This (now-exploding) startup t-shirt printer recently designed a personalized email campaign that would pull in a company’s information and logo to personalize their cold email experience.Read More
Is 2020 the year that 1,000,000 sales folks lose their jobs? If so, who will replace them? If not, where does this statistic come from?
In this episode, Katie Martell and Jeff Julian will dive deeper into what roles are expected to change on the sales team over the next few years and how our digital marketing teams will need to be prepared to fill the gap when it comes to preparing a customer for purchase.
Listen to the show
Katie Martell: Thanks Jeff, this is Katie Martell, On Demand Marketer based in Boston. You're listening to the Explicit Content Podcast, and what this is, is a consortium of the most brilliant, smartest and humble minds in marketing, all getting together to talk about the real issues that face our industry and our buyers. This show aims to cut through the BS and give you what you need to know to understand what's happening in this crazy world of marketing.
Jeff Julian: Yeah and today we're talking about the truth, the lies, and digital marketing, right? What goes on in this space?
Katie Martell: And there's a lot of confusion in this space. I think a lot of research gets thrown around, a lot of rumors get tossed around and you know, but I'm excited about today, to talk about a rumor that's been kind of circulating in our industry for about three years now.
Jeff Julian: Yeah and it's this idea that the further we progress in the future, the more people will do their own research to essentially sell themselves and so the use of a salesman or a sales rep, their job kinda goes downhill after that point, 'cause if you're only there to hold the door for somebody, well we can automate that too.
Katie Martell: Exactly. Exactly. To set the stage here, recently there was an event in Boston that brought together about a thousand B-To-B sales and marketing professionals and one of the speakers Jill Rowley, you may know from her Eloqua days, but is now the Chief Growth Officer at Marketo and what's funny is she got up on stage and said something brilliant. She said, "I'm well aware of the irony that I was the Eloqua Queen and now I'm Eloqua Quit." Which I thought was great. And she is always talking about the role of sales in this kind of modern marketing, modern buying process and she shared a stat and it was one million U.S. B-To-B sales people will lose their job by the year 2020. And anytime I see this stat in a deck and I see Lawton blog posts and people on stage, people get pissed off. As they should. I mean it's an inflammatory prediction.
And so, I shared it on Twitter, I shared a picture of the slide and people just went, it went gangbusters on Twitter, it was great, I had ton of engagement, but it kind of inflames this reaction in people. Like how could this be true? That's ridiculous. And so I really wanted to talk today about kind of what this bombshell prediction really is saying and what it means for our charter right now as marketers as we support sales.
Jeff Julian: Yeah and I think we gotta look at what they mean by sales person and you know the different tactics that are deployed and the people behind them. I was on a trip this past week and I was chatting with a sales guy and we were talking about like, hey what's your approach? And it was all based off of your comfort level or almost like the acceptance of disturbing somebody. He was like, oh, I can cold call, no problem. And that kind of like set me, make my ears go up, it's like, wow, you actually cold call? 'Cause those tactics, these approaches that we used to use, as they roll away while the function, we'll then need to move somewhere else, right? Internally or to an account based approach or something like that.
Katie Martell: Yeah. And actually I'm with a lot of the sales pundits who always say that cold calling will never go away. I agree with that statement. Some of the best sales people I know are just the master of the cold call because they see it for what it really is. This actually is a good lead in to what this report is saying. To clarify this statement, one million U.S. B-To-B sales people will lose their job by 2020, which isn't that far away, by the way. What it's saying is that most likely to lose their jobs are those who currently take orders. To your point Jeff, what we hold the door open, really provide no value to the sales process. That could be order takers that just process the orders, that somebody can place online easily, explainers who provide buyers with info about products, which as you know we all provide with web content. Navigators who kind of help buyers understand what they should be purchasing, I think that's being replaced by a lot of, again, web information available as well third party consultants.
The one type of sales person whose job is expected to actually grow in terms of job gain, are consultants. And these are sales people with extensive knowledge about the buyer's company that can then help the buyer understand what they need to purchase and why. And so it really all comes down to whether or not the sales rep is adding value or not. And in my mind that is not an unreasonable thing and place to come to as an industry.
Jeff Julian: If you need some proof that that is the way it's rolling, that people are looking for experts' opinions later in the buy process to validate their assumptions, then just look at the agency space. We used to talk about the Oglevees and the WPPs being the largest agencies. Today it's Accenture, it's HP, it's Avanade, it's Deloitte, these companies that were traditionally consultants, where companies would hire them, are now getting in front of the customer and then doing the work of an agency and they've already branded themselves to prepare for this big shit that we're seeing.
Katie Martell: Absolutely. And I think one of the other components that's affecting this is just simply e-commerce. A sales person can never replace a self-service interface and I think that people are sleeping on Amazon and B-To-B, would you agree?
Jeff Julian: Oh yeah. Definitely. I mean it's one of those very interesting plays that we see Amazon peeking their heads and assuming different environments and the B-To-B we've always kind of felt safe, but there's been a demand for a broker for a very long time, somebody to connect A to B.
Katie Martell: Exactly and I think, if you're talking about commoditized things, such as office supplies, food service, filtration systems, things that don't really require a lot of guidance through the process, then you really don't deserve to win the deal if you're not providing any additional value. That commoditized space should just simple be an e-commerce driven. B-To-B is looking a lot more like B-To-C because we're use to buying what we need on Amazon. There's no reason we shouldn't be buying what we need for work in the same kind of experience, right? So I think, you know for me, this really, this stat up on stage, I'm at this conference, people are pissed off on Twitter that the salesperson industry as a job is being threatened, it just made me think we're kind of facing this convergence now of e-commerce, right, for B-To-B as well as ABM.
I actually had dinner earlier this week with an industry analyst who I won't name, I will save their identity, protect the innocent.
Jeff Julian: Oh we are reporters now, right? We probably should do research on what that even means, but-
Katie Martell: I know and I am known as the unapologetic marketing truth teller, but at this point I will not reveal the truth of who I spoke with, but save it to say, this person was skeptical about ABM as an industry. They were saying that it's really not a shift, a change, it's own industry, it's basically, simply, just a bunch of tech vendors, right, that are building the hype. And I don't disagree, but that hype has gotten a lot of people to start realizing that the role that marketing has to play when it comes to sales people in large complex deals, has to change. It has to move away from our job as marketers is to publish stuff on the website, let a buyer self select and then let sales pick up the process.
In other words, we have to be seeing our job as marketers to support sales and this now delves into sales enablement, but support sales to become these consultants of the deal. That's our job. We can't just rely on them to do it, tell them to do it and hope that it happens.
Jeff Julian: Absolutely, I mean ROI is the big number, right? That's the thing we're coming down, in 2020, right? ROI is going to be that big figure that marketing teams are going to have to figure out and if you don't think a highly effective relationship with the customer in sales is going to really support your ROI and your ability for funding and your ability to get in front of customers, then you're mistaken. Because we can't continue to be the arts and crafts department that keeps producing random pieces of content that the sales people can't use to close the deal and then they have to deploy tactics that are no longer accepted.
Katie Martell: Absolutely. I think CEB Research, they are on the ones that came up with the Challenger Sale, they found that buyers today might be better informed then ever because marketing is just so good at pumping stuff out, but they're actually saying that more information is not better. In fact, buyers are, they call it deeply uncertain and stressed. And, you know, it's never been easy to buy a complex solution like Enterprise Software, manufacturing equipment, but having too much data plus with B-To-B, a bunch of stakeholders involved in the purchase, plus more options then ever, our buyers are actually overwhelmed and everyone knows that, but if you think about what that means for a B-To-B purchase, it means that that role of a salesperson has to almost not only provide value in terms of what the product will do for you, but help the buyer kind of wade through all of this marketing content that we're trying to publish to be helpful.
So we're actually making it worse on buyers. We're piling on more information for the salesperson to have to take through. The most value they can provide right now is just simplifying what we're trying to add to the equation. Which I think is hilarious, actually.
Jeff Julian: Yeah, exactly. If you think of a rescue effort or something like that where we have front line people and then behind the scenes, back at the main office, they're just sending random papers about, hey what makes an effective rescue effort, so something like that. It's just like no, you gotta be a part of it. You gotta understand the customer's needs. You have to understand what they're doing as a marketer. This idea of empathy that we keep saying, but I rarely met a person who's willing to dive into what their customers are doing to experience it so that they can then relate to the person. And that's kind of what empathy means.
Katie Martell: It is and I want to challenge us as an industry to take that concept of empathy one level deeper and say the best kind of empathy that we can have right now, is for the buyer when they're in the sales process. I think we understand that we have to address their needs, that we have to provide expertise on the industry, fresh ideas to advance their business, we get that. Where we draw ...
... ideas to advance their business. We get that. Where we drop the ball is specifically on what that buyer's experiences like as they go through the sale, especially in an ABM situation. My most hated phrase, the phrase that I cannot stand anymore, because it's now become meaningless is napping the buyer journey. It's become something that people just ...
Again, like they did with buyer personas, it's something that people just kind of throw some ideas into a document and call it a day. I think that this is a real opportunity to understand what are the most challenging parts of engaging with any vendor in your space, not just your own and what are the things that the buyer has to do to overcome each of these hurdles.
Again, CEB has really great thinking on this and they recommended figuring out what obstacles are in the path. Not just awareness consideration and this magic path to purchase. Specifically what do you need information-wise to actually move yourself through a decision. In other words, how do you get the stakeholders, which I think there's now seven on average in every B2B deal. What is every single person need to feel good about moving forward?
The way we can find this is actually by doing a lot of research after the fact by working with our best customers and our best salespeople. Digging down with them and saying to them, "What did you need in this process? What would have cleared the way? What would we have done differently to kind of help you embark through this purchase better?" It sounds like a really simple approach, but it's amazing to me how many companies don't get it that's the biggest divide between sales and marketing is in that specific purchase process.
Jeff Julian: Last year, I was working with a large vendor, I'll keep their name out of it too, and a large client. They suffer by what's around $300,000. Their approach was so dramatic that they're were looking at their existing licenses and what they needed and somebody threw out the word legal. We're having our legal department look into this and that was our sales approach.
I'm like, "Listen guys, this company is bigger than yours. When you use the word legal, there's legal team, which is bigger than your sales team gets a little bit antsy and you just closed all doors of communication because you're just trying to get the sale. You're not thinking in the customer's shoes. You're not realizing that this is the end of a budget year. You're trying to get the sale to make yourselves look good." They don't have any budget for it. Let's take some time and consider and sit down with each other and think what's possible now, what's possible in the future. What problems are each one of them facing.
The guy never even sat down to understand what the customer, who they were, who the new people were and what the dynamics were between those two departments. That's something that an effective salesperson has to know, because they need to know what they're going to do for the next step as a guide rather than just to close the deal.
Katie Martell: Exactly. That's the keyword as you said is guide. A friend of mine, [Halley Pino 00: 14: 10] who is a sales, and it meant just master. She works in Silicon Valley, a lot of SaaS companies where the sales process has to be somewhat predictive. Not predictive, but it has to be somewhat uniform. She was saying to me the other day that the best salespeople are creatures of, not hobbit. Hold on. Actually, Jeff, I'm going to get the actual phrase, because I want to quote her correctly.
Her point was that you work with your best salespeople to understand what that sales process looks like. What I mean by that is very much that you can go into the next conversation and say, "Listen, one thing that we've learned working with customers like you is that legal might get involved." Probably late in the process. When they come in late, they all go to shit.
We got to get them into the process earlier. When you do that, they're going to have these questions. If a salesperson can guide the buyer to predict what the buyer cannot possibly understand but the salesperson knows from doing this deal over and over and over again, that's going to be a much more prescriptive, consultative sales. I think that's the kind of sale that, right now, that poor, beleaguered buyer needs.
Jeff Julian: I always scratch my head when I try to think of the best way to describe what that process looks like. The word serendipity always comes up, but that is an accidental, in chance encounter where the other side everything is predatorial. You're hunting this person and you caught him off guard at the right time.
It's hard to find a good word, but it's the idea of I'm looking to engage with this person in a way that they are also looking to engage with me. I want to be in the right place at the right time with the right answers, but if they're not ready or they're not there, I'm not completely obliviated by it.
I love the movie, Serendipity, because John Cusack continues to try to find any press. He's almost getting into that predatorial space where he's like pressing into it and trying to find and looking all these different things and it's never working until he just waits until the moment is right.
Katie Martell: That's the thing. I think a lot of salespeople refuse to admit that the moment may not be right. That's okay. I do believe that it is a role of a challenger salesperson to incite a disruption within a company. That's what the dream of challenger sale is. They say they're not ready to buy it, but you challenge them to consider things in a new way.
There's a way to go about doing that. We keep saying the E word, empathy. It has to do with understanding that if the buyer is being as to shake things up over and over and over again, rip and replace an ERP system, buy a new CRM. These things are really emotionally damaging processes. They take a lot of risk internally. Not only in terms of losing money, but on the individual who spearheads and champions this change. There's a lot of risk professionally.
A lot of people bet their careers on systems that the salesperson has to sling around every day. If they don't understand the personal risk being taken on, then they're going to lose their opportunity to figure out when that right moment. When serendipity truly is. You really have to align the person's willingness to take on professional risk, personal risk with all the other band, criteria that we think qualifies the deal when it's happened.
Jeff Julian: Yeah. I wish, like this headline, it said, "By the year 2020, 100 million marketing automated system messages will be without a job." Then that would make so much more sense, because so many salespeople, they're so afraid of not having enough prospects. They're just treating everyone as a hot lead. They're putting them to their drift campaigns. Every two weeks, they put a super, hyper personal message that they didn't create, that went up to somebody who has a real job and emotions and stress.
It came off as, "Dude, I told you to quit talking to me. I said I'll get a hold of you and two weeks later you're talking to me." That's just overall frustrating as a buyer that the sales guy never knows that he actually affected that person, pissed them off for 15 or 20 minutes. The customer really doesn't want to do any business with them anymore all because it was automated.
Katie Martell: I know. It's funny to me to see the rise of these ... A lot of them are AI driven tools to understand if the buyer is responding in a certain way. "Yes, I'll take the meeting. No, I won't." We're still just peppering and being anything but politely persistent to buyers that just might not be ready. There's such a different and better way to do this.
I'd love to chat about what marketing can do to equip sales with the kinds of tools so that the outreach is not in vain. It's simply not, "Hey, are you ready yet?" That is the worst kind of followup. Every single touch should add value, but what does that really mean?
Jeff Julian: Yeah. If you're like in a relationship. "Hey, so are you ready yet? Have we had enough dates yet? Though I'm going to ask to come upstairs."
Katie Martell: "Do you have 15 minutes on Monday?" It's awful. It's years, right? I think that marketers see content as a purely top of funnel endeavor. I love content that exist later on in the funnel. Content that sales loves to use. I think when you're able to hit that chord with sales, you know you've hit a home run. Go ask your sales team what they need. Go ask them what kind of questions they're hearing every single day that the buyer has.
I guarantee, if you're selling it to B2B, if you're selling big deals, the kinds of things you can do to help are really interactive. Diagnostic tools to help a customer figure out whether or not they have shortcomings in the current system. Internal workshops that can be lead confidently by sales or white boarding session to help them align all those internal people, the stakeholders on the need to change in the first place.
A workshop is a great piece of content. A readiness assessment. To kind of identify the path forward. What the step by step route will be. All of this is very much in the capability of a marketing team to produce, but a lot of us tend to think of our roles as very attention gatherers. Once we have their attention, it's up to sales to see it through.
We have to see our role as very much hand in hand with sales to help them be not only experts on the space, but experts on what the buyer needs to make the process happen. If you can do that, if you're a marketer who can crack that code with sales, sales would love you. The best marketers I know, sales absolutely loves them because they understand what sales needs to close that deal that you're looked at as partners, not ivory tower marketers.
Jeff Julian: We want to thank Rev.com for being a sponsor of the show and helping us bring transcripts and captions to the enterprise marketer and explicit content podcast shows. For more information about Rev and to get $10 off your first order, visit emktr.co/rev.
The big change in the industry will have to be compensation models. We can't keep asking marketers to get involved in the sales on a pure salary basis, but then affect ... Give the salespeople this commission, the civility to go out, hunt, bring it home and win like an entrepreneur, because the division between these two organizations is held up by one thinking they don't get paid enough. The other one is so worried about even getting paid that they can't think straight.
Katie Martell: That's interesting. What you're saying is that the way people are compensated drives what they care about.
Is that the way people are compensated drives can of what they care about. Do you agree that marketers should be given a revenue number?
Jeff Julian: I do, but I think it should be anytime you give an employee or a team some level of effort to go towards, I think there needs to be a comparable reward behind it. It could be a prize, it could be a trip to somewhere as a team, whatever that is. But if you ask somebody to go above and beyond what they're used to and used to is what they actually perform at, not necessarily what others performer at. It's kind of like a weight loss contest.
You can't do it unless you have small wins and if everybody is a part of that process, but the sales guy on the other side he has to be able to have a base to where he can fall, he cannot be as effective as the other guy because his customer could be a giant fish, they could move away the quarter before they buy it. When it happens, it's going to change the company dramatically. These are the kinds of things that the compensation model reminds me so much of that restaurant model where the cook in the dish boy are paid a very low wage.
But the waitress or the waiter is given a salary, and if the cook screws up the waiter doesn't get paid. If the bus boy didn't clean up the table the waitress gets a bad tip. I mean customer reviews are never subjective against the person that standing in front of them, but it's the experience as a whole. If everyone was paid the same wage, male, female, job or job in that process. When the tip came in everyone who was a part of that who got a share of it then we're all on board, we're all going towards it. But you can continue the model saying one group is incentivized by closes the deal, and the other one is required to find all the deals.
Katie Martell: I hear that and I think that you articulate it really well but I will challenge you to say that I don't, I think the reason I love sales people is that they're not coin operated, I think a lot of marketers think sales teams are just these coin operated robots. What I love about a good salesperson is that they're hungry and that hunger comes from a place of, I want to hit my number, I want to hit my target, and that will really never get replaced.
I do believe in the Venus and Mars kind of dichotomy of sales and marketing. Marketers are not salespeople, salespeople are not marketers and that's a beautiful thing. So I think that, I think quotas and I think commissions are such that they work and they always will work because they drive that kind of innate hunger that lives in a sales person. But I think that the marketing team, I like your point about should be somewhat compensated. In other words, just recognize that they've got a skin in the game because that's what's really ... we don't show up to work everyday to save the world, we show how to make money.
It will start to reorient people to say you're all going after the single. Again, the point of all of this is to say that marketing job is to work hand in hand with sales, to a certain extent. We shouldn't become sales people but I think we need to start realizing that much more of our natural strengths should and can be applied to the sales process, because then to your point, Jeff, everyone wins.
Jeff Julian: I think we can't just throw out the baby with the bathwater and get rid of it, but I think we can rethink sales and marketing and I would throw in this idea of an experienced producer. Somebody who's, as an ABM person has a group of accounts that their job is to ensure everyone in the organization who's dealing with these accounts is doing it effectively.
The sales guy has a producer, somebody who's working with him, making sure he has everything the way and the sales guy is attending meetings giving time for training, being able to push, pause on a few things and get up to speed on the products that we have, get up to speed on the customer without feeling like he's not making enough calls. He's not going to close it, because we have a producer over him.
Then that same producer then works with the marketing team to make sure we have collateral that's for this type of account, or this segment or whatever and that producer is the one that's overall compensated the highest, that given that reward that they also give to the other teams.
But they're the ones that are kind of accountable for closing the deal because they're part of the whole thing. I like that idea like once we can really figure out where sales and marketing live and if we can think of the idea of having a customer experience that's over support sales in marketing. Anything it has to do with that forward-thinking for the customer and a producer or somebody like in the movie.
The producer is in charge everything, from the marketing of the movie all the way to finding the people who go on the movie who are in the crew, and they're the ones that are compensated the highest.
Katie Martell: I love that approach and I know with bigger organizations that function exists in a few different ways, a few different job titles. But I think at a higher level of what we're seeing is this I love your point which I interpreted to mean. We need more individuals who are just embedded in this gray area between sales and marketing, because if you do that and sometimes these people are ABM quarterbacked, and sometimes if companies big enough their sales engineer type roles they might be reporting to sales leadership that might sit in product marketing.
It's really varied right now because there really is no standard, I want to quote Rachel Maddow here and just say, "Watch this space," because I feel like this is one area that's not only going to get more finite and pinpointed as these two teams realize they have to work closer together. I love what you're saying.
Something new will be created here, some kind of a production type role to really bridge that gap. Again, I think it exists but I don't think it exists in the way that the sales development role, the product marketing role, or the account executive role are pretty standardized.
Jeff Julian: Yeah, and I think we really have to look like the startups face, the solo entrepreneurs because they have to fit the roles. So what do they do? That cause disruption, right? People look at me like how big like Fortune 500 consulting firms look like they're competing with me, and they look at me like, "How the hell are you even at the table?" It's like because I can be as agile and aggressive and as sympathetic that they can't do, because they've got a team of 20, and you just look funny trying to be, "Hey, I'll be your buddy with a team of 20 around the table, but I can do it because I'm just one person taking a person out to lunch."
Katie Martell: Yeah, and that's the thing, I mean that's the nature of the B2B space as a whole, everything's becoming a bit more commoditize especially services, and it becomes increasingly important to figure out where you differentiate. I think you know probably a final thought here but I think sales enablement and how we manage and intentionally deliberately design that sales process to really fit with what buyers need, that is as much an area of differentiation as our messaging.
Make it easy for people to buy from you, and you may just have the leg up in a competition where in an industry where your competitors sound and look a lot like you, you can't out maneuver them. So what are you going to do? I think you should double down on improving that process. That might be the thing that closes the deal and creates a customer over the long term.
Jeff Julian: Yeah. Let people pay with credit cards or mobile app, Maria could charge in six bucks for a certain account, and all these things would have changed their industries dramatically but they just don't see it coming, and they didn't shift in time. But yeah, like I said I'm going to wrap this one up and I like sitting in for Lindsay but next time I know she'll be back.
Katie Martell: Thank you so much for having me. Yes, Lindsay your voice is missed, but Jeff thanks for jumping in last in it.
Jeff Julian: No worries. All right guys, we'll talk to you later.