How To Personalize Your Sales Outreach At Massive Scale

James Palmer is the Regional Vice President of Sales, NEMEA at Seismic. On this episode of the Salesman Podcast, James Palmer explains the steps to making your sales outreach more personalized, whilst at the same time sending more of it. Is that even possible?

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - James Palmer
Regional VP of Sales at Seismic

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Transcript

Will Barron:

This episode of the show is brought to you from the Salesman.org HubSpot Studio. Coming up on today’s episode of this Sales Man Podcast.

 

James Palmer:

We, as B2B organisations are creating more content than ever. And the buyers that we serve are getting absolutely bombarded with this stuff.

 

James Palmer:

Something that has been a huge black hole for go-to market teams has been insight into this, the performance of content. So which content resonates in this geography, which content resonates in this industry.

 

James Palmer:

Salespeople think that marketing are the mugs and t-shirt department and that the content they come out with is very aspirational. And doesn’t really speak to what salespeople see on the ground.

 

Will Barron:

Hello Sales H. My name is Will Barron, I’m the host of the Salesman podcast, world’s most downloaded B2B sales show. In today’s episode, we have an absolute legend. We have James Palmer. He is the regional VP of Sales, NEMEA over at Seismic.com. And on today’s episode, we’re getting into how you can personalise your outreach, make it more effective, your B2B sales outreach, and do it at scale. And we cover topics here that we’ve never covered on the show before. We’re talking data, sales enablements, how to do this properly in the modern way, as opposed to just sending more and more spam emails. Everything that we talk about in this episode is available in the show notes over at Salesman.org. And with that said, let’s jump right into it.

 

Will Barron:

James, welcome to the Salesman podcast.

 

James Palmer:

Thanks Will. Thanks for having me, I’m very much looking forward to chatting.

 

The Paradox of Personalization and Sales Outreach at Scale · [01:51] 

 

Will Barron:

I’m looking forward to chatting with you as well, Sir. And on today’s episode, it’s a topic that we’ve somewhat covered but I don’t feel we’ve ever got to the bottom of it. So I’m hoping you can give us some insights and share your expertise here. We’re going to touch on how to personalise your B2B outreach at scale. Now, let me ask you this, James, and this is a difficult question to get us started off with. But is this not a little bit of a paradox in that, to do anything at scale, surely we have to reduce the personalization that we need to be able to get it out in the hundred or thousand of contact points over the months or years that we’re prospecting.

 

“I think the world that we live in at the moment, we, as B2B organisations, are creating more content than ever. And the buyers that we serve are getting absolutely bombarded with this stuff. So if you don’t have the ability to personalise and personalise at scale, you’re going to be lost in the noise.” – James Palmer · [02:31] 

 

James Palmer:

Yeah. No, I definitely get the paradoxical nature of the question and I think my answer is going to be that it certainly is possible and actually pretty imperative that we do get this right. I think the world that we live in at the moment, we, as B2B organisations are creating more content than ever. And the buyers that we serve are getting absolutely bombarded with this stuff. So if you don’t have the ability to personalise and personalise at scale, you’re going to be lost in the noise. You’re going to be disregarded. You’re going to be in choppy waters and this has only really been amplified by the year that we’ve just had. We’ve had probably the salesman’s favourite channel removed. We can’t go and meet our customers and build a personal connection and discuss things in that format.

 

James Palmer:

So the importance of content has only gone up. But that being said, I don’t think everyone is getting this right. I think a loss of the content that we, as sellers are sending to buyers is just disregarded and not on point. So yeah, it’s absolutely imperative we get this right. To touch on the, is this a paradox angle of your question. I think this is really interesting. I think most of the best sales people I’ve ever worked with are very good at being appropriate to a given situation. So they’ll understand who they’re talking to. They’ll understand maybe the correct, they’ll correctly identify the sales stage this is at or the stage that the buyer is in their cycle. They’ll understand the industry they’re in, they’ll understand all of these things and they’ll provide content that’s really appropriate to that given situation.

 

James Palmer:

But there’s a couple of problems with that, right? So, number one, that takes a lot of time and effort, thus not scaling very easily. And secondly, not all salespeople are blessed with that high EQ, that level of experience. So the question really becomes, how can we make it easier to personalise without the constraints of using this much time and this much expertise so that more broadly, you can have more of your sellers be more effective in this way? Yeah.

 

Things to Double Down On When Trying to Personalise Your Outreach at Scale · [05:00] 

 

Will Barron:

Are we trying to… So I agree with everything you’re saying here, right. Expertise is clearly important. When you get on the phone with a seller, at some point in the buying journey, that could be make or break. If I’m buying new cameras for the studio and I speak to one salesperson, no matter how good the content is from the branding, the marketing from that organisation. If I speak to someone and they’re an idiot, clearly that’s going to turn me massively off on the brand and that purchase. Versus if I speak to someone who has the expertise, can answer my questions, and if they can’t answer questions, has the business acumen and the appropriateness to go and say, hey, I will go and ask my boss, I’ll ask the product manager, I’ll ask whoever and find out the information and get back to you.

 

Will Barron:

That is a massive turn on. You’re more likely to win my business on the back of that. So with that said, when we’re trying to shortcut some of this process, when we’re trying to hack some of this process, when we’re trying to personalise outreach at scale, are we going the wrong way here in that, would it be more valuable for the buyer to have less contact points with more experienced salespeople versus more contact points with less experienced salespeople, with less personalization? If that makes sense. That was a long winded question to just throw at you.

 

James Palmer:

It was and I think the answer is going to be, it depends on what it is we’re selling, where the buyer is in their journey. All of these things, the real question is how do we cut through this noise, right? So how can we be appropriate? So the content the sellers use has to be appropriate, has to hit the right note. It has to be the right piece of content for that buyer at that stage of where they’re at. So that’s the question is, how do we take what previously has been very reliant on a seller’s expertise? How can we scale that? And so, I guess I’m not talking about mass personalization from a marketer’s angle. I’m a career long sales person, I’m talking about, how can we do the good things, have those good interactions, but do them more often and spend less time and less effort to make them so. So I think that’s the point that I’d probably like to focus on a little bit, because that’s something I feel I can speak to reasonably knowledgeably.

 

Insight: How to Use Software and Tools to Get More Personalization at Scale · [07:23] 

 

Will Barron:

For sure. So tell if I’m wrong here, James, but it seems like the plan of action here is, rather than spam more nonsense emails that no one’s going to open anyway, we want to spam more timely emails and we want to leverage less experience of a sales rep to say, Hey, this individual is at this part of the buying cycle. They probably want this content. And can we, am I right in saying, we can use software to realise some of that so that a less experienced salesperson can get the right tools, right media, right advertising, whatever it is in front of the right person at the right time. Is that what we’re doing here? Leveraging software and tools to do some of this work, that experience would’ve covered in the past.

 

“I think having a data driven approach to content creation and the distribution of it can really help sellers become effective to be able to scale their expertise and to have those great moments of communication, but to do it with a lot less effort and a lot less time sunk into it.” – James Palmer · [08:58] 

 

James Palmer:

Exactly. So to get to this point, what you require is insight. And I think something that has been a huge black hole for go to market teams has been sort of insight into the performance of content. So which content resonates in this geography? Which content resonates in this in industry? What content resonates for this persona? What gets the most time and attention? What is helping us advance our cause and close business? And historically there haven’t been great data sets on this, but this, but this is insight is vital if you want to create a personalised experience or an engaging experience, at least. I think that it’s really key that you have a way of harvesting insight to understanding what is useful for the people that we’re serving. I think to have a data driven approach to content creation and the distribution of it can really help sellers become effective to be able to scale, as we just talked about, scale their expertise to have those great moments of communication, but to do it with a lot less effort and a lot less time sunk into it.

 

Here’s How You Can Tell Where the Buyer is in the Buyer’s Journey · [09:50] 

 

Will Barron:

For sure. So we’ll perhaps touch on size back in a second, which clearly can do some of what we’re describing here. I do want to get into data content. And because my experience with working with marketers at medical device sales was, they’d send us all this nonsense that I’ve never give to anyone because it was totally inappropriate to hand over a flyer in a meeting, so it never got used. So I won’t dive into that in a second. But I guess the foundational level before this is, before we send content, how do we know where the buyer is in the buying journey? Now what I mean by this is, perhaps 20 years ago, you could cold call them and ask them where they are. But without that direct access to the buyer to call them and ask them where they’re at, before we send someone something, how do we know where they are so that we can make a hypothesis of what they need?

 

James Palmer:

Yeah. Good point. So there are obviously some manual ways of doing this like you’ve just alluded to, like talking to them. Wouldn’t that be fabulous if you could have a conversation and it would be just laid out for you like that? But there is this, some softer signals, content engagement. How are they engaging with your content? What content are they engaging with? There’s a lot that can be divined from understanding what people are engaging with what content, and that will tell you a lot about where they are in a buying cycle and actually inform you of how you should be speaking to them, how you can help them, how you can best serve their buying process.

 

The Effectiveness of a Content Funnel When Dissecting the Buyer’s Journey · [11:18] 

 

Will Barron:

So this is something… I’m going to be slightly selfish here. I’m going to perhaps twist the conversation towards more of implementation as opposed to individual sales contributor, what they’re going to do with this. And we’ll flip bit back to the [inaudible 00:11:16] in a second. This is something I’m intrigued about with our content marketing over at salesman.org for our training programme. So am I right in saying, I think what you’re outlining here, but I want to hear it from yourself in case I’m totally wrong is, we don’t just need a sales funnel, which is getting, it’s crushed further and further towards the end of the buying funnel or buying journey.

 

Will Barron:

What we need is some kind of content funnel so that we can see via different tracking methods, using email gated kind of content. We can see where people are pinging and so we can judge where they are throughout the buying cycle. So am I right in saying that we need perhaps open-ended, broad industry content at one end so we get in the middle of the funnel, so in towards end of the funnel, which pushes people towards a sales call, and then when a individual goes from one to two to three, if we can use software to track that, that’s when we know that we should be engaging with them. Am I on the right track Sir?

 

“Salespeople think that marketing are the mugs and t-shirt department and that the content they come out with is very aspirational and doesn’t really speak to what salespeople see on the ground.” – James Palmer · [12:21] 


James Palmer:

You’re definitely down the right tracks. So going back to a comment you made earlier, I think time memorial, definitely the 20 years I’ve been in software sales or, well, yeah, software sales. Salespeople think that marketing are the mugs and t-shirt department and that the content they come out with is very aspirational and doesn’t really speak to what salespeople see on the ground. And marketing probably think that most people are mouth breathing the [endethols 00:12:39] and want to use the same content they’ve been using for the last five years and that sales turn up and demand content because of the deal they’re working on right here right now, so they want some [upskill 00:12:51] piece of content.

 

“Salespeople need to build this loop where, not only can you see what content is being sent out, but you can also understand in much more specific detail when your buyer gets this content, how are they engaging with it, which pages, which sections, where are they spending their time? And if you’re able to have a feedback loop for that content, then all of a sudden that begins to answer some of the really massive problems that go-to market teams have.” – James Palmer · [13:25] 

 

James Palmer:

So there’s this slight disconnect. And I think that disconnect can also be tracked back to the fact there aren’t good sets of data to tell you which of your content is performing. So marketing have got no way to say, listen, we’re spending our time building out this content and it’s valuable. There’s no real way to say that. And there’s no real way for sales to say, we know which is the right content for this specific situation. So what we’re talking about here is building this loop where, not only can you see what content is being sent out, but you can also understand in much more specific detail when your buyer gets this content, how are they engaging with it? Which pages, which sections, where are they spending their time? And if you’re able to have a feedback look for that content, then all of a sudden that begins to answer some of the really massive problems that go to market teams have.

 

“Marketing creates lots of content and depending on whose data you look at, somewhere between 65% and 90% of it never gets used by sales. That’s a black hole of time and money and effort. It’s a huge, huge problem. Similarly, sales people will send out content into the black hole and the most they can usually hope for is, did someone open it? You can have spent five hours building a proposal and only the pricing page gets read. If only we had some data to tell us they only ever read the pricing page, then why did we spend five hours on all of this other stuff at this stage, in the cycle, yet they only ever read the price. It’s a huge waste of time and there’s no feedback for sales.” – James Palmer · [14:04]

 

James Palmer:

Marketing do create all of this content. And depending on whose data you look at, somewhere between 65% and 90% of it never gets used by sales. What a black hole of time and money and effort. It’s a huge, huge problem. Similarly, sales people will send out content into the black hole and not really know… I mean, the most they can usually hope for is, did someone open it? You can have spent five hours building a proposal and only the pricing page gets read. If only we had some data to tell us they only ever read the pricing page, why did I spend five hours on all of this other stuff at this stage, in the cycle? They only ever read the price. Why did I spend this five hours building this proposal times, however many deal cycles you’re in? It’s a huge waste of time and there’s no feedback for sales.

 

James Palmer:

So the data that you can get back from content, how people are engaging with your content has huge benefits, both on the micro and the macro level. On the micro level, as a salesperson, I can send content out to my prospect and know, do you know what? I sent them a technical white paper and I sent them a case study. They hugely engaged with the white paper, probably the next conversation we’re going to have, I need to make sure we’ve got a technical architect and we’re going to gear up for the right phone call. We’re going to gear up with the right information. They didn’t even open the case studies. They’re not at that stage yet. They’re not ready to… The final stage of a sales cycle where perhaps case studies become more interesting.

 

James Palmer:

So on the micro level, you, as a salesperson can get direct feedback from content to tell you, inform you the next best action should be, we should be thinking about this type of thing. On a macro level, as a marketing team, you can amalgamate all of this and say, this piece of content that we produced has been involved in 75% of our sales cycles. This is helping us close business. I can attribute real, honest to goodness, closed one business to this content. Similarly, these five pieces of content haven’t been looked at for a year. Why are we spending cycles? Why are we spending cycles on updating this and maintaining this? The sales team either don’t use it for good reasons or people don’t read it for good reasons. So we either need to get rid of it or update it or do something. But we’ve got some data now to allow us to make great decisions.

 

How to Gain the Most Insights From the Content You Send Out · [16:45]

 

Will Barron:

Let’s do things that come from this, James and you’re changing my paradigm with some of this content. Because it seems like we could create content specifically to generate insights. We could just do an FAQ document that has all the objections that we would usually face. And if everyone is skipping past the first four objections, we probably know that they’re not that valid. They’re probably not that big of a deal. And if they stick on page five, which is the pricing objection or whatever it is, the most common one, we know that we need to then feed that back into the content at the top of the funnel and try and alleviate that objection or bring it up ahead of time. Seems like we can create content to generate insights that are useful as opposed to, did someone use this or not. It seems like we get more complicated than this if we chose to.

 

James Palmer:

Oh, you can get really great insight from your content, that both informs your future content strategy and helps you with your day to day execution. Both. It’s very much seller and marketing aligning and enabling.

 

How to Get More Accurate Feedback From the Content You Send Out · [17:49] 

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. And because if you ask a buyer on a call, we’ve got these commonly asked questions, yada, yada. One, they’re going to be switched off immediately as you say that. Two, they’re going to have the guard up at somewhat, depending on the level of trust that you’ve built with them, because they don’t want to just give their information away. And I guess this is slightly weird and maybe we can touch on this in a second but, if they don’t realise they’re being tracked, which they should assume that they’re being tracked, everyone should assume that everything you do on this, that it’s being tracked at all times. But if they don’t make that realisation, if they’re doing this in their own time, they’re probably going to give you more accurate feedback via the content than if you’ve got an engagement and interaction between two people, is that fair to say?

 

“The people that are engaging with your content regularly, they’re sending it to other people, they’re spending time on it, these are the people that are going to buy from you. These are the people that are serious, that are actually doing the things they said they were going to do. If you’ve got ten prospects, the four that are really engaging with your content in the final stage of a sales cycle are the ones that you should be forecasting.” – James Palmer · [19:08]

 

James Palmer:

A hundred percent. And I think both implicit and explicit. And so what I mean by that, they will explicitly tell you the things they’re interested in by what they spend their time on. So previous example of the section A, they spend all of their time on this, they didn’t bother with the other stuff. But implicitly as well. So salespeople are managing a prospect, five prospects, ten prospects, however many, and you’ll be coming to the end of a quarter. And you’ll have a forecast that you’re committing to. The people that are engaging with your content regularly, they’re sending it to other people, they’re spending time on it. These are the people that, implied, these are the people who are going to buy from you. These are the people that are serious, that are actually going to… are doing the things they said they were going to do. If you’ve got ten prospects, the four that are really engaging with your content in the final stage of a sales cycle are the ones that you should be forecasting. You can definitely take some implied learnings from how people are engaging with your content.

 

Understanding Buyer Readiness and Likeliness to Buy · [19:40] 

 

Will Barron:

Whether it’s seismic coin over tool, is there a way to pull, call it different things by different companies, right? But buyer readiness or likeliness to buy, can we get a score that could go into the CRM on the back of the content that’s being consumed of? We know that people have done this, this, and this will make a purchase. And we know that in your funnel, there’s 12 people that is in that stage right now. So we can predict some of this, whether it’s AI or machine learning.

 

James Palmer:

Yeah. So further down the funnel… Up the funnel, down the funnel. Up the funnel, the wide open bit that marketing deal with. There’s a bunch of technologies that obviously, and processes that’s exactly what marketing are trying to do all the time, they’re trying to score leads. As people enter the sales funnel, you’re talking about exactly the Nirvana, right. It’s a case of, if you combine some of the data we’re talking about with perhaps some of your CRM data, so who actually bought, and when they bought and things like this. You can begin to score your content to say, if you send this case study out at stage two of your sales cycle to people in this region or this persona, you’re 5% more likely to close your deal. You can actually get to the point where you’re able to advise your sales team on what content is helping close business and is statistically more likely to help them close business?

 

Data Feedback on How Your Prospects are Consuming Your Content · [21:15] 

 

Will Barron:

For sure. because that’s valuable, not just for salespeople, right? It’s probably even less valuable for salespeople than it is sales leadership, who have to collect this at scale and then report up the food chain as well. If they can say, Hey, last year we were at this place with this amount of content, with this many leads. Now we’re at the same place with arguably or provable more effective content and more leads then people are going to be getting, throwing bonuses around. Aren’t they?

 

“I think all salespeople start out on a spectrum where they’re either process-oriented people or they’re people-oriented people. And then over a period of time, if you want to be good at sales, if you want to stay in sales as a career, you learn enough about the other end of the spectrum to be good at your job.” – James Palmer · [22:13] 

 

James Palmer:

Yeah. And genuinely, we have customers who, once you’ve got some data flowing back on how your content’s been used both internally and externally. We’ve had customers switch off 70% of their content and not receive a phone call from salespeople complaining because they know this stuff is obsolete or ineffective and they’ve just been spending huge cycles updating it, for no other reason than, they had no way of being able to stack rank their content and understand what was the most effective. So yeah, I think to segue for a second into a slightly wishy washy, personal opinion, I think all salespeople start out on a spectrum somewhere of they’re either process-oriented people or they’re people-oriented people. And then over a period of time, if you want to be good at sales, if you want to stay in sales as a career, you learn enough about the other end of the spectrum to be good at your job. Right.

 

James Palmer:

But I start out with the people and I like people, I like understanding, I enjoy that we’re all different. I like understanding how we can work together to do something clever or good or make a difference. And so data from me in sales, a lot of it is very focused on the process end of the spectrum, right? How much pipeline do you have? We know that we want four times whatever your target is to be able to hit that. How many deals do we have at this opportunity stage? How many calls did you make this week? How many meetings did you have this week? Lots of it is very focused on managing people and process and that kind of thing. The reason why I personally like this data set, this data driven approach to content is because it really speaks to how can we do a good job for the people we’re serving? What content is going to be really effective for them? What can… We’re almost giving them advice. We’re saying people in your situation-

 

Will Barron:

I don’t think we almost. We are literally consulting with the way you’re describing, which is really valuable.

 

James Palmer:

Yeah, exactly. We’re saying, we happen to know, not just gut instinct but we actually do know that other of our customers in your situation, whether that situation be geography or persona or sales cycle stage, whatever it might be, we know that they found this kind of stuff effective and useful. So have this, we’ll tailor it towards you and yeah, let us know what you think. And you’ll let us know what you think both by inviting us into your sales process, but also you’ll let us know what you think by how you consume that content. And that will keep feeding our approach, right?

 

Will Barron:

Sure. I love this because this goes layers and layers deeper of then when you intertwine like a gong or a [chorister 00:25:03] AI, and you go, oh, this report, this data points, this objection is coming up over and over and over again. Then you can create content. You’re not just relying on sales people to feed it back, you can then rely on the buyer and conversations to feed back into all this. And I’ve said this on the podcast hundreds of times now, at some point, all this is going to be so automated that there’s just going to be a human shaking hands over… No human at the end of it, both the buying and the selling process, it has to be. It’s going to get so effective, it’s going to get so nailed down that a bot is going to be able to add so much value at the top of the sales process, with content, with what we’re describing, that salespeople who are just pushing round paper will just be obliterated.

 

“We’ve had thousands of people go through our sales code assessment and 50% of the people who go through it have no defined sales process. That number shocks me.” – Will Barron · [25:55] 

 

Will Barron:

But with that said, James, you said something here, you key that anecdote with it being wishy washy, whether process, people. And I want to add a layer of data to that from ourselves. So over at salesman.org, we’ve had thousands of people go through our sales code assessment and 50% of the people who go through it have no defined sales process. So that number shocks me, these individuals who are paying for a training product most of this didn’t include our enterprise clients. This is most people paying for a training product out their own money in their own pocket. So they’re keen, they’re clearly open to the idea of learning and developing. They’re not just some sales person who’s not done any work on themselves and no training in the past 20 years and they’re just sat on their job, waiting to get sacked. These are productive individuals.

 

Will Barron:

50% of them don’t have a sales process. And we know I won’t quote the numbers because I’m not sure off the top of my head, but it’s like 90% of individuals who have, if not more, nice fit of individuals who are successful and earn over a certain category within our assessment. Salary wise and commission wise and hit targets regularly, all have a sales process. So clearly sales process is incredibly important. 50% of the people who take the sales code assessment don’t have a defined process.

 

Why All Salespeople Need a Well Formulated Sales Process · [27:02] 

 

Will Barron:

And what we’re describing here, James, seemingly it falls apart if there’s not a sales process, at least in the background that’s being run through. Because if we’re just sending random bits of content at random times, it’s very difficult to pull that data and to make it relevant then of, if I’ve got a piece of content that marketing wants me to send towards the end of the sales process and I send it at the beginning, well, the metrics are going to get tanked, that it’s no engagement, no one’s viewing it, there’s no consumption of the content. Whereas if it’s put at the end of the sales process, it’s going to do really good because that’s what we’ve designed it for. So with that said, then James, how much of all of what we’re talking about comes back to sales fundamentals of having a defined sales process?

 

“However great you think you are in any given situation, if there isn’t a process to make sure you do the good things repeatedly and in a systematic way, then you’re only ever going to be marginally successful or occasionally successful. To be repeatedly successful, it has to be underpinned by a process.” – James Palmer · [27:46] 

 

James Palmer:

I mean, like I said to you, I start out with the people end of the spectrum. But after 20 years of doing this, you come to realise that, however great you think you are in any given situation, if there isn’t a process to make sure you do the good things repeatedly and in a systematic way, then you’re only ever going to be marginally successful or occasionally successful. To be repeatedly successful, it has to be underpinned by a process. And I think, what I’m advocating for here is not complete content automation because in the end we are humans dealing with humans and you need some flexibility to be able to make choices, to react to situations that you see yourself in. So we’re not at the point where the bots are taking over vision of the future. We’re definitely not at that point.

 

James Palmer:

But we can definitely give salespeople a pallet of good choices and promote to them what has been successful before and do so at relevant stages of a sales cycle, but it is all underpinned by sales cycle. It’s all underpinned by sales fundamentals. If you can’t do good discovery and qualification, then how can you really understand what the best content to providers? There’s some off signals that you can pick up but in the end, you’ve got to understand what stage of a sales cycle am I at? What are the best things to be doing? What are the appropriate things to be doing at this stage of a sales cycle? Matching those up and then providing content, but with some extra insight, right? So not only can we be better consultative salespeople because we know this content has really resonated with people like you, but we can also get that informal feedback as people view it and read it. This was a good fit. They did get value from this. This thing over here, swinging a mess, not for them, wasn’t important. Move along.

 

Is What You’re Sending Out Improving Your Sales Outcomes? · [29:50] 

 

Will Barron:

So let’s rev up the show here, James, getting real practical for the audience. The quota carrying… As I would describe, even myself, quota carrying, knuckle dragon salesperson who doesn’t have the budget to buy tens of thousands of dollars a month’s worth of sales enablement software. Now the answer to this question might be to drop you a message on LinkedIn and introduce the sales management or marketing leadership so they can buy a product or service that does some of this for them. But for anyone that… And that’s a fair answer if that is the case, but for someone who doesn’t have the software in place, perhaps they have somewhat of a sales process at the back of their mind. Perhaps they have some kind of support from marketing, but they’re not leading these initiatives. What can an individual salesperson do to implement some of what we’re talking about to find out whether, what they’re sending out is effective or not?

 

James Palmer:

Yeah. I think if I go back to something I said earlier, the best sales people I’ve worked with are very good at this. They just do it in a much more manual way, right? So it’s having an idea that content is not one size fits all. Having an idea that, if you don’t tailor this content, people are simply not going to… There’s mounds of statistic that tell you people are not going to engage with it. So people spend the time tailoring your content, realise that content is trial and error. What works for one might not work for another, but look for some feedback, was that the right content for you? What other areas am I, what are we missing here? What could I be providing for you?

 

James Palmer:

Ask the questions, don’t just think I’m going to send one piece of content and good luck with that. Ask for some feedback on it, because that will help you manually do what I’ve been talking about today. That’s what the best salespeople that I’ve worked with have done throughout their careers is, assess the situation, ask good questions and react accordingly. The suggestion here is that the content that you send is part of that acting accordingly. Tailor it and send something that’s going to resonate and work.

 

Pattern Recognition When Analysing the Content You Send Out · [32:10] 

 

Will Barron:

For sure. So to just go back to the premise that we started the show with James, of personalising our B2B outreach at scale. I think what we’re saying here, I don’t want to put words in your mouth, you tell me if I’m wrong. What we’re saying here is to test, have a hypothesis, have a process laid out in front of you. Test a piece of content at different parts of the process, different piece of content. Engage and suss out what works, what doesn’t. And then we’re looking for patterns. Aren’t we? This allows us to scale. If we see that this piece of content, it should… Buyers are all over it to the same point of the process that then solves at scale. The email that we send when the buyer reaches out to us, when the buyer’s asking about pricing, when the buyer does one, two or three things. Is that how we scale all this by working out through trial and error, through AB testing, through having a hypothesis and using the scientific method, we are looking for patterns. Is that how we scale all of this?

 

James Palmer:

It is. I think you mentioned medical device, the medical device sales industry. We’re a medical device company, we build whatever machines, they’re in hospitals all over the place. And a couple of years before they get end of life be, we need to send them a letter saying, your machine’s going to be end of life. So you send them a letter and probably the data you’re going to get back on that is no one really reads it or someone opens it once and never looks at it. But at that stage, they’re a customer. They’re somewhere between happy and not happy, but they’re a customer.

 

James Palmer:

And what if we were to send an end of life letter, but we were to send them some content that showed them what their options might be for the upgrade, right? And we built that in, and now we send that along and we see that the engagement with that content is vastly different to a static letter that’s telling them in a legal way, two years from now, your machine’s going to end of life and we’ve got some other options for you. Please call us. How about we seed that with some content. And then we look at the engagement rates on that, and you’ll probably find there’s going to be a vast difference. That’s a massive oversimplification. I know, but it is exactly exactly what we’ve been talking about.

 

Will Barron:

I don’t think you’re oversimplifying. The last company I worked for, multi billion dollar privately owned, family owned company. We did nothing like that ever. It was, Hey, let me just check the serial number on this box that’s in the theatre, it looks a bit old. Then you’d call the office and go, Hey, this has been out of use of seven years. Why are they still using it? And then you would engage in the conversation.

 

James Palmer:

You should probably have a newer one of these for a whole host of reasons. But yeah.

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. The cobwebs inside, it’s a part of the issue here. And I’ve been in some places, I can’t see too much, because I don’t want to be [could 00:34:56] again, liable for what I say, but I may or may not, allegedly have been in places where medical devices have literally smelt, they’ve been on fire because they’ve not been maintained. And some of the devices that I may or may not have allegedly worked with in the past, they use really high power bulbs to get light inside the patient. Now it’s all switched to LEDs, I believe, but they were using incandescent bulbs to do this. And you could smell the fact and it’s just because they hadn’t been used in years. They’d be wheeled in an emergency and there was dust on the bulb. That’s an instant fire hazard. Last thing you want when a patient is on the table is a fire on the camera system that’s allowing you to see what you’re going on inside the patient itself.

 

Will Barron:

And so I’ve had these conversations and it was because, and I’m doubling down on your point here because I don’t think it’s an oversimplification. An automated sequence like that, which can be done super easy with software, whatever that software is, would hopefully generate new business, but could add value to the buyer in that it’s just a prompt to them that some of these things need to be looked at, updated, changed, and obviously then it restarts a conversation with you, without you having to call, call, pester, annoy individuals. And so that can, depending on the market size, whether you’re in account management, as opposed to hunting for new business, that could give you an uptake of 10%, 20%, 30%, depending on the demographic of the people that you’re engaging with, just by one simple automated email. So I think that’s really valuable in its own right.

 

How the Best Salespeople Scale Their Sales Processes · [36:22] 

 

James Palmer:

Yeah. And you know, we’ve personalised some content not based on the doctor’s name or whether he likes or she likes golf. We’ve personalised content based on people that are two years out from the end of life of this product. Here are the kind of things that they should be or will be thinking about. Let’s provide them with the kind information that’s going to resonate with them. And one of those types of information might be in three years time, this is going to smell like it’s been on fire and that’s not great. So yeah, I think if you think about personalization in a sales sense, not necessarily purely a marketing sense, but what is good information for them at this stage? Then yeah, that’s how you scale yourself as a good salesperson.

 

Will Barron:

And think of that as an email subject line to get clicks. Does your camera system smell like burning flesh or something like that? You’re going to get a high click through rate on that, right?

 

James Palmer:

If that’s in my field of responsibility, I’m probably clicking on that email.

 

Parting Thoughts · [37:31]

 

Will Barron:

Of course. Well with that, James, tell us where we can find out more about you mate, where can we find out more about you and everything that you’re up to?

 

James Palmer:

Yeah, I’m on LinkedIn. I work at Seismic, you mentioned a couple of times and yeah, drop me a line on LinkedIn. I’d be happy to connect and hear from anyone.

 

Will Barron:

Good stuff. Well I’ll link to Seismic, your LinkedIn profile. Everything that we talked about in this episode in the show notes over at salesman.org. [inaudible 00:37:53] with that James. I appreciate the… Hopefully this was a conversation that was at a high level for individuals who have aspirations to get into, whether it’s sales enablement, content management within the organisation, and maybe like a sales adjacent role. But I think we got real practical at the end, which is useful for anyone. Any one of us, maybe I’m including you rightly or wrongly here, but us knuckle dragging, quota carrying sales people. I think there’s value there as well. So with that, mate, I want to thank you for your time, your expertise and joining us on the Salesman podcast.

 

James Palmer:

Thank you, Will.

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