danielrodriguez

Inbound Marketing Strategy: How Seismic Software is Using Content to Land Enterprise Clients

daniel-rodriguez-interview

Daniel Rodriguez is the V.P. of Marketing at a venture backed software company called Seismic Software. His primary responsibility is generating leads for the sales team.

In this interview, Daniel is going to share the details of how his team has achieved significant success in attracting enterprise level clients (worth about $100K/year) using a combination of both inbound and outbound marketing. We dive into Seismic’s:

  • Inbound marketing strategy
  • How they define their buyer personas
  • How they use LinkedIn to develop their buyer personas
  • Some of the big challenges they encountered early on
  • How much they spend each year on inbound marketing
  • How they create and promote their content
  • How they use LinkedIn groups
  • Some of the assets in the top and middle of their funnel
  • Inbound marketing timeframes – what is a realistic expectation for how long it will take to achieve meaningful results?
  • The outbound marketing process run by their BDR’s
  • How they find email addresses and what they say in the emails they send

This interview is full of demand generation content you are going to love!

Listen now and you’ll hear Daniel and I talk about:

  • (01:00)  Introductions
  • (05:15)  Why inbound marketing?
  • (06:40)  What type of customer are you trying to attract?
  • (08:30)  How does your inbound & outbound overlap?
  • (12:25)  How did you get started with inbound marketing?
  • (14:29)  Describe the process you used to create your buyer personas
  • (17:11)  Did you do interviews to help develop the personas?
  • (19:35)  What was one of the biggest challenges you faced early on?
  • (22:20)  How much are you spending on inbound marketing per year?
  • (24:10)  How do you promote your content?
  • (29:50)  How many LinkedIn groups are you in?
  • (32:50)  Tell me about some of the Assets you have in your funnel
  • (39:30)  Tell me how long it took to publish your first blog posts
  • (41:50)  Tell me about your outbound team
  • (49:50)  Tell me about the tools you are using to capture & import contact info
  • (56:20)  What are some of the really creative things your reps do?
  • (57:50)  What kinds of quota do your BDR’S have?
  • (58:50)  How are you building your dashboards?

Resources Mentioned

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

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Transcript

Trent:
Hey there bright idea hunters welcome back to episode number 175 of the Bright Ideas podcast. I am your host Trent Dyrsmid and this is the podcast where we help marketers to discover ways to use digital marketing and marketing automation to dramatically increase the growth of their business.

And boy oh boy do we have a good show for you today. The way that I make good on this is I bring on an expert guest in each and every episode to share with you both the results that they’ve achieved and the strategies and tactics that they used to get those results and in this episode I am very excited to announce that my guest is a fellow by the name of Daniel Rodriguez who is the vice president of marketing at a venture backed software company that I met while I was at Dreamforce.

Their company is called Seismic Software and you can check them out at Seismic.com on the web and in this show Daniel is going to share with you and with me the details – and as you know as I always do I ask lots of questions to get all the nitty-gritty details on how they are achieving significant success in attracting enterprise level clients – each client is worth about $150,000 grand a year to them and the companies that they are targeting have typically about a thousand employees.

And they are doing this using a combination of inbound marketing and outbound marketing which we will just role up under one umbrella called demand generation and in this episode for example we are going to talk about the strategy that they used and how they defined their buyer personas. And there was some things in this episode that I’ve never talked about; in particular how they use LinkedIn to help them to develop those buyer personas so you’ll definitely wanting to be listening closely for that.

Then we are going to talk about some of the big challenges that they had early on, how much they are spending per year on inbound marketing, how they are creating the content, what types of content they are creating, how they are promoting the content, how specifically they are using LinkedIn groups. We are going to talk in detail about some of the assets that are in the top and the middle of their funnel and we are also going to talk about time frames.

Because if you are listening to this and your thinking about starting inbound marketing for your company it is very important that you have a realistic expectation of how long it is going to take you to achieve meaningful results.
Once we concluded our talk on inbound marketing then I shifted gears and in part two of this interview we talked more about the outbound marketing process that is run by their BDRs; their business development reps.

I asked how they’re building lists, how Hubspot and Salesforce play a role in that, a couple of different tools to help them find email addresses, which is obviously critical to your outbound marketing success. What the cadence of their contact looks like, how they are doing the contact, the mix of email and phone and what types of things they are saying in those emails.

There was a really good idea that he gave me which we are going to talk about, about the 46 minute mark of this particular interview. So I absolutely promise you you are going to love it. There is so much good stuff in this just make sure that you have pen and paper in hand and if you are driving in your car there will be a full transcript available and everything and I will give that in the shownotes at the very end of the episode you’ll get a link that you can go to.

So with that said, one very quick announcement, if demand generation is something that you think that you need help with that is what our agency Groove Digital Marketing is designed precisely to do. So feel free to check us out on the web at GrooveDigitalMarketing.com.

So with my little commercial out of the way please join me in welcoming Daniel to the show.

Hey Daniel, welcome to the show.

Daniel:
Thanks Trent.

Trent:
Pleasure to have you here, so we are going to talk about the story of how you are using – successfully using I might add, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing the interview – inbound marketing for your company but before we get into all of those details of results and tactics and actions and all kind of that good stuff, my audience probably doesn’t yet know who you are, so let’s start there. Who are you and what do you do?

Daniel:
Yeah, I am the VP of marketing at a software company called Seismic. I am primarily responsible for generating leads for our sales team.

Trent:
Alright, so you guys are venture backed software as a service business, correct?

Daniel:
We are.

Trent:
So you have very ambitious growth goals as driven by your board and your investors?

Daniel:
We do, I think we had those probably before we had a venture backed piece but we now have the resources to step on the gas pretty hard so we do have ambitious growth goals and we have kept growing pretty rapidly the last couple of years.

Trent:
Alright, so let’s start here. What turned you on to thinking that inbound marketing would be a vehicle that would work for you?

Daniel:
I graduated from MIT Sloan last year so have been at Seismic for little over a year and a half. I came into the education of marketing while I was in business school and it was fully informed by the whole inbound marketing approach. Hubspot came out of Sloan and the co-founders of Hubspot, Brain Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, they and other folks at Hubspot come back to Sloan on a regular basis and speak with students.

Brian actually teaches part of a marketing class at Sloan and so I became educated about the marketing space in a way so completely natural, that inbound marketing was of course obviously the way that you’re supposed to do marketing in this kind of newer world. In a world where we have Google search and we have ways that people can actually find you organically.

So it felt like this was just the way that things were supposed to be. I didn’t catch it through a major transition in a way that I was thinking.

Trent:
Okay and the type of customer that you guys are trying to attract to your company, roughly what do they look like?

Daniel:
We’ve hoped to take the large businesses, B2B companies mostly that tend to have large sales teams. So if you’re a large company, have over a thousand people in your company you probably could use our software. We sell to the marketing team and sales leadership, those tend to be two sides of a similar coin that have the common problem of wanting to get the right sales material into the sales people’s hands.

So there is not just one person that’s involved in making that happen.

Trent:
Okay and those customers are worth roughly what per year to you guys?

Daniel:
Our customers are very valuable to us. So our customers are worth probably about $100,000 a year to us.

Trent:
Okay, so this is very much an enterprise sale and you are using inbound marketing as the primary method to make that happen?

Daniel:
Yeah, we have two main thrusts of generating leads. We do have an inside sales team that are responsible for cold outbound outreach. And then we have our inbound marketing and those are contributing about half and half right now to the business and that is the goal going forward as we continue to scale; as we continue to have half the business coming from the marketing *inaudible*.

Trent:
And do you find that the content that you are producing for the inbound is actually helping the reps at all, the business development reps with their outbound efforts or are they completely disconnected from one another?

Daniel:
No there is overlap. We have inside sales reps that say, “I now have an active conversation picked up with somebody – somebody says ‘can you please send me something?'”Sometimes that is a case study example, sometimes that is a video asset that we have and so we offer that up through our own software obviously because we do drink the Kool-Aid. We have that sales material right there at our sales rep’s finger tips.

They can send that off and see how it interacts; see if the prospect opened up that marketing collateral and when they opened it, how much time they spent on it. And I can see that as well too which is pretty beneficial. So I do know that, even though we are a relatively small company, that we are doing that piece of what a lot of people call sales enablement; getting marketing behind the sales process.

So it is not just top of funnel but I think of the content marketing effort as a predominately top end and mid funnel activity. It is less a day a sales support aspect that we are running right now.

Trent:
Interesting that you say that, I don’t completely agree and I’m wondering if whether you have thought of this or tried this. So when we are down near the very bottom of the funnel and having those one on one conversations there is a lot of the questions that we get asked over and over again. Like the prospect thinking, “Well maybe I’ll just do it all internal versus hiring an agency. Maybe I’ll use a freelancer” or “How am I going to pick an agency?”

There is a lot of things that get asked over and over again so we actually have content that we have created so that we can send it to them because sometimes – maybe you’re in second place on a deal – maybe they are not giving you all the love on the phone that you might want to have. So you can send them an article which can be very persuasive instead of your rep having to be on the phone to be very persuasive. For us that has actually worked quite well. Have you not created that kind of content?

Daniel:
We do have that kind of content. It tends to live in a different place though so that type of material is – I think of that as the sales support material – when I think of content marketing I am thinking of materials that are actually bringing in new leads to the business. But we do have material that once sales is actively engaged in the process and they say, “Can you send me something?”

We also see prospects who are actively engaged in that process then coming back and downloading some of the more mid funnel pieces of collateral that we have. We can then tell that that prospect is getting more serious and is really warming up because we know that they are starting to engage with the content on that side. Hubspot intelligence tool plugs into Salesforce – those are the two tools that we use for that process and so reps can then easily see right there within Salesforce how they are interacting with content as well as material on our website.

Trent:
Yeah I actually just started using Salesforce myself two days ago and connected Hubspot and Salesforce yesterday and the integration is very easy to do and pretty slick.

Daniel:
Yeah it fits very nice. It doesn’t require much training because if Hubspot houses the plugin it is just right there. It fits within the opportunity record.

Trent:
Absolutely, so let’s kind of back up a bit Daniel. Let’s go to the start, how did you get started with inbound marketing. Did you just start writing blog posts like crazy, did you just start doing webinars and ebooks, or did you focus on strategy to begin with. What did it look like?

Daniel:
That is a good question, when I came in the first thing was try and figure out who we were trying to get the attention of. Because you have the right pieces that are going to be based on who you are going after and what they care about. So that was the first thrust, it was, “let’s define the buyer personas that we are going after.”Who are those people, what roles they have, what types of companies, what industries.

We do have an industry focus. With our solution we focus heavily on financial services, insurance, pharmaceutical regulated industries and so we – and when I say we it is the royal we because when I came in it was just a one man band at the begining.

So I put together the buyer personas, who exactly we are going after, and then built a grid of top of funnel, mid funnel and lower funnel content. So attract, convert, close as Hubspot talks about it. And I started at the top because it didn’t make much sense when we didn’t have inbound leads pouring in because there is no reason for them to be pouring in at the very beginning it didn’t make much sense to start at the bottom because nobody was getting there yet so we needed to create some pieces that were going to attract leads.

And then once I created a piece or two like that and these were guides, ebooks, gated content that you put behind a lead capture form. Once you created pieces like that then we had people that were actually coming into the funnel and then created pieces that were then lower in the funnel.

That was basically the framework and the way I thought about it.

Trent:
Let’s talk about the buyer personas because that is an area that is incredibly important to get right. What was the process you went through to create your buyer personas?

Daniel:
So the first thing we did was we talked to our sales team and we said, “Who are the people that are actually buying our software? But then who are the people that are our champions that we need to actually go with?” For marketing teams budget tend to fit pretty high within the organization. Often times even at the CMO level or at a lower VP of marketing level. But the person that would be our champion at the door that we are going through tend to be the person that is reporting directly to the budget.

But we need to create content that is going to be the content that the direct report would find interesting. That tends to be aspirational content. It is content like “How am I basically going to do my job better to impress my boss” What are the things that my boss cares about so that I could potentially be ahead of the game when I am out there and researching problems” but also “What are some of the problems that I am actually encountering in my day to day job?”

So we looked at that and then we went on LinkedIn and we did some pretty extensive research about that person. So if we say what that role is – we say what that title is let’s search for the title and let’s look and try to build out an actual sketch of this person and let’s then name that person so in the marketing example we call it – the VP of marketing Mike and we built a profile based on what the average person would look like.

We found that that person was male but not predominately male. They normally had about ten to fifteen years of experience. And they were relatively tech savvy but didn’t necessarily use social media to make purchases but instead to kind of inform how they looked at the world. So we used the different avenues that we had available to us to go out and find who that is. We were starting with the basics of who are the real people that we actually know. And then we built it from there.

Trent:
And did you do any phone interviews during that research phase or was this all predominantly looking at LinkedIn profiles and collecting data from each individual’s profile and looking for patterns?

Daniel:
When I first started out one of the first things that I needed to do was get a sense of how do our actual customers talk about our solution and talk about the problems that we solve so I did have probably about five or six interviews where customers were very gracious of them to take the time and just chat with me basically about the problems that they had.

How we are helping them, where do they had additional problems, what other things are on their mind and on their plate; so a pretty exhaustive *inaudible* to help inform some of the messaging which was – when I came on board – was I think still being formed, still trying to figure out who we are going after and what that messaging was going to be.

So I think that gave us a much stronger sense of not only what the messaging should be but then what we should be writing about. As soon as we then created those views of who we are going after and started to create some of that gated content we then also started to do blogging and it was blogging based on the topics that we found the customers were actually interested in and then what our buyer persona seem to be looking at on LinkedIn, on Twitter and through some of the thought leaders in the space.

Trent:
How did you determine what your buyer personas were looking at on LinkedIn and on Twitter?

Daniel:
So we were looking at influential people who were writing about and sharing different topics that were actually in our space. So we would look at; in the financial services space for instance, we would look at a CMO who was putting himself out there, who was participating in events as a thought leader, who was then getting quoted and saying interesting things. Some of those events we were actually at – so we could actually see some of the people face to face and get a sense of who they were. That was basically the process.

Trent:
Alright, so aside from the buyer personas and figuring out the pieces of premium content you think they would be interested in was there any other key elements of the content strategy that you developed that we haven’t talked about yet?

Daniel:
I think actually the biggest challenge that a lot of organizations have; when I talk to other smaller businesses as we I guess we were; maybe we are not as small a business anymore but we were a year and a half ago. It takes resources, it takes time to actually create this content. It is not something that you can just make a part of somebody’s job and say it is then going to be successful because we have one junior person spending a quarter of their time on it.

It is a dedicated effort and when I started proving that we were getting traction; getting inbound leads generated from the content marketing effort I then took the first hire that I was able to make and I hired somebody just to run content marketing.

So that I could be spending time doing the other activities that we had and have somebody just completely focused on creating the editorial calendar, thinking about the tiers that we wanted to be creating looking forward and so that we could be constantly pounding the pavement with a steady drumbeat.

It was all about creating a steady drumbeat and I found that when I was the only one doing it, it was really hard to have a steady drum beat because it wasn’t the only thing that I was focused on and so we said, “Okay we are going to have a goal. We are going to stick to that goal. It is going to be an attainable goal of putting out one piece of gated content per month and then we are going to do three blog posts per week.”

And that was something that I had set as my own goal wanting to do and it was almost impossible for me to accomplish it by myself. So once we hired somebody to actually be running it full time we then really started to see traffic pick up and then leads converting on that content pick up.

Trent:
And did the person you hire; were they responsible for writing all three blog posts and writing the ebook each month?

Daniel:
We did supplement that person’s efforts with some outside resources to help with some of the gated content because we wanted to get one to two pieces; once we brought that person on we wanted to have the goals then of two pieces to lead supplement their efforts with contract work.

Trent:
Okay, so if you had to guess, excluding the cost of any software and tools if you’re thinking just about salaries and fees for outsources and whatever portion of your time is devoted to this; what would you guess you invest each year including payroll burden and benefits and all that stuff into your content marketing effort?

Daniel:
I would guess it is probably – over the past year it’s been – I would add in some of the third party materials that we used to supplement. So we’ve done some contract work to write pieces in our own voice but we’ve also then worked with outside vendors, third party analyst firms to write pieces. And those pieces tend to be pretty expensive, you’re spending $10,000, $15,000 to get a white paper that has some third party validation behind it.

So I would say that, so we include a few of those pieces that we did, a couple of webinars with that that we did. I would say that it was probably $150,000.

Trent:
Okay.

Daniel:
But that is something over the past twelve months but in an area that is an incredibly high area of priority and focus going forward to an area that is going to have a real increase in investment going forward.

Trent:
And when you say the $150,000 and you’re thinking probably that person that you hired, their salary, are you grossing that up by 25 – 30% to account for taxes and benefits and all that stuff?

Daniel:
Yeah, it is a rough estimation.

Trent:
Okay, just wanted to make sure because I know my audience loves it when I really get granular on the details so thanks for that.

Daniel:
Yeah sure.

Trent:
So you’ve got a rhythm now, you’ve got a plan, you’re producing content, what did you do to promote that content and get the right people reading it? And did you ever have a time where you found that the leads that you had coming in really weren’t very desirable, they didn’t match what you were looking for?

Daniel:
There were a few channels for how we did distribute that content. One of them is through email marketing, so we had built some lists from purchase lists, from lists that were the result of straight emails that the inside sales team was doing as well as some of the *inaudible* contacts that we had for existing prospects and existing customers. So we started from a very small number of people that we were then active emailing.

Trent:
How many times per week?

Daniel:
We were not up until recently doing any programmatic nurture campaigns with email, the email was predominantly news letter based and update based so that was pretty much a monthly news letter. So that was mostly a monthly activity.
That’s now changing, we brought somebody on full time to run nurture campaigns and work on that, that mid funnel conversion.

So that will be a different story going forward. So email is a very small piece of the conversion play. Most of the conversion is not from real active distribution because it is people that are actually coming to the site organically finding us from the blog posts; converting on blog posts or coming to the site and then finding that content and converting there.

We do though see the majority of the conversion that happens from the distribution piece has been through social media and all of that has been through LinkedIn where we participate in some of the industry specific groups / forums around sales enablement and that industry focus that we talked about *inaudible*as well as it just getting shared by people in our team; putting that onto their profile and we’ve seen some success with the people then clicking on that and then coming to the site and downloading content.

Trent:
Alright so let’s dive a little deeper on this LinkedIn and the groups. So tell me specifically how you are using a group to promote your content. Are you doing what I see what we do and what most everybody else does is that you use the group and you publish a link to your blog post and maybe you ask a question to stimulate discussion but somewhere in that post to the group is a link to your blog post.

Is that how you do it or is it a different way?

Daniel:
No that is predominantly how we do it. We try not to just be standing there with a megaphone and being self promotional. We try to become involved in conversations so not necessarily starting conversations around posts, sometimes we are but we are also sometimes participating in conversations which if you’re active on LinkedIn groups you know that some of these conversations can actually be several days long with different people participating and commenting.

So we try to embed ourselves into a conversation and have honest debates about people’s opinions and when it makes sense if we have a resource of our own to then offer up we will then link to that blog post or piece of content like an ebook or a whitepaper that we have; that is the philosophy there.

Trent:
So you are starting threads and you are participating in threads started by other people or are you predominantly participating in threads started by other people?

Daniel:
No the former, we are starting threads and we are also participating in those that are started by others.

Trent:
Because I know in my efforts in LinkedIn groups trying to find threads that have been started by others that weren’t started for the purpose of promoting their piece of content has been like looking for a needle in a haystack. It has really been a huge challenge and from a time perspective not terribly efficient. So for us we pretty much exclusively just start our own threads to promote our own pieces of content. So how has that been for you?

Daniel:
The thread doesn’t go very far if you are just promoting a piece of content that is completely self promotional. If it is a piece of content that is top of funnel, that isn’t really about Seismic, it is not about evaluating Seismic and other solutions, which is a very mid funnel type of consideration piece. That annoys the people who are just say, “I am trying to educate myself and learn about this space and have interesting conversations.”

But if we post something that is more engaging and has to do with – for instance we put out a piece a few months ago that was about the top twelve KPIs that you use to measure a sales enablement strategy. We don’t even talk about our software and what our software does in that piece, we just research what seem to be best practices that other companies were doing and we wrote about it.

That type of piece starts a pretty good conversation with people.

Trent:
Yeah, I’ll bet it does. Don’t get me wrong like a lot of people that I see, they just put the title of their blog post as the start of the thread and put a link and that’s it. We don’t do that. We ask questions and then in the comments we ask some more questions, trying to stimulate a discussion and it actually works reasonably well. I am on this every single day and not all of them turn into a conversation but some of them do and some of the times the threads go eight, ten, twelve rounds deep. So it definitely can be effective if you phrase it correctly at the beginning.

How many groups do you participate in on a regular basis?

Daniel:
We are participating actively in three or four. I’ve been working seven or eight, some of them are not as active as others but there are a couple, particularly in the sales enablement space there are a couple of groups that are pretty active. You do sometimes see too many vendors and consultants participating *inaudible* like certain innovators participating in these conversations and you realize that you are not talking to the right people and you are talking around and just making noise to them and so we are trying to be consciously aware of that.

Let’s not go down a rabbit hole of trying to get into conversations with other vendors in our space because that is not necessarily fruitful conversation to have.

Trent:
No.

Daniel:
But there are a couple that are active and you do see folks that are in roles, like VP of sales enablement for instance at relatively big growing companies that are active participators in these types of conversations and
I’ve seen them police vendors and say, “Stop being self promotional, people are here to try and talk and learn about this. We are not saying you can’t be a part of that but don’t tell me about your solution because I don’t really give a crap.” And I think that that keeps everybody honest.

It keeps them focused on really trying to add value. Those groups are there for people to educate themselves. They are not there to be sold to.

Trent:
And that is something I should add, just so that people are understanding our strategy which is similar to yours.

None of the posts that we promote in any of the LinkedIn groups that we participate in are about us, they are all top of funnel, they are all subject matter based. They have nothing to do with our services. The calls to actions don’t have anything to do with our services. So they are intended to be very, very helpful. If people want to go further down the funnel that is up to them but the content is intended to solve the problems that they know that they have.

So speaking of funnels, let’s talk about yours for a minute, you got obviously plenty of assets at the top of the funnel, maybe you can rattle off at just a couple of some of what those ebooks might be about and then I’m very interested in knowing what kind of assets you are using in the middle of the funnel as well?

Daniel:
Yeah, so some of the assets that we have at the top funnel, we put a piece out a little while ago but I still see some traction on; due toward our wealth management even more specifically *inaudible* in the wealth management space; How to do Client Prospecting on LinkedIn or *inaudible*.

So that is a very top of funnel piece, it obviously has absolutely nothing to do with presentation, automation software, sales and email software that we have but when we were trying to attract both the individual advisor and then potentially that manager of the advisors; so a piece like that has done pretty well.

I mentioned the sales enablement KPIs guide that we put out. That piece did well, we also linked that piece then to another piece that we did that is more mid funnel that compared some of our customer success stories and mapped them to those KPIs so that people could get an understanding of how customers at Seismic were then achieving good results with those KPIs that we put together.

A mid funnel piece that I guess is probably – I’m a little surprised that it would do well but I think people are scared to put out pieces like this, is as impartial as we can be; we actually outsourced some of this work to make it impartial. We’ve done a hand full of these actually but in the sales enablement space we have a guide to the top sixteen sales enablement solutions. And we took an honest look and tried to say who are the different players out there, what are the benefits they bring to sales marketing organizations, we’ve kind of built a grid out and tried to score people and rank them.

That has done extremely well for us because I think that people recognize that that is a pretty honest look because it reads like an advertorial, it is not an advertorial. It shows where, if you are looking for certain type of solution, and you are hearing sales enablement and if we don’t fit that for some reason then you can see that on the guide, someone else might do something well. We honestly think that we do well on a lot of the criteria but that piece has been helpful to people.

People said, “Thank you, I am tasked with trying to figure all of this out and this is helping me do my job.” We’ve done that in a couple of different looks because we got a couple of different ways that people can come to us; a couple of different problems that it solves for people. So we’ve done that within the Salesforce *inaudible* system. We are a Salesforce AppExchange partner.

In the Salesforce lense we come across as a document automation and document creation solution. And so we then take a look where in the category that we live in the AppExchange and we did an evaluation there as well and looked at our peer group and try and find the strengths and weaknesses of the different players and we just put it out there.

And those types of pieces I not only think are helpful to our prospective buyers in trying to figure out what’s what but I think they give us some credibility.

People say, “Oh thanks for showing your cards a little bit and letting us know who you are”, and most importantly it lets our sales team know that this person did evaluate. They are pretty serious, once we then talked to somebody like that we can then find out a little bit more about what they are looking for, what are the problems they are having, whether or not they have budget, what’s their sense of urgency.

But those mid funnel pieces make the sales reps who work them very happy because they tend to convert at pretty high rates. Let’s just say that the sales team likes to buy the marketing team a round of beers every now and then [laughing].

Trent:
So obviously you are doing something right when that happens because in many organizations they are not the best friends.

Daniel:
We are very close. We take pride in the fact that about half of the – we have a couple of levels of sales reps, inside sales reps – the more senior of the inside sales reps are the ones that work the inbound leads because they are warmer and because we recognize that we want somebody who is more experienced to be able to handle that type of conversation. And yeah, we feed about half of their quota.

Salespeople; you put money where your mouth is and they know where they are getting fed. Our goal is to make our sales reps very happy and to make them love us. I think of the sales organization as a whole thing; as one thing and the way that marketing is supporting that sales process is one that work behind the scenes and we’re helping people out as like the coaching staff on the side and doing a lot of the analytics and figuring out what’s working and what’s not and then allowing those folks to put their best foot forward.

Trent:
So let’s talk about expectations for a minute Daniel, there is two time frames I am very curious about. There was a specific day and time when you though, “Okay we’re going to do inbound marketing” and then there was another day when you actually started to publish blog posts. How long does it take from the time you thought, “Okay we’re going to do this” you get through all your strategy and you build your ebooks and you get your Hubspot and stuff set up in the background so that you are ready to start publishing blog posts.

What amount of time was that?

Daniel:
It was about two months. From the day I started I said, “We’re doing this.” And then it took about two months for us to actually put out a gated piece of content and then to have some regularity around the blog posts. We had probably put a blog post up in the first couple of weeks but in terms of having a strategy flushed out and figuring out what exactly we want to say; it was about two months.

Trent:
And from the time you started to publish blog posts until you closed your first deal from an inbound lead, do you know how long that took?

Daniel:
Off the top of my head I don’t. I don’t know how long that process took. I do know that six months after I started at Seismic and about four months after we actually got serious about the content marketing effort, that was when we saw a major increase in inbound marketing activity. To the level where people said, “This is real, we need to invest more heavily in what this is doing for the business.”

Trent:
And so that four month window, was that from the very beginning, like four months after you decided, “hey we are going to do content” or was it four months after you started to publish blog posts and got really serious about it?

Daniel:
Four months after we started. So about six months after I started; so November of last year.

Trent:
So if you are sitting and having coffee with someone else and they say, “Hey how long is this going to take me to get some serious results?” Your answer would be, “About six months.”

Daniel:
About six months.

Trent:
Okay because there is always going to be some potholes and scrapes and stuff along the way and little mistakes that you made and things that you learn before you really start getting the focus figured out?

Daniel:
Right, I started in May and I know we closed business from that effort in *inaudible* last year.

Trent:
Alright so a few more questions on your outbound if I may before we finish up because that is something that is becoming increasingly interesting to us as a result of a recent client engagement and a recent interview. So talk to me a little bit about the role (and I’ll use the term) BDR, perhaps you call them a different name but the first level of prospectors, the people who are tasked with finding out who I should go after and getting their interest to generate a qualified opportunity for someone a little higher up the level in the sales team.

What does that look like? First of all do you call them a BDR by the way, business development rep?

Daniel:
Yes, the industry normally calls them BDRs. I think we settled on a client development rep. So we are calling them a CDR I think.

Trent:
Okay.

Daniel:
We just had to come up with some internal terminology but yeah, the BDR function.

Trent:
Okay, the prospecting people.

Daniel:
We do have two roles. We have two roles within our inside sales organization. So there is the BDR which is someone who normally has a year’s extensive experience, tend to be just out of school but not always. There are some people that are changing careers who aren’t in their early twenties that are doing that role. They are predominantly doing targeted outreach to key account lists and working specific titles and roles within certain verticals.

Trent:
Are you familiar with Aaron Ross in predictable revenue?

Daniel:
Absolutely.

Trent:
So is that the playbook they are following?

Daniel:
We are pretty much following it. One of the things that Aaron talks about is having roles that are completely specific roles where you don’t have a cross functional approach. I think as we scale up and get to the point where we have fifty or sixty inside reps we will move more toward that. I know that he is religious about it being something where you only have like a market response rep only doing those inbound leads.

That is something where we’ve gone both ways on that. We had one of the inside reps just doing inbound leads. We fed his entire quota with those leads but he said I still want to be doing prospecting because I can get more and we put a true inside sales rep in that MRR role and you say, “Hey you keep what you kill and if you get more meetings we will give you more money.”

Trent:
Imagine that [laughing].

Daniel:
They potentially want to go outside of the role and start doing some email prospecting. “Because that is not taking all my time even though I am feeding my entire quota with it.”

So we don’t have anybody in Ross’s purest role just doing the inbound leads but potentially we could evolve where we have that mid level sales rep doing just the inbound marketing leads. I am the kind of person that I like the idea that if we have a hundred sales people and if they can make it work and we see strong conversion rates of those market *inaudible* that are then going and turning into qualified demos.

But I think selfishly wanting to have certain amounts of control I’d love to be able to say, “Hey just give me two rockstars who are just going to work these things and as long as we can make sure that their bellies are more than full and that they are feeding their quota every month with these leads that are coming in.” Then I’d be happy.

But it is hard to take away some of that upside potential of somebody.

Trent:
Okay so I break down the outbound prospecting process into a couple of steps. One is build a list, two is get the contact information, three is actually make contact or make contacts, so let’s kind of zip through those. Are you guys using LinkedIn to build your list because it is a pretty awesome database of accurate information?

Daniel:
The sales reps basically live in Salesforce and LinkedIn.

Trent:
Okay so use LinkedIn search criteria, build your list, get your list of prospects. How do you get their contact information from (because it is just sitting there on a screen and you don’t want people doing data entry). How do you get the, “Hey I found this person on LinkedIn, they look like they’re a great prospect, I want to put them into Salesforce as a lead.”

How do you do that?

Daniel:
Well there is a lot of ways that you can do what we call straightening. Going out and trying to find what someone’s email address is. I don’t want to give away some of our techniques there but we do have – there is a pretty manual process that you can go through to find pretty much anyone’s email address and find out how the company email address itself is constructed.

So then you can make what is a very educated guess of what that person’s email is. Then you can test it by sending them one and if it bounces back you got it wrong. We also do use Ininfo more recently which is a service of email addresses so that you can fill in some of those blanks that we have and to help people spend less time doing that manual work trying to find some of those contact information.

LinkedIn for instance; we rely heavily on somebody’s LinkedIn profile to determine whether or not they are actually the right person to talk to and then we piece those words back to people in some of the prospecting emails. We say, “I saw on you LinkedIn profile that this is what you do and that this is what you are trying to do. Here’s what we do and you tell me if it makes sense for us to have a conversation.”

And that is when people say, “Oh, thank you for paying attention to me. And yes it does make sense for us to have a conversation” or “Not right now but keep me in mind. Come back next year when we have redone the budget.” So we do use some of those tactics.

Trent:
Okay, folks there are some tools that you can very easily use to get email addresses. Hubspot has a CRM and they have a browser extension called Signals (I believe it is). And once you install that it makes it very easy to guess an email address.

It will actually ping the mail server on your behalf and come back with an email for you or if you Google the phrase “email address emulator” or something like that there’s a guy out there (I’ve forgotten his name, I wish I could give him credit) and he’s basically created this spreadsheet that you can download and it has every permutations of someone’s email.

So you punch in their first name and their last name and the company name into the spreadsheet and it gives you this whole little permutation thing of emails. You paste them into the To field of Gmail and if you are using an extension called Reportive you just roll your mouse over each one of them and you’ll know when you get the right one because suddenly their profile will pop up, you’ll see their face, you’ll see a link to their LinkedIn profile, so that is kind of the manual way.

If you have a little bit more budget and you wanted to use something there is a tool called Salesloft and they have a tool called Prospector which makes it ridiculously easy. It actually is another browser extension.

When you are there on LinkedIn, let’s say that you pull up a list of people that meet a certain criteria beside every person’s name there is a going to be a blue button that says “Click to add to Prospector” or there is one button at the bottom that says “click to add everybody to Prospector” and it will automatically go through and make a best guess on everybody’s email address and then there is an additional one button to click and add those people into Salesforce.

Obviously you can tell this is the way that we do it. That is how come I know so much about this. That particular tool is $325 per month but I was spending more than that on VAs. It is well worth every penny. And then they have another tool called Cadence which helps you to figure out when you should contact the people.

So my next question for you Daniel is once you’ve got this list and your BDR is, “Okay these are my list of targets, their now in Salesforce, I have their contact information.” So there is a campaign, I will call it a cadence. Like an email on day one and a phone one, an email on day two and phone on day three and an email on day seven or whatever it is.

What does that cadence look like for you and is that run within Salesforce? Did you build campaigns for that or are you using a tool that triggers the reps so to speak, that tells them who they are supposed to email and who their supposed to call and then do you use email and the phone or just email? So three questions in one.

Daniel:
We do use Signals by the way. The sales team loves Signals and I think it is $10 a user per month.

Trent:
Yeah, it is basically free.

Daniel:
Yeah so it is pretty inexpensive and we do have some religious vigor around it, around how much that was a life changing experience for us to enable it.

Trent:
Yeah it is awesome.

Daniel:
*inaudible* So outbound outreach is being done by the sales team there is also – more recently we’ve been doing nurture campaigns. So the outbound outreach piece is being done, they do have a regular cadence. I don’t know the exact number gauged in between; but they do have basically campaigns that they run with groups of people to email.

They use notifications to remind themselves to then respond back to somebody.

They’re doing email normally through Outlook sometimes through Salesforce if they want if they want to do it in Glass, they’ll do it through Salesforce. We are predominantly not doing any cold calling but we do ask for people’s phone numbers for some of the pieces of content that we have on our website and we then do call those people and that tends to not be an unfriendly conversation because somebody’s downloaded a piece, they are interested in this.

When we call they tend to say, “Oh, thanks for calling me, I am interested in talking to you about this.” But by us calling them we are just giving them this little nudge. It is not that kind of awkward cold calling experience.
I believe there’s a couple of folks on our sales team that came from sales backgrounds where they did cold calling and so they are very comfortable with; if it is an option; I want to talk to that person on the phone, they have such good conversations that they maybe otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get as far with that person as quickly if they were just trying to do back and forth email for ages.

But we do nurturing campaigns on our side which is kind of in parallel with what the outbound team is doing. That is kind of outbound activity but it is using content marketing exclusively to try and to get people to bite on interesting pieces of content. In those campaigns we are emailing people, if you haven’t responded in four business days later so basically like the next week we’ll hitch you up with a different message, a different *inaudible*.

And then if you download or take action we then take action back to you much more quickly, I think next business day.

Trent:
Okay so I want to make sure that I understand this. For your outbound activities driven by your prospecting team, for their targets they are actually promoting, they are writing these folks emails that say, “Hey I noticed on you LinkedIn profile that you bla bla bla bla bla bla. We have this particular ebook that I think you’d be really interested in. Here’s where you can get it.”

Daniel:
They are not always serving up the gated content like that. We’ve got a great video that explains the pain points that we solve in the financial services space. We have a bunch of really brand name logos in the financial services space. And so some of that emailing is, “Hey I see that you do this role, we helped other people in your role, like these companies and here’s a ninety second video that says basically how we solve your problem.”

And so they’ll sometimes use video, similar video assets like that. So it is not always go and download this piece of content from the inside sales team. I would say that the majority of their activity is not to ask for them to download something.

Trent:
Okay, so by taking the approach of ” Hey I see that you” so a certain portion of that email. They’ve got a custom write, you can’t just spool these things and send them out fifty at a time because it impossible to automate that sentence. But the “We’ve helped other people in this role and here’s a video and so if you think it makes sense to talk here is a link to my calendar.” That is the “template portion” of the email, correct?

Daniel:
Yes for the most part, some of our sales reps – we are not in a world where it makes sense to just be doing really generic activity. Because generic activity doesn’t really work. *inaudible* which is people want to see a qualified demo. So these people get really creative. One of our sales reps found from someone’s LinkedIn profile, found their Twitter handle and saw that they were into really old fashioned cars, found a dealership near to where they were and saw that this person had a post that basically said what they were interested in on a regular basis like something they were thinking about.

So he used a picture of this guy’s old Porsche in the email. I think he actually called the dealership to verify that this is the guy and this guy was so impressed-

Trent:
I’ll bet!

Daniel:
-that he had gone and lined up that information that he took a meeting. So we see sales reps get pretty creative with the ways that they try to get someone’s attention; in personalizing that message so that it is real, so that it is one person talking to another person.

Trent:
For the BDR reps, the first line of prospectors, do you have a quote on, “Hey this is how many new contacts we want you to make each day.” Because obviously for every new contact they make there is going to be follow ups and stuff like that so the work load can pile up pretty quickly. Have you got a number that you say you want them to do?

Daniel:
I don’t know what the number is off the top of my head, I know that they do have a get qualified meeting set quota.

And they are then comped on that quota. You’re activity would then be the next thing that come into question if you weren’t making your quota. Fortunately people have been doing a good job of making that quota so we haven’t had to be as strict about that top line metric but we have it in dashboards that we use to report out about activity.

Trent:
Alright, we’ve gone a very long time, I’m going to finish off with this question and I really thank you for being so generous with all the answers. You just mentioned dashboards, I’m new to Salesforce, I see it can build dashboards. Are you using native Salesforce dashboards for all this stuff?

Daniel:
Yeah, so if you talk to people in the Salesforce ecosystem they will tell you that the dashboard and reporting functionality of Salesforce kind of stinks out of the box. We did sub contract out to somebody who is a professional Salesforce admin, (we didn’t have somebody in the company that is a professional Salesforce admin) to help us build some custom views. It is very standard stuff but it was the way that we wanted to look at it.

It didn’t cost us more than a couple of thousand dollars and those then in a sense then continue onward, week to week, month to month.

Trent:
Okay, I was contacted by the CEO of a company called Guiding Metrics and they very affordably gave me a demo of it yesterday; built the most insane dashboards where you’ve got metrics on revenue, your leads, advertising spend, your web analytics, your email effectiveness, social media, your sales team, your customers.

Both for you Daniel and anyone listening, if you’re interested in dashboards, and I have not looked at all the solutions so I am saying this having looked at this one solution and was impressed by it; GuidingMetrics.com is something that I think you might want to have a look at. To get their like super duper full meal deal dashboard, custom built for you using APIs for all the apps you use is like $3000 – $5000. So it is not horribly expensive.

Alright, awesome interview Daniel, I think a lot of people really enjoyed listening to this. I took a lot of notes myself. So than you very much for making the time, if anyone would like to get in touch with you for any type of reason what is the single easiest way for them to do that?

Damian:
Sure, thank you Trent, I appreciate the opportunity. I bumped into you at Tradeforce amidst the chaos of Dreamforce and get to set this up. I think the easiest way is probably my email which is a scary thing to give out after all this conversation but I guess that now you can basically find anyone’s email that you would ever want to anyways.

Trent:
Yes you can [Laughing].

Daniel:
It is drodriguez@seismic.com.

Trent:
Okay and by the way I think your website is down or something is wrong. You should have a look. In my Chrome browser I can see your logo and your nav bar but the rest is blank.

Daniel:
Oh that is not good. Well by the time anyone listens to this, fear not, the website will be working [laughing].

Trent:
Yeah because it will be about a month from now [laughing].

Daniel:
Okay, alright Trent. It might even look totally different. We’re working on it.

Trent:
Alright Daniel, well thank you very much for making some time with us. It has been a pleasure to have you on.

Daniel:
Alright thanks Trent.

Trent:
Alright, to get to the shownotes for this episode just head on over to BrightIdeas.co/175 and if you enjoyed this episode as much as I did please do us a quick favor and either head over to BrightIdeas.co/love where there is a tweet awaiting the click of your mouse or if you’re feeling really in a generous mood, I’d love it if you would head over to iTunes and leave a five star rating for the show along with some type of comments.

So that is it for this episode, I am your host Trent Dyrsmid. Thank you so very much for tuning in. If you’re looking for help with demand generation, either inbound or outbound marketing related, we can help you with that over at Groove Digital Marketing and I would encourage you to head on over to GrooveDigitalMarketing.com to learn a little bit more.

Look forward to having you back for another episode soon, take care. Bye-bye.

 About Daniel Rodriguez

daniel rodiriguezDaniel is the VP of Marketing for Seismic, the leading enterprise sales enablement solution. In his second year at Seismic, the company has experienced strong lead generation and customer growth through inbound marketing efforts.

He has an MBA from MIT Sloan and BA from Harvard.