have to do the math together, you have to say, “okay here's how many deals I need to close, here's how many opportunities we need to get into the pipeline to get to closed deals and here's how much demand we need coming in.”
So marketing may be wholly responsible for qualified demand and getting people to opportunity but it still has to be of a quality and a volume that meets what sales needs. So, you can still have that traditional structure as long as the numbers and the objectives align. More often in more modern sales and marketing alignment or aligned organizations today, instead of seeing the funnel divided horizontally we see it divided vertically. When you're doing complex selling, when you're selling into enterprise organizations that have long sales cycles where you want to have a common understanding between sales and marketing of the members of the buying committee, the people inside of organizations that are making decisions, sales and marketing are involved at far more of the pipeline, you know. Sales is involved in building rapport at the awareness phase, marketing is involved at the bottom of the funnel helping prospects justify the decision in close faster.
So, you know I think that the key to whichever of those, you know, alignments you do is just ensuring that you've got a continuous flow, that everything flows together and it's one sales process not a marketing effort and a sales process separately.
Scott: Yes, yeah-yeah, that makes a lot of sense to me and I think we, as academics even, we need to rethink our models because we'll present students with sales funnels that kind of break up the different roles into sales and marketing and maybe that's part of the problem. Students are coming out of college with this conception about the role of sales and the role of marketing without really understanding these inter-linkages that are that are so critical to success, so that's really cool to get your insight. It seems like we're not totally off-base with what we're teaching but maybe we could still do a better job.
Matt: I mean, just the fact that you ask those questions and have those insights, I mean I'll be honest like, we do… there's a, you know, I went to the University of Washington there's a sales certificate program here that we’re involved with, and that we have interns come in from, and I think the more… I'm happy to see that since I went to school when things were sort of I think a little more archaic, I mean, even you know back in the day when I went there wasn't, I think, an understanding of what's happening in the real world. There wasn't a rationalization with the way things actually exist so kudos to you for driving that.
Scott: Okay cool, cool. That's very good and since we're talking about the archaic way of sales and marketing, I want to transition a little bit to talk about technology because it's interesting I was looking, I think it was LinkedIn who actually put out this article, but I was looking at the top skills gaps in different markets and sales seemed to be in the top ten for a lot of the big markets in the US but also I think… So, it seems like there's a lot of need for people who have an understanding of sales and sales leadership but then there's also, maybe in sales and marketing, this fear that automation’s kind of creeping in and it could be threatening some of the roles that we see out there today, so I wanted to kind of get your take on the role of automation and how this is affecting the sales world.
Matt: Yeah, so I mean I we spend a lot of time on this, you know, with our clients. We use it ourselves internally, you know, we are using Salesforce.com for our CRM use we're using Marketo for marketing automation. We use a tool called Outreach for sales engagement, so sales leads come in that we're following up with, it's sort of sales version of Marketo for individual sales reps. There's automation built into all of that, you know, when a lead comes in we've got distribution rules that decide which ones go to me, which one go to our sales rep, which one goes to other people in the organization, we've got drip campaigns for certain leads that either aren't ready to buy or aren't ready for our follow up, you know. There is a dedicated sequence of follow-up emails that are built into our sales engine, so you know anything that you do in a repetitive way is worth considering automating but you have, there's a limit to that because if you're doing, if you're, I mean the if you're doing B2B sales, you know, relationships still matter and you know in B2B sales, I have yet to meet a building that writes a check like people do, right, and so you still have to do some level of customization and personalization of that marketing and that messaging so the benefit of the automation is that you can do things at scale. You can do things consistently at scale, but you still have to understand when the human element is required to get that deal and to get the conversation going to get the engagement you want and to ultimately get those deals across the board.
Scott: Okay good, and I always kind of, and I don't know if this is an accurate view, but I always kind of looked at automation like the tasks that are good for automation are usually the tasks we don't like to work on, like you said, it's things that are repetitive things that are kind of the same every time. I'm, so we can get rid of these kind of mundane daily tasks that can really allow us to focus on building these authentic relationships in like the B2B world as you mentioned.
Matt: Well, I mean if there's something you are doing that a robot could do just as well then let the robot do the work, right? I mean there's plenty of things in terms of follow-up, in terms of sort of finding prospects, in terms of like there's a hundred companies I could talk to, who are the 34 I should actually talk to you today based on things going on in their organization. Like, robots can help you decide those things, right, but you don't always need a machine or a robot to do something that should be repetitive. So, for example, like I have a daily process. This right here for those either looking at the video, like, I have this laminated sheet. That is my daily to-do list and it's laminated because I travel a lot and I just I don't want to get destroyed, and it literally is just things that I need to do every day that I just… Robots help me with it but I have to do it myself so people whose birthday it is, like I try to make phone calls or send personal emails on their birthday. There's certainly follow-ups that I do. We do some mailings that get triggered by things where I get robots telling me the trigger and then I decide who gets the mailing and who doesn't.
So there's all kinds of networking and business development things on this list that if I didn't have this process, these things either wouldn't get done or they would take ten times longer to get done, so to me it's not about the technology, it's about your system. A lot we talked internally when we work with companies about building a predictable sales pipeline and what I mean by that is how do you increase your confidence that every month, every quarter you can continue to get the qualified pipeline you need to close business and hit your number? And that isn't about automating everything, it's having systems and campaigns and processes in place so that you have a machine you can build from and sometimes that machine is robots doing work, sometimes it's having laminated sheets that tell your sales team what to do, but all of that is part of the process and so that process and system is what's most important.
Scott: Okay, yeah, I think that that works and that makes sense. One thing that you made me think of is that with… I've been reading a little bit about artificial intelligence and marketing and artificial intelligence and sales and it seems like at least at present day that AI and automation and all these things work pretty well when you implement them at an incremental level, but when you try to completely transform your organization with automation then you really open yourself up to disaster and failure. So, just kind of having a process that works and then incrementally figuring out where you might introduce automation to improve efficiency or whatever, it is seems like the soundest strategy at least today.
Matt: Yeah, perfect is the enemy of good, you know, and I think there's an awful lot of big companies that look at this stuff as the opportunity to launch a marketing technology stack to help their sales pipeline and they try to do too much too quickly. It doesn't work if you don't build credibility, it takes too long to get up and rolling. I think, you know, even if you buy something like a Marketo, and Marketo can do some pretty amazing things, as can Eloqua, Pardot, and the other systems but we highly encourage our clients and companies… we talk to launch that in waves if you're going to do an account based marketing effort. Don't launch it to your entire global sales organization, do it with a handful of sales reps or a handful of targets to start with. Not only will that be faster and easier but you'll have some early success stories that can build internal momentum and motivation to continue to expand the adoption.
Scott: Right, yeah-yeah that also makes perfect sense and, you know, just trying to like replace 50 jobs with automation and AI is not going to work, right, at this point in time so I think that incremental approach will probably make sense to most of the listeners as well although we do see firms that are trying to do this total overhaul and…
Matt: Oh we do too, we do too and honestly, you know, what happens is you know the bigger the firm's that do that, the more cooks in the kitchen, the more people have different ideas in what things should look like, the more politics gets involved, the bigger the project is, the bigger the risk, or the bigger the cost of failure, which slows it down even further. And in the meantime your prospects have started to execute, you know, I’m sorry your competitors. I've started to run circles around you while you sit stagnant. It's not a good thing.
Scott: Right, well I want to stick with technology for just a moment here, so I mentioned to you before the broadcast that that I teach a marketing, an integrated marketing programs and the sales force class, and as part of that, we talked about CRM, customer relationship management systems, quite a bit and you… I mentioned Salesforce and you've talked about all this different software that you're using, so do you see are we making great strides in CRM… what's changing with CRM and kind of where is it heading. Is there anything interesting going on in this space with all the access we have to data now?
Matt: Yeah, I think, I mean it's, this is a pretty amazing time to be in sales and in marketing. The amount of information we have about what's going on inside our organization, the information we have about what our prospects are doing, the ability to really customize the message, to do better account selection. Out of a hundred prospects in your market, there are not a hundred people that want to buy your product. There's Gartner research around sales readiness that says about three or four percent of any given market is actively buying, about forty six percent is what Gartner calls poised, meaning they have a need, they should be buying but they're just not there yet and another half the market that’s not they're not poised, they're not even qualified right, so to know who's that three or four percent, to know who the forty six percent are, to know what trigger events or buying signals or milestones might exist in the customer’s journey that should move them from the forty six percent to the three to four, like there's we have so much access to information that can now instruct not just our technology what to do, but instruct our people what to do. In that, and I think that you know, our dashboards of sales and marketing professionals which tend to be tools like, you know, Salesforce and Marketo and Percolate and others we have the opportunity to do that, I think you know as we talked about before that before we started recording, you know the technology is not your strategy. Like you… the technology is an enabler of your strategy and just because you have a robust tool doesn't mean you need to use the entire tool. Like, people tell me all the time how could you use Salesforce it is so complicated, there's so many buttons and bells and whistles on it, you know? You know what else has a lot of bells and whistles that I don't use Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, right? These are tools that I use every day and maybe I maybe I use five percent of it, but that five percent is really important to me and Salesforce.com for me is the same.
I don't use most of the features they have. It is no less sticky and no less important to me because I know what I need to get out of it. My access, I'm literally like, I'm looking at you in my little Zoom interface here but then right above that is, sort of, are the bookmarks in my browser and there are two reports that I am in all day long. Like, my inch, my access to Salesforce is through those two reports and I run my business on those two reports, you know. So, I think, you know, there's a lot of information, a lot of process, and a lot of thinking that's gone into, you know, sort of these those sort of like subconscious decisions that now happen as I work through those reports, but I think you know that's what you have to do to do this well.
Scott: Okay, I really like that analogy with the Microsoft kind of suite of tools where yeah we're so used to having to create things in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, that that we don't think about how much of that software is unused and it's really that kind of exposure to a new thing, right? We immediately try to form counter arguments of why we shouldn't be using this thing and that's the easiest excuse for something like Salesforce that it's too complicated and I don't have the time to invest.
Matt: Well, on the other side of that is, you know, a like a trick, a tool like a Marketo or an Eloqua or a Pardot, I mean, they're fairly complicated you actually, you know, we've got people on our team that have gone through pretty extensive training to become certified on using these tools and some people say, “wow those are way too complicated, I don't want to have to use that.” I'm like, listen, if you want to just send emails out go get a Constant Contact or a MailChimp account, like, I mean we and we have early-stage clients that'll do that if you're just doing batch and send emails that's fine. Oh you want to do scoring, oh you want to integrate with Salesforce, oh you want to notify your sales team when something comes in and have actual lead distribution, well sometimes things worth doing require sophistication. Sometimes what you need to execute requires tools that are there that are not out-of-the-box intuitive, I'm never going to apologize for that on behalf of some of these tools because of what they can accomplish. That said, you know, as we were talking about before, just because one tool has 47-features and another tool has 42-features doesn't mean the tool with the most features is the best tool, it doesn't mean it's the best tool for you. If you were to ask me what is the best marketing automation platform on the market today, like just pound for pound I can give you an answer and that answer is going to be wrong for 98% of the companies that ask the question, so you really again like you need to understand your strategy, understand what you're actually going to need, what you're trying to accomplish, and then find the tools and processes that will support that for you.
Scott: Yes spot-on, yeah that's awesome and I love your perspective that the technology's not driving everything, right. It's your strategy and then finding the right technology to support what you're doing. You did mention email marketing so I do want to kind of talk to you about this a little bit because I look at you as kind of an expert on email marketing which is something that seems a little more old-school to us now, but it's not going away and I keep expecting the effectiveness to dip and dip and dip but it's not really what we're seeing in reality.
So, what's happening with email marketing and maybe for people who are going to listen to this how do you get started with like building an email list. Do we go out and do we buy a bunch of lists or do we try to build that list organically. Do you just have any like kind of high-level tips for being successful with email marketing?
Matt: Yeah, I think that I'm going to step out of the channel and just talk about, you know, independent of channel we're really talking about attention, right. Access is different than attention, access is I went out and bought a list, or I stole a list, or I built a list, right. Whatever that is I now have your email address. Today it's easier and cheaper to get email addresses than ever before. Just because you have access to me doesn't mean you have my attention now, if you want my attention you can get it one of three ways. You can rent it, you can borrow it, or you can own it and I think you know every company today has the opportunity to be a media company and own attention. You know, historically we've had to go and we've had their rent attention from other people like you rent attention from the magazine, you put an ad and you rent attention from the tradeshow, you buy a booth in your attention from the newsletter that you put an ad in right and so that's fleeting, and you have to continue to buy it, but you know if that if whoever you're renting attention from has credibility then you can borrow and sort of draft off that credibility.
As you start to have interesting things to say, even if you have to rent and borrow that attention to begin with, if people want to keep hearing from you, then you can start to own that attention and people want to hear from you directly. I mean, there are emails that I get once a month that I cannot figure out how to unsubscribe and I really wish they would totally go away. There are emails I get every day that I can't wait to read and I will stop what I'm doing and read them, so I think we, if we think that email marketing is dead, we think of them as an interruptive tool where we are trying to short-circuit the path to attention and engagement, how do you make the move from being interruptive to irresistible? That isn't something you necessarily do overnight but that is the charter for marketers, for sales reps, for organizations to get to a point where you own the attention of your prospects.
Scott: That's a really cool answer and it's analogous to so many things that we talk about in marketing right even in teaching an advertising class, we can we put our stimulus up there, you know in a billboard or a TV ad or a radio ad but it doesn't make any difference if we can't capture that attention, and then hopefully from that attention we can then shape perception, right, we want to we want the consumer to have some emotional connection to us or even some, you know, rational connection to our products so maybe it's the same situation with email, and like you said we've come to view things like you know email advertising and email marketing as interruptive so you need to find a way through… maybe it's through subject lines or just through repeatedly sending out information that's helpful and useful and interesting to kind of break through that and not be considered just email noise.
Matt: Well, look I mean it comes down to what do you have to say that's interesting to me, what do you… what can you teach me, what can you do in some cases just to entertain me? But like, there's a variety of ways to get and keep my attention, you know, when we talk to sales organizations or even sort of marketing groups that are trying to not just get an email in front of someone but to get a real good conversation in those first couple interactions you have with the prospect, one of the ways to try to earn ongoing attention is what's something you could share, what's something you could give to that prospect that they would have paid for, what's an insight in a phone call that your sales rep has that the prospect can lean back in their chair and say that was helpful, I would have paid for that insight, that made me that changed the way I thought about my business, it helped me sort of challenge my own status quo. Like, that is your bar right if you're simply going out there someone is saying; Hey can I have 15-minutes, hey can I give you a demo, I think if I could just show you a demo I think going to love this, no one says yes to that. This is why people hate marketing emails, this is why people hate cold calls, and that's why people think cold calling is dead, because they think it's just interruptive efforts to just wedge someone into minutes of your time. That is bad sales and marketing yesterday, today, and forever.
Yeah, so you know again like back to channels, I mean like cold calling is not dead any more than emails are not dead any more than social selling is not dead, like every channel is available to you if you provide value to your customer.
Scott: Right, that's a really cool perspective and I think you're spot-on yet again and it transcends email marketing right like you said it's not just about the channel that you're working in so right so thank you for that and I'm about to let you off the hook here but I'd be remiss if I didn't ask you, because I teach so many undergraduates and MBAs and we're trying to train them on sales and marketing, and I have you on the line as an expert. I have to ask what are some skills that will make graduating students, whether they're seniors from an undergrad program or fresh MBAs, what makes people attractive in the sales industry? What kind of skills… is it software is it soft skills? What would… what are people missing?
Matt: So a couple ways I'll answer that, first is I'm a journalism-political science major from the University of Washington, go Dawgs, and so I learned how to be a marketer on the job. I was a marketer and how I started this business and for those last nine and a half years by default I'm now in sales as well, you know building a pipeline for our business. So you know, I think if there's an, if there's a program like yours that can give people a real authentic view of what's going on in sales and marketing that is a huge advantage that I didn't have or that most business or business schools don't have, you know I think for marketers that want to want to understand what's going on, I would say go find some good internships, like don't bother just waiting for the internships that are open, go find companies you want to work for and go reach out to them, and when you reach out to companies even if you have no experience and maybe especially if you have no experience, your job is not to show people why they should hire you, your job is not to get a job, your job is to show that employer what you can do for them alright? So what are you bringing to the table if you're not bringing experience, so what you're bringing is energy, you're bringing tenacity, you're bringing curiosity, you know, you're bringing a desire to learn you're bringing good questions, you know. One of the best things you can do as a sales rep, as a marketer, as a new person, as a new employee anywhere is to be curious and empathetic, to be curious about why things work and why things don't, so be curious about what makes your customer tick, to be empathetic about the people around you, and empathetic about your customers plight and situation. Good sales organizations are going to give you a playbook. They're going to give you a process they want to follow and the best sales reps that execute that are those that are curious, that are empathetic, that lean into it. They work hard, you have to work hard, you know, there's no doubt… nothing around that.
If there's people listening to this that are your students that want to go into marketing, I would give them the same advice as the people going into sales. Get a sales job first. Go be an inside sales rep for a couple years, right. Not only will you learn a ton about B2B sales and marketing you’ll probably, you know, if you're good you’ll make a lot of money. Make more money as an inside sales rep than as an entry-level marketing person. And B2B organizations will look at someone that wants to go into marketing that has sales experience, I mean, that's as close to a unicorn as an entry-level marketing person gets so, you know, lots of different paths. I mean, hell, you can be like me and go be a reporter for a little while first and then kind of find, you know, meander your way into this serendipitously but I would just, you know, just go after the companies you want. Communicate what you're going to bring to the table for them and then just go make some money and ask a lot of good questions and learn from the people around you and have a good time.
Scott: I love it and it really seems to me that now when you look at kind of a leadership path, especially at large organizations they always want you to have touched the sales organization. So you may as well get that experience early because you're going to have to get it at some point along the way and you may have to work with sales multiple times in your career because it's that important, right, to the to the organization.
I love what you said, kind of directing marketers to try to pick up that sales experience and of course, the more that marketing and sales understand each other going back to our very first question the less conflict that we're going to have along the way, so I think we kind of tied things together with a nice bow there, so thank you for that.
Matt, I really appreciate your time I think this was kind of a whirlwind of an interview and it was packed full of information, thanks to really insightful answers that you offered. Do you mind telling us the best ways to follow you on social media… LinkedIn, I guess LinkedIn is social media but a website?
Matt: Yeah, so our website is www.heinzmarketing.com, Twitter account is just @heinzmarketing. I am Matt Heinz, you can find me on LinkedIn my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions and please, so I would not give my email address, my personal information, if I did not want to hear from people. As I sort of grew up in marketing and still today as I continue to sort of, you know, learn to make mistakes, I think you know leaning on people that were generous with their time that were able to sort of help me along the way was critical to my growth and you know if anyone listening to this, any of your students, or anyone else has any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. It's the least I can do to give back for all the people that did that for me.
Scott: Awesome, thanks so much we really do appreciate your generosity and I hope that we'll catch up again in the near future, so thank you have a wonderful rest of the day.