Traditional routes to market have been disrupted by digital media, ecommerce and the pandemic. So today’s sales teams and marketers are looking for more effective and efficient ways to collaborate. In this episode, Paul Pirozzola talks about three key elements that marketers can share with the sales team to generate higher quality leads and increase win rates.
Highlights From This Episode:
- Common challenges salespeople face
- Tips for marketers to successfully support sales teams
- Challenges marketers must overcome to better align with salespeople
- Marketing data that benefits sales teams most
- The role of market research in the evolving the sales/marketing landscape
Full Episode Transcripts
Paul Roberts: Hey. Welcome everybody to another episode of Lead(er) Generation by Tenlo Radio, a show where we help B2B and CPG marketers generate data that turns into money. With our host, Tessa Burg, the VP of user experience and technology strategy at Tenlo. Welcome Tessa.
Tessa Burg: Hello Paul, how are you?
Paul Roberts: I’m feeling very up-to-date and modern, even though I’ve let my beard grow long and I’ve got the Abraham Lincoln look here, making me a little dated looking here.
Paul Roberts: I know now what UX means in the script: user experience. I didn’t know that you were the vice president. I just thought you were the vice president of Up.
Tessa Burg: No. Today we have a really awesome guest who exemplifies what it means to do marketing and sales leader. He’s worked for over 20 years on both sides, in B2B manufacturing heading up sales teams and marketing teams. So he’s going to help us today talk about the three or maybe five, we don’t know, how many critical elements your sales team needs for marketing.
Tessa Burg: Paul Pirozolla is with us. Paul, thanks for joining today.
Paul Pirozzola: Thanks for having me Tessa. Thanks Paul for getting us all set up in this lovely meeting.
Tessa Burg: Paul, to get us started, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
Paul Pirozzola: Well, I’ve been in marketing and product management and sales for most of my adult life. I started off in a technical role, with a chemical focus coming out of college, but really moved quickly into sales and marketing. I’ve worked for large companies, primarily B2B, and really my passion has always been around creating value for customers, finding unique solutions through products and services to solve problems with customers. And then obviously being somebody that’s very interested in creating strong connections that are relevant and meaningful with customers.
Paul Pirozzola: I was born in the Mid-Atlantic states. So I grew up in Pennsylvania. I live in Cleveland now. Have a wife, we’re celebrating our 10 year anniversary next week and two small kids.
Tessa Burg: That’s awesome. Throughout your journey, both starting from that technical side and then moving into a sales team, where we’re at today, what are the big challenges that you see facing sales?
Paul Pirozzola: Most closely right now is obviously the challenges with COVID and really being able to see and have a visceral interaction with your customer. So many salespeople interact face-to-face. They do their business, especially in B2B, in a fashion where they’re meeting, they’re making presentations, they’re seen at trade shows, they’re interacting at their location and all of that’s now essentially on hold. So that visceral face-to-face interaction that salespeople have is becoming more and more challenging. And I think that’s one of the biggest challenges that salespeople have is being able to see their customers because ultimately that’s where the magic happens, as I always say. So right now, short term, the biggest challenge is getting an opportunity to spend time with them.
Paul Pirozzola: And then obviously the opportunity that comes out of this is how do they stay in front of their customer when they can’t meet them face to face? I think that ties into a lot of what we do on the marketing side, in terms of connecting content, connecting, having interactions that are relevant online, and also being able to utilize technology to bridge that gap between that face-to-face or lack thereof.
Tessa Burg: Yeah. So speaking of technology, do you feel like now a void has been exposed that maybe e-commerce or more digital competitors can move into, to maybe get in front of clients faster than the traditional distribution or trade show kind of relationship building channels?
Paul Pirozzola: I think so. I think now more than ever, the value that you get out of having a strong technology and digital platform is imperative for sales and commercial activity. I’m showing my age, but I remember starting in sales with a beeper and a laptop, and still had a Rolodex when we started in terms of selling. Now more than ever, when we think about social selling and LinkedIn and how many influencers are really driving the conversation. And as you know, in B2B space, a good portion of the discussions or decisions have already been made by clients before they ever talk to a sales person.
Paul Pirozzola: I think now more than ever, amplified with the restrictions that we have now with COVID, I think it makes technology even more impactful in the sales and marketing efforts, because it really does provide a vehicle to provide content, to demonstrate capabilities and obviously show relevant content that’s relevant to business discussion.
Tessa Burg: Yeah, I totally agree. So one of the things as a marketer that we’re being challenged with is how do we use technology and how do we better support the sales teams to still help them get in front of the right people? In your experience, what has marketing done well that they can build on right now to sort of step up and make the most of technology and digital channels? And what kind of metrics did you use to measure the impact of those efforts?
Paul Pirozzola: Great question. I think the thing that marketing has done particularly well over the last probably three to five years, probably a lot more than the last couple of years, is really understanding the customer journey. From understanding a capability for a product or service to the actual post-sales support. I think marketing has done a fantastic job in many organizations really understanding that customer journey and being able to codify it, create touch-points that are important to drive action at those various touch-points along the customer journey. And obviously the most apparent way of doing that is having a strong presence on the internet, whether it’s in a social setting or whether it’s around your website in your experience when you’re a customer. But that journey, I think marketers have done a fantastic job, and digital marketers in particular have really, I think, gotten their arms around all of the nuances of the customer journey as best as they can, generally speaking, when it comes to this sort of the customer journey.
Paul Pirozzola: Like anything, the challenge with today, especially in today’s world is staying authentic and staying genuine and staying close to your customer and certainly try to provide your story without coming off as disingenuous. It’s harder and harder now, I think, especially for salespeople, because there is a connotation that’s negative in and around salespeople on interacting. But the reality is, we’re all selling, whether your marketers, your operations, your accounting. In one way, shape or form, we’re selling our company and our products and services to clients. Understanding the journey, but also then helping staying genuine, whether it’s through the communication and messaging that we do as a company to our clients, the aftermarket or the after-sale support information, content, whatever it may be. All parts of it, making it as genuine as possible and genuine is a general term, but making it authentic, making it genuine, making it relevant to the customer, I think is a big part where there’s still effort that needs to be done, but I think that’s an area for opportunity.
Tessa Burg: That’s awesome. So one of the things that you said was, “It’s really important to have an online presence and web presence.” And something that we run into is still a lot of B2B companies specifically, or definitely in manufacturing and construction services, aren’t really sure what the role of the website should be. Or maybe, do they even need one? Because their sales teams are really strong and they’re selling through distributors. What is your perspective on that?
Paul Pirozzola: I have a lot of scars Tessa on this debate with salespeople and marketing people at B2B. So forgive me if it opens up some wounds. I think this is an age-old debate on B2B, you have to, as you know, take into consideration that B2B has always had a little bit of a chip on our shoulders in terms of the connection of the value of marketing. It’s been something that most B2B, especially industrial manufacturing companies, struggle with because of its relative newness and its relative uncertainty of what value it brings to the sales and commercial effort. There’s some of that already inherently involved.
Paul Pirozzola: But I think getting back to, how does that connect? I really think it comes down to marketing really figuring out the key things that are measurable and valuable to salespeople and staying vigilant about making sure that they’re connected with the salespeople in all shapes and forms, whether it’s through making it easier for people to find you on the internet. I mean, I had to simplify that sometimes in my journey as a B2B marketer. I’d ask, “Don’t you want your customers or your future customers to find you quickly on the internet?” And I use always a phrase that, “If you want to bury a body, put it on the third page of Google.” I mean, no one’s looking past the… You want to be easily found by not only your current customers, but your future customer.
Paul Pirozzola: So I think finding really simple things for salespeople to kind of grasp leads to them being more amenable to marketing efforts. So make it easier for people to find you, make it easier for your future clients to find you, making sure that when your customers are looking and comparing you with your competitors, that you’re showing your best light and your best story at the moment that they’re looking for that information. I think that keeping things in that perspective and that sort of general practical way really helps salespeople sort of get their arms around what digital marketers are doing and really the value they bring.
Tessa Burg: That’s awesome. I was actually taking notes since yes, I do get that question a lot. Just, “Mm, do we really need a website? Maybe we just paint it, just give it a nice new coat and it’ll be fine.” And it’s like, Oh yeah. But those are some really salient points that you want people to find you because as you mentioned earlier, they are on the internet researching before they ever talk to sales. And really, if anything, the website’s simply validating and giving them some proof points to use in conversation.
Tessa Burg: You’ve mentioned a few blockers to sales and marketing alignment. You mentioned the chip on the shoulder. Can you give us an example of a way that maybe you’ve used in the past of how you have aligned a marketing team or empowered a marketing team to bridge that gap with the sales team? And what were the steps or what was that communication process like?
Paul Pirozzola: I can give you a couple of examples. First one being more on the martech side in terms of CRM. I think CRM is an area that can be a very big hot button for many companies, both B2B and B2C, but in particular getting value out of CRM. I’ve been in a lot of different organizations and I’ve seen CRM used from its inception to maturity. I think the biggest success that I’ve ever had with CRM at an organization in my past was when you really brought in sales management and the sales team and the marketing team, and you built it together. Generally speaking, I’ve had the most success with CRM and martech when you build it together.
Paul Pirozzola: How you do it, I think there’s tons of ways of aligning people and bringing them in. I’m a big fan of bringing in a third party to help with these types of initiatives. When the cats are fighting sometimes it’s good to have a third party to come in and sort of speak to both sides. I like to bring in somebody that isn’t necessarily heavily focused in one discipline, bringing in a consultant, that’s all doing sales or all doing marketing or all doing ERP IT stuff. You have to be careful who you bring on a third party that has the same kind of cultural way of doing projects.
Paul Pirozzola: But that’s probably the one example is when I was able to build a CRM team as part of a commercial group, had the most success, had the most use, had the most adoption and most value longterm for the marketers, for marketing automation, email marketing, basic segmentation work or whatever’s needed for their business. And then from the sales side, in terms of really sales management, managing sales efforts and activity and driving sales goals.
Paul Pirozzola: In terms of getting sort of new business, I think one of the areas where I found success was sales and marketing from a business intelligence standpoint, is recognizing that there’s a lot of ways to gather intelligence on either competitors or new market opportunities. And sales and marketing are oftentimes challenged with finding out the information about their competitors on a dynamic basis and more importantly, new opportunities or new product opportunities or service opportunities in new sectors. I think understanding now, especially with the web, all of the opportunities to learn about your competitors and new markets that you might want to go into is far more efficient, far more effective to utilize what people are doing in those sectors or with your competitors in juxtaposing it against you as a company and your efforts.
Paul Pirozzola: I’ve built some really great BI efforts with companies I’ve been with where marketing has led the business intelligence aspect. They kind of did the competitive analysis and they did the rigor behind staying on top of it and then informing the salespeople in that information, giving them a playbook for going into new markets, understanding what’s going on in a particular sector, being that intelligence aspect to the research aspect for a sales team. I think that’s an area where I’ve had success and that’s really in the strength of a marketer. Marketers are planners, they’re strategists, they’re longterm thinkers, but they’re also data junkies. They like to get into the data. So those are probably two examples where I think I’ve been most successful as sort of doing it by consensus, building martech together and then finding a specialization with marketing to do intelligence work. And then, that’s probably the best examples.
Tessa Burg: We started this conversation by saying, we wanted to find three things that sales needed for marketing in order to bridge that marketing sales or sales marketing alignment gap. So I have three that you have said out loud recorded, and I’d love to hear if you want to expand on anymore.
Tessa Burg: The first one is, make sure you understand the journey of the customer and what they need, when, to make it easier to find you. So connecting that journey to online presence so that people are more prepared when they’re having that sales conversation.
Tessa Burg: The second one is, build the CRM together. And I love that because it gives a place for shared metrics. And that’s funny you said marketers are data junkies.
Paul Pirozzola: Yeah.
Tessa Burg: And I think that gives a shared experience, a shared location for mutual KPIs.
Tessa Burg: And then the third one you said is, for marketers to be the intelligence and research side of sales. Stay on top of trends, what’s happening in the market and especially competitors, how your service compares to what competitors are offering.
Tessa Burg: Do you think we have three good summary points?
Paul Pirozzola: Yeah, it was great. It was very salient. And I sound smarter by hearing you say it than me saying it.
Tessa Burg: They’re challenging to do, but they’re very tangible and action oriented. So on the data side, your role now is at a market research company.
Paul Pirozzola: Right.
Tessa Burg: Which I think is kind of interesting. It kind of dives deep into your third point about being that intelligence and research side. Market research itself, as sort of a whole space, has really evolved and been challenged. What took you to that sort of side of the business?
Paul Pirozzola: Oh, it’s a long winding road. But you know what? I’m always up for a challenge and I always love to be in front of customers. And to me, market research is just a different aspect for really a focus on quantitative and qualitative research and getting that information from customers.
Paul Pirozzola: I was able to have an opportunity to join this company, a very long-tenured market research firm, that was looking for some general managements [inaudible 00:17:39] and interest in growth, and really wanted to bring some of that B2B stuff into their typical clientele, which were more B2C, in terms of how they were gathering information.
Paul Pirozzola: The beauty of it is, it’s a lot of the same stuff. You want to understand your customers, you want to do the type of research that’s in depth to really understand what they value in terms of a product service and interaction, understanding your customer journey, whether it’s a new medical device or a new way that you’re going to get medical treatment.
Paul Pirozzola: Those kinds of examples, so really the gamut of the types of research that we do at this company and being a part of it and exposed to it really excites me, because that’s the marketer in me. I love to design products, I love to be part of new products and being able to glean that information.
Paul Pirozzola: What’s exciting now is we’re changing our whole way of doing market research to support the growth and evolution of our clients and our customers. So things like focus groups and in-depth interviews that were done face-to-face or in our facility here in Cleveland may not be feasible in the foreseeable future, if ever. So we’re looking at, in bringing in new ways of doing virtual reality interactions, doing tele-collaborative research.
Paul Pirozzola: So that’s exciting. And it’s also supports the sales effort because it really brings in that information I’m trying to get in front of your customers and as close of a face-to-face, visceral interaction as you possibly can, but obviously using technology. So it’s just really, was a natural extension of a lot of the history and work that I’ve done in my past, Tessa, where I’ve been a product developer, I’ve been a marketer, I’ve been sales. I’ve been selling to market researchers the insights that are needed for your product development team, for your marketing communication teams. That’s just a natural extension.
Paul Pirozzola: That’s how I got here and certainly I’ve enjoyed it and it’s kept me busy. And certainly I think the whole COVID pandemic has opened up a whole new level of sets of challenges, but been exciting.
Tessa Burg: Yes. So Paul just gave us the signal that we have a couple of minutes, two minutes. Paul, did you have any questions?
Paul Roberts: I’m always fascinated by sales and marketing and I just wonder, again, and maybe it’s too early to tell, how much of this will go back to the way it was and how much of it will permanently change. And not just the technology, but the whole idea of, “When I grew up sales was pressuring somebody, it was trying to trick somebody, it was trying to convince somebody,” whatever, however you want to describe it here. But it’s, “I win, you lose.” It’s a military analogy rather than, we’ve been talking about this cooperative, “I’m here to find common needs and help you.”
Paul Roberts: And we’ve talked about that, but I don’t know. Now that sales are down, are we just going to go back to try and close deals?
Paul Pirozzola: It’s a great thought. One area that fascinates me that I question is the trade show industry.
Paul Pirozzola: I mean, that entire industry is predicated on people coming to see your product and service face-to-face. So many people I’ve talked to in the last two weeks in particular that had anticipated going to trade shows in 2020, obviously they all got it canceled or pushed off to 2021.
Paul Roberts: Right.
Paul Pirozzola: Are really re-investigating or, I guess, rethinking what this new normal is going to be from a trade show standpoint.
Paul Roberts: Right. And why did we do that? Is there no other way to do it than that, right?
Paul Pirozzola: Oh yeah. And it was funny. For years as a marketer, I would always get in discussions with salespeople about, “We should preplan meetings at our booth with our customers so they can have exclusive time with us.” It’s always a challenge-
Paul Roberts: A dream.
Paul Pirozzola: … to do that.
Paul Roberts: Right.
Paul Pirozzola: But it’s coming back now, this might be the way that we do trade shows, where you have to get an appointment to reserve to come to the booth, to actually have an interaction. So it’s ironic how things that we were, as marketers, we’re pushing for just good business acumen, good ways of tracking and being effective. Now it might be the only way that you can interact in those types of environments.
Paul Roberts: And again, I go back to, we’ve said for years now we care about the customers just like we care about our employees. But when times are tough, that’s when you really find out if this is true or not, or that was just a good marketing slogan.
Paul Pirozzola: Right.
Tessa Burg: Yeah, I agree. I think one thing that’s not going to go away is the ability to validate authenticity. Now you can go online, reviews… B2B companies are not immune to that. Things like glass door and [missing audio] employees.
Paul Roberts: Yeah. I never thought of that. Right, you can go see… They say they’re a wonderful company to work with then why do all the employees leave and hate them here?
Paul Pirozzola: Yeah, right.
Tessa Burg: Right. I think something, as work becomes more remote, that is also going to start happening because yes, you love your employees, but if you start putting them in situations where they don’t feel safe or you hold them to impossible goals when their whole world was just shaken up… Yeah, that’s going to come through and your employees are a reflection of you.
Tessa Burg: So to Paul’s point, you always have to stay authentic and people want to connect with people. We just have to find how to keep doing that in a more remote world.
Paul Roberts: Exactly. I think you nailed it. All right, well, we’ll look forward to the coming weeks and months, how these new generations, these new leader generation are going to face these tasks because they’re going to have to rethink how they lead their organizations, how they lead their sales teams and how they interact with their customers. Okay. All right. Fascinating stuff, here.
Paul Roberts: Did we give the place how to reach both of you here? Let’s give a quick email or website or something for Paul and then for Tessa, here.
Tessa Burg: Yeah, sure. So you can find NSRC, which is Paul’s company online. It stands for… What does it stand for, Paul? National…
Paul Roberts: It stands for… What does it stand for?
Paul Pirozzola: National Survey Research Center, but it’s ww.nsrc.com.
Tessa Burg: National Survey Research Center. So Google that, they do appear.
Paul Pirozzola: We do appear.
Paul Roberts: They do appear.
Tessa Burg: One: easy to find. And then we just launched our podcast hub page at tenlo.com. So if you want to hear past interviews with other sales and marketing leaders about how to bring new technology, new products to market quickly, different ways to collaborate remotely from a business development standpoint, I think we have a couple more on sales-marketing alignment, which will continue to be a hot topic. Then go to tenlo.com and you can also find us on Apple podcasts and Pod Bean.
Paul Roberts: Every place that fine podcasts are found, here. Well, thank you so much. I just am fascinated by this. I don’t think we’re going to come up with an immediate answer, but I think we’re going to look back a year or two from now and say, “Oh, it just went back to the way it was,” which I doubt. Or we’re going to say, “Boy, it changed in ways, maybe ways I couldn’t even foresee or foretell here.”
Paul Roberts: All right, let’s get this going.
Paul Roberts: So you’ve been listening to another great example of why you should tune in each and every time to the newly rebranded Lead(er) Generation Show brought to you by the good folks at Tenlo Radio on the Funnel radio channel, for at-work listeners like you.
General Manager, NSRC
Paul provides general management and strategic guidance for the NSRC team. He is a seasoned commercial veteran of B2B and has held many sales and marketing leadership roles, most recently as the VP of Marketing for Bettcher Industries. Paul brings a consultative approach and practical “client side” knowledge to the team. He holds a MBA from Indiana University and a BS in Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh.