Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 329: Q & A with Joe McNeill


By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

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This week’s show is entitled, Best Practices for Successful Sales and Marketing Integration and my guest is Joe McNeill, Chief Revenue Officer at Influ2

Tune in to hear more about:

  • Person-based advertising – the important role it plays and it’s impact on complex sales situations
  • How companies should think about business value and balancing it with the personal needs and objectives of decision makers
  • Best practices around how marketers should be thinking about multi-threaded opportunities to support their sales teams
  • Best practices for how sales and marketing operate together in an integrated way

Listen in now for this and MORE, watch the video or read the transcript below:

Matt:     All right, well, welcome everybody to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. I am your host, Matt Heinz. Excited to have you here and joining us for another exciting episode. We keep these short, 20 minutes or less, and get you back to your workday. If you are watching or listening from LinkedIn live today, thank you for joining us in the middle of your work day. If you are watching live, you have an opportunity to be part of the show. If you have a question on our topic today around personalization, person-based advertising, selling into tough times, which we seem to be in or we’re moving towards or maybe behind, it’s really hard to know, but lots of stuff covered today. If you have a question or comment, please throw that into the LinkedIn comments and we’ll make you part of the show. If you’re watching or listening on demand, thank you very much for checking us out. Every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, past, present, and future available at Excited to have with us today, Joe McNeill, Chief Revenue Officer for Influ2. Joe, thanks very much for joining us today.

Joe:        Yeah, thrilled to be here, Matt. Appreciate you having me.

Matt:     Yeah, so there’s a lot of things we talked about potentially covering here. We’re for sure going to run out of time. But I think certainly the idea of personalization in a time when we’re having a harder time getting the attention of prospects, having a harder time getting through to prospects, I think personalization’s a key part of that. You guys use this phrase, person-based advertising, so I wanted to have you maybe anchor us in that conversation first. What does person-based advertising mean and why is that important now?

Joe:        Yeah, quite simply, it is hyper targeted advertising. So it is creating an advertising campaign and then assigning specific people that you would like to have, see that campaign. So in today’s world, there’s a lot of noise out there, and being able to get relevant information in front of people’s eyes is important.

Matt:     Let’s separate the idea of account-based advertising with person-based advertising, because I think there’s still, if the stats I saw are right that 73% of B2B companies, even those that say they’re doing account-based advertising work, still have one message for everybody at that account. And I mean, if you’ve customized to that account, or at least to someone in that industry, well, that’s better than just a one size fits all. But you are missing an enormous opportunity to bridge that final gap of personalization for the individuals.

Joe:        Correct. If you and I work at the same organization, we’re both operating on the commercial team, but the message that resonates with you and the message that resonates with me is going to be different, as I’m overseeing sales, you’d overseeing marketing, so you want to make sure you’re able to tailor relevant message to the relevant audience.

Matt:     Well, we may have the same objective. We can sort of do jazz hands at sales kickoff and say we’re thinking about the same thing, but the way we approach that objective is going to be different. I mean, if you’re running sales, I’m running marketing, that’s one thing. But if you’re running sales and I’m one of your SDRs, we think about the world a little differently as well. We bring a different perspective, we bring different history, we have different objectives, and maybe a different dashboard that we think about. What we’re solving and what you may be selling us may be the same thing, but the way we think about that and build that internal consensus is really important. Talk a little bit about just the power of that, as companies embrace these complex sales situations that we used to say, “Boy, it was enterprise companies. They take forever and there’s 8 to 12 people in the buying process.” Complexity in selling is happening everywhere now. I think especially this year as we’re seeing sales cycles lengthen, that direct personal connections even more important.

Joe:        I think where I started to really see it take shape was during COVID. The idea of the buying group and making consensus decisions amongst a group became bigger and bigger from the sense that no one wanted to make a decision in a vacuum. Everybody wanted alignment on what we’re going to do. But what’s a common use case is the user base that’s intended for your platform, whatever it may be, a lot of times it makes their job easier, but making the user base’s job easier is not a great business case for the C-suite.
So, from a messaging standpoint, as a salesperson, you want to make sure your user base knows how it’s going to empower their day to day because people make buying decisions, not companies. These groups are made up of humans. And they’re going to think of what’s best for them first. So it becomes important to get the right message to the right people.

Matt:     Yeah. No, buildings do not write checks. And so you still, even in a complex B2B situation, selling into Fortune 100, it’s still the people. And those people don’t always make rational decisions. Even if you’re at an enterprise company and you have shareholder responsibility, you still bring emotion, you still bring personal goals into the conversation. Let’s talk a little bit about, I mean, it’s one thing to say we’re taking the message to the person and we’re personalizing it to individuals, but let’s talk about what that message is. How should companies think about business value for what you’re selling and how to balance that with personal needs and personal objectives that individuals who are going to make these decisions that are going to make a commitment to change. How important is it and how do you then combine personal, professional, objectives and needs?

Joe:        Yeah, I think the further up the org chart you go, the more strategic the needs, the more impactful the needs, the more high-level the needs, where when you get into more of the doer-user roles, it’s more tactical. How does this help me do my day to day? How does this help solve the pain I’m seeing in accomplishing the goals I need to see? And I think a big part of it, especially with us, is we can track engagement without forms so you can open up the idea of providing content to these individuals without them creating a barrier for, “Put your name here, put this form here, download this,” or gating content. That’s always the age old dilemma, to gate or not to gate.

Matt:     Well, yeah, boy, we could go on a whole tirade on that. I think only 3-4% of people fill out forms. That’s not a new statistic. That’s been happening for a very long time. And so if someone is really interested in learning more about your solution or just interested in educating themselves about the problem, if they’re highly motivated, the last thing you want to do is put a barrier in front of them. So, being able to let people explore the way they want to.

And speaking of that, I mean, sometimes we think about this buying committee, and it’s always so funny… For years we think the way we sell is the way people want to buy. And there’s always and it’s been too many companies that have a conflict between the selling process they want to follow and the way their customers buy. And as we think now about buying committees, we’re like, “Oh, great, we got these eight people in a buying committee and here’s these stages of the buying process they go through. And so we’re going to march all eight of them through stage by stage at the same time.” That’s not reality as well. So how do you think about sequencing the message across those buying committee members? What are you looking for from the early indicator, sort of those tip of the spear people in the buying committee? And is there a way to use that to build some consensus internally amongst folks to help increase velocity of, not just the deal, but just a commitment to change?

Joe:        Yeah, I mean, at the highest level, like as an AE we know that multi-threading year opportunities is the biggest driver of conversion rates right now. We all know that. The problem is it’s hard, and sometimes companies make it hard because if I’m talking to Matt, he’s saying, “Hey, I’m your guy. You don’t need to talk to anybody else. I’ll broker all those conversations.” And it puts you in a bind because you don’t want to go around them, but you know you to need to.

On the flip side, the organization knows that multi-threading the opportunities is very important, but a lot of AEs don’t get a lot of support from the organization in multi-threading. So, quite simply, if you think of everybody as a green light, yellow light, red light, as an AE, you’re at least trying to get the red lights to yellow and the yellow lights to green. And I think depending on where they are in the decision making process and how good of a lead you have on that, you know what type of messaging you need. And you can just look at your former wins and losses and think what was the anatomy of this winning deal? Why do we think we want it? And how do we reverse engineer that into messaging to resonate with the next one? And the same thing with losses. Why do we think we lost this and how do we mitigate that on the next one?

Matt:     When you hear the phrase multi-threaded opportunities, for the marketers listening to this, they may say, “Okay, maybe that’s a new topic.” Or if you’re in marketing or sales, you’re like, “Okay, that is a sales strategy.” It’s saying, “Okay, I got multiple people. My job as a relationship manager is to manage those different conversations, help get them aligned.” Becoming a more and more important priority for marketing organizations to do that as well. It’s not just segmentation of message, it’s coordinating those different relationships and stages in what is often a messy buying committee situation. What are some best practices for how marketers should be thinking about multi-threaded opportunities to support their sales teams?

Joe:        Yeah, I think there needs to be a consensus amongst the commercial team on who are our key personas? Who are the key individuals that are a part of the buying group, and where do they fit in the decision making? Are they an influencer? Are they a champion? Are they a decider? And who are our possible detractors? And I think if you can get that alignment between sales and marketing, you can march forward in terms of, as a salesperson, you don’t want to turn your nose up at opportunities, but there is a variation in the health of opportunities and how strong certain pipeline is. And I think everyone being on the same page of that is great.

Matt:     Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio today with Joe McNeill, he’s the Chief Revenue Officer at Influ2. We’re talking a little bit about multi-threaded sales situations, personalized marketing. If we have time, we’re going to get his assessment of what it is, year five of rowing the boat, and whether we’re moving in the right direction there at Minnesota football. But before we get to that, I want to talk about sales and marketing teams working together. As you’ve grown in your role in sales leadership, I expect you’ve seen sort of a dramatic evolution of marketing’s partnership with sales. Talk a little bit about what you see working today. What are some real best practices for how sales and marketing, don’t just, again, not jazz hands at SKO, but operationally operate together in an integrated way? What are the things that you see working best today?

Joe:        Yeah, I mean, I think you see the rise of the revenue-based title, right? Revenue operations instead of sales and marketing operations. And it’s the recognition that revenue generation is a company initiative not just a sales initiative. And I think quite simply, to me, marketing and sales alignment starts with definition of what it means to win for both teams. It has to be the same. They have to operate on the same definition of what it means to win. So, goals, well that’s not a new concept, it’s not overly complicated, but they need to have alignment on what it means to win so they can optimize in the same direction and they can continue to triage problems and work together. Secondly, I think you just have to have aligned leadership. If the overall sales and marketing order organization doesn’t see the leadership working together, marching together, and supporting one another, then you’re in trouble.

Matt:     I would 100% agree with that. I mean this is not a campaign, this is a culture change that has to happen in organizations that do this well. And even if you have that, even if you have that executive alignment, even if you expect that we’re going to have some discipline and patience to do this right? Not everything’s going to work well. I mean, sales teams never hit their number all the time. Marketers never have flawless campaigns. And that was true when they were working independently and it’s certainly still true when they work together. Talk a little bit about the mindset you take into that, and especially assuming the best of intentions from your partners so that helps increase collaboration and understanding across teams as they execute.

Joe:        Yes. So I stole this term from a former CEO of mine, but the culture I try to build, that I try to foster, is a collaborative meritocracy. Pretty flat, lot of brainstorming. And with that, you get a lot of bad ideas, but honestly, the good ideas come from the sea of bad ideas. And I think just because you’re an SDR doesn’t mean you can’t have ideas on marketing and just because you’re a marketing intern doesn’t mean you can’t have ideas on sales. There’s no sacred cows. And if your go to market and your strategy can’t stand up to scrutiny from the team, or just in general, then maybe it shouldn’t be your go to market or strategy. So I think for everyone, I think sometimes organizations are looking for this panacea or this new strategy that’s really just going to catapult them. And the reality is growth is usually a ton of small incremental improvements over time. You’d have to just constantly be tweaking the model and iterating. And if everybody is engaged in that, it’s just so much easier.

Matt:     I absolutely agree with you. It’s amazing to me that we still see people that are managing, even senior level managers, in complex sales situations expect there’s going to be one thing that they can fix or one silver bullet, or if we could just figure out dark social, if we could just figure out paid search, if we could just figure out the SDR’s function. It’s a body of work. It’s a body of work of various things working together. You think about that sort of vertically, but then horizontally across time, I mean, if you’ve got sales cycles that are in months or quarters, or if you’re in federal sales, God help you, you’re in Olympic cycles. It’s not going to be a white paper download; it’s not going to be an SDR sequence. So, really thinking about that more broadly, and so with the risk of broadening this conversation too much, you get into that question then of attribution. And so as a leader who’s thinking about overall go to market motions, what’s your perspective on how to think about attribution and impact by sales and marketing motions across a journey that is messy and complex?

Joe:        Yeah, I mean, attribution is such a tough topic. I like to think of it as influence. You have to look at all of the influencing factors that went into a deal. It’s way too hard to pinpoint. I mean, maybe there’s certain times where you can pinpoint, “This is the event that really got this off,” but there’s so many influencing factors and then if you have the same, this is where alignment matters, if you all have the same definition of what it means to win, then you get together and you look at that influence and you start making decisions on what the level of influence was amongst the variables and where do we need to do more and where do we need to do less and how do we think this impacted it?

Matt:     Yeah, it’s messy. And I think that it’s important to have the right mindset going into that, having a leadership team, as you said, that is bought off on this, that has some staying power and longevity and saying, “We’re going to do this right.” But then looking at what’s working and looking at what matters and of figuring out, “Okay, where are we doing well? Where do we see trends? Where do we see consistent results?” And leaning into that.

As we wrap up here, we didn’t talk about this beforehand, so I’m making a bit of a guess that as a Minnesota alum, Minnesota football is important to you. I think we’re going in year five of P.J. Fleck running your organization. He came over as a very charismatic, I think of him as the Russell Wilson of college football coaches, that he’s very charismatic, he’s got his catchphrases. Minnesota seems to be doing better, but as a Minnesota alum, if I assume that you’re a football fan, what’s your assessment of the P.J. Fleck era so far?

Joe:        He’s progressing at the perfect cadence. If he got too good too quick, he’d just get hired by UCLA or Nebraska or something. So, he needs to have a very incremental progress in order to stick with us for a while. So I think we’re all happy that at least we have some relevance and there’s a few games a year that matter that we can get excited about, and that we’ve been better than Wisconsin too. So that’s really our barometer.

Matt:     See, you get to those rivalry games, who gets the Paul Bunyan ax at the end of the year? You win that and you’re in better shape. I think Urban Meyer, Deion Sanders, front runners for Nebraska job. That’s my hot take at this point. But anyway. Joe, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it. If you want to learn more about Influ2, where’s the best place to go?

Joe:        Yeah, connect with me on LinkedIn. Be happy to chat. Website is as well. We’re happy to talk through how we can support pipeline generation.

Matt:     Awesome. Thank you so much. We’ll make sure we get your LinkedIn profile into the show notes so people can follow you there. Thanks everyone so much for catching up with us today. Thanks for watching. Francis, thanks for rifing your college team as well. Glad we could get a little bit of fun into the conversation in addition to a little sales and marketing chat. We’ll see you next week, 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern. My name is Matt Heinz. We’ll see you on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.

Joe:        Thanks, Matt.

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