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 AEs 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, folks. Welcome to another smashing episode “On the Flip Side” with Wingman. I'm Kushal. And today's episode is going to be all about growth, sales and marketing. Because our guest for today is Sam Dunning. Sam is sales director and co-owner of Web Choice, which builds websites and SEO strategies for you. And Sam is also the podcast host of the Business Growth Show, which is among the top 100 marketing podcasts. Wow, that's quite an achievement. Welcome to the show, Sam. Excited to have you here.
Sam Dunning: Hey, Kushal. Yeah, really appreciate you inviting me on. And looking forward to having a chat today.
Kushal: Great. Let's just dive right in. So I think we live in really interesting and sort of really changing times, right, with really a lot of newer platforms for growth, such as LinkedIn, or Reddit, or so many amazing sales and marketing groups as well. And so much of the world now lives works and really sells online as well and remotely too. How do you think this has changed the way that we sell and market? And really, what do you think are some of the most promising channels so growth now for companies, or do you think it's still business as basics?
Sam Dunning: Yeah, I mean, things have changed massively, of course, with the pandemic, and a lot of ways things have gone digitally from traditional methods. So in terms of channel performance, are we talking about a B2B company as opposed to be B2C typically?
Kushal: Yeah, I think we could focus on B2B companies.
Sam Dunning: Good stuff. So yeah, I mean, there's I could go on and on about channels, but I guess let's keep it a bit more general. So this can be a bit more actionable for companies across different B2B sectors, whether they're providing software, or a service, or SaaS company, wherever they may be. So yeah, I mean, when it comes to B2B for myself, there's always one, that's a no brainer, which is going to be LinkedIn, reason being is it’s free to sign up. The chances are if you're in B2B sales, then of marketing your ideal customers, most of the time are using it, because it's the biggest network that's online. But why is it good? Well, it's good, because you can literally connect with your ideal buyers, whether they're sales directors, marketing directors, Head of Marketing, whatever their job title may be, but more important than that, what I like to use it for is to kind of showcase I guess, expertise in my niche. So in my case, it's websites and SEO, digital marketing. So each day, I can share posts around my sector, but not just to sell my wares. I guess, show that I know what I'm talking about. So in my case, I'll try and provide kind of actionable tips or a recent story or a recent case study or what I feel is wrong with the industry. And it doesn't matter what sector you're in, it's a really good day, it's really good way. So it's a daily or by daily post of just to share that you kind of have expertise in what you're talking about. You provide people with useful tips. So over time, you're building credibility, and you're building some kind of authority. And on the basis that on LinkedIn, that your profile page acts as kind of a landing page. So again, that you don't think of it as an online CV, but you build out your landing page to actually hook leads provide some social proofs of provide some trust, some reviews, some ideas in which people can kind of learn from you or how you help them, it's a really good way to kind of build trust, connect with ideal buyers gain referrals and gain inbound leads. So that would probably be definitely my first recommendation, because it's free to get going, doesn't take that much time each day. And there's so many opportunities. Like for us, it's our third best performing channel for new business. So that would definitely be my number, but the list could definitely go on.
Kushal: Got it. Do you think LinkedIn is, you know, as a platform is right for everyone? How much, you know, how do companies really decide how much to lean intellect and especially B2B?
Sam Dunning: I think it's not for everyone, I think you need to actually go into it and understand if your customers are actually hanging out on there. So for example, I think in most tech industries, the chances are, your prospects are going to be on there. However, if you're in a much more traditional industry, let's say I don't know, agriculture, or something like that, and you're selling perhaps to farmers, they're probably not going to be hanging out on LinkedIn. Whereas you've got to be realistic. And I mean, the other good thing that you can do with LinkedIn is you can actually go on to your prospects LinkedIn page, and then you can see if they've got any recent activity. And if you're constantly going on to your buyers page, and you can't see any recent activity from them in the last 90 days, then that should let you know that LinkedIn is probably not the best way to reach out to them. You probably want to consider other channels, whether that's the phone, email, advertisements, whatever it may be. So that's what I'd say. But yeah, if you're in any kind of tech industry, then the chances are there will be but it's easy to just use the search tool and get diving into it.
Kushal: That makes sense. That makes all sense. So this question is really an aside. I've seen a lot of people complaining about how LinkedIn has become like Facebook or Instagram or one of those sort of possible update platforms. What do you think about this?
Sam Dunning: Yeah, so I don't think it's necessarily too bad. But I think there's a bit of a line that you need to stick to. It depends what you're on LinkedIn for, right. So I'm not hesitant to say that I'm on LinkedIn, I guess for selfish reasons, because actually want to generate sales leads, as too many people go on there. Whereas some people are just on there for fun, or perhaps they're just on there to network or gain referrals or a number of other reasons. So I tend to stick by kind of an 80-20 rule. 80% of the time, I'll probably more than that probably 80% of the time, 90% of time, I'll just post and have actual tips, insights, case studies around what we do to build authority in my sector. And then 5-10% of the time, I might post on the weekend, like a picture with a family or a picture of our little one, or we've gone on a trip somewhere, or we've done something interesting, because think of it as from your prospects side, really, if you were just constantly posting pictures of your food, your dinner, your nights out, whatever it may be personally, is that really going to help a prospect gain trust that you can do a good job for whatever your service your product is? Whereas if there were only ever seeing personal pictures, so you've got to kind of think of it what do you actually want to get out of the platform, and then reverse it from there really.
Kushal: So it sounds like maybe thinking of building trust as a litmus test for what you're posting, for instance, if that's your goal, that seems like a good way to kind of filter or decide to filter content for LinkedIn or at any other platform too?
Sam Dunning: Yeah, exactly. Because people are typically not just LinkedIn, but any kind of social media, they're perhaps hanging on out hanging out on it when they've got five minutes spare or at lunchtime, or in the mornings when having a tea or coffee or in the evening when they're chilling out. So just scrolling through the feeds, they don't necessarily want to be salty, right, swears they want to be typically educated, entertained, or, and helped in some way. So if you think of it on those three bases, so if your content can do one or three of those things, or all of those things, then it's gonna help you out rather than just doing a hard sell. If you can showcase that you're providing something useful, or maybe an entertaining video around your sector, or something helpful, some kind of tip or case study, whatever it may be, then over time that builds compound interest.
So I often compare LinkedIn to SEO, search engine optimization. So SEO is a great long term way to get your website to page one of Google. It's not quick. So it takes time, typically kind of for six months plus, but over time, that'll bring web traffic, that'll build brand. And it'll bring more sales opportunities your way. LinkedIn is much the same, you've got to kind of put in the daily work, create the daily content over time, the more people see your face, so your content, and they'll start to build that trust. And eventually, if they do need your help, or if they know someone that needs your help, then they'll get in touch with you or refer someone your way. So it's yeah, it's a long term game really?
Kushal: Seems like, it's more long term than release, pay intent and hope for the best.
Sam Dunning: Yeah, exactly. I mean, on the note of kind of what are the go-to market channels for a B2B company, then LinkedIn is kind of a no brainer. If you want short term traffic sales, depending on what budget you've got and if you're a startup or an established company, then you probably want to look at things like getting a solid website. So I mean, having a website I always say it's your very best salesperson, or it could be your worst salesperson, because if it's poorly designed.
Kushal: Hopefully not.
Sam Dunning: Yeah, hopefully not. But a lot of them are. I mean, if you've got a poorly designed website that's kind of built on your own ego on what you think looks good, rather than designed for your ideal customers, then that's the floor. So thinking about a website that clearly demonstrates what you do, how you help people, and make it really easy to for people to get in touch with you is so and then combining that with some kind of marketing strategy, whether that's LinkedIn as a kind of medium term game, whether that's looking at paid ads, or sponsored ads, depending on what again, where your customers are, that might be Google ads that might be YouTube to if you're in the SaaS industry, might be social media ads, or Facebook or Insta, again, work out where your customers are to pay, that's a great way to get short term traffic to your site, and then convert them into sales ops, or long term, then you're looking at things like SEO search and optimization to get organic, free traffic over things like we're doing now, having a podcast, something I posted about earlier podcast is a great way really, really cheap way to interview ideal customers to build authority in a sector much like LinkedIn. And it's really cheap, because it only costs 100, 150 pounds for a decent mic. And then you can use channels like Anchor for free to set up a podcast. So yeah, there's a lot of channels for B2B to get stuck into some free, some paid. Some might take your own time investment some time might take monetary investment, so happy to dive into any of those deeper if you'd like.
Kushal: Great. But I'm hoping we can do this kind of switch lanes a little bit and talk more about sales and marketing alignment. And especially because you know, you're someone who's kind of struggled both sales and marketing and as you continue to kind of understand both those roles deeply and closely as well. What do you think CEOs and founders of really smaller companies, or smaller businesses and startups should really keep in mind when they're just setting out their sales and marketing functions just to ensure that the tubidy work in alignment?
Sam Dunning: Yeah, it's a great question. It's not an easy one. So I guess it depends on the size of your company, right. Because personally, I would always hire sales first, because without revenue coming in, you don't have a business. So I think that's really important. And yeah, I mean, getting them aligned is a tough question. So again, it all depends on the size of your company and how many staff you can hire first. What I think's important is if you are a founder of a company, then you learn to sell your product is so important, because as a founder, you might be more technically minded. So you might be really good at talking about the product itself, the specifications of the product, you might know all the ins and outs, how to get it rolling, how to overcome issues, but you might not be great at striking up conversations with prospects. So whether that is your own personal development, listening to podcasts, reading books, getting sales, training, whatever, you… just the art of listening, understanding of prospects, common problems, common frustrations, common pain points, is so important. So you can have really insightful conversations and take people through the sales process from kind of initial pain to discovery to moving them along to proposal demo, pitch, and then eventually closing is so key. And then kind of making your first sales hires will then come a lot more naturally, if you're trained up in it yourself. And then on a marketing standpoint, I've got a problem with a lot of marketers, because I think they're terrible, mainly because I've talked to, spoken to a lot of them. And I feel like a lot of salespeople spend a lot more time on their personal development than marketers do. So a lot of sales, people, yeah, I'm not afraid to say it because a lot of salespeople will work hard. And they'll, yes, they've got bonuses, but they'll do it because they they'll read, they'll spend time on listening podcast, again, all these things that I've spoken to, they'll refine and make themselves better. Whereas I'm shocked at how many marketers don't do the same thing. I don't know. I think it's maybe it's because companies hiring processes are quite lazy. And they just think anyone can do a kind of marketing exec marketing manager job, I'm not saying all do, but I'm saying from personal experience, I've seen sales reps put a lot more time in their personal investment. So, yeah, I'd love for people to prove me wrong. But going back to your point, how can marketing and sales be more aligned? Well, I think they can talk to each other more. So a lot of kind of sales copy, whether that's content on your website, content of your ads, your blog posts, your videos, whatever. One of the best ways to get crispy, juicy problem, frustration orientated copy is to listen to conversations with your sales team. So if marketers could kind of listen in on their sales calls, have more conversation with their sales or sales team or in the front and center of the customers right there talking to the fresh leads or making the cold calls. So they know what the common problems that people come to your business with to address are. And they know what the desired end outcome is, you can then take those common problems to entice your customers by using that on your actual fee, your website, headlines, your landing page, headlines, etc. And likewise, when you've done a good job for a customer, you can use your words from your own customer’s mouth on how you helped them the problem, they came to you with the results you brought to them for case studies for social proof or videos for testimonials, and all that good stuff. So just understand that your sales team aren't the enemy, that they're going to provide you with useful content that you need to then you can work together to give them that… those brochures given those white papers, given those useful videos, given these useful case studies. So hope marketers don't take too much offense to that. But it's got to be said, and I'm a marketer myself, so I can say it.
Kushal: So it sounds like the way really for sales and marketing teams to work better together is to maybe focus more on the customer, and maybe make that the really the core of their interactions and what they're talking about as well?
Sam Dunning: Yeah, don't rely on guesswork really. Because your prospects, your customers are going to give you all the intel you need. It's like when I kind of alluded to earlier, a lot of companies will kind of design their website to strike their CEO, their marketing officer, or their own egos when what's the point because it might look great to you. But it might be useless to your target customer just because you think the site should be green. And it should be all about how many awards you've won, your customer doesn't probably care about that. What they want to do is land on your site straightaway, know that you can fix their problem, or you can make their life better. show proof, perhaps social proof of how you've done it case studies and then guide them to take action, whether that's requested demo, whatever the next step may be, or if they're higher up in the sales process, and they're not ready to speak to sales, then perhaps they just want to see useful resources, whether it's videos, case studies, podcasts, etc. So understanding what's important to your customer, not just what you want to put out there.
Kushal: Got it. Just curious, do you recommend that when folks are working on their websites and they kind of test them once they're done with one version and kind of maybe go back to that ICP to the audience and get their thoughts on it, is that something that should become a part of the process?
Sam Dunning: Definitely, something you don't even need where you can do after for sure. But whilst perhaps you're at the early stages of designing, talk to some of your best customers that you enjoy working with a profitable for a good growth your company and then ask them look when selecting a vendor like ours, what's most important to you? What do you really need to see in a website like ours, and they might say like, we really want to see case studies and X, Y Z, or we want to understand more about your team, or we want to see certain testimonials, and they're gonna give you golden nuggets of useful information that customers like that actually want to see on your website. So you don't have to rely so much on guesswork. So that's probably what I recommend. Like, for example, we recently changed our contact page and our thank you page, we put together a few options, then we just showed a bunch of customers and prospects and said, Look, which is best, which do you prefer? And why? So that way, you're just not guessing what's gonna work, you can actually just ask your customers.
Kushal: Yeah, it sounds like just ask is always evergreen advise that always works.
Sam Dunning: Yeah, exactly. Unless you're brand new company, then you might have to kind of talk to your network might have to talk to prospects rather than existing customers. But it's always better to do that, and then iterate after.
Kushal: Great, Sam I think that kind of brings me to one of my last questions on the show, which is really, what is the number one impact that you want to drive on the world? And this is always my favorite question to ask?
Sam Dunning: Who has, this is a big question. Never really thought about that. I suppose, I mean, that's a really, really good question. I suppose my perspective on this has changed a bit, I suppose. From a business side of things, I suppose if we're talking purely business, then I want to provide kind of No BS Advice, whether that's on your website and your SEO to actually kind of help you generate more sales opportunities and just want to kind of shed decent advice on that front based on experience. Whereas if it comes to my personal life, then we've recently had a son, we've got a 13 year old sons want to make sure we give him the best life possible make sure. I try and teach him from my mistakes. And hopefully he does great and has a great and prosperous life. So that's about it for me.
Kushal: That sounds, those sound like good goals to go with. Thanks so much, Sam. I think it's really been a pleasure to kind of have you on the show. And I think we've learned a lot from this really quick chat with you as well. Thank you so much for getting “On the Flip Side”.
Sam Dunning: No, appreciate it. Thanks very much for having me on.