By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

Late in 2015 we started producing a bi-weekly radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which currently runs every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific.  It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.

We’ve already featured some great guests and have a line up of awesome content and special guests into 2016. Our very first guest was Funnelholic author and Topo co-founder Craig Rosenberg.  Next we had Mike Weinberg, incredible writer, speaker, author, followed by Conrad Bayer, CEO & Founder of Tellwise.  Recent Guests: Jim KeenanJoanne BlackAaron RossJosiane FeigonMeagen Eisenberg, and Trish Bertuzzi.

We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into and throughout the year. We’ll publish similar highlights here for upcoming episodes.  You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.

This episode:  Don’t let the tail wag the dog: Talking martech with Brian Hansford

Matt: Thanks very much everyone for joining us on Sales Pipeline Radio, excited to be here for another great week. We spent a lot of time on the show talking about sales as you might expect for a show called Sales Pipeline Radio.

Today we’re going to definitely go on the marketing side and we are going to go deep on the technology side. Very excited to have someone who is very close to Heinz Marketing, so close he literally sits like 15 feet away from me. When I am in the office I’m excited to have Brian Hansford here who runs our marketing technology practice. He’s been with us for literally over four years now; it was exactly 4 years on Monday.

Brian: On Monday.

Matt: Yeah, so it’s exactly 4 years on Monday and then so over four years so excited Brian to have you on the show.

Brian: Thanks so much Matt, glad to be here, honored you asked me.

Matt: Yeah so let’s start with just the overall landscape. I think that it’s easy to look at Scott Brinker’s landscape and say like boy there are so many more companies in this space and I think many marketers look at that and get very quickly intimidated by the choices they have. How do you recommend; like you talk to a lot of people, a lot of clients when it comes to their technology decisions, their strategy, it seems almost like it’s counterproductive to look at that list versus coming up with the strategy based on your objectives first. How do you help clients think about that?

Brian: Yeah I absolutely agree. If you look at a chart like that it could be incredibly overwhelming and very confusing and could probably freeze people up. So I think the best way to start is to actually assess your current state; what are you currently using? What tools, what workflow, what data are you currently working with, what people do you have in place? Just assess the current state and understand what your objectives are; what are the revenue objectives? What are the customer engagement objectives that you have and use that as a starting point. I don’t think about the technology first. You want to think about the business side of it first, understand exactly what you are trying to accomplish and then from that point you can begin mapping some ideas and building the initial strawman of a strategy and how you can implement or design a technology infrastructure to support that.

Matt: Talking here with Brian Hansford who is a marketing technology practice lead for Heinz Marketing and we were both down at the Marketo conference a few weeks ago with lots of great tools on the show floor and lots of things going on. I think it became very clear as he talked to people that were there a lot of people that were there from various companies, this is intimidating and I think too often it’s easy to let the tail wag the dog where you find interesting technology and then you get excited and you buy it and you try to implement it but it may not be the most important tool that you need.

So talk a little bit about selection and any points of criteria people should be using there.

Brian: Yeah, I think one of the most important things is keep it simple to start with. You want to make sure that you have good utilization of your CRM system whether or not that’s Salesforce, whether or not that’s Microsoft Dynamics CRM; just have good utilization of that, that’s most likely going to be your system of record. And then a marketing automation platform and from there look at what are the supporting technologies that would help you, number one, meet your objectives, would support the data collection, the data analysis that would help you with targeting customers and then how would you select specific technologies that would plug into that infrastructure.

You don’t want to select technology or niche solutions just for the sake of a shiny object. You want to make sure that it all ties together because ultimately if you start buying these niche platforms it’s going to turn into a ball of gum and it’s just going to be a mess and it’s going to be really hard to measure success and keep things very well coordinated and measure what’s going on.

Matt: Yeah, I agree with that. Hey, if you want to learn more about Brian and some of what he writes about, he’s prolific on the Twitter he’s @remarkmarketingMake sure you follow Brian there. He writes significantly for our blog, he writes for his own blog on LinkedIn and he is re-Tweeting and curing a ton of great Martech features so definitely check him out.

Brian, I think a lot of people that are doing marketing technology are also trying to figure out how to integrate that in with things that marketers are trying to do and then also on the sales side, trying to figure out how Martech and Sales Tech integrates together and in particular how that makes the sales team more efficient. How should companies and individuals think about not only just integration of marketing and sales technology but also how to prioritize based on helping those sales teams increase their active selling time.

Brian: Yeah, I think number one, it’s really easy to think that technology will all of a sudden create this beautiful bridge between marketing and sales – number one. I think technology, marketing technology in particular is a great enabler and it will help sales organizations or sales teams be even more successful in working with customers and driving revenue.

But I think it’s important to do the heavy lifting around designing the workflows and having common definitions around everything as simple as what is a qualified lead? What is an opportunity? What happens when something is disqualified? How is data flowing back and forth? When you see some data or a record that comes across from a marketing automation platform into Salesforce into your lead queue in CRM, what does that mean?

What can sales expect from marketing? What can marketing expects from sales? A lot of those steps don’t really require technology, it’s understanding how the teams work together up front and then the technology should enable that process.

Matt: We are talking with Brian Hansford head of marketing technology for Heinz Marketing and one of the things I learned a lot from Brian about when it comes to Martech and we’ve had plenty of fun discussions about even proposals for clients about things that can be done quickly; quick wins and we can quickly build things and Brian has done a great job of teaching me that not everything can be done that quickly and sometimes that’s for good reason.

Talk a little bit about the need for process and systems when it comes to marketing technology. And I think it’s not about getting things as quick to market as possible. Sometimes if you understand what works and you want to create a repeatable scalable predictable system that’s going to drive revenue and drive business moving forward, there is just no substitute for doing the planning and doing the system setup and the process work. It sometimes it takes time but it certainly pays off in the short term as well as the long-term.

Brian: I don’t know how many times I’ve had organizations that will spend thousands of dollars investing in a very powerful marketing automation platform and maybe some other complementary technologies and they fall back on just doing batch and blast email sends. And so what they have is a very overpowered email marketing system and all they are doing is batch and blast email sends.

Whereas if they were to take that extra bit of time and even come up with some ideas for some initial sprint campaigns that had some basic workflows; when you have a certain number of touches with email and with what sort of interactions can you expect, what happens with certain interactions, what you do with those, how would you process those with sales, keep it simple up front and then learn from that but just going right into execution, there are a couple of things that’s going to happen.

First off you’re going to fall back on the old habits or secondly you are going to significantly underutilize your tools and then you will be in worse shape than before you even invested in any of those platforms.

Matt: Before we head to a commercial here in a second, it’s interesting to think about some of the other companies that are doing this really well. We get this question a lot like what company is doing a really nice job with marketing technology and it’s not about having the biggest technology stack, it’s about having, I think, sometimes the stack that helps sales marketing professionals do the best work. Who are some of the companies that you think are particularly doing a nice job with Martech and why?

Brian: Yeah, I think there are a few companies that come to mind. Probably the number one company and one of the best leaders I think out there with marketing technology in general is Megan Eisenberg. She built an incredible operation at DocuSign and then she’s taken that with her Mongo DB. Just learning how she has architected a stack workflow and given that to drive results, I learned a ton from her. She’s just a fantastic leader, very smart, that’s an optimal situation.

Then there’s Concur. They have an SAP company that’s headquartered in Bellevue and then there is another company in Seattle that does fantastic work, that’s Tableau. They have a very efficient marketing operations environment that aligns with their objectives and how their customers engage. They make smart decisions on the right technologies to use, how to manage their data, the content that they produce and how to engage with sales so they are very good models to follow.

And then there are just a lot of companies that are trying to figure this out, we are all trying to figure this out. There is no black and white picture perfect blueprint on this so there is a lot going on, a lot of learning that’s going on and I am learning something new every day with this.

Matt: That’s awesome. If you want to read more stuff from Brian especially related to Martech, definitely check out the Heinz Marketing blog, you will find a lot of pieces he’s written there on a variety of different topics; everything from marketing automation to predictive marketing to attribution. Brian is a regular on the Martech Experts to Watch List and published one of his own actually just it was last month, published a list of the top 30 most influential women in B2B marketing technology, certainly  has made Eisenberg on that list but a lot of really other interesting people that are worth following and I think that only people that are doing their work and walking the walk but also people like Scott Brinker and others that are doing a lot of really interesting thinking around Martech and have some great things.

We have Brian Hansford here who runs our marketing technology practice at Heinz Marketing. We are going to be back, we will talk a little bit more with Brian, talk about what’s coming up in the next episodes of the show. You have been listening to Sales Pipeline Radio!

Matt: Thank you Paul. Well thanks everyone again for joining us, it’s really exciting to continue to see our listener numbers grow, thank you so much for joining us whether you are listening live on SLMA Radio or if you are listening to us on the podcast you can definitely download every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio either on the iTunes store or Google play.

Also check out www.salespipelineradio.com; you can get all past episodes with some of our great guests that we’ve had. If you are interested in hearing a replay of our conversation with Brian Hansford today it will be up there in all its full glory and we will have a transcript of the conversation on the blog at www.Heinzmarketing.com as well.

We have some really great guests coming up over the next couple of weeks. Next week we are featuring Sedric Hill who has written a new book called Expert Selling: a Blue Print to Accelerate Sales Excellence; A great speaker, lots of great ideas, high-energy, some really good things. I think if you are in sales or work with sales you’re going to want to hear that.

As we head into July we’ve got some great guests. We’ve got Arden Clise, I’ve mentioned her before, her new book is called Spinach in Your Boss’s Teeth. She is an expert in business etiquette which is important in all different kinds of business formats; not just if you are in front of people but if you have inside salespeople I highly recommend you listen to Arden, she’s got some great stuff.

And a couple weeks after that we’re going to have Joe Chernov who runs marketing at InsightSquared, he’s been in the marketing at InsightSquared, has been in the marketing industry for a long, long time and Brian, definitely another guy who is very big into Martech and does a lot of great stuff with their Marketo instance and other tools that they have.

Who are some of the other people that you learned from and that you listen to whether it’s bloggers or writers or practitioners? You mentioned Megan Eisenberg and I mentioned Scott Brinker before. Who are some of the people that you are watching on a regular basis?

Brian: Oh man, there are so many but and actually a great list to look at is something that Integrate just published yesterday. There is a a top 40 demand generation marketers that was listed. And I would say that from a Martech perspective the majority of the people on that list that Integrate published are fantastic to follow and learn from. I would say about 90% of them are active on social but folks that I learned from continually, guys like Alex Shipillo with Influitive, the Vidyard marketing team, all of those guys that Vidyard are fantastic, they publish fantastic content.

Adam at LeanData, he is a master at what he does. Other folks like Josh Hill who is a Marketo wizard Edward Unthank who is a Marketo wizard as well. But not only on the technology side, they also have very keen understanding of business process. So there’s a number of individuals I follow and then there is some great people like Kristin Connell, Marilyn Cox, Megan Eisenberg who I’ve mentioned previously, Kay Kienast, a lot of the people that I’ve actually published lists on our people that I actively follow so those are all individuals that I learn from.

One of the things I really enjoy is they love to share information and it’s a collaborative almost community because we are all trying to figure this out and learn as we are going and I think that’s really interesting and something I really enjoy.

Matt: Yeah. What I love about the list that you gave is there is some people there that could have some fairly high profiles but there’s a lot of people that are just in the trenches doing the work and I think that top 40 list from Integrate that was published yesterday, you can go to www.integrate.com and look for that, you will probably see it up at the top of their blog, I mean there’s a lot of people on that list that are doing nothing to make a name for themselves, couldn’t care less about it just in the trenches doing really good work.

And what I love about a lot of those folks, a lot of people Brian mentioned is they share the best practices but they are also pretty open in the Martech community sharing the worst practices, the things they have tried that haven’t worked and I think there’s an awful lot of pitfall for people that are both new to Martech and those that are experienced that we certainly don’t need to repeat if other people have fallen on the sword on that in the past.

What and again, let’s go down that path and we talk a lot about things you should do, you laid out a nice blueprint and guidelines for things to focus on, guideposts as you build a Martech strategy. What are some of the pitfalls? What are some of the worst practices? What are things that people should avoid as they navigate the Martech waters?

Brian: Yeah, I think there are two things that always come to mind whenever I am either talking with folks or even working with our clients.

There are two elements that fuel marketing technology initiatives and ultimately help you drive revenue and one of them, the most important piece I think is data. If you have crappy data you’re going to have even worse results and then the second is content. If you don’t have content that resonates with your audience at wherever they are with any sort of a decision-making process, you are going to fall flat.

You don’t have anything to engage your audience with. But the data side, even with all of these fantastic tools that we have and these platforms, data continues to be the number one issue I see that organizations struggle with; they either ignore it and just deal with very poor data in their database systems or they don’t know how to handle it; they don’t know how to manage it and keep it maintained and help them with the segmentation and targeting and who they are trying to reach, why they would want to reach somebody with certain information. If you don’t have that taken care of you are just going to fall flat so that’s hugely important and I think it’s an area that’s overlooked.

And then content and we all know this, we’ve talked about this for years, right? But I still see organizations that struggle with content and reaching an audience with the right content right time; targeting the right people with the right content and it’s just you’re going to fall flat. You’re not going to get any results. You could have the best marketing technology infrastructure in the world but if you have terrible data and poor content you’re going to fall flat.

Matt: Talking here on Sales Pipeline Radio today with Brian Hansford who is the marketing technology practice lead for Heinz Marketing, has been in the Martech space for a very long time. And as Martech goes, they don’t go that far back but Brian has been there and doing that. Definitely encourage you to follow him on Twitter, he’s @remarkmarketing – I think I got the right this time.

Brian: You got that right this time.

Matt: Nice alright, second time’s the charm! check him out on LinkedIn if you sent him a request definitely make sure it’s personalized but he publishes a lot of great stuff on LinkedIn that’s definitely worth checking out.

Moving forward I think the landscape continues to grow, more and more companies are in this space, it’s not getting any less intimidating but in terms of focus areas, you’ve talked in the past about certain pillars, things that you think are more important. I mean I certainly hear when you ask people about like what are their primary needs around marketing and I hear attribution come up all the time. What are couple things that you see as whether you are someone that’s working in Martech or not even if they are not a Martech person who is doing the day-to-day for people that are impacted or have to manage marketing technology what should they be looking for in the months and quarters ahead?

Brian: I am a big fan of attribution and not because I want to measure all things just for the sake of measuring but I want to be able to measure what works and what doesn’t and understand what has the best impact and cumulatively when you have all kinds of touches over a long period of time, all of those touches are going to help drive some revenue. How do you measure those altogether? So I think attribution tools and platforms are incredibly important. I think also analytics platforms or tools that can help with helping organizations focus their selling efforts; so if that means predictive tools, that’s great.

We’ve all heard a ton around account based marketing or maybe tools like companies like Engagio and Account Based Everything. I love this model, it’s not new but we have some technology that is enabling it. We are better able to focus our efforts on targeting different people within an organization right message right time to help drive a purchase decision so I think that’s fantastic and I am very excited about that.

And some of the results were actually seeing with different tools with clients are very encouraging. But I also think there is going to be some pullback actually. I am seeing some things where I think the marketing technology landscape has been so… it’s grown so rapidly and then we are getting so many niche solutions going on that I think CMO’s and marketing departments are like okay, where can we just really focus on this core stack to help us be very effective and also prove or measure what we are being effective with? Those are a few areas that I am looking at right now that I think are really interesting.

Matt: I think that’s really good advice and the one thing I think I heard you mention a few different times in a few different ways is to be intentional and deliberate about building your Martech stack. I think it’s sometimes it’s really easy to go buy a solution and get bright shiny object syndrome when you go on to the Marketo floor, the Dreamforce floor, but to be intentional about what problems, where are the bottlenecks in your sales and marketing process, be deliberate in terms of selecting and rolling out that technology; make sure that it’s something you effectively rule out that people know how to use that people are actively using.

And then one of the things that we are starting to see now that the Martech space is maturing more, we are starting to see more people ask for and come to us for what is essentially is a marketing technology audit where they are saying hey, we are not really sure what we should be using but we are also not sure whether we are using the stuff that we have. A tool that was novel a couple of years ago may be something that’s table stakes and you actually are now buying five times over so understanding what you have, what you need, what is going to be important for you moving forward can help make your overall Martech more effective, more efficient, easier to manage and all of those things.

I thank Brian Hansford for joining us today. A little bit on short notice, appreciate it, I know you guys have got a crazy busy day; it’s probably partly my fault. Brian is the marketing technology director for Heinz Marketing. Definitely hit him up on Twitter @remarkmarketing.  He is a fount of knowledge around Martech and all things B2B marketing.

Join us next week as I mentioned we are going to be featuring Sedric Hill who is the author of Expert Selling: a Blueprint to Accelerate Sales Success. If you want to hear more from Brian and you want to hear more from this conversation, he had a lot of great insights, a lot of great blueprint for how to think about Martech, you will get a replay of this event on www.salespipelineradio.com. Download every episode on the podcast at iTunes or the Google Play you will see we have a transcript of all of our episodes up on www.Heinzmarketing.com,  you can check out.

Thanks again for joining us everyone, appreciate you being here, we will see you next week. This has been Sales Pipeline Radio!