EP200: Authentic Demand: Moving Past Impersonal Lead Gen
Episode 200 of the Market Dominance Guys features Corey, Chris, and special guest Jim Graf. They explore key trends shaping modern prospecting – from the diminishing returns of broad email campaigns to the rise of personalized, longitudinal selling. Jim explains how the old concept of BANT (budget, authority, need, timeframe) fails to capture the fluidity of today's buying journeys. Rather than chasing "leads," they advocate nurturing long-term demand through authentic relationship building.
The conversation culminates in examining the overlooked value of seasoned SDRs. Chris shares examples of 60+ year-old SDRs wildly outperforming their younger peers, dispelling misconceptions that this function is merely developmental. With their seasoning, polish, and focus, many late-career reps embody the consummate skills needed to excel. Jim and Chris emphasize how this critical frontline role requires a professional, not progressive, mindset.
In an era of noisy outreach, the guys explore timeless ways to cut through the clutter – with patience, personalization, and wisdom accrued over decades. Listen to this episode, "Authentic Demand: Moving Past Impersonal Lead Gen."
Everybody thinks that they're doing something clever, but they're not asking themselves the fundamental question which is, what's the cost of reproducing that and making another unit? And if the cost is too low, they can't win based on it. You just cannot win in the marketplace, based on commoditizing the one thing that makes a difference, which is getting a trust relationship [00:02:00] going. Going the expensive way turns out to be a path to cheap dominance. It's the least expensive thing you can do to dominate, is the most expensive thing you must do in order to get started.
Jim Graf (02:14):
The other thing too, and we train our guys on this, but when you have that conversation, there's branding going on, but then there's also all sorts of market intelligence. I mean, tons of market intelligence. And I'm not just talking about what do you use now, but there's [00:02:30] first-party data. Our team a lot, is identifying when that contract runs out with your CRM, when it make the most sense to talk more about evaluating third parties, stuff like that. And you can't buy that intent data. You can't buy the fact that this law firm has a three-year contract with Salesforce, expiring December 2023.
And so our ability, we focus a lot on, of course, quotes them, "They're not going to be interested. Now's not a good time. [00:03:00] This is going to be standard, guys. Just get comfortable with it." But it's taking that and being able to, you can't do this in email. Is what is that market intelligence that we can gather, where we can move this further down the pipe? Is there a contract expiring, have an A activity going on, but basically we're really not forceful, but move to like we have this person's undivided attention for 30 seconds. Let's make the most of it. Be in the moment. Try to understand what their problems are, when things are expiring, but move it along. And [00:03:30] you don't get any of that with email. Email's just kind of a branding exercise. Someone from AWS reached out and they've got a special going on, and here's a link to a landing page. Okay.
Chris Beall (03:39):
Yeah, and it's funny too, though, there's another marketing impact we don't talk about, but we can measure it. I don't know if you've done this with us, but we'll measure from opportunities back to what produced them, what conversations produced which opportunities. And the biggest producers are the negative conversations. So the positive conversations, the super conversation, [00:04:00] the one that sets a meeting is the most obvious producer. But in most shops, and we've measured about 120 of them over extended periods of time, two to three, four years. In most shops, most of the money comes out of the negative conversations.
And the reason we think is, that person that you're talking to feels kind of good that they got out of the conversation with their self-image intact fairly quickly, but they also went to your website while they were talking to you. And so your Google [00:04:30] ad, you paid them a lot of money. Why does Google make so much money? Well, they drive people to websites. That's why, right? That conversation, which you need in order to set the meeting, its primary impact is almost always, they go to your website. And the secondary impact is, they will almost always answer an email you send them, immediately after the conversation, with this subject line, "Thank you for our conversation today." Unless you want to really cheat, and then you send one from the boss that says, "Thank [00:05:00] you for speaking with my colleague today."
Nobody gets emails like that. They're totally scarce. They must be sincere and worth checking out. And if they come from the boss, by the way, that tells you something about that company as the receiver of that email, that makes them stand out. It makes them stand out as a potential partner. That person, that CEO or whoever it is, they care enough to send a thank you to me, for spending 30 seconds speaking with their colleague. [00:05:30] And by the way, they called them their colleague.
Jim Graf (05:32):
That's really interesting. That's a great idea.
Chris Beall (05:34):
There's power weapons, power leverage, hiding in the natural things that happen after conversations. But I tell you, you try to get somebody to send and email to somebody who just brushed them off, and the rep has an emotional issue doing it. They have an emotional issue following up with somebody who hung up on them. I spent two lobster dinners one night in Boston with one of our podcast guests later, he works for me now, just convincing him [00:06:00] that it is in his best interest to follow up on folks who hang up on him. Just to put him in the follow-up list. And he says, "What am I going to say to him?" It's like, say, "When we spoke back on October 6th, you didn't have time for a conversation. Is now a better time?"
It's actually pretty simple. You're just being considerate and you're claiming a piece of knowledge that happens to be true. They don't remember it, but you do. So you must be somebody who actually remembers things that happen when you interact with people, and [00:06:30] you're in the top 1/10th of 1% instantly by doing that. It's pretty simple. And he says, "But I don't like it when they hang up on me." So it's like, "You're in sales. Your job isn't to like anything. There's no liking in sales."
Jim Graf (06:43):
That's interesting. That's a great tactic strategy. Very true.
Corey Frank (06:47):
So Jim, when you look at having your agency for a few years, again coming from private equity, and these learnings from email to direct outreach, to creating authenticity and building trust, what are some of the trends you've seen, [00:07:00] just in the last couple of years or so, with outreach playing in the deep end of the pool with some of these big tech titans of yours?
Jim Graf (07:06):
Well, a lot of what Chris just highlighted with regards to email, it's definitely getting louder and just have them do more to get less. The other big trend is this whole concept of BANT. And, Chris, I don't know, I'm assuming you're familiar with it, but the whole legacy concept of budget, authority, need, timeframe from a prospect, as if every organization, these projects [00:07:30] and these purchases are widgets that move down the line. And does it have the budget yet? Does it have authority yet?
Especially with cloud and things being sold as a service, we see that becoming, I don't want to say less relevant, but really antiquated. So, I would just say the biggest trend is away from lead gen, as these leads are not widgets that you can just make. And that rather, it's more about demand gen and you have to get out there and you have to generate the demand. And, that's a lot of what Chris has been highlighting with, there's [00:08:00] gold in those people that say no, if you follow up accordingly and professionally. And it's just continuing to move them and massage them to the point of a more thoughtful conversation.
That's probably the biggest thing, is that this concept of lead is kind of, I hate to say dead, but it's really why we pivoted away and just focused more on demand gen and what's required. And then, the whole idea of what you've seen in the tech world is a lot of products are sold bottoms up, where they'll sell to a user first like Slack. [00:08:30] Our company doesn't need Jim Graf's approval for someone in my organization to start using Slack. But then when enough people use Slack, then probably it's appropriate for a sales guy.
So that means the whole buying process/decision is different. So if I'm a sales rep for Slack, you got to be cognizant of that and just understand this isn't, is there a budget for a new collaboration tool? Do you have authority? What's the timeframe? It's like, "I don't know. I mean, I don't know. My Microsoft Teams works pretty good." So it's just, I think, that whole model is kind of, it's still appropriate [00:09:00] for certain products, but it's definitely pivoted more towards demand generation and understanding the buying process. Definitely more fluid. Definitely more fluid.
Chris Beall (09:09):
It's also more longitudinal. It's way more longitudinal. So you mentioned back when you were selling, they give you a territory and say, "Go for it." The brilliance of that model is you anticipated holding onto that territory for quite a while and therefore you work the territory, not just in space, but you work it through time. [00:09:30] And we all do that in our lives, right? When we think something's important, we pay attention to our future interactions in that particular domain, not just what we can get right now. And yet, this whole BANT thing and all of the mechanization around sales implies that all that's important is the transaction in question. That there is nothing longitudinal. Nothing goes on over time.
But we know just mathematically the following, [00:10:00] it's a fact of the world. It's a math fact, which is 11/12ths of your ideal market, of your perfect market, that they're perfectly qualified in every regard, is not in market for a solution of your type, your category this quarter, 11/12ths.
Chris Beall (11:08):
Now, that's a dominating number.
Jim Graf (11:10):
That is. Wow.
Chris Beall (11:11):
That's just the biggest fact of sales. 11/12ths of your market, assuming you have a hundred percent information about who should buy. They're not in market this quarter. And you cannot find out if they're in market this quarter or in any future quarter unless you engage. And if you want to [00:11:30] win, to be their partner, you need to engage earlier than all competitors.
And, that simplifies everything about sales. That's what this podcast is about. That's why we call it Market Dominance Guys. It's about dominating markets by being first to converse and build trust, and harvest that trust over the future quarters that you're going to have to patiently work your way through, in order to dominate that market. And I'm shocked. Every day, I'm shocked that the simple math, this is [00:12:00] not like a big deep math concept. This is like, your replacement cycles for B2B products are about three years. Therefore, there's 12 quarters in three years. Consideration cycles are about one quarter. So most of your market's not in market. How are you going to find out? Well, the intent guys say, "Wait until they jump in. Wait for the red ocean and go in and fight."
Jim Graf (12:23):
Chris Beall (12:24):
And, we say, "That's idiotic." Nurture the relationship inside their midbrain, in their gut [00:12:30] with the voice, and then when they're ready to buy, you're ahead.
Jim Graf (12:36):
That's a great framing of it, because that is so true. When I first got out of school and I had territories, and then when I got into the, worked for the investment bank, you had accounts, major hedge funds and you never gave up. I mean, I almost think about that as it relates to some of my SDRs is, we need more data. And we always have these debates internally. "Is it more data? Why do you need more data? I mean, how much are you going to churn through?" I mean, [00:13:00] get you need data to work, but it's a great point. I didn't realize that stat of what's actually in market.
Chris Beall (13:08):
It's kind of funny, isn't it? And I've never run into anybody that I've said that to. Said, "Oh, yeah, we know that." It's like, "But what's the alternative?" Unless you're going to either posit, the replacement cycles for products for solutions is less than three years, from B2B is not the case ever.
Jim Graf (13:27):
Chris Beall (13:28):
Ever. I buy something [00:13:30] three years away considering a replacement, and the pursuit efficiency of everybody pursuing me at that point is going to be sub-10%. That is 90% of the time, even when I'm in replacement mode, I will not replace, because I don't trust any of those guys more than I trust myself, and I trust myself to operate what I already have. So until one of them is trusted more than I trust myself, it goes nowhere.
Jim Graf (13:57):
Yeah, that's interesting. [00:14:00] I mean, now that I think about it, we drink our own champagne, so to speak, so all of our revenue is we leverage the same process as an individual, except they're executing on behalf of Kazzcade. And all the deals from last month, a good portion of them were from May. So it's so true. It's very true.
Chris Beall (14:20):
It's funny, I had an investment banker ask me the other day, a question like this, "Well, what's your 2024 pipeline look like?" I said, "Who knows?" [00:14:30] I mean, we talk to so many people. We talk to 108,000 VPs of sales a year. When they ripen, they ripen. We don't make them ripen and we don't make the sunshine. We don't cause the sap to go up the tree. We're just wandering around in the forest going, "Hey, wait a second. That one looks a little red. Maybe we'll come back in a month and we can taste it or something." I mean, it's a simple model, but you've got to be able to go fast comfortably, in order to execute it.
Jim Graf (14:58):
Yeah. [00:15:00] Well, it's funny, we actually just launched a, it's not a new service, it just comes with our efforts, but it's what you're kind of highlighting. Where we might have a thoughtful discovery call or conversation and get all this information. "Hey, listen, our contract with our current MSP doesn't run out until August of 2024. Here are the main things that are really a priority for us, concerned about this, X, Y, Z. But now it's not the time. I mean, it's contract's not up until July 2024." So we package that up. We package that up, all the detail [00:15:30] why to follow up, what's going on, and clients love it. Absolutely love it.
Because we've had to articulate, "Guys, you have to understand. This is first party data, you cannot go off and buy off the shelf." ABC law firm has a $10,000 monthly contract with an MSP that comes up for contract in July of next year, and they generally evaluate three different vendors two months prior, open to having a conversation at that time. I mean, my goodness gracious. [00:16:00] Yeah, it's an interesting, but those are the two biggest things I've seen definitely change.
Corey Frank (16:05):
Chris Beall (16:05):
I love that product, by the way. I mean, when people get ConnectAndSell, they're thinking about it. Unfortunately, we first do a test drive that consists of mostly cold folks I haven't talked to before. We always ask them, "Bring some people you really want to talk with," because we want to simulate the follow-ups that you're going to have, because follow-ups are going to dominate. And in everything we do, [00:16:30] we ask, "Please pay more attention to talking regularly to the people you've spoken with before, and don't be so eager to disqualify them based on some temporary characteristic."
Just ask yourself, "Are they intrinsically qualified?" That's the question we always ask. BANT, we pay no attention to BANT. We ask one question, which is, "Do we believe that their business would be significantly helped if they had access to conversations on demand [00:17:00] and used it in an intelligent way?" That's the only question.
Jim Graf (17:03):
Corey Frank (17:05):
Yeah. Well, this is great, getting you two titans together. I just want to ask you one more question, Jim and Chris, this was what the debate was the other day, I think you had over dinner with Jerry about SDRs and professionalism versus progression. And maybe you can frame this for Jim and let's get his take on it.
Chris Beall (17:26):
Well, it started actually when my wife popped in, she's just been announced [00:17:30] as the future chief revenue Officer for Mediafly. So a sales tech company, that to me was a modest significance until Mary Shea joined, at which point it immediately became a monstrous significance, and then now these beasts of the world are going to go dominate. I get to watch it and it's pretty impressive, but she's going to own their SDR function as a result. That was kind of a question. Do you want it or not? And they don't really have SDRs per [00:18:00] se. They have these things, they call them account development people or whatever, but it's the same thing, right?
Jim Graf (17:26):
Chris Beall (18:06):
And she's gotten into the idea that talking to people really makes a difference. I mean, she already knew that, but the fact that you can push a button and do it effortlessly is interesting. But there was an assumption still in her from a question she asked me, which was about, "Well, these sort of junior people," blah, blah, blah. It was something about getting these junior people. I said, "Hold on, hold on. The ideal SDRs that we've ever seen are in their 60s and 70s." [00:18:30] The very best SDRs on earth are in their 60s and 70s. I mean, we've tested this.
So we worked with a company, Israeli cybersecurity company selling to hospitals, that had three SDRs way off in rural Vermont, 62, 68, and 72 years old. They were open to coaching. They went to flight school voluntarily. They wanted to learn more. These are true experts at the cold call, but they wanted to learn more. They generated [00:19:00] demand for an unknown product solving and unknown problem, which turns out to be pretty important. Keep the ransomware folks from killing your grandmother while she's in the hospital, or at least threatening to. And they built $65 million of pipeline in five months. The three of them did, and the company sold for $300 million bucks, right on top of that.
Now, are there 24 year olds who can do what those 60 year olds can do? Maybe. Will they do it for 10 years? Maybe not. [00:19:30] Right? So of Corey's people, we tell them, this is finishing school for future CEOs because they're younger. So you learn to cold call. So you learn to talk to strangers because that's a core CEO skill. You're going to keep it forever. So you want to run something someday, come through this program. But there are actually more great SDRs out there at the end of their careers that no one is tapping. And I've always thought, somebody who's in your business, Jim, could make the biggest fortune in the history of big fortunes, in the world [00:20:00] of everything that happens early in sales by getting these folks who are at the end of their careers. We have a podcast episode that's titled Hire a Grandma, and we mean it to be taken literally. Right?Because, what did you say they need to be? They need to be in the moment. They need be active listeners.
Jim Graf (20:22):
Well, I'll tell you, I've never connected the dots like that, and that's a very, very interesting, but we definitely skew older. First of all, the Patty, [00:20:30] the gal I just described for you is more polished than ... an older gal. The two others that we would start on Monday, older. And now I'm late 40s, so now it's 60, 70. When you're working with people in their mid 20s, well, first of all, in general, we are constantly training professionalism, just nonstop. And with a employee like Patty, you don't have to train as much. And I'm talking communication skills. " [00:21:00] Hi, it's Jim with Kazzcade. Nice to meet you. How are you?" Pausing, listening. They have a question. "I'm sorry. Who are you with?" Because when you get into the younger generation, you absolutely, it is a lot rougher around the edges. A lot. And we have to train a lot on, you need to speak very clearly, and you need to say, "May I have?"
We actually, God, this is so funny. Just yesterday in the training with one of my guys who's fantastic, but he was saying that my trainer, who wears a suit and tie every day because he wants [00:21:30] to promote professionalism, heard him say, "If you give me 27 seconds, I'll tell you why I called." And my trainer flagged it, and this sounds really small, but this is the level of granularity on how they present themselves would go. And we're just like, "That's just a little too cheesy man and a little too transactional. It's not professional. And I don't know, it just doesn't sound, you give me this, I'll give you that. You're the one calling them. You're the one interrupting them. You need to ask for permission. You need to do it professionally. You need to do it politely."
So one, I was ecstatic [00:22:00] my trainer caught it. It was like, "We got to have a talk about this." You would've thought the house was burning down. To Chris, to your point, I would err absolutely on the side of professionalism. I'd never thought about it like that with the age thing. And that does turn on a lot of light bulbs, actually.
Corey Frank (22:15):
Chris, by the way, Jim uses the permission base, 27 seconds, as his opener. Which is great, is music to Chris's ears, as he can.
Jim Graf (22:23):
Oh, yeah. That thing is just gold. I don't think I've ever heard it not work. If you say it professionally and politely, [00:22:30] and with honesty and being authentic, and just pause, just be quiet. Let them answer. And, I don't think we've ever heard it not work. But anyways, to your point, Chris, yeah, there's a lot more rough edges. I mean, there was a lot of role playing.
Chris Beall (22:45):
And the job's too important. This was my other point was, look, this is the single most important job in any organization. It's the one that's also the most cryptic. It's very hard to see inside of it and know how well you're doing, because it's being executed [00:23:00] in millisecond, millisecond, millisecond timeframes, with what's going on inside of another human being as the actions. You don't get to see the action. It's not like, "Oh, here's the sales process and we do this, and we do that." It's like a golf swing, man. You set it up wrong, you don't have a hope. It's ballistic, and it's over in 35 seconds. And what could go wrong in there? Once it goes wrong, there's no recovery. You never [00:23:30] come back from making a mistake in a cold call.
Now, if you're as good as a Cheryl Turner, you can actually come back on the next one. You can stop and think about it, and she'll give me a call sometime and go, "There's something wrong. There's something wrong," and we'll talk it over because she knows it's in her. Or, it's in the script or whatever it happens to be. And that was my point to Jerry, is this job is so important, it needs professionalism, not progression. These are professionals. They're not progressing [00:24:00] to some other job. They might choose to, because we can all choose to do other things with our lives, but it's like saying, "Oh, you're an SDR. You're going to progress to being an AE." That's crazy. It's like saying, "You're a surgeon, you're a heart surgeon, but we're going to have you progress to be a hospital administrator someday." That's not progress.
Corey Frank (24:22):
Jim Graf (24:23):
Yeah, that's very true. Yeah, and there's just a lot of inherent skills. Professionalism says a lot, but from [00:24:30] active listening, speaking clearly, believe it or not, these are with some of the younger generation, there's attention sometimes issues. Are you actually listening or are you just kind of like, "Okay, I'm looking at my script. As soon as this person's quiet, I'm going." We don't seem to have that with some of our older reps. So that's a very interesting business idea, though. I hadn't really thought about that.
Chris Beall (24:52):
There's millions of them out there.
Jim Graf (24:54):
Chris Beall (24:55):
Florida. They concentrate-
Corey Frank (24:56):
He's in Florida, so he's got a little more than most.
Chris Beall (24:58):
Yeah, yeah. [00:25:00] Let's face it, without being unfair, you can practice a different kind of wage arbitrage.
Jim Graf (25:07):
Yeah, very true. Very true.
Corey Frank (25:12):
Well, beautiful. Well, I tell you what, it's always, always a pleasure, Jim, talking to another killer, another pro like you. We've got to have you back again. I don't know why we haven't had. We have had 200 episodes and we haven't had Jim on yet. We've got to talk to our booker, whoever, who that is on the podcast.
Jim Graf (25:29):
Have your agent call my agent.
Corey Frank (25:30):
[00:25:30] Yes, yes. We'll do that. So for the Market Dominance Guys, this is Corey Frank, and for Chris Beall. Jim, thank you very much. Until next time.
Jim Graf (25:40):
Absolutely. Chris, nice meeting you. Corey, I don't want you to get left out.
Chris Beall (25:44):
And thanks, Corey. You're always, as Helen says, you're the gem of gems.
Corey Frank (25:50):
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