Everyone is looking for better ways to convert – and keep – prospects as customers. In this episode, we are pleased to welcome someone who has valuable insights into just that.
Scott King is the Head of Marketing at Krista Software, an intelligent automation platform company. Scott helps enterprise software companies build better content and tell better value-based stories that create life-long customers. His background in sales and current position in marketing gives him a unique take on the prospect conversion process.
Scott’s approach is all about authenticity, connection, and how marketing can better utilize feedback from sales. Listen in to discover:
- Next steps after identifying the target audience
- How can marketing build familiarity with prospects
- How should sales provide feedback to marketing
- And much more
This episode has takeaways for both sales and marketing leaders. And don’t miss his final secret – Why the best product doesn’t always win the deal.
Mentioned in this episode:
Voiceover: This is Performance Delivered. Insider secrets for digital marketing success with Steffen Horst and Dave Antil.
Steffen Horst: Welcome to the Performance Delivered Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success podcast, where we talk with marketing and agency executives and learn how they build successful businesses and personal brand. I’m your host Steffen Horst. The topic for today’s episode is how to convert prospects. Here to speak with me is Scott King, who is the Head of Marketing at Krista Soft. Krista Software produces Krista a modern Intelligent Automation platform. Krista empowers enterprises to leverage existing IT assets by building low cost automation applications. Scott helps enterprise software companies build better content and tell better value based stories. The stories use innovative content marketing and data visualization techniques so sales organizations convert and retain lifelong customers. Scott, welcome to the show.
Scott King: Hey, thanks, Steffen. Glad, glad to be here. Thanks for having me.
Steffen: Well, Scott, before we dive deep into today’s topic, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself. How did you get started in your career? And how did you end up where you are now?
Scott: You know how I got started? Let’s see I I went to school to study engineering. And I didn’t, I didn’t, I figured out that I didn’t want to do that forever. And so I changed my study to advertising very late in, in my studies, so I got an advertising degree. And then my first job was a sales job. And actually sold copiers up and down the streets in Dallas, Texas, after selling bicycles in in school. And then a friend of mine that I sold copiers with got a job at a software company and dragged me over there. And we were inside sales reps for selling software. And you know, we called executives on the phone.
And this is this is before LinkedIn, social media, this is before all the tools that we have today. So it was really tough. We, you know, we read 10k reports. That’s how we got all of our information. And I’ve been selling software ever since. And then probably about eight years after that, one of the leaders at the software company that I was the I was in, I was kind of a hybrid sales guy slash inside sales rep. I was basically selling everything by the phone. He’s like, hey, you get all this marketing stuff? Would you do marketing full time? Because it seems easy for you. So I said, sure. And I’ve been in marketing at software companies ever since.
Steffen: Interesting, interesting. Now, do you think that your background in sales, so that’s where you started off with, that it helps you now selling software?
Scott: Without a doubt. Because, you know, you really have to understand who your buyer is, and what they think and the issues that they have, and other projects that they may have. And, you know, you really have to understand their world in order to speak to them. You know, even meeting a new person, you look for some common ground, you look for, you know, some type of common thread to start a conversation. You know, in the States, we talk about the weather, which is not a great idea, right. Because not a lot of people are talking about the weather. But what we used to do is, we used to tell people where we were calling from, and in early days, we found that was really, really effective. We say, hey, this is Scott King, I’m calling from so and so from Dallas, Texas.
And then the the other person on the phone more times than not, oh, I used to live in Dallas, or I have a relative in Dallas. And so you know, just understanding your buyer and knowing how to start a conversation with a person because people buy from people, even though it’s technology or whatever you’re selling, people buy from people. So you have to figure that out. I think having having a sales job is invaluable for marketers, because they really haven’t had to do that. Right? So you can’t, you know, you don’t want to be creating things in a vacuum and not getting that feedback loop of it working or not. And I think that’s a lot of disconnect between sales and marketing organizations sometimes is, you know, the not everybody’s involved in the entire process.
So you don’t really understand what works and what doesn’t. And so the feedback cycles are pretty long. But you know, if you’re a sales guy, you can shorten it. And so I think it’s, yeah, I think it’s very valuable. And think most of the successful marketers were salespeople. I mean, look at all the growth CEOs. Like the CEO at a growth company is the first sales guy. So he needs that feedback for the product for the sales organization for the marketing organization. So, you know, if if marketers have a chance to listen to a sales call, participate in a sales call that that’s a very good idea. You need to be doing that.
Steffen: Yeah, yeah, I had a couple of conversations lately with marketing people that had been given the responsibility of sales as well. And then kind of, as you said, relabeled, to be head of growth, or something like that. And I think it’s a smart move. Because usually, you know, sales and marketing operate in their own silos. And they are not necessarily in worst case scenario, properly aligned, which leads to marketing sends a lot of leads, sales says, well, they’re all crap, they’re not good. We can’t convert them in marketing just waves their hands, says well, we send you leads, you need to bring them to the table and and have them sign a contract. And that’s where the disconnect quite often happens.
Scott: You know, I think it’s, it’s really the expectation, because from a marketing person going into sales in in, I only think that would work on, like smaller price products, stuff that you sell online, right? It’s a subscription, it’s 20 bucks, 30 bucks, 40 bucks a month, I think that would work. You know, my entire career, we’ve been selling items over $100,000. It’s a completely different mindset. So from a marketing perspective, I think, I think maybe you wouldn’t understand that the deal isn’t progressing as fast as it should. And then on from a sales perspective, looking at the smaller deals, you know, I think they would not expect the level of activity it takes, like, from a follow up perspective. You know, it used to take eight to 10 attempts to contact lead. Now in, you know, during the pandemic, and after the pandemic, and everybody’s working from home, takes like twice that long.
Takes, you know, 12 to 18 times, you know, attempts to talk to a lead or a prospect. So I think this just kind of the exercise is is kind of the misconception, right? That’s why in the Olympics, we have sprinters, and then we have long distance runners, they don’t go back and forth. If you look at a sprinter, like he’s, he or she is like stocky, they’re very muscular. And a marathon runner, you know, those ladies are skinny, right, it’s a completely different kind of muscle memory. So I think that is the disconnect. So I think, I think it works better in one situation over another. Like if there was four situations, you know, I would say that, uh, you know, a growth marketer could could easily get into sales, but a sales guy at a, at a growth marketing company, he could probably get into marketing. On big ticket items, it gets tough.
Steffen: Now you talked briefly about sales cycles. How do you approach you know, the feedback, or providing feedback from from sales to marketing and vice versa if you have longer sales cycles? I mean, as you said, when you have when you’re selling ecommerce products, right, it’s like a week, two weeks max, then there are some products that might take a month. But if you have six months and longer, it’s it’s really difficult to know what works if you start your marketing activity now. And and therefore, what are you going to do the next five, six months before you get real feedback?
Scott: Yeah, well, I mean, not, not every sales cycle stacks, like a deck of cards, right. So they don’t all start and stop at the same time. You know, throw a deck of cards across the room across the floor, and you got 55 or 52 cards. And, you know, they’re all spread around. So you try to group them. So you find all the hearts, and you work on all the hearts together and the clubs and the spades. And so you will group and you work on the groups, and they all really need the same thing, right? So you’re trying to convince your prospect to do something, whatever your product or service does. It has some value proposition. So you have to convince them to do that. So you need a set of content to really provide, you know, what your value proposition is on, like, why should you even buy this thing? Like, what problem do you have?
So you got to research all the problems across all your buyers. And so that’s, you know, that’s one feedback loop. You know, you’ll hear from, you’ll hear from different prospects, hey, do you have this problem? No, but I have this problem. Okay. Then you take the second problem back to the first guy. So that’s, you know, a lot of business leaders like to talk to salespeople because salespeople talk to a lot of other business leaders and they ask them hey, you know, what, what else do you talk about with with my competitors or adjacent companies or companies in my supply chain. You know, what do you what do you talk about?
And it’s been so much faster now, with social media, you can start a conversation with anyone about anything, almost. And then, you know, if you, if you convince them to do something, then you, then you have to convince them to do it, like when you want them to, right. So all the growth companies are driven by either quarterly or monthly or weekly metrics. And, you know, I gotta make my metrics and the metrics say, I got to do this, in order to have that that output or have a certain level of input to get output. So you got to convince them to do it now. So, you know, you have to provide a return on investment. You know, if you do this, this will happen. And the cost of doing nothing costs you this much per day, right?
So there’s a whole nother set of ideas and contents, and then then you have to convince them to do it with you, right? Then once they say, okay, yeah, we’re working to do this, and it’s a real project, then you have to say, well, you know, I’m the best guy or gal for the job. You know, from a feedback loop on how long it takes, you know, a lot of that time, you’re, you’re creating custom content for that customer, if it’s the first time you’ve heard it. And then you can leverage it later for other customers that that becomes kind of your lead gen engine is okay, this guy had this specific problem, I’m gonna write it down, create a piece, you know, write an article on it, and hopefully, somebody else has that same problem.
Steffen: Now, earlier, when we, when we started off this conversation, he talked about for sales, how it’s important to basically get familiar or become familiar with your prospects that you talk to on the phone. How do you do that, from a marketing perspective? How do you build familiarity, in order to start building a connection with your target audience?
Scott: Well, if you’re lucky, you already know somebody a friendly, that you can interview and ask them, you know, what it’s like. And hopefully, they’ll give you some honest feedback, if they’re, if they’re a friend, then then they will, for for younger people, that’s going to be tougher, right? Because, you know, from my perspective, like our ideal customer, is, is a 35 to 45 year old exec, you know, IT executive. Well, not everybody knows those people. They want to. So if you’re 25, it’s hard to know those people. If you’re in that age range, then those are, you know, those are your neighbors.
So you can you can, you can get in there and ask them and you know, if you know them, they’ll give you some honest feedback. Otherwise, it’s, you know, a lot has been written about how to create your ideal customer profile, and all that. And, and a lot of it, you know, hopefully, marketers aren’t developing that in a vacuum, they do have some research based on that. You can, you know, you can look at job postings too. Like, go to LinkedIn, and whoever you want to talk to go look at all the, the requirements for that job, and it’ll list like, you know, how they get measured, and things like that. That’s a good conversation starter, is because that’s what, that’s how they get their bonus.
So if you, if you call them and say, hey, are you measured on X, Y, or Z, and they’re gonna say, yes, like, we help that. We, you know, we help you with that problem. So, off the top of my head, that’s kind of what what I would do. But, you know, I had a good conversation with a friend of mine, who is a CIO, and, you know, I did an episode on my podcast, I forget what it was called, but basically, you know, understand, or how to live in their shoes or something like that. And, and he really laid out, like, you know, how to call on a CIO and how to get to a CIO, if that is one of your buyers. And it was, it’s really valuable. He validated a lot of our assumptions.
Steffen: Now, are there specific channels of for marketing, that you start off to, to identify prospects or to to start engaging with your prospects?
Scott: I mean, it’s starting gauging is, you know, you want to do some of it direct because then the feedback is, is directly to you. You know, partner channels tend to slow things down because they’re, they’re protecting their customer. Right. So, so their best interest is different than yours. You know, for me, speaking from a technology provider perspective, is you know, we have this fancy software that does these great things. And if I can have a conversation directly with a prospect, and he can tell me, okay, I like this, I don’t like this, does it do this?
You know, basically just have a conversation about it. From a partner perspective, they’re gonna ask different questions because they have different priorities, right from their revenue or margin or new customer acquisition. So, you know, from a channel perspective, yeah, direct. And how do you get direct, you know, you know, put up different landing pages, you know, do something like that, do tests, things like that, and then just kind of go after it. You know, I’ve always kind of been on the hand to hand combat with that doing direct marketing. So that’s, that’s, that’s kind of what I know.
Steffen: Yeah. So now, we’re obviously talking about how to convert your prospects. So you, you identify who your target audience is. You can define the target audience. You had a few conversations with a few people from your target audience. What are your next steps to get them to become a customer?
Scott: Well, you, you know, from, from an enterprise IT perspective, you have to make sure it works in their environment. So if they’re convinced, like, okay, yeah, I want to take a look at this, will it work in my environment? Every enterprise IT environment is different. They have a hodgepodge of technologies in there, spanned over several decades, you know, from, from the the latest chrome plug in to mainframes, you know, from the 60s and 70s, that are probably still on some of these banks. So will it work? And then if it works, you know, where do I go with it.
So okay, I validated that it works, is basically like, you know, buying a new car, you have to see if you fit in it. I’m not a relatively tall guy, so I fit in most cars, but if I was really tall, I’d have to make sure that I have to fit in the car first, and then I decide, you know, where I can go with that car. So it’s, it’s validating that, you know, there’s, there’s proof of concepts. A proof of concept, in enterprise IT is normally just validate that it works. A pilot is normally a smaller project that’s running in production, to build a, you know, a value proposition for a larger engagement or larger rollout, and then you, you put it into the hands of the practitioners.
And depending on what you sell, that could be, there could be different groups. You know, we’re providing automation technology. So it’s, you know, we’re putting in the hands of business analysts and process experts and things like that. So it’s, it’s, it’s a lengthy process, because these, these enterprises, they have technology that they’re trying to run and patch today. So you have to, you have to catch them, you know, you have to jump in the car while they’re driving it. So it’s, it’s difficult.
Steffen: Now, if you if you take your company, right, Krista Soft. So, again, once you identify all of this, how do you identify the people that you want to test drive your software, and then there’s always the situation when you have a small market, right, then you might be good to just call them up, for example. But if you have a slightly bigger market, where there also are several decision makers involved, it might not be possible to call up all the people, you might have to do some advertising. So how do you guys, Krista Soft, do that?
Scott: Well, you want to look at some commonalities of your customers. Either, if they’re in the same industry, and you solved a specific problem for, say, an insurance company. You know, call the other insurance companies and tell them what you’ve done at the, you know, at your customer. You know, sometimes there’s adjacent technologies, if, if I have one technology, then maybe my solution fits better with that. So with with us, you know, we’re looking at early adopters for Intelligent Automation. So with with those types of customers, they’ve already implemented robotic process automation software, or RPA software. And they’ve gotten to a point where they need to automate more things, but the software just technically can’t do it.
So you know, if they have that kind of technology, that is a good indicator that they may be interested in taking a look at what we do, because we basically introduce artificial intelligence to something that they’re, you know, that they’re used to doing. So since they, since they’re used to doing that they have a staff that researches that. They have practitioners that understand automation technologies and processes and things like this. So it’s, again, it’s kind of like finding that commonality. So it’s finding the same problem at other customers or adjacent technologies. Or you know, partners. I spoke earlier about partners If you if you pick a specific partner that has, you know, a solution set that you can fit into, then they’re going to have those groupings as well. And, and then, you know, hopefully you can, you can fit in there.
Steffen: Okay. Now, before you can convert a prospect, there’s always the fact of to convince that prospect to make a decision now, right? I mean, every prospect most likely, is looking at several solutions that are similar in nature or can do the job or can help them with a challenge they have. And to overcome that. How can you create that situation where they’re like, okay, I want to, I want to pull the trigger now. I want to make a decision now. The solution I’m looking at at the moment is the right one. How do you do that?
Scott: Well, I mean, you really have to explain, you know, you’re talking about doing it now. Like, how do you convince somebody to do it right now?
Steffen: Yeah, I mean, people are browsing, right. And as they go down the funnel, at some place, they have kind of narrowed down the companies they are considering as a solution for their problem. And but how can you basically get them to the point to say, you know, what your software is, or your product is the product I should go with. How can you help them make that decision?
Scott: Yeah, so if they’re already browsing, they’ve already decided to do something. And they probably already decided to do it now. They may have a project and there in lies kind of the difference between big enterprise IT projects and ecommerce stuff. So ecommerce, conversion rate optimization, all that stuff, you know, the text marketing tech stack wizardry is how do you capture that person, and get him in as soon as possible? So that’s, that’s one set of problems. It just has to be, you know, has to be compelling.
You know, from a, from an enterprise IT perspective, you really have to explain the cost of doing nothing. So we’re, you know, like talking to customers that the handle emails, for instance. So you can actually use artificial intelligence, to answer a whole lot of emails that come into your company. And these would be emails that come into aliases, like accounting at whatever, you know.com. Or billing or questions or info. Companies get 10s of 1000s of emails like that, a week. Well you can use AI and artificial intelligence to answer those. And so the value of of having a computer answer all those questions is about $8.
So if you, if you have a person answer a question via email to some other inquiry, billing inquiry, customer inquiry, it cost like $8. To have a machine do it cost 10 cents. So there’s a there’s an extreme ROI, on the cost of doing nothing, right? So every, every email cost to another $7.90 versus 10 cents. So count the number of emails, and that’s why you should do it now. If you have this kind of metrics, and you can look at that. That’s valuable. And then, you know, convincing you to do it with you is that’s a whole different exercise.
Steffen: Scott, is there anything before we before we come to today’s end? Is there anything in regards to converting a prospect that we might not have talked about yet or any, any secret sauce that you can share with the listeners?
Scott: Secret sauce, I think is just really authenticity, and which is not a secret sauce. And I think it just, you know, people forget about that people buy from people. And it’s more difficult now. I mean, we’re selling almost 100% digitally. There’s, you know, there’s not in person events because of the pandemic and everyone’s stuck at home and everyone is overworked, in over webinared and over podcasted right. Just the media consumption is is in is incredible. But you know, just be authentic, you know, be honest. Have your have your prospect trust you, you know, because anybody listening has purchased a, if you purchase something from someone, I mean, whatever it may be.
They may or may not have the best product, but you know, you trusted the organization or you trusted the salesperson, or, you know, they were, you know, more knowledgeable and more helpful with an inferior product that that happens all the time. The best product doesn’t always win. So I think just authenticity. Be honest. Always take the high road. That’s that’s kind of what I live by.
Steffen: Great. Well, listen Scott. Thank you so much for joining me on the Performance Delivered podcast and sharing your thoughts on how to convert prospects. Now if people want to find out more about you or Krista Soft, how can they get in touch?
Scott: I’m pretty chatty on LinkedIn. You can always find me on on LinkedIn, or my website. So all of my tags are The Scott King, so t h e s c o t t k i n g. So just put in Google The Scott King, and you’ll find me. Over at Krista Soft, so we’re kristasoft.com. And we are providing Intelligent Automation to anybody that anybody needs it. So yeah, reach out and, and have a question.
Steffen: Perfect. Well, thanks everyone for listening. If you liked the Performance Delivered podcast, please subscribe to us and leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application. If you want to find out more about Symphonic Digital, you can visit us at symphonicdigital.com or follow us on Twitter at Symphonic HQ. Thanks again and see you next time.
Voiceover: Performance Delivered is sponsored by Symphonic Digital. Discover audience focused and data driven digital marketing solutions for small and medium businesses at symphonicdigital.com