Full transcript below:
NOT JUST HOW – BUT WHEN – TO REACH OUT MATTERS
[0:00] If someone’s going to email me that says quick question, I will automatically send them to spam.
That’s what everyone’s doing. Quick question. Do you have a quick minute?
Like, what would you do if your business doubled today? Like spam.
It’s all about the value that we deliver. Free case studies.
If I can see myself in that email, then I might read it.
♪♪♪ Welcome to the Full Funnel of Freedom podcast. If you are listening to this, are likely leading a team responsible for generating revenue.
Purpose of Full Funnel Freedom is to support people like yourself and keep your.
[0:38] Funnels consistently reliably full.
Welcome to the Full Funnel Freedom Podcast. I’m your host, Hamish Knox.
Today, I am delighted to have Sharon Park, CEO and founder of Sage Digi as my guest today.
Sage Digi is a performance marketing agency that focuses on demand gen.
Prior to Sage, Sharon was an advertising executive at Google for over 10 years during which she led ad strategies for Samsung, Tiffany’s, Obama for America, Salesforce, Johnson & Johnson and many, many more.
Sharon sold two advertising patents to Google and focuses on bringing technology solutions to her customers. Sharon, welcome to Full Funnel of Freedom.
Thanks, Hamish. Great to be here. Yeah, I’m excited about our chat today.
SHARON’S BACKGROUND AND SPECIALIZATION IN FULL FUNNEL MARKETING
[1:24] So I’ve given the audience the 30,000-foot view of who you are and what you do.
Dive us down a level, tell us the story of Sharon, how you got where you are today, and how you support your customers in a bit more detail.
Sure. Thank you. So I am a small business owner.
We are an agency that focuses on demand generation, conversion, mostly for B2B businesses that have high ticket value conversions.
So we’re talking $100,000 plus conversion type of businesses.
[1:56] A lot of SAS, but also finance.
And we also work with quite a bit of pharma. But my specialty is using Google ads, LinkedIn ads to do full funnel marketing and to fill up the lead gen process, but also look to next year, what will the brand be pushing and what value do brands offer out into the marketplace, and make sure that potential customers are very well aware of what it is our customers do.
[2:28] Amazing. So I want to dive into many, many things that you just said.
The first one, which is a passion of mine is looking into next year because I know when I was in sales, my colleagues would think that the world was going to end on December 31st.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PLANNING FOR DEMAND IN THE NEXT YEAR
[2:43] And so they take the foot off the gas come September.
And then when January hit, their pipeline looked like a pencil and they were in my boss’s office going, hey, we need more leads.
We don’t have any leads. And it was like, yeah, well, you took your foot off the gas four months ago. That’s why your funnel is pretty skinny right now.
So how does that conversation go with your clients when you’re like, so what’s going to happen next year?
And how do you get people who are maybe not clued in like you and I are to start to think about, oh yeah, the world isn’t going to end on December 31st.
I should probably think about how am I going to create demand into the next year?
It’s a great question to focus on and meditate on because while we as marketers are bought in, there are many decision-makers that we need to talk to and get them to buy in as well. Very.
[3:29] Especially in today’s environment where business leaders are focusing on cash flow and what kind of runway does the business have.
The market’s facing a lot of uncertainty and so people are very sensitive about cash.
However, focusing on the middle of the funnel.
Okay, so customers that are interested in learning about what it is you do, but they’re not ready to buy.
Focusing and investing there is super, super important. So one way, one quick tactical way to do that would be marketing webinars.
Maybe your company hosts six a year.
And at that time, you’re discussing problems, a common problem set that your customers have, and letting them share solutions with each other.
Hosting a peer-to-peer learning webinar where you are the host.
[4:20] You are offering a lot of prompts and thought leadership, but creating this community where, you know, for me, it’s chief marketing officers, they all join and talk about different solutions that they’ve experienced.
What this does, though, is set you as the, in their memory as, oh, if I have to talk about marketing, I have to talk to Sharon Park.
And when there is a purchase event, such as their agency is messing up and they’re looking for a new one.
[4:48] That’s when I get brought in, but people aren’t ready to switch with agencies every single day.
KEEPING THE CONVERSATION GOING ALL YEAR ROUND
[4:55] Most of our clients are out of market, especially in B2B, I’d say 95, 98% of your clients are currently not in market to buy.
So how do we keep the conversation going all year round so that when they are ready, you’re in their memory?
Free offer for listeners of the full funnel freedom podcast I’ve got a report called three ways to ensure your sales cycle doesn’t sputter in the last mile.
You can get that at www.fullfunnelfreedom.com.
THE FRUSTRATION OF DEALS FALLING SHORT IN THE LAST MILE
[5:26] Splatter it’s incredibly frustrating as sales leaders when our sellers get a deal almost across the finish line But can’t quite push it to the finish even though they’ve promised us that it’s coming in real soon So go get your free report three ways to ensure your sales cycle does not sputter in the last mile at full funnel freedom calm forward slash sputter Now back to the show, That is a pretty high number 95 to 98 percent of our potential Clients are not in that ready-to-buy mode.
That’s mind-boggling to me So I love this idea of middle of the funnel, right?
So we’ve talked to them, right? We had an engagement we’ve had a couple of conversations, they’re just not ready to pull that trigger.
Because when I’ve heard about DemandJet in the past, it’s all pop-up funnel, right? It’s all how do we get the leads in?
What I just heard from you though is it’s that middle of the funnel that still needs love and attention. Is that accurate?
Yeah, absolutely. And so this is exactly why when you sell a high-ticket item, chances are folks only make that purchase once or twice in their lifetime, maybe three, four times, such as I think the example that the B2B Institute at LinkedIn uses is Aston Martin.
Their customers only make a purchase one time in their lifetime.
[6:45] So you are going to see that Aston Martin in the Bond movie.
You are going to see it in other ways, but you know, you don’t make that purchase until you’re ready and there’s nothing you could do to force a customer to get ready.
True. If that makes sense. Yeah, absolutely.
SUPPORTING BUYERS AT THEIR OWN PACE
[7:00] Because ultimately, our buyers are going to initiate a purchase for their reasons at their time.
And certainly, sellers can support and guide them and help them understand that it might make more sense to move faster, or it might make more sense to move slower.
Sure. We have those buyers who are like, Sharon, I’m ready to go.
Here’s my credit card. And you’re like, okay.
And then I know I’ve taken those pieces of business early in my sales career and then within 30 days, the relationship is completely off the rails.
So sometimes we want our sellers to actually pump the brakes and be like, yes, I’d love to work with you and let’s make sure we’re doing this at the right time for the right reasons.
So middle of the funnel, totally clear, especially when you’re in that big ticket, it’s only going to be purchased one to, let’s say less than five times over a buyer’s lifetime.
[7:49] Let’s move up a level to that top of funnel, right? So we’re all looking to fill our funnels with high-quality, pre-qualified leads, ideally.
The sales is from Mars and marketing is from Venus comes into this where sales complains that marketing gives them bad leads and marketing complains that sales never calls the leads that they give them.
How can we really leverage a demand gen strategy to bring those 95 to 98, who are not maybe even aware that they want to buy something, at least into the orbit of our sellers so our sellers can start having those conversations so that when the buyer is ready to buy, like your example, they think, I got to go talk to Sharon or I got to go talk to fill in company name.
Beautiful. So this is where the alignment between sales and marketing is most important.
What are the problem sets that your product offering or your service offering solves? And what are the pieces of collateral that marketing has prepared for, you to have those top of the funnel conversations.
So for us, one example as a digital ad agency is that everyone needs to get their analytics right.
So we wrote a GA4 playbook for marketers. It’s free.
It’s free. But it’s a what a great way to bring value at meeting number one.
I know you’re not on market right now as you get ready to go into market. Is your GA4 correct?
[9:17] Here’s a playbook on how your webmaster can check. And also your webmaster probably can’t do it. So call me. We’ll do it for you.
No, but like one of those thought pieces that are every single call at the top of the funnel, you’re going to be delivering value.
MOVING FROM TOP OF FUNNEL TO MIDDLE FUNNEL
[9:32] Okay. So you should join. Okay. You’re not in the market right now.
Maybe you should join our webinar.
We actually have a class coming up in three months about that. Let me just add you to it.
And if you can’t make it, we’ll record it, email it to you, but super important.
Someone just like you is going to be talking about how they solve this problem.
[9:50] Those are great, great ideas. And so what I’m hearing is we’ve got to get marketing and sales aligned.
I’m also hearing that we need to have unified messaging between marketing and sales. Right. So our buyers are getting consistent.
Oh, we heard this here. We saw this LinkedIn ad, right? We clicked on the LinkedIn ad and said, download the GA4 guide.
And then someone reached out and said, thanks for downloading our guide.
How can we help you out? And they said, well, actually our webmaster said, we can’t do it.
So we were wondering if you could help us out with that and then get on the phone and that messaging is still aligned all the way through so that that I’m gonna guess increases our buyer’s confidence in us. Is that really what that’s all about?
Buyer confidence, proof points, you know, just extra proof that you know exactly what you’re talking about.
More importantly, you know exactly how to resolve their problems.
So then after a G4 playbook, then we’re going to hit them with three case studies, one a week.
Here’s a company just like yours. They were in a situation exactly like yours, and this is how we resolved it.
[11:02] So case study one, two, three, at which point, you’ve been talking with this customer now for several months.
And so they may be entering into a buy cycle.
SUPPORTING SELLERS AS BUYERS MOVE THROUGH THE FUNNEL
[11:13] Right. So they’ve just moved down the funnel. So then we’re transitioning from top of the funnel.
Hey, you’ve got a bunch of great content from us. Maybe we’ve had a couple of high-level conversations.
Now we’re middle funnel. So now this is really where we’re getting into that real qualification side with our buyer. And we’re inviting them to webinars and things like that.
So how do we carry this all the way through? Because at some point they’re going to purchase or they may not.
How do we continue to support our sellers with demand gen activities as we continue moving through the funnel and engaging the buyer at a more significant level?
I think sellers are brilliant people, right? Sellers can emotionally understand within seconds whether someone’s trying to buy or not.
We have a ton of tools in our toolbox trying to trigger an emotion that’s going to get people to move down the funnel.
So once someone’s in the top of the funnel, the seller, they’ve got it from there, we can support by doing some marketing automation, email drips, events, proof points, case studies.
But once they’ve reached the bottom, what we could do to support is to deliver a little bit of inbound.
[12:22] Right. So the seller, you’re going to take a lead at the top of the funnel and push them down. That takes many months.
INBOUND SUPPORT FOR HIGH-INTENT BUYERS
[12:27] But there will be that portion that 2% to 5% of the audience, they are ready to buy right now.
So we’ll support them with inbound, very high intent searches like best Google Ads agency near me.
I mean, that’s a high intent, right? They’re like, I need somebody right now, or GA4 consultant near me.
All of these types of terms should trigger your ad, get people to a landing page, and you can call them within minutes or seconds, ideally.
Now that’s a good key thing you just mentioned.
So we have a client in the SaaS realm, and that was one of their key performance metrics was time to call from the moment that someone did an inbound thing.
Where they downloaded something, they sent a contact us form, they physically called in, which makes that time to call very quick.
[13:22] So what are some of the things that you might recommend sales leaders pay attention to as it relates to that inbound connection point to ensure that they are not letting that two to 5% pass them by?
Oh, I would build out an international team so that you have 24 seven chat support.
It’s super inexpensive to do it, and there’s a lot of great talent out in the Philippines and in India that can handle your customers’ queries and book calls for you. Very cool.
Yeah, that’s something that we do, and no chat’s going to go unanswered.
If they’re high intent, no chat’s going to go unanswered. People will just go hit the back button and Google and go to the next search result, right? Totally.
BUILDING AN INTERNATIONAL TEAM FOR 24/7 CHAT SUPPORT
[14:07] And people need information quickly, especially when they’re ready to buy.
There’s some pressure happening, like their Google ads are falling apart, or somebody quit, or maybe if you’re selling SaaS, they’re, you know, they’re super dissatisfied with the current level of customer service they’re getting from their CRM partner, they’re looking for someone who’s going to treat them like royalty, is that you?
And so like, do making sure that you have support 24 seven through an international team is very, very helpful.
I very much appreciate that a bit of insight. And so then what would you recommend for a sales leader who is starting to think about this, right?
So whether they have sales and marketing under them, or they’re just leading sales and they need to align with a peer who heads up the marketing.
[14:52] What would be a couple of landmines that you have seen people step on that maybe you’ve supported in fixing after the fact that you would encourage our audience to think about now so they may may not come to you injured after stepping on those landmines?
Well, landmines do exist. I think Talking with your business partner in a way that’s like very very collaborative is very helpful salespeople are under a ton of pressure to deliver right now marketers are under a different type of pressure which is to build a moat around the business is brand for next year and sometimes those two priorities could conflict like we’re working on a massive campaign rollout you want me to stop everything and like scrubbing your hub spot list i can’t do that right now right right If you can line together and talk about, okay, which marketing events matter the most to sales to get right It’s gonna be inbound chats inbound calls inbound lead form fills if those are flowing correctly Then you know marketing is doing their job and for the sales leader who’s ready to take action here I would say look get that extra resource, American employees are extremely good, but extremely expensive.
THE IMPORTANCE OF INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT FOR SALES TEAMS
[16:14] So you’re going to need some support, some BD support or some sales ops support internationally.
Can you get that resource from the boss? And can you commit to maybe a six-month, test working with two contractors based out in the Philippines to make sure your sellers are supported?
I would say that would be the next step. Very cool.
So ultimately, we are aligning internally with marketing or with a marketing partner if we’re using an outsourced marketing partner around one of those events.
And what I heard earlier was, maybe you do six a year and whether you pick six out of the air, or that’s one of the best practices that you coach your clients on to have something every couple of months.
What I’m hearing is that sales ultimately has to make some choices in terms of what are they to pursue because otherwise they’re going to overwhelm marketing and they’re likely to fail at having successful events because they’re too spread around. Is that accurate?
Yeah, I think that’s well said. And it reminds me that different businesses ask their sellers to do different things.
THE ROLE OF INBOUND LEADS AND ACCOUNT-BASED MARKETING
[17:24] So some businesses do guarantee their sellers that there will be inbound leads.
[17:30] That puts, that creates a lot of tension and landmines because then marketers are just like, you know, they’re hammering these performance bottom of the final campaigns and they’re not focusing on mid and upper final campaigns, which causes problems in the long run.
Sure. So our sellers need to be hybrid. They do need to get some inbound.
That’s the gravy, though.
The meat is that they’re hunters, and they got to be using their account-based marketing tools.
[18:00] They got to be using their Zoom info, LinkedIn, and building their own leads list to go after.
And then if you sprinkle in a few inbound leads too, then they’ll be happier.
Amen. I’ve always maintained pennies from heaven are wonderful.
They’re also not a way to actually consistently reliably scale your business, whether you are an individual seller and that book of business is yours, or whether you’re a sales leader running an entire revenue generating team.
Something that I heard earlier was around sequences and cadences, getting content.
There’s lots of data out there that during COVID, business to business email increased thousands of percent, whatever thousand you want to believe.
So something I’m sure you get asked all the time by your clients is, how do you break through?
Because these people that we’re targeting are getting bombarded every day by people who unfortunately are probably undifferentiated, at least in the mind of the buyer.
So what are some things that you would recommend a sales leader ensure that their campaigns do and that their sellers do to actually get the attention of their buyers so they can even have an initial conversation?
So you want the secret sauce.
Not all of it, but at least some of it. A couple of secret sauce tidbits.
[19:17] One is if someone’s going to email me that says quick question, I will automatically send them to spam.
That’s what everyone’s doing. Quick question. Do you have a quick minute?
Like, what would you do if your business doubled today? I’m like, spam.
DELIVERING VALUE AND TIMING IN EMAIL MARKETING
[19:33] It’s all about the value that we deliver. Yeah. Free case studies.
If I can see myself in that email, then I might read it.
Three case studies is one thing. Another thing is getting the timing right.
So for us, a huge buy signal is that a CMO has been in his or her job for about four months, at which point we’re going to send them into the inbox like, hey, here’s a free case study.
Here’s my J4 playbook. I hope it brings value to your day.
Without like, when’s a quick time we can talk. I mean, first you have to introduce yourself before you can ask for a date, right? Like, so just introduce yourself.
Be cool about it. Here’s value. Here’s more value.
Absolutely. And it’s like maybe once a month, not once a week or every other day.
Totally. Yeah. Otherwise you’re stalking.
Right. And then an invitation to a peer-to-peer learning situation is highly valuable.
So come to our CMOs roundtable. Here you can share your business challenges anonymously, and other CMOs exactly like yourself will be discussing the solutions.
We do two questions per hour with about 10 minutes left for networking. Peer-to-peer.
It’s not me like shoving down my services down your throat, right?
It’s like, we’re hosting an event. You’re welcome to join us.
Come do a sales pitch. Yeah.
Let me pitch you on why you need me. Like that’s just so off-putting.
[21:03] But the opportunity to learn, like how many times do you walk into a room where there’s 10 CMOs? Never.
So we’re gonna build one for you.
Totally. Well, and that’s something we share with our clients is humans love a reference group.
Like where, you know, that idea of social proof might be a little overstated.
However, we are all social creatures and we love a reference group.
So you can be in a room full of CMOs, CFOs, VPs of sales, other sales people, whatever that might look like and that way, it feels lower pressure.
So that increases potential for buy-in or for attendance and then they also can look around to go, wow, if this person who invited me can get this group of people together, like what else could they do that I’m not, that I don’t know about yet?
Yes, I will have a further conversation.
So love those little, little tasters of the sauce. Sharon, thank you very much for sharing those with our audience.
I got a few more questions for you. We could talk about this stuff all day and we have in the past.
If we look at, you know, younger Sharon, right?
You have, you can go back and coach Younger Sharon and you can say, hey, Younger Sharon, you’re going to be the CEO and founder of this amazing demand-gen company.
[22:19] You’ll have sold two advertising patents to Google, etc.
By the way, you’re also going to have a lot of scar tissue and some bumps and bruises along the way.
EMBRACING FAILURE AND TAKING CALCULATED RISKS FOR SUCCESS
[22:27] What would you coach Younger Sharon to say or do differently to get to the same place with less scar tissue, fewer bumps and bruises?
[22:35] But I think that the scar tissue is what’s needed to learn. Because the failure is such a good teacher.
And so maybe the lesson I tell myself is that failure is a part of success.
So how can you fail more and faster at a young age?
For example, I didn’t start this business until I was 35 or 36.
But what if I had started it at 28? Good point.
Then I would have failed faster, gone through more cycles of sales, gone through more cycles of onboarding clients, and I would have understood their problem set even better.
So I think the theme would be to focus and visualize a world where failure is okay.
[23:23] Where calculated risks are all right, rather than visualize, oh, what if I fail?
Then I can never leave this desk, I have to stay at Google forever.
What if I fail? Like, great, what if you do fail?
Do you believe in yourself to be able to stand up and keep going as you have all throughout your life?
And visualizing those scenarios, let’s keep going.
Absolutely love it. I remember reading a book once, there was a quote from a philosopher that said, “‘If I had to live my life over, “‘I would make my mistakes faster.'” Yeah, oh, I wish.
That’ll be a tough year though. It’ll be a tough year. Very tough year.
Get the Band-Aids out, get the Neosporin out. We’re going to be falling down.
Absolutely. Absolutely. Sharon, what have you listened to, watched, read, whether recently or in the past that you would recommend our audience of sales leaders checks out to further their own personal and professional development?
Recently, I have listened to the Mel Robbins podcast where she talked about manifesting anything you want, which I had always dismissed as woo-woo.
I’m like, I’m so not that woo-woo person. But she really did like along the lines of my answer to your previous question, Hema, she was like, but have you visualized not only the finish line, but every step you need to take along the way.
I thought that was incredibly motivating and empowering.
[24:52] So I would recommend people take a listen for that one.
I love Mel’s books as well. And that’s a great example because that’s where I find this whole visualization manifestation falls down is it’s only the finish line.
And it’s like, well, I can’t just manifest a yacht out in front of my house because I think about a yacht. There’s things that have to happen in between.
So that’s a great bit of advice for for our audience and we will put a link in the show notes to Mel’s podcast so everyone can go check that out pretty easily.
So Sharon, you’ve shared so many amazing ideas and insights with our audience already on demand gen at every stage of the funnel.
What would you like to leave us with as a final thought, a bit of wisdom, or even something to plug? The floor is yours.
FOCUS ON THE MIDDLE OF THE FUNNEL FOR LONG-TERM REWARDS
[25:32] Thank you. I would really leave you with focusing on the middle of the funnel.
Put most of your time and attention there and you will be reaping rewards in 2024.
I love it. Well, Sharon, again, we could talk about this stuff all day.
I have loved visiting with you every time we’ve had a chance to connect.
I look forward to connecting with you offline.
Again, thank you very much for being a guest on Full Funnel Freedom today.
Thank you, Hamish. The time always flies when I talk to you.
[26:01] What an amazing conversation with Sharon Park today.
I took away a ton of great insights. For example, that 95% to 98% of our potential, buyers are not actually in a buying mode right now.
So we need to make sure that we are putting content out there that they find valuable.
Something that relates to that, that Sharon mentioned very casually and I really picked up on is for her, her ideal target is a CMO who’s about four months into the job.
And I was thinking how often do we think about timing as it relates to when do we reach out?
I know in previous sales roles, it would be like literally the day that the person got in the job. Hey, congratulations.
You’re now in a C-suite role.
[26:49] Let’s have a conversation. And of course, that person is like, I got 40,000 other things going on.
I don’t necessarily want to talk with a seller right now, even though they may actually be able to provide a lot of support for me in the role that I’m in now.
So think about that when you’re talking to your sellers about their go-to-market.
How do they use timing as a way to break through the noise and stand out on how they sell not what they sell?
The other thing that I took away that was that 24-hour chat support.
If someone, especially if you were in a big ticket item, when a buyer reaches out, they are at least looking for information that will either advance us or disqualify us in the process.
So having that chat support available 24-7 so, that the buyers who reach out at all hours can feel like they’re getting the information they need and can be led over to our sellers so that they can have a conversation to determine whether or not they are a good fit was another critical takeaway for me.
I’d love to hear what your takeaways are. So comment in our social media and until we connect on the next episode, go create full funnel freedom.
SUPPORT AND CONNECT WITH FULL FUNNEL FREEDOM PODCAST
[28:04] Thanks for listening to today’s episode of the Full Funnel Freedom podcast.
You can continue to support us by leaving us a review and a rating, sharing this episode with a couple of sales leaders in your network who you care about.
I’d love to connect with you. I’m easy to find Hamish Knox on LinkedIn.
Also, if you’d like a free 15-minute call with me, go to www.hamish.sandler.com, forward slash how to Sandler. Until we connect on the next episode, go create full funnel freedom.