In our last episode, 2021 Lead Generation: Apps & Platforms That Matter Most, guest Scott Brinker got us all excited about the future of the augmented marketer.
But where do we start? How do we unlock our marketing leadership superpowers in 2021? And what’s the secret to generate leads and align our sales and marketing teams?
Scott talks more about the tech emerging right inside our existing marketing technology stacks. Learn how it empowers marketers to start testing data and revealing patterns. Plus, gather insights you simply can’t get by manually entering numbers into a spreadsheet.
2021 is the year of the B2B Digital Marketer. Learn more about how you can use martech to generate leads, bring joy to prospects, align your sales and marketing teams and fuel B2B growth in 2021.
Highlights From This Episode:
- Addressing martech compliance and security concerns with IT
- Marketing technology and processes that can promote sales and marketing alignment
- Lead generation technology and techniques worth trying
- Differentiating from competition in a sea of technology and automated "sameness"
- Setting your B2B business up for success and growth in 2021
Watch the Live Recording
Full Episode Transcripts
Announcer: Welcome 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. And our host, Tessa Burg, is the VP of UX & Technology Strategy at Tenlo. Tessa and her team at Tenlo have collaborated with data science, software, and marketing experts in the last 10 years to develop and continuously evolve how a test-and-learn approach can effectively and efficiently help clients bring new products to market, accelerate leads through the funnel, and test new communication and sales channels.
Tessa Burg: Hello. Welcome to another episode of Lead(er) Generation, brought to you by Tenlo Radio. I’m your host, Tessa Burg. This is the second part of our conversation with Scott Brinker. Scott is the VP of Platforms and Ecosystems at HubSpot, the chair for the MarTech conference, and the editor at chiefmartec.com. You can find him at chiefmartec. Chief, martec is M-A-R-T-E-C.com, or follow him on Twitter. Stay tuned after this conversation to hear how you can apply an easy process to select the right platforms and networks to help facilitate lead generation. This may sound like a really basic question, but where would we find the machine-learning algorithms?
Scott Brinker: Oh, yeah. A lot of the platforms now have these capabilities, but also if you look at some of the tools for business intelligence, these are capabilities they now have built in, and they have existing models for. And again, you can get as simple or as sophisticated as you want. There’s some of these tools that you don’t need anyone else to help you with. You can kind of just point it at the core data and let it do its segmentation. There’s others where you might want to be like, “Okay, maybe I want someone on the IT or the data side to do a little bit of fine-tuning with me.” Like anything, you can have a simple version of this or you can get incrementally more and more sophisticated. But yeah, there’s a ton of tools across. This is how all these personalization platforms work. If you look at a bunch of them, you’ll see … the first step in personalization is understanding the segmentation of who you want to map different characteristics of content or offers to.
Tessa Burg: That is awesome. So if I wanted to get started, it’s more important, again, to know what question I’m asking, and to start with the platforms, and if there’s something available for me to test on my own. And then after that it would be like, “Okay, maybe I don’t have the right data, or maybe I didn’t ask the right questions,” and then get help from there.
Scott Brinker: Yeah. And again, when you’re talking about customer segmentation, this usually tends to be a pretty core strategic decision for a marketer. I think it’s okay to experiment with some things on the side, but yeah, once you make a decision of, “Okay, I actually want to adopt the technology that’s going to help me get this segmentation right,” then yeah, that’s when you do a full review. You’ll very often then bring in someone from IT to help sanity-check it as well, too.
Tessa Burg: Yeah, because I think sometimes I feel like it’s hard to make the case, especially when not all your data is in one place and it might be in different places. You have to start that sort of getting [inaudible 00:03:34] really early.
Scott Brinker: Yeah. I’m really glad you brought that up, because that is essentially the Achilles heel of so many of these AI superpowers, is at the end of the day these are algorithms that are operating on data, and it’s like the garbage in, garbage out. If you feed it the right data and you feed it the complete data, these algorithms can work absolute miracles. But yeah, if you’re feeding in poor quality data or partial data, or you’re missing key data sets, the algorithm doesn’t know that, so it works with what you give it. Yeah, that is usually the single biggest factor in the success or failure of leveraging these machine-learning technologies, is are you giving them the right data.
Tessa Burg: Yeah. Another piece of getting that internal buy-in and the coordination is around security, compliance, and regulatory. This comes up a lot, especially with a lot of our larger clients. What does that process look like, and what have the platforms and networks done, and even the apps inside of them, to address these frequently-asked questions around security and compliance?
Scott Brinker: Yeah, they’re great questions. Compliance is actually pretty straightforward at this point in time. We understand the rules. If you’re, say, GDPR-compliant, odds are you’re also CCPA-compliant. There’s just some good clean living about we need to make sure we have permission from contacts we bring in, we need to make sure that if that contact ever decides they don’t want to hear from us we can properly scrub them throughout our systems, and so a lot of the platforms and apps have simply implemented these capabilities because they need to. Right? Their customers need it. They can’t sell it without it.
Scott Brinker: Security is a little bit of a trickier issue, though, because security is very often not just a black-and-white thing. Compliance is almost black and white. It either is GDPR-compliant or it’s not. Security is a little bit more of a continuum of you can get more and more secure to ultimately, the most secure thing would be pull all the plugs and disconnect everything from the internet, and nobody’s breaking into this. Well, at least unless if they physically come and take … but obviously, that’s not practical.
Scott Brinker: And so, this is one of the things where I think IT teams that do this as part of their official vendor review process of going through vendors and saying, “Okay, well, no security is perfect, but here’s a set of criteria we can look at to say, “Okay, are they doing these best practices? All of these connections, are we making sure they’re encrypted? Where’s the data stored? Is data encrypted when it’s …”” There’s just some really good things that, again, a professional IT person, they don’t have to be involved in the entire vendor evaluation process, because there’s a lot of these things that are marketing use cases that they won’t care about, but to be able to bring them and, “Okay, take a really skeptical view of is this app secure? What are the questions we need to ask to make sure that it’s secure and reliable?” It’s a big part of it.
Tessa Burg: Are there any tests that are common that people can run or request the app company to prove how secure they are?
Scott Brinker: Yes. There’s a whole cottage industry of tools for doing that. My opinion is they’re useful, but to be honest, a lot of the vulnerabilities that these tools look for are kind of the well-known vulnerabilities. It’s good to check them, it’s good to make sure they have that, but where security risks come in … I am not a cybersecurity expert, so don’t hold me to any of this, but I’m pretty sure I’ve read that the majority of real security breaches actually happen because of somebody inside the company who is either able to intentionally or accidentally do something that causes a bunch of data to then be released out into the world. This becomes a very different kind of issue. In that case, it’s not like … you can’t really run a penetration test to see, “Okay, well is this app secure?” You have to start to get into this mode of, “Okay, who has access to the app? What sort of permissions do they have with that app? Is there an audit trail of the activity that is done with these things?”
Scott Brinker: And so, again, I’m not a cybersecurity person, but a cybersecurity person, they’ve got a pretty clear list of things, like, “Okay, let’s go through and check this. What are the risks that are inherent to the software, and what are the risks that are more associated with the management and the operation of this,” and make sure that we put in good policies and principles for how people are using it.
Tessa Burg: Yeah. I really like that. It comes back to you need to know what problem you’re trying to solve, and then where is it connected to. Who’s connected to it, who’s accessing it, and how much of that is necessary so you can kind of control that risk and have a really good conversation with your IT team when you’re ready. Because sometimes I feel like if we don’t have that information prepared, they’re just going to say no.
Scott Brinker: Once again, everyone has a role to play, and I think the security professionals and IT, they’ve got a tough job. It’s like one of those things. Whenever there’s a security problem, it’s going to be their neck on the line, and so there’s this tendency to want to be as restrictive as possible to prevent that. But at the same time, we recognize, “Okay, well, to get totally restrictive is, again, the scenario where you pull everything out from the wall. And we won’t do business with anyone, because oh my God, something could go wrong.” And so, it’s this balance and this trade-off, and I think what usually we see is the best outcomes are when IT and security and the marketing teams are collaborating together, and they’re just really trying to understand, “Okay, what are the business needs? What are the security concerns, and how do we find the right balance between those?” There’s a rationale middle ground.
Tessa Burg: Yes. So, one of the … I’m going to switch topics to another trend that gets covered in the MarTech conference, which is sales marketing alignment. This is a really big hot-button trend for a lot of the industries we serve. Sales marketing alignment is incredibly important for generating leads, important for growth, it’s important for retaining great sales people and helping them feel supported. Where does this platforms and networks … or do you have any favorite applications or processes that have really helped elevate or bring sales marketing alignment to life? Because sometimes I feel like it’s been getting a lot of lip service and we say we have it, but it is a lot of work, and it is tedious, so it falls right in that bucket.
Scott Brinker: Yeah, it’s interesting. The old challenge used to be alignment between marketing and IT, and I think we’re much better at that now. Yeah, the new challenge is the alignment between marketing and sales. One of the things that can help is leveraging a platform that is shared between marketing and sales. There’s now a fair number that operate this way, so … again, I’m thinking of HubSpot, but also Salesforce. It’s this thing of, “Okay, I have a set of marketing tools that my marketing team uses. I have a set of sales tools that my sales team uses, but the underlying platform is the same.” And so, you’re getting alignment around the system of record, the source of truth for the customer, the information we have, what have they done, what campaigns have they participated in, what stage are they at in the buying process. Even just getting that data aligned is a really good first step.
Scott Brinker: And then on top of that, it becomes then where you’re like, “Okay, now let’s start to decide the organizational layer, the process layer of when do we turn over things, what criteria do they have to become from a marketing-qualified lead to a sales-qualified lead. What are the responsibilities of marketing to support sales?” This might be work for sales enablement support. It might be things for providing sequences and support for sales ops teams to be able to do their work. I would say the only silver bullet, from a technology perspective, is getting to a shared platform across both teams, but the process work that you layer on top of that … and still one of the things that like … yeah, it’s a human organizational challenge much more than a technical challenge.
Tessa Burg: Yes. We still have to have these conversations with sales people and kind of find out what data can we use to improve the quality of the leads and what information matters to them, and what should be coming back to them, and then search in the platform for that solution. Have you seen any … the number one question we get all the time, especially from sales teams, is they want more and higher-quality leads.
Scott Brinker: Big surprise.
Tessa Burg: Right. There’s just like, “All marketing does is generate crap leads, I don’t want to call any of these people. What is happening?” Have you seen any good examples of marketers who have gotten that right, who have found either a suite of tools or an application that has helped them improve that quality or helped improve targeting?
Scott Brinker: Yeah. I think there’s two ways to attack that. One is the actual quality of the lead itself. The work I did before HubSpot at ion interactive was all about creating these interactive apps that were built by marketers largely to solicit more detailed insights from prospects about what are their real pain points, what’s the way they’re framing their challenges, so that you could provide a richer profile to the sales team so that once it becomes a sales own lead, the sales people have something really meaningful to go on. I think that’s one way to solve it.
Scott Brinker: The other way is just to defend the marketing profession. Sometimes it’s not the fault of the marketing team that the leads aren’t qualified. Sometimes it’s the way the sales team is reaching out to those leads isn’t working. The truth is cold-calling, all these techniques that we’ve driven into the ground over the years, their efficacy is limited. I think one of the things you see with really successful companies now is they’re getting very clever about how sales people engage with prospects once they become a qualified lead. It might not actually be calling them on their phone 20 times. It might not be sending them hippo videos or things like this.
Scott Brinker: It might be like, “Oh, listen. Here’s actually this new research that just came out. I thought you would be interested in this. I forwarded this to you.” It’s like, start to build some trust and some relationship, and almost leave it open enough that the customer actually says, “Yes, actually. Ooh, wow, I’m really glad you sent me that. I am interested in this. Can I call you?” There’s a ton of these things that we can do. If you start with the assumption that ultimately the customer is looking for a solution, then there’s really creative ways that we can get their attention and engage them and make that journey enjoyable for them. You have to work at this. And because it is a combination of marketing and sales, that has to be done in a collaboration. But yeah, wow, the innovation that’s happening in the sales enablement space at this point I think is such a great example of how marketing and sales have a lot of opportunity to work together to really change the efficacy of that funnel.
Tessa Burg: I think you asked a really big question, that I’ve never heard put this way, but starting with “make the journey for the customer enjoyable.” I’m not sure we take a step back and ask that question enough, to say, “Are we doing something that brings someone joy?” We always say, “Well, I think they’ll be interested in this. I think it will bring them value.” But could we get a higher level of engagement if the experience is actually enjoyable?
Scott Brinker: Yeah. I mean, this is hard stuff, but this is the advantage. It’s hard because it’s not obvious how to do that, but as a result, when you come up with these ideas and you execute them, you stand out, because your competitors haven’t thought of it either. They haven’t figured it out. For most companies, the average is still in that mode of, “Yep, give me a list of names and numbers, and I’ll just speed-dial them one after another ’til some poor sap finally picks up.” There’s a lot of companies doing that, and the efficacy of those techniques just continues to drop. So yeah, if you’re willing to be creative, it’s arguably a phenomenal time, because the creativity really can make a pretty big delta in the performance that you have relative to your peers.
Tessa Burg: So what you’re saying is there is no silver bullet that we can pick an application and just start generating tens of thousands of super-high-quality leads with little effort and little input from the sales team.
Scott Brinker: You know, it’s sort of like those stock pickers. “Okay, if I buy this software that will do the stock picking for me, and I’ll be a multi-millionaire,” you’re like, “Okay, well yeah, if you’re going to buy that, why isn’t everybody else going to buy that too?” And then we’re right back where we started. So yeah, there’s no silver bullet.
Tessa Burg: I think one of the positives, though, that we covered earlier in the conversation is there are tools to take away the mental strain that tedious activities take up and that can help us accomplish our wishes in a shorter window of time, so that we’re able to give the love and passion and energy to these more creative endeavors, which is exciting.
Scott Brinker: Yeah. And I think those tools that then help with some of these new creative capabilities, the barriers to using them are low enough that you can experiment with them. Yeah, this is how you find those novel ways of capturing the attention of your prospects.
Tessa Burg: That’s awesome. Thank you so much for being a guest on our show. This conversation has been wildly interesting and insightful. Before we go, do you have any other tips or pointers or trends that you think people should be looking out for, especially heading into 2021 where if one thing is certain, it’s that uncertainty will abound?
Scott Brinker: Yes. With that set-up, it’s hard to make any predictions on top of that. But yeah, I guess I would just say I talk to a lot of marketers, and one theme that is common with almost everyone I talk to is we’re all overwhelmed. There’s just so much happening in the world. And while a lot of these things are exciting innovations and they’re new superpowers, still, it’s a lot of new stuff, and it is work to stay on top of this and to learn it. And no matter how much you learn, there’s always infinitely more out there. I think a lot of marketers feel stressed, like they feel they are personally falling behind.
Scott Brinker: I guess I just want to assure anyone who’s listening to this that it’s not you. Every single person, we all have that sensation, and at some level, you just have to be like, “Hey, this is the new normal. There’s more happening out there in heaven and earth than dreamt of in our philosophy, so let’s take a deep breath. What you just want to do is day by day be able, “Okay, what new thing can I learn today? What new thing can we do to try and move this forward?” And to try and have fun with it, because it’s overwhelming on this side, but it’s kind of cool on this side, too. So, good luck.
Tessa Burg: Yeah. Making wishes come true should certainly be fun. So, Scott, where can people find you? At chiefmartec.com, they should follow the blog … anywhere else where people can follow you to stay up on the trends?
Scott Brinker: Sure. It’s chiefmartec without the H at the end, so chiefmartec, T-E-C, dot-com, and then also that @chiefmartec without the H is my handle on Twitter. Always happy to chat with folks there.
Tessa Burg: Awesome. Well, thank you again for being a guest on our show. We look forward to seeing what the next 10 years brings.
Scott Brinker: Thank you so much for having me.
Tessa Burg: Thanks so much for listening to our two-part series with Scott Brinker. These are some really big trends, and the good thing is we already have the building blocks in place to make the most of them starting in 2021. So if you have a CRM and a CMS, then you are already connected to platforms and networks. So what’s the next step? How can we start to generate leads? First, think about the people that you’re targeting. Do your platforms and networks bring you closer to the people that you want to sell to? Are there applications that your target audience is using to already take care of mundane tasks and free themselves up? Is there an intersection where you can make the most of that application? What is the connection of that application to your network or platform? Do you bring value or, as we talked about in the conversation, where can you bring joy to your customers and bring value add to the platforms and networks?
Tessa Burg: Start with your platform, take a look at your CRM. Do you have the right data in there? Are you treating it as a single source of truth? Then look at its network of applications. Where can you start using applications that have machine-learning AI already built into them to learn more about the segments and your target audience? Who really is your best customer, and then what kinds of applications are at the intersection of their business and the joy and the value you bring? If you have any questions, reach out to us at tenlo.com. You can click on “podcasts” to listen to our other episodes, or subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Thanks to listening to Lead(er) Generation. This has been Tessa Burg.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to another episode of Lead(er) Generation by Tenlo Radio. Be sure to subscribe on tenloradio.com.
VP of Platform Ecosystem at Hubspot
Scott Brinker is fascinated by the intersection of technology platforms and ecosystems as well as marketing strategy and operations. He has extensive experience and holds several titles in these areas.
First, Scott serves as the VP of Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot. In this role, he helps grow and nurture the community of technology partners building on the HubSpot platform.
Since 2008, he’s also run the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, which has more than 50,000 readers. One of his well-known projects is a map of the Marketing Technology Landscape.
In 2014, Scott launched the MarTech conference. As the event’s Program Chair, he brings together a community of senior marketing operations and technology professionals.
Scott also wrote the best-selling book “Hacking Marketing,” published by Wiley in 2016. Plus, he’s a frequent keynote speaker at conferences around the world on topics of marketing technology and agile marketing.