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Please join us as we talk to Evan Whitenight of ReachForce about his journey to Revenue Marketing and more specifically how he tracks and reports on metrics that matter. As you listen to the interview, you’ll have to ask yourself – is this guy in sales or marketing!
Hello! This is Debbie Qaqish with the Pedowitz Group and welcome to WRMR, Revenue Marketer Radio. As you guys know, we meet every Thursday to talk to a real revenue marketer and learn tips and tricks on how to make that transition from traditional marketing to real revenue marketing. And as we talk about the topic of revenue marketer, let me just give you guys a brief definition because a revenue marketer is something very unique in the world of marketing today. A revenue marketer is someone on the team who has revenue or revenue-related accountability to the kinds of campaigns, communications, and digital interactions they set up. They are responsible for the top of the sales funnel and for interacting with and nurturing leads until they are sales ready. And they all use some type of marketing automation platform that is integrated with CRM to power their revenue marketing practice and to get those revenue results. So, today we have a very special guest. I was able to hear Evan speak. I think it was last week or two weeks ago at an event that we attended and I said, this guy, we have to have him on the radio show. When I was talking to Evan about what we've been talking about, I said, "You know, Evan," I said, "When I heard you speak," I said, "You sounded just like a VP of sales but you're the director of Demand Generation." So, let's kind of focus on that as our topic today. And so, let me give you Evan's background and then we're going to get into talking to Evan Whitenight of ReachForce. Now, Evan is currently the director of marketing at ReachForce which is an Austin based SaaS provider of contact data services. He has more than 10 years in sales and marketing and he has held strategic marketing positions at Neverfail, Pervasive Software, Vignette, and Dell computer. Prior to joining ReachForce, he held the position of Director of Marketing at Neverfail where he was responsible for the go-to-market strategy for both the Neverfail product line and the strategic marketing alliances, with partners such as Microsoft, Research in Motion, and VMware. He holds a Masters of Business Administration with a focus in marketing -- I think that is so cool -- and E-commerce from St. Edward's University and a Bachelors of Science degree in chemistry. I didn't know that, Evan, and that explains your approach to things from the university perspective.
That's suggested though...
I get it now. I'm beginning to get it. He also has extensive experience in CRM and marketing automation platforms. So, Evan, welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me on, Debbie. I appreciate being a guest of the show.
So, I got to tell everybody a funny story that's listening. So, when Evan and I were doing our pre-brief, I talk for 15 or 20 minutes to the folks before they come on the show. I said, "Evan, you and I both have the same problem." I said, "We both have southern accents and we talk real fast so..." And the combination of us two together will probably sound like really fast, so we will try to make, you know, try to slow down so we can articulate for everybody. But Evan, why don't we start by telling me a little bit more besides you're Director of Marketing at ReachForce, kind of what your role is at ReachForce.
Sure, definitely Debbie. My role here at ReachForce is like you said Director of Marketing but it's really to kind of head up everything marketing and sales related. So, you know, we're a marketing services firm `such as yourself. We provide high quality lead data services that enable businesses to grow. The revenue impact is demand creation issues by 100%. So, we live and breathe marketing everyday. So, my role here is not only to drive demand generation and demand creation but it is really to kind of be a cheerleader, a champion, someone who understands and can train our sales force on how to sell the marketers and how to really understand what B2B marketers are all about and what they are doing. So, everyday here is a different story. One day you could be doing a webinar, doing a presentation. The next day it's putting together a nurture campaign. The next day is kind of being what we call a sales range or getting on a phone and helping our sales people figure out what marketers' pains are and how best to solve them in terms of getting cleanliness in data quality for the marketing campaign. So, that kind of encompasses kind of a day in a life of what I do around here.
So, I got to tell you, the other day when I called you and you know, we were talking about the show and I said, "Evan, you sound just like a VP of sales," and you said, "Debbie, that's fine because I'm actually in CRM right now." And tell us what you were doing.
Yeah. Everyday I've got Salesforce CRM open. I've got two monitors for my system. One monitor is dedicated to Salesforce and I've got my dashboard up. As you can see, kind of from my bio, my background is in chemistry. So for me, everything has got to be quantifiable, kind of measured base. So, you know, I always try to put hypothesis around things and then test them and measure the data. So, one thing about being in the position or role I'm in this organization is, and also being a Salesforce certified admin, is I live and eat and breathe in the dashboard. So, I put together an overall corporate dashboard for the rest of the executive team here. ReachForce really take a look out. We've maxed it out with 20 components. We're already working on our second dashboard. So, we can constantly see where the funnel lies, where deals are, if they're getting stuck. How many leads are in the open stage? I can see where the leads are in the qualification status going from inquiry to marketing qualified, to field accepted, to sales qualified. We track things like conversion percentages through the stages, conversion percentages to proposals delivered, closed-won, closed-lost analysis is something that I actually run on a weekly and monthly basis and then we opt to do a quarterly review of where we were at and kind of where the team was quarter to quarter. So, it's something that I live, eat, and breathe and like I told you, it is kind of like a VP of sales. I could be anywhere at anytime. I think a few weeks ago when I met you, I was sitting there and talking to you and I could say, yeah, I can tell you where each of my reps are as far as quota attainment goes, probably down to the dollar and drop a penny. And also tell you what the pipeline looks like, where everything is in the stage format. I couldn't go as far as deep down as my VP of sales, but I'm pretty close on any given day.
So that's a ton of information for somebody to digest in one sitting. So what I want to do is at least allow us to back up and I want to kind of tease this apart, little one piece at a time so that we can share not just your excitement, but some real practical tips and approaches for our listeners because our listeners are at every range -- there could be a beginner, they could be advanced like you, but let's just kind of tease this thing apart. And what I want to go back to is -- I know that you guys use Marketo, right?
Yeah. We actually have Marketo and Eloqua in-house. Since we are a partner of both, we have both in-house. We use both marketing automation systems because we like to be able to speak as an expert to our end-user customers and so you know, we have both in-house so we can test both systems, understand both systems and fully speak to both systems.
Now, that is unique.
So for your own marketing purposes, which application do you use or use a combination of both?
Well, I actually use a combination of both, I use Marketo for a lot of out lead nurture and lead -- kind of lead campaigns as far as tracking new inquiries and things of that nature. We use Eloqua more for our installed base and customer newsletter sorts of things. So, we use both systems to kind of segment our lids and take different approaches. It also keeps us kind of versed in both of the different platforms, so that if a question arises where the customer had a best manipulator or do some things with data cleanliness and data quality in their systems, we can speak to both systems very in depth.
Okay. I want to go back in time and I want you to -- because clearly you just didn't all of a sudden, one day, wake up and -- Bam! You are at this place where you can talk about the discrete, concrete impact that marketing is making on revenue. So let's kind of go back to how that journey started for you and clearly being a partner of both Eloqua and Marketo and also using those applications for your own demand generation efforts is unique, but why don't we go back to the beginning and let's talk about how did you begin this journey toward revenue marketing?
Sure. And like you said, Debbie, it wasn't something that happened overnight and by no means, will it, I think, happen overnight for any marketer whatsoever. I think you have definitely got to take off bite-size chunks and have small goals to get there on the road to get there. But I mean, the way it happened was about four or five years ago. I was actually over at Pervasive Software and we were really looking at -- that's how we were partner of Eloqua as well and so we were developing the first kind of integration for Eloqua into Salesforce CRM. So that is kind of where I got my jobs in really looking at how do they integrate into -- from a CRM system to a marketing automation system. What kind of analytics can we get out of it? So it's really a lot of just myself kind of like just having the passion and the desire to want to understand more from a scientific standpoint rather than kind of qualitative standpoint from a marketing perspective. So it is just really digging in and understanding the tools and if there are -- when there were things that I couldn't myself understand, I wasn't afraid to ask questions and I wasn't afraid to go to parts specialist or other people in the organization and reach out and you know. Have a brown-bag lunch, have a discussion, and just have them kind of bring me up speed and verse me on the different technologies that we had. I definitely wasn't a Salesforce admin in day 1. There were times I couldn't even run my own report. So it's just a matter of finding those people who had that knowledge in the organization and really fostering relationships, go out with them, trying to do some knowledge transfer and then doing some kind of homework on my end of getting myself up to speed so I could kind of really be self-sufficient and really understand what I need to look for and where I need to look for these items.
So are you talking about before you guys began using the systems or once you began using the systems, this going out and finding out more about -- was it just try to understanding what marketing automation could do for you as an organization?
No -- we had actually -- we were a marketing automation customer at that time so -- and even now, you know still learning. So it's all about having the marketing automation system in place and just having that passion and desire to learn more, I guess. You know, all the systems have great self-paced training. I think I have learned a lot of this stuff. I have learned about Marketo and Eloqua all through Eloqua University and Marketo has got their customer.success.marketo, I think, platform where you can go and get a lot of self-paced training and that's really where I have spent a lot of the time first getting into the system and getting versed and getting to understand the platform and it's abilities and where it could take me.
So let's talk about the metrics drive. So when you first began to engage with these platforms, what kind of metrics were you measuring in the early days and I'm going to talk about the progression to what I call revenue marketing metrics. And to me the difference is that companies transmission from traditional marketing to what I all lead generation. A lead generation is typically characterized by your having some kind of email system and it's really the first generation of marketing supplying leads over to sales. And then I think the next stage is really demand generation and that's when a company intakes the marketing automation system. And the difference between demand generation and the file ultimate phase of revenue marketing is that once you get into revenue marketing, the revenue that you contribute to the organization is repeatable, predictable and sustainable and clearly, that is exactly where you guys are at. So let's talk about how you -- what your beginning metrics were and what was your process for getting to metrics that matter and for getting to that sustainability and that predictability?
Sure. I think you hit the nail in the head. For us, when we first started part of like any other marketer, when we first got the system or I first got versed with marketing automation, it was all around tracking inquiries, really, and then tracking click-through rates and open rates. So it was all around just taking a look at the one off email blast and saying, "Hey. That was cool." We set that out. We had the ability to set it out on our own. We didn't need help from IT and oh, check it out. Look what happened. We had so and so many people open. You know, we had a 15% open rate. And then we had a 10% click-through rate. It was really cool. We could see these things on the flyer. We could see what people were doing and so that, in the beginning, was kind of what we were measuring, what we were kind of basing our success on -- it was how much of the word is getting out? How much were people taking action on? And then from there it has really morphed and migrated, like you said, through the demand generations cycle all the way to the revenue generation cycle. So in the middle, it was all around -- okay, how many people can we actually make a marketing qualified lead? Once we get to a marketing qualified lead we are kind of hands off from there. We will measure ourselves based upon there and we will pass those over from inquiry status over to the sales organization and that's really what we will base our success on. And I think, for us we started to see a lot of fall down there. There just wasn't a whole lot of sales and marketing alignment. We had some issues with SOAs not being followed up with. We had issue with sales complaining that, you know, we thought our leads were great, but they were thinking our leads weren't where they needed to be because the acceptance rate wasn't where it needed to be. So that's really what drove our need kind of down the lead generation funnel to the revenue generation part of the thing is, we wanted to get more tightly aligned with sales and marketing and figure out how we could do so. So then we started to take a look and say -- okay, let's look at some best practices. Let's look where we can find some deep depth understanding of what we need to be doing and that's when we became kind of a serious decisions partner and a customer and looking at some of their research and really looking at the demand generation to revenue generation funnel.
And really began measuring ourselves not on MQLs and how many leads we were passing over the fence, but really taking a look at how many of those MQLs were actually turning into sales accepted leads? How many of those sales accepted leads were actually turning into sales qualified leads? So now we are measured from the rest of the executive team and to the board on how many sales accepted leads we've passed over, i.e. how many meetings they take and how many of those are actually converting and creating into actual revenue pipeline in the Salesforce CRM platform. So we are measured on sales accepted leads, sales qualified leads and we are also being measured further down the funnel. So it doesn't just stop there for us, you know. We have taken it so far as looking it from sales qualified all through the different stages of qualification that we have, all the way through to proposal and then closed-won and closed-lost. And we take a look at those different stage transactions and those different stage kind of conversion metrics and see where deals are getting stuck -- where we, as marketing, can help sales out. You know, maybe it's a late stage campaign that is going to help somebody convert and take a meaningful demo to get some stuck out of a stage and get them moving through the funnel or maybe it's a piece of collateral we pass on that really helps them understand the product in the late-stage buying cycle.
Okay. So Evan, again great high level overview. I mean, you have talked about once you get marketing automation, you know, in early days you guys were all about those efficiency and cool metrics which was ability to see, inquiries, click-through, open rates and you could send these campaigns out with no help from IT and it was very cool to see how things happened in real-time and kind of see things on the fly. And the fact that it was great, just that you were getting the word out. And then it began from, okay, this campaign focused really more to what our campaign is producing which should be marketing qualified leads -- and that was kind of like a phase 2 for you guys. And when you began to engage in that phase, you really -- this is kind of where things weren't quite right, the sales and marketing alignment was not tight enough. So you thought you had great leads and sales wouldn't follow up and you know it's the typical kinds of things. How long did it take you guys to move from like that inquiry stage to that MQL stage? How much time passed, do you think, between those two stages?
I think probably two quarters, a good six months of understanding really what the business is, what the business needed and where we needed to take things. I think, you know, in the beginning, like you said, when we were kind of in the inquiry to MQL stage, we were having costly telemarketing costs to get things from MQL to sales accepted and sales qualified. Definitely, our cost of sale was almost one and a half times what it is today. Like I had mentioned there was a lack of marketing and sales alignments and then overall lack of follow up and accountability. You know, sales just wasn't believing in what marketing was doing and therefore the follow up and the accountability was just not there as it needed to be.
Okay. So let's go into the MQL. So, okay. So, I got the inquiry, took about two quarters to kind of realize it's really more about the output of the campaign. And I think that's a common thing and the thing that I always like to tell people who are on this journey from traditional marketing to revenue marketing -- however, wherever they are on that path is, it takes about two quarters just to watch things, right? Now, companies don't like to hear that, but to really get a handle on what you are doing and so that you can't get quick wins, you can get very quick wins but to really understand what's going on and how the digital conversion are starting and how you're base as responding to this type of communications, I think watching it for two quarters, I think that's probably about a best practice. And then once you guys began to move into the -- okay, MQL to sales and -- so how did you -- what did you do once you began -- how long did it take you to move from kind f like that MQL to best practices and give us some more to think of -- tactics that you guys use to kind of get sales on board and to get this joint accountability for revenue?
Sure. No problem. So you know it took us maybe another -- once we had that kind of the engine driving, it took us maybe another four to six weeks to get everything jelling as far as going from MQL to sales accepted and kind of really tightening the sales and marketing alignment and some of the things we did specifically was -- actually built, nothing fancy, actually nothing in Salesforce even, it was just some Salesforce reporting, but I built an Excel dashboard that really showed tactic by tactic where we were as far as inquiries to MQLs to sales accepted leads to closed ones so that we could really get a micro focus based upon kind of our segmentation of what we were doing as versus driving net new business and current customer business or rustle up sale. So really from that we were able to really tighten our outgoing campaigns to methods of what we were trying to accomplish and also track the effectiveness of those campaigns in real-time. And also, we were able, from that dashboard, to really develop SLAs between the marketing and the sales department, So, you know, it is not just SOAs on the sales team, it is SLAs on the marketing team. So when we come back from a lead show, we have got a SLA on us to actually get the data back from the show and get it through our data cleanse kind of standardization process where we have all of our fields neat and appended and all the data is pretty and standardized to our format, so we've actually got a SOA there and then we've got to get the data in-house, get marketing to it and get the lead scoring and lead nurturing going before we can even flip it over to sales. So we've got our SOA's there and then once, you know, we're pushing things further down the funnel but they need to qualify our lead score basis before handing them over to the sales department and in order to do that when we actually do flip them over, we've got SOA's in place that say, "Okay. Once you get a lead or you've got a web-bound, in-bound lead, you've got 24 hours to follow up with this before we start having some tracking emails go out that say some of these leads are starting to become stale.
So is this SOA a physical document?
It is actually not a physical document. It probably needs to be, but what it arose out of is just, you know, my VP of sales and myself just sitting down one afternoon and saying, okay, here's the -- and this is also another thing I guess that came out of it is for us to get tighter integration, the two of us just really needed to sit down and define from sales and marketing what a lead is. So it started with the basic premise of, "Here's what we define lead. Here's what we define our lead scoring to be." And it wasn't just marketing doing this. I had to get buy-ins from senior sales as well, of what a lead is? What lead scoring is? What our lead score threshold should be before I hand it over to sales? And it's something that we actually meet on a monthly basis to define and redefine and kind of tweak that number to see how we are doing as far as handing things over to sales, where the quality is. So it wasn't a physical document, like I said it probably needs to be, but it's something that we are small enough organization that we take the time to really examine this and keep an eye on it.
So let me ask you this, when you were in that inquiry stage, those first two quarters, did you think you needed to have that kind of conversation and you were just delaying it or was it -- did it kind of come as a surprise?
You know, I think it goes back to one of the slides that you showed in one of the events with the head in the sand. I think that's really what it was. It was just, you know, our heads were in the sand, we were kind of full board, trying to get marketing automation up and running, trying to get everything going, trying to help really drive revenue for the organization and for us it was -- we were thinking, "Man, we are marketing. This is what we can do. So let's stick our heads in the sand, we'll just do what we are going to do in our own isolated little world and hopefully the organization as a whole will benefit from us doing one piece of what the business needs." Now what we've seen and what I've learned...
Evan, I love...Evan, I love your honesty, because that's the exact reason I used that graphic and it's the exact reason why I often challenge marketers, "You need to get your head out of the sand. This stuff is not going away and it's not exactly what you think it is."
Exactly. And I couldn't agree with you more, you know, and you do have to kind of do a gut check at some point in time and say, "Okay. Am I doing just what I need to do in order to keep marketing going and doing that from a basis or...?" You know, take a step back and really look at what is the end goal of marketing? The end goal of marketing is to drive inquiry and to drive, I guess, passion and understanding of your business all the way through to the sales funnel. So it's not just getting somebody on the hook and then letting it sit there and letting the sales people reel them in, it's really fishing all the way through the life cycle, really nurturing a lead from A to Z all the way through.
So let me ask you this, was there a tipping point not so much -- well, I want to say out, was there a tipping point, was it when you said to the VP of sales, "Come here and sit down talk about this." Was that a real tipping point in the relationship?
You know, I think so. And the good thing is that he and I have worked together in previous organizations so we started off with a close relationship and could talk to each other which I think is a great thing. You know, there are days when we butt heads and when we don't agree, and he needs things at an unrealistic time frame and so we do have our odds and ends there. But I think, you know, we both kind of sat down and talked to each other and said, "Okay, this thing is working, but it could be working a lot better. We could have a lot more efficiencies out of this and let's see what we could try for the organization if we really put our heads together and really took a look at all the key metrics as far as leads coming through the pipeline, cost of sale, all the key metrics that impact what we do from marketing and sales organization all the way through to revenue recognitions for the organization.
So that was a key tipping point with the VP of sales and clearly having that alignment between marketing and sales, is that really critical or very few things will actually get done? Was there a tipping point with the sales organizations when they finally realized the value that marketing could be contributing to revenue?
Yeah I think so. You know, we started really focusing not too much on MQLs and really driving sales accepted leads and helping them to set meetings and get people on the phone rather than flipping leads to them and having them do sort of some telemarketing and some warming of the leads and trying to reach out to these people multiple times in order to get a meeting. They started to see the real benefit of what we could deliver and what could drive. And you know, what we have been able to do is remove a role, reduce our cost of sale, so therefore there is less telemarketing. What we are doing as a marketing organization is actually pushing the leads further down the funnel via lead scoring and lead nurturing and then popping them out further nurtured and further engaged and more ready for the sales team to engage. Where our sales team picks up the phone and the conversion of them actually getting them on the phone and getting a meeting set is a very high. And then going from sales accepted to sales qualified, we're tracking it like 75% to 80% right now as far as setting a meeting to getting real dollars in the pipeline from those meetings.
So let's go back and define a few things within the framework that you've just described to us and you're right. In my experience, nothing gets the attention of the sales person quirkel than saying "How can I help you to meet quota?" and then providing high quality appointments and leads to them. So one of the things that you did was of course with lead nurturing and lead scoring, you really were getting people -- or finding people -- deeper into their buying process almost ready to engage with someone. And at that point, did that lead then go to a tele-qualifier or did it go straight over to sales?
Actually it went straight over to sales. So we found that we could remove the tele-qualification point for us because it felt like to us --first of all, it was bumping up our cost of sale and secondly, it was feeling that we were having two customer phone call engagements when we can actually really just have one. So that was able to help us -- it just helped us create a greater velocity through the pipeline. Most of the time when -- especially, as you may know, Debbie -- selling the marketers, it's not the easy thing in the world, they're extremely busy and I think sometimes a lot of them, and I can say this myself, too -- my __26:26__ management isn't what it needs to be so as far as getting someone on the phone and talking to them and actually having a meaningful conversation the first time out was something that really help us in our specific business case.
So I really like this model and again, everyone does it differently but if you can take lead nurturing and lead scoring, and really do that in a rigorous process, track and watch that lead until they really are ready for a phone call then I think that is significant. But I want to talk about the definitions that you used from serious decisions because using terms MQL, SAL, SQL, so can you kind of define for us what those mean at ReachForce?
Sure, definitely. So an MQL for us is a lead that's come in, so an inquiry, someone had an inquiry into our business or we had a discussion with them or we ran across them in a trade show, and then what we do to make it an MQL here is we actually run through our data cleanse and data quality process or engine, and what that does is that it allows us to append all the information that we need to have that be a full marketing qualified lead. So we have everything from email address, correct title, correct phone number, a lot of times direct dial phone numbers, all the way through to company information like company size, number of employees, what industries they are in based upon zip code and an xcode so that we can actually use that to do some of our lead scoring. So we want to make sure all these people are in our wheelhouse before we even start putting them through the sales cycle. So we're looking at how large of an organization it is? What's their revenue range? Does it fit within our kind of sweet spot or market segmentation? Are they in the right industry? All these things are plus scores in our lead scoring campaigns and help to promote the lead further along and if they're not the right thing, we actually use a negative lead scoring campaign to demote them so that they're not being artificially presented to sales when they shouldn't be. So it's all about helping sales at our organization, narrow in on who they need to be talking to and what's the best focus for them?
So an MQL, how do you go from MQL to SAL? And that's a sales accepted lead.
Yes, exactly. So from MQL to SAL we've got a lot of lead nurture campaigns going on in the background and you know, the other thing I spoke to and I think you spoken to this a million times to is, "Content is king." So for us, we're constantly, constantly writing content. It's myself and two other team members. So between that, I'll talk a little bit about our role so I'm kind of the overall watcher and kind of creator of the campaign. So I also definitely can get my hands dirty and get into Marketo and Salesforce, and get all that stuff going but then I've got kind of a marketing programs manager or really kind of the marketing technologist -- as I like to call in -- it's somebody who lives and breathes in Marketo and really understand that and he is also someone who can live and breathe in data quality and data cleanliness, and is also a Salesforce admin. So he's kind of a technologist who really understands everything at a very micro level and can get in there. And then we've got another person who is very good at copywriting and has more of a journalistic understanding of the B2B space and can really do a lot of writing for us from content creation of our e-books to our blogs, to __29:43__, to everything else that we do. So we kind of round-robin ourselves in areas of expertise so that we can create these campaigns and really nurture the leads through the lifecycle and really take a look at each stage that they are in. So we have different campaigns that touch someone from the very beginning to until, it's just really going from MQL to SAL. So we start off our lead scoring as 0, our actual threshold is at 400, we go by 25-point increments just so they're picking up a chunk. The reason I like to use bigger numbers rather than plus 1s or plus 2s because when sales gets the lead it's looks like 400? It looks a whole lot more impressive than a lead that __30:20__.
(Laughs) I've got to tell you, that would be a fabulous idea. I never thought about that but you're absolutely right.
Yeah, it's just allows us more functionality in our lead scoring to do negative scoring as well. So instead of doing negative 1 or negative 2, if someone really comes and they go to my career's page, I automatically hit them with a negative 100 so it's a big kind of bull's eye for sales to say "Oh, I'm looking in my Marketo Sales Insight dashboard, I don't want to touch these guys, they're actually looking into us for career, they're not interested in buying anything from me."
I love that. So you do a number of things to get it from MQL to SAL, right? But I'm assuming that MQL has to have some kind of score which is 400?
Yeah, that's correct. Yup.
Okay. So if the MQL, if it hits 400 it becomes -- are you doing all these things and it's called an MQL or does it become a MQL at 400?
No. It becomes an MQL when we get it fully appended and ready to go into lead nurture system. It becomes an SAL...
...when it becomes 400, where it reaches our lead score threshold.
Got it, got it.
And then once it reaches our lead score threshold, that's when the sales people first pick up the phone and try to engage with these folks. And normally more often than not, they can get them on a first or second call with them being ready to actually have a discussion with us. So it has cut down our number of call attempts to these folks. And with it going through our MQL process with the data cleanliness and quality campaign, most of the time they have direct dials so they have the correct phone number to reach out to these folks. So it's really helped us cut down on call cycles.
Okay, and as everyone knows ReachForce is an organization that does beautiful data hygiene, data append work. And so clearly, in this case, they are drinking their own champagne or eating their own dog food, whichever it is, and as a result -- one of the things that I do want when I talk, and Evan and I are going to talk about -- is the impact that data quality has on the effectiveness of being a revenue marketer and we'll talk about that in a minute -- but as an MQL and then you got it data appended so it's complete, at 400 it becomes an SAL. And I'm assuming that once it reaches 400, there's a real-time notification that is sent to the sales owner, correct?
That is correct. We've got an alert system in Marketo that automatically sends out an alert saying that your lead has now met a threshold score of a sales accepted lead and then we also, that's just one thing we do, then it also gets bubbled up to the Sales Insight Marketo integration into Salesforce so they can see it in their lead views and they can sort by last interesting moment as well. So Marketo tracks last interesting moments. So they can see -- did they fill out a form? Did they visit a certain pages that put them over the limit? Did they respond to one of our nurture campaigns that gives them all those insights before they pick up the telephone? And they can actually really see in the marketing automation in the Marketo platform, what marketing is done in a real-time basis, and what all the collateral looks like in its true form rather than speaking anecdotally to what marketing in doing, sales can now speak as an expert and really understands what the prospect has seen through the cycle rather than speaking, like I said, anecdotally to it.
And haven't you found, Evan, through this process -- and this is an endlessly fascinating observation to me in that when you start watching that online behavior and understanding it both from a marketing and also from a sales perspective? That's one of those tipping points that really aligns sales and marketing because sales is now seeing this online behavior means something and that there is a tipping point and there is the right time to call someone based on what you have observed on their online behavior.
That's correct. I think you're very astute in that comment and the fact that if you call someone to early, sometimes it can, I think in my opinion, scare off a prospect. You come on too hot and heavy. It's kind of like a first date. People don't want to call you back sort of thing. So it's all about timing and engaging with the folks and so we also -- not only do we do lead nurturing but we also have a heavy large social media presence that we do as well as far as Twitter, our blog which is the B2B lead blog, and we're also out on Facebook. So we're constantly hitting the social media channels as people are doing more peer-to-peer research, I believe. Before looking to do or interact with a vendor, they're looking to turn to their peers and communities to try to understand what it is they're looking for and what it is the recommended solution at the time is. So we're trying to hit them early stage, we're trying to hit them middle stage, and we're trying to hit them late stage.
So I want to come back to the social but I want to go back to -- so what you do is you go inquiry to MQL, becomes an MQL when the data is fully appended, you nurture that, watch the online activity, they hit a score of 400, it becomes a SAL, which stands for sales accepted lead. You get a real-time alert over to the sales organization. It also shows up in their Sales Insight and also probably populates in salesforce.com. They pick up the phone and make a phone call and if there are next steps, then at that point become an SQL?
That's correct. So if their next step...
...and they determine to be __35:30__ so they're looking for budget, authority, need and timing, they're marketing all those in Salesforce. So in each of our stages in Salesforce for an opportunity, we've got different stages in Salesforce and then we've also got custom fields within the opportunity object in Salesforce, so for each stage we've got a different kind of dropdown section, if you will, in Salesforce.
Any section has a bunch of questions with check marks then our reps actually have to check to make sure that those things have been talked about and are there before they can advance into the next stage.
So that really goes into...
Okay, perfect. So is SQL the same thing as opportunity? No is SQL the same as...okay, perfect. Okay.
Yeah, that's when it becomes an opportunity.
Okay, perfect. Alright, let's talk about social and then I want to spend some time talking about data as well because I don't know what it is. I tell you, this year seems to be the year of data. It's almost as if marketers are waking up and understanding the cost of that data as too high a cost to pay. But let's talk about of how you guys use social as part of your revenue marketing practice?
Sure. So a lot of our socials, as I said, is to really drive the early stage buyer. So the first initial kind of interaction we're going to have with the customer may not be a known interaction. We may not know who these folks are but we're trying to get the word out there and kind of the understanding and like you said, really drive. I think a market segment that is on -- it's really emerging. Data quality, data cleanliness, making sure you have the accurate and targeted lead data that you need to fuel your marketing automation platform. It's really an emerging space that marketers are starting to pay attention to. For us, it's a critical part of our business to get out there in the social media atmosphere and make sure that we're really a thought leader. Because most of days we've found prospects -- when they come to our website they're downloading our whitepapers, they've already evaluated vendors. They're just doing their final checks and gathering what they need to do to take a short list to management. Really, they're doing a lot of their research peer-to-peer and also in the social media space looking at Twitter, Twitter feedback, Twitter comments, blogs and our blog is full of great, great information for folks and it's not sales at all. It's 100% focused at trying to help a marketer understand what it is that the marketing space is moving to and how to best position themselves and kind of educate themselves to get there. So we're constantly doing top tips. We've got a great series on the blog -- the sales and marketing tips -- and I think we're up to like number 325. So we've got constant tips and tricks and different things that are out there that we're constantly seeing from other spaces that we try to aggregate and make it an easy place for someone to come in and get an education.
So is social for you guys mostly around getting the word out, understanding and providing thought leadership -- is there any direct revenue or any direct demand generation that you do as part of your social programs?
Yeah, we sure do. So we're constantly doing Twitter updates as far as everything we're doing from a lead nurture campaign to driving people to webinars, driving people to new content that we created. I think the blog is one of our top referring sites to our website as far as driving people in. I think it's the top referral to our website to people to fill out contact-us forms as far as ready to buy? So it's something that really helps get the word out, get the education out, and keep people kind of in the conversation with us and then when they're ready to buy they turn to us because of that kind of thought leadership position but it is a key role, albeit an early role in our lead generation process.
And who writes your blog, Evan?
I actually write some of the blogs but then most of the blogs are actually ghost written by members of my team. So we always take round-robins and we try to load up as many as we can because like every other marketer we're busy and so get out. So for us we put a bunch of them up there in WordPress and whatever the theme of the week happens to be is what we're kind of publishing through WordPress. So we try to stay ahead of the game there so that we have content there that we can always push out and then we can kind of do what we need to do on a daily fire drill basis around here and kind of put out those fires so I don't have to worry about getting all those loaded up everyday. We kind of sit down sometimes on a Friday and say, "Okay, next week let's hit this topic, let's everybody take two or three post." We try to stay between four or five posts a week, almost one everyday just to kind of keep that drum beat be going.
Now, is that a four to five posts a day in your blog -- I mean a week on your blog?
Yeah, that's correct. So we're try to do about four or five posts a week on a blog. We try to do at least for the ReachForce, Twitter handle and all the rest of our handles that we have here in the organization we try to do anywhere from 20 to 30 Tweets a day depending on who is Tweeting and what we're doing. So we're constantly trying to stay out there and keep in front of things and we Tweet and really look at who some of the influencers are in our area and how we can get in front of those people and kind of get them to help, kind of spread the word of mouth about our organization and what we're doing.
And I think this is a great advice on social. Social is really hot this year as everyone knows and I think this is just some great practical advice -- you sit down on Friday, you take a look at what do we need to Tweet about next week, what do we need to blog about next week? And you just kind of wrap it in and just kind of roll it out. To me, it's a similar a piece of feedback or a piece of sharing from Rachel Spasser last week from Ariba where she was talking about pretty much the same thing. So I think this is awesome and also the fact that for a lot of companies your blog can or should be the top referral to your website. So people will go to a blog because it comes up in search before it goes on to someone's website. It's just a gentler, softer touch that people seem to find more value in. One of the question about the blogs, do you ever have clients also blog or is it just internally?
No. We do have just bloggers quite a bit. So we have others who comes just blog for us. We also have some third parties of the years to come and blog for us sometimes. So, we do invite all people to come to us and talk to us about guest blogging. It's something that we open up there. Our blogging has been around for quite a while. We got a great leadership and a great subscriber base so, it's something that's out there on Google and we get a lot of traction actually.
Okay. Excellent. Again this great practical advice for the marketers who are looking for help to incorporate social and also why social is so important to incorporate. We have about 15 minutes left and one of the things I definitely wanted to talk about is first of all, I had to remind myself several times during the interview that I was talking to marketing, not the sales and I just find that quite delightful. To begin, I think this is a whole market of a revenue marketer. If you're in the stage where you are producing sustainable, predictable, and repeatable revenue, you sound like Evan Whitenight. So, I love listening to you talking and I also love your energy, but the other areas that I do want spend a few minutes on was let's talk about data and again there is a number of things that when a marketer begins to use marketing automation and they kind of go through that transition from early demand generation to late stage revenue marketing and I think kind of the way you guys went to the phases. Unfortunately, pretty typical for people, but I do want to talk about the role of data and one of the things that we are hearing a lot about is the cost of dirty data. So you got these campaigns, you're reaching out, and touching. So, can you tell me more about how data is the fuel for a good marketing automation program?
Yeah. Sure, I'll start by saying sharing some great stats that I've seen just from the nature of the business and really taking a look at what I've been doing but I've seen some stats that show up to 70% of __43:28__ implementation failed due to dirty data up to 50% of marketing automation, implementation stutter or successful as they need to be due to dirty data and the lack of __43:43__ with the data. Serious decisions again have a great white paper on the cost of bad data on demand creation. They have a great hard known numbers that actually show markers with a high-data quality practice. Actually, it can recognize 70% higher revenue recognition just on data practices alone.
Wow! Let me tell you something. If anybody is not paying attention to those numbers then they need to be out of marketing. Those are stunning numbers so they can get these kinds of metrics from serious decisions. What about the metric of 50% stutter or less than successful because of the bad data, is that of metric concerns decision or would that one from somebody else?
One of my believers from sales and marketing institute. I'll have to hunt down the other one.
I've got some slides that I've done some presentations and I can definitely send them over to you sharing the blogs with your readership.
That would be great. I'd like to get that. Okay.
Yeah but then like you said for us, all of our metrics really depends on data being clean. So, without the data being clean and accurate and complete and standardized, there is just no way we can execute the level of marketing campaign in the segments as marketing campaign that we do. So, you know, it goes from A to Z, and I guess I will start with Z as far as marketing data because it's kind of a strange place to start but it's also for me kind of the most logical place to start. You would want to take a look at closed-won lost analysis and really understand from your business before you engage in anything else, where you're winning and where you're losing, and you need to know these things of where your sweet spots are and where you're kind of wasting effort or running into something that does not fit for your organization. I truly believe, the only way you can really do that as if you have accurate clean data. So, that you can really look at from the endpoint of what you have won and what you have lost based on what industry they're in, what size of the organization they're in, via employees, via revenue since reported. See, you can really start and put together and paint a picture of who you're mostly likely and potential customer can be. So, that you're knocking down, kind of low hanging fruit rather than really trying to spend cycles and really extending your sales cycle and your revenue cycle. So, with that information being said then we use that information to kind of really lay it as a map going forward in the beginning of the marketing process. So, we take all of our data running through our standardization and cleanse process, make sure it's fully appended and then we can chop it up and like I've said use that data for the scoring campaigns. Use that data for segmented list as far as smart list and Marketo. We can really go in from a brand new level and really harbor this up, and another thing that we do is kind of cool with our kind of technology that, again, like being our old dog food, we can go in and run algorithms against with our engine, run algorithm against title in our database and then we can chap people up based upon their functional role or area.
So, if they're in marketing, if they're in sales finance and then we can also chop them up as far as what they're kind of organizational hierarchy is. Are they kind of a __46:57__? Are they middle management or are they part of the staff in the organization? And the it allows us to really customize our messages based on a matrix that we can lay out of kind of our sweet spots, and make sure that all our messages are very micro-targeted to the those specific individuals so we can help drive or open and click your rates.
I think that makes so much sense. So, I just want to kind of go back through some of the key elements that you described here, for those folks that are listening. So, first of all the metrics around the cause of dirty data. It's stunning. It's just absolutely stunning. And so a great place to start is not with A but with Z, and take a look at your clothes, one clothes lost analysis, to see what is really the best fit for the organization? These are from our demographic or our firmographic data and once you figured that out then whole your data cleansing machine and data pending machine, which leads right into the lead scoring is really around that best fit. That's not addressing their propensity to buy, but just are already the sweet spot kind of company for us to work for. And then what you got that in place and this gives you the ability to do much, much better segmentation and of the things that I heard recently, we're doing this tour with Marketo, it's called the Marketo Revenue Rockstar Road Show, and what is all about is help the marketers to get to revenue and Jim Lenskold, was one of the speakers on the tour, he wrote a book called "Marketing ROI" and when he takes to look at, basically a low-hanging fruit, he says your ability to segment is the great first thing that you can do to increase our ROI; just that one thing alone. But again, you can't segment if you haven't back this thing all the way back up to good data. So, I think that's a really, really good map. What you have to clean data. What other kind of big impact does that make in your demand generation practice, Evan?
I mean, for us it really increases a multitude to different things. So with clean data, we are starting with clean data. It allows us to segment like we talked about. It allows us to accurately leave score like we talk about. It also increases our email sender score. This is an update to hiccup that a lot of people see and really run into. I think when the first transition over the marketing automation platform is there used to buying low-cost, low-quality data through a multitude of different vendors and then they run after their marketing automation systems and they're unsuccessful because their bounce rates are high. It affects their email sender score. They then get notifications from their marketing automation or their email, kind of last tools that, "Hey, where are you getting these lists from?" They're triggering spam all over the place. Your sender scores are very low. It also affects your reputation. You know, if you are sending email out that's falling in depth years or going into kind of spam honeypots or not the right information that you need to be or at the right prospect that you should be sending to. It really effects your organization's reputation on your ability to segment and also get the bore out, market that kind of that first line of the company anyway. It's always that first handshake or extension and you always got to try to put your best foot forward. From their, you know, dirty data really just flows down the pipeline and really much stuff up and it can really impact, not only your marketing activities and trying to program through there, but it really also increases your cost of sale because as I've said before, if you could able to lead over it, it doesn't have the correct phone numbers and the sale person have to research that. It's just more and more time that you __50:34__ organization which are high paid resources are having to do in order to make that qualification.
I could not agree more. I mean, I just think all those things are just absolutely positively true and again what I find so fast about this year, whether we're talking about social or whether we are talking about data or whether we are talking about sales and marketing alignment. What I'm saying is that marketing as building real practices, like it's not just like just something else that they do additionally everything else but there's just consorted effort and there is this consorted practice, and that is specific to revenue marketing. So, let me ask you the big pay of question. Brand new to marketing automations, marketers looking at this, what are the top three things that you would share with them? What's your lesson plan what is you're top three pieces of advice, Evan?
Yeah. I actually take a lot of these calls as these reserve references for a lot of this different orientation. Number one and the biggest, start small. Don't try to boil the ocean in the beginning. Everything can seem very overwhelming in the beginning, especially everything I talk about from moving things to find all the serious decisions terminologies, the social medias stuff that you need to do, all the content that needs to be written. It can become overwhelming and kind of you can get the analysis paralysis mode where you get this great platform with marketing automation. It could really help you drive your business and become more focused on revenue but I've seen more often than not where a lot of people just got paralyzed and it turns into a
six-month implementation and I'm sure Debbie Austin were focused where you guys get called to help resolve this issue.
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
Yeah. Because, it's kicking off one campaign and really showing right off the gate, I'm just going to focus on just creating one small simple campaign that I can get some good revenues and good metrics that I can share with the rest of the executive team and really show the benefits of the purchase that I just made and really get kind of that gold start star next your name. People decide, well I've got put everything in their before I can even do one thing. So, that would be my number one tip and kind of what a bridge starts small, really get some small successes under your belt and everything else will kind of snowball and mushroom from there. I think kind of the next tip that I could give somebody is marketing, these days is not a 9 to 5 job. It annoys my wife sometimes but I live, eat, and breathe some stuff. So, any time in the middle of the night or on the weekend that I'm doing work this or that, the other, and it's something that goes beyond the 9 to 5. I think if you're going to have a two-passion for it, that you are understanding and really rapid going out. Now, that's being said. I'm not advocating, you know, a workaholic lifestyle. I'm just saying it's something that you really have to believe it and be passionate about and really want to take the initiative on. I think that really will help with understanding and get it going. And then, lastly it's really, the next tip is get that sales buying. If you can get sales buying, then you can get that sales and marketing alignment from the Gecko and really define everything and sit down, involve them in everything. Marketing shouldn't just be by self behind closed door, involving in everything. Help plan and sales kick off. Put together -- I mean, right now, we are writing the agenda for our __54:01__ sales kick off. I haven't even talked to my VP of sales about it because we are going to sit down and put together agenda for having them off sit down and talk to him about it get it buying but I'm trying to take off things of his place that we could help do and drive to the organization and really help him focus on end of quarter revenue and help us get them off to a quick start for here too.
I think there's a three great lessons learned. Start small, deal with small successes, remember it's not 9 to 5, having believe in passion. This is what you need to be doing as a marketer is important and number three, getting sales buying. Well, Evan you have been phenomenal. It's always such a pleasure. I learned so much, every time I listen to you speak. So, thank you so much for being on the show today.
Well, thanks for having me Debbie. I really appreciate the opportunity and I think it's a great venue to kind of get the word outside of other marketers and help educate them.
Absolutely! I hope everyone listens next week as we will be featuring James McGill of Quantapoint. It's going to be a really interesting session because James has some really interest things. He's going to talk about how to leverage micro-sites to improve demands generation results. I hope everyone has a great week and please continue that journey to revenue marketing. See you guys later. Bye-bye.
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