Too often, sales development reps are tied up chasing leads instead of being able to qualify them. The ability to structure the marketing/sales lead generation in a more efficient and effective way is the key to creating the opportunity for exponential growth. A key that Scott Logan holds as the VP of Marketing for Kronologic.
Scott has spent 15 years in both B2B sales AND marketing roles and 7 years building high growth demand gen teams from the bottom up. His experience in both marketing and sales has given him the insights that have led to developing improvements for the lead gen and sales process, insights he shares with listeners, including:
- How to establish a feedback loop between sales and marketing
- How to break the early-stage sales bottleneck
- How to uplevel the skill set of your entire sales team
- And more
Scott also shares Kronologic’s Calendar First™ sales engagement methodology. Listeners are invited to try it for themselves and see the difference it can make in removing the pain points of connecting with prospects. Don’t miss out!
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 their personal brand. I’m your host, Steffen Horst. The topic for today’s episode is how to generate exponential growth. Here to speak with me is Scott Logan, who is the VP marketing at Kronologic, an AI powered software solution that helps companies book revenue meetings. Scott has spent the last 15 years in b2b sales and marketing roles at mid to enterprise software companies and the healthcare, customer experience and sales engagement industries. The last seven years, he spent building high growth demand gen teams from the bottom up, and leading overall revenue growth initiatives including direct channel and influencer marketing. Scott, welcome to the show.
Scott Logan: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Steffen: Now, Scott, before we start talking about how to generate exponential growth, tell our listeners a little bit more about yourself. How did you get started in your career? How did you end up in marketing?
Scott: Yeah, well, my original degree from university was in film studies and cinematography. So you could say that it started there where I somewhat had a degree in storytelling. Studying all sorts of movies from all over the place, everywhere in the world, over the course of history, and why they’re significant in different cultures and, and really learning the art of telling a story. So you may look at a resume that says film studies and think, well, that’s worthless. In marketing, it really hasn’t been, but it’s been beneficial for me. So from there doing that for a couple years, and finding out that that life is a very, very challenging one, but very fun, I moved into sales, because you don’t necessarily need a degree in anything to go into sales and be good at it. And then I found the struggles of, you know, living commission based pay and and, you know, quarter to quarter living and dying on the highs and lows. And I thought, wow, this is really stressful.
But I love the adrenaline rush you get from it, what’s the happy medium here. And then I found in the early 2000s, the world of demand gen that was just starting out as as one of the mainstream ways to, for a corporate, you know, b2b market, go to market segment and work my way through marketing operations that actually had an SDR BDR role as a component of it, because there was no such thing as a BDR. And we were driving these leads and a full cycle sales rep that has a 18 month to two year sales cycle doesn’t want a webinar lead. So why don’t you qualify it marketing operations. And so we became SDRs, as well. After about four years of that, I then moved into being a campaign manager for demand gen, and just climbed the ranks of demand generation to leading full marketing teams over the next 10 years.
Steffen: What was so interesting for you about the entire topic of lead generation and obviously pushing them through to sales? Did you see something there? And where you thought, hey, you know what, that might not be ideal. And there might be ways to improve that process?
Scott: Yeah, well, it was in ’08 that I started doing the marketing operations component. And we had just, I was at UnitedHealth Group and we, on the software side, we just bought a marketing automation system. And they were experimenting to see well, can you actually drive revenue with marketing, instead of just running a branding exercise? I originally took the job because I thought, wow, well, the branding and storytelling part of marketing is really fun. And if I can be connected to sales, that would be you know that, I would stick with that love that I found as a full cycle sales rep.
And then that really amplified my interest in demand gen, because we were at that time, literally inventing what it meant to make the lead from a marketing piece of content and turn it into a sales opportunity. SiriusDecisions had just launched their waterfall metric, maybe a couple years before that. And this whole landscape was so new and so fun and interesting. And we were going to conferences to learn all these tactics that have never been tried before. And it was awesome in the amount of impact as everything matured. And I’ve and I’ve matured in my own knowledge of it over the course of the next several years, showed that you know, marketing is a massive revenue driver for the business, not just this branding and logo and website exercise.
Steffen: Now, when I talk to companies, there always seems to be kind of a disconnect between marketing and sales. What is what is your experience as it relates to that? And if you’ve seen similar things, how, how do you go about it to avoid that there’s a disconnect between those two departments.
Scott: Yeah, I think that me starting as a sales rep, and then holding a marketing operations role that was also an SDR role at the same time where I was building out automation campaigns, at the same time that I was connected to an Avaya switch answering phone calls from my webinars and email replies from our forms, because at the time people still called you from, from an event, and you would do some outbound calling as well, I found that if you’re not connected to sales, there’s no way any of this can happen. Because I lived both sides of the exact same time, that was kind of a stroke of luck in my career, to be able to say, wow, I know the operation side, I know what actually has to happen, what a sales rep actually needs to make a quality conversation happen when they get a lead. So when I went to join a contact center software company, nice in contact, it was just in contact at the time, I told myself, you know, I’m going to spend half of my time with sales.
I’ll spend like three fourths of that two thirds of that time with the SDRs, because they’re the ones who are going to be handling my leads. And I’m going to spend another third or fourth of my time with the AE’s that are closing the deals. Find out what what are the talk tracks that are most effective when an SDR is making a phone call? What are the benefits that an AE are actually getting a deal signed, because of when when they actually turn your leads into revenue. And by doing that, and finding small little ways to change our subject lines to the core message of a presentation to actually what information and how the information gets delivered to the rep, is really where I was able to accelerate things more than I think maybe some of my peers in other companies because of that, that background that I luckily fell into where I was in in all those shoes at the same time at one point.
Steffen: Were you able to establish kind of a feedback loop where those kinds of information were fed back to you through technology, for example?
Scott: Yeah, through technology, definitely. Because, you know, as a contact center company, we had call recordings, that wasn’t such a commonplace in sales as it is now. So we were able to listen to those call recordings. I also just had my own headset, and I would pop over to the SDR team and click into someone’s phone, we still had desk phones at the time, and click into their phone and just listen to calls for a few hours and hear what’s being said. So that was an immediate feedback loop. I also was in the sales meetings, marketing had never up to that point, really been interested in joining sales meetings. So I would go into the field sales reps meetings, the inside sales reps meetings, and I was in almost every SDR meeting, even the daily ones for the SDRs. And I went in there to say, hey, I’m going to listen, I may have some things to announce to you from time to time that can help with the leads that are coming across or getting some campaigns planned with you.
But if you aren’t complaining to me about something, you’re not being honest with me. So don’t feel like you have to have, you know, special filters on what you’re saying. Because if I can’t hear what your day to day complaints are, I can’t change anything to make your life better. So I immediately disarmed the entire room from the very first time I stepped in. And I would remind them from time to time, maybe once a quarter or so that, hey, I’m not hearing enough complaints from you. I need to know what it is that we need to adapt. And I think that those types of engagements and those types of seemingly small statements to make, really allow that communication flow to happen more frequently and more fluidly.
Steffen: So with the feedback that you receive from the sales side, what parts of your marketing activities did you adjust?
Scott: Yeah, so a lot of times what a marketing team will do is they’ll just look for, say, ads and content to see what messages are being searched on Google. And, you know, if you can find out if the right people are searching those terms like your target audience, because that’s kind of hard to do sometimes, then you would just base everything that you’re doing off of that. But what if you didn’t know if that aligned to what is actually happening on the phone because you’re a very niche solution with a very niche audience? Or even if you aren’t that niche, the search results that you may be driving your campaign efforts on might not be aligned with the actual conversations happening on the phone. You can also look at what’s being presented at these conferences to stay ahead.
So whatever your industry conferences are, don’t put yourself in a position to where you’re only just in the booth or in the virtual booth or pushing your own content. Attend the sessions, have your product leaders, attend the sessions, have your folks who are doing the content writing, join the sales team in the field marketing team, to attend some of the sessions and actually learn to see, you know, what are the powerhouse companies in your industry that are buying software concerned about? And educate them. Try not to live in a bubble and know that a lot of these marketing efforts have more benefit to your team than just, you know, driving a lead from a scan.
Steffen: That makes sense. Now, today’s topic is about exponential growth. From your perspective, what is preventing companies to actually achieve exponential growth?
Scott: Yeah, so on this note, I think that ABM has matured quite a bit. And that has provided us a lot of growth and a lot of efficiency of our own processes and making our spend much more effective making ROI a lot higher. So that has helped. Before that just creating a solid demand gen flow that intertwines sales and marketing, through the technology. And you know, maybe implementing some best practices is a benefit there on how to work with them. But we’re still hitting a wall, we’re still looking at single digit conversion rates on lead to, on lead to discovery call. We’re still experiencing these, you know, having to have an SDR team become lead chasers. When I was first in SDR, I wasn’t necessarily a lead chaser. I would take the leads that were coming in from these events, from these webinars from any content downloads, and you would have a pretty high success rate with just one or two attempts to get them on the phone and get them connected to a sales rep.
Well, now everybody’s doing this extremely well. There’s so much content out there that the value add discussion component of an SDR is maybe only a fraction of what they do. And an SDR now is more so a lead chaser going through nine to 20, some step 14 day sequences just to get a hold of someone. I mean, there’s a stat from TOPO, which is a sales consulting agency or analyst agency that was acquired by Gartner just this last year. And one of their stats was it takes 12.7 phone calls to connect with someone, and it takes 22 to 30 phone calls to actually get that valuable discovery call to have happened. Because there’s so much touch and go. You’re calling people when they’re not expecting it. Emails are getting buried like crazy. And it’s just really hard to get ahold of someone.
So that’s become mainly a lot I mean, some SDR teams you’ll talk to, and that’s all they do. They don’t even have like that value add part built into it, because it’s so hard just to get the meeting. And even when you do have a system that you think works and you think scales, you’re still only getting 20 to 30 ish, you know, it could range up or down depending on your quality and your audience and your your price point. But, you know, you may only be getting 20 to 30 meetings, booked at most per month per rep. And that’s at the high end like that’s when you’re attaining your goal. I’ve never seen an SDR team where more than 20% are actually hitting that maximum goal that that they’re going for.
And so if you need more leads, you can just dump more money and more content into producing exponentially more leads. But it literally takes more people at only a growth rate of 20 to 30 meetings per month, which does not match the coin operated version of how fast marketing can scale. And you get a certain point where the headcount mixed with the hiring process mixed with the turnover of an SDR. It just doesn’t scale anymore. And you create this massive stage one and stage two even maybe qualified lead bottleneck that right up until recently, which is why I moved to Kronologic is just a massive struggle point.
Steffen: Yeah, it’s like what we discussed prior to recording. It’s not about more leads. It’s about the quality of the leads that are being generated. That’s what the focus should be. Now, where does sales engagement platform fit in into this into the situation where, you know, just just hiring more people that get 20 to 30 you know, engagements in place, is not the solution.
Scott: Yeah. And I think technology has made those folks be able to attain those goals, though, you know, based on the amount of time in a day and, and everything that’s going on with people’s lives, and you’re still capped at that 20 to 30. Even when you have those tools that prioritize call email, call LinkedIn connection, you know, LinkedIn message, call, call voicemail, direct mail. You know that those touch points still have to be processed, and it’s very timely. So we actually think that it’s not necessarily the model that’s broken, per se, because a sales dev rep typically still has to have some kind of a verbal qualification call.
So then the question becomes, how do I get my sales development rep to spend most of their day in those discovery calls? And instead of having 20 discovery calls every month, how can you have 20 discovery calls every week? How do you take the lead chasing component out of their world altogether, and have them just in those calls. And a tactic that many sales reps have used for a very long time is something that we found, we should actually create a methodology around, because it works far beyond what you would initially think. And that’s sending a calendar invite as the first point of engagement. We actually call it the calendar first methodology. And when you send a timely and tailored meeting invite, right at the time of their engagement, whether it be a case study download, or a webinar just ends or they attended your session at a trade show.
Right then they get a calendar invite that in the subject line describes exactly why you’re reaching out not Steffen and Scott intro Stephen Scott sync, Stefan and Scott and then that’s it. It’s, you know, an IT security assessment review meeting, per you know, IT security global trade show. And then in the body of that, you would write the agenda of what value you’re actually going to add and what you’re going to discuss in that meeting. That way the person sees it, it’s immediately relevant, because they just got out of that session, or they just downloaded that case study or they just, you know, engaged with you in some way. And you can then send a follow up email, which you know, is the best practice here right after that invite gets sent to give additional context.
Maybe drop a link or two to a couple assets, say I propose this time for you for us to meet about this and this. We saw your interest was this this and this. Is something you’d like to discuss. Now, you’ve done one action, that’s very timely, and the other person can just one click accept that meeting invite. They don’t have to open an email and reply to it. They don’t have to answer a phone call that they’re not expecting. They don’t have to, if you use a link based scheduler, open a open an email, because the subject line was so good, read the email and be so you know, impressed by the copy that you then click a link at the bottom, and then do the work of an SDR by opening both your calendars.
You’re the one going back and forth. It’s like a seven step process, usually including a form submission at the end, to book that discovery call. A lot of people abandon that and or don’t even do it because it just puts the relationship on the wrong foot to put it in the words of one of our customers. So we feel like that model is a model that is more customer centric, that requires less effort by the prospect. And if you’re not doing this cold, which we never suggest and doing it at the point where you’d normally send a lead to a rep to cold call, you’re seeing two to four times the conversion rate than you normally would see when you do that practice.
Steffen: So basically removing some of the pain points that the process usually have, right? I mean, in the past before we had scheduling programs, you would say hey, you know, I’m available next Thursday between X and X, X and Y. Or on Wednesday between those times right. Now that we have scheduling or calendar apps, you can say hey, pick a time on my calendar. As you said someone still has to click the link has to look at when that person is available has to bring up their calendar and has to basically make sure that you know they are able to find a spot that works for both of them now. How are you eliminating that step? That step that someone has to kind of look into their own calendar to identify whether they are available or not?
Scott: Yeah. So just to frame it too, you are sending the actual invite. So it doesn’t come across as an email. It’s an invite that lands on their calendar, which they see because everyone looks at their calendar multiple times a day for what meetings that they have, and it’s very visible. And it shows up in your inbox differently as well. And it stands out that way. So you’re not getting buried in emails, like you would even if you had proposed times automatically built into your email. So that, for one, allows the awareness of your message to just stand out front and center. Two what we found is that, on average all of our customers together, and some have even higher than this, but 80% of the time, this is over 10s of 1000s of meetings that have been booked through through some of our customers, or through our customer base, 80% plus of the time, the meeting that you propose, like just picking a time that works for you, is going to be a time that works for them when it’s two to five, two to six, two or more days out.
And I would suggest everybody just do this in their own daily work. We have a calendar first mindset in our own company where never say, well, what time works for you? Or is there a time that works for you? Literally look at your calendar, find the time that works for you, and propose it to someone, just do it today. And you’ll find that maybe two thirds, three fourths of the time or more, you’re going to see that that time does work for the other person. And they’ll say, yeah, sure that works. And up to 90% of the time, it’s just gonna take just one extra back and forth. So like an extra 15 to 20% of the time, you’re going to just have one exchange and you’re done.
So if you just propose a time, and depending on the audience, you’re going out to, depending on the their role in the company, and how busy those people typically are, you can you can propose that maybe a week out or four days out. But most of the time when you just select a time into the future, and does that work for them, they’re gonna say yes. And so that’s really where the magic happens is that works. And so what you’ll do is even when you do this manually, I’ve had sales teams before I was able to use the software, just say I want to prove this model. It was a couple years ago, I had been introduced to this model before, and I just grabbed five different lead sources. And I told five different SDRs okay, you go after ghosted demos, you go after content downloads, you go after webinars, and there’s a trade show coming up next week do this for those.
And it was maybe two dozen, three dozen leads, each one tried it on. The worst conversion rate that we had from that, basically, three to four week experiment was double the conversion rate. That was content downloads, we went from like a 3% conversion rate to a 6-ish, 7% conversion rate on just white paper downloads. When it was a ghosted demo, we converted those at like 90% because the person didn’t want to meet, but they also don’t want to be lead chased, if they can’t show up. And then it’s just annoying to get back in touch with a rep. And so when you just propose a new time, especially in that scenario, or say with a customer expansion, QBR cross sell opportunity, you’re going to get to like the 80-90% acceptance rate on some of those.
Steffen: Interesting. Now, how does this benefit the SDR?
Scott: Yep, so if you have an SDR team, where their primary goal is to just set appointments, and you are in a scenario where you haven’t hired people to hold qualification calls, then you’re going to have to try to use this technique is going to take so much, it’s going to be so efficient for them that they’re going to have to they’re going to be in those intro calls all day long when maybe you don’t want them to be right. Because you’re just going to be booking calls without talking to someone or booking discovery calls. However, if you can mature past that, or you have an SDR team like most SDR teams who actually do hold those qualifying calls, maybe a BANT call, MEDDIC call whatever you want to use for your qualification methodology.
They’re going to be in those calls, maybe two to three to four times more than they typically are today with far less effort on the front end. So what does this do for the SDR besides get them into more discovery calls? Like maybe for them personally. For them personally, you now have a rep that is much more, it’s gonna be much more easy for them to move into an AE roll. Today, if you have an SDR, that’s your best SDR. They book so many discovery calls that you can’t believe it. And you’re like, you know what, it’s time to promote people, they’ve been here over a year, they keep crushing their, their, their discovery call goals, but they’re not actually the ones running the discovery call. They just do a handoff to the AE. Well, then they don’t learn the skill set that they need to actually provide value and discover what’s wrong.
And they may be on that call listening, maybe for a few minutes or for the whole thing. But until you actually do it, you won’t get put in the spot to actually train yourself on how to navigate those conversations. So it gets them into a position to where they are much more successful when they move into that AE role. Because that value added discovery discussion becomes more than just, you know, BANT. All of a sudden, you’re doing this more and more often you can get better at it, because that’s all you’re doing. You’re not having to split your time between, hey, do you want to meet, and having that call. Where most of the time, the majority is, hey, do you want to meet, and so you just up level, the entire skill level of your team.
Steffen: Interesting, interesting. Now, just to just to be clear, the leads still have to have a certain level of quality for, you know, for sales to come out at the end of this entire process. Like this, this activity is for setting up those discovery calls, which determine whether that’s, for example, a good fit for a company’s software, product, or services. So if the lead quality is not high enough, there might be a number of, or an increase in discovery calls. But that still doesn’t impact their bottom line positively.
Scott: Yeah, and that’s absolutely right. The This is where the marketing team benefits. So the marketing team up to this point has been literally at the mercy of the SDR team to hit the number that they’re in charge of. They are one of the only teams in the entire business that isn’t in control of hitting their own deal and pipeline goals. All they can do is drive better quality. But sometimes they can’t influence the training, they can’t influence the team’s workload or priority. If they roll out if the SDRs roll up to sales, sales may say, well, you need to spend, you know, a third of your time on the marketing leads. And then the rest of the time on, you know, these other things, these accounts that we’re trying to go after, or these customers are trying to have retention calls with or, or whatever. And that may jive against what your needs and expectations are to be a successful marketing team.
So this is a world where using an automation platform to do this, like Kronologic. Which I’m not trying to plug us, I’m just trying to say that when you do have an automated way to do this, you then are finally in control of how many discovery meetings getting booked. Because it’s your messaging, the email and invite come from the actual rep. So it books on the rep’s calendar from the rep’s calendar, and you then finally can reach the lead potential you knew was possible from each one of your campaigns. So instead of saying, well, the SDR team is really at the mercy of us, or we’re at the mercy of them. But when we only throw over the quality, that’s not enough volume for us to be able to really drive the numbers we want because conversion rates are low.
So we throw everything over or we push all the even somewhat qualified leads over to the other side. Well, that just causes more distrust. It causes a bad feeling towards certain lead sources that you know are quality. But in order to get the ROI, the only thing you can think you can do because of your conversion is the throw more over, and that just creates, you know, it’s supposed to fix the problem, but it’s harder to meet the SLAs to follow up with everything and then causes more havoc for the SDR team, which you’re at the mercy of. So by doing it this way to answer your question, you are actually able to increase the quality, which lowers the volume because your conversion rates are higher. Now that you’ve increased the quality or you can finally stick to the quality that you want to on what goes over to the SDR team, because your conversion rates are are at greater volume, you’re getting those meetings booked within days after the download or after the event instead of weeks to get that motion going.
Like a 14 day sequence and then you get a hold of them but you can’t set the time and then it’s two more weeks and then you finally have a discovery call. So within days instead of weeks, you can see what you’re getting. And then you’re finally finally able to only pass through the best leads for your team. Like for us. We may have a 200 person 100 person webinar pass through the best 20 to 40 leads. And those will convert at 20%. And then they don’t the sales team never has to deal with the riffraff or the borderline qualified. And that’s really the power of the full cycle going through is making sure or finally having a mechanism to where you really do only pass over the best of the best and still hit your numbers.
Steffen: Yeah, yeah. Well, Scott, I love the idea about calendar first. That’s definitely something that gives me some initial thoughts on how we here can adopt that and improve our qualification at the end of the day. Also, thank you so much for joining me on the Performance Delivered podcast and sharing your thoughts on how to achieve exponential growth. Now, if people want to find out more about you, or Kronologic, how can they get in touch?
Scott: Yeah, so if you want to do the manual version and have a template for the manual version of calendar first, you can just go to Kronologic with a K. Kronologic.ai/calendarfirst, we have a blueprint there for you to see what the template should look like. What the timing should look like, what the invite should look like, what the agenda should look like. It’s a very specific agenda. What your email that follows the invite that goes out should look like and you can start doing this today, right away. And then please go there and start doing that. And then if you want to explore the actual automated side, so you know, after a show or an event, you can do all that calendar invites sending for the reps, then you can, you know, ask for a demo at kronologic.ai/demo. And, you know, you get to experience firsthand the automated calendar invite as you fill out that form. It’s kind of a double whammy. A demo and a demo at the same time.
Steffen: Perfect. Well, thanks everyone for listening. If you like 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