Wednesday Apr 20, 2022
EP128: Getting to the Right Insider
The triumphs, rewards, and prosperity of the customers he serves is at the heart of everything today’s Market Dominance Guys’ guest does. Meet James Townsend, Vice President of Customer Success and Growth at ConnectAndSell, as he discusses with our host, ConnectAndSell CEO Chris Beall, the different ways that sales has changed in the 10 years since James joined the company. They compare acquiring data on prospects, targeting the right insertion points (aka company insiders), the importance of cold call training, and selling vs. serving customers’ needs. You’ll want to stay tuned to the very end when they talk about what they see as “the next frontier,” on today’s Market Dominance Guys’ episode, “Getting to the Right Insider.”
About Our Guest
James Townsend is Vice President of Customer Success and Growth at ConnectAndSell, a company that pioneered the service of getting prospects on the phone for its customers’ cold callers to talk to. As one of his LinkedIn followers states, “James is a consummate professional with a deep desire to see his clients succeed.”
Full episode transcript below:
Chris Beall (01:09):
Hey everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Market Dominance Guys. I am not Corey Frank, and I apologize for that. Corey is not available today. But gosh, I think we got something even better. I mean, Corey, you know a thing or two, but we're here with James Townsend. James is ConnectAndSell's Vice President Of Customer Success, master of intensive test drives, guy who makes a bunch of weird stuff work with a bunch of other weird stuff, including human beings. And he's been around this company and this whole business of talking to people in order to move business forward. Really the original market dominance play longer than I have. So welcome James to Market Dominance Guys.
James Townsend (01:52):
Thank you, Chris. Hi everybody.
Chris Beall (01:54):
Wow. You sound good, James. So where are you on the face of our blue whirling planet?
James Townsend (02:01):
I'm in snowy Ottawa, Ontario, Canada right now.
Chris Beall (02:06):
[inaudible 00:02:06]. That doesn't sound very good. This is April 19th. Is April truly the cruelest month?
James Townsend (02:12):
It is. It was this morning, I'll tell you that much.
Chris Beall (02:14):
Wow. Wow. Well, James, you've been around the world of conversation first everything in a bunch of different ways. Could you give us a little background, first of all, just overall career-wise? And then how did you get your leg caught in the bear trap that we call ConnectAndSell? What have you learned along the way that's just kind of obvious to you now that wasn't so obvious back when you first touched this thing? The bear trap we call ConnectAndSell. Well, I got my upbringing in the BPO world, a call-center company called Cytel, which was then bought by Client Logic. And so the boot camp of running massive amounts of inbound sales and customer calls for Dell, our client back in the day. Made the jump to BPL Consulting and then ran into a guy at a grocery store and said, "Hey, we're hiring for an outbound telemarketing manager."Before it was cool to run a sales development team that used to call it outbound telemarketing, back in the day.
I jumped on board at Halogen. About a year into my tenure at Halogen, I was lucky enough to cross paths with this sales trainer out of Long Island, who, as we were going through the goal call approach said to me, "You got to check out this product ConnectAndSell. It's like shooting fish in a barrel," he said. And I said, "Well, all right, Uncle Pete, I'll check out this product ConnectAndSell." And the rest is history. We used it very successfully as a customer. I think I was customer number 14 back in the day, back in 2007, 2008. To this day, I still come across folks that we were competitive with back in the day. And they say, "How did that little Canadian company get in every deal?" And there we go. We were this small team of 10 top-of-the-funnel sales development folks covering a whole lot of ground conversationally.
About three years in, I was so enamored with ConnectAndSell, I joined the company, I joined the mission. I joined the cause back in October 19th, of 2010, I remembered the day vividly. From there, it's been a fascinating journey helping companies and sales practitioners embrace the power of a conversation-first focus. And along the way, we've learned some stuff about how to make those conversations great. And I think you said it right, Chris, when you said, "If we're going to provide a mechanism to allow sellers to have lots of conversations, we may as well make those good Conversations." And there are things that go into that around how do you target and who do you speak to and cadence and frequencies and targeting and all sorts of fun stuff that play into how do you attack your market in the most fiscally efficient way possible.
So I'm in the bear trap on the mission and loving every minute of it. Because, there aren't many products in the market that fundamentally solve a problem. And from everyone I come across in the last 10 years having a sales team that speaks to enough decision-makers on regular basis, like I saw with my team at Halogen. Number one complaint in our town halls was, "I'm just not talking to enough DMs." Number one complaint, month over month at ConnectAndSell was able to in future town halls, after implementation of ConnectAndSell that no longer became a complaint. It was now, how do I make good on all these conversations that I'm having and make them great conversations to generate opportunities for the business? So it's been a fun ride and it continues on. We still learn things every day about how to enable companies and teams around this revolutionary technology.
James Townsend (05:41):
Well, that's interesting. So you've been with the company since October of 2010.
Chris Beall (05:41):
James Townsend (05:44):
Chris Beall (05:46):
- I joined up in 2011. It's been so long, it's kind of hard to keep track. So you've been much more on the front lines. When I joined up, I was the head of products and there was a lot to do with the technology. There was kind of bringing it to the web. There was making it horizontally scalable. There was performance stuff, efficiency, bringing down some of the internal costs associated with having those hundreds of agents actually navigating phone calls and all that. But you were focused on another end of the problem, which is how to take this obvious increase in firepower and help customers apply it to a business problem. Early on, did you see the problem the way you see it today or what's changed? What's the single biggest thing as you've engaged with the customers who are trying to have more conversations, use those conversations, drive their business forward, and dealing with all the realities of sales at the top of the funnel, which is you bring on reps, it's hard to get them on board. It's hard to get them trained. It's hard to keep them. Targeting is always challenging, all that kinds of stuff. But what's the biggest change between year one and where you are right now? Because now you're helping some of the most dynamic companies in the world really go out and dominate their markets.
We do Market Dominance Guys here stuff, right? We talk about it, but you actually go out and kind of, I would say, make it happen with those folks who want to go that route. What's changed that you would say, if you had time traveled forward 10 years and somebody said, "Hey, it's going to be like this." "I don't think so," right? It's "This is going to stay the same." So what's been the biggest change?
James Townsend (07:31):
Oh gosh. I think the biggest change that I've seen is, I think back to when I was a practitioner using ConnectAndSell with a team, the challenge that our CEO at the time charged us with, this is kind of pre-ConnectAndSell, it's about a year before ConnectAndSell, he said, "Go find me the old fashioned way," right? Calling a switchboard and asking for who the HR director was or who the VP of HR was. Data as a accessibility to data now is much more readily available with data plays out there, we know the big ones. But then it wasn't as readily available. So I think what's changed now is because data is so readily available, and whether we empower a revenue operations team or marketing operations team or a team of sellers to profile a set of companies and profile the people in those companies. I think what we saw ourselves back early the year prior to ConnectAndSell was taking a very pragmatic approach to identifying decision-makers by calling switchboards and asking produced a what at the time we called a master state list of super high-quality targets.
Now, fast forward 10 years, do we place that same level of focus and diligence when we're building a query in Zoom info or Apollo or any other or LinkedIn navigator? I would say no. So the big thing that I've seen change is companies needing to rely on inspection and more precisely targeting the people inside of their addressable market, because you can have the best message in the world there. I was talking to a head of sales last week, unnamed company, very large sales training and coaching organization, well known. So he said to me, "James, I just don't understand why my team is not setting as many meetings as they used to." And I said, "Well, messaging aside, because that's a very important piece of the equation, let's look at who they're speaking to." When we took that same approach that we did it back at Halogen, which is inspect at a very precise level, the job titles of the individuals that we intended to reach out to, when we ran that exact exercise with this head of sales, it turned out that 50% or more of who his team had sourced themselves were nowhere in the realm of those that would be even modestly interested in sales training and coaching, period.
So I think we've evolved to a place in the market where, because data's so readily available, because search technologies and artificial intelligence and community-driven sourcing and all sorts of different mechanisms and big companies that are providing access to data is at our fingertips today, we've lost sight of the necessity to be very precise about who we intend to sell to. That's to me, the number one biggest. The second biggest change is, I think as companies, we focus too heavily on product training and not enough on problem training, in terms of what our solution is going to provide to the individual that we intend to speak to. And I'm seeing a movement out there with other practitioners and certainly we share that the world of what's in it for them. And Sean McLaren's been telling us that for years, right? "It's not about who you are or what you do or how it works. It's about," and Mike Bosworth said it last week and I go to market games, right? It's about curiosity. It's about the problem. It's not about the product.
So, the second thing I've seen out there in the market is a much larger reliance on product, and part of it's because we have divisions called product marketers and we have product trainers and we put our team through intake and onboarding. Not our team at ConnectAndSell, but out in the market. And we train them on the offering. And therefore the first thing that a seller, he or she will talk about is the offering. So those two things, how we build very focus sets of target data and look at our market in a very precise way, and then how we message to that market, I've seen a big amount of drift in those two areas, Chris.
Chris Beall (12:12):
Well, that's interesting. It's kind of like Gresham's law where bad money drives out good, right? Counterfeit money causes good money to stay in people's pockets, so to speak. We don't think about that much anymore because counterfeiting's not the deal that it used to be. But in a way, so much of the data that we can get so easily now is kind of counterfeit. It's so easy to get, we just load it up. And maybe we're part of the problem with ConnectAndSell in the sense that you load it up and then you can talk to a ton of people, and well, it feels like progress. It's kind of like sending emails, right? Sending emails always feels like progress, right? Because you can look at the numbers and you can get into them. I call it digital business porn, where you're staring at the numbers all the time and feeling good in some way.
It's like, wow, look at this. We sent out this and we got this response rate and tweaked this and did this. And it feels like progress. And then you look at the results at the end and they tend to be more haphazard. There is an element of that. And I guess we contribute to it in a sense because we bring an abundance of conversations and so it's kind of easy to go, "Well, I'll just push the button, talk to somebody else and they'll get better." One of the things that I've noted is that we have tended to believe over the lifetime of the company that using ConnectAndSell and talking to a ton of people will cause reps to get better. That is at bets will lead to improved performance. And you and I are both golfers, right? You're a little bit more better of a golfer than I am.
But if we both hit a lot of golf balls in our life and hit a fair number of them in competition, and we both know that just going around a golf course over and over standing at a range and beating balls all by ourselves, probably isn't going to make us better. In fact, there's a famous well-known phrase in golf, which is grooving a bad swing. And once you've grooved a bad swing, you actually are using repetition to create variety of outcomes. It's kind of funny when you think about it, right? I repeated that so often that now it's unreliable. It's a thing that can happen in the world of golf. I think we used to think that.
We're both wearing these Flight School shirts right now, for anybody who's seeing this on video. And if you're just listening, we're both wearing these white shirts that have a logo on them that shows a airplane kind of coming at you, a military plane. And it's because we have invented something called Flight School here in response to the fact that we noticed that folks don't get better just by talking to a ton of people. It's actually a precision process to make people better in terms of their competence and confidence. So what I'm wondering is, how do these two go together? Like if you were to make the ultimate, let's say you wanted to make account-based that's focused on companies that you want to have as customers sales happen at pace and scale, so you can dominate a market, because that's what Market Dominance Guys is about. It's all account-based, always starts with the list. The list is always intentional. The list is ultimately of people, but it starts as being a list of companies. And then what? Then you need a message that's going to be sufficiently intriguing to cause somebody on curiosity to take a meeting so that you're in a psychological space where they can confess.
And when they confess what their truth is about their problems, their challenges, and you figure out there's a reason to move forward, now you're, I'll call it down funnel. You're in the process and kind of, we let go of it at that point. When you think all that coming together, what are the pieces that you think are most often missing? Is it one, the belief that you can't do account-based sales at pace and scale? You have to go like, you get five accounts, James, that's all you can handle. Whereas you know that you might need to 50 accounts with 20 entry points each in a week in order to be able to kind of make sense of that market. So what do you think needs to come together? And what frustrates you when you're working with customers? Because you're really a consultant on their sales business process. What frustrates you, where they just kind of like, they don't get it? Either they don't get what they can do or they don't get what they need to do. And that's a big question, but you wrestle in this mud every day.
James Townsend (16:37):
Well you just said it, Chris, the list is your strategy. And more often than not the most important piece of the people in the company, I think businesses out there do a pretty darn good job at the companies they're looking to target from a firmagraphic perspective, from an industry sector perspective, from a size number of employees. Now, could there be different ways to look at a set of companies to target based on recent growth, based on hiring signals, based on is that company contracting, is there acquisition? For sure, right? But I think from a, who do we sell to perspective, I would give the customers we work with a B plus, let's say, in terms of targeting the businesses.
You just said it in terms of insertion points is when we get to the people. And our tendency is in a world driven traditionally through omnichannel, right? You have a social strategy on one side, you have an email strategy on the other side. You have conversations are still important. A lot of our joint clients that are using technology like Outreach or high-Velocity Sales or Sales Loft, or any of the kind of orchestration plays, because narrowing exposure from how many emails am I sending to a particular enterprise, that there tends to be a tendency to narrow the focus to only one insertion point, maybe two, maybe and a half, maybe two and a half. If you look at a, your question is around, how do you scale an account-based strategy? It's identifying those insertion points very pragmatically, understanding the cold spots, right? And what companies do I need to look for adjunct insertion points.
And then the meta-point, Chris, is asking a junior, senior, mid-level irrespective of tenure, but asking a human being, a perfectly rational human being to conceptualize the world in terms of adjunct insertion points and direct insertion points, and taking the time to inspect a set of accounts against those insertion points, it's just not tenable. So that you can certainly scale a strategy providing that the initial groundwork, back to our Flight School, when you're in doing the courses and the ground training, and you understand how to maneuver the airplane around the airport before you're even in the air, that's what we need to be focusing more tightly on is getting really good at the groundworks, so we can and take off on the correct runway. And we are up in the air. We can have some level of precision in terms of getting back to that runway.
So you hit a couple of important points, which is number one, the message is for sure important, but doing that groundwork to identify those insertion points, then building a message that is unique to those people, not the company. And that tends to be where we focus a lot of our time and energy, which is how do we as a product improve something for that company. It's not about that company. It's about the insertion points, the people that we've identified to reach out to. And a lot of times we have cold spots in terms of our overall strategy, if we look at it holistically in term, are we're selling ourselves short by targeting too few individuals in that company and oftentimes two senior individuals, right? If we're in at enterprise play, I've seen this recently within the last 12 months where SDR Bob, let's call him, was targeting Apple. And Bob had one supply chain leader at Apple, just one. One lonely supply chain, probably the right person at Apple, very high up in the pecking order. But when you look at Apple holistically, in terms of insertion points, there are hundreds of supply chain leaders, right?
So, did somebody do the groundwork to understand how to penetrate Apple from a strategic perspective, from a strategy perspective? No, it was provided to the hands of an individual that said, "This is who my AE really needs to sell to, therefore I'm going to go and talk to that person and that person only." So one lesson to take away from that is, companies get a B plus at targeting the organizations, the accounts, the companies, the entities that they're looking to sell to, I would give a D plus to a D minus on targeting the right insertion points in order to penetrate properly. And learn things about that company about how they sell by having enough conversations and getting signals back that frankly, we're not going to get back from email and social at a rate that we need to in order to map out how that company might buy or who I really need to end up going to speak to. Because, you can't always rely on publicly available information to give you that information that you need in order to sell.
Chris Beall (22:18):
Well, in fact, I'd say you never can rely on it. You might get lucky. But it's incredibly rare, especially when selling to larger companies to find exactly the right person, especially when you take account timing, right? Everybody's got different projects they're working on, different focus areas. So they're delegated stuff. There's things that are being worked on by committee. There's all sorts of circumstances. I would say companies have become more transparent with regard to who works there and more opaque with regard to what's actually going on inside over the last 10 years. But because what's going on inside these companies is much more, it's more complex. There are more people involved when we're selling systems, especially we're always selling something that ultimately has to integrate into their business, right? This always been true of a all B2B products. But, it's like the difference between selling somebody an electric vehicle that they're going to use in order to say, drive around the parking lot, a golf cart, and an electric vehicle they're going to use to deliver their products to the marketplace. They're very, very different. They might seem kind of similar, but at the job that you're doing for them is very different and different people will be involved in even deciding to take a look.
And I love what you said about the conversations with these insertion points. And I think for those who don't kind of get it, an insertion point is just a potential way to get in/ to go from being an outsider, to being an insider, which is the crucial transition that we make, I think not just with companies, but kind of with anybody, right? You got to get in a trust relationship before you're going to start to hear the truth. And we always point out at Market Dominance Guys, the only reliable way to make that happen is to get scheduled conversations. Because in a scheduled conversation, the psychology is such that it's okay for both parties to kind of get real. You have enough time, you've come together voluntarily. Whereas in an ambush call, it's ridiculous to expect the ambushed party to get real. Their reality is pretty obvious. They want to get off this call with their self-image intact. Whereas when they voluntarily show up for a meeting, they'll be a little apprehensive about whether you're going to sell to them or not, but you can dispel that apprehension by your behavior. And then you can get down to the truth.
And I think, if I hear you correctly, you're saying that in a sense, the big issue is companies, which being sales leaders will choose for what seems like efficiency, to focus on the buyer, rather than having conversations with, scheduled conversations with enough people to learn what's really going on inside that company. And ultimately to be trusted sufficiently to be led voluntarily, probably to relevant people. It's like when I was working with SAP way back in the day, I just went and hung out in Palo Alto for months and talked to different people. And finally somebody said, "You know what? You need to talk to this guy, Kamal." And next thing I know I'm in a room with the guy who has the problem that we're trying to solve, right? It took a long time, many conversations before somebody said, "Oh, I get it. I get what you really do. And I know this other person is kind of the right person for you to talk to."
So when you try to help folks with this, and I know you're not a sales consultant per se, but there's something about being in this conversation business that sort of makes you into a sales consultant, right? Especially with regard to engagement, the sales engagement process, where you're going from utter ignorance, other than data, to at some point into a relationship with somebody where you're working mutually to solve a problem. When you are doing that, what is it that you do? Or is it even anything I know it's not really your job, right? What do you say or do or demonstrate to somebody to help them open their mind, to not reaching out to just one person, but reaching out to 10 or 20 or 30, as their way of succeeding in engagement? Is there a speech you give him or is there like a, you make a list and you try, what do you do to make that happen?
James Townsend (26:38):
I tell them about Mike, and I won't expose his last name, but Mike, a real gentleman, you just retired from sales. 30-year sales veteran. We're in Vegas, running an intensive test drive of ConnectAndSell and we're eating pizzas over lunch. And I say, "Mike, what do you think?" He goes, "Ah, it was wonderful," he said. I said, "Well, why was it wonderful?" He goes, "I now know how Huntsman buys," he says. I said, "Well, what do you mean?" He goes, well, "I've had the account for four years." He goes, "But I had 22 conversations this morning." So your analogy or your experience, Chris, with SAP and walking around the campus and talking to various folks, Mike accomplished in a morning, right? Because he had 22 conversations.
Your question around, how do we get folks to focus on it? We look at the data, right? We look at a parade of, first, we ask the question in a messaging experience around who do you sell to, right? And there's often this debate within senior leadership in this messaging experience, workshop, whatever we want to call it, where they're like, "Oh, well we sell to senior marketers. Well, we actually sell to digital transformation." Okay. Who do you sell to?" And they're having this internal struggle within themselves as to who they actually target? I said, "Well, let's pick one." Right? Maybe it's the VP of digital transformation. We go through this experience of this journey of helping them pull out the poetry of what do you say to this person, right? In terms of what's in it for them. If you were sitting at a bar and you walk into the bar in the back of their jacket, you taught me this, I do a customer profile and they're frustrated about things that you solve for them, yada, yada, yada. You latch onto one of those things and say, "Ooh, I can solve that for you. I believe we discovered a breakthrough with that."
We go through this evolution of identifying the top one, two and three individuals that, from a strategy perspective, senior leadership, look at it and say, this is our strategy, right? And when it comes to the mechanics of building the list, we can very easily parade out, okay, well, based on what we've already talked about in the messaging where you, as senior leaders have said, "Yes, this is who we sell to and how we will speak to them. And here's the what's in it for them component. And here's the economic, emotional, and strategic angle about what's in it for them." The whole poetry meets brain surgery, as a wise man once said. We can then connect the dots around, "Okay, well, you said you sell to VPs of digital transformation of those in the digital transformation realm. I'm not seeing those job titles in searching points, job titles represented in what we're intending to put into motion for your salespeople to speak to." So, it's this world of like disconnect, reconnect, right?
What you were saying earlier, Chris was interesting, because it's about off-topic a bit, but it's the whole public and private information. What you were finding in SAP was the private information, which wasn't available in public. What Mike found with Huntsman was the private information. And then we say, if you're looking to understand private information about what is happening inside this company, one person or two people may not be providing you coverage or an opportunity to harvest private information signals that are abundant. You may be selling yourself short by running this particular strategy, which is either A, the people you're looking to target have no allegiances to what we about in the messaging exchange, right? So there's a huge disconnect. Or, if there is some familiarity between the strategy and what's being intended to be executed, is that strategy deep enough where you're going to get those conversation signals, right?
And again, a lot of times we have traditionally narrowed our focus because you don't want to be that company, not ConnectAndSell, just in general, I'm speaking in general terms, that for lack of a better term carpet bombs six or eight or 12 different decision-makers with email and social inside of a particular enterprise. So we've got this mental model, which is, I will email only one, therefore I should only call one. But the reality is I can still email only one, but why should I not converse with others inside of that potential account, which I need to learn from?
Chris Beall (30:51):
Well, that's fascinating, because when you think about that, it's like what you said, which I deeply believe is true and overlooked is, your number one job is to learn as an insider, to go inside somehow and get that private information. And you're very unlikely to get that from guessing at who's going to give it to you. I'll go back to my SAP analogy. The person that led me over to my friend Kamal, became a very good friend over time, was not the person who was going to have anything to do with electronic cataloging for B2B e-procurement, which was my business. But they knew from having conversations internally that somebody was bothered by that and was being tasked with it. And wasn't comfortable with the solutions at hand. And now I was a convenient person to make that introduction. That's one kind of private information was the, I'll call it the deep who, right? Not the one that's on the surface. By the way, you couldn't have found this guy Kamal to save your life in public information back then or today. His title meant nothing.
And every company, when there was big problems, there's always somebody being assigned to go after the really big problems whose title has nothing to do with that problem, right? Because their specialty is solving big problems, which is a kind of a funny specialty. This person that's kind of like a fixer, you know? If you were to go to do business in a very unfamiliar foreign country to you and you wanted to make your way around, you get a fixer and a fixer takes you all around. And we often need a fixer, but we don't know who it is. And they don't advertise themselves much.
But getting that breadth of conversations going so that you could learn how somebody buys or at least get an inkling of it very early. And it's more important how they buy than what problem they're trying to solve. Because if your company provides something of value to that kind of company, then eventually it's going to be on their radar. So now the question is, but how do they buy things? That's actually the number one thing we might want to learn. And I would say, we don't know it. In an account-based sense, if you gave me a hundred targets and you let me wave a magic wand and say, "Fix one gap in my knowledge," it would be, how do they buy? That would be it. And yet we can't find that out without having conversations. So, that's pretty remarkable.
So when you do all of this, you try to help people do this, it sounds daunting to me. It's like, oh my God, I got to have a message for each kind of person, right? I'm going to make a list. That's now easy, a list of titles. But, if it took them, like we saw one the other day with a 46-page messaging document, right? I'm not going to say who it was. And it'd been put together a big committee of very senior people. Well, that took a long time. And by the way, I hate to say it, but that message wasn't going to work in a five-sentence ambush conversation either. What is the cycle time from, Hey, okay, here's my ideal customer, the person at this kind of company, in fact, name the company too. From that moment to message good enough to try and have conversations with? What's the cycle time? Is it five days, five years, five weeks, five minutes? What is it?
James Townsend (34:17):
I think it's under 60 minutes.
Chris Beall (34:20):
Under 60 minutes. Okay. And how much of that is that specific message and how much of that is just, I'll call it the package? How much is the bullet and how much is the design of the gun?
James Townsend (34:30):
Well, the design of the gun is more like a three to five-day process. There's different pieces to it, right? There's the concept sell to those reps that need to be executing it and rightfully so, right. Scripting documents are just words on paper, right? If we don't understand the why behind the psychology or the approach or the words or the poetry or how to deliver in the tonality and the inflection and the pace and, where do I reflect that? Where do I reflect that? And all the things that go into any A-list actor picking up a script is not shooting the final cut on day one, right? That takes a little bit of practice and development. And then learning from a leadership perspective, whether the message that was ordained, because you never get a perfect day one, right? You never do. You got to go back and listen and see what the market's telling you about that message.
So end-to-end, if you think about what we accomplish in Flight School over a three to four-week period, which is really a series of carefully orchestrated blitz's, that could be compressed into five days if we so chose. But it's really about teaching these reps who are, again, perfectly rational folks, they just haven't, back to your golf analogy, they haven't had the repetitions. We're providing the track van, right? We're able to analyze its angle and its tempo and its swing speed, and ball speed when the club had to impact. What's the angle of the club, all these things that we're able to help the rep with. But until they have the repetitions in, on a very precise piece of, in this case, the golf swing, and in our world, the message, they can't improve. So the overall cycle time from start to getting reliable signals out, you can have it in underneath the five days.
The act of building the message is a hypothesis at that time, based on who you're targeting, right? So it's this evolution of things up to being able to go back and inspect the tape and say, was our hypothesis correct? And is the message appealing to that individual in a way that we thought it would? Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn't. And then you just have to iterate from there.
Chris Beall (36:36):
Yeah. It's fascinating, right? My experience with this is that getting folks to accept that the purpose of the cold call is to build trust and that you win a hundred percent of the time after seven seconds, if you do it correctly, that to me is the hardest part. Because I call this the dog piece of meat and the chain link fence problem. I would say the disease of people in sales that they have a very hard time, no vaccine will keep them from having it is, they want sales results. It seems obvious that they should want sales results and they tend to go right at them. And so instead of backing up and noticing there's a gate 10 feet to right, the dog tries to go through the fence and bloodies its nose. Can't get through the fence most of the time. Can't get to that target most of the time. And the idea of backing up and going, "Huh? Okay."
So first of all, is it okay to go to an intermediate place? Well, how about trust? How about trust? Is it okay to go from there if you can, to another place? Well, how about a verbal based on curiosity, a verbal agreement to meet? Is that a new place? The answer is, yeah, it is. It's actually a very profound new place, especially with modern technology. You give me the verbal to meet, "Hey Chris. Sure. Yeah. Whatever." I say, "Hey James, you know I'm a morning person, tell you what, I'll shoot you something for next Thursday. We'll move it around." You're going to say yes, just to get off the call, but I know two things about you; you answer the phone, right?And you said, yes. So if I send you a calendar invite, it's on your calendar-
James Townsend (38:13):
A hundred percent.
Chris Beall (38:14):
It's like, I can get my words inside your midbrain by having you answer the phone. And I can an appointment on your calendar by sending you a calendar invite. Now we're down to, is it an appointment you agreed to or not? Well, if you said, yes, you agreed to it. And there we are in a new place, right? I think the cycle time, once somebody understands, that's the goal of the call, get trust. That the gravy on the call is to get the verbal and like the cherry on the top is to get it on the calendar, and the bad ideas to try to qualify it at any point, right? Once they get that new messages, I think per persona are actually pretty straightforward to get them to the point of trying to the hypothesis, right? It could be five minutes to the point of hypothesis.
So you basically built a manufacturing facility to make and try messages for different insertion points. And as I listen to you, I think, well, that sounds like magic, right? Let's say I had 50 possible insertion points in a hundred big companies. 50 times a hundred's pretty big number 5,000. Let's say I could talk to with two trained reps, a hundred of those a day. So I talk to a hundred a day and one week I've talked to 500 of them. We have talked to 500 of them. We afford to generate say it's four personas, four messages and use different message on different lists and be good at it. Do I have to be a product expert or do I have to be that person? I don't think so. I think it's in the delivery, right?
So, I mean, I think you're describing a mechanism that can be used to win a hundred percent of the time through an ABM approach just by expanding your mind to going in at multiple insertion points and having a purpose of learning instead of forcing somebody to buy from you right now. Is that kind of a summary?
James Townsend (40:09):
That's exactly right, Chris. Spot on.
Chris Beall (40:11):
Well, I hope that encourages some people to think that conversation first can be used in an account-based world. I see a lot of skepticism, including in our own company. We'll have reps, our own reps will run into somebody that'll say, "Well, we're account-based. That ConnectAndSell thing, that's mass calling, right?"If you got a hundred targets and 50 insertion points, you have 5,000 people to talk to. What are you going to do about it, right? Interesting.
So, as you look forward, we'll wrap up for in a moment, but as you look forward, we've got all the contact data out there. You've got a thing called LinkedIn Sales Insights now, that really, I think lets you understand the companies much, much better than we used to be able to. And you and I are both really impressed with that new offering from LinkedIn. What do you think is next frontier? Or are we there and we're grinding our way across the great Plains so to speak? The next frontier is right under our feet.
James Townsend (41:08):
I think we're there Chris. I think the world of right rep, right list, right message, I think it is upon us. The market needs to continue to, I think the market's moving in the right direction. And part of it, I give a lot of credit to the ABM strategy that leverages an orchestration play like an outreach in the SalesLoft because it takes us back to the days, to my early days of, be very selective about based on information that was available to you. And back in my early days, it was based on information from asking a switchboard operator who the director of human resources was, or who the individual to handle talent management. Where we're moving into the, as more teams rely heavily on this world of orchestration, by very nature they're becoming more precise about the individuals they target. And that's really what we mean by account base. Be precise about who you target.
And let's be serious, we wouldn't put call steps in those sequences and cadences if we didn't think conversations were important. Therefore if we can message correctly to those very precisely selected personas that are placed in these sequences and have more of those conversations faster, you don't need to boil the ocean. You just need to have the conversation. So I think the market's moving in a very interesting direction, more towards a level of precision, not towards a, let's just call everybody and anyone and let's hope for the best. And the exciting things that you and I are seeing out of sales insights in order to prioritize companies that are growing in particular roles, sales roles or otherwise, looking at companies that are really growing from expansion, not contracting. I think the market's getting a lot smarter about how to use big data and signals in order to like zero in on areas to target.
And I give a lot of credit to teams out there that are running account-based because it just means you're inspecting who's going in. Therefore the conversations that you're having with those individuals should be more fruitful. You're just not having enough conversations such as where we come in, right? So I think the market's moving in a very interesting direction. We're perfectly poised to help in that world in a number of different ways. And I'm excited about what the future has to hold.
Chris Beall (43:26):
Fantastic. Well, I'm excited about continuing to help customers working with you or at least have you help them. Every once in a while I just go in and annoy them, which is a lot of fun also. So I'm going to wrap this up. James, if somebody wants to learn from you, maybe they want to do a ConnectAndSell test drive, maybe they want to learn how somebody who's an actual practitioner would end up on your side of the ledger, so to speak, where you're heading up customer success and helping people, or they just want to learn some stuff about customer success, how do a hold of you?
James Townsend (43:57):
Oh, probably your best bet is to reach out to me on LinkedIn. I'm available on LinkedIn. It's linkedin.com/in/jamestownsend. That's T--W-N-S-E-N-D hyphen cas. Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn, send me a direct message. I'll follow up with account only LinkedIn. I'm always happy to spend the time either talking about customer success as an evolving profession out there in the world of small, medium and large business to business. It's actually interesting Chris, you and I saw it on LinkedIn sales insights today in medium-size companies, one of the top three highest sought after highest growth jobs, most listed jobs was number three, was CS, next to information technology and others. So I'm always happy to talk to folks about CS, and I'm always happy to talk about ConnectAndSell because I've been around this machine, this weapon for the better part of my adult life, because my wife doesn't consider my twenties to be my adult life.
And I'm always happy to talk about the wonders of ConnectAndSell and conversation first and what makes it special. And also the challenges and how to wire this crazy thing into your go-to-market strategy without breaking stuff. That's important.
Chris Beall (45:11):
I love it. I love it. Well, you're really good at helping folks avoid amplifying suck, which has always been my big concern. So maybe sometime in the golf course, you can help me not amplify suck. Although I have a feeling your interest run in a different direction at that point. We'll wrap this up for Corey Frank, who just couldn't be here today. We'll apologize to Corey. I'm sure he would've asked better questions than I did, and he's a lot more fun to talk with. Plus he dresses so well. But, I kind of like our Flight School shirts today. I think we-
James Townsend (45:40):
Next time we'll do the top button up. There you go.
Chris Beall (45:42):
Yeah. We got to go all the way-
James Townsend (45:42):
All the way, right? Yeah. All the way is really smart.
Chris Beall (45:47):
So James, thanks so much for being on, and I think folks are going to get a lot out of this episode, market dominance in an account-based world at pace and scale led with conversations. Sounds unbeatable. Thank you.
James Townsend (46:00):
You're welcome. Thanks. Thanks everybody.
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