Sales, Marketing and Intent Data with Bethany Davis

Erika Davis is joined by Bethany Davis, marketing and sales liaison extraordinaire, discuss the importance of and how to create a sense of trust and open communication between marketing and sales. 

Show notes

Without a two-way feedback loop between your sales and marketing teams, odds are, both feel a sense of dread (and probably a little annoyance) when an email comes through from “those people who just don’t get it.”

RevOps therapist and Greaser Consulting’s VP of Go To Market Strategy, Erika Davis, and Bethany Davis, marketing and sales liaison extraordinaire, discuss the importance of and how to create a sense of trust and open communication between marketing and sales. 

The truth is: both have expertise to share and are equally important. Sales can’t do what they do without marketing, and marketing can’t do what they do without sales. Once the two can share open and honest feedback, you’re on your way to RevOps adoption.

Bonus: How’s your open rate? Click rate? What about your reply rate? Even if your reply rate is good, have you looked at the replies themselves? If most of those replies are “Unsubscribe,” “STOP,” or “Please take me off of all of your lists NOW,” suddenly that “good” number isn’t so appetizing. For that reason, Sales Engagement Platforms are introducing intent data. Bethany shares how she and her team worked together to determine if this data is the real deal and if it can prove useful for your business.

Transcript

Erika:

One of my favorite things to talk about is how to create a two-way feedback loop in a collaborative process. So whether this is between a leadership team and a sales team, or between sales and marketing, it’s so important that feedback is going both ways to help two teams support one another. And in this episode, Bethany and I talk about how sales and marketing can best work together to support sales reps. I think this is a really important conversation. This is stuff we talk about at Greaser Consulting all the time with our clients. And in the second half of this talk with Bethany, we get into intent data, which is really interesting, and she has some great stuff to say. So I hope you’ll enjoy the episode. (singing)

Bethany:

My name is Bethany and I work at a Texas SaaS company. And I think we met maybe about a year ago at this point. So I’m excited to do this.

Erika:

Yeah. I remember when we got introduced, it was in the context of, hey, you both really like to nerd out about content, so you should be friends. And I think every conversation I’ve had with you after that has validated that initial introduction. So I’m really excited to be talking about this with you. And I think one of the things that I know about you is that you have a really unique perspective between content for sales and marketing. So how marketing can support sales. And so I’d love just to hear a little bit about your background and writing content and managing content for sales people. And then what that’s like now that you’re working more on the marketing side of things.

Bethany:

Yeah, absolutely. So I started at my current company about three years ago in a brand new role for the company and it was an SDR operations type of role. So think what sales ops is to sales, but for SDR. And then on top of that, it was creating inbound and outbound content for them, managing that content and then really being the liaison between marketing and SDR. Because marketing will launch these great campaigns, these digital assets and white papers and reports and events, and then sales doesn’t have all that context. And so it might fall flat or they might send an email that is probably way too long for the average attention span of someone today. So my team really worked, create really good relationships with marketing and had regular cadences set up so that we could interpret the information that they were giving us and give it in a form that sales understood.

Bethany:

Another key piece that I always like to help educate marketing on, especially now that I’m on the marketing side is the average tenure of an SDR being nine to 12 months. So before they get promoted to corporate sales or account management or wherever, that’s a really short time span to be doing constant sales enablement for these programs. So we need a scalable way to get that information to the SDRs as they’re coming in and during their time as an SDR, and then making sure that there’s that feedback loop.

Erika:

Yeah, I was just thinking about, because I manage SDRs at Greaser Consulting, and I’m just thinking about how long nine to 12 months feels as an SDR versus how short it really is when you’re thinking about it from a program perspective. But I love what you said about using what marketing’s doing in a way that sales can understand. I’d love for you to speak a little bit more to that. What does that mean? What does that look like to be able to use the work that marketing’s done and translate it for sales?

Bethany:

Yeah, absolutely. So one thing that we like to do with our marketing partners is if they feel passionate about wanting to write the content, we welcome that. And then what we do is we set that expectation and say, hey, we’ll review the content. We’ll shorten it down. We’ll make it more of that one to one connection versus one to many. And really what we’re looking for in sales content is providing that value and digging for that pain. So a lot of times marketing will give us content where it’s just maybe a little too much information and a little bit… It’s kind of a less is more type of thing. So we’ll take that content. We will shorten it a bit, make it focused more on that one to one connection. And then sometimes we’ll even say, if they want to take a look at it before it’s live we also give them that option too.

Bethany:

Most of the time, especially now that the team has been around for three years, we’ve become a really trusted partner. And so people typically are like, “We trust your judgment. We know that you’re going to pay attention. We know that you know what’s working for sales.” It kind of has become this, we both our expertise and we know that we’re both equally important to the business. Sales can’t do what they do without marketing and marketing can’t do what they do without sales. And so I think that we’ve really helped to garner a better foundation between our sales and marketing teams.

Erika:

I think that’s so important what you’re talking about just with building trust. Because I know when we work with companies who are trying to implement more of a sales first or sales focused content strategy, some of the things that we often will hear from marketing or things like, hey, there’s no value here, which really means, hey, there’s no talk about features. You’re not sending five links with all of our white papers and case studies or, hey, this is just… There’s not a lot of colorful adjectives here. This is so robotic. From a sales perspective, this is like, no, this is something I would actually feel comfortable saying to someone on the phone or in an email. And so I’m curious if that came up for you as you were starting to make this content for sales and what that process was like of establishing that trust.

Bethany:

Absolutely. And we did go through that, because again, marketing is producing all of this incredible content and we kind of have the mindset of let’s spread it out. Let’s take that content and then create more pieces of content with that versus trying to cram everything into one email. Because one that causes confusion for prospects, because they’re like, what is my call to action here? We are the mindset of, we need one, two max calls to action and typically a call to action for sales is going to be, hey, I noticed that you’re in XYZ industry and I saw this report, thought you might be interested. Let me know if you’d like set up a call.

Bethany:

That type of short messaging because one thing I think marketing doesn’t realize sometimes is, I mean I even myself, and I’m not even a decision maker at my company get 15 to 20 LinkedIn messages a week and or emails. So I can’t imagine what those decision maker’s inboxes actually look like. And so it’s like, how do you get the of that prospect? Because you’re in a complete flood of other emails competing for their attention.

Erika:

Yeah. Yeah. And sort of different when someone’s opted into marketing email versus sort of reaching out cold from sales. And I know we’ve talked before about what makes a good lead for sales or who marketing’s reaching out to versus who sales is reaching out to. So I’d love if you could speak to that.

Bethany:

Yeah. So do you mean in the context of who we’re emailing?

Erika:

Yeah. I think when we talked before, I think I had asked you something like what are you finding your self saying to marketing a lot now that you’re on the marketing team about how they can best support sales. And one of the things that you talked about was when to send leads to sales and how to set good expectations on sales about what an inbound lead really means in order to kind of build trust.

Bethany:

Yeah, absolutely. So that’s a really great point. I think now that I’m on the marketing side, I have that sales insight where there’s certain programs that marketing will launch that are valuable. However, they maybe shouldn’t be treated as an inbound lead in all cases because maybe it wasn’t company branded or maybe it was something that was a little more obscure. So instead of just opening the floodgate and sending the SDRs every single lead, regardless of what that score is of how likely they are or how interested they are in talking. So I think over time that can create a sense of distrust on the sales side where they think, hey, I have all these inbounds, I keep calling them and they don’t know who my company is. They say they weren’t interacting with anything.

Bethany:

And so I’m going to focus on my cold outbounding. And so I think that’s another important piece to make sure that marketing understands is they have a quota just like marketing, but their quota is based on qualified meetings or some metric along those lines. They’re expected to hit a certain number and so sometimes they’ll work with their sales rep and their sales rep is like, “This is where we need to focus.” So they’re oftentimes getting their attention spread across a lot of different sources of information. Really having that understanding I think will help marketing with building that trust with sales and that feedback loop and making sure that really the expectations and reality is clear as far as SDRs. And it depends on how a company’s structured. I know some companies have inbound teams and outbound teams and then some teams it’s just a mix of both. And so depending on what type of team you have, if you have that mix of both, it’s good to have that understanding that they’re being spread across many different avenues.

Erika:

Yeah, yeah. I know this hardly ever happens but I’ve heard of marketing teams sending sales something that’s way too complex and being really too complex from a sales person’s perspective. I have a bias towards sales because that’s my background, but I just think about all of the work that I know marketing does to prepare, all the thought that goes into content strategy targeting specific personas and then they go through this whole campaign really and prepare materials for sales. The mistake that they often will make is that email is way too long. From a sales perspective, it’s like if I look at something and I don’t get it within five seconds and I don’t have something actionable within maybe five to 10 seconds, I’m going to just assume that there’s nothing actionable for me.

Erika:

Because if there were, then it would be easier to understand and I’ll just archive that email. And then later it’s like marketing feels frustrated and sales feels frustrated because sales feels like, hey, you’re not supporting me and marketing is like, yes we are, you just don’t see it. So curious what you would say to someone on the marketing side, in that situation.

Bethany:

Yeah. That’s another great point. I think that if you’re sending an email to sales that has more than six lines and a table and or more than two highlighter colors, it’s probably too long. And I think what you can do to combat that is write more concise emails to sales, tell them only what they need to know. And then if they want to know more, then provide those links that link out to your company Wiki or wherever you’re keeping that documentation or that enablement side. So again, lots of new SDRs coming on board, lots of SDRs getting promoted. So how do we make sure that no matter where you’re at in your tenure at the company, you can understand or get a quick quip as far as what’s coming up for the week and then linking out resources if they want to dig a little bit deeper.

Bethany:

I think another big thing, and this is something that I’m sure a lot of companies go through is campaign codes in Salesforce or a CRM might not be scaled to have the whole sales team understand what the campaign code means. And so I think that’s definitely something on the enablement side. How do we scale that information for everybody coming in so that they know how to read a campaign code? If you don’t know how to get that information scaled, depending on how large the sales team is, writing active descriptions or really detailed descriptions of what the campaign is within the CRM itself so that sales can click through.

Bethany:

Because we would get a lot of SDRs that would reach out to my team and ask, “Hey, I don’t know what this is. It’s an inbound. And I have no idea what 14 letters and digits means.” And so we would have to decode and help them understand, oh, well this is what this means. This is what this means. But if there was better descriptions in the campaign itself in your CRM, I think it would’ve helped bridge that gap.

Erika:

Yeah. I think the role of enablement is really important. Because I almost think with… Well with any team really, one of the things that my team talks a lot about is having a two-way feedback loop. So if sales is able to contact you and ask questions and you’re able to reach out to them and get feedback, that’s awesome. I think it’s often even better if there’s an enablement role involved because then there’s someone to sort of absorb the tasks that might come out of that feedback loop. I think one thing I know to be true about SDRs is if you open that feedback loop to them and they know that by participating, it’s going to add a lot of work to their plate, they will not participate.

Bethany:

Yes, yes.

Erika:

I think one of the lines that I really like to start calls with when I’m working with SDR teams is like, hey, as a result of this meeting, you’re not going to get any work. We’re not going to ask you to do anything. This is purely, I’m going to listen, you’re going to talk and what you tell me is going to inform what my team does, but this is not going to result in more work for you. And they’re like, “Okay, great. Here’s all this stuff I’ve been wanting to say for the last six months.” And I think that just so rarely happens for SDRs, I think in a lot of teams. And so, yeah. I don’t know if there’s a question in there, but curious what your thoughts are.

Bethany:

Yeah. So one thing that our marketing team does that I think is a great idea to get that really honest feedback is they send out… I think they do it at the beginning of every new year or at the end of the year, I think. And it’s a questionnaire and a survey, so hey, what worked well, which of these programs did you like, which of these programs did you not find value and it’s anonymous and also there’s a drawing. So if you participate, you get entered into a drawing, I think it’s a $100 Amazon gift card or something like that. And so I think that helps to really combat that idea of, if I give input, I’m going to end up having to do extra work and I’m already stretched so thin.

Erika:

Yeah. That’s a great idea. I think bottom line is SDRs require a lot of support, a lot, especially in a larger org, a lot more support than having a manager and a marketing person writing for them. But really an enablement person and then also a program that allows for constant iteration. I think the management of that program, a lot of people really underestimate the lift that takes. I think one thing that is really unique about what you’re saying about your team and the work that you’ve been doing for the past few years is it really seems like your org understands how big of a lift that is and has allocated resources as such, based on that understanding and that’s really exciting to hear. I think what, what you all are doing is exciting. I know one of the things that we were going to talk about to you is intent data and how you’re using intent data. So I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

Bethany:

Yes. I love intent data. So I think as content creators, we’re all familiar with the more vanity metrics of open rate, reply rate. However, if you really double click into some of those replies, a lot of times some of them will be negative, that’s just reality. I think a better metric for the future is really focused the sentiment analysis. So which of these replies were actually positive replies, and which of these replies are people just saying unsubscribe, even though we’re [inaudible 00:17:46] compliant, we have unsubscribe links, but prospects will still just say unsubscribe. So I think a lot of sales engagement platforms are starting to release this sentiment analysis in their platform. So it makes it really easy because it’s just not scalable to be going through every single email reply and trying to decipher which is positive in which isn’t positive.

Bethany:

I actually worked at a tech company a few years back that was working on sentiment analysis, which uses something called NLP. And back then even five years ago, it was not where it’s at today. And I think that it’s just kind of a huge feat for technology. The fact that the English language is so complex and we have many, many same words that mean different things, even curse words can be used in a positive or negative way. And so there’s a lot of nuance to the English language. I think the fact that these companies are releasing this is huge. We did an exercise as a team and anyone who has this feature available to them, I recommend doing this as well, just to make sure that the data is mostly accurate. So we each took a sample of 50 email replies and we crosschecked to see if the system was correct in it’s a analysis of whether it was positive or negative.

Bethany:

We found that about 85% of the time, it was correct and then the times where it wasn’t correct most of the time, it was just the wrong subcategory, but it was correct with the main category. So it would say negative unsubscribe, but it would actually be negative in a different category of negative. So it was incorrect, but mostly correct. And I think that, again, that’s just a huge feat and it’s exciting to be able to use that for content creation and management, because I was really starting to just feel like there’s more that could be done there than just email and open reply rates.

Erika:

Yeah. Yeah. It doesn’t tell the whole story for sure.

Bethany:

Yeah, I know you had mentioned once that you were working with a company and they were showing you the reply rates and then they were like, “Wait, our high rates are going down.” And you’re like, “No, it’s just the sentiment.”

Erika:

Yeah. I mean, yeah, that’s happened to me a couple of times where I was doing audits of a sales engagement platform instance, and I would go in and I would see this is a cold outbound sequence. It has a six or seven percent response rate on the emails, which I think is quite good. I know people get higher than that when they do heavy personalization, but for a mass campaign, it’s pretty good to get six or seven percent reply rates. And then I’ll go in and I’ll look at, just scan the replies to see… This is what before sentiment data was live on this platform. All of the responses that I looked at were like unsubscribe unsubscribe, or like stop in all caps like you’re unsubscribing from a text.

Erika:

And then with the ask from my team was, hey, can you write sequences is that will perform better? And I was like, “Well, define better.” We could certainly lower your unsubscribe responses by simply putting a link in the… Which is required in a lot of places. So we should do that. But then I had to say, “We’ll create a new sequence for you and we’ll make it technically better, but you’re going to see a drop in your response rates because…” There’s so many factors that go into that. When people ask what’s a good reply rate or what’s a good open rate, it’s like, well, how many sequences have these people received? What is the persona? What is your market like? Do people know your brand?

Erika:

There’s so many variables that go into your expected performance that it’s really… What I want to work on is sort of an algorithm where you just plug in a number from one to 10 of what’s your product maturity, what’s your market competitiveness? How hard is it to get a hold of your persona. And then you plug in these numbers and it’ll spit out you can expect this reply and this open rate.

Bethany:

I love that.

Erika:

I think intent data is one of those things where that might be really similar across the board of the responses that you get, what percentage would you like to be positive? I think that is actually the best measurement that we have that’s scalable of how good your content actually is. So I’m excited about that too and I hope that we just keep getting more and more innovative with how to measure the efficacy of what we’re putting out.

Bethany:

Yeah. It’s totally a quality versus quantity argument in that case and something that we as a team would really take closer look at is if the sequence only has had 10 to 20 people, then it’s not statistically significant enough to be evaluating and AB testing. And it’s just, there haven’t been enough people that have seen it yet. You have to have… I mean, our rule of thumb was always minimum 250, preferably at least 300 sends before we go in there and alter anything.

Erika:

Yeah. I think I’ll have to invite you back to specifically talk about AB testing. Because that’s my next obvious question for you is about some AB tests, but I think we probably don’t have enough time to get into that-

Bethany:

I know.

Erika:

Now. Thanks for being on the podcast. This was a lot of fun,

Bethany:

Absolutely time flies when you’re having fun. Again, really appreciate you having me on

Speaker 4:

Hot dog, that was a great episode. Thanks for listening. If you want to learn more about Greaser Consulting or any information you heard on today’s episode, visit us online, www.GreaserConsulting.com. Be sure to click the follow button and the bell icon be notified on the latest here at RevOps Therapy. Thanks, and see you real soon.

Share with your network
Default image
Greaser Consulting

The Greaser team is made up of sales engagement natives; many of our consultants, including our founder, were early employees at the companies who created sales engagement. We are passionate about supporting revenue generators, empowering them to grow their companies and serve more customers.