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Odds are, if you work in sales or marketing, you’re ready to square up on one side of the ring to defend your opinion. Who should write sales copy: sales or marketing?
Sales knows the voice: one human reaching out to another. Marketing knows the brand and wants to protect it. It’s a never-ending tension.
RevOps Therapist, founder and CEO of Greaser Consulting, and sales guy at heart, Jordan Greaser, and Kathleen Niemann, Outreach Program Lead – North America Marketing at SAP, duke it out.
Who will win?
Hi, everyone, this is Jordan, the owner and CEO of Greaser Consulting. On this call today, we’ve got Kathleen. So Kathleen is, I believe, the North American Program Lead Marketing side of the house for all things Outreach. She runs a fantastic content motion, content development motion over there. We have differences of opinions; I think a lot of this should go over and be housed in sales. She’s a pretty big believer that it doesn’t really matter if it’s marketing or sales. You know, obviously, she’s sitting on the marketing side, that, hey, listen, as long as we drive results, it doesn’t matter. There’s certainly some truth in that. I say this to say that I really respect her opinion. I had a lot of fun on today’s podcast, probably a little bit more disagreement than usual, which was a ton of fun. And like I said, high respect for everything she has to say; you’re going to enjoy jumping in and listening to this and hey, you can ping me later and say, “Jordan’s all wrong. Kathleen’s all right.” She very well could be; lean in and have some fun with us.
Say you want some clarity in sales and marketing and SEP? Well, we have just the remedy: our podcast, RevOps Therapy. Yeah.
Hello, everyone. And welcome to today’s podcast. We have Kathleen with us. Kathleen, introduce yourself.
Yeah. Hi, everyone. My name is Kathleen Niemann. I’m the Outreach Program lead at SAP in North America marketing, started my career in higher education… found my way into sales development and enablement and content writing. And now I’m here, you know, in a really awesome spot where I have a lot of growth and mobility and exciting times and innovation at my fingertips.
What did you do in higher education?
Yeah, I started out my career in higher education, as in the admissions office of the university; I was in the contact center. So taking all of the calls from admissions and helped with the implementation of Salesforce to the university, which was a game-changer when I was there, and you know, doing all of that, and then I transitioned into a full-time recruitment position for admissions. So admissions officer and then went into a regional space here in Arizona, where I reside, and yeah, so kind of went there for higher ed.
Yeah, I think about from time to time, I’m thinking of to the days that I ran a sales development team, and you kind of look for different things on resumes that tell you that they can do the job without saying that they’ve done the job and people that have worked in admissions, I’m always like, “oh, yeah, here we go.” Yeah. That’s wild.
Yeah, it was awesome. I mean, I didn’t, I didn’t really ever see that as my career path. I got my undergrad degree in psychology. And so you know, growing up, I played a lot of sports; I played softball really competitively. And so I actually started my higher ed degree saying, like, I’m going to be a sport psychologist, you know, like, they really helped me in my game. And now I want to go and like help other people in doing that. And then, as I went through the undergrad process, I became very passionate about like, first-generation college students and what we experienced; you know, they bring us into the university, and then what happens after you’re brought into it. And so that’s kind of what sparked my interest in it, and how I got going in it. And then I became really invested in systems and processes and customer experience and the journey throughout it. And that’s how I landed where I am today.
Well, so what’s really interesting about what you just said, is, you got really interested in systems and processes. Because today, and being the North American, you said, Outreach program lead, content is a massive part about that, right? So content’s a huge part of… and usually this… so this is just something I see time and time again in organizations, is folks go out and they’ll hire a content writer. And then over time, the content writer just sort of naturally becomes in charge of the program. But typically, your writers aren’t programmatic; they’re not systematic. They’re not. Listen, this is a wide brush, okay? But they’re not typically wired to kind of run things from a systems perspective, right? They’re the creative person. And so how do you, as somebody who got really invested in the system side, because you’re about to tell me you’re a unicorn… How do you, how do you actually run and think about content? Because it’s gonna be a little different, right?
Yeah, I mean, I think for me, and this is… I’ll try to shorten this story, but when I was working through college as a server, I remember we had this POS system, you know, that was outdated; it was clunky. And I would go back, and people would give me three credit cards, right and say, “Hey, split my order three different ways.” And the system couldn’t; it couldn’t manage that. So for a customer experience, right, I’m back there on my calculator, on my phone, calculating these, you know, put 33 on this, and 33 on this, you know, and whatever. And, as we’re doing it, I’m like, “Ah, this customer experience standpoint, right, because of this process is failing me. Like, it’s taking me longer to do their transaction. And now, like, this process is affecting my end-user experience, because it’s taking me longer.” And so that really stuck with me and like, okay, you know, process and customer experience, they are, they’re together; they have to be together. And if they’re not together, you’re failing somewhere along the line; you can say, “Okay, great, well, I have a really good customer experience, but I don’t know anything that the customer does on the back end.” Right? And so marrying and dancing with the customer experience, and the process that gets them to that X, you know, experience is critical to me. And that’s kind of how I found myself, you know, loving the process, and then marrying it with content. And saying, there’s, there’s all of these things that go on in the back end of the house. And what does it look like to the prospect? What does it look like to, you know, the, the end person that you’re working with to amplify their experience?
Obviously, you’re, you know, you’re working at SAP today. SAP has a massive brand. Okay? I mean, you can’t go anywhere and say SAP and “Oh, what’s that?” I mean… you, listen, everybody knows what SAP is here in the business world. So when you think about content at such a large company, I mean, what goes into the idea of protecting the brand? Like, is that even a conversation? Is that involved in what you’re trying to do? I mean, listen, there’s folks that are hopping on Outreach today. And I mean, they’re startup companies; their goal was, “we’re gonna create content and just spray it to the world.” I can’t imagine that SAP thinks the same way about that.
You know, I think it’s the same when you think of any content, whether you’re at a small company, or a large, you know, enterprise company, that’s, its, that’s global is that the humanization aspect of the business that we work in, and the people that we work with, is at the forefront of all of those conversations. We know that, across the board, the companies that we work for, the solutions that they provide, right, is what is our motivator for, you know, being there and selling something like this and being B2B. Right? It’s a bit different than selling business to consumer. And so really the humanization of what is the product? And how does it help the world run better? And how do we improve people’s lives? I mean, is foundational to, to the content that we’re going with. And I think that that could be applicable to companies from all shapes and sizes, is that what is the, what is the product? What is the solution? The solutions? And how do you amplify that, and writing content that doesn’t just say, here’s the solution, and here’s what it provides, right? Like, it does this for business analysis, right? It’s like how at the end of the day, does it help your business and your organization run better? And then focusing on content that, that amplifies that.
We talk internally, at Greaser Consulting, all about the concept of a content supply chain. So what are the functions involved when you’re rolling out a new piece of content? And I have my own philosophy, my own thoughts on what the different functions should be, how they should work together, what department they should live in. But I’m super curious, again, just thinking about how large your organization is, when you think about content development, what are the functions that are required in order to actually deliver and enable a strong piece of content, whether it be sequence snippet, one page, you know, whatever, what functions have to exist?
Yeah, I think there’s, you know, there’s the technical standpoint, and what I am always driven by is the customer journey. And so, you know, starting all the way from the top of the funnel down until you get them into your sales opportunities, looking at that customer journey, and making sure that you have a facet for each part of that customer, their journey that they’re going on. So, you know, they start out maybe with advertising on the web to get that awareness, you know, and, and then what happens then and what happens after that and what happens after that? And you have to equip the right people at the right time with the right content that they need. And, you know, using tools and technologies can give you this information, right? We can look at intent data to see, right, okay, you know, we’re interested in this, or maybe this is yielding X percent opens or clicks. And, you know, looking at that content and A/B testing content, and it’s just this continual cycle, but I think the facet is, what is the customer journey? What do we want the customer journey to be? And then designing that content for the right customer at the right time from the right person.
So who else is involved? Like it’s this, it’s only marketing, it’s only sales, it’s only the rep, it’s only, like, who gets involved in the process over there? I’m just, I’m curious if you run lean, or this is like the largest organization of bureaucracy we’ve ever seen.
Yeah, I mean, that’s, that’s a valid question. I think we run with what we need. So some aspects of it are lean, and some aspects of it, you know, are more, are more built out, but we definitely collaborate, right? Without collaboration, we have nothing. If we don’t know what sales is hearing, right, and we’re only focused on marketing, then we’re missing part of the bucket and vice versa. And so it is a song, and it’s a dance, and there’s an orchestration that goes on behind it to really engage with one another; you know, we have fierce prioritization; we have an understanding of how each operation runs, and it’s critical across everything, right, to have an understanding of that, and then be able to say, “Okay, here’s the song, here’s the dance, and here’s the person that’s going to be leading all of this for us, you know, or persons that are going to be leading all of this for us to really help us achieve it. So at the end of the day, when somebody shows up, they see the show.”
So is that though… Is it like campaign by campaign? Is it just in general, the operating rhythm is marketing, marketing makes the call? VP of Sales makes the call, like, who? Who are the actual cooks in the kitchen here that are writing the content, that are approving the content? Editing it? Checking for brand? Like, in who has the final say, each step of the way?
Yeah, I would probably go back to the merriment right. There’s there’s not one person that is the puppet master. It’s, you know, it really is a collaboration and, and bringing everybody together to understand the facets.
So what you’re telling me is, let’s just, let’s gameplan this, okay, so let’s say we’re gonna do, you know, an HR play or something like that. So, does marketing write the copy? Does sales write the copy? Does it just depend whenever you bring your committee together, and you’re saying, “Hey, who’s actually the right person? Like each thing, you sit down and you think about, “here’s the right players this time,” and then you direct traffic? Or there’s a general rhythm, or line of business or something?
Yeah, there’s, there’s certainly a general rhythm to, to it, right, you know, the key people that are in play, and sometimes, you know, it’s working directly with solutions. And sometimes it’s working directly with industries. Because we don’t want to be tone-deaf to anybody, right, in any content that we’re writing for our organization across the board. When you’re looking at it, I think you have to be, you have to know who those people are and at that time, be able to program manage and product manage, and say, “here’s the right person at the right time for this. And let’s get that out there.” And I don’t want to forget, right, the idea of you can start with something, and it can fall completely flat and you have to go back and rewrite the script, you know, and really flip it and to see what, what that information needs to be.
So this question is going to be fun, so get ready. Okay, I have, I’ve long beat the drum. Again, I’m gonna get in trouble here. So get ready to beat on me. I’ve long beat the drum like, “Hey, listen, anybody…” This is kind of your point. “Anybody can come up with the idea. Anybody can think about the enablement structure, like I don’t care who runs that on any part of the organization.” But the hill that I’m willing to die on is I want somebody in sales to write the copy at the end of the day, to have written it, and then approve it to get rolled out to everybody. Now, you told me you’re the North American Program Lead Marketing and so, right now we’re gonna have some fun. Are you telling me that “hey, marketing should write all the copy. Don’t worry about it. They get to write it; they get to approve it” or does sales approve it?
Yeah, I think that’s interesting. I would, I would kind of have to I have to push back a little bit, right? I have to. It’s, it’s one of those things. So if my, if my title is North America Sales, right, but I function the same way: I collaborate with marketing; I collaborate with sales very, very effectively, right, putting together that song and the dance doesn’t matter where my title sits, right, to be able to produce content, and you know, have the buyers journey and the customer journey and know all of those things, right, to produce excellent content, to produce something that the teams will work and utilize with that ultimately drives revenue, right for the business and the operations.
So the biggest, since you’re pushing back on me, I’ll just tell you, the most common thing I hear in organizations is we have a side of our organization, right, that writes content. The biggest thing that I hear is, “hey, this came from marketing, somebody in sales didn’t write it.” And it’s usually… the connotation is, “can we have somebody in sales over here writing it?” And hey, maybe it’s better? Maybe it’s not. I’m gonna say that it is. But the, the biggest part about it, though, is even from a buy-in perspective, from the reps, right? Often the reps will say, “Hey, did somebody in sales write this,” right? “I want to know that a salesperson wrote it, that they signed off on it, and then I’ll give it the time.” Now, the irony, and this is the kind of go, walk back what I’m saying. And then you can again, you can beat on me some because this is fun. The irony is those same salespeople that are saying, “I don’t want marketing writing my emails” are the same people that are saying, “hey, marketing, where’s the one-pager? Hey, where’s that asset I need? Hey…?” So it’s, it’s almost like, what’s the medium that we’re coming through here? And it’s acceptable if it’s this, but it’s not acceptable if it’s that?
Yeah, I totally get that. Um, I think there’s a lot of different answers, right? I think depending on the company that you work with, the organizational structure, you’re gonna run into a lot of that. For me, it is, it’s my brand, right? So I came in, and I come into every organization that I interact with, with, with my brand, and building that brand and understanding that sometimes we need to learn new things. Sometimes we need to unlearn old things. And sometimes we need to relearn the things that we thought we already knew. And for me, I think that is what helps drive, you know, okay, “Yes, marketing, like one pager, right? And maybe the sequences is sales, because sales was putting it out there from, from their perspective. And so you have to have that.” And at the end of the day, I think that it comes down to being able to effectively listen to those groups of people that you’re working with and produce content that works from their viewpoint. They’re sending it out; they’re putting their names on it. And so how do we make it you know, maybe we have to remove some of the marketing fluff, maybe we need to add some of the marketing fluff, right, however, oh, I know, I know. But it is one of the things that, you know, you have to be able to look at the population that you’re writing for, and the voice and the product and the company, right? You’re bringing in all of these different viewpoints to amplify that effort at that time, at that place.
So let me ask you this, who you’re writing for: are you writing for the prospect or writing for the rep?
Always writing for the r… or the prospect. Always.
Oh, wait, you stuttered there.
I did; I meant the… Yeah, no, no, it’s prospect. It is, without a doubt. I always go back to this: the customer journey is critical. And I think from myself, from a customer standpoint, if I get an email from marketing, right, it’s got all of the nice HTML formatting on it. It’s got gifs or GIFs. Maybe we can debate that too, right?
We might as well since we’re arguing about everything here.
You know, if we, if we’re sitting and I’m looking at that, that’s the experience that I anticipate when I get an experience from marketing. Right? It’s, it’s from XYZ company. I know that it’s a marketing email, versus when I get something that has Account Executive, that has Sales Development Rep in the title. As a customer, I’m expecting something different, right? I’m expecting a different experience from that. And so, in that way, right, I go back to that, that song and dance of, “okay, I’m writing it for a sales rep, but it’s being delivered to a prospect, prospect and a customer and I want it to be that, that differentiation for them so that they know, hey, this is a one-to-one versus this is one-to-many.”
The thing that’s really interesting: you keep talking about song and dance, song and dance, song and dance. It’s really interesting is typically you think about writing content that the prospect is going to respond to. The great irony in that is there’s multiple gates to getting content to where it needs to be. First, the SME that you were working with to get that content ready, like, do they think it actually fits? Right? Like, second? And like, there’s so many different ones, but I’m just gonna give examples. Second, marketing… Does it fit the brand? Does it fit the journey? Is this what we’re trying to do? You know, we spent millions of dollars on these ad campaigns, and then are we gonna write a message that says, like, are you gonna buy or what? Right? Like, that’s not gonna work. And then you got to get the sales, like the sales leadership, just saying, “Yeah, I think this is right.” And then you need to have the reps to say, “hey, like, this resonates with what I think I would put out there.” And then you get to the point where there’s the buy-in to actually send it and the prospect responds and says, “yes, no, maybe.” So, which the irony is with all those different gates along the way, you may have messaging that’s best for the prospect that the reps hate. You might have messaging that’s best for the prospect that marketing doesn’t, doesn’t like. And so if you think about that, from your thinking about program, programmatically, at the end of the day, do you take the stance that, “hey, if the content’s landing and the prospects are responding, like we’re gonna let that be our Northstar above anything else, whether the rep cares about the tone, whether the marketing brand fits, whether whatever, are we going to say, “Hey, listen, it doesn’t even get a chance to resonate unless we’ve got buy in all the way up to this point.”?
Yeah, um, I would say, you know, for, for me personally, it’s, it’s a combination of them because you have to be able to have leniency in what you’re doing to be human, right? Humans are imperfect. They have thoughts and they have feelings, and that is who we’re reaching out to. And those thoughts and feelings and actions that they’re ready to take or not ready to take, are going to be based off of a series of, you know, social things that are happening, cultural things that are happening. And so you have to have some leniency to say, here’s kind of what’s going on, right? And how do we amplify our messaging? How do we help people run better? How do we do this? And, you know, while you’re doing that, I like to think that you’re maintaining the company’s vision in doing that, because we’re operating under this unified model and this unified agreement of we’re helping people run better; we’re improving people’s lives. And so, therefore, our content also reflects that. And, you know, kind of driving that, that operation. I think you have to have flexibility. But there are times that you have to say, “we have to run with this and see what it is, right? Fail fast, fail fast, win fast. Let’s, whatever we do, let’s do it quickly, learn quickly, and then jump back up and try it again.”
Who writes better sales copy: sales or marketing?
Oh, let’s see. I mean, I think it’s a personal thing. I personally…
Get out of town. It’s called sales copy.
I am, I am more apt to click on something from a marketing email than I am to a sales email. I… just that’s me. But then, you know, we know that there are some sales leaders that, you see them on LinkedIn all the time, you know, kind of posting somebody’s email and saying, “here’s all the things that I would have done differently,” right? “And this is what you could have done to a sales email to make me respond to this.” And so you’re like, “Okay, you know, you got to look at both of those aspects.” And I think you have to play towards both. You have to be ready to stand at the batter’s box, and hit a curveball. And also, you know, take the line drive like straight in.
I think there’s a career in politics for you ahead. Because everybody thinks everything’s… I’m a centrist. Let’s take a little bit for the left little bit from the right. I mean, here we go. But I’m pushing you; I’m having fun with it. I appreciate you playing ball since I’ll keep your same analogy here. There’s actually an irony though and what I’m saying… You touched on it earlier that you got to be okay to fail and then iterate quickly, which number one, just to be clear, I agree 110% with you on that. That I think you know, Outreach sin, so to speak, is that you create content and you leave a go and say see you later whenever it should be iterative process and get better over time. The irony is, even though there’s data to back up, this is working, or this isn’t working, or this should be… content is still subjective. Like, it’s still, like, you’re gonna get the person, to your point on LinkedIn, that’s gonna get the email that all the data shows that this is working. And they’re gonna say, “I hate this because blah, blah, blah, blah.” So it’s just, it’s not clear cut. And there’s just, there’s so many outliers; there’s so many differences in opinion, I did a content workshop with a team last week. And just for fun, I’m like, “Hey, I got a phrase for you… starting an email with ‘I hope you are well’, okay, before I even give you the data behind it, tell me what you think.” And I have one person over here that’s like, “I hate that; I’ve been telling people to cut it out for years.” And then I had somebody on the other side, go, “oh, my gosh, I write that in every email. Like, I’m just trying to be friendly,” right? It turns out the data shows because for five years I’ve been talking about how we need to cut that out, millions and millions of email sends, the data comes out that it gets like 27 or something percent higher sentiment, positive sentiment, when “I hope you’re well” is in there. And it’s like, wait a minute, but in the meantime, you got three people that just unsubscribed because they hate that language altogether. You know what I mean? Yeah, it’s a mess. It’s a mess.
Yeah, I think, I think I have to take this, you know, to my own personal kind of aspect there is that now I’m giving away like my secret here, but I find the humanization in emails, you know, such as, “Hey, how are you?” or “Hope you are doing well,” you know, in in my one to one interactions when I know, folks, right? It adds that humanization. And I read an article a long time ago, and I forget who the author was of the article, but basically the sentiment of, of thanking somebody at the end of your email, you know, especially when you’re asking them a question, you know, “thank you in advance for your insight on…”, “thank you in advance for your insight”. And that being like, kind of the sign off of it, because it’s that acknowledgement statement that I know, I’ve asked you a question. I know that this is going to take some of your time to do it. And so thank you for that time. And, you know, that’s one of those things, too, that you could argue, do you put this into a sales play? Right? Do you, do you think somebody’s for reading your email? Or do you just say, hey, we have this awesome product, this awesome solution? It’s going to help you by XYZ? Do you have time for a meeting? Right? Before like, hey, they just read this whole email; do we thank them? Do we not? Do we hope they’re well? Do we acknowledge that? And then what, you know, what is the sentiment behind that?
So the fun thing about this is, when I looked at that data for “I hope you are well,” okay, you read that and you go, “Oh, wow, millions of emails sent. And here’s the response.” Well, let me tell you what was missing in that: it was missing who the target audience was, when is this sent? How is it sent? You know, how often was it sent? To your point, was it a first touch interaction? Or was it, was somebody you know? That’s where all of this, and I was saying content is subjective; you start with what, with best practice or what you’re hearing out there in the marketplace. But to hit on something you said earlier, you have to iterate quickly. And so “I hope you are well” or that “thanks” at the end of the email, the beauty of an Outreach and doing this all kinds of stuff is “go test it”, right? Find out the answer for yourself, as opposed to “Hey, I saw on LinkedIn, somebody said, ‘I hope you are well’ works. So let’s just put it in everything.” Well, let’s test it first. Right?
Absolutely. And I think you, I think you hit it on the head; you’re… who you’re speaking to is critical, and understanding who you’re speaking to, you know, and you could even break this down, right? Like, do you know them? Do you not know them? Are they in HR? Or are they in finance? Right? Like, who are they? What are they like? And as much information as you can gather on your targets, I think the better because it allows us to have that personalization at scale, while also acknowledging who we’re speaking to.
Right. Well, listen, we’re coming right up on time. And so since we’ve, we’ve, we’ve argued halfway through this conversation, let me give you the last word. All right. What’s something that I mean, listen, we’re doing content development, content team… either whether you want to fight me on something I said, or just somebody listening today and they’re thinking about content programmatically, maybe for the first time, or they’re doing a reboot, whatever. What’s something that people need to hear today other than “Jordan’s completely wrong.”?
No, I mean, this is, this is how I run; this is how I operate is that you have to bring people with different backgrounds, with different ideas, with different experiences into the same room so that you can have these conversations of collaboration where you can say, “well, Kathleen, like, I know that 27% of the time, this is going to work, and you’re telling me that your same 27% of the time, right, works this way.” And I think that it’s, it’s imperative to not have a one track mind; it’s imperative to bring in different views, and, and test and be willing to fail and be willing to win and, and do it with humility, and have those moments where you say, “I’m wrong”, right, and have the moments where hopefully, you can say, you know, “I’m right”, and, and we are collaborating, and “I’m right, because we are right, like as a team, we did this, we made these decisions.” And so if I could just tell anybody, anything, I think it would be… bring in people that have different views, that have different experiences; hear them out and collaborate with them effectively. Because when you do that, I think you’re going to capture a lot of the audience; you’re going to capture a lot of the sentiment that you need and get the results that you’re hoping for.
I’m with it. I appreciate, appreciate everything you’ve said today. And listen, there’s a reason I asked you to come on today because I’ve always respected your opinion, I just want to be clear, I’ve always respected your opinion and the different times we’ve had an opportunity to work together. So I would say, other than this whole sales copy thing, I would, I would… for our listeners today, you know, I hope you enjoy this. I always enjoy talking to Kathleen as well. So if anybody wants to get a hold of you, or has any questions is, is there a best way to get in touch with you?
Yeah, LinkedIn, LinkedIn is the best way: Kathleen Niemann. You’ll find it right there. It’s my handle. It’s everything. So connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m happy. I like going toe-to-toe. I like seeing ear-to-ear you know, however, however the conversation goes; it’s a healthy conversation.
Well, listen, I appreciate you having, hopping on today. I’d encourage folks that if you’ve got questions, reach out to Kathleen; she is fantastic. And with that, we’re gonna, we’re gonna hop off today. Thanks for coming on, Kathleen.
Awesome. Thanks for having me.
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 at www.greaserconsulting.com. Be sure to click the Follow button and the bell icon to be notified on the latest here at RevOps Therapy. Thanks and see you real soon.