By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

Enjoy another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, and catch us live 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.

This episode will air for the first time on 8/2/18 but you can listen in and read the transcript now!

We’ve featured some great guests!  We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities. You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.

Dave Gerhardt, VP of Marketing at Drift joins us this time to discuss how the buying experience is broken and why the only way to fix it is to enable more conversations

  • Here’s an example of how this plays out:
    • It’s never been more important to make it easier for your customers to buy
    • This is because of “the Amazon effect” – customers are used to getting what they want on demand, with one click. Whether it’s a taxi, a meal, a piece of furniture, etc.
    • These buying expectations are carrying over to B2B purchases as well
    • But businesses have not adapted yet. Customers are still often forced through a maze of funnels and forms before they can talk to a sales rep
    • So what can YOU do about this?
    • You need to make it easier for your prospects to have a conversation with you – whether that’s through chat or on the phone
    • Because a sale doesn’t happen without a conversation
    • And whoever gets closest to the customer wins (Netflixs vs Blockbuster)
    • Reps need to get closer to prospects, and do that quicker – and organizations need to have the right tools in place to enable that, while avoiding the noise of non-sales related conversations

Definitely check out:

More from our guest:

Hey, I’m Dave Gerhardt.

I’m VP of Marketing at Drift and I’ve spent the last 7 years learning at SaaS marketing companies in Boston, including HubSpot and Constant Contact.

During that time, I’ve launched products that have made it to the top of Product Hunt, created a top five business podcast on Apple Podcasts, landed multiple features in the New York Times, created a deck that Andy Raskin called “The Greatest Sales Pitch I’ve Seen All Year,” and helped create the category of Conversational Marketing.

I love building an audience and getting the right people to pay attention.

Matt:  Thank you for joining us for Sales Pipeline Radio. We are normally live every week, Thursday, at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern. The week of Fourth of July, 2018, OC Talk Radio, our great producer, Paul, he’s taking the week off. We haven’t talked about what you’re going to do, Paul. Are you going to be back watching your Twins win a couple games? Are you going to be out hiking in the wilderness? What are you going to be doing while everyone is listening to this episode?

Paul:  I am going to be trying to work on next week’s Sales Pipeline Radio. I’m going to try and really spend that week off to really try and figure out how we can take this show to the next level. That’s what I’m doing.

Matt:  That is the kind of commitment that makes you special, that makes this show special. I appreciate that very much. Well, thank you very much for joining us on another episode. If you’re listening to us live on the Funnel Media Radio Network, this is not a live show, but it’s still going to be awesome. For those of you that are joining us on the podcast, as normal, thank you so much for subscribing. You can find us on the iTunes store and Google Play anytime and anywhere that fine podcasts are sold and made available. Every episode, past, present, and future, of Sales Pipeline Radio, always available at salespipelineradio.com.

Each week, we are featuring some of the best and brightest minds in B2B sales marketing. Today is no different. I’m very excited to have with us today, Dave Gerhardt. He’s the VP of Marketing at drift.com. If you’re not familiar with Drift, and you’re a B2B company, you’re one of the last to learn about Drift. There are over 100,000 companies that have used Drift to engage their customers in conversations.

Dave has been the VP at Drift for a couple years. He is part of the HubSpot Marketing Alumni Network that seems to be running half the companies in B2B right now. I’m very happy to have him on the show. Dave, thanks so much for joining us today.

Dave:  Thanks for having me. I’ve been looking forward to this. I wish I could just print out your intro. I think you just wrote our whole website.

Matt:  Sweet! Well, we will give you the transcript. It is all yours.

I appreciate you joining us. I just noticed earlier today, we have 404 mutual connections on LinkedIn. There should be some kind of rule, once it gets to that level, where we’re forced to meet each other, because I don’t think we’ve ever actually shaken hands and met the other person.

Dave:  No, no. I keep seeing you, crossing paths at different events, and I’ve been speaking more and doing more stuff, and I always see you there, so I think it’s good that this happened. This could kick off a real friendship, I hope, so that’s good.

Matt:  Yeah, no doubt. I appreciate you joining here. You will have … hopefully maybe see you at the HYPERGROWTH Conferences you guys are doing. You’ve got one in Boston coming up in early September, one in San Francisco in late September. We’re going to talk a little bit more about the HYPERGROWTH Events you’re doing here in a second.

First of all, I just want to talk about Drift, I think, for people that aren’t familiar with Drift. You guys are doing some really amazing things. The title we put on this episode was “Is the Landing Page Dead?” For most marketers that rely so heavily on forms and landing pages, that may sound a little scary, but talk about the perspective you guys have, and what you’re doing to create more conversations with your prospects.

Dave:  You nailed it. I think what’s happened is over the last five or 10 years in marketing, we’ve just gone so far the other way, where we don’t actually want to talk to people. We want them to open our emails, click on our links, go to a landing page, fill out a form, register for my event, register for my webinar, register for my whatever. The reason that Drift even exists in the first place is because just things have changed in the market. Companies don’t have all the power anymore. Me, as a consumer, I just think about how I buy the products that I buy.

I talk to my friends. I do this thing all the time. I don’t know if you do this, too, Matt, which is I tweet out, “Does anybody have any experience with …” blank. I’m a marketer, and I have … using a million technology tools. I’m just so skeptical of salespeople and people trying to sell to me, that that’s how I buy. I like to Google stuff. I’ll go read a review on G2 Crowd, and then I might engage with a salesperson.

What we’re seeing is a website, a business’s website, especially B2B, is oftentimes the last place somebody goes when they have a question about your product or service, and so that’s shifted the balance of power from the company, who used to be able to lock everything down and say, “Hey, fill out this form, then we’ll talk to you,” to, now, the customer has all the power. The potential buyer has all the power, and so we need to build a product that puts the hands in the power of the customer, but allows the company to get everything that they need to generate leads and book more meetings.

To me, I think the reason Drift is taking off is not because we have a great product, which is a piece of it, but it’s because the timing is just so right in the market now, where buyers are set up with the traditional way of doing marketing sales. They have a couple very specific questions they want answers to, and it’s the perfect match between the company and the customer.

Matt:  Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Dave Gerhardt. He’s the VP of Marketing at Drift. At the top of your LinkedIn buyer, underneath your title and your experience, it says, “Drift is the new way businesses buy from businesses.” Based on what you just said, it almost sounds like this is the new way people in businesses buy from people in other businesses, right?

We think of B2B as business to business. Well, it’s really people at those companies selling to each other. I’ve heard it described as P2P, people to people. Tiffani Bova, who’s an evangelist at Salesforce has been calling it B2E, business to experience, that the experience you have is a huge part of the product that you’re buying. I think that experience starts before you buy. It starts with the experience you have when someone comes to your website, when they interact with you. Talk a little bit about the shift you’re seeing in how people are engaging, especially with younger generations coming into companies and really changing the communication habits, not just inside companies, but between companies and their vendors.

Dave:  Yeah, I mean, what’s interesting is, you look at the data, it’s not just younger people now. It’s everybody. We are all used to communicating. I just think of my day. I spend half my day on Slack and then half my day on iMessage; iMessage is where I talk to my wife and my mom and my friends and family, and Slack is where I spend all of my time at work, talking to the people on my team. I think what that’s done is it basically has reset expectations as a consumer.

We all expect to get real-time answers from a business, and then when you can’t get them, it’s super frustrating. That’s really a key piece of this, is the real-time element. The other thing is there’s just more buyers inside of a company than there ever were before. Granted, if you’re at a bigger company, there is still a procurement process, and to get on a new vendor, but I just think about the marketing team at Drift. Everybody on my Marketing Team has a credit card, and for basically anything under a thousand bucks a month, they can pretty much just swipe that and go buy something.

There are also more buyers inside of a company, and so it’s all about removing friction. That’s where people start to get a little scared, because they’re like, “Well, Dave, if I remove friction, and I give people all the keys here, how am I going to track this? How am I going to score it in Marketo and then sync it to Salesforce, and how am I going to route it the right way?” Those are all the hurdles that we’re helping people get over, with what we’re doing with Drift.

I think what happens is, once you get a taste of that, a taste of having conversations with the people who are on your website, we think of it a lot as your website is the equivalent of a brick and mortar store. You’re a B2B company. You don’t really sell things in a store, so you have a website. If somebody came into your store, you wouldn’t ignore them. You’d say, “Hey, let me know if you have any questions. I’m here to help.” We’ve just seen something as simple as doing that on your website can be so powerful in changing the way that people are communicating with your business.

Matt:  I would agree with you. I think that the devil’s advocate I’ve heard from some people is that they will say, “Well, that’s what my forms are for. They can click the Contact Us button. They can click the Download a Page button. They can click a Fill this Form out for a Demo,” so I think a lot of what you’re facing is that status quo, and getting people to think differently about something. Talk about what that’s been like, as you engage with the market and especially move past the early adopters. You may be facing not just the status quo, but a little fear of the unknown, to your point earlier, the fear of giving up on having something you can track that is a form fill and having something that might be a little less trackable, but potentially more valuable.

Dave:  Yeah, I think about this a lot, because I’m a marketer, and I have to educate people on how this is working, but I’ll give you a real example. One of our best sales reps here is a guy named Seamus, and he was like … He got an alert on his phone that one of his prospects was on our website. He was literally at home at nine o’clock on Tuesday night.

Dave:  This guy comes to the website, and he immediately starts just peppering Seamus with questions. You don’t get that with a form. It’s not just about the conversion rate of a form versus conversation, but how do you ask questions in the form?

What Seamus did was he basically sat on his couch on a Tuesday night, and literally just replied back to this guy, question after question, objection after objection. The guy ultimately ended up saying, “Okay, great. Can you talk at ten o’clock tomorrow, give me a demo?” He gave him a demo. He signed on for basically $5000 a month. To me, that’s one of my favorite examples, because that’s an engagement that doesn’t happen if you have to put somebody through a form.

The other thing is I think the biggest misconception is that I’m not out there saying go rip out everything you’re doing. I’m saying, add conversational marketing to what you’re already doing today. What you’re going to see really quickly is you’re going to create this fast lane for the best people that visit your website. Think of it a lot like … I love coffee. I love my Starbucks. Now that I have the mobile app for Starbucks, and I can order ahead, I can literally just walk to Starbucks, and I know that my coffee is sitting there. I don’t have to wait in line. That’s the equivalent of what’s happening in the B2B world, and that’s exactly what happened to Seamus.

Matt:  I think it’s interesting to hear you say that, because I think there are an awful lot of companies that, when they’re trying to challenge the status quo, they’ll say something else is dead. Well, cold calling’s dead, and forms are dead, and content’s dead. Oftentimes, when you hear something that’s dead, you think, okay, you’re probably trying to sell me the other side of that, more often it’s a transition, more often it’s an addition, more often it’s an augmentation. Just as there may be a lot more people that are interested in engaging through chat, which there clearly are, given the circumstance, you might still want to just be sent information, registering, get a white paper or download or a webinar may still be part of the mix. How do you figure out what the right context is? Is it based on a known past relationship with a buyer or a visitor to your website? Is there a way to segment the experience people have that’s optimal for them and what their preferences are?

Dave:  Yeah, so, I mean, this is a tough one to answer in a blanket statement, because I don’t know. It takes testing, just like everything else in your business. The worst thing you could do I think is put it on your website and just turn it on to everybody and just … Some people, depending on the amount of traffic, but if you have hundreds of thousands of people visiting your website, you can’t just do that and turn it on. You’ve got to pick and choose your spots.

The advice that we give is we think about the intent of different website pages, and then the traffic to those pages. You might have a page on your website that is very high intent, but low traffic. That might be a very specific case study. That’s one where I would like, boom, I would test there.

Now, you also might have a very high intent page that’s very high traffic, which is like your pricing page. There, I might start with a bot that’s going to answer five or six questions for me, as opposed to me having to do it myself. I think it’s really unique to each business, but especially in B2B, there’s a couple really familiar spots that a lot of people have on their website, whether that’s to get a demo, like Get a Demo or Request a Trial button, or Contact Sales, the pricing page, the blog. There’s a couple really specific use cases that most people start with, depending on the type of business that they have.

Matt:  We’re talking to Dave Gerhardt today on Sales Pipeline Radio. He’s the VP of Marketing at drift.com. Before we take a quick break here, let’s talk about HYPERGROWTH. You guys did this conference last year. It was a huge success. There was tons of people that were excited about it. They were commenting, and lot of social buzz around it, so this year you’re doing it twice. It the world’s fastest growing marketing and sales conference, your words, not mine. I’m just reading your website here.

You’ve got one coming up in September 4th in Boston. Some amazing speakers for that, September 24th in San Francisco. Quite honestly, because I’m looking at the speaker list, and you could attend both, and there’s not a lot of overlap and some great speakers on both. Talk about what it’s like to run a conference like this, and talk about what you’re most excited about for these that are coming up here just in a couple months.

Dave:  Yeah, I mean, last year when we did HYPERGROWTH, it was crazy, and it was a ton of work. Then, you don’t know what to expect until that day. Then, the second we hit 9:15 that morning, like 10-15 minutes into the event, I was like, wow! All of the stress and fear of events were completely worth it, because there’s just something about, especially the marketer, there’s something about getting people together in person. You don’t get that response.

I love doing webinars, because it’s very close to an event. I love speaking, because you’re actually out in front of real people, but having your own event with thousands of people that are close to your business there was just an unbelievable thing. This year, we wanted to do it even bigger, and so we’re doing one in Boston, and then one on the West Coast, new for us, in San Francisco.

I just think I’m really bullish on events. I think we are, at Drift, the connection between people. It’s even more important than ever today, in a world where we’re just driving people to our content in different forms of marketing. There’s no better experience, as a brand, than a day or a couple days or a week or whatever it might be, where there’s all these people that are connected to your business there in person.

You get the buzz. You get the amplification from everybody tweeting, and then you create this sense of fear of missing out, for people who weren’t there. I’m super excited. It was a little bit crazy to do two different events, because we’re just going to basically block out the whole month of September for us, but that’s the part, as a marketer, that I’ve got to, I guess, figure out behind the scenes.

Matt:  I love it. Now, we’re going to talk just a little more about HYPERGROWTH. I want to talk about some of the speakers. We’ve got to take a quick break here, pay some bills. We’ll be right back with more, with Dave Gerhardt, on Sales Pipeline Radio.

*Break*

Matt:  Thanks, everyone, for joining us on this special edition of Sales Pipeline Radio, recorded for your holiday week listening pleasure. We’ve got listeners, Paul, all over the world, and especially in North America, so those of you that have just celebrated the Fourth of July and for those of you who, a couple days before, celebrated Canada Day, I hope you were safe, but enjoyed some time with family, and some barbecue and beer and whatever else you like.

We are joined today by Dave Gerhardt. He’s the Vice President of Marketing at Drift. We were talking, before the break, about the HYPERGROWTH Conferences. Go to hypergrowth.drift.com. You can learn more. I may have to find a way to get to both of these.

If you go on September 4th in Boston, September 4, 2018, the speaker list is amazing. You’ve got Jocko Willink. He is the author of Extreme Ownership. He’s a former Navy SEAL. I have seen him speak. He is incredible. He’s a truly inspirational speaker, some amazing stories. He is a badass and a true American hero, amazing. You guys also have Grant Cardone, who is the author of The 10X Rule, one of the most well-known sales authors, speakers, influencers in the country. You’ve got George Foreman III, just an amazing group of people in Boston.

If that’s not enough, I know you’re not paying me for this. I’m just super excited. September 24, 2018, in San Francisco, another amazing list, you’ve got Patty McCord. She’s the author of the book Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility. These are not your usual sales and marketing conference speaker folks. You’ve got Amelia Boone, who is both the American obstacle racing champion and a lawyer. She’s a legal counsel at Apple.

Dave:  Yep, yep.

Matt:  Just some amazing speakers at these two conferences, so hypergrowth.drift.com. Check it out. Get your tickets. I look forward to seeing you there.

I want to take a little bit of a change in direction here, in our conversation, and talk about just the work that you and your CEO have done, from a content standpoint. I feel like I see you guys out a lot. You do a lot of work with video. It seems to me you’re focused on building your personal brands, and I’ve seen you, in particular, Dave, on lists of when people ask who has really been really good at building a personal brand online? Your name comes up a lot. Why has that been a priority for you, and how does that benefit Drift in the process, as well?

Dave:  Sure, yeah, I mean, it hasn’t been a priority for me. That’s just how I do marketing. I just believe that people want to deal with people today, so I try not to hide behind the Drift logo. I want you to see me, because I’m the one that, as a marketer at Drift, you’re getting emails from me. You’re getting sales messages from me. You’re getting promos. You’re getting tickets to HYPERGROWTH from me, and so I feel like people need to build a relationship inside of a company today, and so it’s just really important for me that, on our podcast, I’d feel the same to you, as I would do on a video, as if you actually met me in person, as if you got an email from me.

Then, ultimately, it’s all about people want to connect with people. My favorite lesson from this is from a guy named Gary Halbert, who wrote this great copywriting book, called The Boron Letters. He said every day you come home from work, and you have two piles of mail. You don’t know it. You go to your mailbox. You pull out this big pile of mail, and instantly, subconsciously, you just start separating those piles of mail. You have your A pile and your B pile. The B pile is the flyers from Home Depot, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and J. Crew, and you’re putting those aside. The A pile is what looks like a white envelope with a handwritten note on it, that looks like it’s from your aunt, who sends you 25 bucks on your birthday every single year.

As a marketer, I know that. I’m a person, too, and I know that a red flag goes off, or something goes off in my brain, whenever I get an email that super highly designed or I see a banner online. I’m just blind to that. Everything that I try to do tries to be real and personal, because I just know that that will cut through the noise out there.

Luckily for us, and for me, not a lot of people are doing it yet, but I think that’s the future and something that I stole from Gary V., which he perfectly nailed what this is, which is I just believe that the best marketing is documenting, not creating. We’re not trying to manufacture our brand. We’re trying to be us. We’re trying to be real. We’re trying to be authentic. I just try to make sure that is portrayed on every channel.

We always try to use real people, whether that’s us or our customers. All of our emails that we send are plain text, and they feel like the exact same email I would send to my mom, if I was sending her a note, right? We just try to write like we talk. That stuff is just fundamental to who we are in our brand.

Matt:  Well, I think the idea of authenticity there is really important. You used Gary V. as an example, and he’s a force of nature. He maybe has a couple extra shots of espresso before he does his videos, but that’s who he is. I mean, he’s an aggressive … He’s a fast talker. He throws a lot of swear words into the conversation. That’s who he is.

I see a lot of people say, “I’m going to be authentic like that,” and what they do is they try to be Gary V. It’s not who they are. It’s not what’s natural, and it shows. Allowing yourself to be authentic sometimes can feel scary to people. It can feel like you’re exposed, but I think that that’s part and parcel with creating an authentic brand for your company, as well as for yourself personally, is it not?

Dave:  Yeah, I think you have to be exposed. There’s a great book, called Let my People Go Surfing, by Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, and he said their whole brand is to be us. Our brand is us. It’s real people. They’re like, “We don’t try to create a fictional character, like the Marlboro man, for example. We are us, because it’s easier to write nonfiction than it is to write fiction.”

Your question about authenticity… You can’t try to be Gary V., or you can’t try to be authentic. You have to be who you are, and so you have to just be you. That’s more important than ever today, because buyers are just more skeptical than ever. Even if I have a typo in an email that I send, I stand by it, because I’m like, “Oh, yeah, sorry. There was a typo,” because I wrote it. I’m a real person. We all have screwed up like this. I think it’s just, it’s an element that is super important today, because I’m thinking about marketing and sales alone. There’s 7000 companies in this space, and so for us, at Drift, to think that we’re going to compete, because we’re going to get more people to fill out forms than another company, or because our logo is better, or because the colors on our website are cooler, that’s just not going to happen.

There’s too much noise out there. The only way that I think we can win is by being real and authentic. Maybe you’re shy and you’re introverted. You don’t have to do the selfie, LinkedIn videos that I’m doing, but maybe you have a podcast or maybe you have a blog or a newsletter that you get personal in. Authenticity doesn’t mean be Gary V. It means be authentic to who you are and to what your brand is.

Matt:  I agree with that, Dave Gerhardt, VP of Marketing at drift.com. Dave, you’ve been at HubSpot. You’ve been at Constant Contact. I mean, you’ve seen quite a bit the last few years in the evolution of marketing. What are some things that you think have changed the most for the better for marketing over the last three or four years, in particular, that you’re taking advantage of at Drift or that you see having a bigger impact for marketers and sales teams, moving forward?

Dave:  I think that, for me, there’s just so many channels that you can be creative as a marketer, right? It’s not like you just have your website and you just have email. You have Instagram. You have Snapchat. You have video. You have YouTube. You have your website. You have social. You have email. You have every channel under the sun, direct mail, whatever you want.

I think that there’s a new era of being creative in marketing again, where for a couple years, like probably the better half of the last decade, we shifted too much into robot marketing mode, which is like everything’s got to be a spreadsheet, everything’s got to be a funnel; whereas, now, the funnel’s gone away, because there’s so many different channels out there, and people can find out information. You can’t force people through this linear funnel.

I think that things for the better are more channels. Honestly, for me, the thing that I’ve been paying attention to the most is just people. I think the thing that I’ve seen through Constant Contact, through HubSpot, through Drift, the technology has changed, but people haven’t, and you’re still trying to win the hearts and the minds of the people that you’re trying to sell to. I spend more time going back and reading old school copywriting books and psychology books, and really trying to understand people, and just observing how people act and behave online, than I do trying to keep up with marketing technology, because you’re always going to be able to figure out marketing technology. Companies have to publish guides and videos and research, but if you can really understand people, then the rest of the marketing stuff, whether that’s tools and technology, that’s going to be easier to you, if you can really understand how to get to people.

Matt:  We’re running out of time here with Dave Gerhardt, as we always do at the top of the hour, here on Sales Pipeline Radio. Last question for you, Dave, before we let you go. You’ve referenced a number of books that you’ve read that have influenced you. I’m curious, in your career thus far, who are some of the people that stand out, either authors, speakers, mentors? They can be people dead or alive. Who are the people that have most inspired you, that you would encourage other people in marketing to go and check out?

Dave:  Yeah, so, I mean this one, it’s going to sound cliché, but to me it’s Steve Jobs. I think a lot of people say that, because everybody’s using Apple devices, but I don’t think a lot of people have actually gone back and studied what he’s done. If you’re listening to this, go and watch the 2007 Steve Jobs iPhone keynote. That is the only thing you need to know about how to speak onstage and you’ll never worry about creating fancy slides again, if you just watch that.

Dave:  I go back and study Apple and those ads. I’m obsessed with Nike and Phil Knight, and his marketing strategy. They have some amazing copywriting and storytelling that they’ve done from when Tiger Woods first came on the scene, and his whole Welcome World, and Hello World campaign. There’s so much stuff that I want to dig into from there. On top of that, I’m mostly obsessed with people that are dead now, which is David Ogilvy, Eugene Schwartz, some of the best copywriters of all time. That’s where I spend most of my time studying.

Matt:  Well, we are out of time, as usual, at the top of the hour here. Thanks so much for our guest, Dave Gerhardt, the VP of Marketing at drift.com. Check out hypergrowth.drift.com if you want to just check out an amazing conference in September this year, East Coast or West Coast. We’ll be back next week live again, 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern, for another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. For my great producer, Paul, my name is Matt Heinz. Thanks for joining us again on Sales Pipeline Radio.