The Talent, Sales and Scale Podcast
Bryan Whittington With Michael Hanson
November 11, 2020
Bryan: Hey, everyone. Bryan Whittington with this episode of The Talent, Sales and Scale show. I have a special guest from the other side of the pond—Michael Hanson. So if you hear a slight difference in accent, yes, he is from the right side of the pond. So he comes to us with just a wealth of knowledge. He’s running his own company called Growth Genie, where he specifically works to create 1 30-touch omni-channel approach. So why 30? We use 25. Should it be 8? Who knows? We’re going to find out today. He’s also part of this round table host, an ambassador of EPSTA. Is that right, EPSTA?
Bryan: Okay. So maybe we’ll hit on that a little bit. The bottom line, why we have Michael on the show for today is how in the world, with all of these opinions, do we really take what we’re doing from an outreach approach, whether you call it SDR or BDR or XDR—whatever you want to call it—how do we do the right language, the right approach, to really drive top-of-the-funnel opportunity? So that’s why we have Michael Hanson on the show today. So with all of that said, welcome to the show, Michael.
Michael: Thanks a lot, Bryan. Looking forward to sharing all my experience and knowledge. And I hope it will be useful to some who are listening out there.
Bryan: I’m sure it will be, and we’ll take lots of copious notes here. So let’s go right into the first question. There are just unbelievable amounts of people who say hey, they have the secret sauce. They know the right way. I mean, why should we listen to you on messaging and this whole outreach approach? Why should we be listening to you, Michael?
Michael: Yeah. I like the question. I think it’s a great question. I think I’m one of LinkedIn’s supposed gurus. I even put influence on that time line. But that’s certainly what I’m not saying. If someone actually says they’re an influence, they’re probably not an influence.
Bryan: Yeah. These guys are blowing smoke. And that’s probably where your question is coming from. Everyone listening to this podcast is probably in sales or something relevant to that job. I’m just another salesperson, right? So I’m insoles consultancy. I’m always learning, evolving, and most of my knowledge is through experience, right? So having sold I’ve been an AE, I’ve been an SDR. I’ve run a sales team, a prospering company that went from five employees to 200 employees. I also have a law of marketing background as well. And I think that marketing and sales especially in the B. to B. world is just becoming closer and closer every day. So I think that content is a huge part of sales. So there is a lot more content to my cadences. A lot of the early chapters in my cadences what I call awareness—sharing content, like George Brown. (Unclear) It’s about making deposits rather than withdrawals. I’m very much into that methodology. So the reason you should listen to me is that I’m just another salesperson like you guys. I have prospects every week. I have consultations every week. I have demos, as you would call them, here in the software world. So I can just share some of my own experiences. And I like listening to these lectures and podcasts as well because I like learning from others. So, you know, that’s essentially why you should listen.
Bryan: Got it. That’s some pretty good background. And first off, kudos. I mean, going from five to 200, that’s pretty darn impressive. So now you talked about the intersection of sales and marketing, right?
Michael: And I’m not going to go down to the path of who should own the SDR role or who should own outbound. Should it be marketing or sales? I don’t care, right? All I want to know is how do we do it? So how would you say, in that organization where you scaled from five to 200, or whenever you’re working with your clients, what’s the approach that you’re looking to take? Where does it go with sales? Where does it go with marketing? How do we blend that line together? What are your thoughts on that, please?
Michael: I think it doesn’t matter as long as those two teams are aligned. Where it’s going to go wrong is if the two teams aren’t aligned. Fr example, if you have marketing running the SDR team, they make a lot of sequences through email, through LinkedIn, even the scripts. And they don’t get any feedback at all from sales. I’ve seen that happen. It’s really important that marketing is aligned with sales, because sales, apart from maybe making your customer success or customer service teams, they know the ideal customer better than anyone because they’re having demos or conversations with the customers or potential customers all week. So they know what the pains are. They’re doing discovery. So they’ve asked that question a million times. You know, what are your main challenges related to acts, whatever your business is solving. So it’s really important that you’re aligned. So if you do your work in marketing it’s really important that you’re aligned with the sales team whenever you’re creating content. And that content can be an email cadence or a LinkedIn cadence. Or it can just be an email or more traditional content. But it’s really important that marketing has those conversations with sales, because unfortunately I’ve seen it at institutions where marketing is not having those conversations with sales. And because of that the content that they’re making is not relevant at all.
And on the flip side of that, I’ve often seen sales team members, team members in the sales team, saying that oh, marketing content is rubbish; they don’t give out good stuff. And again it’s because they’re not having good conversations with marketing. So ask marketing, what are the most downloaded pieces of content that we have? What are the uploaded pages that get the most web traffic? And that’s what you should be sharing because those are probably the most relevant things that will cost the most.
So as you said, it doesn’t matter if it’s sales or if it’s marketing. It just matters that the two teams are aligned and that there is very good communication between both departments.
Bryan: Okay. And here’s the frustrating thing, right? We all know that. Yet time and time and time again we see it not happen. So are there any suggestions that you can give to us? How do we get that alignment? How do we get those two talking, because it’s the age-old dilemma? “Your leads ****!”
“Well, you ****! You can’t close anything; you can’t sell anything!” So how do we get those two talking and really working together? What have been some of your ways of doing that?
Michael: Yes. One of them is transparency. With my company now, there are only a few of us. They’re very small; it’s not like we have a big sales and marketing department. We all kind of do everything. But when we were growing the team, and we were kind of going through this growth, the marketing team was expanding and the sales team was expanding. And actually at the start I don’t think we were aligning at all. And it probably had a lot to do with me as well because I was responsible for that. And then what I realized was that there needs to be this communication like I said, because sales was complaining about marketing and marketing was complaining about sales. And I realized it was purely a communication thing.
Both departments were doing well. But they weren’t communicating what they were doing to the other one. And that’s why things were going wrong.
So what we started doing was that I felt we should end up doing a call every day. We realized the kind of schedule was like call for an hour in the morning. We called it a sales and marketing scrum. We got together and discussed things. But we eventually moved it to Monday, Wednesday and Friday, which seems to be the appropriate format. It was really good because it just kind of brought everything onto the table. We were very frank as well, like no holds barred. We didn’t have any areas of sensitivity, where you couldn’t say certain things. You just have very open and transparent communication.
And again, there are some who may not like me to use this word on the podcast. If you think your content is **** for marketing, I tell them not to say, “this is ****.” Say, “I don’t think this content is really relevant to our customers because of x, y and z.” And they’re going to like that, and you can provide feedback. So that’s what I recommend. Just have regular calls at least every week. As I said, it should be a few times a week. And just have very open and constructive feedback between the teams.
Bryan: So let’s talk a little more deeply on that. I’m in marketing, because you’re worn both hats quite a lot if I’m not mistaken, correct?
Bryan: Okay. So I’m in marketing. What is my core focus? What’s my core belief? What’s that lens through which everything is coming whenever I’m wearing my marketing hat?
Michael: Yes. So essentially what you want as your main goal is marketing. Is that what you’re saying?
Bryan: Well, no; more perspective, right? Because the main goal of marketing is going to be driving leads. Well, it could be that. So yeah; let’s hit on that one. What are the main goals of marketing? And then I’ll dig a little bit more deeply.
Michael: Yeah. So it’s quite interesting to follow Chris Walker on LinkedIn. I’ve seen his stuff.
Bryan: Yeah; he’s got some good stuff.
Michael: So yeah; he runs a small marketing agency. (Unclear) And the reason I mention him is because marketing is slightly changing in the sense that back in the day you would have this big focus on eBook downloads, and getting leads through eBook downloads. But the problem was that it was more focused on just the number of leads rather than the quality of leads. And actually what we’re seeing now is that the middle of the funnel essentially is getting a bit more blurred. Basically the gap between the top of the funnel and the bottom of the funnel is getting a bit more blurred because of things like eBooks, for example. What actually starts happening is that people are printing eBooks as blurb articles. They’re not gating them.
So before it was like we bought this amazing eBook. We’re going to give it to you if you give us your email, your phone number, etc. And now people are like you know what? We’re not going to do that anymore. We’re just going to give you this. We’re just going to give away content. And you’re on our website, and that’s all we really care about. Things are becoming more and more inbound in the sense that you just give stuff away in order to stoke brand awareness.
And that’s the big thing about marketing. It’s just like establishing yourself as someone who is really respected in your industry. But we can’t lose that balance, right? You said that there are probably two goals in marketing—brand awareness and lead generation. That’s the revenue, right? If that’s not leading to revenue then what’s the point of doing marketing in the first place?
So I do think that Chris Walker talks about this—not focusing too much on lead gen. But you do need to focus on leads as well; you do need leads coming. And so there is a bit of a balance to it. But essentially yes—brand awareness and leads. And then it’s like all those leads that are coming from marketing, they are all actually turning into revenue, because if you’re getting five thousand marketing leads a month, but none of them are turning to deals, with none of your referrals turning to deals, there’s something that could go wrong.
And then going back to what I was saying before, the alignment peace, it may be that sales doesn’t know where these leads are coming from, and they’re not using the right messaging, or some of these leads aren’t qualified. So you’ve got to establish exactly where that’s going wrong.
Bryan: Yes. So there’s a lot there. With what Chris Walker is talking about—because that was pretty shocking to me—it seems like what he’s doing is that he’s pushing out the content. And it’s almost like—and I don’t know this for a fact or not; maybe you can do some insights there,--it’s almost like the people who are liking the articles or liking the posts and are interacting with the things, those are what are seemingly to count as leads and are starting to strike up conversations with fans. Is that a right understanding of what he’s doing?
Michael: Yeah. So I think that Chris Walker gives an extreme example. We’ve had a number of conversations about this because he’s very much into this. He gave really good content away and so he will come to you. I see this in sales guys as well as marketing guys. Most of what we do is actually outbound consulting.
So I would start conversations with the people with whom I have a lot in common. I’d say, “Hey, Bryan, I saw that you liked my purpose around inbound scales. What do you think it should be? I’ll start the conversation that way, whereas I think that Chris’s methodology is just like give, give, give, and wait until the inbound leads come in.
So a little bit of inbound and outbound is my approach. I think that’s where it’s huge. I think that inbound and outbound are so related as well. But that’s a whole other conversation.
Bryan: Oh, it is. And let’s face it. I mean, nobody loves picking up the phone. I mean, there are going to be people that lie about it. Well, there are really two people. It’s the old joke, right? There are two people that love outbound sales calls, right?—those that no longer have to do it and sales managers that are forcing you to do it. So I Mean it is a pain in the neck to do that. So everybody loves this idea of strictly inbound, and I can do lead conversion.
Bryan: My belief is that the challenge is how do you build that up? Because to become that content matter expert, that subject matter expert, and to push all of that content out to build up that following, that’s not going to be an insignificant endeavor. That’s going to take six months, nine months, a year, eighteen months to really build that out to where you can have a more consistent machine. Or am I off base on that understanding?
Michael: Yeah, it takes a long time, especially things like organic search in Google. I know a lot of leading experts on that. And it can take anywhere from six months or a year or longer to really get consistent leads coming. And people ask whether this is successful. If it’s not successful you might have to do it all over again.
But I think that again, going back to the point of the inbound versus outbound thing, and even if you do have a ton of inbound leads,--and again there’s a train of thought now with a lot of people about if a Web&R lead comes in, or if an eBook download lead comes in, you shouldn’t really be trying to sell them. And I think you should. But I think it’s about the messaging that you use, right?
So it’s always when you have a conversation with that person that watched the Web&R, the messaging is relevant. So ask questions that are relevant to the Web&R, rather than just be like “Hey, this is us; this is our survey.” And it’s probably completely unrelated to the topic in the Web&R.
So I think it’s about finding that balance between building an inbound machine and building an outbound machine. And actually what I’ve found is, most companies do one or the other at the start. And actually what happens is that they get to a point where they realize that you need both inbound and outbound.
And I remember that I actually saw a tool by Bryan Halligan on HubSpot last year in London. And he as talking about the fact that HubSpot is starting to do billboards, in San Francisco, right? Again, they didn’t create inbound marketing. But they’ve become the most established authority on the subject.
He was saying that he had to re-wire himself because he’d been brainwashed by his own thing that inbound is everything. And actually he realized in the end that the outbound is key. And I’ve seen others where even at CloudSource, for example, we were essentially like an outbound machine. We got to a point where we needed to invest in marketing. You know, we can’t just get everything from outbound referrals with your marketing leads that come in. So I think that eventually every company is going to go through an outbound and inbound model. But it’s just about finding that right balance, having a good mix between the two.
Bryan: Yes. So if we do inbound only, I can get by. My cost per lead is like $20 or $300 bucks. But how many of those are actually any good? Because it really seems that—and I’ll contend that most people listening to this have no idea what their true customer acquisition costs are. Whenever they bring the blended approach of marketing and sales and the team and the tools and everything that goes into it, that cost of customer acquisition, my sense is that most people have zero clue of what they’re doing. So yes, it is that blended approach, because what’s working from a marketing perspective is likely going to change on a dime. And from what you were talking about earlier, Michael, you had suggested that the outbound teams, the ones that are having the five, ten, twenty, thirty conversations a day, (depending on the technology stack you could have hundreds of conversations per day), they’re going to be the ones that are going to give you trends and current market conditions so you can adjust and adapt more quickly. Is that an accurate understanding?
Michael: Yeah, definitely. Like you said, adjust and adapt. It’s essentially totally about that balance. So I think that everyone is going to come to a point in their business where it’s one or the other. I mean, the point on customer acquisition, yes, a lot comes from that, even in more established companies. I think that one of the problems you’ve got is attribution.
I think that’s one of the main problems with Chris Walker’s approach is that if you just think brand awareness, and you’re not going for the leads, and you’re just going for more of the inbound approach, how do you measure the impact of that? Because you skip that step in the middle where it’s all about the number of leads. And as you said, if you have loads of $300 leads, and you think that’s a small cost per acquisition, but none of them come out running up the cost, you’re losing money from it, right? You’re not gaining money from it.
And then going back to another example. I think a lot of people are general with social media, just because you were talking about likes and comments. A lot of people are focused on the vanity matrix, which is the likes and the comments, and not essentially the revenue that is coming from it. And I’ve seen that. I’ve had close insane engagements where I’ve had 100,000 views, and you got nothing from those posts. Other posts had two thousand views, and I’ve gotten plenty of cost from that. So that’s what really matters. And it’s the consistency of these things.
The problem is, if you do that approach the attribution has a problem because you don’t actually know where this comes from. Whereas if you do marketing, and this is Facebook and you’re getting the leads, you can see the whole customer joining you. I think the probe is that sometimes you can’t see that whole customer joining you. You don’t know where the lead comes from.
Bryan: Correct. And so I’m glad I stepped back on my question, because whenever we said, “Hey, what does marketing actually do?”, we didn’t really say that, right? Because you said, “Well, it’s kind of branding. Well, it’s kind of lead generation.” I was expecting you to say that the point of marketing is lead generation. But what you’re saying there is really two schools of thought. One is along brand awareness, and the other is along lead generation.
Now they’ll try to combine the two. My belief is that I’m only looking at marketing. Now I’m a sales guy through and through, right? So let’s get that out of the way. That’s my viewpoint. Marketing is really to help to drive leads, or to make the sales team’s job to convert those leads a little bit easier. So is that an old way of thinking? Is that still a right way of thinking? Talk to me a little bit about that viewpoint.
Michael: Yeah, I think it is. And it’s even just like creating content, right?? So there are different types of content, depending on where you are on the buyer’s funnel. So if you’re in a sales cycle with someone, and among other things he’s giving you loads of case studies that maybe ask for a referral, right? It’s not actually coming from marketing; it’s just a referral from the business. That marketing is giving you loads of content, and that helps you close those deals, right? Unless you are part of a company that proposes, that has a proposal platform. Again they have to market things on the proposal side of it, which is quite interesting in itself—sending out proposals and marketing these other proposal templates.
So I think that’s what I was saying at the beginning of the call. To me revenue just needs to be seen as one engine. Sales marketing has different parts. And like you said the SDR team, that can be marketing or sales, even towards the bottom of the funnel, right Marketing is great in content. And that helps sales close deals.
So I think that’s the problem, where you have marketing and sales and sellers. It’s that they’re so interrelated that it becomes very difficult.
And then, going back to the inbound and the outbound model, I was talking about this last week on LinkedIn. I don’t really agree with the whole inbound and outbound SDR separately, because if a lead comes in from a Fortune 500 company, say from our business, and a director of sales comes in. But I’m also aware of leap year sales, a CRO, etc. And I’m just speaking to that guy. And it’s like I want to do an outbound approach to warm up all the other decision makers of the company. So you know, I think that people look at things too narrowly. Like this is sales, this is marketing. This is inbound, this is outbound.
And I think more and more that this is really not account-based sales. You need to have a more holistic approach. And that’s why salespeople who understand marketing are going to succeed a lot more, and the same marketing people who understand sales, they’re going to succeed a lot more. So I think the modern sales person or the modern marketer, they need to understand both.
Bryan: Yeah. I’m going to ask one more question off of this and then divot to a different topic. So what would you say that the difference in sales and marketing is in terms of approach—from an email perspective, a scripting perspective,--those two specific pieces? What would you say the difference is between a sales telephone scripting email versus a marketing telephone script email?
Michael: Yeah. This is a great question. I think I’ve learned a lot over the years. I think that sales is actually more personalized. I think that if marketing could be more personalized it would be better. But I think at the moment that marketing is essentially just building an authority on a particular subject, whether that’s related to outbound prospecting in our case, or closing, or CRM implementation, or whatever it is. You become an expert on that topic. And marketing’s job is to make you an expert on that topic and create great content around it.
Sales is more about the relationships that you’re building with people. So say that a director of sales comes in, like I said. You have a conversation with him. You build a relationship with him. You try to have him on different channels so you can communicate easily. You try to get intros to people on the buying chain. So you’re essentially creating relationships with people.
And people buy from people; that’s the thing. You need to create a relationship because even though you’re Bryan and I’m Michael, on Growth Jeanie or it’s Bryan on HubSpot, or wherever it is, they’re also buying from you as Bryan. And they’re buying from me as Michael, because they end up trusting you. And therefore they trust your brand because you’re representing that brand. So I think that’s the difference between marketing and sales. A lot of the time it’s those personal relationships that you make with people.
Bryan: Got it. Okay. Well, let’s go into something more tactical, then. So I’m a salesperson. And I’m having to blend this approach of personal branding now. You know, you see some really sharp SDRs out in the marketplace right now, really doing an effective job on their own personal brands. They’re building out content. But they’re also doing outreach. So what should my outreach look like? So in your LinkedIn you have a 30-step approach. Let’s talk about that one. What does a 30-step approach look like? I mean, I think a lot of people would say, “Isn’t that a bit of overkill, for goodness’ sakes?”
Michael: Yes. I think I’ve mentioned this earlier in the call. So I would start generally with what we call deposits, right? We just give away content that we think is useful. So I know that if you’re a sales leader and you manage an SDR team, you’re probably looking for cold-calling tips, or a how to be able to use LinkedIn guide, or how to build email messaging. So those are actually the documents we have.
And I’d say, “Bryan, I noticed that you’re on a sales outsourcing firm. You have ten SDRs, or whatever it is. And here’s a piece of content that can help you on how to build LinkedIn messaging.”
And you say, “Oh, thanks very much.” Then you start a conversation like that. The approach we have is a mixture of personalization and automation.
So you see a lot of debate on LinkedIn about this. A lot of people who are very old school would be like no; it’s about volume. Personalization doesn’t matter; it’s a waste of time.
Other people would be like you can’t automate anything. You’re wasting the machinery. I sit somewhere in the middle. Yes, you do always want to be human. You can actually automate outreach, right? And so that will seem personalized. The way you can do that is through what I call triggers.
So in the example of Growth Genie I know that every company is hiring SDRs. And salespeople need help setting them up for success and building repeatable scalable processes. And so I can target a list of companies that I know are hiring SDRs.
Now I can say, “Hey, Bryan, I noticed that you’re hiring SDRs. How is that hiring process going?” We share a bit of content. As you’re hiring SDRs, here are some traits you should look for. And those are the hours that may come in as useful when you’re interviewing, right?
So that can be an automated message. But actually it looks personalized because it has that trigger that they’re hiring SDRs. And that can be other things—using a particular type of software. And a lot of these types of companies—Zoom Info, Seamless, Apollo,--they have those triggers. They have those if you’re hiring someone. So you can use that. There’s a bit of that.
It’s a bit of sending personalized messages. That could be a personalized video. Recently personalized voice nots have been very useful. And I actually prefer invoice notes to videos at the moment just because you can do it scaled. The problem with personalization is being able to do it. With Scale or Voice Mail you just press a button and send a message, and then you go on to the next person.
And typically it’s about six or seven or sometimes eight on email or LinkedIn. And then you’ve got ten to fifteen calls. So it seems like a lot, but perhaps with two or three messages on LinkedIn and an email, you’re not even talking about you and what you’re doing. You’re talking about the customer’s pay and you’re giving quality content. And it’s like email 4 or 5. You’re presenting a solution, talking about what you do.
And you can probably relate to this, Bryan. Some people say that ten or fifteen calls is too much. There are a lot of debates about this. An average connects rate, depending on the industry, can be about 5 to 10%. So that’s basically someone picking up the phone. So you actually might have to call someone ten times just for them to pick up once. And they don’t know who you are.
And I think the 30-touch cadence is just about getting that one reply, that one interaction. And that’s the way that you think about it. You’re not having thirty interactions. You’re doing thirty touches in order to get one interaction and to get a meeting.
So they don’t think they’ve gotten thirty touches from you. That’s more what you’re doing just to have that one interaction with them.
Bryan: Yes. So there’s a ton in there. A couple of things. You’re leveraging content at the front end of those first touches is to really leverage the principle of influence of reciprocity, right?—give to get.
Bryan: So you’re giving that information away to build value, to build credibility, to set yourself apart where you’re not just having commission bread come across, right? So that’s the one piece.
The second piece is triggers. And I love this triggers peace. And we’ll dive down to this a little more deeply. So often with triggers, they’re really the observable characteristics of what makes that person want to act. So Mr. So-and-So shows up—new VPS sale, new CRO, new CMO, whatever the case may be. If you’ve had triggers in the past, you know that they’re looking to shake things up and likely do things differently.
So those different trigger vents, are they hiring certain people? Maybe you just introduced a new product or service. And you’ve laid out the different tools that we can tap onto those as well.
Bryan: Now with the voice notes, are you meaning voice nots from LinkedIn, or are voice notes something different that we should know about?
Michael: Yeah. So LinkedIn voice notes are really powerful. I think there’s a stat which says that 81% of LinkedIn messages use a video or a voice note. Half of battling sales is just standing out, especially if you’re reaching out to someone in a C. level company. They’re probably getting prospected a hundred times a day. So your messaging has to be really good and really stand out.
Bryan: Yeah. Just so you know, let’s be very tactical on this one. If you’re going on to LinkedIn for voice mail you have to do it from your mobile. And off of your mobile make sure that you hit that + button on the left-hand side of that, that little messaging.
Now I don’t know about you, Michael, but have you found videos? Oftentimes whenever I shot videos they’d get hung up. But I’ve found really good success with the voice notes like you’re suggesting. Have you had any success with the videos through it?
Michael: Video works pretty well; I’ve had a lot of success with video. The only reason I said that I prefer voice notes is because of the productivity. I was speaking to (unclear.) I was coaching the other day and he said the same thing. You’re in the middle of something. He was actually in the airport. I can’t remember where I was. But I didn’t have access to my laptop. And you can send fifty voice notes in an hour, right?
Michael: You can just bang them out one right after the other, whereas with a video you could probably do ten of those, right? So the video just takes a bit more time. So that’s why I like the voice mail, because you can do it at scale. But video is great as well. So I’m not negative on videos. A video is better than a normal message if it has the right information, right? So yes, I recommend both approaches. It’s just the productivity that makes the voice notes a little bit better.
Bryan: Thanks, okay. Now how about (looms?) How does that fall into this? Do those fall in at all on your thirty outbound attempts?
Michael: Yeah, definitely. So there are a couple of video messages. (Unclear) And this relates to triggers as well. So again, you might know that a company is hiring, or if they’re growing the team, for example. Or you can go into LinkedIn’s Navigator, and it’s essentially a graph. And it shows me if the sales team is growing.
And this is a big one that I do. I share and I say, “Hey, Bryan. I noticed that your sales team is growing.” As the sales team grows, often the SDR team grows, and you have a VP of sales. But he’s busy managing the account executives. And he doesn’t have time to manage the SDRs. And you know, (unclear) can get lost. “That’s something to which you can relate. Would you be interested in a quick chat?”
So that’s the kind of messaging you can have. So you can use videos and share a screen with something on the video that you think is relevant. And again, if it’s an industry that you know about you can actually go to their website and talk about stuff that’s on their website, because you know about it and you’re an industry expert.
So I think that video is very powerful. Again, I think that most people think of video as I’m just going to record myself talking. But the thing I really like about video or Loom is that you can actually share a screen.
Another great tactic is sharing on the LinkedIn profile.
Michael: And it’s not just like hey, I researched your profile. It’s like I scrolled through and I saw this thing on your LinkedIn profile.
It can even be something personal. I had one the other day. “Hey, I noticed that you went to Bangor University. I was actually just in North Wales on holiday.” And then we started our conversation around that.
So use video to share things about them. So I made the video about them. Again, it’s the same basic rule in sales. They make it about you and you make it about them.
Bryan: Yeah. Now have you heard of—I think his first name is Jeremy; I can’t think of his last name. He came up with a couple of ideas where we can leverage video as a template, right? We’re not using their specific name. Or maybe we’re on a website, maybe ours as opposed to theirs. So if our average value of sale or a lifetime value of a customer maybe doesn’t allow us to be quite as customized, is it still a good approach to have it on our website, or maybe our LinkedIn as opposed to theirs? I mean, clearly theirs would be ideal, but still worthwhile. Or should we skip it?
Michael: Yeah, definitely. So this is the approach I would use at the company level. And again it wouldn’t work on the LinkedIn lead page. But it may work on the LinkedIn company page, right? So they’re growing the sales team. That’s more about the person than about the company. So I could again tell you the approach about growing the sales team. Show the graph on LinkedIn that’s growing.
And again you’re personalizing it. But you’re personalizing it on an account level rather than a company level. So I’ve seen that where someone is trying to sell into a buying chain of fifty different decision makers and influences. And they start to personalize what seems like a personalized outreach. All of those fifty decision makers ought to actually be automated. This would make it to the company level, right? Maybe you could send an email that’s with text. There are various elements. I know there are several companies doing this; they’re sharing this piece with someone. And then two days later they’re going to send that video that’s showing that screen on that company page, on that company LinkedIn page. That’s something that you can automate as well.
Bryan: Yeah. And notice the language that he uses there, whatever Michael said. Hey, we’re looking at these triggers. And then he just said that you can talk about things that are relevant, because if we can’t customize, if we can’t take the time to customize, we can at least make sure that things are relevant. And that level of relevance is really going to come from those trigger vents. So it’s a really nice build-on, if you will.
So okay; good. Now we’re sending these messages, we’re doing the outreach. How do we go about this? What is some different language that we should use, messaging that we should use? Any tips or tricks or hacks there?
Michael: Yes. So again, start with the pane, right? You know what I’m doing—outbound sales training. I always start with who is your ideal customer? Some people don’t have that and don’t start out correctly, believe it or not. But who is your ideal customer? That should probably be the first thing.
The second thing is more of those panes, right? So write down the different personas, because you’ve got the customer profile at a company level. And then you have a contact level, right? So say I would sell to sales leaders, marketing leaders and CEOs. We have our own favorites.
So write down the top five challenges. And then at the start of that it’s about what content is relevant to that. So again, if you’re having conversations, you know these are the main panes. Speak to marketing and say, “What is the main content that we have related to this pane?”, right?
And then it’s the same with triggers. Writing down triggers is a good example. So triggers are massively relevant to marketing.
So you can say that a lot of people that I speak to are hurrying against the hours, and they need help training, coaching and consulting. So speak to marketing and say, “Can we trade any content around? How do you train against the hours?” There are challenges related to training hard against the hours.
So you’ve got the triggers, and then the insight and the questions related to that. This is as big a thing as well as that.
I think that on a cold call that people are trained to ask relevant questions. But people don’t do it that much with email. They always just ask for the meeting. And it’s like the same way that you could ask a question on a call. “How are you currently training and unfolding your SDRs?”
Do that on an email. You can start loads of conversations that way. And they’ve given you the information. And at that point you can customize your solution, right? So we can help you solve X pane with a Y solution.
So I think that’s another thing when you’re building these cadences. I always see a s-touch or a seven-touch email sequence. And I’ve made this analogy before. It’s like one cold call, but like split up. If you imagine a cold call, you’re almost the star of that email sequence. It’s like the star of a cold call. You try to warm them up and get to know their panes. And once you know their panes then you’re actually pitching your solutions. Those are the main tips I have.
Bryan: So it’s almost that whole entire campaign is building off of itself.
Bryan: You start with relevance to build trust. You didn’t use this language, but it almost seems like you’re being a little bit provocative. Meaning, hey, I’m going to put it right in your face. These are the challenges that you’re likely facing. If you have these, then we can do something about it. If not, you know, we can skip it. And then calls to get those that aren’t going to pick up emails, because there are a million emails that we’re getting in a week’s time.
Bryan: So is that my understanding?
Michael: Yeah. It’s not just that they didn’t pick up your emails. The thing with the cadence is connecting. So I’m going to give you a great example here. And this is the latest tactic I’m using. And I really recommend people to do this. As far as I know not many people are doing this.
There’s a thing on LinkedIn now where you can do a poll. You can do a survey on LinkedIn. And what I love about it is that they will show you the responses.
So I saw a lot of conversations recently. We’ve been advised that Growth Genie plans to do this. They’ve been having a lot of success, because the hardest part of being in outbound sales—doing cold outbound, rather than if you’re an inbound account executive,--you can ask some questions. You can get to know them. As you said just now, you have to assume their panes. You have to relate to one of these panes. You don’t actually know.
If you do a LinkedIn poll about panes you can get four options. All you have to do is click a button as well. When they click that button and save that pane, you can then customize your message around that.
So I’ll give you a particular instance. I was speaking. And I basically had a very good opportunity in the pipeline of a software company. And the VP of marketing said that the poll was about relevant outbound sales challenges. The VP of marketing said that relevant messaging was a real pane bar.
So the other options were sales technology training. But I knew that messaging was also there. So I then sent her a LinkedIn message, saying, “I notice that relevant messaging is a pane for you. I also noticed that you run an SDR team over there. Would you be interested in a guide about how to build good messaging on LinkedIn and good messaging on email?”
And she said, “Yeah, sure; that would be great.”
I sent her an email. She said, “Thanks a lot for these; these things are really useful..” I had a phone number and a signature. And then I called her, and we had a meeting. She’s a CEO in media sales.
So again, that’s a really good instance of one using sales to 1. To understand the pane, but 2. How the three channels are interrelated, because I started on LinkedIn, went to email and then cold-called her. And that’s how I got the meeting.
Bryan: Yeah; well played. Very nicely done. Now how often are you doing polls? What’s the response rate that you should expect off of them? And then the third question off of that is 1. How often, 2. Response rate, and 3. What’s the likelihood that response rate is going to massively differ based upon the number of followers or the number of connections you have?
Michael: Yeah. Yeah. Great questions. I recommend doing one every two weeks. The reason is that I think that the longest time you can leave the poll open is two weeks.
Michael: It’s something I’d recommend. So this lady I’m talking about, she actually messaged organically from a post. And what you can do if you don’t have a big following, is to copy a link to the poll and putting it in LinkedIn Messenger, even putting it in an email. And that’s a good way of getting more people to respond.
And then I think your last question was around—gee, I can’t remember those three parts.
Bryan: Yes. So what’s the response rate that we should have? How often? Once every two weeks? What’s the typical response rate? I mean, how many should we expect back?
Michael: So I think my issue with this is that it’s such a new thing. So I can tell you literally that I just started using this in the last two months.
Michael: And I know I suffer from this. I try to dedicate a good chunk of my weeks of prospecting to practice what I preach. But I haven’t done this full time with advanced clients. But you can get very good response rates. And I think I had one account executive. I’m doing more of an outbound approach that I’m coaching. And he says that his calls get a lot more responses than his posts. I think he was getting maybe an average of ten to fifteen likes on his comments or posts. And he did a call the other day where they were like a hundred responses.
Michael: And that was just organic. So again, some of these you could potentially automate. You send an email cadence out to 600 of your ideal customers saying, “Hey, I just called. I love your feedback,” with just one button.
Bryan: That’s actually a really nice use case there, Michael. And notice, for those listening to this, Michael is trying stuff out. I mean, if we’re not trying things out, to an earlier comment that you made, one of the biggest things is, how do you stand out? How do you differentiate yourself? And if you’re not trying these new things and learning this, you’re going to get left behind, because there are a lot of younger folks coming out there that are so comfortable with all those different technologies. And I have more gray hairs than what most people who are listening to this have. But if you’re not keeping up and relevant, you’re going to get left in the dust. And things are changing too fast right now to allow that to happen.
And the third question that I asked is how much does your following or your number of connections influence that? But you already gave the advice. If you have a small number of connections, or if you don’t have the following that you might like, put that out in an email signature, or make an email cadence out of that. That’s a great idea. And there are probably seven or eight other ways in which you can leverage this.\
Bryan: Even from an account/management standpoint this would be pretty darn interesting. So I love that idea; that’s great.
Okay. So being cognizant of time let’s start to wind this down. I mean, you’ve given us so much, Michael; I can’t thank you enough for this. The biggest take-aways right now that I hope everyone is getting is the triggers, keeping up on new things. Michael is the founder. He’s still actively doing these things.
So based upon all of your experience, Michael, what’s the business challenge where there are lessons learned? You know, you stubbed your toe on something. Ah, that hurt!—that we can avoid from your painful lessons?
Michael: Yeah. I think just execute, right? It’s something I should have posted about now. I think a lot of salespeople, especially younger people now, because I know cold-calling, for example. I think cold-calling is great. As you said, it’s one of the hardest jobs and a lot of people don’t like doing it. But the good thing about cold-calling is that you don’t really have to hide behind anything. It’s very personal.
I think one of the mistakes I made at the start was that I would think too much about the strategy and the messaging and the stuff behind that. But I wouldn’t actually execute. I executed to some extent. But looking back at it I should have done it more at scale. And that’s how I learned a lot of the things I did, by testing, right? So I treated a lot of different approaches. And then through that you learn what works and what doesn’t work.
So I think that’s one of the pieces of advice that I would give to anyone out there right now. Don’t spend all your time personalizing. There are a lot of tools about personalization today. If you’re only sending out fifty emails and fifty LinkedIn messages a week, personalizing absolutely everything, you’re not going to learn that much because there’s always going to be a balance between quality and quantity, right? And it’s both, because you have to be very relevant to the company and the lead that you’re contacting.
As I mentioned today, the sales game is also a numbers game at the same time, right? So you have to walk out with an addressable market and go after that. And again, even if you’re at the start of your company, especially when you’re talking about your ideal customer profile, you may not know who your ideal customer profile is. And the only reason you’re going to learn who it is is by speaking out to them, reaching out to them and seeing the conversations that you have that actually lead to sales.
So I would say that the big thing is just to execute. You know, even just to give you another example, actually something that really upsets me on LinkedIn with some of these so-called inferences, is when people shame us on LinkedIn and say, “Hey, this messaging is so terrible!”, etc. And again, going back to mistakes, some of the messaging I used to write at the start in my marketing career was absolutely terrible, partly because I didn’t have much guidance. All of my first roles there were small companies, and I didn’t have an SDR manager or a multi-manager or whatever.
So I started to write terrible messages. And actually some of the feedback I got and how I learned was through really fine prospects who said, “Hey, I’m not interested. But this is what you should be doing, x, y and z.” And that’s how I learned.
So you learn. I think I wrote about this on LinkedIn. The only thing worse than a really bad sales message is not sending any message at all. Even when I get really crappy messages on LinkedIn, at least they’re trying right. And I think that’s the big thing nowadays in a lot of these circles. So self-imposing gurus are like, “Never do this; this is terrible.”
I’m like “Yeah, it’s terrible. But you have to learn in some way and actually empathize with those junior SDRs, because at least they’re trying. And they’re going to learn and they’re going to get it, even if they send that terrible message. Someone posts about it on LinkedIn. Oh okay, it doesn’t work. So now I can change the messaging.”
So the big thing is just to execute and get on with the job.
Bryan: Yes. I had a good mentor of mine. He always said to stop with the navel exercises, where you’re just sitting contemplating and looking at your navel as to whether or not you should act. And really it’s getting in the game, getting in the battle, that you’re covered with scars and dirty and bloodied up from doing it. And those are unfortunately the best lessons learned. So that’s great advice.
You’ve given us a lot of these already. But one business hack for talent—finding talent, building it up, sales or scale—what’s one thing that you want to impart to these folks that they should really take away and do?
Michael: Yeah. So in terms of finding talent?
Bryan: It could be finding talent, building up the talents, training that talent, or a hack on sales, or scaling the business, because you’ve done it all. You can hit all of them if you’d like.
Michael: Yeah. I think in terms of finding talent the thing is with sDRs, especially now that there are a lot of them, green is the word a lot of people use. It’s their first job; they’re straight out of college. So I think a lot of companies look at it from an academic perspective. Did they go to a good university? Did they do this?
And I think that in sales it’s not obvious. It’s important. But I think the most important thing is the hunger and the aptitude. And the people that I’ve seen really succeed are SDRs or junior sellers who are very willing to learn. So they listen to all the content or training that comes their way. And they’re also very hungry, like what we were saying about execution. They want to just reach out. They want to make calls. They want to send emails because they want to learn.
So I would refer to those two things because it’s not too much. The academic side is sales. Yes, it’s a science and an art. They always say that you learn by doing. And like we were saying with my last point, you know, I’m sure there are now. But there are generally not sales degrees. And even if there were, I’d be very skeptical of that, because sales is something you learn by doing, right?
You can start by going on LinkedIn. You can see, for example, a lot of these sales influences from people who hang out great content on LinkedIn. You can like them and comment and do that. Maybe you don’t actually put what they say into practice. And you’re never going to learn if it’s true or not, and if it actually works.
That’s what I would say. If you’re following John Barrows or George Borne or whoever, don’t just like and comment. Take what they’ve done and put it into your day-to-day. And then you can know if it’s wise or not.
Bryan: Correct. Knowledge for knowledge’s sake is pointless. It’s knowledge for application’s sake. It’s infuriating to see how few people do that. So well said.
All right. A resource that you might recommend—books, a podcast—anything that we should be watching, checking out, learning from so we can take that learning and apply it and become as smart as you, Mr. Michael Hanson?
Michael: Yes. As I said, I’m just another sales guy, sharing my experience more than expertise. But I appreciate those comments.
There’s a guy called Danny Disney. You may or may not know him. He also has his own consultancy. But he’s more focused on LinkedIn. He has a huge following on LinkedIn. He’s got a book called The Million-Pound LinkedIn Message, which is all about how he basically closed the deal with LinkedIn. He’s got the story of that. And then he also has some templates for LinkedIn. So that’s something I would really recommend.
Transcriber’s Note: There is another book by a different author that he recommends as well.
Michael: That’s another good one. Those are a couple of things I’d recommend.
And I think the other thing as well is to encourage other aspects of your life. This is a very different thing that I would say. But I find that often by other areas of my life that I influence myself greatly. I think I see a lot of people. They think about sales on the weekends. They listen to podcasts and such, which is good. But also have bigger life in the sense, you know, of other activities and other passions besides sales. They often teach you things for sales, because sales is a big skill, just like life in general. A lot of things you learn in the sales world you can apply to other areas. There are a lot of life skills that you can actually use in the sales world. So that’s practical advice that I’d give.
Bryan: I like that practical bit of advice. I mean, I always suggest that sales is nothing more than leadership, which is teaching. I mean really, sales, leadership, mentoring, managing, teaching—it’s taking somebody’s behavior and getting it to change.
Bryan: And change for the good. I think that’s really great advice; I appreciate that.
All right. So trends. What should we be watching for? What should we be looking out for? Let’s grab the magic 8-ball. What does the future hold for us trends-wise?
Michael: Yeah. I think there’s going to be a new platform. I don’t know what it is yet, though. Obviously, it’s going to be massive. You know, five years ago or ten years ago LinkedIn wasn’t such a big thing. I think LinkedIn started as a recruitment platform. Now it’s more of a sales platform. We see that it’s still used for recruiting as well.
You know, twenty years ago email wasn’t a big thing. And I think that a lot of these things like LinkedIn, like email, for example, at their start they were incredible to use, because people weren’t receiving many emails. Whereas now, as I sit at C. level, you’re making a hundred prospective emails a day.
It’s the same with LinkedIn. Even a couple of years ago before the pandemic it was easier to settle on LinkedIn because people weren’t getting as many messages. Whereas now LinkedIn has become the next email.
So I think there’s going to be a new channel that will emerge for sales. I don’t know what that is yet. But I would advise people to test out those other channels as well, because eventually there’s going to be something that you can use. And I know there are some people that are gaining ground with Facebook groups and Slack, and actually all kinds of things. So I would just say to keep your eyes and ears open, because I think there will be another channel that will emerge. And I think that if you just stick to the same old thing and don’t evolve with the times, then you’re going to fall behind the rest.
Bryan: Yeah; I love that. It’s so good. Well hey, who should reach out to you, how should they do it, Michael, and why should people reach out to you?
Michael: Yeah, sure. I’m happy to be reached out to by virtually anyone. Obviously, if you’re a VP of sales, who is looking for help building scalable outbound purchases, then contact me. But if you’re an SDR just looking for a few tips and hacks, feel free to contact me. On LinkedIn, it’s just my name—Michael Hanson. And I’m from Growth Genie, and I’ll come out. You can see me on LinkedIn Messenger. Or feel free to send me an email at
Not .com, but .co. People get that wrong. And I’d be happy to speak, if anyone is interested.
Bryan: And Michael is legit on that. He’s a good guy, looking to help the community. And even if you look at some of his nonprofit that he’s doing on his post. So that’s one of the things that I really appreciate about you, Michael. So thanks so much for your time here.
Tons and tons of takeaway here. Remember your triggers. Remember that marketing and sales alignment. Stop thinking about it; just do it. Even if you’re doing it poorly you’re going to get better off of it. And my goodness, start leaving some audio LinkedIn for goodness’ sakes.
All right. Michael Hanson. On behalf of Michael Hanson this is Bryan Whittington with The Talent, Sales and Scale show signing off. Talk to you soon.