BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

Tips on how to sell to buyers in the new economy with Todd Hockenberry

  • Buyers have changed. The way you sell in the new economy has to change.
  • It really affects everything. It's not just about marketing anymore. It's about how you really run your entire business.
  • It starts with the mindset of leadership understanding how they connect with and create value for a customer, and then how they build a relationship moving forward.
  • They created a lot more connections and ways for their customers and contacts to understand what they were doing and how they could help them.
  • So instead of having guys on airplanes all the time knocking on doors trying to sell things, they had people available 24/7 that could answer questions, support their customers, and be the kind of partner they were looking for.
  • Your tactics should be determined by your customers and by your target audience.
  • I think most marketing people would understand what a persona is. It's kind of a fictionalized representation of your ideal customer.
  • How can we make our business so attractive in every way that not only do we attract the best customers, we attract the best employees, we attract the best partners, the best suppliers, the best collaborative companies, right?

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BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

[just click to tweet]

BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

Buyers have changed. The way you sell in the new economy has to change.

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Doug: Well welcome back listeners to another episode of Real Marketing Real Fast. Today, our guest is going to share with us why the keys to business growth and selling in the new economy is a change of mindset and not a new set of marketing tactics. So today's guest is Todd Hockenberry. He is the owner, the founder of Top Line Results, which is a global leader in educating and helping B2B businesses adapt to internet driven changes in buying behavior. So translated, how are your customers or your potential customers buying online? Todd is the co-author of Inbound Marketing Organization, which is a book on how to build and strengthen your company's future using inbound principles, and it's scheduled for release this April, so the book is probably already out. And it was published by John Wiley and Sons.

Doug: In his book, Todd shows leaders how to build their community, their company's future around inbound marketing principles, strengthen the structural foundations that are necessary to deal with the changes in buyer behavior. Todd helps business owners like you and I understand that mission matters, culture is destiny and that the way that the prospects and their customers want you to market to them, sell to them, and service them is changing, and most importantly, what you should do about it. So I would like to welcome Todd to the Real Marketing Real Fast podcast today. Hey, well Todd, I'm super excited to have you on the podcast today, so welcome.

Todd H.: Thanks for having me, Doug. I'm very excited to be here and talk to you today as well.

Doug: Well, it's interesting to see that you're working in a very similar space and you're working the B2B leaders and helping them to drive sales and work in the marketing field. It's an area that I absolutely love. So why don't you share with our listeners just a little bit of background on yourself and how you kind of got to this space in your life.

Todd H.: Yeah, I started out in the factories of Central United States in the flyover territory in the automotive industry and kind of cut my chops working for industrial and manufacturing companies. And about 10 years ago in the middle of the Great Recession, I found myself looking for a job, and I said, “I'm never going to have another job again.” So that's when I started Top Line Results with my wife. And what we did was, we started out with the premise that companies were going about growth wrong, or that they were doing it in a way that was kind of traditional and things had changed.

So we've spent the last 10 years working with companies directly on helping them understand what we would call inbound, right? So inbound from a marketing perspective is often thought of as kind of a HubSpot inspired methodology where you create content, you optimize web sites, you do landing pages, and you share offers. And all that stuff is great, but what we realized a long time ago is that inbound was a lot different than that, or it was a lot more than that.

Todd H.: Really what it was was a reaction to the way we had changed as buyers. And again, this is not news to your audience. They know that buyers have changed, but just as a matter of kind of understanding where we came from, we started to take those ideas into the sales department and into the service department, and kind of thinking about how this should impact the entire company. And that's where the book came from. It came out last year, Inbound Organization. And it's just about that, right? And it's about taking those ideas to the entire organization. And that's really what we've been working on, and we put a name to it and we have a book now, and that's really where we focus our time. And we help companies understand inbound and how it impacts everybody in their entire organization.

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BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

[just click to tweet]

BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

Buyers have changed. The way you sell in the new economy has to change.

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Doug: Well, and I don't want to pretend that I understand how buyers have changed. I mean, there are so many changes and there's so much new stuff happening on social. It seems like there's a new platform every day and the rules in the platforms are changing. So do you mind sharing just a little bit on how customers shop and how they buy, how that has changed, just to make sure that we're clear and we're on the same page as you?

Todd H.: Absolutely Doug. I'm going to give your audience a story. I like to talk in stories a lot. You'll learn that about me. A couple of years ago, I was working with a manufacturing client of ours in Indiana, and they had an open house where they invited all their customers to come in and prospects to see the newest and latest and greatest equipment. And this equipment was started at around a quarter of a million dollars and went up to $1 million. This was not small ticket items or transactional things by any means. This was a very large considered capital equipment purchase.

Todd H.: I was standing there talking to the owner of the company that was our client, and another gentleman walked up and there was a new product sitting there. It was a laser, and it started at half a million dollars. And the guy walked up and said, “Hey, who's your sales guy that I can talk to about getting a proposal for one of those. I want to buy one. I've done all my homework and I've eliminated everyone other than you and one other company, and I just really want to work out the details of the deal.” And I kind of took this example as really one of the best ones I could think of, because we think of inbound and we look at our phone and us… Amazon and all these things. We're obviously different from a consumer perspective.

Todd H.: But it just was really, that story really hammered home to me that even in large capital equipment considered purchase situations, somebody who is already a customer of my customer never reached to my customer about this piece of equipment to talk to them until they had eliminated everyone other than two potential options. That told me that everybody including large considered purchases really has changed how they buy.

Todd H.: So you know you've changed how you buy services and you buy groceries and you may get them delivered or pick up or all the app-driven kind of buying we do. But you don't normally think of half a million dollar pieces of capital equipment being affected in very much the same way. So that's what I think has changed, and that's why companies need to respond in a different way because this isn't just about marketing anymore. This isn't just about sales anymore. It's about how you think about your entire company. It's everybody starting with your mission and your strategy and your leadership and how you allocate resources, how you structure your business, who you hire, how you deploy them. It really affects everything. It's not just about marketing anymore. It's about how you really run your entire business.

Doug: Well, in that example that you gave, so where do you think the missing link was? Why do you think that that transaction … I mean obviously, they were fortunate that they were shortlisted, but I mean, that could've gone the other way. They might not have made the cut, and they wouldn't even have known they'd lost that new sale from their existing client.

Todd H.: Doug, you're exactly right, and they were fortunate in that case, and they did win the business in that case. But what would've happened if they hadn't been shortlisted? My client would have never known that someone who they already were working with and had sold equipment to was considering buying this new type of laser. They would not even have known. So really, what it points out to is that it isn't about marketing tactic or a sales tactic. It's not doing more of the same, which I think is what my client was trying to do at the time. Now I know they've changed in the last couple of years. It's because they're working with us. But they were still marketing and assuming that buyers were consuming information, gathering options, considering alternatives, and making decisions the same way they had five, ten years ago, and they are not doing that.

Todd H.: So it started with the mindset of the leaders that felt that they could continue to do the same types of things they were doing and get the same results, and that's just not the case. So it starts with the mindset of leadership understanding how they connect with and create value for a customer, and then how they build a relationship moving forward. Now the good news, skip forward a couple of years after that story is, that client changed, based on our understanding and research and work with them of their marketplace, changed their sales team from being one that was more focused on being an outside sales team to one that was more focused on being an inside sales team, and they created a lot more connections and ways for their customers and contacts to understand what they were doing and how they could help them.

Todd H.: It became a much more kind of helpful connected relationship between the two companies because they reallocated how their sales resources were deployed. So instead of having guys on airplanes all the time knocking on doors trying to sell things, they had people available 24/7 that could answer questions, support their customers, and be the kind of partner they were looking for. So again, for me, it starts with a mindset, the way you think. And then it all rolls downhill from there.

Doug: Yeah, I think often, I'm definitely guilty of this. I go right to tactics.

Todd H.: Yep.

Doug: So like, “Hey, let's do this. Hey, let's do that. Hey, let's try this.”

Todd H.: Yeah, we like the shiny thing. We're marketers, right? We love the shiny thing, what's new. Hey, there's a new app. Hey, there's a new social platform. Hey, there's a new … Let's do this. Somebody wrote an article, let's go do that, right?

Doug: Yeah.

Todd H.: And the issue is, do you think your customers like that? I mean, you always start with your customers or your target audience. You've got to know them. You've got to know where they are, how they make decisions, how they change, and you want to match that, right? If the tactics match it, great, right? Things like Chat, for example. I'm sure you've talked about Chat, I'm sure we all as marketers know what that is. But do your customers use it in a way that their customers want you to use it? And again, I've seen people sell very complex equipment using Chat, which just stuns me, right? Where there's a … I have one example I'm thinking of. A company sold a piece of equipment that was about $25,000, and it wasn't something you typically buy off the shelf, but the person used Chat to get all their questions answered. They said, “Who do we send the order to?” And my client was just shaking their head thinking, “We had no idea.” But that's-

Doug: About them using-

Todd H.: But that's the point, right? You have no idea unless you're evaluating talking to them, understanding how they're consuming information, and then giving them the tactics they want, right? I always say, your strategy is dictated by you. You decide in your company how you're going to go to market, how you're going to position and differentiate. Your tactics should be determined by your customers and by your target audience. They should pick your tactics because they're the ones who you need to connect with, so you should be listening to them and the way they want to connect with you, communicate with you, share content, consume content. That's what your tactic should be. Not the other way around.

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BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

[just click to tweet]

BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

Buyers have changed. The way you sell in the new economy has to change.

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Doug: So how do you go about that? I mean okay, that sounds like a … It makes sense, right? So communicate with your customers in a way that they want to engage with you. But how do you actually execute that? What does that look like?

Todd H.: That's a great question Doug. It starts with understanding what we call persona, and I think most marketing people would understand what a persona is. It's kind of a fictionalized representation of your ideal customer. It's based on behaviors, not demographics so much. So it's based on how they buy, why they buy, and the value they would receive from you. So first of all, and I'm stunned at how many companies in the B2B space do not do this. The first thing you have to do is, you actually have to talk to them. You have to ask them questions. You have to go spend time with them. You have to get to know them. And you have to ask them how they consume information, how they want to work with you.

Todd H.: Most companies just listen to somebody that's the loudest voice in the room and they think that's the tactic they should follow, and they do it. Bring me data. Show me the evidence. Give me 10 customers that say this, right? Or test it, right? Chat's a great example. Anybody could run a very low cost, easy chat experiment. Run the experiment and see if it works, see if you engage, right? And again, it sounds simple, but I'm shocked … I guess I'm not shocked anymore, I've been doing this long enough. I'm surprised continually how often companies miss that point. And that's a big part about what we do with clients is we'll go out and interview their customers, their target audience, we'll interview prospects. And we're going to try to figure out not what they want to buy, but how they want to buy. Big difference.

Doug: Yeah, you would never think of selling that type of equipment on Chat. I mean, I would think of companies that would go to big trade shows and spend huge amounts of money moving equipment there and all the things that I've typically seen in the industry when they're selling that, opposed to, like you said, them being available 7/24 to answer the questions when people are doing the research and just being responsive.

Todd H.: Well just think about that for a second, Doug. The typical company that might continue to use trade shows, and I still believe in trade shows. I love the face-to-face aspect of trade shows. You can do things there that you can't do over online or e-mail or phone. So I'm a believer in trade shows, so don't misunderstand. What I see though is that companies don't necessarily understand how to use trade shows to their advantage or connect with people before, during, and after trade shows the way they want … It's passive, right? Maybe they send out a few e-mails and wait for people to show up, and then 50/50 they follow up, right? That's the data. The data says that only half of, roughly half of trade show leads are ever followed up on, which is stunning, but it's true.

Todd H.: So here's what I would do for a company that has a heavy trade show budget. I might go in and say, “Let's run a test for a fraction of what you would pay for one trade show. Let's run Chat for a month, see what happens, and see if we can match up an investment,” right? Can we generate 30, 40, 50, 100 leads using Chat in a month? And does that compare favorably cost and ROI with a trade show, right? If you're using a good CRM, you can track those leads over time. Whereas … So for example, like a trade show, if you have a six-month sales cycle, for example. You have to wait six months until after that show before you have any idea whether it's been effective or not. You probably have to wait a year. So you've invested in that trade show again the next year before you really even know whether last year's work. Whereas something like Chat, you could get a much faster judgment of ROI and whether it's effective.

Todd H.: Again, that's just an example, but I would be talking to my prospects and customers. I would be interviewing them regularly and not just about, “Did you like the product? Did you get it on time? Was our service guy good, or was our training people, did they answer your questions?” I would be saying, “How did you find us? Where did you look? What other things did you evaluate? What social media do you pay attention? Do you ever use LinkedIn? What bloggers do you read?” I mean, I just don't think enough people are asking these kinds of a question of their target audience.

Todd H.: So we've seen big improvements in our clients when they do this and they really develop a good persona project and really dig in. And when they understand the behavior about how companies consume information and begin the process of changing, all of a sudden now it changes the whole way they think about marketing, right? It's not just, “How much stuff can I throw out there?” It's, “What's kind of put out there that's the most helpful and the most effective and that people actually want to consume?”

Todd H.: So now we're getting back to the idea of inbound, right? The idea of inbound is you create content and marketing that's so attractive that people want to consume it. They're looking for it. They want to hear it, read it, see it, listen to it. That is not just a marketing function anymore. Companies need to think of their entire business that way. How can we make our business so attractive in every way that not only do we attract the best customers, we attract the best employees, we attract the best partners, the best suppliers, the best collaborative companies, right? Are you the center of some ecosystem that's attracting people to you, or are you just standing there still shotgunning the world and chasing the shiny thing and hoping it works.

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BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

[just click to tweet]

BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

Buyers have changed. The way you sell in the new economy has to change.

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Doug: When you say it like that, I mean, it makes so much sense. I mean, I love trade shows as well, because I love to get face-to-face and nothing I think builds a deeper relationship than sitting across the table or shaking someone's hand and having a chance to have a conversation. But like you said, if you're looking at your sales process from a holistic view, like a 30,000 foot level, maybe there's some stuff you could do before, during, and after the trade show, to your point in terms of communication, that will accelerate the sales cycle, will put you higher on the prospects list of potential vendors.

Todd H.: No question, I think that face-to-face is irreplaceable. And it's more valuable today because people try to get away without doing it, right? They want to use technology in place of relationship, and it doesn't work. I-

Doug: And the other thing is that it's going to … I think that the good news, the bad news is, I mean, because I've already admitted I have an issue that I like to execute tactics, like [inaudible 00:16:22]. I like strategy and going outbound and driving sales. Is that … You will probably identify stuff that you don't need to do anymore. You're going to talk to your customers like you said, and they're going to give you a list of where they spend their time, how they do their research, and how they want to consume your content. And I'm sure that there are things that'll bubble up. You're going to take your marketing department and say, “None of our customers are on … pick a platform. None of our customers are on Pinterest, or they're not on Instagram,” so while we have this nice present and we're producing all this content, it's not serving them.

Todd H.: That's right, that's right. One of the things that I'll … Here's a takeaway for your audience. This is a good test I always like to use. Look at your web site, look at your clients' web sites and see who it's meant for, right? Is it talking to the CEO, the designer? Is it talking to internally? Or is it talking to a real person, right? So if I go on your web site, for example, we've been talking about equipment, so I'll use an equipment manufacturer. And all I see is equipment, or I see your factory. I know you're thinking about yourself. This is about … This is what you think is important. You think that our equipment is important, or our factory is important. And the reality is, they are important, but not to web site visitors up front. They're important later on in the process, but up front, it's about them.

Todd H.: And if your web site is not talking about your customers, your ideal audience, your persona, how you help them change, how you improve their business, how you improve their lives, how you help them reach their goals, then you're missing it. That's always the clue that I look for first to see if people really are thinking this way, because if a web site looks like that, then I see a company that's not thinking the way modern buyers want them to think.

Doug: Well, I thought for a minute there you were going to actually say that you were looking at my web site and that's what you noticed, so …

Todd H.: No, nope, nope, you do a good job talking about your audience and how you help them, which is … it's not that hard to do … Well, it is hard to do, right? It's hard to get out of your own head and think that you're really not a marketing agency. You're in the, “I'm here to improve your life, grow your business, and show you how to get more customers,” business, right?

Doug: Right.

Todd H.: So-

Doug: Yeah, but I just had the conversation with the copywriter a couple of days ago. I said, “You need to rewrite all my copy,” and he said, “Why?” I said, “Because I'm too close to it,” and I said, “When I looked at it, it's all about me, and no one cares about me until I can solve their problem. So you need to get rid of me and put them there, and then when they're interested enough to say, ‘Hey, should I work with this guy?', then they'll find out about me, but until I address their problem, they don't care.”

Todd H.: Yeah, it's exactly right. And it's hard to do, you're right, it's hard to get out of your own head, but doing a persona exercise like I described and really making it a priority to understand customers and where they're at and how they buy is the thing that'll separate you from your competition. Most leaders of businesses, when they talk to customers, they talk about a product or the service. What do you need? They don't think about how they consume that service or how they become introduced to it, right? It's not … And again, if people are using the internet and content as a way to introduce themselves to companies, then that's you and your business at the front end of this process. And even if somebody refers you to someone else, you're going to go and look at their web site, right?

Todd H.: So your web site's you, and if it's all about … If you're talking about yourself, it's like you said, right? Who cares. I mean, think of all those e-mails you get or spam requests you get through LinkedIn or e-mails, right? Just get me 15 minutes on your account, or I've got this great new widget or app, you've got to have this. I say no every time. They never talk about me, right? How hard would it be to look me up? I'm all over the internet, right? Type Todd Hockenberry and you're going to find me everywhere. You would learn a ton about me, right? How hard would it be to position your cold call outreach to me in a way that was in the context of me, my business, and where I'm at, right? If you do that, you might get my attention. But if you don't, I have no time for you.

Doug: Well I think my favorite response on LinkedIn because I'm pretty active on LinkedIn, is when people request to connect with me. I have one of my VAs, and we have a list of criteria that they look at with the request to either approve or not approve a new connection request. And then after we connect with somebody, she sends out a personal note basically that says, “Hey thanks Todd for connecting. Was there anything that you're looking for on my profile that you couldn't find? Is there a question I can answer? If you want to have a conversation and share about your business, what you do, and see if there's an opportunity to talk down the road, here's a link.”

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BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

[just click to tweet]

BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

Buyers have changed. The way you sell in the new economy has to change.

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Doug: And I get a response back saying, “Hey, great to connect with you. What do you do?” Thinking, “Are you kidding me? You're on my profile. I sent you a note back about kind of what I do.” But like you said, they didn't read it. It's just somebody going through the numbers. It's like, “Let's see if we can hit a hundred accounts a day, and we're just going to cut and paste this same message.” And it just wastes your time, wastes my time, and nobody's getting a result out of it.

Todd H.: But Doug, that's the key, right? That's the point. That's a mindset. That's lazy marketing, right?

Doug: Yep.

Todd H.: It's easy to buy a list and spam people. It's easy to just ask you to do the heavy lifting, right? But I don't have to, right? That information's out there. You better do your homework, and you better build some context and some value before you reached out to me. And that's exactly what I'm talking about is there's a mindset amongst way too many people that say, “It's okay to just interrupt people and hit them with boring messages and bad phone calls. And that's still okay.”

Todd H.: I have a story in the book Inbound Organization about my car dealer. And again, long story short, they just kept sending me e-mails and phone calls about, my car was three years old and they wanted me to turn it in. And they kind of gave me this bogus thing saying, “There's this high demand for your model and we'd like you to come in and give you an estimate.” And all they're trying to do is churn me, right?

Doug: Sure.

Todd H.: And I kept telling them, “I buy and hold my cars. The last car I drove 250,000 miles. I'm keeping this car for another two years, and I'm going to give it to my daughter who's going to graduate from college, so she's going to drive it for four or five years. So I'm going to drive this car for, it's going to be driven for a couple hundred thousand miles.” I told them exactly who I was, I told them exactly who my persona was, what my goals were, what success looked like to me, and you know what they kept doing every single month? They kept asking me if I wanted to bring it in for an estimate because there's a high demand for my model. They never could pivot … I finally told them, “I'm writing a book. I'm going to write a chapter about you guys just to [inaudible 00:22:45].” And their answer to my complaint was, the general manager finally called and said, “We'll take you out of our database so we don't annoy you anymore.” I'm like, “That's your answer? How about selling my”-

Doug: Wow. Wow, you don't want to-

Todd H.: How about selling my truck?

Doug: Sell me a car again, wow. That's amazing.

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BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

[just click to tweet]

BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

Buyers have changed. The way you sell in the new economy has to change.

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Todd H.: So the end of that story is, I went to another car dealer and, to get my service done, and I went in and dropped it off and stayed there. I was doing some work, and this young lady walked over to me and said, “Mr. Hockenberry?” I said, “Yes?” She said, “There's a high demand for your model. We would love to have you talk to Bob over here in the estimating department to give you a quote for your car. We'd love to see if you're interested in trading in.” I was like, “Holy cow. They must have all gone to the same class.”

Doug: Yeah, same seminar.

Todd H.: This is the person who's standing there talking to me, face-to-face. And I said, “No, I'm the buy and hold persona. I keep my car for 200,000 miles plus.” I gave her the same story, and she said, “Oh, nice to meet you,” and turned around and walked away. That is all … That is not her fault. She's been poorly trained and given a bad system. That is leadership's fault. People that run these businesses don't think enough about their customers, don't care enough about their customers to understand how freaking annoying their marketing and sales are to us. They don't care enough to dig in and really understand what they're doing to their customers. That's really what it boils down to. It's just a leadership issue. Leaders need to understand that they can no longer tolerate their marketing departments, sales departments, or service departments being annoying, incompetent, spammy, interruptive. If you do, guess what? How hard is it, Doug, for you to find an alternative to anything today? How hard is it?

Doug: No, yeah, you're right. It's easy. I mean, I can go online and in a few minutes, I could actually do that while I'm … the car dealership example. I could do it while I'm in the dealership.

Todd H.: Exactly. So why would you think that you can get away with the same garbage marketing and tactics? Why? I don't know why. I'm not asking you, but I'm asking the world. Why do you think we're going to tolerate this? We don't have to tolerate it anymore. We're not going to tolerate it. And I don't … I counsel leaders and owners of businesses that if this is not the number one thing on your board, agenda, in your senior leadership meetings, then you're going to make a mistake, and somebody's going to eat your lunch. Because it doesn't matter what product you're talking about or service you're talking about. It doesn't matter if your quality is good or not good. If you're not giving your customers a great experience, they're gone, right?

Doug: Yeah.

Todd H.: I love my car. I love it. It's a great car. I hate that dealer, right? So I'll go find an alternative, right? And again, the one I'm going to now is okay. They don't bug me too much with the phone calls and the e-mails. But if they go over the line, I'll go find another one, right?

Doug: Yep.

Todd H.: I don't understand why people don't realize that anybody can do this with any product or service, right? So this experience piece is what matters more to differentiation and long-term customer success than your product or your service or your quality or the features and all that stuff. It's this experience piece that makes the biggest difference to growing and staying at the top of your game in your marketplace.

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BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

[just click to tweet]

BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

Buyers have changed. The way you sell in the new economy has to change.

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Doug: Yeah, and like you said, it's knowing what the buyer persona is. I mean, I'm not going to share my sales story with you, but there have been a few situations where we've left when we've been face-to-face because the salesperson clearly didn't know who the buyer was. My wife and I were out buying some consumer products, and I said, “Don't talk to me. I'm just here for support and I just happen to have the credit card today, not her, so quit talking to me. I'm not buying.” And we left, and the guy's going, “Why are you leaving?” I was like, “I'm not the buyer.” I told you, I was polite enough to tell you in the middle of your sales pitch, “Quit pitching me. It's not for me.” And you, clearly you didn't hear, so we're leaving.

Doug: And so yeah, it's an interesting marketplace. And you're right, people have lots of choices and not to mention all the new upstarts and technology that are there to make it easier for you to find the alternate ways to shop.

Todd H.: Well Doug, I have a warning for your audience. I have three teenagers, actually two teenagers and a 20-year-old now. And I actually teach a class in a college here in Florida, Stetson University. It's an intro to sales class. And we talk about all this stuff with my students, and these kids are young adults. They're 19 to 20 years-old, sophomores and juniors mostly. And I promise you, if you keep marketing like this, you might get away with it for the guys like me that have some gray hair, but if you try that with this generation coming out, you're dead. I mean, you're dead to them in every way you could be dead. Not only are you dead to them, but you're also dead to everyone that knows them.

Todd H.: And soon as these, the younger generations … Oh, and they're coming already, right? Twenty, thirtysomethings. They're in the workplace, they're buying … They're not going to tolerate this stuff, right? They have no loyalty to you even if you've been selling to their company for 10, 20 years. You make them mad, they're going to go on the internet, they're going to rate you, review you. They're going to … It's not going to be good. Companies need to get it. And it's not just marketing. I keep hammering the idea that it's got to be leadership. Leadership has to understand that this isn't just marketing anymore. It's how you run your business.

Doug: So if I pushed back and said, “Okay, I hear what you're saying, but isn't that going to take a big investment and a lot of time for me to turn that around?”

Todd H.: Maybe. If it doesn't though, you won't have anything left to turn around. It's not a wish list thing, it's not a want to anymore, right? And the bigger companies are starting to get this, right? But I deal with a company right now that's a $300 million company and they have four divisions around the world. And they have a marketing database, a sales database, and a service database in each of those four locations. They essentially have 12 different databases, right? So how well do you think they take care of customer service issues, right? It's all this Silo stuff, right? It's this horrible system that doesn't give any clarity of the information to the people that are trying to help these customers.

Todd H.: So what marketing learns, sales don't know. What sales learn, service doesn't know. And it's a horrible system, and companies are not prioritizing this idea that everything they do has to be creating this experience for people that are using to dealing with things like Amazon. That's who they compare you to when you're dealing with a service issue. You're getting compared to the best companies in the world. Not necessarily your competitor in your space. So people's expectations are changed rapidly when it comes to every interaction with your company. And if you're not facilitating those conversations and making things easy and sharing lots of content and not putting people on hold.

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BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

[just click to tweet]

BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

Buyers have changed. The way you sell in the new economy has to change.

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Todd H.: I mean, today … I mean, this is another … I have a lot of … I could rant all day on this stuff Doug, but-

Doug: Well I just thought I'd poke you, because I know there's going to be people listening going, “Yeah, it sounds good, but that's going to be budget and resources and blah blah blah.” But like you're saying, this isn't optional. I mean, it might be if you're five years from retirement. You might be able to stay in the company before it closes. But it-

Todd H.: Maybe.

Doug: But maybe. Maybe it'll last that long so you don't have to change. However-

Todd H.: But think about people that use the ubiquitous phone tree automated voice mail thing. Press 1 for this, press 2 for this, press … and you get stuck in this loop and you can't get your questions answered. Oh my goodness, who … Why do you do that? Nobody likes that, right? The people that … I see so many companies that'll put poor systems out there like that for their customers, and they would not tolerate that with the people they buy from. But somehow it's okay when they do it. And again, I could go on and on and on. And we're talking about tactics, right? This is marketing, right? Your connections, your relationships, how people experience your company. That is your marketing because people share. They comment. This is ratings, reviews, on and on and on and on, right? This becomes your marketing, and if you're not doing it well, then your marketing's going to be poor. Doesn't matter what you say, your customers and the feedback people put out in the world about you is way more powerful and influential than anything you put in your marketing.

Todd H.: So again, it's a strategic imperative, and if companies don't start adopting what we call the ideas around inbound, then you run the risk of having a great product and a great service and a nice team, but not the kind of experience that people want to have with you, so they're going to go somewhere else.

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BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

[just click to tweet]

BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

Buyers have changed. The way you sell in the new economy has to change.

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Doug: Well even if you think of yourself in your own industry and you're one of the market leaders, the best example I heard was I read a book last year called Hunger in Paradise, and the author was talking about Lego, and Lego being the largest by far in the toy business. And while the executives were kind of puffing their chests about being the biggest and having the market share, the new CEO comes in and says, “But we're not competing with the other toy companies anymore. We're competing with the kids' attention to our new competition now is Apple.” So you're no longer the biggest. Now, how big are you compared to Apple? Well, now you're a drop in the bucket. So you really better step up your game and your communication with your customer, because now Apple's your competition, not pick another toy company.

Todd H.: Exactly, right? It's not just what you sell, it's how you sell it and how people perceive the interactions and the relationship with your company across every touchpoint. I mean, how many times have you worked with somebody's finance department or payables or receivables department that was frustrating and annoying? Again, are managers, are senior leaders thinking about that? Do you force your customers to sign 43-page terms and conditions that no one reads, right? That's a horrible legal experience, right? I mean, I could keep going and going. But that's marketing today. That's marketing today. That's your brand, that's your business, that's the experience people have with you. And every one of those touch points, you've got to put through that lens. And that's why you have to think about your customers first and then work backward, and tactics come from your customers. Strategy comes from you.

Doug: So to rip off a question from Tim Ferriss's last book, what's some of the bad advice you hear around what you're talking about? So you're out at a cocktail party or you're at a trade show or you're at a business event, and you just overhear somebody's conversation and it makes you want to go over there and slap them. What's the bad advice that people are giving out?

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BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

[just click to tweet]

BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

Buyers have changed. The way you sell in the new economy has to change.

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Todd H.: That's a good one. See, well, there's a lot of bad advice, right? There's so much content online. The bad advice typically starts with the tactics, like you said, right? It's not necessarily that there's one tactic that somebody might recommend that isn't better or worse, but I hear people say, “Oh, well we just did some paid ads and remarketing campaign and we did great,” right? And so the CEO hears that and he goes back to his marketing people and says, “Hey, we need to do a paid ads and marketing campaign.” And then the guy jumps, or the lady jumps, and does it, right? To me that's the worst advice, right? It's not in any context, and again, that's what we fight against all the time, the shiny thing, right? Chasing the shiny thing and thinking that one tactic that worked for somebody else is going to work for you. That's what I would fight back against.

Todd H.: And I don't know, I think there's a lot of that out there, right? Because the younger marketers are really good at saying, for example, video's hot right now. “Oh, we have to do a video for everything. Everything has to be video.” People consume more video than anything else, and I say, “Okay, a video has a place. But does that mean you drop your kind of, your core marketing and go all video?” I don't agree. I think there's still a really strong place for written content and curated content and a well-documented story that's written. I don't think the video's going to replace those things. Video has a place, I agree, but that might be one where I think there's a lot of hype going on video and at the end of the day, if everybody's doing it, then it just looks like everybody's doing it and doesn't have much of an impact anymore, right? My comment would be, if you're going to do video, can you make an impact with it and not just do it just to do it.

Doug: Well and to your point, is that how your customers want to consume your content?

Todd H.: Exactly. I-

Doug: If they don't want to watch a video, then the answer would be no.

Todd H.: Now what I would say you would want with video is, are there the kind of how-tos, right, that relate to your product or your service, right? How to set up an account, how to fix this, how to replace that, how to do 10 points of maintenance. Those are awesome. Those are kind of becoming table stakes types of content you want to have. Nobody wants to read the whole manual. They want the quick start guide, right? So you need to do that kind of things. But again, what I'm saying is, is all your marketing, does it have to be video? Do we really care if your CEO's doing a five-minute video and talking about how great you are? I don't. I'm out. I don't want to talk about that. I don't want to see that.

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BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

[just click to tweet]

BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

Buyers have changed. The way you sell in the new economy has to change.

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Todd H.: So I think it's just a matter of understanding your audience and what they really want, what makes their life easier, and giving them that. Not this kind of self-absorbed marketing … I think I just made up a term, Doug, that a lot of people do, right? Where you're chasing tactics, it tends to be as much about you as it is about the customer.

Doug: Yeah, and the term that I hate the most is, “Oh, that's dead.” “Oh [inaudible 00:35:34] is dead. Oh, e-mail is dead.” It's like, “Oh really? So how … When's the last time you got a letter from somebody?”

Todd H.: Oh that's just clickbait Doug, you know that. It's just clickbait. It's just trying to get people to click on your stuff and … I think that's a good one, right? If you think you're going to get people to pay attention to you and buy you because you're click baiting them into clicking something, that's not going to work either. I know I can't stand that stuff anymore. Give me some-

Doug: Well, it's not authentic, right? I mean, you're tricking somebody. So my thinking is, if you've tricked me here at the beginning of a relationship that could potentially lead to a sale, I don't trust you because this is the best you're going to ever be. You're going to be on your best behavior to convince me to talk to you, and then once you have my money, the service is going to go down. So if you're lying to me today, I would expect that after you take my money, you're going to continue to lie to me, but you're just not going to respond to me when I complain.

Todd H.: Yep. All the people that are making these great claims and claiming to be experts in knowing how to solve all these problems. Show me examples. Give me the data. Give me a case study. Give me five case studies where one of your customers lays it out there and says, “Yep, we grew by 100% because we did this one special thing,” right? I want to see that. Now I'm interested, right? If that's … If you can show me evidence and you can give me real people that are saying that they're backing you up, I'll listen. Otherwise, I think it's just a … We're finding new ways with technology to annoy more people with scale, right? And that's not good.

Doug: Yeah, I have a postcard on my desk, that quote from the Forrest Gump movie says, “You can tell a lot about a man by looking at his shoes.” And so I've heard a lot of experts speak and I'm looking, I'm thinking, “Man, you probably rode the bus here.” Now there's nothing wrong with the bus, but the reality is, you're really not making zillions of dollars on social media. So like you said, give me some case studies, have some real-life example, not just theory where you executed and you got a conversion and these were the numbers and this is how it rolled out.

Todd H.: I brought up the web site idea, right? I mean, if you're marketing out there is … If you're a marketer for your own company, or you're a marketing agency working for other people or a consultant, start with the web site. I mean, we know everybody is going to look at your web site eventually, right? If they're interested in your company, they're going to get on your web site, right? Now get the content right. Get the text right. Use modern tools. Make it responsive. Is it mobile optimized? Can I look at it on my phone? The basics. I mean, just nail the basics. And I would say most companies will see significant improvement if they just follow, kind of do the basics, right? Forget about the special shiny tactics, right? Get that basic stuff down.

Doug: Well that's just common sense. That sounds so simple.

Todd H.: I hate to be simple. It's not simple. If it was simple, everybody would be doing it and nobody would hire us, but unfortunately, that's … well, no, no, I don't want to say, unfortunately. Fortunately, that is not the case. People are still hiring us on a regular basis, so.

Doug: Well I think it comes back to, it's the mindset thing like you said. So while your concepts are simple and they make sense, you need to change your mindset, and that's going to take work within your company to work with the culture and to have that transition happen.

Todd H.: Exactly. And my challenge to leaders, people that own companies or senior leaders in companies is to shop yourself, put yourself in your customers' shoes, see how you treat them, go through those experiences yourself, and look in the mirror and say, “You know, do I like this? Do I want to be treated this way?” And then start talking to your customers and ask them how they want to be treated. And that's just as important as whether you're looking at your designs or your product or your materials or your engineering. Engineer your relationship as well and as in detailed as you engineer your product or your service.

Doug: Well, and I say the same thing about marketing. So if you subscribe to … If you want me to subscribe to your e-mail list or download your lead magnet or your offer, your free report, or watch your whatever it is, how do you want to be treated when you subscribe to somebody else's lists? Think about that, and then treat people the same way. Because we have these two standards. Well, I don't want to be sold every day, I want value. Yet you get them onto your list or they get onto your social media and you just blast them every day with your sales message.

Todd H.: Well that's one of the things that we've been working with our clients on is that … and this goes a little bit counter to the traditional kind of inbound methodology, which is, create awareness, top of the funnel type content, convert people by grabbing their e-mail on a form or on a landing page, and then nurture them to the sale. And I'm not sure that model works much anymore. I think we've all kind of figured that out. I mean, we know we're going to get nurtured. We're going to get a bunch of e-mails. And you know what? I think the best prospects don't put their e-mail in for that e-book anymore. How many of you out there have hundreds of e-books, PDFs onto your computer that you've never opened or read, but somebody now magically has your e-mail, right? I would say, look at those and see … add up the ones you've actually purchased from. And I'm going to tell you the answer's really, really small if any.

Todd H.: So my suggestion is … This would be another take away for the audience I think is, think about when you ask for that information and why you want it. And why are you looking for it up front if that isn't the pathway that your customers say is one they want to follow? Why don't you just share all of your educational content, put it all out there, and when they're ready, give people opportunities to connect with you when they're ready to talk to an expert, right? They don't want to talk to your lead nurturing e-mails. They want to talk to somebody when they're ready, right? And you can't make them ready. You can't force them to be ready. You just need to be there and available and ready when they are, with whatever connection methods they want, whether it's a phone, have to go to this chat, whether it's whatever, right? Texts, you name it, right? Give them all the opportunities that you can to connect with you, and then when they're ready, they'll reach out.

Todd H.: But I can tell you this. I signed up for probably thousands of lists over the years and gotten thousands of e-mails, and there's maybe five that I can think of off the top of my head that I actually care about and listen and look for. The rest are garbage. They go into a spam folder or I've unsubscribed from them already.

Doug: Yep, totally, totally agree. I just did a podcast episode on people unsubscribing and saying, “If you don't like my content, do me a favor. Don't just let it go to your inbox. Just unsubscribe. I'm trying to find the tribe, add value to your life every day, and if I'm not speaking your language, no hard feelings. Just move along. Do everyone a favor. Less junk in your box helps my deliverability. So thank you for joining, but happy to see you go and find a better place.”

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BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

[just click to tweet]

BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

Buyers have changed. The way you sell in the new economy has to change.

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Todd H.: Yeah, and good inbound marketers are doing that, right? They're cleansing their lists, they're making sure potential buyers have opted in. If there's no engagement, they're giving people a chance to re-opt in, or if they don't re-opt in, they take them out, right? That's exactly right. There's no benefit in bombing people with garbage they don't want, right? But you want to be available to them and you want to be helpful to them all the way up to the point in time where they're ready to talk to you, so. I'm not saying don't do content. I'm not saying don't create helpful information for the entire buying journey. But don't think that you can automatically lead nurture somebody to the point where they say, “Oh yeah, I got these three e-mails the last six months, and I'm going to buy now,” right? It doesn't work that way.

Doug: That's funny. So, a couple of questions and I'll let you get back to doing what you do best, and that's helping your customers make more money. Who's one guest you think I should have on my podcast?

Todd H.: One? I can think of a bunch, but I'm going to suggest my co-author, Dan Tyre, co-author of the book Inbound Organization. Dan's a senior sales executive at HubSpot, so he's kind of in the selling in the inbound world. He has a really interesting take on marketing and customers today and he's even more energetic than I am. He makes me look like I'm falling asleep.

Doug: And last question. Where can people find you and get more information and connect with you?

Todd H.: Well, they can find our web site, it's top-line-results.com. We also have a web site for the book. It's inboundorganization.com. And on that web site, there's an assessment you can take. It's free. I don't ask you for your e-mail at the end. If you want me to send you the PDF, I will. But you can get the results, the assessment, without me taking your e-mail. There's a hint. So no risk at all. You're not going to get spammed by us. And I love LinkedIn. I'm very active on LinkedIn. It's just my name, Todd Hockenberry. Feel free to reach out to me. If you listen to the show, if you like what we talked about, I would love to connect and talk to you some more on that platform.

Doug: Well excellent. Hey, thanks so much Todd for taking time. I really enjoyed the conversation. And we could have this conversation, I could talk to you for a lot longer, but in respect of our time in the podcast, we'll connect offline and carry on the conversation. So thanks for sharing with our audience.

Todd H.: Oh, my pleasure Doug. You got my heart rate up. I'm all excited too. So remember, I hope your audience remembers, right? Put yourself in their shoes, and if what you're doing things is something you would like, then keep doing it. If you don't like it, stop doing it.

Doug: Absolutely. So there you go, listeners. There is lots to think about, and the great news is, none of this stuff is tactic driven. It's not beyond your reach. It's just really a decision, like Todd said, to change your mindset and get in the minds of your customer and how they want to communicate and be communicated with you. So thanks for tuning in. Don't be shy to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, leave us a review or a comment. I will transcribe these notes of this episode, and I'll make sure that we've got all the links to Todd, his new book, Inbound Organization, and his social media sites. So thanks for tuning in, and I look forward to serving you on the next episode.

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BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

[just click to tweet]

BUYERS HAVE CHANGED. HAS THE WAY YOU SELL CHANGED?

Buyers have changed. The way you sell in the new economy has to change.

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