Does adding new martech tools always tackle problems and challenges for marketers? What matters most is finding the best technology solutions to solve the right problems at the right times for you, your team, and your organization.
Today’s guest is Sean Doyle, co-founder, principal, and director of strategy at FitzMartin. Sean applies the science of behavior change to the art of sales and marketing. Rather than only choosing to make decisions based on thoughts and emotions, choose to use the power of data.
Ben: Hey, Sean. Welcome to the show.
Sean: All right, Ben. Been looking forward to this.
Ben: Yeah, it's great to have you on. Would you mind taking a moment to introduce yourself to our audience and explain what you and your team are working on at FitzMartin?
Sean: Absolutely. I'm Sean Doyle or Sean M. Doyle—if you want to buy that shameless book promotion plug. I am proud that we recently republished. I was published by RockBench out of Nashville. Authoring is really only a way to introduce myself. I wrote a book because I’m so frustrated with the way most marketers are respected or not respected in this B2B marketing space, and I want to change that.
My vision for the rest of my career—I'm an old guy, 55—is I want to help marketers be respected, make an impact in their roles, whatever those roles are. Whether they're middle management, CMO, but they've got to have a seed at the board table.
How did I get to the point where I felt like I could help those people? That's a good question, too. Thanks for asking, Ben. FitzMartin is the company I've worked at just under 30 years. We would call ourselves—sales first. We're scientifically inspired, and we have two things that we do. We have a marketing consultancy, and we have advisory services that help with strategic work and thinking.
We work, typically, also with operations. That could either be revenue operations or what you think about traditionally with creative operations. If you're going to work with us on revenue operations or creative operations, then you need to come through the advisory strategic thinking.
We've been really successful with science, actually. If I were going to give one tip to any marketer, I would tell you if you were in college or talking to you today in this podcast, I'd say, have a point of view. And our point of view comes from science—behavioral science. The behavioral science of how people change.
Modern marketing and sales—to demonstrate its ability and really harness the full capabilities of a business to provide products or services it needs to have a point of view, it needs to understand how behavior changes. I'm getting excited. If I get going on this, you're never going to stop me.
Ben: That's great. The great thing about podcasts is we're not limited by page links or word count or really anything. There are no physical limitations here beyond the patience of our listeners. I'm sure you've got good stuff to share so that won’t be an issue.
Sean: I’m a speaker on a vestige in Convene CEO circuits. I can do a three-hour talk on the science of behavioral change if you want that.
Ben: Actually, in that case, I do have some other meetings today.
Sean: Okay, okay.
Ben: Maybe some other time. Some other time. Let's table that for now. Something we're going to spend a lot of time talking about over the course of this conversation is marketers and technology. The technology they use to manage their teams, to do their work. I think if most marketers actually counted up how many tools they use and actually illustrated what their martech stack looks like, all would be surprised just how many different things we use to make our jobs possible.
Now we're in an era where marketing teams have more software tools at their disposal than ever before. There are always new players entering the market and new things for us to use. What do you believe personally? What do you believe contributes to that? What is the marketing SaaS space just continuing to accelerate? And why is it seeming to not hit this point of market saturation?
Sean: That's a great question. Most of our work—as a company—professionally has been in two spaces. One is the industrial manufacturing space. We have clients in oil and gas. We have clients in occupational health—just interesting little niches in that B2B space. Then, we have a lot of financial services clients. I share that to say that the financial services clients really led my journey in understanding marketing technology. It does tie back into the cognitive marketing—that science that I'm referring to.
Back in 2002, I experienced a personal crisis—a healthcare crisis. When you go through those times, you just get rude around, question everything, and think through everything. At that time, I was given this book to read called Changing for Good. Changing for Good is the popular title of the transtheoretical theory of behavioral science.
What that did is gave me a framework to understand how it was we were successful in the past with some clients, and why sometimes we weren't successful, which if your agency helps doesn't ever admit they weren't successful, they're either lying. Please don't trust them because everybody fails, right? But I didn't know why, and that concerned me.
In this pivot of life when I was really rethinking things—by the way that was 14 years ago or 16 years ago—it was a long time ago. I’m healthy, doing great. It gave us a framework to work inside of. What’s that have to do with marketing tech?
Working at the bank at a large Southeast sunbelt regional bank, they had the capital and the commitment to measurement. They wanted measurement—bankers, right? They want measurement. They want to know what they're spending and what they get back. We applied the cognitive marketing model to a business problem they had. They gave us 1500 names. They said two agencies have tried to solve this sales problem before and couldn't close enough deals. At that time, they were 60% of my company's revenue.
After I learned two other agencies had failed and had been fired, they asked if we would like to try. I was like, yes, we're going to try this. We mapped out what sales were doing in the process of behavioral change and what marketing was doing. We had this aha moment.
We moved the investment of money further back in the sales cycle. Agencies tend to spend their money early getting more awareness. Awareness wasn't the problem. These 1500 prospects knew the bank. The bank knew these 1500 prospects. Everybody knew each other. We moved and pushed those tools, those resources, farther back in the sales process. They were able to report. Because of marketing technology, they closed $380 million in a period of six weeks. That was astonishing.
They did that program with us for the next 13 years with two exceptions. One, there was a hot agency in Texas they had to try. We got the job after they failed. Two, there was a local guy on the board who owned an agency, and he said, "I should be doing this work." Then, we got the job back after him too.
We don't have the better creative or the best creative in the world. We don't have the best people. The thing that makes us good that anybody can have is a point of view and a framework that's based on science. Marketing technology is the thing that lets you know it works. I don't allow my staff, my team—we can never say I think, which sounds crazy, right? You've got to give people a reason why.
Instead of going to that bank and saying, I think this will work. We went to the bank and said, we used this framework of behavioral change. We see these processes that science teaches us will work, and you're not leveraging these three. We want you to spend less money here and more money there and leverage these later stage sales tools. Would you like to try that? That’s so much better than I think this will work. So have that point of view.
Marketing technology—my belief, my point about martech is why is it expanding? Because it's giving us a look into things that we never were able to effectively measure before. Closed-loop reporting is still not easy, but it’s a lot more able to. We spend a lot of time—the lower middle market, emerging middle-market space—and we do a lot of work helping those people do closed-loop reporting for the first time.
It's still pretty complicated. There are more ERP systems that allow those lower middle market systems to give that closed loop reporting. But until you have that, then most marketing teams are saying, I like something or I think something. And the executive table doesn't have any reason to trust that.
One of my favorite clients has a CFO in the oil and gas space. He used to be a Fortune 500 CFO. You can imagine the level of sophistication that Doug has. Doug doesn't put up with I think or I like. He knows what happened, and he can connect those dots. He likes us because we've equipped him to prove that investment marketing work. That's it. That's a high-level view. Right now, worldwide spending on marketing is $120 billion. That's amazing.
Ben: I believe that sounds right. It's an enormous number.
Sean: Ben, you look at the martech 8000, 7000, 6000, right? Everybody does.
Ben: Yeah. There are various different lists, awards, and things of that nature out there.
Sean: But you could assume maybe 8000 choices exist in the marketing technology space?
Ben: Yeah. I guess depending on how far you stretch that definition of martech. It's probably five digits.
Sean: That's probably fair. The question with marketing tech is not if you should but it's how, what you should be doing. Your organization has some amazing (I would call it) martech ability to look into, see, track, measure, and make it easier for a customer to buy. That's ultimately what marketing technology does. Why is it exploding? (1) Because it's measurable, and (2) it's customer-focused.
In the past, in the business-to-business space—and still today—manufacturers, people who do stuff, and even banks or professional services firms, they tend to talk about themselves. Their focus is on what they do. Marketing technology is not focused on those businesses. Marketing technology's focus is on making the buyer's journey easier or simpler.
Ben: Sure. There's a few really interesting points in there that we can spend a little bit of time unpacking. It sounds like the crux for why martech is expanding, it sounds like a lot of it (in your mind) focuses around the idea that markets really like to make decisions and argue from emotion—I think, I like, or I have some intuitive sense that something will maybe work.
But what a lot of martech does at its core—depending on the product category, the specific tool, generally speaking at a high level—it gives us data about people that is irrefutable. Obviously, you can use that data to tell different stories. There's a component of analysis that's involved, but the numbers don't lie.
It sounds like you're marrying that with this behavioral science. If you understand your numbers and you understand just how people, how human brains operate, you can go into a meeting with a potential client and have a lot more confidence about what you would propose they do than someone coming into that conversation being like the old mad man kind of thing. You’d see Don Draper walk into the meeting of the client and give this pitch that was all bluster and 10% whiskey.
Sean: Maybe more whiskey.
Ben: That's a conservative estimate. I personally never really thought about it that way. I think that's super interesting.
Sean: Yeah. I can give you some stories that'll support that comment, that thinking. You said so many things. One, you said numbers don't lie. I immediately thought about my accountant telling the joke of what's one plus one… I’m not going to tell the joke. Numbers can say what can be made to say what they want. You're right. Marketing data evidence is powerful.
We deal with a lot of vanity metrics in marketing. Even if what you're showing is vanity metrics—I'm not recommending that, by the way. I want you to be authentic, real, and meaningful. Even if all you’re showing is vanity metrics, the executive team, often that's what they understand. And that's what their peers are talking about when they're talking with somebody over lunch. Hey, we've got this many clicks. I’ll just pick on that word. Isn’t that a stupid word, clicks?
I think the world has gotten over the word hit. These many hits on my server. That's good. That's a good word to get rid of. These vanity metrics—how many shares, how many likes, or how many whatever—when they're talking to their peers, those vanity metrics have meaning because that's an understood metric.
Then, there's some more sophistication that you can move into. Again, that oil and gas client has blown pass these vanity metrics. They're looking at serious metrics now that are meaningful because of the martech structure. That platform, that text stack allows them to look at really important metrics.
There's still how many Facebook views, likes, or whatever. That's fine. I just would say—to add this to the second thing you said is your customers going to a client—my view of the client, if it's an agency, it's easy. Some external party that's writing us a check. If you run a marketing department, if you're in the marketing department, then you've got internal clients. This kind of data matters internally perhaps even more than externally.
One advantage of being an external organization is we're given credibility because we're external. If we flew in, we'd be really good. There's truth to that, actually. If you’re willing to pay somebody to fly in, then they must be better than the local guys. You're not local, right? You're sitting there in the next cube over.
I've been married for about 30 years. My wife is not as nearly as impressed with me because she knows the details. If you don't know me, I flew in and I look pretty good. Local marketers, internal in house marketers, do have respect problems at the board table, at the executive team table. Data is the way to go. Technology is the way to support the reasons to respect you.
The third thing I would respond with is marketing has a talent problem. I think marketing has a talent problem, which may sound odd because most of the time when we think about talent, we're thinking about craft. We're thinking art directors, writers. In fact, I'd say there's never been more talent. I think adults coming out of college have more talent, more versatility.
Just the other day, one of our team members who are in the revenue operations department fixed some code on the website just because it was easier to fix it than to actually hand it over to the person whose job it was—to the developer. I'm just like, how do you do that? We just do it. Okay.
The level of talent is really high. On the craft side, there's more access to talent (even globally) creatively. I think meaningful talent is the word that you've got to look for. I think marketing technology, the talent of reading data, the talent of looking at analytics, the talent of communicating that to a board, to a shareholder, or even to your own department. Avinash Kaushik one day wrote a book a million years ago called Web Analytics. I guess it was 1.0 and I've got 2.0 on my desk. It's a really old book. I think Google is his background. He has the ability to help parse data and understand.
I think marketing has a talent problem in that space. To communicate in an effective manner internally is huge. But also, effective communications through an entire buying cycle is the second aspect of talent that's remiss. I feel like I'm rambling a little bit here, Ben.
Ben: No, it's all good stuff. It's all good stuff. We've established that marketing technology is fantastic because it enables us to do so many things that we would not have been able to do maybe as recently as 10 years ago.
Ben: It also sounds like maybe it's unspoken value and how it forces us to stop relying solely on emotion to either make a pitch or make decisions, try to show something is working or to even know what we're doing in the first place.
Sean: Get rid of I like. I think, I like. No more I think, no more I like.
Ben: Yes, absolutely. Also, because we have so many choices, we have so many different tools—there's a tool for every niche, every need. Not even every niche or every need because there's more that keep coming out. Obviously, people are finding more market spaces to move into.
As things become more complex and as marketers struggle to really get their heads around how to use data, how to crunch numbers, and all these things, I really think this is what you're saying where the talent gap is. The talent gap isn't really on the production side. It's on the more analytical data-driven side. It's really new to a lot of us.
As a result, there's this tendency that marketers get into their head, if I've got a problem I don't know how to solve, I need to get a new tool. Do you believe that is a fallacy? If so, why or why not?
Sean: I'm tempted to quote Dug from Up. Remember Dug?
Sean: Squirrel. Dug was great. I do think there's a shiny object problem because it's just so exciting when you see new capabilities. I would say it comes back to a framework of understanding what your point of view is going to be as a marketer. What we've chosen is to have the point of view of representing the buyer. It's too easy to live as a marketer and represent marketing. As an outcome of that, you represent technology. As an outcome of that, you get excited by these shiny objects.
I get excited by shiny objects too. But after I say, squirrel, I then look at this framework. I don't know how you handle this with your guests and listeners, I'll be glad to share with you this framework. As I've said, my mission in life is to progress in my career as a marketer and share what I know. I'll be glad to give you this framework. If your listeners want to ask you for it, that's great. I'll be glad to.
If you want to read more about it, a shameless promotion on Amazon, Sean M. Doyle, the book is called Shift. Its subtitle is 19 ideas for executives who are tasked with marketing but are not trained for the job. I think that might be a good book for you to read this conversion methodology, this science. But then, give it to your boss. Heck, why not? It's a cheap book. It's a good book.
Let me give you some examples of tools and the way we look at it. It's easy to talk about it. Let me talk about it in terms of what we would call revenue operations. I think the lack of talent points to this role of revenue operations. The lack of talent points to the need for somebody who can sit in between marketing and sales, deal with both people in a serious manner, and understand both people in a serious manner.
The behavioral science points to the six steps that lead from precontemplation. I've never even thought about buying your product or service, all the way to advocacy. That sounds like a consumer decision journey. Most of us get a consumer decision journey of some sort. I promise you any CDJs, from McKinsey’s to maybe one that you’ve put together, is going to fit in this framework. I actually would argue they're all from this framework.
What we've done is look at these processes. An easy process to look at tech is consciousness-raising. How do we raise our consciousness? Well, Google, ads. We've seen clients grow 20% in a flat market purely by consciousness-raising, advertising. Everybody gets that one. Let's get to more interesting ones.
When you get somebody to your website, one of the tools that behavioral science offers—as an insightful tool—is rational reevaluation. You mentioned something earlier where marketers can tend to get excitable, what science would call emotional reevaluation. That emotional arousal is a lean on a tool that we see on consumer marketing. And B2B is an often forgotten tool mostly because the executive team is very comfortable sharing rational, less comfortable doing anything emotional. Plus, I sell something, occupational health for firemen to make sure their masks fit. What a great emotional opportunity to share the story of how you might die if your mask doesn't fit. That's pretty powerful, right?
Actually, that particular client is a marketing automation system. They increase their marketing qualified leads by 76% by implementing that technology. The reason was we emphasized rational reevaluation because that was missing. They were using only—unusually for B2B—the emotional.
There's a lot of sales enablement tools that are coming out right now. The first two I would categorize demand generation. These next two stories will be sales enablement stories. One of the processes behavioral science points to is something called commitment.
People want to make a private commitment. Ben, you at some point evaluated whether I was safe to look at and put on this podcast. Once you determine that was the case, then you went public. You told your boss, your peers, and you're willing to put me out in a public way. You moved from private commitment to look and study based probably on other people's reputation—an agent or third party. Then you moved to a public commitment. Although it's not on the air yet, so maybe, we'll see. This is a commitment idea.
We have a client who used commitment, early, late stage tools, and got over 3000% ROI from an account-based marketing tool. Account-based marketing is incredibly powerful. That was actually a list that we used, that was a dead list. Sales thought they were going to throw them away. We said, give that to us. Let's see what we can do. We applied late stage sales tools and commitment—make a private commitment then make a public commitment. It was a taste and see kind of product.
Helping relationships is another one—late stage sales support. Most marketers are not thinking about when the deal is getting ready to happen. We got a client who's looking at buying. They've got a proposal in front of them. They've got sales, it’s getting ready to close the deal. Marketing typically doesn't think about itself being involved. Technology gives us an amazing opportunity to be present for all the influencers. Consumers can be a one-to-one sale. But B2B typically has multiple decision-makers, multiple influencers.
We can use technology now to give late stage sales support that delivers messaging only to the people who are looking at the deal. Incredibly powerful. We had a client who, last year, closed a $500,000 deal with somebody they've been pursuing for five or six years. That’s sales enablement. We did not close the deal, marketing did not close the deal. Sales closed the deal, but we supported them.
That salesperson even said it was smooth. It was like grease lightning. It was just easy to get that deal through because people knew who they were, they knew the value props, they understood. And they weren't generic ads. They were ads for that one deal. It's probably going to be a $20 million lifetime value client. Is it worth doing marketing on a one-to-one marketing tool? It's amazing.
Last, I would just talk about customer success as a third category. We were able to help a company—B2B space—who was doing their parts, reorder, and servicing of their equipment in a very manual way. We were able to Shopify (literally)—to name the client, to name the technology—to do an ecommerce integration that was only with their current customers. They were able to get a return of $585,000 of lifetime value on about $50,000 investment with us and that technology. Technology can support the entire sales cycle.
Go back to where we were. 8000 technology, maybe 10,000, maybe 12,000 technologies—how do you do this? What do you think through it? I just named five different types. Those case studies represent five different software technologies. The way we got there was looking at it in three categories: demand generation, sales enablement, and customer success.
I'd say if you're overwhelmed, look at it from a buyer's point of view and understand that demand generation has a certain set of technology that's really strong. Late stage demand generation, sales enablement, and things like marketing automation are really great. Then, sales enablement is really a great tactical tool. Then customer success is an easily defined customer tool.
You can look at these tools, break it down. When we do an audit of technology, we're going to break it down into making sure there's technology to support the buyer at every step of the journey all the way through becoming an advocate.
Ben: Take a breath. A key takeaway from this conversation—which admittedly goes in a lot of different directions,is that while martech makes more data available to us than ever before, you really need to have processes for analyzing that data and putting it into actual use. That's really true of any tool you might choose to use.
Software should support strategies that are driven by data. And as long as you follow that idea, you should be able to make better decisions around, not only which martech you choose, but how you use it. Now, back to Sean.
I really like the way you broke down martech into those three buckets that are aligned with the customer journey and the sales process would look like. It's a great way to visualize or mentally imagine the different areas where you're going to need technology to support a specific part of the process rather than, well, I think I need this. I think I need that. It seems to me to make way more sense if you start the process and you start plugging tools that enable actions to be taken rather than thinking the other way around.
Sean: I always heard it said—and actually, I'm the one who says it—if something doesn't get sold, nothing else really matters. Our job as marketers is to help something get sold. That's why we take that sales first point of view. That's why we look at marketing technology. We look at creative. We look at sales presentations. We look at this all. If something doesn't get sold, if lifetime value doesn't occur, then none of these really matter.
I hope the journey there for you, to point to the science, was you never thought about breaking this down. You contemplate it as I'm rambling through it. Maybe you're preparing. Maybe in the back of your head, you're thinking, I need to learn more about this so I can use it.
Your next step would be to put this to action. What would it cost? What are my costs personally? What are the out of pocket costs? And then you might actually buy some of these technologies and become an advocate. That is the journey that we all go through in any kind of behavioral change whether we want to lose weight, or we want to buy a martech stack for our company. It's amazing.
You've got to have a way to break it down. If you just do a Google search for martech, you're going to find something like 50 categories of technology. I can't even get that through my head. That's why we have three.
Ben: Yeah. I feel like as marketers, we have enough three-letter acronyms, enough different product categories, and enough of everything. I think for our listeners, that's really a great way to think about it because you've taken all of the stuff and you broke it down to three buckets.
Say I'm a marketer and I'm listening to this conversation. Let's say I'm starting to think or rethink what my martech stack looks like right now versus where it needs to be in order to actually help myself, my department, and my company actually do marketing successfully. How would you recommend that listeners begin to audit what they have right now in order to best determine which things they should keep, which they should get rid of, and maybe which areas where they should explore adding something new?
Sean: That's such a great question and a complex question. So much of the current state depends on what your scale is, what the size of your firm is. In other words, if you're an SMB versus an enterprise system versus a lower middle market or a middle-market, I'll share most of my career.
Every marketer, every guy like me, likes to talk about—I worked for Georgia-Pacific. I did. And it was cool. That's not most of my career. Most of my career has been in that $5 million company up to about $200 million company. I would say if you're under that $5 million scale size, then the tendency to have a really fragmented marketing tech stack is a common one. Simplifying, because you start looking at two, three, four, five, six, seven, or eight tech. Even understanding it gets complicated. I would say, for that type of company, there's some really great products that exist. I know we're not here to endorse specific types of products. But I will, on this one.
I think a company like HubSpot has demonstrated two things. One, a full funnel point of view. I hate the word funnel. A full cognitive marketing point of view from pre-contemplating all the way through advocacy.
If you had Google ads and HubSpot, you would be able to have a full tech stack. I would say if you're a smaller company, start with two. And then start plugging in other supporting technology that most likely is going to be late stage technologies. Things like an AdRoll, an Ignitium, or a sales enablement oriented type of technology. But again, coming back to HubSpot, they even have a great customer success technology. You can do ticketing. It's a great, great product.
The second reason HubSpot is a great product is it is easy to use. You can just plug it in. The roots of your company are the same thing. It's easy to plugin—WordPress plugins, the history, and the basis. I would just emphasize companies like yours, companies like HubSpot, if they are very easy to use, you win. Because there's so much technology that gets bought and unused. Ease of use (to me) always wins over powerful, sophisticated organizations.
Earlier, I talked about closed-loop reporting. Let's move up to your $50 million company. Now, you should probably have some more powerful tools. The most common one talked about that I hear is Salesforce. Salesforce is incredibly powerful because it's a white sheet of paper versus some of these other tools that are pre-programmed, which is why their usability is high.
HubSpot is pre-programmed. High-user interface, great user interface design, and easy to use. It probably does not serve—I'm going to get in trouble with somebody for this—that $100 million company.
One of our clients just got purchased by a private equity out of Chicago. They standardized all of their investments on Salesforce because it all rolls up. There are 50 different entities that they own. It all rolls up into one platform—one enterprise platform ERP system. They can watch all the different aspects of their investments in a simple way. That's a really sophisticated model—one that’s needed
I would say larger companies might want a little bit more of a white sheet paper. You just have to realize you're going to spend a lot of money. You'll probably have a full-time administrator to run that system, and getting it set up is going to be complicated. But that's where that closed-loop reporting can happen. It's easier to do that closed-loop reporting with that sophisticated system.
I wish there was an easy answer. Even on those larger enterprises, we still look at demand gen technology, sales enablement technology, and customer success technology. We had that red ops role, that guide that sits in the middle. The individual that sits in the middle between sales and marketing. Because technology without people is also worthless.
Ben: Yeah, for sure. I imagine that too. Something interesting to know is if your company wasn't even thinking about say customer success, for example, or late stage sales. Say that hasn't really been an area of emphasis for your company, you're probably not going to buy a tool that you don't have a person there to use.
Sean: Yeah. That's a great question. Our firm, if you were to start, if you hired us to come up to work with you guys, we would start with what we call a sales barrier analysis. The sales barrier analysis is an audit of everything your sales team is doing and everything your marketing team is doing. And we place it in a cognitive marketing framework.
Just like what we did with that bank in the beginning of the podcast, when we do that, what we're able to do is identify where there are gaps and where there are barriers. A barrier would be, for example, in the case of public commitment I shared that had 3000% ROI from that dead email list, if we saw that being used early, then that's the wrong thing. That would actually become a barrier to somebody getting into this deal.
If you looked at the opposite of a barrier would be a gap. A gap is most commonly found (to your point) with late stage. Most companies do a pretty good job and over-invest in early stage marketing. I would say 80% of all the sales barrier analysis that we do, we see way too many resources being spent early stage, getting a lot of consciousness-raising, maybe some rational reevaluation, maybe some emotional arousal. The late stage sales support—that sales enablement—is just usually missing.
And there's usually very little sales on marketing alignment at that stage either. There are two reasons. One, sales, they are compensated by what they sell. Ben, if you're a marketer at my company and I've got the big deal getting ready to happen, I'm just going to [...] you, man. I don't want nobody messing up my deal. Even if I respect you, I just want control.
Salespeople are ultimately really confident people. They can go out, they get abused, and beaten out every single day. Their goal is simply the paycheck. That may be an overstatement but pretty close. They tend to [...] marketing because marketing hasn't earned respect from sales. The nature of that then allows marketing to not want to work late stage because the sales guys don't like the marketing guys. Or maybe it’s just they don't trust each other. They haven't seen the value in each other.
For example, when we can do that late stage sales support deal, that one-to-one pursuit of one deal, and we get one salesperson to say, God, a marketing work y’all did to get to the CFO, the CEO, the engineering department, and the six influencers in the deals. That really helped me. Now, we've got the respect of that salesperson.
I think you would see most companies need to invest more in sales enablement technology, late stage work. The key is to have a role. If somebody on your existing marketing team or you can outsource it. Have somebody who sits between the two—seats between marketing and sales. It's kind of like a counselor.
If you and your significant other have gone to get counseling, the reason the counselor is there isn't that you didn't know the answers. I've been to counseling. My wife and I have been. We knew the answers. We just needed a third party to come in, help us see them, and see each other's point of view.
I think that revenue ops, that sales enablement person enables the technology to matter. Otherwise, you've got another investment and another technology that's siloed, unused, and misunderstood.
That would be the approach I would take. Start with looking where you're spending your money and I bet you're going to discover you need to spend more money, more time, more effort with sales, and more effort in money and time on sales technology late stage.
Ben: Got you.
Sean: Am I preaching? It sounds like I’m like ah.
Ben: This wouldn't be much of a conversation if you didn't (as you say) have a point of view.
Sean: I have a point of view, man.
Ben: Yeah. That's something that all of us should really take to heart especially as marketers. As soon as you take a point of view in anything, you're inevitably doing alienation to someone who disagrees.
Sean: Yeah, absolutely. in the battle of resources inside of a company, the two really well-positioned people—if there are three people, there's marketing, sales, the CFO, and the executive team, whose position in a typical B2B to get resources?
Sales can show people how, Hey, I closed x dollars of deals last year. Okay. Manufacturing or whatever your services—they can show, we did x amount of work last year. The CFO can measure all of that, they see it, and then you come to the table as a marketer going, can I have some resources? What would you do?
We don't know really what you would do, honestly. You said it involves sales. This may sound odd, but if you're a marketer, you need technology, and you need to help—I do believe most marketers get their job to produce revenue. If you believe that, start the conversation with sales. And start the conversation with the CFO. Go to lunch, talk, or have a Zoom meeting. Just start that dialogue. Find out what they care about. Because in the battle of resources, that's a real thing in every company—small company, large company.
Have those relationships. From there, they may learn that you are a serious businessman. Going back to my 80% number, I don’t know why I’m stuck on that today. But I'd say 80% of the people I talked to—the executives—I'm able to say with integrity, you've done a great job with your product, service, manufacturing, distribution, salesforce, accounting force, and all the different people in the executive table—HR, it’s all looking great. Why are you not pulling the marketing lever? It's like this great opportunity for most businesses to pull that lever.
The thing that gets neglected is eventually the thing that you have the most opportunity to make the most revenue even in a down market or a flat market. If you'll just do marketing well, take it seriously, you would never hire. Okay, I'm getting fired up now. You would never hire the kid coming out of college with an accounting degree and then put them in charge of your finances. You would never, ever, ever, do it.
Why do you hire the kid that graduated with a marketing degree and expect results? It's ridiculous. If you want results, go for it and invest in that area. I promise I’m not pimping my book. If you send me an email, I'll send this chapter to you for free. It's firstname.lastname@example.org. I will send you a chapter of the book that has four questions you should ask and an interview with a marketing person. Not one of those questions has anything to do with craftwork.
If you can determine the person is a serious business person and knows how to pull that marketing lever, the outcome of all of that will be the technology that's effective, opens the door into what marketing does, and is measurable. Yeah, okay. I'm off my high horse. I promise, Ben.
Ben: No, it's all good. Now that you're back on solid grounds, the last question I'll throw your way. Say that a marketer or a marketing team or someone in the marketing team has identified an area where they legitimately do need to get a new tool or potentially consolidate several tools or upgrade over some kind of makeshift software they're using right now. Whatever the case may be, they need to make a technology purchase.
Something you touched on there is because marketers have often, not always, but often [...] to be a thing, have a difficult time with getting the respect that they need to get the resources they need to be successful. How would you recommend that marketers enter that conversation if they are in a position where they just cannot get whoever's holding the credit card or whoever's parenting their decisions (so to speak)?
If they can't get those people—I don't mean those people as in the [...] kind of thing. They can't get their colleagues to understand why they need to make this purchase. If it’s a low trust kind of environment—they don't have the trust of sales, they don't have the trust of the executive team, how do you get the deal done? How do you break down that barrier?
Sean: The subjective theory of value states there are three ways to do that. Boy, you want to go off into another angle of science? We can do a whole show of the subjective theory of value if you want someday.
Ben: Let's get the condensed version to carry us out here.
Sean: We will. Without being a broken record, I'll say, the subjective theory of value states there are three ways people buy. One is they're looking for revenue gain. That's a value. If I'm going to buy something, if I'm going to buy marketing technology, you need to show me how to make more money.
The second thing is the cost reduction. You need to show me how we're going to reduce the cost. We just moved a client into a customer success tool. One of the ways we did it was we found a piece of marketing technology that had a ticketing, had all the one-on-one communications, had all the tracking metrics, had a knowledge-based FAQ, and it had chat all in one platform for less than they were paying for just their chat platform. That was an easy one. Cost reduction.
The third angle of that theory of value says, there's an emotional and a strategic contribution that has to be made that your executive team is looking for. I would frame my technology purchases in those three frameworks or those three pieces of that framework.
If we buy this technology, we’re going to project we're going to gain this much revenue, we're going to reduce our internal operating cost, and here's the strategic contribution that this technology will have.
I would add to that the cognitive marketing framework and say this is a gap. We have a gap in our sales cycle. I would say sales cycle. I would not say, we have a gap in our marketing approach. Inherently, people pay attention to sales. They get sales.
As human beings, we love a hero. Everybody who has been in the room when the sales guy walked in and said, I closed this deal, and it's worth a million dollars. Everyone applauds. Everybody gets the endorphin rush. It's exciting. We love that hero. Sales is that hero.
If you go in talking about how sales first methodology, sales first thinking is the way we believe and think. If you go in with that framework and say, we have a gap in our technology stack that can help support sales enablement, late stage sales, and here's the revenue game we're going to get from it, the cost reduction we're going to get from it, and the strategic contribution we’re going to get from it." What was the one thing I didn't talk about there? I didn't talk about the technology, did I? I didn't talk about it at all.
I didn't say that account-based marketing works like this. It delivers an ad, it uses this platform and third-party data, and blah blah blah blah. They expect us to know that.
If you were on the manufacturing plant floor, you came to the executive table, and said, we need a new piece of equipment. Those guys don't come in and say, well, it's made of this type of steel and has this tensile strength. They just want to know are we going to make more money, are we going to reduce our cost, and what's the strategic contribution to the company?
Quit talking about technology. Just Google subjective theory of value. It breaks it down so simply, and we all buy that value. It comes back to where you started, Ben, so smartly. Your customer is an internal customer in this case. The marketing of marketing, I think it’s called.
Ben: It's pretty meta kind of marketing inception (so to speak).
Sean: I always wanted to be meta. That's kind of cool.
Ben: I think that boils things down to just a matter of value. I think it's extremely smart. There are words like I think, I like.
Sean: I’ll even give you the evidence for it. Everybody knows Komatsu. Everyone knows Caterpillar. I did a study recently in terms of value—trying to help B2B understand why value. Caterpillar has a tight brand. They control that brand to the point where you can go buy a ball cap as a retail buyer. It's part of the identity. They each sell one of those big, long-reach excavator things. I don't even know what they're called. Similar specs, virtually the same thing.
Komatsu has a lower lifetime value cost of operations. Why then can Caterpillar charge a 25% premium for their product? Because they understood the value triad, and that's what they're selling. They understand how to sell those three components. Komatsu is only saying it's going to work less or it’s going to work cheaper.
You can look at great stories of Nike paying $200 to Carolyn Davidson for a logo a million years ago. Pepsi branded for a million dollars. What's the difference there? It’s just the value proposition. Understanding value and who you're selling to always adds value. Is one logo really worth that much more? It's value. It was the situation of what they were selling.
There was no risk there. It was a startup. Pepsi is a multibillion-dollar corporation so the value is different. In the marketing of marketing, we've got to understand value and use that story internally to get the technology we need and externally to sell our own products and services.
Ben was the Inbound Marketing Director at CoSchedule. His specialties include content strategy, SEO, copywriting, and more. When he's not hard at work helping people do better marketing, he can be found cross-country skiing with his wife and their dog.