The Best Digital Conversations of 2020

Reading Time: 13 minutes

This episode of Digital Conversations celebrates the new year with a wrap up of some of our favorite Digital Conversations from 2020. This episodes looks back over the year and features special clips from 5 of our amazing guests from 2020.

Guests: Jon Miller – CPO of DemandBase

Jackie Hermes – Founder & CEO of Accelity

Garrett Mehrguth – CEO of Directive

Amanda Stevens – Director of Conversation Design at Master of Code

David Lewis – CEO and Founder of

Jon Miller

Billy: Yeah. Okay. So let’s talk about the next step, which is they’re engaged. And I think this is really where, people either do a great job or deals fall apart, because it doesn’t work that well when you’re working together with sales, traditionally, it’s kind of been a baton pass, where it’s like, okay, here they are, like, wrap it up, turn it into a closed one. How do you work together with sale well, to keep marketing to them while they’re in the sales process?

Jon: Yeah, I mean, I think that baton example you just uses a really good one. I mean, like back to the fishing with nets world, and the Marketo world that I helped to create, it was all about that efficient handoff. You know, marketing generates the lead hands it to the SDR they hand it to sales. But in the fishing with spears world, it’s just totally more dynamic. I just talked about like, the salesperson might be the one emailing the account early on, in follow up to the direct mail package you just sent, with underlying support from advertising.Account Based Marketing

And so to me, instead of a baton handoff, it feels as much more like a soccer team or a football team. Yeah, where you’ve got people in different positions. So there are different specialties. But they they work in a coordinated and orchestrated fashion as they move the ball up and down the field. And to really make that work. What I find is that you really need. First of all, marketing and sales teams. Honestly just be looking at the same data.  I mean, it feels your customers, probably a lot of them use Salesforce. Salesforce has a strange thing where you have there’s a page for the leads in Salesforce. And there’s another page for accounts in Salesforce.

And marketers tend to live on that lead page, and sales people tend to live on that account page. That literally means marketing and sales aren’t on the same page. So just getting everybody looking at an account data, even and then even if once you look at the account, the sales people typically don’t really have visibility into the marketing touches that the people at that account have responded to. Because the way the data rolls up, again, particularly in Salesforce.

And so just getting that common view, the count is sort of step one. Step two then, is to sort of almost like, establish what are the things that you want to proactively be notifying sales about, or put another way that sales wants to be notified about. So if you have one of those accounts I talked about earlier that are in market for your solutions, and are entering a buying process, but you they’re not in your system, right?

Sales wants to be notified like, tell me which accounts in my territory are showing that that high intent. Or let’s say, I’ve got an open opportunity, and then all of a sudden, when those accounts start showing intent for my competition, boy, I want to know about that, too.

So set up those proactive notifications for sales that are really about the insights that are going to help them sell better. And then the third step in moving towards being a soccer team. This one’s pretty obvious. It’s just start talking to each other. And the process I really recommend is something I call the ABM stand up. An ABM stand up, you get the sales rep, and a marketer and an SDR if you have one. And that’s it, just these three people. Every few weeks, they have a 15 minute standing meeting to talk about the accounts. What’s going on at these accounts? How are we penetrating them? What are they interested in? What plays are we going to run?

And literally just something as simple as doing this 15 minutes stand up every two weeks, I’ve seen work absolute wonders. Snowflake, which again, the day recording this, Snowflake had the largest tech IPO ever yesterday. $70 billion. They do ABM standups. So if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you.

Jackie Hermes

Billy: What’s your secret sauce?

Jackie: Whoo. Whoo, good question. I think that mine is doing the legwork. I think every marketer is looking for the hack, and what’s gonna make my conversion rates go way, way up. And to me, it’s doing the legwork. Like people ask me how I got to, I don’t know, however many followers on LinkedIn. Well, I figured out who I wanted to connect with, I connected with them. I built relationships. It’s not just like, I pushed content, and it appeared in front of people. It’s doing the work.

Billy: Awesome. Awesome. I think a lot of people do, we always look for the hack we want to use. We, we all start there. And those connections most likely aren’t going to be that valuable to you. So on LinkedIn, let’s talk about that for a second. Because this is something I’m pretty interested in. When you’re targeting people, growing a LinkedIn audience, what’s advice you would give anybody trying to do that? What would you do if you were starting over today?

Jackie: If I were starting all over today, I would identify the kinds of people that I want to connect with. And so for us, that is CEOs, executives, and other stakeholders, within SAAS companies of a certain size, I would make a list of the 50 companies that I want to work with, I would find all of their executives and like those people that I just mentioned on LinkedIn, and I would go and start commenting on their stuff. If they’re posting on LinkedIn. I would look at what they’re commenting on.

And I would respond to their comments. I would make them know my face, and then request them as a connection. And just build that relationship. Like people do that to me all the time. And it’s so cool. Because they’ll comment on my posts for three months and send me really nice messages of encouragement.

And then they’ll say, hey, I’d love to record a podcast with you, or I’d love to get on the phone with you for 30 minutes, you can give me feedback on my product. And by the time they’ve done that, I’m happy to do it. So, to me, it’s all about being really specific about who you want to know, and then going and getting to know them.

Billy: I like it. That’s, that seems like the right way to do it.

Jackie: That’s not a hack.

Billy: But that is not a hack. That is not a hack, for sure. But I’m sure that doing it the right way, I think always pays off. it doesn’t pay off as quick. But it always pays off.

Jackie: So that’s, uh, my mom used to tell me that about cleaning the bathroom growing up. Do it the right way the first time, then you wouldn’t have to do it over again. I think it’s like, burned into my brain. And now I find myself saying that to other people. So there’s the takeaway.

Garrett Mehrguth

Billy: What do you see people doing wrong when they’re trying to acquire new customers? Besides, they’re just speaking too broad to an audience. Anything, anything on a drill down that you‘re like, Hey, don’t try this.

Garrett: Yeah, I mean, there’s a billion things. I think we all make mistakes every day. And luckily, when you’re a consultant, you get the perspective of many mistakes, whether they’re your or other person, you had a lot more exposure. So I’d say some of the biggest things that people are, I think, usually struggling with is they like to think they make data driven decisions, but they don’t. So like, we all say, nom once there’s ROI we will scale spend, like, once you see a little bit of return we will grow. I can’t tell you over seven years, how many people actually grow their spends like, not that many people actually grow even when they’re seeing success, because so many other things break, right? The customer success team can’t hire fast enough.  

Engineers can’t fulfill the roadmap, AEs don’t have enough. Like, there’s a lot of reasons why you can’t just turn on growth. But the biggest thing is like most organizations, most demand gen marketing still don’t have a financial model that gives them confidence of where they should spend their next dollar, or how much their current dollars are making.

Like, they don’t have an LTV CAC model at the channel level so that they know the LTV CAC of Capterra versus Google Ads versus software advice versus LinkedIn, versus content syndication versus Programmatic versus webinars versus events versus SDRs, versus doing an acquisition of a new tool or launching an extension, or doing a new integration, and they have no way of deciding what to do other than gut 

And so and then when they do something, they have no idea how to tell if it’s working or not. Because they don’t know what their cost per SQL should be. They don’t know what their cost per MQL should be. And you don’t have blanket cost per MQLs, you have cost per SQLs that are a ratio of your acquisition cost.

As you start to learn the game, and you get yourself a little bit more organized with your financials and you like, if you can, like if you’re SAAS marketing, and you’re in house, I think the best thing you can do is build a relationship with the finance team, and most frankly, don’t have one. They again, given a budget, and they try to make it work.  

Instead of trying to craft with the CFO, whoever, like, Hey, how are we determining this budget? What are we getting measured by? Is this aligning with what the board wants, or the CEO wants and, actually getting into the numbers. And I think that’s probably the biggest mistake I still see almost everyone in marketing make is, they’re starting to get better with sales, and they’re starting to work better with sales, but I don’t see them still working well enough with finance, and because of that, it’s really hard to push growth and make a case for why you should get the next dollar instead of sales development, or account executives, or whatever that is. 

Billy: Yeah, that’s an interesting point.

Amanda Stevens

Can you walk us through your six points and why you’ve chosen those things as you guys have developed your own methodology?  

Amanda: Absolutely! Sure. In order for us to kind of come to these six areas, we did a lot of research. Not only what we experienced with their own clients, but we also looked at what Google is doing, what Microsoft is looking at, what Audio is looking at, and we kind of put everything together and came up with these six key points. You would look at these points once you’ve done your data analysis. Once you’ve categorized queries and have a series of use cases that you can potentially build for in this conversational solution.

Number One

So the first thing that we look at: Are people talking about this today? Because if they’re not talking about it today, why would there suddenly be an influx of traffic related to this topic or this use case once you put a bot in place. Does the data exist that people are asking about this? that people are wanting to know more about this topic?  

Billy: Let me pause you real quick. Let’s pretend that I’m a big brand and I want you guys to build me a bot. I don’t know exactly what, so how would I figure out if people are talking about this? Maybe it’s like a promotion that we’re running or a new product. Walk through a little bit of an example. 

Amanda: Sure! The data that we look at, those transcripts, those posts on social media, even emails to the brand, people will ask us about questions. Maybe it’s related to a product. It could be something if it’s retail, again, do you ship for free or I’m in Australia can you ship it? They’re reaching out to the brand directly because they can’t find the information online or in store or wherever. We look at when they’re reaching out to the brand, what are they asking? Is there a theme or a trend there that can be automated? 

Billy: That makes sense. OK keep going. 

Amanda: So the next thing we look at is the complexity of the current state. Is the current state a brief interaction? When we think about prioritizing these cases for our conversational solution, do we want to select a use case that’s going to require 20 plus interactions between the bot and the user? The more steps you have to get to where you’re going means there are more chances for errors to occur, for someone to fall out of the flow, maybe not complete the flows. When we’re prioritizing we want to make sure the interactions are brief already or is it a really complex process to get the information we need from the user in order to point them in the right direction?  


Number two

Amanda: And then we look at the current state. We always want to understand what the current state is in order to automate that. So we’ll even you know draw it out, look at what are the different programs or platforms, if there’s any integrations. What does that look like currently?

Number Three

Does it require, like I said, multiple interactions within a system to complete this task or to find this answer? Because if it’s, for example, someone just going to the web page on a website and getting their answer, do we really want to build a conversational solution? Is it saving time? How is it appeasing this pain point if they only have to deal with one system? We want to make sure to drive efficiency with automation. A good use case to prioritize is one that requires multiple interactions with the system and multiple systems as well, which is the next step.

Number Four

So multiple interactions was the third one and the fourth is the multiple systems. Because that makes things easy. If a chatbot can pull data from one database in another system or another platform and put it all together, that’s so much easier for a user to get that information digested and point them in the right direction. 

Billy: This is one of the things that I really love, that you made this a point something we look at. Whether you’re doing many chatbot your own conversational AI bot or even like drift or intercom, the great thing about all these things is that you have all these integrations. You can pull data from different sources and that chatbot can kind of be a concierge and say “oh let me check on this for you or make sure you you’re in this box.” It’s not highly complex, but just easy things that the person doesn’t need to do anymore. You can have a bot do these things and look at all these systems. 

Amanda: Exactly! I’ll bring back the example of the biotech company that wanted to create a bot that prioritizes trading, which we are doing now that the training software has been optimized and features have been added. It’s also going to connect not just with the training system but hey can I make a reminder for me to do that training. It’s going to connect with my Google Calendar and also send me an email. What a great use case! It’s connecting to your email, the training system, and your calendar. You’re making all that happen in one conversational environment. 

Billy: Yeah, if a bot just lives on its own with no integrations, it’s not that useful most of the time. The beauty is that it can look at your calendar, it can look into the CRM or it can look into our marketing automation. And see oh yeah you were sent this email. It’s just awesome what we can do with that! So i’ll let you keep going. I know you’ve got two more to go through. 

Number Five

Amanda: The last two are around what are the current difficulties around this use case. If we are going to prioritize this, that means there needs to be a benefit of building it in a conversational solution than the current state. So many of these are all very much related to each other, but we do ask the client these six separate questions because it really helps them go through the motion of “Okay what am I trying to make happen? What efficiencies am I trying to drive? Am I saving users time? Am I offering a more seamless solution?” Also the conversational line, which is great, that level of personalization is also great. Let’s look at the efficiencies that are being created with this.

Number Six

Finally, I love bringing this up too because again you get interesting answers from project to project, do users feel comfortable talking or typing about this today? Are these use cases so sensitive that you might not feel comfortable typing it to a bot? Something really really important that sometimes gets overlooked because you just think if you can talk to it maybe a live agent about it today why wouldn’t you be able to talk to a bot, but it is slightly different when you’re talking to that automated system. 

David Lewis

Billy: So with the changes we’ve had with COVID, what channels are you seeing as being the most effective for driving people to your website and engaging them right now? What are you saying as a consultant?

David: Well, it’s not that… some things have gone away, but it’s not that like the buyers behavior has changed. I want to start with that, right? There’s still the old, they need to go through awareness, interest, desire and action. So the buyer’s journey has not changed. Whether there’s a global pandemic, right. The psychology of buying, the why people buy, all of that remains the same. But two things have absolutely, fundamentally changed this year. And I think there’s a silver lining to this, and one, Billy, is that the way that you are interacting with your prospects and your customers has gone 100% digital or virtual, right?Digital Transformation

If we consider phone, and phones are digital these days, there’s no more analog phones, but maybe there are somewhere. But, you know, the way that everybody’s interacting is digital. We’re not walking into offices and doing face to face sales anymore. I’m right now in the process of signing a new lease for my car every three years, you know, it’s time for a new lease. Right? It’s contactless when you buy a car.

And it was very interesting when I called the car manufacturer today, the leasing company, and I said, Hey, listen, I need to extend my lease for a month or two, because it’s just going to take me a little extra time to go find a car these days. And really, that was my excuse of giving me more time. It doesn’t take that much longer. They said, Oh, sure. We can extend your lease for two months. No problem. Do you want us to send you some DocuSigns or is there place to mail the paperwork? I’m like, Oh, please, that’s wonderful. Like, I do DocuSign and sign that, it was great.

But you know, what wasn’t wonderful, Billy? This is crazy. I couldn’t interact with them. So it’s Porsche Financial Services. I couldn’t interact with them on their website, I was blown away. I actually had to call, I actually had to go through a nightmare phone tree. And I actually had to speak to someone to do what I needed to do. I’m expecting that I should have been able to handle all of that digitally. And you can’t. And I can’t even, on their website easily set up for, like, recurring payments, which on most websites today. I can make a one-time payment. But it’s very difficult to set up recurring payments, you got to fill out paperwork. So a lot of companies have taken this, you know, global pandemic situation that we’re in, and accelerated their digital transformation initiatives, which is great.

Like I said, that’s the silver lining, it always puts a lot of companies still have a ways to go, and I’m blown away. When for example, I go to, you know, someone’s site and there’s no way to interact and chat with someone and you’ve got to pick up the phone or send an email, and customers want immediacy these days.