According to HubSpot’s 2018 Agency Report, ‘Finding New Clients’ is the biggest pain point for agencies, which is particularly true for the vast majority of B2B businesses.
In this Partner Webinar, B2B lead generation agency, CIENCE, demystifies the process of finding new clients. The CIENCE executive team tackles key issues, such as:
- What are the benefits of using an Outbound approach?
- The 12 obstacles everyone faces
- What are great fit vs. poor fit businesses for going Outbound?
- Key areas where companies stub their toes
- Personas and Process questions to ask right now
Learn whether Outbound is right for your organization process in addition to a thoughtful overview of strategies and techniques that work.
Webinar Video Transcription
Brian (Hubspot): Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to anybody from around the world who’s joining us today. I’m really excited to be running this webinar with one of our top sales partners, CIENCE, on the west coast in San Diego. For anyone who doesn’t know me and is wondering why I’m talking, my name is Brian Signorelli. I run the Sales Partner Program at Hubspot. I see a lot of familiar names in the attendee list—which is great. I’m thrilled to have a bunch of sales partners, what I expect to be some agency partners, and maybe some people we haven’t met yet on the line, which is great. I am joined by chief marketing officer, Eric Quanstrum, of CIENCE as well as some of the executive team. What they are going to go through today is one of the things that I think is really important in terms of complementing an overall inbound marketing and inbound sales strategy—which is outbound—to continually target and fill your pipeline. I think the way CIENCE approaches this is really cool. It’s a really detailed, intelligent way to do outbound prospecting and outbound pipeline development because of the amount of research and targeting that they put into their process. So they’re going to go through all that today. I’m gonna shut myself up and stop talking here and turn it over to Eric and the team at CIENCE. Thanks, guys.
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): That’s awesome, thanks so much, Brian, and thank you for hosting and helping with this webinar. We’re really excited to talk to the Hubspot partners about a subject that’s really a friend of mine for us all day every day. So in addition to myself presenting, I have to the right of me our CEO, John Gerard
John (CEO, CIENCE): Hi everybody, I’m John. I’m the CEO here at CIENCE. I’m really excited about this webinar today. I think I’m actually uniquely qualified to talk about outbound and the problems with it because I’ve made just about every mistake you can make in outbound over my 20-year history in tech. So, I’m excited to talk about some of those obstacles and how to overcome them.
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): And also we have our Head of Sales, Michael Maynos.
Michael (VP of Sales, CIENCE): Hi everyone, Michael Maynos here. I’m really excited to talk about this particular topic because—being in the head of sales here—not only do I get to work with every company that does outbound, but I also get to be a consumer of the outbound. So a lot of internal Q&A and testing market strategies happens here. So we’re quite excited to present today.
What are the benefits of using an Outbound approach?
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): Perfect, and with that, we’ll kick off just a brief introduction to who we are and what we do. CIENCE is a company that provides managed sales specialization. And we do it in the form of People as a Service, where that focus is on really specialized, highly individualized jobs; sales research; outreach; inbound qualification; and operational support—all at the very top of the sales funnel. Thus far, we’ve been in business now for almost three years. In fact, we’re about to have our third anniversary. We’ve served clients across 65 industries and if we were to sum up CIENCE in a very simple way, it’s we help companies grow. And some company highlights, if you will, who we are—we are an agency just like virtually everyone that’s on this call. We’ve served hundreds of clients, as I mentioned before, across a variety of different industry types. We have a worldwide footprint, including six offices around the globe. I’m speaking to you from Solana Beach – San Diego, California. But we have offices in the United States, in Kiev in Ukraine, Manila in the Philippines, and also in Brazil. So we’re across four continents. We’ve delivered tens of millions of leads to our customers and something I’ll touch on a little bit later is we very much invested in our Hubspot partnership and have quite a number of certifications.
So, this is not meant to be a sales pitch but just helping you place who we are, what we do, and what the rest of the world has kind of recognized. Clutch, a third-party review site that does long-form customer interviews—at least according to this impartial third-party review site—Clutch has ranked us as the top lead generation company in the world, according to them. So, at any rate, we’re also a Hubspot sales partner and this is really important for us because we’ve actually chosen Hubspot very deliberately and very carefully as a partner that can help us grow and help deliver true value to every one of our end-user clients. Largely because of their feature functionality, largely because of the way that we attack a lot of that sales specialization that I described at the outset of the call, by using the Hubspot sales platform in some ways that hopefully we’ll touch on today on the call. And we think rather innovatively in a number of fashions.
John (CEO, CIENCE): I’ll also just chime in here a quick moment for Hubspot. One of the things—we’ve probably explored and experimented with most of the sales technologies that are out there—and one of the things that we got really excited about was to see the velocity of the sales solution from Hubspot, the number of new features that are being rolled out, the tight integration with the other aspects of the platform, and some of the forward-thinking that’s baked into the platform. When we sort of surveyed the landscape, it was really clear that that was going to be the tool we wanted to centralize on.
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): Credit to Hubspot – I would suggest that in the Software as a Service space, they are probably one of the most devolved companies when it comes to true education and training. And being, again, a People as a Service services company, we’ve availed ourselves of all of that training. Such that we have well over 200—the number is probably closer to 350—certifications and counting across a variety of different Hubspot training courses. So we use it as both a validator and a differentiator in our go-to-market with the ability for each one of our people to have a constant level, if you will, of acumen and expertise at using the software that frankly, we live in all day every day. And having—whether it’s sales, sales enablement, inbound, or a number of the other methodologies that Hubspot has embraced to build courses around—having our folks go through that training and earn their certification. And that, we think that there’s a natural fit especially to everything that we’re doing to most of the go-to-market activities that exist and that are already part of the Hubspot ecosystem. This is to say both marketing and sales can benefit. We’ve also worked with a lot of the folks that are probably in this audience, so from the largest of the large agency types to frankly smaller, more boutique agencies out there, we’ve seen a lot—and this slide doesn’t nearly capture all the agencies that we’ve worked with through our brief history.
John (CEO, CIENCE): By the way, one of the things I’ll mention, that actually matters with what we’re about to talk about because it means that the sample size that we’re relying on to think about what works in outbound and what doesn’t is actually quite fast. Several hundred clients over the course of the last year and a half or two years have used their services, and that’s millions and millions and millions of emails – hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of outbound campaigns. And this is an area where numbers matter, where you can’t actually see patterns until you have a large enough sample size
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): Perfect segue because some of the other things that help that Hubspot does really well is put out a lot of data and really well-attuned reports to what’s happening within the state of the industry. So I’ve put here the Inbound 2017 report where essentially sales respondents were asked: What is the top sales priority for you this year? And by an order of magnitude, it was closing more deals.
And then the same question was asked of marketers: What are your top marketing challenges? It was really generating more leads. And then Hubspot also put out a report which was specific to the agency, vertical state of agency report 2018: What is your biggest pain point? And behold, it’s finding new clients. So, essentially, whether in marketing sales or in an agency, this problem—the problem of essentially generating new business—is fundamental and foremost and probably the reason why most of the folks that are in the audience are here today.
John (CEO, CIENCE): What I’ll also say about that—this is one of the reasons I think that Eric and Michael and I are all at this business—is that we’re talking here about something that’s so fundamental. You’re in business; this is table stakes stuff. Which is really refreshing; it’s really nice to be working on something that’s supportive of what our clients need
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): Going a step further in unpacking the problem is this is a really insightful question, in my opinion. What is more difficult to do in sales compared to just two or three years ago? And what we’re hearing and what we see here is getting a response from prospects and identifying and prospecting good leads. I might suggest that that is core to essentially what we do all day every day. And we’re going to talk a lot about is how we do some of that so that everyone here can benefit. So really what’s in it for you, the folks that are on the other end of the line, is really understanding how we were bringing together a few elements in a Venn diagram—account research, appointment setting, affordable on-demand—all with an outbound People-as-a-Service offering. And I know that some of you may be sitting in the audience and saying, ‘Wait a minute, aren’t you a competitor to me? Isn’t this something that could potentially be a conflict with my own business?’ And my honest answer is probably not. Largely because of the way that we do business—on the side of the street that we tend to tread on—which is providing the essential expertise-labor methodologies, best practices, and really go-to-market strategies for outbound-inbound qualification sales operations that are really not part of sales consulting-marketing mix. Or other areas where the vast majority of the Hubspot live.
The 12 obstacles everyone faces
John (CEO, CIENCE): That’s a good segue into the next part, and I’m going to speak for a few minutes about this particular topic, which is that outbound is hard. It’s actually worth it. So, one of the things I really like about outbound is that if it works, it’s coin-operated, meaning you can input dollars on the front-end and get a reliable output of customers or clients on the back end. Usually has a lot of headroom in it, meaning you can typically scale up your outbound spend 2x, 5x,10x, 20x and get 2x, 5x, 10x, 20x results on the other side. But it is non-trivial, it’s actually quite difficult. It seems like it should be an easy problem to solve. We know the kinds of customers that really love our product or service. We know where they live. We know where they sit, where they work. Let’s go start some more conversations with them. Seems like a really simple problem. It turns out, it’s not. We have identified 12 different obstacles to success in outbound. That’s a lot of obstacles and everybody who’s here is very familiar with sales and with the unforgiving math of sales funnels. And that, if you have 12 obstacles between you and a sale and you get a zero result on any of those, you get zero results on the other side. Which means you actually have to overcome 12 of these in order to be successful. And the math—you can just put this in perspective—let’s say that you have a very strong team that has about an 80% chance in overcoming each one of those obstacles as you run into them. In that scenario, the chance that you get it right is 6.9%. So, even if you’re very, very good at overcoming those obstacles of a very smart team, the likelihood of outbound success is actually quite small. Again, because of the sort of unforgiving math around outbound. One of the things that we know is that there are certain predictors of when outbound will work and when it won’t work. There are a bunch of things that people intuitively turn to outbound to try to fix that frankly aren’t fixable by outbound. Outbound is not something that can change the ACV of the products you’re selling. It can’t make a good product out of a bad product. In particular, if a client you’re working with doesn’t have product-market fit yet, meaning they have people who are very enthusiastic about the product or services they’re selling. It’s quite unlikely that outbound is going to help at all. Lousy sales structure is a problem as well, so if a sales team or organization is not able to reliably close business after a certain number of at-bats with a certain number of prospects, outbound can’t fix that. All of this really is a way to say that bad funnel math is not fixable by outbound. So if everything else is working in a sales organization, we’ve got a product-market fit, you’ve got a reasonably high ACV, you’ve got good sales structure, repeatable scalable processes internally, what outbound can do is start a lot more conversations with prospects. If you can close one of ten conversations, outbound can give you hundreds and hundreds of more at-bats or more conversations. So, what that means, I’m sort of on the converse or the flip side, there are some situations where outbound is fantastic. A consultative, relationship-based sales model outbound tends to be very good at. Outbound is about starting conversations with prospects and if there’s a consultation baked into that, it can be quite successful. An ideal client—a customer profile that is targetable—is a good predictor of success and outbound. You have to know who it is you want to talk to and be able to target them effectively. Good product-market fit, we talked about that briefly; service maturity; how to scale the business; the product; the service you’re delivering; a sales team that’s hitting on all its pistons and consistency with that sales team. These are all great input sources and highly suggestive of situations in which outbound will actually be quite good.
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): And one of the things that’s worth mentioning along these lines, too, is where outbound fits in an overall mix. I would suggest that it’s a great way to target directly those logos that the business absolutely, fundamentally wants to win. There’s a lot of methodology around—and a lot of buzzword thinking around—account-based marketing. But really, that is outbound and how it’s done, laid bare: it’s going after your best-fit clients in a very direct model to secure those logos.
John (CEO, CIENCE): That’s exactly right, so let’s talk about it—specifically, agency-use cases and examples. We’re going to talk now about the specific obstacles that you’re likely to encounter and we’re going to talk about that in this format. It seems like it should be a simple problem but actually ends up being pretty complex. So let’s break down these 12 obstacles very briefly. Twelve is a nice round number, and it’s sort of eye-popping when you think about why there are that many problems sitting between me and success. It turns out, there are actually six core problems broken down into two different categories each. So, some we’re borrowing from terminology here that was popularized by Peter Thiel, and others in a sort of zero-to-101 to-end framework. For each of these obstacles sitting between you and a signed-up customer account that’s driven purely by outbound, there’s the problem of: Can you even get one person to move through the funnel? And then there’s the problem of: Can you take what you learned about getting one person through the funnel and scale that up to ten or 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 people? So, look at each of these with that lens. By the way, again, I can say I’ve made all these mistakes, so that’s one of the reasons that I actually know something about this. Also, we’ve solved all these problems ourselves and had to have to solve them for lots of clients. So I guess what I would say about this is: if some of these resonate and it makes you feel a little uncomfortable, you’re in really good, comfortable company. This is something that any strong market/very strong salesperson has to stub their toes on a little bit before getting it right. It ain’t easy. So, first thing: finding the right target. This is about the ICP. Is it possible to find just one person that matches the client profile that you’re trying to get at and identify who they are? Identify that they look the same as other customers that you have in a target segment. Find them, get their contact information, learn something about them that will make a conversation relevant. Doing this seems like it should be pretty easy, it’s actually non-trivial. It ends up being the first stop—so, can you do that just once? And of course after you’ve done that is it possible to do it a lot more. The problems that you face in scaling up that function are substantial and they’re very different than the problems faced in finding that first person. The question now becomes or shifts to: How much does it cost me on a per-unit basis to find somebody who’s in the target ICP, get their information, and create a small profile of them that allows me to engage with them?
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): I think that we start here at CIENCE. This goes into our own practice, every campaign. If you don’t get the research right, the campaign is under extreme pressure and the chances of success are really, really low. Research matters, and I think that research can be cut up in a lot of different ways. We like to think of demographic, thermographic, techno-graphic, psychographic, and really trigger event factors as being relevant to the research that we can perform to discover relevant targets on behalf of our clients. But that slicing-and-dicing is well worth the time because it’ll influence everything that is to come downstream with every account or campaign that’s right.
John (CEO, CIENCE): And we’re talking very, very top of the funnel. This is the number one, or the very first step, this sort of ICP research aspect. And anybody who has spent any amount of time working sales funnels knows whatever you do at the top of the funnel impacts everything downstream. So, that’s one of the reasons that this is so critical. Okay, so you’ve got the contact information for one person who looks like a good fit and you’re actually trying to figure out now, ‘How do I start a conversation with them?’ So, getting that email in the inbox, getting that person on the phone if it’s the cold-phone outreach, getting that social engagement that makes somebody turn their head and say, ‘Huh, this is interesting,’ is non-trivial. Here’s the very first thing you have to do—it becomes important before you think seriously about blasting to thousands of people: Can I get one carefully crafted email in the inbox of one person and get a conversation started? So, rather than thinking big and thinking about how can I blast these 10,000 research candidates that I just turned up, I’m going to get one engagement by thinking about it on that scale. This is like one person to one person, totally shifts the way that the problem is approached. It makes it much more human, it injects a lot more authenticity into the conversation—and that’s the right place to start.
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): I think that what we’ve seen, and is really the hallmark of a lot of sales development and outbound work nowadays, is this notion of semi-automation. It’s not matching blasts to thousands; it’s literally taking and going one-by-one-by-one in any form of sequence to really isolate the prospect, their needs, what’s important to them, having a relevant and unique value proposition, as well as why should the prospect care. You know every prospect subconsciously thinks, ‘Why me? Why now? Why should I care?’ about virtually any correspondence—especially outreach that is coming from someone that’s not already in their network.
John (CEO, CIENCE): And if you don’t solve that problem once, you’re not going to solve it at scale—there’s no question. That is the next problem: solving it at scale. So, you’ve got that first into the inbox, you’ve got somebody looking at it, opening it, ready to possibly engage. How can you do that with 5,376,354 more people? Maybe not that many, but you get the idea. How can you do that at scale? And this is another non-trivial problem, a whole different set of challenges associated with effectively navigating the spam rules around sending unsolicited emails in a business context. There’s a whole bunch of best practices around how to do that politely, how to do that in a way that’s very human, how to do that in a way that’s very unlikely to land you or your client in hot water.
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): Before we leave this slide, the other thing that I think is relevant here, too, in the scale problem is there’s also a scale problem that exists on the prospect’s side. The average executive receives hundreds of emails into their boxes every single day. So, one way to look at that is: any outreach that’s coming is competing with 120 other attention-grabbers, [which is] competition for that person’s attention. And we can fairly well assume that most ideal customer profiles in most industries are busy, distracted, and otherwise engaged folks that don’t necessarily have the time for unsolicited outreach.
John (CEO, CIENCE): So you know about this longing to get their attention and you have to take advantage of that. I’m seeing some great questions coming in on that on the chat, here, and some of those will be answered by text and we’ll try to pick up some of the other ones at the end conversation, as well. The one question that came up that I think is very germane here—How many sequence emails to suggest ascending before being annoying?—is, it depends. There are various playbooks that we use that have been very thoroughly tested that range anywhere from just a few emails to up to 7–10 touches across the email/phone/social touches. But you have to be very careful and calibrate them very carefully.
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): The other thing that’s worth thinking about here, too, is that intent matters. And what I would say to answer that question at a very high-level is this: there’s been a lot of myths around cold email and cold call and one of the myths is that people don’t want to hear from vendors or service providers or agencies. That’s not true at all. In fact, people do want to hear, especially ambitious people that are always—by rule and by nature—looking for better ways to do things, more efficient processes or software, or ways to do things within their own organizations. And those ideas don’t always come from self-initiation. They come from being tuned in and frankly learning about what is new, what is novel, what has worked for competitors or similar types of businesses. And so, what I would say is a value-based outreach is always welcome to people that are looking for an edge; people that are looking to essentially grow their own businesses. And if there’s value inherent to the message, then it’s more often than not never annoying. That’s right to answer the question very succinctly.
John (CEO, CIENCE): And that’s actually a great segue into the next bit here, which is this idea of creating desires for the number of obstacles. So you’ve got somebody’s attention. They’ve actually opened your email, they’ve bothered to do that. What happens next matters a lot—what happens in the first word and the first sentence matters a lot. How long the entire email is, if somebody’s staring at a wall of text versus not, matters a lot. There’s an extremely high correlation between low engagement and bad grammar or spelling mistakes. These kinds of things actually matter a lot and in this world, there’s—what I think is a law of small numbers. If you have a 1% engagement rate, that actually might be pretty good. An increase from 1 to 2% doesn’t seem like a lot but it’s a double—a doubling of the total output that you’re getting. As we think about how this works, the first question is: Can you do this once? Can you craft an engaging, personalized, one-to-one authentic communication with somebody in your target community that you’re trying to reach out to? And start a conversation. Can you get somebody to send something back? Even if it’s something like, ‘Hey, I’m not sure that right now is the right time.’ Once you’ve done that, the question is: How do you do that at scale? And this is a really interesting one because you may have a great conversation with the first couple of people that you engage. And then all of a sudden, you’re trying to bring in a team of three or four or five other SDRs to generate those same kinds of conversations using those same templates and get a totally different result. So, as you’re scaling this up, as you’re going from one to n, how do you make sure that the voice is consistent, i.e., the engagement, the cleverness, the humor, the gentle sort of touch it is, maintained throughout these engagements as you scale them. Which, of course, leads us to the next challenge. So, it’s the human-power question. This all seems like a great idea, and then all of a sudden, you do it a couple of times and realize: ‘So that took me six hours just to get that one conversation going and set up an appointment. How is this gonna work at scale?’ Right? By the way, I’m gonna fess up to this, in the first business that I started, I made this mistake. I said, ‘You know what? This is a perfect job for an intern.’ And so, we brought an intern in over the summer and said, ‘Here’s a bunch of people. Go reach out to them and set up appointments.’ And so, this was our zero-to-one kind of a thing and it didn’t work—no offense to younger people who are making it happen. But we were asking way too much without knowing anything about how to make this world work. We were asking somebody, who didn’t have a lot of experience, to go figure it out. And as you might imagine, that led to a goose egg, in terms of results.
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): I think the other thing that’s worth pointing out here, too, is that prospecting is hard. There’s no way around it. You’re going to encounter situations—even with the best of intentions, value propositions, messaging—down the line. You’re going to encounter rejection. It’s a business and a problem space that is filled with toughness. We actually would probably use the word ‘grit’ as being one of the key variables for our own employees in going to market on behalf of each of our client companies.
John (CEO, CIENCE): That’s exactly right, and so I think what we’ve done is developed a profile for exactly the person that’s most likely to be successful in this role. We’ve been very disciplined about how we measure that and we know the characteristics now to look for in somebody being successful. Which means that as we’re building a team, doing this one-to-end experience, we know how to go get a lot more of those people—which, to my earlier point about scaling outbound, is exactly what you want to do if it’s working. So if this is working with one SDR and you have the budget for it, you will want to go out and hire nine more SDRs to replicate that. If the economics of it work, there’s just no reason not to spend most of available sales and marketing budget on it if you can.
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): I don’t want to let too much of the cat out of the bag, but this is actually the exact trend that we’ve seen in the most highly successful, high-growth B2B companies. We did a study of those going IPO over the last few years, we did a study of the Top 1000 SaaS companies by growth rate—all of them are using sales specialization, and more particularly, sales development, as their key go-to-market strategy to really shoot to the moon.
John (CEO, CIENCE): It’s a nice one because it puts the outcomes into the future—in the hands of the business owner who’s spending money if you can get it to them coin-operated. Okay, last couple we want to run through. So, training ended up being a big one. So how do you know what the skill set is that is necessary in order to do this successfully once? How do you know what combination of certifications on tools and on ability to interact with folks on the phone and email is the right mix in order to get that first engagement to happen? That’s another one that’s non-trivial. The question then becomes: If you figure that out once, how do you figure this out now to sort of scale up a bunch of people and make this possible? This is especially important in this world because the tools and the tactics that lead to success and outbound are changing very, very quickly. What worked a year ago is not at all likely to work today. And if you don’t have a process for continuing to level-up your SDR team, your outbound teams as you go, it will fail. You’ll get to the point of diminishing returns quickly.
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): I’ll also say this: a lot of the skills and the training are really non-obvious. And I can’t emphasize that enough because going with a straight marketing playbook or a straight sales playbook is not necessarily the correct approach. It’s really a blend of both, and most importantly, it’s a little sprinkling of customer experience over the top. So, what I mean by that is: when you’re going direct and you’re really approaching an outbound targeted audience, your most important weapon and the best thing you can train for is to live and understand that prospect and their world, their motivations, how they see the world, their biases, what’s important to them. These are things that frankly have to be trained for at a psychological level, and just going in with a ‘me, me, me’ approach—if you’re a vendor or supplier—‘Why I’m great in the world,’ is a recipe for lack of success. Going in with a very heavy-handed sales approach is a very, very good recipe for failure. The key here is really a blended, fairly subtle, and nuanced approach to putting the prospect, their organization, and their needs first.
John (CEO, CIENCE): Let’s go ahead onto the next one. This is the last one of the of the six—we lost the number there somehow—but the handoff is obstacle #6. So none of this matters if you have a great ICP that you developed, you get some folks associated with it, you have a great conversation on email and on the phone, you set an appointment, and the salesperson isn’t in the loop on what the person is there to talk about. There’s not a really strong consistency between the story that was started with the SDR and the story that gets picked up by the salesperson. So, the first problem is dropping the baton, and it will happen almost immediately if you’ve successfully gotten this far in the process. So, how can you get a successful handoff just once? What are the best practices around that? There are some great ones. The simplest way I think to think about it is to put yourself in the prospect’s chair and map what their experience—his or her experience—looks like in this outbound engagement. What would it feel like to have that engagement with the SDR and to move down the funnel to have an appointment set up? What would make for the most consistent story in this process? And if you solve that once, you can start looking at solving it at scale. Other couple of really simple best practices: send email reminders that the appointment’s coming up. Don’t be afraid to send a couple of them—people are busy, they might forget about it. It’s not intrusive for somebody to get an email the day that it’s booked, an email the night before, and an email the morning of reminding them their appointment is coming up. So, start thinking about that a little bit. Once you think about that, and you achieve that on a scale of one, you can start thinking about what does this look like to scale. How do we improve our show rate for the appointments that we set, and how do we improve the rapport that comes right out of the gate with the sales team? And when you look at that on a daily and weekly basis—what are our show rates, what are the sales teams reporting in terms of, ‘Hey this person was really excited and engaged,’ or ‘This person didn’t really know what we were talking about and it was really hard to bring them around’—all those data points are our data points related to the handout.
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): I think that this is, again, a shameless plug for Hubspot, where we’re using their software to help us keep track of all of this on a daily basis—both for ourselves and on behalf of our clients.
Brian (Hubspot): We just give you the key, you guys have to drive.
Eric & John: That’s right, that’s exactly right.
John (CEO, CIENCE): Speaking of drop handoffs, I think we’re bringing in Michael here in a second.
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): Bringing this around, I think that this is meant and totally germane again to the audience that we have here today—which is Hubspot partners and agencies—because, again, this comes directly from Hubspot’s own data around plans to invest this year. And so, as you’re thinking about the investments that you’re making around lead generation—which is, again, top of the charts, front of mind to everybody—we’re hoping that some of what we’re saying here is resonant and begins to give you a much richer and deeper vocabulary for how to approach these problems both for your own company and then potentially downstream for each of your clients and customers.
John (CEO, CIENCE): So I think with that, we’re going to switch over to Michael, here. We have a couple more questions that have come in, we’re going to get to those right at the end. So now we go into the next phase here. We’ve got a nice image to kick us off. It’s over to you, Michael.
What are great fit vs. poor fit businesses for going Outbound?
Michael (VP of Sales): Hey, everyone. So thank you very much, Eric, for explaining the value and the importance of what this is in the market, and John I think you did a very incredible job of explaining the complexity of what we need to solve for when we’re looking at outbound. What I hope to do here is—this isn’t a selfish plug, whether it’s a relationship with us or another sales partner that does outbound—I wanted to talk to the marketing partners about how to actually engage. How to identify, how to learn. This is a very, very complex problem. So when you do develop a relationship with a partner that can help you solve this, it’s about communication. This communication is absolutely everything. But when we’re looking at the complexities of this problem—Eric, if you want to go to the next slide—this is a machine that we’re solving for and that little nail at the end, that hammer, that’s what CIENCE does for you. And so how do we get there, how do we understand, how do we build that? Well, it starts with understanding the who. So, where I’m going to start is saying who is not a good fit. Who is not that ideal person that you want to engage? Then typically, it’s B2Cs. They’re not really a good fit for you. Anyone with an annual contract value of under $10,000, probably not a good fit. And why is that? John alluded to it earlier: annual contract values that are smaller or where conversion rates aren’t measurable leads to the math not canceling out when you’re engaging your clients. People feel cold-calling is dead. I’m sorry to say it is very much alive, and I think one of the reasons that we are on the Hubspot platform is because it allows that personalization. It allows that forward-thinking of how to keep sales personable—that is what it’s about. And so, cold-calling is more alive than it’s ever been before, and if you have a client that feels like mass email and mass drops is where it’s at, it’s going to be hard to convince them of that. Very transactional businesses—there’s some gray area in all of these, obviously—but when I think of transactional calls that could be closing in one or two calls may be not a good fit for developing just a pure sales specialized outbound. Those usually don’t lead to very high annual contract value regardless. But those are the bad fits, those are the ones that when you see something along those lines, you move away from. So where are the good fits?
The good fits are obviously business-to-business and people that sit between that $10,000 and $100,000 annual contract value. People who are talking about generalist sales models plus. So, why do I define this as a good fit? Because it’s very, very clear to speak to the problems with the generalist sales model. A generalist sales model is: I prospect, I open the conversation, I had that first discovery call, I carry everything down the pipe, and then I close the deal. What you end up having are these very high, predictable roles in predictable forecasts. If someone’s prospecting, they’re not closing business. And if someone’s closing business, they’re not filling their pipeline prospecting. So, a good fit is someone that has that model because you can speak to it and you can educate the business owners on that. People who have calculated conversion metrics, people that understand what their sales cycle looks like—what conversion happens from discovery call to opportunity to close one—if you can speak to those metrics or your client can: excellent fit. And then a segue: we engage heavily with people who do events and trade shows. So, anyone that’s making these outward investments that are very hard to track back what that ROI is, and just need additional lift, you’re spending $100,000 on an event, why not drop 10–20% more to really make it pop to double the attendees. Those are the good fits to look out for. Next would be the great fit. So who are we really searching for? We’re really searching for the people that are business-to-business, enterprise side.
That conversion and that one deal was going to be a $100,000+ ACV. They’re out there, they are heavily out there. And they obviously have a calculated cost of acquisition. They do practice predictable revenue models. They’re buyer-focused sales journeys, and sales specialization—that’s the opposite of generalist. So, let me focus for a second on buyer-focus sales journeys. If your client thinks about what a buyer experiences, if your client thinks about the brand image and how that image rep is represented through all stages of the funnel, including opening a conversation, they’re an excellent, excellent candidate for outbound because on the outbound side of the business, companies like CIENCE are able to own that look, that touch, that feel of the brand. This is not an SQL, this is not MQL. It’s just like, ‘Hey, I downloaded a white paper. I might be interested in the generic topic around AI. Wow, I realize your AI is really in touch with bringing out my mobile devices’ enhanced features and you speak to that in my language.’ That is what we do; that is the value and importance of this. So, if your customers ever talk about having a buyer-focused journey or about having sales strategies around buyer qualification, they are good people for outbound. So, going on from that great fit: How do we talk about this? Well, what’s the concern out there? Here’s the incredible part, all those complex problems that we talked about, all those data metrics that we talked about, all those areas of struggle that we talked about, those are great but those are validators. Those are not how you open your conversation. That is ‘Hey, this apple is shiny and that apple’s shinier and this one dull’—the feature-driven conversations are a very quick way to an end. Because you’re not going to be able to differentiate the value of an outbound conversation versus everything else in market.
Key areas where companies stub their toes
So I want to go on to how do we speak to this and who do we speak to this about. What we really want to talk about is when you’re engaging with salespeople, what are the conversations you’re having? Well, you’re not talking about the number of emails, like a sales executive does not care about the number of emails then. They care about having predictable pipeline. They care about having sustainable at-bats so they can do data collection on their conversion of their salespeople. That’s what I care about. They care about these sales specialized so they can isolate conversations in the top track. I actually know, on my team, how long it takes to go from prospecting an individual to actually getting an appointment on the calendar. And I know the average time from that appointment to actually closing that appointment. So, those are the conversations that you want to have now with the marketing person who you’re probably engaging with, the marketing individual you’re going to talk very heavily about. On the marketing side, we want to talk about that buyer journey. We want to talk about making data-driven decisions.
We want to talk about unified messaging. I mentioned that buyer-focused journey and we want to talk about multi-channel coverage. Multi-channel coverage is going to lead to how we communicate with C-level executives that smaller businesses that are very good fits for outbound. So when we’re talking about CEO, CMO, the C-suite in general, multi-channel coverage is incredibly valuable because it’s an element of risk reduction. It’s an element in which we can say, ‘Look, we are reducing risk by having multiple channels that lead to funnels. Multiple funnels know one single area of failure is highly impactful at the C-suite measurable growth vertical specialization.’ These are all pieces of the conversation that outbound impacts and that these individuals are going to care to hear about. So, where do we want to leave this? Well, we want to leave this with how we can help you and the areas that you want to learn about from your clients to be able to understand the impact. Learn about their monthly recurring revenue, learn about the average contract value, learn what their conversion rates are—if they don’t understand what that is, help them. Educate them. Why do I love Hubspot? Because Hubspot is about educating the market and that is exactly what we should practice and what we do here every day. So, generalist sales in specialization: talking to those elements understanding that, knowing the ideal customer, going back to the research, and then having qualification metrics involved in and how they understand value from their customer base. Those are the insights you want to learn from your clients. So, I think we ran through that rather quickly, but if there are any questions, we can address them. I think now is a good time to do that.
Personas and Process questions to ask right now
John (CEO, CIENCE): I think we see a couple that came in. So, we’ve got eight minutes or so left. We want to be respectful of your time, so we’re going to go through these questions quite quickly. There’s a couple of great ones that have already been answered. So, Mike Simmons asks about keeping track of data: How do you keep track of data to understand and recognize patterns at scale? The answer is: we rely on the systems that we have Hubspot for collecting and aggregating and seeing that data. To the earlier point that I was making, it’s very, very hard with a small sample size to see patterns that are actually actionable. One of the benefits that we have is hundreds and hundreds of clients, thousands of campaigns, where it’s a lot easier to sort of zoom out and see patterns. We’ve built a combination of sort of bespoke internal-tracking mechanisms paired with tools like Hubspot in order to be able to see trends, as well as individual data points, for any campaign that we run. And to slice-and-dice that information in any way to be meaningful.
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): I would also give a plug-out to one of our other partners, which is Databox, which sits on top of our systems and helps us visualize everything that we’re doing.
John (CEO, CIENCE): So, it’s a great question. Again, if you don’t measure it and you can’t see it, you can’t make data-driven decisions—which ends up being pretty critical.
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): If you don’t measure, you can’t manage it.
Michael (VP of Sales, CIENCE): One of the important things is that if you’re working with a partner like us, you should be paying attention. Are they monitoring the elements that affect your pipeline down the path? When they change a campaign, do you know what the conversion metrics are of that new campaign? Do you know what the sale cycle length of that campaign from the research component to research to outbound to actual appointment setting? So, having those, making sure your partner that you work with has those insights and can deliver those insights at volume, to John’s point, is incredibly important.
John (CEO, CIENCE): Yeah and I guess the one last thing I’ll say about what Michael said is something really important. Which is: knowing the thread that passed throughout an outbound campaign that eventually lands in a deal-or-no-deal scenario ends up being important because you may actually be able to detect meaningful differences that can trace all the way back to the creation of the ICP and the research pool. Backing through all those obstacles, you may find that deals disproportionately closed that were sourced using these methods. And that’s actually critically important if you want to scale it well. We have another question from Andres. It says: How do you approach when you have a client with plenty of competitors and they solve all the same pain but the difference is in the feature?
Michael (VP of Sales): I’d love to take that one, John, if I can. This is something that I think all of us struggle with and really, that feature is always elevated and connected to value or emotion. Always, every single time. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be a feature. And If you can understand the effect that that buyer has and what their situational awareness is of that effect on their day-to-day, I would talk less about the feature; really understand that effect; really understand that pain point; and then elevate that feature in a way that represents ROI. Most cases, it’s ROI. B2B, for better or worse—I think working with Eric, I really learned this—it is a more emotional buy than B2C is. It genuinely is. You’re talking about what features that are connected to value, and someone’s job is dependent on the value that they represent. That is a very emotional thing to think about: What happens tomorrow if I don’t execute, and don’t deliver this product released properly? Hopefully, that answered it.
John (CEO, CIENCE): The other element that’s so critical here—this is where it gets to the importance of human touch, right? So, because of exactly what Michael said, all the other things being equal, here are these two $25,000 opportunities or deals that I’m looking at – either go with company A or company B. Features are mostly the same. Maybe there’s a couple of differentiators. The question is: Which company wins? It’s the one that has the better relationship. It’s the one that has better human connection between buyer and seller. And outbound is actually a uniquely good channel for opening doors to have conversations and building authentic relationships.
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): So we have another question coming through. Michael asks—their an enterprise software and services B2B company—‘Would I be able to use CIENCE to help my business grow through outbound automation?’ And the answer, I think, is absolutely 100% yes. Especially if the parameters fit, given what we talked about for a good stretch of time through this—through this presentation. Really high-level thinking through go-to-market strategies, there’s always forced choices made. I’ve never met a business that has unlimited resources and unlimited budget. That’s a truism of every business, no matter how big. So, you’re always choosing one versus another and that’s arguably the definition of strategy. What are the trade-offs you’re willing to accept? What are the things that can potentially work for you? And our hope today was really to give you a framework and an evaluation context for thinking through outbound—beyond some of the noise and the hype and even some of the perceptions that exist out there in the world today that may not always be totally accurate.
John (CEO, CIENCE): I think that’s a perfect summation. I mean, the idea here is to provide you with a little window into the fact that this is an extraordinarily valuable toolset if it’s used in the right ways. It’s quite complex. Perhaps not to get so daunted by the complexity of it, this is absolutely a set of tools an acquisition channel that businesses that sort of fit the profile we talked about should try. It’s amazing when it works, and it even if it doesn’t work, you learn an awful lot about your target profile and about the ways to start conversations—it can be leveraging other channels.
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): Last question here that I think we have time for: ‘Do you work with agencies or service providers to help them provide CIENCE—I’m assuming this is CIENCE’s services to their clients? If so what has worked well? How have you made them look good and potentially made them more money? And so I think that, again, the answer is absolutely yes. And we have a number of, actually, Hubspot partners that we’re working with, with their clients. So, you know, referrals are a really great way to start any relationship. You bring your leverage or your network, your reputation, to bear with those referrals. And I’m very pleased to say that we’ve grown our own business through working across the board, so to speak. So, my hope—and again, trying to strip off the veneer or the bias of being totally self-serving here—but my hope is that, yes absolutely with agencies, we work with both the agency themselves and their clients to really push growth forward in a very fast manner—the way that we’ve done for many clients.
John (CEO, CIENCE): And hopefully you’ve gotten a sense through this presentation that what we bring to the table, in terms of our data-driven approach and the discipline we apply here, can add a lot of comfort and a lot of structure around a space that’s a little bit noisy. Which I think is very, very helpful when you’re introducing us into a client-relationship, and that’s what we strive for. I think that’s maybe all the time we have.
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): I think we’re right up against the hour here.
John (CEO, CIENCE): So, we’ll just thank everybody for being here, and Brian, turning it back over to you if you had any closing comments.
Brian (Hubspot): Yeah, John, Eric, Michael, thank you so much. I think that was great. I was really impressed with the level of detail you went into around the different challenges that people face. I feel like, you probably saw me nodding and kind of, like, laughing or snickering to myself a bunch of times. That’s because, yes, I have absolutely either made those mistakes too or seen other people make them. And I think everything you were talking about was just so spot-on. So, I think it was great. And thanks so much for taking the time to put all this together and run this for everyone today. Really, really appreciate that.
Eric (CMO, CIENCE): You bet. And for everyone in the audience: if you want to continue the conversation, we’ve put some of our contact information up on the screen. Please administer any channel that’s convenient for you. Thanks, everyone.