Yes, you need a CRM!

Peer Sales Agency - Ketchup Popsicles Podcast Episode featuring Madonna Kilpatrick

The Interview

Ryan Mack: All right, well thanks for tuning in for another episode of catch up popsicles where we teach you how to get more leads, close more deals, and grow that revenue. Today we’ve got a super special guest – Madonna, how are you?

Madonna Kilpatrick: Good! How are you?

Ryan Mack: Good! Thank you, appreciate you jumping on, I’m really excited about the topic today. We’re going to be exploring CRMs and, in particular we’re going to be talking about HubSpot.

That is the CRM that we have the most experience with, but I would say, and Madonna tell me if I’m wrong – any CRM is going to follow some of these general best practices that we’re going to talk about.

Madonna Kilpatrick: Yeah, definitely. They’re best practices for a reason and any CRM that’s worth paying for is going to be able to do these things.

Ryan Mack: awesome well before we get in talk to us a little bit about your background before you came to peer.

Madonna Kilpatrick: Well, I’ve been in media for about 15 years, but I actually started my professional career in legal, as a legal clerk. I moved out of that arena and into finance for a little while… I was making mortgage loans in 2008: so, I got out of finance. (Laughter) It was not a good time to try to go into finance, so I got out of that industry at that point, and then from there, I went into media. I started in newspapers, moved into radio. I actually wrote local news for a couple years and then I really decided, I wanted to double down on the thing that I love the most: which is writing! And so now I’m actually a social media creator, and our HubSpot guru, and our social media manager actually at Peer.

Ryan Mack: Yes, and you are fantastic to work with. You know, the super technical but also having a you know, a finger on the pulse of what you know the the audience wants to hear and see, and it’s been incredible to watch you go from client to client and be able to understand their nuances, understand the complexities of their audience and how to present meaningful, impactful information.

Ryan Mack: And I just commend you on such a great job. I think it’s a very hard job. And I think people… we should do a podcast about that at some point!

Madonna Kilpatrick: Social is one of those things that sounds so easy, just like CRM management. It applies to everybody – everybody needs to be doing it and it sounds like “data in, data out” or “post a thing, leave it alone.” And it’ll all run itself, but in actuality there’s a lot more. You can certainly use either tool, social media or CRM stuff, on that level, and you can experience a level of success using it that way. But if you really want to grow your revenue, get more leads, win more deals, you have to go a level deeper with both of those tools.

Ryan Mack: Well let’s talk about a super important tool, the CRM. I think you know, trying to figure out what it really is, because I think that term has gotten diluted a little bit, but maybe you can start by explaining what it is and how it reduces friction in the sales process.

Madonna Kilpatrick: For sure. So, I think part of the reason why it does get so diluted is that term does get applied to so many things, probably erroneously, because it’s a very generic sort of general term. It’s “customer relationship management,”

You can use, and I have seen used, everything from a rolodex on a rep’s desk as the CRM to, you know, a really sophisticated almost business intelligence level piece of software like HubSpot. There are some people that use WordPress and audience engagement plugins as their CRM, in addition to being a CMS.

You just run into bottlenecks when you’re trying to use nonspecific software, or a rolodex… you’re just going to run into bottlenecks, where you’re not getting the amount of intelligence out of it that you really need.

Ryan Mack: Yeah, I mean I grew up in a time where the CRMs were non existent, and so we’re working from spreadsheets. Every rep had their contact list either in their phone, in their email, or in a spreadsheet but you know, there was rarely an opportunity to share that information with a central department that could then communicate to that client base, on maybe a more top of funnel , thought leadership level.

Madonna Kilpatrick: Yeah exactly, and I think that history of individual ownership of data, managed in whatever way feels best to the rep is kind of why we still see sales departments, and sales reps individually, really siloing themselves and being “data dragons,” as I like to say. They hoard that data, and they don’t want to work collaboratively, and they don’t want to share that information.

But really all that leads to is longer sales cycles, and a harsher handoff when the sale is done to your services team – so you’re actually setting everybody up for failure when you’re a data dragon.

Ryan Mack: Talk to me about the kind of the role that the CRM plays, you know, with regards to not only just the data cleanliness and maintaining updated information on your your contact list, but how, as we said earlier, the friction reduction in that prospecting process.

Madonna Kilpatrick: Well, when everybody knows everybody can help – is what I like to say. So, if there’s one central repository for all the information: all the interactions, all the likes and dislikes of this particular client then pre-sales, which is all marketing really is, that whole department is working from all that in depth intelligence. And then sales can pick that up when it’s time for them that lead to now be an sql – they know what assets have already been sent, they know which business line this particular prospect is interested in. So you’re not wasting your time and you’re wasting the prospect’s time.

And then, when the sale is done, the services team can also have access to all that same information. So, the services team knows the level of expertise, the level of buy in, how much individual maintenance this client is really going to need.

It’s just creating that frictionless experience, between someone totally unknown to the company to somebody that’s an advocate and evangelist for your business.

Ryan Mack: So how, how does using a CRM help create these relationships? Because you’re talking about segmentation, I feel like segmentation is directly related to a personal experience. So, talk about how the CRM creates that relationship that feels personal.

Madonna Kilpatrick: Especially in B2B – buyers don’t want to be seen as their company, and buyers don’t want to be seen as dollar amounts, they don’t want to be seen as anonymous users. They really want to know that you understand their particular role, their particular challenge, and what they need to accomplish.

Because, at the end of the day, everything that we sell and every service we provide is 10% about us and it’s 90% about the buyer and what they need to achieve.

So, when you’re talking to people… you don’t want to send out a generic “Hello Prospect” email, you want to say, “Hey, Ryan.”

And so that feels like you’re going to have to write every email individually, and it takes like 30 touches to convert a prospect to a lead, on average. So you’re talking about having to write thousands of emails.

That’s when having all this information in your CRM makes things more quickly deployable, but still personal, still a one to one relationship with that person, because all of that information that lives in the CRM then can be tokenized.

You can have a little token that belongs to that person’s first name, their company, the challenge that you’ve identified and entered into the record – and all of those things, we sort of Mad Libs into a template email that keeps your messaging consistent, that keeps your branding consistent, and it saves your reps time! It also saves your marketers time when they’re working from a template.

But then when that goes out it’s still feels like Ryan wrote this email to me – he didn’t write this email to 1,000 people.

Another thing that I really think that CRMs help with is timing. Because you can have all the greatest information on a person, but if you don’t send them the right thing at the right time – you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

If you can see in somebody’s activity history on their contact record that they’ve been looking at all of our assets that relate to our website process, for example, you know that’s probably a good time to follow up with that prospect about our website process. Open up a call with them or shoot him a quick email with our pricing guide, and just have that timely touch of information.

Ryan Mack:  I love that, because when you are prospecting to a wide group of people, and you need to have follow ups teed up… Trying to keep track of all of that is, I mean, it’s really almost impossible to do it right. So, what you’re saying is you can set up these timed deliveries based on like waiting a number of days, send at this time, in order to make it where you’re not just bombarding them with information… but you’re also not forgetting to send them a follow up.

Madonna Kilpatrick: Exactly, yeah. You know, 67% of the buyers journey is done before they ever want to talk to sales. If they’re making 67% of their mind up before they even ask you for information, you have to make sure that the information that people are receiving is the information you wanted them to receive.

So, yes, 100%. Marketing and sales side drip campaigns are super important – and you have to trigger those very carefully. They should be triggered around behavioral events like certain form fills, or certain page views. And they should be spaced out so that they don’t feel too aggressive.

I think we’ve all gotten that – actually Ryan, you and I have had this issue with a very zealous Facebook rep that called you, called me, and sent us both an email – within the space of five minutes. Yeah – that’s aggressive! And it really turned both of us off.

Look, you don’t want to be that guy. Don’t be that guy – don’t be Gil from the Simpsons! I’m asking everybody to not be that guy. Let people decide when they are ready to come to the next step. But also don’t forget to remind them that you’re there and what your unique value prop is. Timing is really important.

Ryan Mack: So your CRM essentially becomes your virtual assistant – every salesperson needs one, and so a CRM like this and i’m sure we will get into this, but, I mean there are so many options for you to even hop in at a free level with these CRMs. I mean to not use one is… like I would say that is just a pretty poor excuse anymore, like everyone should be inside of the CRM because there’s you can go free all the way up to many thousand dollars a month.

Madonna Kilpatrick: Yeah, from free to enterprise, specifically speaking on HubSpot. Hubspot’s free level is actually what I started on when I was first teaching myself the software.

And the amount of tools they give you with the free level, that also shows you the value of the next tier. So you start at a free level, and then for 45 bucks a month, they show you that you can unlock simple little automations like those drip campaigns. Even on the starter level, you have the ability to integrate all of your sites, all of your social ads and things like that. On the free level, you can already unlock so much behavior data that it’s almost like it would be dumb of them not to have a free level, because as soon as you start to feel some of the power – you feel the value in the next level.

Ryan Mack:  I completely agree with that insight. Immediately, as we started using it.
You know, that makes sense, on how you can use this tool as a one-to-many outreach tool, without the robot approach. It can have a personal feel to it because you’re using the personalization tokens – old school term is like merge fields – like what we used to do in word documents to put in very specific data points about that customer, that will help them feel like you at least get it.

Okay, so that all makes sense to me… but how does the CRM actually help the customer or prospect on their own journey?

Madonna Kilpatrick: So this, I think, is touching on probably one of my biggest irritations with the new apple privacy settings. You’re not going to get fewer ads – you’re going to get ads that are less relevant! I know, nobody wants to be tracked. But the fact of the matter is, not all tracking is evil. Some tracking is there to help you, some tracking is there to inform you and help you find your way through this massive amount of data that exists on the internet.

There’s something like 7,000 additional results for every person who is searching for a thing. So every time I get a search result, there are there 7000 other results that I’m never going to see because there’s more data out there than I can ever read. So, when you have these little trackers that are kind of following you around on the Internet, to see what you’re interested in… it feels bad, but it’s actually good if it’s helping you getting stuff done – because that’s the way we learn now, is 100% on the Internet.

We make our decisions through research and we do that research by ourselves. We don’t go to conferences to learn about the latest printers – if we need a printer, we just Google “what’s the best printer for my business.”

So that tracking that exists within, especially the HubSpot environment, there’s a little pieces of code that we sit on our website and those little pieces of code just take a look at you when you visit. If you’re known to the hubspot system, through an action you the user initiated, like if you downloaded something from us – now we know you, and we’re going to take a look at what you’re looking at, so we know not to waste your time with the other offerings that we have.

For example, if you specifically inquired about a job position, we know that you’re interested in working for us – not buying from us.

Or vice versa, if you’ve downloaded our website pricing guide, we know that you’re interested in or making a decision about websites – and we have tons of data that can help you make the right choice.

And helping your users make the right choice is not about making your users choose you. I think that’s super important. When you create content or put these things out there, and you’re taking a look at that buyers journey, it’s not necessarily to make them choose you.

I think disqualification of a lead is just as important as lead qualification – if somebody doesn’t fit, don’t waste their time, don’t waste your time, don’t waste your reps’ time, don’t waste the cost per click!

Just let them go. Let them educate themselves, let them disqualify themselves. CRM tracking and content customization can help a prospect figure out what isn’t a fit for them as the buyer – so they move on to their next resource, or they’re further educating themselves – either with your resources or on the next site.

Ryan Mack: I think that is very well said, and it I think you’re exactly right. We’re just trying to make sure that if you come to our store that we’re not trying to sell you socks, and what you’re interested is in a jacket because that disengages them, and then they lose you in the journey and go lock in with somebody else.

Madonna Kilpatrick: And I think we’re going to see more of that consumer frustration as these privacy locks, and the third party cookies are going away, as ads become less relevant and information becomes less easy to find – you’re going to see frustration go up.

So that’s why it becomes really important to have your website linked to your CRM so that people who are inbound leads – who have come to you looking for your information – they receive the interactions they want to receive. If they want your newsletter, give them a way to subscribe to it and manage that data appropriately. Give people what they want: not more, not less.

Ryan Mack: And that can all be handled via the CRM by just capturing the user behavior or the segmentation variables that will help you deliver a better experience for them, help them make a decision faster on whether or not you’re worth exploring more or if they need to be looking elsewhere.

Madonna Kilpatrick: Right, yeah.

Ryan Mack: that’s great but Okay, so you talked earlier about 30 some odd touches. How do you reduce some of the pain that a sales rep would probably feel in trying to communicate with people 30 some odd times over a course of like, months, right?

Madonna Kilpatrick: Yeah, so, 30 touches sounds like a ton – until you realize that that’s just 30 times that your brand has tickled their little brain. That could be a scroll-by on social, that could be a PPC ad, that could be your website, that could be a blog – it’s a lot of that stuff happens in the pre-sales portion of the journey, where they’re interacting with your marketing assets. Those all still count, because when somebody is in the early stages, before they’re marketing qualified, they’re just a prospect or they’re just a user.

And they’re in the process of essentially qualifying themselves as they continue to interact with your assets – they’ll eventually flag themselves as a marketing qualified lead or not.

So, then that’s when it’s time for a personal outreach program – and that can happen once they identify that they want to receive more information from you at a one-to-one level, then you can start sending them marketing newsletters, you can start sending them product guides and comparison guides.

And once they indicate they indicate that they’re sales-ready in some way – they book a meeting with a rep, or they view a purchase guide or a pricing guide, all those are sales readiness indicators – so, then they become an SQL and then the handoff happens to sales.

So there’s a ton of touches that have already happened before it gets to your rep.

What you really want to make sure that you’re automating and streamlining for sales, so they can do the most with the warmest leads, is just automate all the one-to-one stuff… so that’s email sequences that are personalized and that offer those little touches so that you’re creating a connection.

And use the meeting link! One of the most irritating things in the world to me is having to go back and forth to set a meeting. “Oh, are you available on Tuesday?” “No, I’m not available till Thursday.” And back and forth.

A great CRM is going to integrate with whatever calendar you maintain – whether that’s your outlook calendar your gmail calendar – and you’re gonna be able to integrate that into your CRM. Hubspot has the meetings link, which is one of my favorite tools – you send them your meetings link, you predefine the availability on that link and people can grab the time that works for them.

It’s just another piece of friction reduction – it’s a way to make it smoother for everybody, for not only the rep but also for the client.

Ryan Mack: So I’ve got a lot of love, a lot of feedback on the meeting link. Customers love it they say it’s so convenient. I totally agree.

I think the meeting link is a great example. You also talked about, you know, sending some what we call deposits, which are just helpful educational pieces of material content, slicks, whatever, a case study – you’re not making an ask, you’re just saying “Hey. This should help you in your journey.”

You know these documents will get loaded up into the CRM and then, as you send them off – you send a link to that document, it’s tracked. And you can see who opened it, when they opened it, how long they spent reading it… all very important pieces of information.

People think a CRM is just a database of collecting client information, and I think what’s they’re talking about less is the features like the meeting link or you know trackable assets that you email. What are some other components in the CRM that you find to be super helpful?

Madonna Kilpatrick: You know, probably next to the meetings link, one of my favorite functionalities is the open alert and the click alerts – I love that.

If you have the hubspot app installed, either on your computer or on your cell phone, you can get an alert when your prospect opens your email, and you can also get an alert when they click a link in that email.

And to know that somebody has clicked that link and you can call them at that time and say, “Hey I saw you click that proposal link! Did you have any questions or anything I can answer for you?”

For them to know that they’re on your mind and for them to know that you’re there for them… and to be able to answer any questions in real time, no matter where you are on the globe, because so much of us so much of our work is dispersed, these days.

And that ability is super powerful, and I think that customers respond to that really positively because they can ask the question when they have the question. You can answer the objection before it festers – and I think that’s really important.

Ryan Mack: I agree, and I love using it, especially like during a proposal stage. You send a proposal, and if you send it via normal email you’re just like “Well!”

Madonna Kilpatrick: “Hope they got it!”

Ryan Mack: Right, you send it into a black hole you have no idea, but then if you send it through HubSpot, you get the open notification, you get the click notification, and then you can see how much time they’re spending on each page.

I use that as a trigger to then send some follow up deposit, like, “hey here’s a case study that I thought is relevant to what you are looking at and should help you!”

But I don’t send that until I get that notification. I might wait like a day and then send it.

But in the past you’re just sitting there spinning, you know twiddling your thumbs, hoping that they got it.. then you’ve got to follow up with the worst email, which is: “did you get the proposal? did you get my email?”

Madonna Kilpatrick: or “just checking in!”

Ryan Mack: yeah – ugh, just checking in.

Madonna Kilpatrick: I never want to see another “just checking in!” email. Stop just checking in and add value or be quiet.

Ryan Mack: Totally agree with you.

Madonna Kilpatrick: So yes, your CRM is a data warehouse – it stores all the things. But it’s up to you, and to your departments, and to your leadership to decide how you’re going to flex that data to make things easier for you, easier for your customer, and more streamlined so that everybody can do more faster.

Ryan Mack: Perfect so, everyone doing more faster: that’s an alignment thing. We know better than most, how sales and marketing tend to struggle to get aligned. How does a CRM help get everybody on the same page, specifically between marketing and sales?

Madonna Kilpatrick: So, my favorite thing about an integrated CRM that everybody’s using, is that you can do your marketing activities, you can do your sales activities, and you can do sort of your post-mortem activities, which are things like reporting, and analytics, and planning… and that all happens out of the same CRM versus some other CRM that’s just for your sales REPS or another one just for your services department.

And then your marketers are sort of left using a lot of different things to accomplish one goal, they might use a social media aggregate platform, they might also use Adwords, they might also use… etc, etc, etc, and so that’s a lot of tools for them to have to use.

It’s also a lot of data that they feel very protective of and very much the owner of. And then, so they just give a list of SQLs to sales and then sales functions within their silo, and hopefully eventually everybody gets something to services.

Ryan Mack: Yeah, yeah.

Madonna Kilpatrick: In an integrated CRM, there’s no data dragons and there’s no secrets. For me, the most important part of getting alignment is increasing transparency. If nobody is sort of covering up or feeling very protective of their data, then everybody can use that data to do their job really well.

So in an integrated environment like hubspot, everybody’s using the same tool – just using different modules, and all the information, all the interactions live in a communally accessible place. So everybody has access to all the same information, and the pass off doesn’t happen between department to department or software to software – it’s all within the same little universe.

So it just naturally happens faster, and it naturally encourages alignment, because when sales sees that people aren’t interacting with a certain case study anymore – that information can be sent with quantifiable data back to marketing.

And we can say hey look, this is where we’re hitting a drop off- on this particular page of this particular asset, can we polish it a little bit? And marketing has actionable feedback that they can then perform an change action on.

In siloed departments, you hear a lot from sales “we don’t have the assets, the assets aren’t good, people aren’t responding.” But you don’t have actionable insights – you can’t point to a specific spot where the drop off is happening – in an integrated CRM, you do.

And similarly, when marketing sending things to sales, marketing can make sure that everybody knows where everything is – it’s all within that same file repository, so everybody has access to everything – and that’s how you get everybody on the same page.

Ryan Mack: I love that. And accountability, you know, can sometimes have a negative connotation, but it does allow each department to hold each other accountable. The number of leads that you’re driving – they can see, they have access to it, both departments can see it. “Hey, I’ve generated a lot of leads and I’m noticing that they’re not converting. Are you guys using the tools that we’ve provided? do you have any feedback of things that we can do differently?”

I think it’s important because it’s sometimes a blame game with sales and marketing – and it’s always based on not walking a mile in each other’s shoes. I think this gives you a little more empathy to see that user behavior is complicated. Prospect behavior is complicated. It takes a team of brains to figure out how to crack that.

I love what the CRM has brought to our clients who had siloed divisions, and I think that you know that the tool becomes the bad guy – not that departments. Like, it’s just the data and the data is saying what the data says.

Madonna Kilpatrick: Right and so then, it’s not about what I didn’t do as marketing, or what you didn’t do as sales. It’s about this thing that we made isn’t clicking – and now let’s take a deep dive into that data, let’s look at those analytics, check out that reporting as a unit – as a unified front, and let’s figure out what’s not happening.

And so, once you can work together and isolate those issues between sales and marketing, then you can get a really, really frictionless machine going forward. Because it’s really not about what marketing’s goal is for MQLs, or what sale’s goal is for revenue… it’s about what the whole machine’s goal is for revenue creation.

Ryan Mack: yeah I totally agree so. Okay, so this has been, I think, a really good high level breakdown of the power of a CRM – what it does, how it can help. You know, I think it would be cool in future episodes to go deep into some of these features because I think that there are a lot of individuals that don’t fully understand the value of what a feature could do for their sales process.

This has all been extremely helpful. I love, you know, being able to communicate to our audience about tools that can help them do their job more effectively, more efficiently, and objectively.

I think, sales and marketing tends to have a you know “it’s an art” attitude… and this puts a lot more data and science behind it. It allows you to make informed decisions, and because the price points are free to whatever you need – there’s really no excuse to not get in.

Madonna Kilpatrick: Yeah, I definitely want to encourage everybody that doesn’t use HubSpot right now, this instant, go get you a little free starter account – and then go into my other favorite thing: the HubSpot Academy.

This is the deepest, widest knowledge base of any piece of software I have ever used – in any industry I’ve ever been in. You can take classes from them, and they’re totally free as long as you have the login – and it can be your free login.

You can do everything from learning the sales software, and learning all those little tools that make your life so much easier, the alert system, the meetings link, the snippets and templates, that will make your life so much faster and easier.

They’ll teach you how to use all of it, because the more that you know about HubSpot, the more you want to use HubSpot.

And so that knowledge base is probably the greatest investment into their marketing that they ever could have made.

Ryan Mack: Yeah, I agree it is – it helps use the tool better, but it helps you be a better marketer and sales person. They don’t just focus it on the tool itself, they’re really trying to teach you best practices and how to use the tools to accomplish that best practice.

Madonna Kilpatrick: Yeah, if you’re just cracking into marketing or if you’re a starter sales rep, get in there and learn some of these classes that they have, on just what inbound marketing is, how to create a frictionless sales program, how to get your teams in alignment, how to be a sales leader.

Exactly like you said, a lot of it is also methodology and philosophy focused – and it’s super valuable information.

Want to talk to the experts?

Reach out to Ryan or send Madonna an email with your questions.

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Ryan Mack

Ryan Mack is the CEO and co-founder of Peer Sales Agency. Fueled by his drive to help companies reach their revenue goals, he puts his decades of experience in sales, private equity, and organization leadership to work for Peer’s clients.


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