By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
Late in 2015 we started producing a bi-weekly radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which runs live every other Thursday at 1:00 p.m. Pacific, moving soon to 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 Keenan; Joanne Black; Aaron Ross; Josiane Feigon, Meagen 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.
We were thrilled this last time to be able to talk to Adam Schoenfeld. Listen in or read our conversation below:
Matt: Thanks for joining us. Taking a few minutes with us on Sales Pipeline Radio today. I know that it is busy at the end of the month, end of the quarter, but appreciate you taking some time to join us. We are on every Thursday at 2:30 Eastern, 11:30 Pacific. Catch us live on the Lead Management Radio Network. You can also catch us, every episode on iTunes and Google Play. Every episode current, past and present available on demand at SalesPipelineRadio.com. We feature some of the best and brightest minds in B2B sales and marketing, learning what’s working today to build more predictable pipelines.
Joining us today, very excited to have Adam Schoenfeld, who’s the CEO and co-founder of Siftrock. We’ll be talking a little more about what Siftrock can do to manage your email, to manage your database, to keep your data up to date, but thanks so much Adam for joining us today.
Adam: Hey Matt, it’s great to be here.
Matt: Great to have you. I mean there’s so many different topics we can cover here, right? We could talk about database hygiene, we could talk about sales and marketing alignment, but maybe just first is give people a sense of Siftrock. We are a customer of Siftrock, I think we’re about a sticky user as you can get. It’s one of those things that I just don’t ever want to give up now because it saves us so much time and keeps our data clean. Talk just real quick about what Siftrock can do.
Adam: Yeah, appreciate having you as a customer. Your teams been great giving feedback along the way, so very happy to have you guys on that list. The basic of what do is pretty simple. When you send emails, marketing emails or prospecting emails on the sales side, you get a lot replies back. Auto replies, bounce backs, out of office messages and of course real people sometimes raising their hand or asking questions.
Typically, what we’ve found is that marketers and marketing office folks handle that manually. So we built some machine learning that take all those replies, figure out what they are and then help you take action. Whether it’s cleaning up your database when somebody’s left the company, that’s really kind of a classic example. You get that “no longer with company” response. Or servicing a new lead for the sales team when you get a referral or correctly routing a human response so that you can take action. So all those things that we do by basically more intelligently managing the reply emails that come back to your marketing campaigns.
Paul: This is Paul again. I’m going to ask you guys to back off the microphone a little bit, there is this overloading and it’s shorting out on us here.
Matt: We’re just so excited Paul about what this is-
Paul: I know, I know. Thump it to them.
Matt: -and honestly that was a really good explanation. Whenever I see out of office replies in the past, just think about the manual effort it takes to do something about that. To have that automatically update your database. I mean you got lead routing opportunities, you got buying signal alerts, but to be able to update that in real time is so, so important.
Let’s talk a little bit about that related to database hygiene, right? People are moving all the time, we’ve heard that B2B database can deteriorate at a rate of three to five percent per month. Not even per year, per quarter. So to have some of that auto updated for you is significant, not just for the efficiency of your list, but for keeping yourself off of spam, block list and more. Right?
Adam: Absolutely. I think deliverability is a big thing and then making sure you’re getting to the right person with the right phone number, and the right email address as all that stuff’s changing around. So it turns out those email replies have a lot of information that can help with that. Like I said a lot of companies are doing this manually, so what we did is built some technology that can help automate it and integrate into the major marketing platforms like Marketo, HubSpot, Eloqua et cetera. So there’s a lot of fun and interesting data there. It helps … I won’t claim that it’s the whole solution to keeping a clean and updated database, but it can be a big piece of that sort of broader initiative I think everybody’s thinking about right now.
Matt: Yeah and I know with just the general email engagement, you see good, you see bad, you see ugly. I mean you see all sides of this. You know what’s interesting to me about out of office replies is we tend to … as professionals we tend to delete them. We see them and we might look for an interesting message, but we don’t do anything with them. An out of office message may not tell you “Hey, here’s someone that needs to buy,” but there are so many buying signals that are inherent. Give a couple of some of your favorite examples of some of the good I guess, that makes those replies such a great opportunity to engage with your prospects.
Adam: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think one great example is you might have somebody who’s been in your database for a long time and maybe they haven’t responded to anything. Then you get a referral contact in there that has some rich information, maybe a title and a phone number. Some of the time those can be routed directly to the sales team where they can reach out and engage somebody there. So if you’re picking that information up, I think that’s a really good use case. Especially for B2B with a sales team, which I think is just about all of us.
Then knowing when somebody’s moved on is so huge because it effectively is a couple opportunities, right? You have the person who moved on. So you can reach out to them at their new job, maybe they are an advocate for you or very engaged and a lot of times when people are in new jobs they’re very inclined to look at vendors. So you get the opportunity with the person who left and then you essentially get the opportunity with their replacement. So, I think giving those little nuggets can really help your sales team.
Then you have the last example, which we see more and more. With ABM and with email being more personalized, if you’re sending emails, why not ask people to respond? When they do respond, have a way to route those into the sales team and be able to take action and continue the conversation.
Matt: Part of what makes this so invaluable is this is timely information, right? Someone attends a webinar, they’re not necessarily waiting for a response. Someone sees you at a trade show, and everyone’s trying to respond at once. You get that information in an out office, that’s something that’s happening right now. So there’s very often, not only sort of trigger events to respond to, but things you can do so right now. Do you find that this is not people filling out a form. Has it been a challenge to get people to value this as a lead source? What has that been an obstacle? Or do you find that people sort of really see and value and take advantage of this opportunity?
Adam: Yeah, it’s a good question. I’d say people see it first as a way to keep their database healthy and clean and enriched. With the phone numbers and the signatures and the sort of, the updates that we can find or invalidating a bad record. Those things just can be problematic and such a pain to do manually, right? When you think about people changing jobs or emails becoming invalid or companies getting acquired. So I’d say that’s probably 70% of our value and then sort of the incremental new leads. You certainly treat these different than a form fill, right? It’s a little warmer than just a list you purchase from ZoomInfo, but it’s not somebody filling out a form or coming inbound and raising their hand.
So you have to treat them a little bit differently, but certainly value there, because they’re within your target accounts. If you’re already engaging the company. So I think in the context of ABM we see a lot of people thinking “Hey, well this just gives me kind of a better way to surround my target account and have more contacts there.”
Matt: Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Adam Schoenfeld, he’s the CEO and co-founder of Siftrock. Definitely encourage you to check them out at Siftrock.com. As the CEO of an early stage startup, you are not swimming in cash, you don’t have an unlimited budget. So clearly you’re trying to grow your business and do it the most efficient way possible.
So I want to talk a little bit about some of the marketing that you’ve been doing day to day at Siftrock and even some of the stuff you did in the early days of Simply Measured, where you were CEO before. The first thing I want to cover actually is LinkedIn content marketing. I mean I feel like I see you daily now on LinkedIn for some of the sort of updates and questions and insights that you’re posting. Has that been a proactive strategy? Talk a little bit about what you’re doing on LinkedIn and how it’s working.
Adam: Yeah. I know you’re doing it a lot as well Matt. The core idea is, when you looked at the LinkedIn feeds six months ago, you pretty just saw a bunch of people sharing links, right? Here’s an article, here’s a blog post, here’s something happening on the news. I think now what’s happened is people are starting to share more original thoughts and start conversations there. I think it’s become a really great platform in terms of kind of medium form text. Kind of updates stand out in the feed and get a lot of attention and a lot of engagement.
Quite frankly the conversations are super valuable. If you put ideas out there, you will get responses. I started to notice that and I’ve just been pretty much three, four days a week putting out stuff that comes to my mind. I pretty much do it on the bus every morning when I’m coming into work. I found that it’s generated a lot of inbound leads for us, it’s also helped just kind of get people aware of our brand through me and Katie who runs sales here does it a bit too. So just found it’s a great channel in terms of B2B and there’s such a great audience that’s active there.
Matt: Yeah. I’d agree with you. From the little bit of dabbling we’ve done ourselves on this, it appears that as you continue to do more of those mini updates on LinkedIn, you start to show up more with the people that are engaged with you. So there’s something about the LinkedIn algorithm that says “If you have engaged with or liked or read someone’s stuff in past,” it will promote that content more actively for you. So people in your network that are engaged tend to see you a little more often. So it’s almost as if LinkedIn is scoring engagement and increasing prominence on your behalf.
As you said, you’re doing it on the bus. You still have to have interesting things to say. So I think your content has been good, Charlie Liang and Brandon down at Engagio I think are a couple other good examples of people to follow on LinkedIn that are putting up good content there. Certainly, I think a huge opportunity for I think a lot of marketers and businesses in general, not just content marketers.
As you’re now growing Siftrock, what are some of the other things you’re seeing working on a tactical marketing level that’s helping you build your pipeline?
Adam: Yeah. It’s been super interesting because I founded another company called Simply Measured. Gosh, seven plus years ago, 2010. It was interesting, the things we did to generate demand there were so different than the things we’re doing now at Siftrock. The markets are very different, but just perhaps a sign of the times. When I look back on Simply Measured, everything we were doing was inbound, we were very press driven, we did a lot of cool graphs and charts and infographics. So we’d [inaudible 00:11:46] and get pickup and inbound links and we had that motion going.
At Siftrock we haven’t found that that’s there for us. We haven’t found that anybody’s googling for what we do. They’re talking about it in the Marketo forums, but there’s no search volume. So we’ve had figure out outbound a little bit and then we’ve had to figure out paid, in terms of paid social. Then we’ve had to be very, very focused on word of mouth. I mean, I’d say kind of telling our customers stories and sort of asking our customers to tell their stories about Siftrock, is probably our biggest, biggest channel right now.
Matt: Now you were at Simply Measured from the earlier days. I can’t remember if you were there when it was still called, literally called ‘Untitled Startup.’ But I know you’ve been there from basically the beginning. Then when you left to go to Siftrock, I mean it was a big company, a lot of people, very different role as a CEO. So same title, different size company. This may be an obvious question, but I’m curious to see how you answer it and I think we’ll have to. It looks like we may have to do this after the break, but to think about it. What does being CEO at Simply Measured versus going back to the startup role, curious what that’s like from someone in your role. Also from sort of a marketing and sales orientation.
We are going to have to take a quick break before we get to that. We’re going to have a lot more with Adam Schoenfeld, who’s the CEO, co-founder of Siftrock. After we take a break, pay some bills, all right back. Sales Pipeline Radio.
Matt: Thank you everyone again for joining us on Sales Pipeline Radio. If you like this conversation, if you want to hear it again, you want to share it with your teams, we’ll have it on demand at salespipelineradio.com in just a couple days. Would certainly encourage a subscription at the iTunes store and Google Play so you don’t miss a future episode. Speaking of future episodes, coming up in October we’ve got Guy Weismantel, he’s the EVP of Marketing at Marchex. We’re going to be talking more about demand gen, more about marketing to small businesses.
The week after that we’ve got Rand Fishkin. He is the founder of Moz. Some of you may know of him as the Wizard of Moz and as the creator of Whiteboard Fridays. He is one of the most influential and one of the most knowledgeable people on SEO. So excited to have him and lots of other great guests on the sales and marketing front coming up Sales Pipeline Radio.
But we’ve also got today, Adam Schoenfeld. He’s the CEO and co-founder of Siftrock and before the break, boy that break came up on us quickly Adam, but I wanted to talk a little bit about your role as CEO. I think that no matter what size your business, I mean you’re always thinking about sales and marketing. But what’s it been like getting back into a very early stage? Really sort of rolling up your sleeves and sort of getting in the mud again on the sales and marketing side?
Adam: I love it Matt. I mean, it’s what gets me excited. I love being tactical and creative. I like writing the copy and moving the pixels around, doing the little things. It’s exactly how it was, in terms of the role, in the early days at Simply Measured. Untitled Startup as we were called then too, right? You just have to make it happen when you’re a small team, sort of sub ten people.
Over at Simply Measured we did scale and the organization got north of hundred, so the job changed a bunch, right? Managing through others, sort of hiring an executive team. The role changed a lot and I wanted to get back to the early stage, I was lucky to have a great co-founder here who started the company, Chris Hundley, who is amazing in terms of the technology and machine learning, great entrepreneur. So I think I have the best job in the world because I get to go market and sort of help position with we’re doing.
I love just the day to day, being sort of engaged with customers and sort of building the assets. That’s what gets me excited.
Matt: So when you’re a team, when your entire company is single digits, when you can literally fit around a dinner table. Managing a single customer pipeline, managing sales and marketing together is a little easier. I imagine that got more difficult as Simply Measured grew. What are some of the lessons that you’ve drawn from that experience that you’re bringing now to Siftrock as you now build a sales and marketing organization from scratch again, to ensure that those groups are operating from a single strategy employee book to hit the number?
Adam: Yeah, absolutely. Definitely gets harder as you get more complexity and sort of more division of the roles. When you just have kind of one marketer and one sales person, maybe an SDR in there, it’s easy to get everybody around the table and to align on what you’re trying to do.
Honestly one of the biggest lessons I learned was the need to throw out the playbook. Especially when you’re small and just getting started. I think you almost have to look at every quote that’s practiced and just try to flip it on its head. That’s what I’ve tried to do here. That’s a lot of what I think we are successful in Simply Measured in the early days. Putting the customers first and their buying experience and just trying to think from their perspective and consider every detail along that path. So we spend a lot of time on our thank you page. We try to be really thoughtful about how we offer calendar time to people when they come inbound.
One of the things we did is we compressed our discovery and demo and I know that’s a huge no-no and everybody says don’t do it, but it’s worked extremely well for us. I think customers have appreciated it. So trying to just flip the script on anything we can because we know we can’t compete in terms of dollars and head count.
Matt: You talked about playbook and I think that play book can be a really dangerous thing if you go after and look at what other people have done and what’s worked for them. The only play book that really matters is your play book and you almost by definition have to build it from scratch. Build it based on what works for your business, your culture, your customers, their environment, their industry. You mentioned that you’re doing discover and demo together. Yeah, there may be many companies that say “no-no” because it doesn’t work there. That doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.
So talk a little bit about the role that culture plays in that. I mean, whether it’s just sales and marketing working together or just, you clearly have a culture, just from what I’ve seen and experienced. I mean, you’ve got a culture of execution, you’ve got a culture of not paying attention, you know perfect is the enemy of good. How does that play out as you grow? How do you ensure that you are hiring and reinforcing the culture that you want to be able to achieve that alignment that clearly you’re focused on?
Adam: Yeah. Gosh, such a hard question Matt. We need a whole nother show for this, don’t we?
Adam: I know it’s something you think about, and I’ve interacted with your team, and it’s clear that they sort of live and breathe a lot of the values that you have. You see sort of in the emails, and the way that they speak and all of it. I think for us, it’s just always trying to put the customer first. I mean it sounds cliché honestly, but it’s true. We just always say “Hey, we want to make our month,” but would getting pushy here and asking the person to sign today. I’m saying these in this example because it was the 28th. Is that the best thing for the customer? Or is there another step in their evaluation that we need to accommodate? We shouldn’t try to jump the gun, and I think sort of putting yourself second and thinking about the customer and their long term success, that’s got to be number one.
At least for Chris and I, that’s how we think. I think that’s what will build advocates and advocate will give us more customers. At the end of the day I think that’s what really matters.
Matt: I agree with you and it’s really easy to say that sitting here on a radio show, but you and I are both going to get off this show, we’re going to go have to hit our number for the month still, right? So between the end of the day today and tomorrow, that’s the end of September, the reality hits that you still got deals you want to get done. But I think your point about the fact that “Okay, no matter what happens, we have to wake up Monday morning and still work with these people.” They’re either going to be customers and we’re both going to be happy that they’re customers and they’re going to be happy with their deal and you’re going to be happy with it. Or they’re still going to be a prospect that you probably still want to have as a customer even if it’s in October instead of September.
So I think sort of finding that balance between that customer centricity and staying true to your culture, while still hitting your numbers. I mean, I think a lot of people struggle with that. That’s a really, really hard one.
We got just a couple more minutes here with Adam Schoenfeld, he’s the co-founder and the CEO of Siftrock. Adam, I’m going to ask you the question that we ask every guest now on Sales Pipeline Radio towards the end. If there was a Mount Rushmore of sales, and I think for you I would expand this to sales, marketing, startup world, entrepreneurism. Just think about the people in your career, that have had the most influence, that if you were … if you were sculpting out the Mount Rushmore of sales et cetera for yourself, who would be on that mountain? Who are some people that have influenced you? People other people may want to pay attention to as well.
Adam: Oh man, that’s such a good question. I’ll give you a couple CEOs that have influenced me either sort of from afar or more directly. Dave Hersh, who’s CEO of Jive and who is an investor in Simply Measured has influenced me a lot. While we haven’t interacted a ton, maybe once at year we sit down in person. Every one interaction has just been so impactful. I’m a huge fan of Insite right now, I think they’re the gold standard in B2B marketing and Nick Meta there is incredible. I’d put him on the Mount Rushmore.
I’m going to give a shout out to my co-founder Chris Hundley because he built this company on his own and actually closed business as a technology-centric guy. I think that’s just an incredible feat to build a sustaining business and build a process all at once on your own. So I gotta put him up there.
Matt: Yeah. I mean, I met Chris for the first time a few years ago and I think he was just starting. I don’t know if it was called Siftrock, I don’t know what it was called, but definitely a good guy. I mean, it can be rare to find someone who has the product and technical expertise to build something, but then can also sell it, create customer value as well as understand when it’s important to bring in smart business minds and continue to scale the business and find the right people for the right seats on the bus.
I really want to thank our guest today. Adam Schoenfeld, he’s the co-founder and the CEO at Siftrock. Definitely encourage you to check them out at siftrock.com. Heinz Marketing is a very happy customer of Siftrock, one of many reasons we wanted to Adam on the show, but also to talk about what clearly was a wide ranging discussion on database hygiene, email and lead engagement, sales and marketing alignment, a little startup marketing. I heard someone last week described to me startup marketing and startup management as chewing the glass. I’m sure that we could have a whole nother conversation with Adam about chewing the glass as a small business and a growing business.
Well make sure, if you want to hear this conversation again, share it with some of your colleagues and peers, check it out on demand at salespipelineradio.com. We will have highlights of this conversation on heinzmarketing.com, on our blog. Make sure you continue to tune in every Thursday 2:30 Eastern, 11:30 Pacific. We’ll be back next week and every week with new episodes featuring the best and brightest in sales and marketing in B2B. From my awesome producer Paul, this Matt Heinz. Thanks so much again for joining us on Sales Pipeline Radio.
Paul: You’ve been listening to Sales Pipeline Radio. Brought to you by the kind folks at Matt Heinz Marketing, right here in the Funnel Radio Channel for at work listeners like you.