In this episode of the B2B Digitized Podcast, you’ll be introduced to Douglas Burdett, host of The Marketing Book Podcast and founder of Artillery, a marketing consultancy based in Norfolk, Virginia. Douglas will share his thoughts on sales and marketing.
Through his podcast, Douglas Burdett interviews authors to give practical marketing insights, tips, and tactics to help people become smarter, more successful marketers. Douglas is a marketing agency principal, former artillery officer, Madison Avenue ad man, and stand-up comedian.
Listen to the full episode of the B2B Digitized Podcast to learn more about:
- Building trust and subtracting trust from prospects and customers
- Keeping the customer is just as important as getting the customer
- Marketing is more about how you run your company than just promotion
- Saying no should be your second favorite word in sales
- Teaching people to be more successful
- Traveling to B2B marketing customers after the pandemic
Watch the Podcast Interview
Listen to the Podcast Interview
Douglas has advice for companies counting on one person being their whole digital marketing solution:
“Humans want to find the path of least resistance, the simplest thing. And for a long time, there was a somewhat simple approach that worked for a lot of companies, which was just to buy advertising because there was somewhat more of a captive audience out there. And you could interrupt your way in. Of course, now you can't very easily interrupt what people are interested in. You have to be what people are interested in, and there are a lot of companies that still are yearning for that. And they think, I just want a silver bullet.”
Douglas also talked about subscription-based products:
“You're going to probably see more and more subscription-based products. There's even, in the book Subscribed, which is really well done, they talked about earth-moving equipment. You can buy subscriptions to earth-moving equipment. So in other words, I think Caterpillar is doing it, and they realized -- you still buy their equipment if you want, if it makes sense for you -- but with a subscription, you have to think doubly hard about what it is that people are buying from us. They're not buying a subscription, they're buying a solution to a problem.”
Douglas also shared his thoughts on the future of B2B marketing:
“If all a company is talking about is their products and their services, it’s just not really the way to go. It's focusing more on the customer. The most successful companies are the ones that understand their customers just a little bit better than their competitors. And when they do understand them, a couple of things happen. One is you breakthrough because you think, oh they get me. They actually understand what I'm doing. And you sense that they're empathizing with you. But also when you understand your customers just a little bit better than your competition, you don't have to be perfect at this. It's like what you were talking about earlier; they will start to tell you what you need to do to be successful.”
All of this and more is discussed in this episode of the B2B Digitized Podcast. To learn more about Douglas Burdett and contact him with any questions about the topics discussed, you can find him on LinkedIn or at The Marketing Book Podcast or Artillery.
Lightly Edited Transcript
Joshua Feinberg: Hi, I'm Joshua Feinberg from the B2B Digitized Podcast. And I have with me today a very special guest and good friend, Douglas Burdett, who is the host of The Marketing Book Podcast and Founder of Artillery, a marketing consultancy based in Norfolk, Virginia. Thanks so much for joining me for the podcast. Welcome.
Douglas Burdett: Good to reconnect with you, and say hi to Jennifer for me.
Joshua Feinberg: For sure. So I think the first place to start with, I'm super curious about, as I've...
Douglas Burdett: You're going to ask if those charges were dropped, Josh. Okay. So you're not going to ask that, oh, I'm sorry.
Joshua Feinberg: The first place I wanted to start, as I've known you for probably about seven or eight years, what led you to originally want to start a podcast about marketing and sales books? And I know it was originally marketing, but it's morphed into the critical relationship that marketing and sales now enjoy together.
Douglas Burdett: I think after about 60 interviews, I finally had my first sales book, which was New Sales Simplified by Mr. Mike Weinberg, which is a book that -- remember HubSpot would recommend that to us as the number one sales book, fantastic book. I've now had about 50. It's an interesting question. And it takes me back to -- I can remember a couple of years ago, and actually, an author who's been on the show a couple of times, he saw me at a conference, and he said, are you making money on your podcast? And I said, no, not really, but that's not why I started it. So I guess in the podcast world, I'm not doing it right. I ideally -- what you want to do is build a watering hole for the specific animal you want to hunt. You want to do something about that specific niche and then maybe even interview prospective customers for your podcast. What I did was, I did it for very personal reasons, and that's why I'm probably able to keep doing it. I came from a real advertising background. I worked at big agencies in New York City for a number of years and then moved to Virginia, and 20 years ago started my own firm. And then it was real advertising-focused for a long time. But a lot of that started to go away. Unfortunately, a lot of industries change if you stay in them long enough. And so I started to feel less and less relevant, and it really was bothering me probably more than most people, like for instance having to bring a website person to a client meeting and hear them talk about SSL or some sort of servers or whatever, and I'm just thinking -- or then they start asking about what was a fad, which is the internet and social media. Those are clearly fads that aren't going anywhere. So anyway, my background was in advertising, and I just started feeling like I was growing dinosaur scales, and I didn't like that. And I went back to doing what I had done in grad school, which was reading a lot of books. And I stumbled upon David Meerman Scott's, one of his early additions, The New Rules of Marketing and PR. And that really crystallized where the whole world was going because of the internet and technology and social media, all those types of things. He's now up to his seventh edition in that book. And I felt like I had a second bite at the career apple. Like I see where it's going. That led me to ultimately meet you at a HubSpot inbound conference. I started going in that direction. We buy very little advertising now for clients. We're doing a lot of content and that type of thing. But I remember thinking, I don't ever want to be in that situation again. I hated it so much. And I had always been listening to podcasts. I always listened to marketing podcasts in particular, like podcasts where they interviewed authors of books. And so along the way, I thought, maybe I should try this. And so I started the podcast, and the first guest was David Meerman Scott. And I interviewed about the first 10, and I had already read all their books, and I had even met some of them at conferences. People like Ann Handley or Joe Pulizzi or Mark Schaefer, the really big-time authors; were very generous with their time. I got to about the 11th book and I realized, wait a minute, I'm actually going to have to read each one of these books. It's like taking the wrong exit on the interstate, and you realize you can't turn around for another 20 minutes. It's fueled that desire that I have to want to try to keep up with what's going on. In other words, it's like a regular program of doing it. So now I'm up to 320-something books that have been on the show, and it's good. It gives me some idea of what's going on. It's helpful for clients. It's helpful for me and fills me with ideas, but the other thing that gets you going, and you'll find this as you continue to do your podcast, you start to hear from people. I hear from them now every week, and they'll say, “Hey, I've been listening to your show for a couple of years. Just want to say thanks. It's really been helpful.” Or they’ll tell me it helped them get a promotion or just these amazing things. And I'm thinking, “Ooh, man, I better take this more seriously.” I didn't know the impact I was having on people. So now it's got over 2 million downloads from over 155 countries, and that's why I started it, but it's really more of professional development is performance arts and occupational hobby. It's not the main thing I do. There are some advertisers, and I do need to charge them, but some of that has to do with my time that's involved. But otherwise, if you look me up in the dictionary under podcast monetization, there's probably not a picture of me as somebody who's doing it exactly right.
Joshua Feinberg: You still deserve a huge congratulations for getting to 300 plus episodes. I heard someone a couple of weeks ago talk about the term “pod fade,” where virtually everyone at some point drops off the cliff at eight episodes, 20 episodes, 40 episodes, a hundred episodes. That's amazing perseverance, amazing endurance. And it sounds like it's been super helpful for professional development and building relationships.
Douglas Burdett: Yeah. Yeah, it is. I have such admiration for the people who write these books. I'm sure you collect autographed Florida Marlin's sports memorabilia or more maybe the Jets, I don't know, since you're from New Jersey, but I collect autographed marketing and sales books, and I have such admiration for these people that write these books. I don't want to write one. I'm too busy reading them, but it's just so helpful. And I'm a person who, at a couple of points in my career, read a book, particularly two books, and the right book at the right time can really make a big difference. So if I can help people discover the right book at the right time, that's good. And that's why so many listeners contact me asking for book recommendations. They'll say, I'm working on this, or I'm challenged in this particular area. Do you know of a book about that? And quite often I'm able to send them a link to an interview about the book, and they can listen to it and see if that might be helpful or if it points them to whatever resource would be helpful.
Joshua Feinberg: Like a book concierge, call down to the front desk. I'm looking for new books to improve my crafts this quarter.
Douglas Burdett: What do you recommend somebody like this week? Somebody said, I'm going from being a speech pathologist, which I thought was a pretty good line of work, but she's going into marketing instead. And I said, okay, I know just what book she needs. Or for somebody who's a more senior person or they've just been assigned to a certain task force. And I'm like, gosh, thanks for listening. Have you read this one? If I can, I don't want anyone else to have to read 350 books to find the right one for something that's going to help them right now. It only takes a few seconds. So it's the fun thing I get to do during the day, is hear from listeners and make a recommendation or point them in the right direction.
Joshua Feinberg: I think what's interesting too, is in the five, six, seven years or so that you've been hosting all these interviews, there's been such a dramatic shift in how people view formal education, even before the pandemic, that big college scholarship scandal a couple of years ago and the tremendous amount of frustration of college debt, and people rethinking, “Do I really pay $150,000 for an MBA? What's the ROI going to be on that?” It’s relatively easy for someone to find a few hundred dollars a year to buy a very respectable library of books. Maybe they have an Audible subscription or maybe they’re getting them on Kindle.
Douglas Burdett: Yeah. And not that you asked, but that is so important. I want to mention something. There have been a few books over the years that were more about what marketers should be doing, like with their own career and how to be successful rather than about a specific topic, like Google ads or Facebook advertising or content marketing or whatever. Several different studies and books talk about how the most successful marketers are the ones that have a learning mindset, they're always teaching themselves, and an even larger number of CEOs have that. Looking back over some studies that started 40 or 50 years ago, they were very much into self-improvement, teaching themselves. And this is at a time when companies are spending less and less money training their employees, but there's never been a better time to learn. Like even your audience, they're probably pretty focused on learning something new and improving their results and their career. And there was a video I saw of Brian Halligan, one of HubSpot’s founders and the interviewer was asking about startup culture or something, and they've been enormously successful. And they said, “What do you look for when you hire someone?” And in a marketing and sales software company like HubSpot, there are a lot of marketers there. And he said the number one thing I look for, and this isn't the opposite of a know-it-all, but it is a learn-it-all. That's the number one thing they're looking for, is someone who, and they probably know how to tell, are capable of teaching them some, sell something, figuring it out, and then going and doing it. I just thought that was fascinating. That’s the number one thing that they look for now because they're obviously in the technology space, and marketing is changing quite a bit. You can imagine it goes really well with an entrepreneurial environment like that, but it's a learn-it-all. Somebody who has demonstrated that they have the desire and the motivation to go teach themselves something. That's why I'm always telling 'em, I'm always telling the kids these days to get some of those HubSpot certifications or Google certifications. Put it on your LinkedIn profile. It's a big differentiator.
Joshua Feinberg: Yeah. We were talking about this a couple of days ago. If you took a teenager and look at their junior or senior year of high school, they were taking all of the free HubSpot certifications, and then you layered on a Coursera subscription because Google has those programs now where there are five or six different certifications, like project management and data analytics, where for $39 a month, six months later, you have a Google certificate. And then you really break the bank, and you go get an executive certificate from a prestigious university, something that's really spot on. And those are like a whopping $2,500. It's going to be your highest budget expenditure. It's like all of a sudden HubSpot certifications, Google program completion, and a digital analytics certification from MIT or Northwestern or Wharton or something like that, which will all cost about $3,000. And you just have to wonder, at some point, if you're the Dean of a business school, especially private schools, are you going to start getting a little nervous that disruption is right around the corner?
Douglas Burdett: And I think that's going to happen faster than we expect. That's the way it happens. More and more people are like, what are we paying for? But just to add to that, the other side of that coin is, say you're an employer and somebody comes through with that kind of unbelievable self-direction and motivation. You better snap them up. I would hope that they would know about writing and that they would be good at writing or communicating, but even still, that whole course of action is very impressive.
Joshua Feinberg: And being that entrepreneurial, that resourceful to figure all of that out, it's interesting to even just look at what HubSpot's trajectory has been with the whole investment in Academy over the last decade, going from one full-time to now a couple of dozen full-time professors in multiple languages now. And if you go to their course catalog, it's like trying to reach the end of the internet. I think there's a more discrete number of certifications, but course-wise, it's in the hundreds. And I guess at some point, originally they started with the idea that they were training people to better utilize software, which for SaaS is super important, because if you don't use it, you don't get value and you don't stick, but they pretty quickly thereafter came to the conclusion that it was also super popular and important for people that weren't customers and may not be customers for awhile.
Douglas Burdett: And think about it. Mark Killins, who you probably recall, used to work at HubSpot Academy. He then went to Drift; I'm not sure where he is now. He may still be there. Is he still there? I remember once he was giving a presentation, and he showed a picture of a major league baseball pitcher, and it said, “Teaching is the new pitching.” And think about the experience that you give somebody by teaching them how to be more successful. Think about the trust that's built for that particular company and the authority that they must have. And when I was a HubSpot user group leader, I can remember there were a number of companies that would come or people who would come who weren't even using HubSpot. There was this one guy from a big tax preparation firm. I think he said he had 11 people in his department that didn't use the HubSpot software, which is fine. And he said, every new hire, I make them take one of these two or three courses. Just because they’re so valuable; it's free. But that's a lot of goodwill that HubSpot builds up there. And it's such a great idea, an example of really effective content marketing. If you're helpful, you're going to get further than if you're talking about yourself.
Joshua Feinberg: That's a really interesting play too. They've explored in the last couple of years getting more college professors to use their software in marketing, graduate, undergraduate, and grad courses. In college, I worked for IBM for two or three years on a program that was designed to give students and faculty members very aggressive discounts on what was back in the day state-of-the-art IBM hardware, where their PSU systems in the early days of Windows and Apple was neck and neck with them at the time and a few other hardware vendors. And the idea was that you form all these brand affinities when you're 18, 19, 20 years old, and your first time out and all the consumer products companies were there at the same time, like prepaid phone cards, consumer products like the CD record, CD music clubs --
Douglas Burdett: Columbia House. Yeah. I remember having an AT&T card at school. Yeah. I remember when that came out. Because I have a relationship with the local university, I was hiring interns from there, and I would go in and lecture every once in a while for some of the professors. And I remember sharing that with them, and some are receptive, some are not. I think that some of them were told what they needed to teach. But I also, in the back of my mind, was wondering if they feel threatened at all by this. I don't think so. But interestingly enough, I've started seeing Facebook ads from the local university on a digital certification.
Joshua Feinberg: What about it though? If you're in your sophomore, junior year in business school, you use HubSpot marketing enterprise for your course, but you get out and you go work for a small business that's about to install its first round of marketing automation. And you already know HubSpot well. Is Marketo on, is Adobe, even on the shortlist? Are you looking at SharpSpring or are you looking at Infusionsoft? Are you looking at any of these other alternatives or did you learn HubSpot so well that --
Douglas Burdett: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that there's a lot of -- oh, someone who's under 25, you go set that up. I remember having lunch a few years ago with this executive vice president of this big shipbuilding company. And they wanted to talk to me. And I remember he brought along to lunch this new marketing person, and she was a young, a recent college grad and seemed very sharp. And then I remember at one point during the conversation, he said, yeah, we hired her because she understands the Facebook thing, and they weren't even using Facebook. She looked at me, and I was just thinking like, can you blink twice? If you're under duress? I know she needed a job. She had student debt probably to pay off, and she was very sharp, and sure enough, she's not still there. So she got some experience and moved on to a place, but it was like, okay if that's what you guys need, I'll do that for you. But it saddened me that there are so many more senior people thinking -- that there is just such a blind spot as to what their marketing people could be doing for them and how they could be helping them.
Joshua Feinberg: I think in a lot of small companies, I see what I call premature abdication, where at a certain size startup, scale-up small size, probably sub 50 employees, the CEO still really needs to be hands-on involved in the marketing and sales strategy because they just simply can't afford someone that's at a strong enough level with the marketing, digital marketing automation, sales, enablement expertise, and knows their industry well enough to be able to completely hunt it. What I usually tell when people come to me, they're like, I don't have time to spend on this. I'm like, okay. The most important thing is that we have to figure out a way to position you as an expert, as a thought leader, as a subject matter expert. Who in the company fits that role because we can get it to the point where you can make a really big dent in an hour a week, but it's not in an hour a year. And there's got to be somebody who has a ridiculous amount of institutional knowledge that needs to be captured. All of that gets captured into video, and usually, it should be a committee. And what makes me nervous is sometimes when they show up, and they're selling to a market, and there's no one in the company that checks off the box of being enough of an expert to feel comfortable with turning the webcam or microphone on in that role. But it's getting them thinking that the first goal with all of this isn't the tools, isn't the campaigns, it's strategy and content.
Douglas Burdett: This is turning into a support group. And I thank you. Premature abdication, stealing it. I'll give you full attribution, of course, but that is so good. And there was a book on the show, not too long ago, The Ultimate Guide to Google Ads. When you get up to that one, so 300 or whatever, I can really start to go out into some very specific areas. I had one on Facebook advertising, and even if you're not a Facebook advertiser or a Google advertiser, those are two fantastic books because the people that are really successful at Facebook advertising and Google advertising are really good at marketing. And they basically have the basics down. In The Ultimate Guide to Google Ads, this was Mike Rhodes, he has the largest Google ad agency in Australia, the 18th largest in the world. And his last chapter was on hiring an agency, and he couldn't have been more clear. He said, please be careful outsourcing this for a couple of reasons. One is you learn quite a bit about your customers and your company through Google advertising, all the massive amounts of testing you can do. But also he was saying that the CEO or maybe a smaller company, should try and do as much as they can because they're going to learn so much, and they should never relinquish it. In other words, maybe you work with an agency to help get you started, but try to get it back in-house as much as you can, because it's much more than just ads. You are learning in real-time about your customers. So I thought that was interesting. I think it showed enormous authority and credibility from him.
Joshua Feinberg: So I actually listened to that interview with Mike Rhodes. What's interesting is when I look at that entire category, the most dangerous area for a non-marketer that's hiring a Google ad specialist is when you're working with a small company and they're counting on that one person being their whole digital marketing solution, and that person really has to have a good pulse on lead generation and segmentation and nurturing and personas and how this stuff impacts sales opportunities. And the more considered of the sales process there is, the more high tech B2B it is, the more dangerous it is to just end up with someone that can handle the traffic but can't connect the dots on everything else. And it's like putting together a baseball or football team. You really have to be able to spread that budget around to have good infielders, good starting pitchers, good relief pitchers. If it's all in one place, it doesn't work very well in a small company.
Douglas Burdett: Yeah. And I think that humans want to find the path of least resistance, the simplest thing. And for a long time, there was a somewhat simple approach that worked for a lot of companies, which was just to buy advertising because there was somewhat more of a captive audience out there. And you could interrupt your way in. Of course, now you can't very easily interrupt what people are interested in. You have to be what people are interested in, and there are a lot of companies that still are yearning for that. And they think, I just want a silver bullet. I just want a nail for this one hammer that I have, and it's become much more complex. And I think that it goes back to the four P's of marketing, which are, product, price, placement distribution, and promotion. And so many still think of marketing as just promotion. And the truth is marketing now is much more about how you run your company. Marketing is much more about the kind of people you hire and the experience that you give your customers. Frankly, people don't really believe what companies say about themselves. And the experience that your customers have with you, the more that your customers can become your marketing, the faster you're going to get traction. But those aren't simple answers. And I'm sorry about that.
Joshua Feinberg: You know, it's interesting when people come to me, and they already have HubSpot, it's the most challenging possible situation because they're certain they already have the answer, and they just need somebody who can press the buttons for them, and having to get them to reset and go back to the drawing board and think about what their actual go-to-market strategy is-- who are your personas? Why are you in business? It's, no. I just need somebody to do that. I'm like, okay, then I might not be the right person for you. If you just need a technician to press the buttons for you, because you're too busy to press them yourself.
Douglas Burdett: And also, and I know I must sound like your dad, but you're making the right decision there because that never ends well because they don't know what they don't know. And perhaps worse, they don't have the humility to acknowledge that. It reminds me of years ago at some chamber of commerce function, some guy that owned an IT firm was talking about something at a panel. And he said, advertising doesn't work. I bought an ad once, and nothing happened. That always stuck in my mind. And that is exactly who you were talking to. We hired a HubSpot person, how come I'm not minting money? We’re laughing to keep from crying, just so your audience understands that.
Joshua Feinberg: In a sales leadership role too, it's equally challenging if there's not a lack of humility there and the openness to new ideas, because my position is, hey, look, I'm investing 30, 40, 50 hours a year to keep my skills sharp on what I need to do to support a sales team at your size. Can I at least get you to watch the intro to inbound marketing from HubSpot academy so you get what we're really trying to do here?
Douglas Burdett: Yeah. That’s good assignment selling because in sales, “no” should be your second favorite word. And the faster you can find that out, you probably save yourself a year or more of heartache and a bad ending.
Joshua Feinberg: I think the interesting outcome that a lot of people don't think of in a startup in the first couple of years of their business is if you can just get the activity going to get them closer to product-market fit faster, or go-to-market fit faster, a lot of times they get some very interesting outcomes because if they do the content and the ebooks and the webinars and podcasts and they do all of that stuff, they get fans of people that fall in love with their content before they even know what the company does to the point where when they get to the meeting, and they're actually talking about their product or service. If they get someone who isn't going to become closed, the second-best outcome is, “Hey Douglas, I love what this is about, but you're missing this key feature.” And if you add that, I’d sign up yesterday, and there are five friends in other companies in similar roles who would also sign up. And when you walk away with that, and you realize that they just gave you a hundred thousand dollars worth or a million dollars worth of free consulting there as the consolation prize for not closing them out. They told you exactly what you need to get with your product manager, get with your engineer, build and come back to them in a couple of months and say, okay, now try.
Douglas Burdett: Yeah. It's like you had my phones tapped because a few years back as I was transitioning away from advertising to digital marketing, I was blogging, and I was downloading things and linking to whatever blog post or landing page, just talking about these different resources, and along the way, I downloaded some stuff from HubSpot, and then a month or so later, I saw that somebody was calling. And normally we can't answer the phone anymore. Because it's usually somebody trying to bother us, but since it said HubSpot I answered it, and they said, “Hey Douglas, we saw you downloaded the stuff from our website. Did you find what you were looking for?” And I said, yeah. And basically, the conversation went, “I love that stuff on your site. I have no idea what you guys do, but I really like all this stuff on your site.” And they laughed and said, “Yeah, we hear that a lot. Can we, could we tell you what we do?” I said, “Yeah, what do you guys do? I like you.” Well, a week later, I was a customer. So that's one nature of how it works, but there are three books that come to mind if a lot of your listeners are interested in the startup world. And I can provide you with the links to these interviews, but there are a couple of books that I wish every startup would read. One of them was called The Ultimate Startup Guide by Tom Hogan and Carol Broadbent. And I think they only work with companies that are VC-funded now. They've done very well, but they, it was funny, they explained where so many startups get it wrong and where they get it right. And the very funny thing in that book, at the very beginning, they talked about how the legend of Steve Jobs was the worst thing to happen to startup culture because so many clueless CEOs thought they were supposed to behave that way. He was a unicorn. Okay. And then there was another book called Beyond Product by Jill Solely. She's a Silicon valley marketer. And it, again, that was a short book, and she explained this idea of product-market fit in a way that was so crystal clear. And every week she's having to explain this to people who have a lot of money. And these are experienced executives, a lot of engineers obviously. And they don't quite understand where they're going wrong. And I remember reading that book thinking, they are, they really do. You really run into this a lot. And she said, “All the time, it's just a massive blind spot.” And there was a third book by -- you probably have heard of the new book, Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and Mary Lou Tyler. So Aaron Ross then wrote a book after that with Jason Lemkin called From Impossible to Inevitable. And he's in the startup world, all that sort of thing. And those two guys wrote this book with no theory at all. They say, these are the seven things that every hypergrowth company gets right. And he actually came on the show to talk about the second edition of the book. Fantastic book. Fantastic. But those were three that -- they were so clear. And I think all the authors felt like they were probably taking crazy pills their whole career because they were having to explain the same thing over and over again. But it's just what you were talking about. Product market fit and several other things.
Joshua Feinberg: I come across Aaron Ross quite regularly; he puts out great content. He has a company that does outsourced sales development and building calling-based campaigns. He was an early Salesforce hire, puts out great content in that area. And Jason Lemkin has that whole SaaStr conference community, which has been a little more virtual the last year, but I'm sure he's looking forward to it being more traditional. And he does great podcasting content, great video content as well with entrepreneurs and sales leaders and marketing leaders from software companies, all that stuff to try to figure that out, to connect the dots. One of the interesting areas that I've had to lean into the last couple of years as well is no matter how successful your marketing campaigns are, sales isn't supporting, and they're not calling the leads, and they're not calling them with the right frequency and with the right mindset to help. Getting that alignment right is supercritical. And then marketing and sales can do everything right. But if the product isn't solid enough and delivering on all the great work that marketing and sales did to get somebody to close one, then that becomes a retention and monetization problem. Mark Roberge really got it, when he said, when you're looking for your first sales hire, get someone that's startup experienced because they'll be used to working in the extreme uncertainty, whereas they didn't walk in, and they weren't the 500th salesperson hired who was on version 37 of the playbook. They were there when they had to figure it out and realize that part of your job is listening for that product management type of information, or relaying back to the team about what's missing and what it takes, and being very entrepreneurial in journaling.
Douglas Burdett: Yeah, his book Sales Acceleration Formula was just fascinating because he talked about being the first director of sales at HubSpot when they started. And he was an engineer, he'd never had any sales training, although we both know his dad was a sales trainer, so maybe there was a genetic thing, but it was so fascinating to -- just like any entrepreneur or startup person -- was like, I have never been in sales. That's okay. Just do it anyway. So he approached it like a mechanical engineer, which he is, and what was interesting, as they would test people, you test salespeople, evaluate them, see if they've got some of the qualities and skills. And so they got going. And then of course, after a certain amount of time, he went back and looked at the ones that were doing really well to see which of the 12 traits they scored high and low for, and the ones that were doing really well were people that didn't exhibit very good closing technique. In other words, they, I can't remember exactly the word, but they were very good listeners.
Joshua Feinberg: Curious and coachable, or open to feedback, and you gave them feedback and they're able to run with it.
Douglas Burdett: And they were selling a product people didn't really understand. It wasn't like there was a sea of 10,000 sales and marketing software companies like there are now. So yeah, that was just fascinating.
Joshua Feinberg: Very different to be selling HubSpot as a brand, as SaaS 15, 16 years into the company's history compared to doing your one year, two year, three year, where nobody had ever heard of the company or inbound marketing, whether they would pay attention.
Douglas Burdett: Yeah. Yeah. And I'm sure that's why so many of the early employees had done so well.
Joshua Feinberg: He’s had an interesting trajectory as well; he teaches sales at Harvard Business School, He’s a BC now for SaaS companies helping to rethink the whole model to get the success rate up much higher than it currently is.
Douglas Burdett: Yeah. And hats off to Harvard for having a guy like that on the faculty; there's not much sales taught in schools.
Joshua Feinberg: No, I come across it every once in a while where there's like competitions and clubs around that. But it's definitely not a mainstream thing where you hear someone say, oh, I decided instead of majoring in marketing, I'm gonna major in sales. Maybe there needs to be in certain schools because it's the challenge with all of this is, what you thought you knew five or 10 years ago is largely very irrelevant today.
Douglas Burdett: And I remember in Mark's interview, I can't remember if he said this in the book, but he said, the problem with salespeople is that after they've been in sales two years, they don't want to learn anything new. And I thought, whoa, strong words. He goes, no, I've seen it. And that's a problem like you talked about let's say, and again, in the marketing agency world, there's been a number of times where we would do everything right from a marketing standpoint, but they weren't following a sales process. And then they would blame us, which is why at some point, a couple of years ago, I just said, all right, that's it, we're not going to work with any more companies if they don't have the other stuff squared away. And if we have to help get them squared away first, we're going to do that. Because they think, oh, let's just do some marketing. And I'm sorry, I was just getting off on a tangent there, but it reminded me of what he said about some folks about being resistant. And actually, Marcus Sheridan talks quite a bit about this ‘cause he does a lot of sales training and helps people come around to a more modern approach to helping customers that you're selling to. And in Mark Hunter's book, Mind for Sales, the second time he was on the podcast, he talked about how there was this one client who was doing sales training and they said, “Mark, there are these two young guys, and we want you to spend a little time with them and find out what they're doing because they actually thought they were doing something illegal because they were selling so much.” These were younger guys. And he said, okay, it's not what he was there for, but sure, I understand. And it turned out, they were completely legal. They were spending a lot of time with marketing. They were talking to them all the time. They were collaborating with them. They were giving marketing ideas. They were getting ideas back from marketing. They were providing a lot of helpful content that marketing had been producing, and they were crushing it from a sales standpoint. I thought that was a very funny story. And they were the two youngest employees too.
Joshua Feinberg: What we're doing now is part of the muscle that modern sales professionals need to do to be taken seriously, being good on video and moderating webinars and podcasts and good with using video as a report. And the interesting thing too is one of the silver linings of what we've gone through over the last year is -- I think people have -- it's forced people to become more comfortable but also dial back the perfectionism that I used to see with companies where they felt like, oh, we can't get started with video when we don't have the budget to bring in a professional videographer for a couple of thousand dollars. I'm like no, you can start with what you have. And if you want to get really fancy, buy a better microphone, get a little better lighting or something like that, but that's a few hundred dollars, and you own all that stuff. But the bigger thing is the mindset shift of just starting and realizing that it's all about providing value.
Douglas Burdett: Yeah. And just to add to that, if you're too slick, I think it hurts. Yeah. And there were, again, I realize with the books like I keep thinking like, oh! But the 300th episode with Jeb Blount, I think it was the fifth time interviewing him. And he's one of the most prolific sales authors, and he wrote an entire 300-page book on virtual selling. Now, what was interesting, though, is it's like he snuck in a really good sales book under the guise of virtual, but it included all the other things you need to be doing, like getting on the phone and all these other kinds of things. But the other thing that was so interesting about his book is that everything that we're doing in this pandemic from a sales standpoint, virtual selling, we're still going to be doing four years from now. We may still get to go visit people. But I think that a lot of people are thinking we don't need to go see a prospect as soon as they express some interest; maybe a little later in the sales process. The idea of, let's get the team on the airplane and go meet these people. No! Maybe further down your sales process, but there was another book -- back to Marcus --he wrote a book called A Visual Sale with Tyler Lessard from Vidyard. And it was one of those books where you just can't argue with the logic. And he just explains, look, this is working really well, getting on a Zoom call, and you can use video to make buying from you much easier than people realize, I think.
Joshua Feinberg: Once investors and board members get wind of the fact that so many deals are able to close without getting the team on a plane and spending 10, 20, 30 grand to go out and do an in-person pitch, that's going to change the dynamics of it. Kevin O'Leary mentioned that a bunch of times also, that once he saw it actually work, are really people are going to go back to doing this? There may be a small sliver of your market that does need face time. The question is, does the client acquisition costs versus the lifetime value really justify it? And what's interesting is in the space we live in where you look at SaaS, sets the price point that HubSpot sells to small and medium-sized businesses. They knew eight or 10 years ago that it wasn't going to be a model that supported field sales. And part of the reason that I think they hit their tipping point with their ideal and that crazy trajectory they're on is they figured that out pretty early on, it's like there are natural demarcation points where a price point is so low that you really can't afford inside sales. And then there's a much wider band where you can afford inside sales, but you can't afford outside sales. You gotta wonder now, post-pandemic, how big the deal size, how big the lifetime value needs to be to justify still doing field sales, and instinctively, it probably feels like at least six figures. Somehow magically a lot of these deals in the five-figure range have been very closable over Zoom and e-signatures.
Douglas Burdett: Yeah. They've had outbound sales ever since the beginning. They have a whole floor of people doing outbound sales. And I often felt when I interviewed Mike Weinberg about New Sales Simplified, he is one of the several sales authors who is deeply irritated by people that promote this idea that you don't need to sell anymore. That customers will just come to you. Those deals will somehow close themselves, which is not true. Salespeople will always be needed, particularly good salespeople selling complicated things. And in that interview, I said outbound or HubSpot does outbound selling. And he wasn't aware of that. And he said, oh man, I appreciate you saying that because I'm going to be talking about that a lot, because not so much in his book, but when he goes out into the world, and he's giving talks, and he's doing training, that company kept coming up. Well, pretty quickly, he was able to say, look, guys, that's a fantasy that you're longing for, that people are just going to call you up and wire you money. You've got to have a sales team. It's why HubSpot has one.
Joshua Feinberg: Yep. Yeah. It does, inbound and outbound. The outbound fits really nicely with the account-based marketing and target accounts. At a certain size, I think it can be engineered with product-led growth where they have a $49 a month offering, or somebody buying Dropbox or Google apps or simple web hosting or something that, by necessity, almost needs to be something that people can self-serve on. And then there's a wider band at a few hundred or a few thousand dollars where you definitely need some figuring out. And that's the challenge for a lot of B2B tech companies I see, is that people are purchasing without being vetted and qualified. You could have a situation where someone signs up and they turn really quickly because they were never a fit in the first place. So shifting that responsibility to the sales team of making sure that they properly manage expectations of proper vetting and making sure that there's a smooth handoff from sales and onboarding and customer success, and ultimately the salesperson having some responsibility.
Douglas Burdett: I remember in Mark Roberge’s book, he talked about how they were wrestling with that. Oh, we're making the sales, but we're really churning more than we should. And as I recall, they were thinking, oh, what should we do? And they said, look, you're going to get some compensation when you make a sale, but you're going to get most of it, or at least half when they renew after one year. And he said it was almost like overnight, they were getting better customers.
Joshua Feinberg: Yeah. And I remember they engineered tracking into the product, and that's something that a lot of SaaS companies are doing now also, where they know that there's a certain usage where you've crossed the threshold and okay, you're 90% likely to stick now because vice versa, on the flip side, you're two weeks in, four weeks in, 60 days in, and you haven't hit that milestone, and you're not using the product at all. You're probably being extremely high risk. That's the whole idea too, where you have these annual payments or annual contracts. You really don't know if you're not looking at the product, whether you really have a healthy relationship or not. You can get fooled pretty quickly on the financial side. And the investors love that. But on the flip side, some of the product utilization isn't there. It's just masking the real problem.
Douglas Burdett: Yeah. And that's where a couple of books that have been on the show over the years were so interesting. One was The Membership Economy by Robbie Kellman-Baxter, and also like Subscription Marketing by Anne Janser and Subscribed by Tien Tzuo as well. What so many of the subscription-based companies are hopefully teaching the rest of the world is that it's not just about getting the customer. It's about keeping the customer. So a large part of their marketing is to their customers to make sure they can keep them. Even a non-subscription business would do well to pay more attention to their customers, keeping their customers, than trying to get new ones that are going to leave after a year.
Joshua Feinberg: So that happens in spades in the hardware and software business. You think about the entrepreneurs who started up their business 30 years ago in the heyday of people building out clients over networks and Novell network and things like that, and offices and selling a lot of routers and switches and servers that classical, traditional sales professional. A lot of them had a really hard time shifting to selling managed services and cloud services on a recurring basis because it was such a different diagnostic process, such a different exploratory process, and consultation process. It completely changed the dynamics of the skill set that would work. And what's interesting is that a lot of the attrition just simply happens because so many of the people that we’re hitting that inflection point were near retirement age. So some of it forced attrition with replacement. They weren’t going to hire somebody who is in their mid-twenties, or who's going to face the same resistance to, “Hey, I want to do it the same way I've done this for the last 30 years of my career,” but there've been interesting challenges to watch all of that map and the consumerization of IT, and a lot of IT decisions being shifted out the line of business managers throughout organizations; decentralized IT changed the dynamics.
Douglas Burdett: Yeah. And it may seem like a subtle difference, but it's an enormously different mindset. They were actually having to pay attention to their customers. So yeah, that's a very interesting thing. And you're going to probably see more and more subscription-based products. There's even, in the book Subscribed, which is really well done, they talked about earth-moving equipment. You can buy subscriptions to earth-moving equipment. So in other words, I think Caterpillar is doing it, and they realized -- you still buy their equipment if you want, if it makes sense for you -- but with a subscription, you have to think doubly hard about what it is that people are buying from us. They're not buying a subscription, they're buying a solution to a problem. So in the case of these massive earth-moving companies, these were companies that were buying these big vehicles. They were paying to have earth moved, and they knew how much they needed moved. So they just bought a subscription saying, “We want this many cubic yards of earth moved every month,” and Caterpillar was like, “Sure, we'll have everything for you. Just pay us a subscription, and we will move that earth for you. And we'll do it on time. And you don't have to worry about equipment. You won't have to worry about employees. You don't have to worry about insurance. You just pay us.” I just thought that was fascinating. The things that people are subscribing to now.
Joshua Feinberg: CFOs love to talk about -- and even the salespeople that sell this type of business model love to talk about shifting from capital expenditures, cap-ex, to operating expenditures, op-ex, because there are all different implications to how you measure and think. A lot of the seeds for this were getting planted as software as a service and cloud services became more popular. But I just heard Dell talking about this a few months ago, too, that they envisioned that the whole future of the company will largely be people subscribing to hardware as opposed to purchasing hardware. So it'll look more like a car lease to a certain degree with certain end of life and certain refresh cycles. Some of the phone plan companies have already shifted to that, where you're paying monthly with a guaranteed refresh, when you realize that, oh, wow. My iPhone is two years old. That's really ancient. Now, of course, I want the new one. And instead of having to buy it, they just have you pay a fixed fee per month and they'll take it back, they'll refurbish it, they'll do something else with it and get the new iPhone model.
Douglas Burdett: Yeah. They're selling connectivity. They're not selling phones.
Joshua Feinberg: Different business. Jobs to be done.
Douglas Burdett: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah.
Joshua Feinberg: Pulling this all together: Where do you think B2B as a focus for companies is headed in the next two, three, four years? What do you think we're going to look back on now and realize that something dramatic had changed that flipped the switch that really made such a big difference on how companies were selling to other businesses?
Douglas Burdett: For the rest of our working years, it's going to be interesting to see the aftereffects of the pandemic. What changes did it speed up? Like you were talking about, education, healthcare. Do you need to travel three hours to see the doctor if you're feeling fine, but they wanted to follow up with you? So, I guess from a B2B marketing standpoint, one of them we already talked about is the way that I think customers are going to be more inclined to want to get with you on a Zoom call than have you come to see them. Do you know what I mean? Can we just meet that way instead of having you come out here? I think people are going to expect that more. I think also when we're so awash in content, and there are so many distractions, and we're able to tune out so much more than we used to every month, we can probably tune out more things that we don't want. I think the silver lining here is that companies are realizing that they really do have to focus more on the true motivations of their customers and what's interesting to their customers ‘cause they're getting tired of being invisible. So if all they're talking about is their products and their services it’s just not really the way to go. It's focusing more on the customer. The most successful companies and this is recurring through so many of the books that I've read, the most successful companies are the ones that understand their customers just a little bit better than their competitors. And when they do understand them, a couple of things happen. One is your breakthrough because you think, oh they get me. They actually understand what I'm doing. And you sense that they're empathizing with you. But also when you understand your customers just a little bit better than your competition, you don't have to be perfect at this. It's like what you were talking about earlier; they will start to tell you what you need to do to be successful. And that kind of brings to mind another book, Content Inc, by Joe Pulizzi, where he talked about all these companies that built an audience first. And then basically they were told, this is what I want. This is what I need. It's hard for companies to do, believe it or not. Empathy seems to be the hardest, yet the most important word in marketing and sales because humans are self-oriented. But I think that more and more people might start to understand that it also brings to mind that notion you had about the IT guys that have been there for 30 years. Maybe some more folks are gonna retire. And some, maybe some younger people will come along, more digital natives who just understand the fallacy of taking the old approach. There was a book on the show a while back called Sell the Way You Buy. It was by an ex-Salesforce guy who was a sales manager. And he was telling people to do a certain thing. And then he realized he hated it when people were doing it to him. So he changed it all up and realized that not only were what people were doing was wrong and irritating, it wasn't really very successful. So I think there are more people that are going to start to understand that. So I don't know. The only thing I know about the future is that everyone will have flying cars. Entire meals will come in pill form, and the world will be ruled by damn dirty apes.
Joshua Feinberg: Back to the Future or the Jetsons.
Douglas Burdett: I should disclose that I'm quoting Austin Powers. That was his prediction of the future. And actually every year, there are people that write these blog posts, like, what are your predictions for the next year? And I always respond with that, and they never come back to me again because I just don't think these prediction roundups are always very helpful, but It's an interesting question. I think a lot of people aren't asking about that, but I think that people, the most successful companies are going to be the ones that are better at using technology to connect on a more human level.
Joshua Feinberg: Bezos mentioned that a few times in interviews that when it comes to his daily routine, he's not working on what's going to make or break Amazon's quarter now. He’s working on what's going to be relevant to Amazon's performance 24, 36 months out, and that’s great for companies to have that luxury. And I guess it really depends on where you are with your competitive positioning and size and capital and what the role of a CEO looks like. And being able to read the tea leaves, the customer insight, and think about the future with entirely new business models.
Douglas Burdett: Another thing that he has said, I've seen him quoted as saying he doesn't know what's going to happen in the future; he’s pretty candid about that. But what he's said that he tries to focus on are what are the things that aren't going to change? And that's worked really well for him. Like people want low prices, they want fast delivery, they want guarantees, they want a more frictionless experience, which could be free returns or one-click buying or whatever, but he's found it really helpful to also try to focus. Obviously, you want to see where things are going, but what are the kind of universal truths that customers aren't going to change? And those are, I think, largely things that go back to our prehistoric brain days, some of the most basic human motivations.
Joshua Feinberg: Trust is a big one. There will still be a barrier for businesses, for generations to come. And if anything, it will be harder and harder for companies to overcome it.
Douglas Burdett: Yeah. Yeah. Very true. And it's like one of those questions that people could ask internally at a company, is this decision we're about to make, is that going to build trust or subtract trust from our prospects and customers? Is it going to add to, or detract from their customer -- their opinion of dealing with us or the experience.
Joshua Feinberg: Part of the bank account.
Douglas Burdett: Yeah. Yeah.
Joshua Feinberg: Friends either give you points or take away points. Whether you know about the analytics that goes on in people's brains of how they make decisions and how they navigate their choices.
Douglas Burdett: Yeah, that's true. Was it Vince Lombardi, I think it said there's no such thing as being on time; you're either early or you're late. I saw this in a book that talks about the same concept, which is there is no such thing as meeting customer expectations. You're either exceeding them or you're not exceeding them. You're not meeting them. I thought that was an interesting idea.
Joshua Feinberg: Customer expectations are going to continue to increase. People expect companies to have superpowers, everything that they've experienced on the customer side, they'll eventually demand on the business side, and they just have to wake up to the importance of customer CX.
Douglas Burdett: Yeah. Folks may have heard of the thing called the Amazon effect. There was a book on the show called Marketing to the Entitled Consumer. Dave Franklin, who lives in Palm Beach, ex-Forester guy, great book. And he talked about what you just said. They said that regardless of what your industry is doing, don't pay attention to what your competition is doing because your competitors may suck. If they have a good experience with some other industry, they expect it from you. Whether you can do it or not. Like for instance, you buy something and you expect an email update saying, we've got your message. We've got your order. Or we finally shipped your order and it is going to arrive that day. Just simple things like that. Don't make them go and chase that. And all these other companies are like, yeah, nobody else does that. That doesn't matter. Your customer has experienced something good elsewhere. They want that from you now. And I think there's a lot of things that have happened in this pandemic where people are thinking, why can't you bring it out to my car? You brought my meals out to the car. Why can't you bring a couple of bags of sod or whatever out to my trunk?
Joshua Feinberg: We mulched last weekend and my sister and brother-in-law were shocked that it's possible to get a pallet of mulch delivered to the house. And yes, it's possible to get a pallet of mulch delivered. It's probably for unskilled, relatively unhandy folks like ourselves. If you can move the bag and cut it open with scissors and dump it and rake it, you’re 90% of the way there to being able to self-mulch. But, yes, these are things you can do on your phone.
Douglas Burdett: Now you've added to my weekend list. Yeah. Gosh. Because I'd always thought, oh, I don't want to carry those things. And otherwise, you have to hire a company and they dump a big pile of it on a tarp on your driveway. That’s interesting. That probably works out even better for the seller because they're saving on space. And it's a high volume -- it's a high dollar purchase too.
Joshua Feinberg: We would have probably had to make four or five trips back and forth to the store to pick up 10 or 20 bags at a time to get it all done, and interestingly, it’s totally contactless. But yeah, these are all just -- our car came up for lease, came up for renewal. It was done a hundred percent without going to the showroom anymore. I guess it helps that we've stuck with the same dealer year after year. So there was that trust already, but yeah, it was all, everything was all done, and it was just delivered to the driveway, and we signed the papers in the driveway.
Douglas Burdett: Okay, so now you can expect that every time.
Joshua Feinberg: It definitely changes perception. Cool plugs. Thanks so much for joining me for this episode; it has been super informative. I think you gave a tremendous reading list to our listeners to build their shelves and virtual shelves and keeping up with best practices for what it means to be successful with marketing and sales. I know you're active on LinkedIn. Is that the best place for someone to connect with you or follow more about you?
Douglas Burdett: I go on LinkedIn probably more than anything else. I go on Facebook and Twitter just to see if somebody left a message. In fact, I have a Chrome plugin on Facebook called Newsfeed Eradicator for Facebook, which erases the newsfeed, but I can go in. Because that's very seductive. They’re very smart people on Facebook. They want to pull you in; it's blank. It'll have a quote from Maya Angelou instead. But I can see when somebody leaves a message, but on LinkedIn, Douglas Burdett. But what I was going to suggest was that, as I say to my listeners, if I can help you from having to read 350 books by recommending like one or two that might scratch the itch that you have, please get in touch with me on LinkedIn, where we can chat, and I'll do my best to send you a link to an interview about a book that I think might help you or when I haven't interviewed the author or any other kind of resource. And the only thing I ask is please include a message. Say something like, I saw you on Joshua's show. Let's connect. That's all I ask because I'm getting what seems to be an awful lot of spam LinkedIn connections on LinkedIn these days. Maybe LinkedIn will figure that out, but if I can help point you to that, otherwise you can go to marketingbookpodcast.com, and I think it's funny, it's on HubSpot, naturally. I think it only goes back to the last 200 episodes. You can't hit a button and see all of them, but yeah, either LinkedIn or Marketing Book Podcast. I'm on Twitter, I'm @marketingbook, but if I can help folks find the right book or resource, do connect with me on LinkedIn and I'll see what I can find; I can write a book prescription. Even in this conversation, you would bring up an idea or a concept and I'd say oh, in this book they talked about this or that. My grandfather and uncle were pharmacists, and maybe it's genetic. Because like, I want to write a prescription. I want to write book prescriptions for people. It's oh no, I know just the book you need to read right now. So I enjoy doing that. So if any of your audience wants to do that, I'm happy to connect.
Joshua Feinberg: That’s the repositioning of every aspirational, trusted advisor and professional is the doctor/patient relationship. You ask your prospects what their symptoms are, and you prescribe, you identify, connect, and explore before you advise as opposed to showing up and demoing first.
Douglas Burdett: Yeah. Yeah. Which reminds me of the -- I still go to sales training once a month, once a week. They can't get rid of me now. I reached a certain point at sales training where I didn't have to pay anymore. And now I've probably gone, gosh, maybe over 15 years now, but it's a great class and there's a joke I've heard where the guy goes to the car dealership, and they say, “Hi, what brings you here?” The person says, I'd like to buy a car,” and the salesperson says, “Have I got the car for you!” No question. No diagnosis, nothing. You're not supposed to do that, in case any of your audience doesn't know that so well. Good. It's great. Great catching up with you. I hope things go well with the show. Let me know how I can, what I can do to help promote it.
Joshua Feinberg: Sure, I appreciate that. Thanks so much, Douglas. Appreciate it. Take care. Stay safe.