Kushal: Hi there. Welcome to “On the Flip Side”, a podcast for anyone who wants to live their best sales life. We're going to be talking to buyers, sales managers, SDRs and AE's about things like, what does it take to be a great sales manager? Or how can you go home happy month after month? So let's dive right in.
Hi there. Welcome to “On the Flip Side” with Wingman. I’m your host Kushal. And today we're joined by someone who's an expert on all things inbound marketing or sales. Josh Harcus is the Founder and Head of Growth at Huify an inbound marketing and sales agency and also HubSpot partner. He's also the best-selling author of Closing Culture. Josh, so great to have you on the show.
Josh Harcus: Excited to be here.
Kushal: So Josh, I know we were talking about really, you know, a lot of the major mistakes and the most glaring sort of mistakes that a lot of folks do when they're setting up their inbound motions, whether that's inbound marketing, or you know, the inbound sales process. So for today, let's maybe kind of get into what you think are maybe the top most glaring and obvious mistakes that people make when they're setting up an inbound process? Where do you see a lot of the breakage is happening? And what can be fixed?
Josh Harcus: That's such a great question. I'd say right away the delay between when a marketing lead comes through and then is passed off to sales. That's the biggest place of for improvement and the best place to actually increase the chances of you closing that deal. And still, the average company winds up responding to a lead within 42 hours, which is just a very long time for a lead to wait for a response.
Kushal: I'm also left wondering if this is because you know, as people, I think we've become hardwired, in some sense, psychologically to expect quick responses, given technology. And that's not entirely, you know, an unrealistic demand either. Because I think with technology, we're geared to get everything like in shopping, now we have grocery deliveries within 10 minutes, 5 minutes in a lot of cities around the world, including where I am. So I think it's also that the expectations from the average consumer or the customer has really gone up in terms of, you know, the time and the turnaround time. So maybe that's why on a psychological level as well, what do you think are maybe, you know, is maybe the best way to fix this? Is this an easy thing to fix? It sounds like, but given our experiences in marketing, it sounds a little more complex.
Josh Harcus: Yeah, absolutely. It's definitely not an easy thing to fix. And the reason is, is because it's usually a cultural issue, either the priority on the leads that are being passed off, which are usually referred to as marketing qualified leads, some companies will call them SQL (Sales Qualified Leads). But either way, those leads that are getting passed off to sales that are sales ready, quote, unquote, aren't as much of a priority. And that could be for a variety of reasons, it could either be because of distrust between the marketing and sales team, where sales feels like marketing is just throwing all these leads over the fence to hit their MQL numbers that they need to hit that they're measured by, but a lot of them are unqualified. And so instead of them, you know, filling up their calendar with all these qualified leads they are calling all these unqualified leads, they'd rather spend time just going outbound and finding their own leads that they can trust a little bit more, which is not a right or a good response. It's also a huge waste of resources and money from the company perspective.
It could be a technology reason, it could be a manual process where there's a sales ops person or, or a marketing manager or sales manager who's in charge of manually selecting which leads are qualified or not. And then that kind of bottlenecks with that person that adds another delay to it. But really, the goal, and what everyone's expecting is to have a response in under five minutes. So that's a very tough thing to achieve. And something that isn't necessarily always achieved, but it's definitely a goal you should strive for, because the stats show that you'll increase your close rates by 1000x if you can respond to leads within five minutes, which is just insane.
Kushal: Yeah, that seems like a tremendous advantage. And especially one that I guess marketing will want to get all over, considering it can be challenging to get those leads in the first place.
Josh Harcus: Yeah, for sure.
Kushal: I guess my next question to you would then really be if you were to work with a company and they asked you about what would be the ideal way of really setting up, you know, a lead follow up process. And I know with all things marketing, it depends on a number of factors. But maybe if you could just run us through what you think a basic framework could be, you know, for folks who are listening in on how to really set up an ideal lead flow?
Josh Harcus: For sure. Well, Kushal, it always starts with a goal because ultimately, you know, we can do all this great work, we can set up all these things, but how do we ensure that it's actually going to be what's best for the company? And then how do we also know when we set up this experiment that the teams are going to iterate and change it, unless there's some intrinsic value for themselves?
We already addressed kind of the biggest problem is usually because marketing is only being measured on MQL. They're not being measured on, you know, meeting SAT, so to speak, which is basically where, you know, salesperson says yes, this was a good successful meeting with this lead, some might just say SQL, you know, that sales is gone, and in qualify that this lead is a good lead. Some even go as far as saying, well, let's take each of our steps, each of our conversion rates and work backwards from a closed won deal, and attribute revenue to each of these leads. So we can actually give marketing a revenue goal that they're tied to, that's the best way to handle it.
But a lot of times companies don't even have a handle on their sales process, they don't even have a handle on or any idea of what the conversion rates are. So it's hard to get to that place. So what I would suggest is the best place to start is by creating a SLA, a service level agreement between marketing and sales, where marketing is agreeing, okay, we're gonna send over this many leads per month that are qualified. And we're not going to try to blow past that number, we're just going to shoot for sending the best most qualified leads at that number that we can, and then sales, you're responsible to follow up within those leads, follow up with those leads within, ideally, five minutes. And you may have to work towards that, maybe you start with 10 minutes, maybe you start with a day, you know, and then you slowly move that marker to where it should be - within five minutes. And then on top of that, the last piece for sales is to respond with good feedback on why those leads were good, or why they were bad? So then marketing can adjust their MQL parameters to make sure they really are sending over the best leads possible. That's usually the best place to start.
Kushal: Josh, it sounds like while a broken lead, you know, follow up sort of flow is one piece that needs to be fixed, but from what you're saying it doesn't seem like it's, you know, it seems like there's more to the eye. It's really about alignment on a lot of different factors, goals, like you said, as well, why do you think this rift exists in the first place between say, marketing and sales? I know different folks have different takes on it. Is it typical as they are essentially chasing different targets in some sense or is it may be broken communication along the way?
Josh Harcus: Yeah, great question. Really, I think it comes back to trust and a few different factors, one trust in the system. So when there isn't trust in the system, there's usually manual extra work that's going in there. Ideally, you should be able to trust that as soon as a person hits a certain mark, or you know, they've done enough activity, or they've requested certain information from a certain form, like they want a demo, or they want to see more, whatever, that should be followed up by sales, you know, that should be the expectation that, hey, this is a marketing qualified lead, they are sales ready, they say they are sales ready, they've given us their phone number. Sales, reach out with reach out and follow up with them.
But sometimes there's distrust in that system. And so a third party or another team member, like a sales ops person, or someone like that, is put in place to kind of vet those leads, and do an extra effort of quality control. So that's one place for sure.
The other is the actual technology. Right now, we have so many tools we can access to determine the quality of a lead, or where leads are coming from or whatever. I've even seen some companies where they were using five or six different lead capture tools alone. And so it's hard to tell for a salesperson. Where did this lead even come from? Is this just some list that we bought? Or are they really interested in what we're selling here? And so when I reach out to them, is there going to be a positive response back? Are they kind of going to be like, “Man, why are you following up with me”, you know, add me to your “Do Not Call” list or something like that?
Kushal: Well, it sounds like I'm not at all jealous that I'm not on that team where they have at least four or five tools that literally do the same thing. And I'm guessing, in my experience, I think part of this problem also comes from the fact that sometimes when certain people are working on a project, they will add certain tools. Sadly, there's not a lot of documentation or communication done around what tools have already been added. So at times a developer will come up and say, “Oh, does anyone know anything about what this tool is or about this form or this piece of code?” So many times between when handoffs happen or rather don't happen, then that's actually when a lot of these things also come to light. And the person who is working on it has no idea of what those tools were and why they were put in the first I think that's also sort of adding to a lot of the mismatch there. I think it's just lack of documentation, and really frameworks and processes around some of those things as well.
Josh Harcus: Completely agree.
Kushal: Going ahead, I think, to really what we were discussing earlier, which was, you know, the problem of maybe having too many tools, which is what we're talking about, what would maybe, and you obviously work with so many customers as a HubSpot partner agency as well, how would you really go about advising companies on their tech stack? Is it a question of how small the company is? How many people are on board? What are really the steps for someone to think through their own tech stack? And what's the bare minimum for someone to really, you know, get started?
Josh Harcus: It's a great question. It's super interesting too, because I feel like at this point, you know, we've worked with over 70 companies over the last 10 years, and you see it all, you know, you see large companies that only have one or two tools and need more, frankly, because they don't have enough. And then you see small companies that have so many tools, it's overwhelming. And that's where the teams are getting stressed out and confused. And of course, vice versa.
So really, what it comes down to is you kind of hit the nail on the head earlier – our process needs to be written down and documented. Because if our process isn't written down and documented, it's up to anybody's best guess. So this salesperson might do things this way, this salesperson might do it this way, this marketer might do it this way. And you can't provide a good scientific system for testing. It's almost like everybody has their own lab, in some place, in some building, but you're all doing the same experiments, you know. It's way smarter to get everybody in the same lab, following the same steps, using the same things, you know, instead of this person had the windows open, and this person had a party in that lab the day before or whatever. There's gonna be so many things that would change the results, that unless you standardize it, you're gonna have a hard time building a scalable system or a scalable process.
So the first step is to map out your sales process. And then make sure that marketing understands, “Hey, these are the steps of our sales process. And here are the questions that we ask at each step”. Because if marketing knows that now they can better educate the customer, so when the customer is asked these questions, or potential customer is asked these questions, they even know how to respond, because they've read certain materials, or they've been thinking about these questions for a little while and they're not just hearing these things for the very first time. So the first step is to document and then the second step is to make sure that each party has a very clear understanding of the revenue goals that they're all working towards.
Really, up until this point, companies have been so siloed, you know, where you have a CMO all the way down, that's the marketing team. And then you have, you know, a CRO, or a VP of sales and all the way down, that's the sales team. And both of them feel like they're fighting against each other for marks, for budget or for needs, or for whatever else. And there isn't a good alignment between the two teams, because, frankly, they're just led by, there's just different goals. You know, there's a different culture on both sides, one's very creative and innovative and kind of seeking what the future holds. The other is held to very clear, monthly or quarterly revenue goals that are just straightforward. And their creativity comes through more conversation and discussion with getting people to, you know, relate their goals, or whatever they're trying to achieve. So they can match the service or product that they're selling. So when you align those two teams, and you get them to focus on let's document what we're doing, let's get each other on the same page. That's where you see a lot of growth and you see them move towards more of a closing culture.
Kushal: Love that definition of a closing culture. I haven't read your book right yet, but I'm definitely going to go pick up a copy now that I have, you know, a flavor of what it's going to be about. And I can see myself already agreeing with everything I'm sure you’ve already put it. Josh, I think it's amazing to sort of get so much clarity on some of these really key glaring errors in some sense. I think moving ahead, you know, there are a few other questions that we have different segments on the podcast. So one of the other questions that I'd like to ask you is what would you be doing if you were not doing your current job?
Josh Harcus: Oh, that's a tough one. Because I feel like I'm doing what I love the most.
Kushal: You’re born for this.
Josh Harcus: Yeah. So I actually got my start in being a professional magician. So a long time ago, I was a street performer. And I would do open air magic and do magic tricks. And even some juggling and even a little bit of fire breathing and some other… Basically, I could join a circus tomorrow if I wanted to.
Kushal: But you’re kind of part of one, it's called “Inbound Marketing”.
Josh Harcus: Yeah, exactly. It's why I love working with startups and SaaS companies. This is the closest thing I could get to a circus. So I would say anything in entertainment. You know, I used to be a DJ for a little while till I paid my way through college. So kind of giving people an experience, and helping them kind of walk away with like, wow, that was amazing, you know, this app and or this app and or whatever, whether it's magic tricks, or DJ’ing, or the party or whatever, I'd say it'd be something probably in that field.
Kushal: Got it, nice. Spreading the magic around. My next question to you is, what's really the number one impact that you'd like to drive on the world with your work?
Josh Harcus: I think it's staggering to realize how much we spend working towards other people's passions and other people's goals. And I'm not saying that everybody should become an entrepreneur tomorrow. That's not my driving force. I think that actually, you can find so much fulfillment in a great organization, doing what you love, doing what you are called to do. But a lot of people aren't clear on that. And so helping people understand kind of their purpose, why are they doing what they're doing so they can become their best selves. I want to touch as many people as possible. That would be, that's the goal. The more lives I can impact, that's really where I would say success is found.
Kushal: Got it, Josh. For my next question, if you had to give a shout out to someone in your industry, who you think is doing a really great job, who would that be?
Josh Harcus: Oh, man, there's a bunch of people, I'd say Chandler Bolt. Chandler Bolt is, he actually is a little bit outside of my direct industry, but he runs a company called “Self-Publishing School”. And he's helped so many people publish their first book. And so getting their message out there impacting more people. I'm so shocked at the impact that my book has had even as of this week, we walked into a store and someone had my book on their desk, and I couldn't believe it. I didn't know who they were. They didn't know me.
Kushal: It must have been an amazing feeling.
Josh Harcus: Yeah, they're like Josh Harcus, wait a minute, this is Josh Harcus, and I was like, “Oh my gosh”. So that was cool. And it's amazing to see how many lives you've touched on. So Chandler, back to him, he's doing an amazing job. And he and his team have helped so many people who wanted to write a book for so long finally publish their book, you know, it's why he runs a self-publishing school. And so shout out to you Chandler. Keep it up, man.
Kushal: Nice. Moving on to our last and I think most fun segments. It's a segment called wrong meanings only where I'm going to throw a couple of words at you. And what I'd like from you is what you think is the wrong sarcastic funny sort of definition in a couple of lines or words of that particular. Are you ready for this?
Josh Harcus: I'm ready.
Kushal: Okay, good. The first one is “B2B”.
Josh Harcus: B2B, the first thing that comes to my mind is like the lack of people. It's just literally businesses like robots selling to robots. And the reality is like that it couldn't be further from the truth. But that's kind of the way that everybody thinks about it and everybody operates. It's robot to robot, R2R.
Kushal: Got it. So here's my next one, “Sales Enablement”.
Josh Harcus: Sales Enablement is all about giving sales teams an unlimited amount of resources so they can send as many PowerPoints as possible to the customer. That's my sarcastic wrong answer for sales enablement.
Kushal: Nice. I can sense some personal history here as well, Josh, and maybe presentations for clients but okay.
Josh Harcus: I saw one person send 14 slide decks across two emails. 14 slide decks to one lead! They didn't book a meeting in case you're wondering.
Kushal: Did they know something no one else did.
Josh Harcus: Not even close.
Kushal: Here's my last term, “Churn”.
Josh Harcus: Churn, out with the bad in with the good. Churn is all about getting rid of those bad customers. That's my sarcastic answer and wrong answer for that one.
Kushal: Great. Thank you so much, Josh. This has been an amazing chat with you really. I really appreciate, you know, all your honesty in sharing your own experiences, your expertise, your shout outs and of course, all the wrong meanings as well. Thank you. This has been an incredible episode with you.
Josh Harcus: Awesome, thanks so much. Fun chatting today.