If a company isn’t experiencing success, the finger of blame is usually pointed at the sales department. Ed Porter, the fractional Chief Revenue Officer of Blue Chip CRO, is here to say that it ain’t necessarily so. Ed joins our Market Dominance Guys, Chris Beall and Corey Frank, on today’s podcast to talk about his experience in helping companies ferret out the real culprits — and it’s not always the sales reps. In exploring the problem with his own customers, Ed has discovered that marketing and customer success are often the departments that need some repair or fine-tuning. He wholeheartedly agrees with one of Chris’ maxims: In a cold call, “technology amplifies ‘suck’,” which is what you’ll see if there’s a technology-provided increase in your cold-calling speed but there’s no company alignment of messaging, training, coaching, and follow-up. So, take Ed’s advice for business trouble-shooting and ask yourself the question posed by today’s Market Dominance Guys’ title, “Is Sales the Real Problem?”
About Our Guest
Ed Porter is a fractional Chief Revenue Officer for Blue Chip CRO, providing coaching and strategy planning services for executives and startups, and helping them rethink and refocus revenue strategies to accelerate growth. He assists his clients in aligning their revenue teams — marketing, sales, enablement, and customer success — to build accountability at every step of their organization, leading to accelerated and sustainable growth. Ed is also an investor and advisor to startups in the Columbus area.
Welcome to another episode of the Market Dominance Guys. This is Corey Frank with the sage of sales and the princely profit of profit, Chris Beall. Chris, how are you?
Chris Beall (01:39):
Fantastic Corey. If I were any better, I would swim out to that cruise ship and wave hello to everybody.
Corey Frank (01:45):
We had a great guest with us today, Chris, from the AA-ISP world, the esteemed AA-ISP world, right? We have Mr. Ed Porter. Sir. Ed, welcome. Welcome to the crucible. Welcome to the octagon.
Ed Porter (01:57):
Yeah. You got to call it something. You got to get it something profane and something relevant and something that people are going to go, "What the heck is that?"
Corey Frank (02:05):
The thunder dome. Welcome to the sales thunder dome with Chris Beall.
Ed Porter (02:09):
Yeah. Thanks guys. Appreciate it. The world is very big. But of course, as we all know, the world is also very small. And so, I first met Chris through AA-ISP, which is a association that he's been a supporter of for a long time. I've been a member of, I've run the Columbus chapter. And I somehow suckered him into flying to Columbus from the West Coast to do a meeting really early in the morning. So, he came from West Coast time to Eastern Standard Time and still agreed to a 7:30 AM meeting. So, it was a great meeting. One of the most well attended meetings because it was the benefit. There was no PowerPoint deck. I loved it. There was no presentation. It was conversation. And that's exactly what you talk about.
So, it was very conversational. It was a great interactive meeting. And it talked about that first phone call. And I think that's the trepidation that a lot of people have is, how do you make the first call? What do you say? How do I not word vomit? And I think that context really resonated with a lot of people. Fast forward, then as Chris mentioned, I was a customer of ConnectAndSell and really wanted to understand just the different value in these dialers and what a dialer is and how it can work. And the difference now what Chris is doing in agent assisted dialing and how that really turns the needle into acceleration and what that really means. And we were building a sales development team and it was a lot of we're going to try and see what works. And we did a... What do you call it now? The flight, the pilot?
Chris Beall (03:42):
You did an intensive test drive [inaudible 00:03:44]-
Ed Porter (03:44):
Intensive test drive. There it is. Yeah. So, that was the first. And just the data we got from that was... I remember having a conversation with my boss and I said, "I'm looking for you to poke holes in it but I just don't see that there's a bad decision here. I think we have to go forward with it unless you can see anything else?" He's like, "No. Doesn't seem like it." So, financially we were able to scale that team. We would've hired about 26, 27 SDRs. And we did it before. And we covered the whole country with it. So, again, that solidified our relationship. And then, since then we've kept in touch. Although Chris just came to Columbus and didn't shoot me a text. So, I was really disappointed. And then I had to give him crap for that.
Corey Frank (04:27):
He would've just-
Chris Beall (04:27):
My reasoning around that, Ed is simple. I was there with Helen for the Elton John concert and my fiance, Helen Fanucci has deep connections in Columbus. And so, everything was booked and you have to be around Helen sometime to really get this. Always asks what I want to do. And she always does and never pushes anything on me. However, she's faster than I am, a lot faster than I am at putting stuff together. So, I end up in the position quite happily of going, "Okay." And we were-
Ed Porter (04:59):
So, you're riding shotgun.
Chris Beall (05:01):
I was riding shotgun. However, I also have another certainty, which is it... We're never going to go to Columbus again because we both really, really like Columbus. And I'm going to make a pitch here for Columbus, for anybody who has not spent time in Columbus. Columbus is in my estimation in the top two or 3% of cities in America of any substance in size for simply being delightful to be there. And I can tell you, we were standing in the Short North, walk out the door, you walk down the street, you see people that are having a good time. It's pleasant, they're pleasant.
There's a lot of things to do. So many places are either all jazzed up or they're just boring as hell. Columbus walks that middle but it's not a tight middle, it's a broad middle. And you're very comfortable when you're there. And the food at places like Barcelona and the Guild and Martinis, if you had not been there to do these things, you owe yourself. Fly out, ask whether you can do a breakfast meeting for the AA-ISP, that's how I do it. And then maybe Ed will put you on and you can talk about something. Preferably not first conversations, whoever the hell you [inaudible 00:06:13].
Corey Frank (06:13):
Okay. So, this segment of the Market Dominance Guys is brought to you by the Columbus Chamber Of Commerce. Thank you.
Ed Porter (06:20):
There we go. There we go.
Chris Beall (06:23):
It was not [inaudible 00:06:24]. I just fell in love with Columbus again.
Corey Frank (06:26):
Yeah. I love Columbus. I spent a week there one day, so-
Ed Porter (06:30):
Oh, nice. Yeah. Again, it used to be a flyover town or a cow town. There's actually... I don't know if you saw this at the airport. There were shirts in the gift shops that talk about cow tipping. And it's like the funny humorous shirts but this used to be a cow town. And that I think was 30, 40 years ago. But now it's developing into a lot more. And the Short North downtown area has really been revitalized. Of course the Ohio State University is right next, that campus is right next to the Short North downtown. So, that's been... Yeah. Probably one of those...
Corey Frank (07:04):
Ed Porter (07:04):
Yeah. Probably one of those-
Corey Frank (07:04):
I got to check into that. I didn't know they still...
Ed Porter (07:09):
Yeah. They have a pretty decent rugby team and maybe you maybe have heard of them.
Chris Beall (07:14):
I've heard their golf team's coming up.
Ed Porter (07:16):
Yeah. So, yeah. There's a lot of good things going on in Columbus.
Corey Frank (07:20):
And blue chip CRO is one of them. So, how about we hear a little bit about that, Ed. But particularly all the experience that you've had as an investor, somebody who's been on the front row, the front seat of a lot of origin stories in the sales marketing tech stack, certainly as Chris has as both a board member or investor entrepreneur and residents and CEO, what do you see from a CRO perspective that has maybe changed over the last year or so that keeps the phone over by you ringing off the hook?
Ed Porter (07:54):
Yeah. I think the one biggest thing is this advent or this morph of sales and the marketing and the customer success. And the more you start having conversations, especially with these types of leaders, the more tightly interwoven these teams need to become but are becoming. So, the farther away they get or the more siloed they become, that's usually when I get the call of, "Hey, I got a sales problem." And every client I've had, I go into the engagement and it's never a sales problem. It's ultimately results in that being a problem but it's usually marketing or customer success. And the reason is you either haven't defined your ICP, which is fine but it needs to be defined a little bit.
You need to look at the customers you're serving the successes that you're having, what their time to value is on your product or service and understand a lot of those things. And then say, "Go find me customers like that." And then take that into marketing and have marketing create the messaging that really resonates with those types of customers and then get sales team using it. I mean, that's the other part is the reason why sales teams don't use the marketing stuff is because it's not good. And it's often everyone's in their own silo trying to recreate the wheels. I go into this with clients and we really start like, "Hey. I need to talk to your customer success leader. I need to bring your marketing leader in. I need to line these two."
No. We'll worry about sales in a little bit. Let's figure these things out. And the ones that start realizing that and start having these discussions start seeing a lot of results. And then it ultimately morphs over to the sales team which is a beautiful, beautiful harmonious relationship when all three of those teams are singing the same tune and operations is right there helping enable all of them to be successful. Everybody wants the same things. It's just going at it. Yeah. Is really tough to get to. So, that's really what I do and what keeps my phone ringing is people continuously having either sales problems or sales opportunities or simply something's not working in our company and we need to figure it out. So, those are the things that keep my phone ringing unfortunately.
Corey Frank (09:59):
Well, it's funny you bring that up, Ed. Chris, I think this is interesting that the discussion you and I had as we often do off camera here about marketing spend in your friends from serious decisions. And what Ed was saying about where bags of money go to die where the marketing dollars go to die because either the sales reps, you had some thoughts on that. I think last week that I think are germane to this. Maybe you can share.
Chris Beall (10:24):
It's always been interesting to me. You know me, I'm a physics math guy, who's into process, right? And built manufacturing processes and actual manufacturing plants where we made things, believe it or not. Things provide you with an astonishing discipline because you can't pretend you made them if you didn't and you can't pretend they work if they don't, that's how it is in the world of things. So, I'm into process and I know the main thing we look for in any process is the big distinction is an open loop or close loop. Open loop processes where there's no feedback mechanism from what is delivered back to what you're trying to produce how you're trying to produce it, what the inputs are and so forth are inevitably going to fail.
And the reason is, they're a guess. You're saying, "I'm going to guess that if I do X, Y or Z, then some value will be produced somewhere else," right? And you get lucky every once in a while. And then everybody celebrates the lucky ones and says, "Hey. Look, it's all a matter of being a genius." If you're just a genius, you can take a really good guess but processes that really work for companies and our whole market dominance thing that we talk about here is a closed loop process or what Ed's talking about, they actually make sure that the primary thing to pay attention to is, well, at the end you deliver something. Okay. Were you making the right thing? Is it the right thing? Does it work for the purpose, right?
If I keep delivering Teslas and people keep using them as doorstops, I probably need to know that so I can make cheaper Teslas because, "Hey, they're just being used as doorstops." And if I'm making skateboards and people are trying... They're not even electric, Corey, there's electric skateboards are right there in your building and they're the most awesome thing that's made in that building. But if I'm making electric skateboards and they're being used to ride on the freeway, I need to close loop that also and find out, well, what's the deal, right? What is going on with regard to value delivery? And that is customer success is business.
We'll be back in a moment after a quick break. ConnectAndSell, welcome to the end of dialing as you know it. ConnectAndSell's patented technology loads your best sales folks up with eight to 10 times more live qualified conversations every day. And when we say qualified, we're talking about really qualified, like knowing what kind of cheese they like on their impossible Whopper kind of qualified. Learn more at connectandsell.com. And we're back with Corey and Chris.
Chris Beall (13:11):
And you mentioned SiriusDecisions. I once asked John Neeson, one of the co-founders SiriusDecisions. It's a simple question. First, I prefaced it with an aggressive move. I said, "John, I pay you guys an immense amount of money and I never get any value. So, I want to get some value. So, I'm going to ask you a question and I bet you don't know the answer but if you do it so immense value to me." He says, "What's the question?" I said, "What percentage of inbounds generated by marketing ever get a conversation? What's the highest number you've ever seen?" He said, "9%."
I said, "Oh, does that mean that since no one talks to the other 91% at random, is it a random?" "Oh yeah. Completely a random. Just has to do with whether they're easy to reach." So, 91% of all of marketing's output in the form of inbound leads is never even sampled. It's just thrown away unopened. It's as though, a hundred boxes that said potentially gold showed up on your doorstep and it random you threw away 91 of them and then poked around in the other nine, maybe in a cursory way. It's crazy, right?
So, to me, that's what I call the leakage problem between sales and marketing and marketing and sales. And what Ed's referring to is another problem which is I'll call it the alignment problem not between marketing and sales but between the value that customer could be getting, might be getting, is getting, who knows and what it is you actually make because there's another element to this such as what's your product but also how do you talk about it? How do you describe the value in a way that somebody who is getting that value could say, "Yeah. I got that," right? And I'll go back to Geoffrey Moore and you know how I worship Jeff, right? If I could crawl through broken glass for 16 days in order to touch the hem of his dress, I would. But sadly he takes my call.
So, Geoffrey Moore told us a long time ago, "You're either on one side of the chasm or the other." And until folks are getting success with your product and referring it to their peers, to folks like them, probably in their industry, you're a pre-chasm company and everything about you is unpredictable. And as soon as that other thing starts to happen, you can help make it happen by getting your marketing communications to line up with the value that they're actually receiving. And by getting your sales to rely on those references. And I think this is familiar territory but very, very rarely executed, very rarely executed. So, Ed, I don't know what your thoughts are about that tribe, but.
Ed Porter (15:59):
Yeah. Exactly what he said is that there's two thoughts that I have on that. If somebody's using your product or serve service and they're getting value out of it, why wouldn't they tell somebody? Why would you have to nudge somebody to say, "Hey, do you know anybody that might be able to use it?" Well, if they're inherently using it and they're getting value out of it, if things are working, then that becomes pretty low tolerance to be able to do that. I talk to a lot of people. I'm sure everybody talks to a lot of people and sure we can go to the day is done and talk about all the problems we have with different things. But at some point somebody's going to say, "Hey, can you recommend a X solution?"
And then me as a friend, "Yeah. We've been using this and it's been working." So, I think that's a great separation to understand if you're able to turn people like that into your champions, that should be a minimum threshold. But if that's not like you need to have tons of money and tons of resources going to the customer to just barrage them to say, "Hey, do you love us? Let's take the survey. Let me give you an awesome thumbs up." And those are great but those don't ultimately net that. So, I think that's one comment. The other comment is, when you start thinking about the product being used, the Tesla or the door stop and there, I think all of us can probably at some point say, "Yeah. I bought some product and only used a certain percentage of it."
I was literally just talking to my wife yesterday. Her company... She's an HR manager. At her company they use Workday and she was talking about how much they spend on it. And she's like, "We're using a fraction of it, of what it can do." We can do so much with this tool. And it's a huge enterprise tool that can do tons of things. And it's not through fault of anybody. It's you start to get into this routine of like, "We need to solve for this one problem. And then, let's go buy a robust solution. And then, we forget about steps two through 10." So, we get the one step done and we forget about everything else.
So, to that point is maybe somebody bought a Tesla because they're like, "Yeah. I don't want to have to pay to power it," or, "I want to pay less to power it." And then it just sits in a room and doesn't get used. So, why don't I build a product that has less bells and whistles and costs 98%, 99% cheaper and it's got a different use case? So, I think those are two things that you said that really hit. And that makes a lot of sense. And there's a lot of people out there that probably do the same thing.
Corey Frank (18:26):
Well, in addition to marketing spend, which we talked about, I'd love to get your opinion on CROs just in general, the ones that you work with in your practice. I find that te And then you have the other school of folks which is, listen, it's all about the basics, right? The target and the list and the message and the rep and the tonality and build those core building blocks first, right? That John Wooden put your socks on the right way, tie your shoes the right way. What do you see and maybe what's your philosophy and what do you see that the trend is moving in one direction or another?
Ed Porter (19:24):
So, I'm going to sample from Chris because many things that he said have stuck with me but this is a big one, is technology accelerates suck. And that's absolutely what technology can do is if you don't have the basics done, technology is just going to expose that. It's just going to make you suck that much more. If you're trying to call people and you're picking up the phone and manually dialing and you don't know what to say on the call and you don't know how to close it for the next step, then it doesn't matter if you're making 10 calls a day or a thousand calls a day, ultimately you're just killing your market.
So, there is a belief that I have that, again, I learned from Chris, which is technology isn't the problem solver, it's got to be there to enable and you got to figure out maybe a couple layers deeper before. Now. There's also a school of thought to say, technology, because it can go faster, can allow you to AB test a heck of a lot quicker. So, I do see that to say, not everybody knows the best way to do that. So, the perfect marriage between the 101 or the basics versus the tech stack has to do with understanding the process to Chris' point as he is a process guy.
So, understanding the process or understanding that we're going to try and figure out the process and then figuring out from there how to add some fuel to that fire and make it really grow. So, I don't like technology just for the sake of technology. I don't like technology just for the sake of, "Oh, we're going to save a couple clicks." Yes, that's a benefit but that's not really a problem that's happening. I like using technology that inherently solves a problem. And if I can use one piece of technology that solves multiple problems, wonderful.
That's I think where some companies and some people get in trouble is, at some point you're buying 18 pieces of technology or you got a MarTech stack that has seven or eight components to it. Maybe four of them are talking to your CRM and maybe the others are just like, "'We're just doing a couple things here and then we're getting the data in there manually." And then it's yes, okay. You can function. But it just becomes a lot harder if you're really looking at scale. And that's another thing is scale and growth are completely different. And in order to scale, you got to have those things working because scaling isn't just adding more tech and adding more people and adding more revenue, it's got to be at the exponential value of it.
So, I don't know if this is really answering your question as much as it's going into more of a thought about the fine line between having a great tech stack but also having the problems figured out to understand, is technology really enabling it and allowing you to do more with less. And if it's in that spirit, then measure it. Is it better to go forward with product A or product B? And I think when you get in the marketing side is there's several different tools that you can start looking at, not alone competitors in the same industry but complimentary technologies. So, it's looking at each of those avenues and the stage that you're in and where you want to go and figuring out, what do you want the system to do and then how do you build it so that it works that way? Instead of just saying, "It's an out of the box solution." And all of a sudden, if you build it, they will come and then it hits and it never does.
Chris Beall (22:40):
Okay. If you build it, they will suck. I mean, that...
Ed Porter (22:45):
There you go.
Chris Beall (22:46):
It is fascinating to me as a technologist. I've been building technology for other people to use for a while, probably 42 years and maybe a little longer, in fact. And-
Ed Porter (22:57):
And you have the patents to prove it.
Chris Beall (22:59):
I do have one or two of those little devils. And I've been called into situations. I remember one, many, many years ago at Sun Microsystems where they've been working for two years on this technology to automate the testing of their computers. And they were getting desperate. The system was not coming together and the computers were coming off the line and it'd be really good if they could be tested automated by. And so, I remember walking into the room and listening for a while. And then, finally somebody said, "Okay. We got this guy here that we brought in," blah, blah, blah. Nobody ever likes that guy, by the way, if you ever that guy.
Ed Porter (23:32):
If you ever that guy, you're not liked.
Chris Beall (23:34):
Nobody likes that guy. So, I'm pretty used to it. So, it's one of the cues in sales, right? You have to be okay being the person who is the problem in order to be in a position to help somebody. It's like being a surgeon. You have to be okay being the problem. I'm going to cut into you with a knife in order to be able to help you. And if I faint at the sight of blood, well, I can't do my job very well. So, you have to get good with it. So, finally somebody said, "Well, what do you think? Oh, snooty, woody expert who's been shoved down our throat." And I said, "Well, I don't understand any of this. Could you help me out here?" "So, can I have the whiteboard?" "Well, sure." So, I draw a big circle on the whiteboard."
And I said, "So, if this is what we're trying to build..." And then I draw an arrow coming out of the right side of it. I don't know which side it is to you. People in the Zoom plant decide toward the bow of the ship but that's probably the wrong way. And so, if this is the output and we don't know what it is and I'd be a little stick figure there and say, "Here's a human being. We're going to actually find one and name them, when our thing we're going to build produces one unit of this output..." And I put a dollar sign up above the arrow. "How many dollars does this person or that they're responsible for? How much do they save or do they make?" And there was stunned silence.
It took four intense days of discussion to name the circle, name the arrow, identify the person and put a number on the dollars. Until you do that, you don't know anything. You don't know anything. I mean, you are just... It's like talk among yourselves. And as my mother used to say, if something is not worth doing, it is certainly not worth doing well and it's not worth spending a bunch of money to do, right? So, you got to know, is it worth doing? And the answer to that doesn't lie inside the geniuses, it lies out there among those who are trying to take advantage of it, who are trying to use your thing. And that means you have to understand their business. What job are you doing in their business?
There's another bizarre conceit that I hear all the time. I was just, well, what we're bringing is something entirely new. It's like, if they're not already having that job done, they're not going to buy your new thing to do that job. Got it? They're already doing it. You always have a competitor called the status quo.
Ed Porter (25:53):
The status quo-
Chris Beall (25:54):
The competitor almost always wins. 88.723% of the time, the status quo wins all B2B pursuits. There's... I mean, let's... How it is. And it is funny because the people who dream up products are geniuses and they're so convinced in their genius that they would really rather not have that inconvenient truth come back to them and it says, "They can't ever charge the Tesla but apparently it's really heavy makes a great doorstop."
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