Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 236: Q & A with Justin Shriber @jshriber

0
71

Share on LinkedIn

If you’re not already subscribed to Sales Pipeline Radio, or listening live every Thursday at 11:30 a.m Pacific on LinkedIn (also on demand) you can find the transcription and recording here on the blog every Monday morning.  The show is less than 30 minutes, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.

We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities. You can subscribe right at Sales Pipeline Radio and/or listen to full recordings of past shows everywhere you listen to podcasts! Spotify,  iTunesBlubrry, Google Play, iHeartRADIO, Stitcher and now on Amazon music.  You can even ask Alexa!

This week’s show is called Business Activity vs Lead Generation – Where True Demand Comes Fromwith Justin Shriber, CMO at people.ai. We’re talking about signals and trigger events you can pull out of your consolidated information to have better contextual conversations with your prospects.

We have complex buying journeys that not only take a long period of time, but also sit across multiple members of the buying committee. We also have multiple people on the selling team. So if you have an insight, it’s not as binary as saying, “Well, let’s put that into an email sequence,” or, “Hey sales person, go mention this on your call.” Ideally it’s integrated across multiple channels in an appropriate sequenced way.

Justin and I talk about how sales and marketing are increasingly embracing that complexity and he shares some keys to helping companies integrate those insights and those triggers into that more complex nuanced sequence.

Listen to the end to hear some great lessons he’s taken away from COVID and from other experiences like it as well.  This and a lot more!

Listen in now and/or read the transcript below.

Matt:  All right. Well, welcome everyone to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. Very excited to be with you here. A new format for the program. We are now taking this live audio and video. We are recording live on LinkedIn and YouTube every Thursday at 11:30 pacific, 2:30 eastern. So for those of you that are joining us on LinkedIn live, thanks very much for joining us. This is live. You never know what’s going to happen. I don’t know about you, Justin but we got kids upstairs running around. We may get interrupted by animals. It’s anarchy still. The work from home, work from anywhere scenario. So if you’re with us also in your work from wherever, feel free to chime in with a question you have for myself or Justin. Would be happy to address those.

If you are listening to this on the podcast, thank you very much for subscribing. Very excited to see our numbers continue to grow. This has been an interesting year for podcasts. I expected to see fewer people listening to podcasts because of lack of commutes, but we’ve actually seen them increase as people spend more time walking, working out and looking to diversify their media experiences.

And if you like what you hear today in past episodes, every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, almost 250 of them are available live on demand up at salespipelineradio.com.

For those who have been listening for a while, you know the drill. We are featuring every week some of the best and brightest minds in B2B sales and marketing. Today is no different. Very happy to have with us today the Chief Marketing Officer for People.ai, Justin Shriber.

Justin, thanks for joining us today.

Justin:  Matt, it’s great to be here.

Matt:  So we got a lot we can cover. I think you spent years before you came to People.ai, eight years at LinkedIn. And bring some highly relevant experience obviously to this category. Being new to the AI and intent signal and ABM space, what were your perceptions when you really sort of dug in and got started and got a sense for what this playing field looks like?

Justin:  Well, Matt, before I hit that question, I got to say that I’m digging the live format and right on cue, as soon as you started talking, the leaf blowers started spinning down below.

Matt:  Well, I can’t hear them, but you know what, this is how we live now.

Justin:  It’s coming.

Matt:  It’s all good.

Justin:  It’s in the front yard still. My favorite live moment, I was actually recording a podcast with Carol Carpenter who. is the COO over at VMware, and she’s talking and all of a sudden two dogs come bursting into a room. And they’re scurrying all over the place. And I thought, “Okay, well maybe we’re going to pause this and take care of the dog situation.” But those dogs became guests on the podcast. And I’m a little embarrassed to admit that was probably one of the highlights of my podcasting episode. You throw a couple of dogs in the mix, it always gets better.

Matt:  It becomes a viral moment, right? We wouldn’t know about that guy in Korea if his wife and kids hadn’t bounced into his room during a BBC interview. I was interviewing someone and her mom popped into the picture and her very Southern mother just decided she was going to be a guest on the program as well, which was amazing quite frankly. I got to ask all the good questions.

And then last week I wasn’t on this, but a friend of mine who is a CMO at a company here in Seattle, we had a lot of snow here in Seattle. We usually don’t. He was on the live webinar. He has this on tape. He was on a live webinar. And one of his kids opened the door and pelted him inside with a snowball on a live video webinar.

I mean, you know what, like we’re going to look back at those moments and say like, “It’s so boring sitting in the office. You’ve got the padded walls. It’s not as interesting as this is.” But now we digress.

Justin:  It’s also an opportunity to build a rapport. And at the end of the day, that really is what great sales comes down to. And I found myself on so many calls with prospects and you open up and you ask about that artifact in the corner. Some dude had a Darth Vader mask, and we must’ve talked about that for 15 minutes. We had a great time and it was a productive call, but it gives you so much more view into the humanity of the person and authenticity.

Matt:  Well, I think it’s a really important point because you think about intent signals and trigger events and business activity or prospect activity that you can play off of. Not all of that activity needs to be or should be specifically related to the business. I think some people still feel more comfortable responding to a business signal than bringing up something personal, even though the personal thing might actually be a faster accelerant towards the relationship building. You probably care a little more about Darth Vader than you do whatever you do during your day job, depending on what you do.

How do you see that balance working? How are the most successful salespeople as well as marketers balancing the business story with Darth Vader?

Justin:  I think that you’ve got to read your audience. I think that there may be a little bit of a generational dimension here where you’ve got a group of people that are very comfortable, younger people, comfortable on technology, comfortable sharing pretty personal things and broadcasting those out. And so jumping on a Zoom call and bringing their personal life into their professional world is kind of just the way that they grew up.

You’ve got folks that, like I would consider myself one of these people, that are introduced to technology later in their life that still like to maintain some type of a division between the professional and the personal world. And there’s a certain level of decorum I think I still try to maintain.

And so really I think it comes down to any great sales or marketer being able to understand the audience and meet them where they are and not push them to a place where they’re feeling uncomfortable, but put them in a comfortable position so that from there you can take the conversation where it needs to go.

Matt:  I like that. I like that. And I think it’s interesting as you think about sort of generational marketing and sort of the approach you might take with people, different generations. I think it’s definitely with younger generations, with the Millennials that are becoming a bigger and bigger percent of the buying committee. They’re decision makers, even in B2B, are more comfortable with a blurring of the lines and more comfortable for having conversations. The work-life balance is different for them as it would be for Gen X-ers and especially Baby Boomers. So it’s interesting to think about.

So talk a little about, for people that don’t know, People.ai, set the context a little bit for what People.ai is and what it does for companies.

Justin:  Well, we do three things. The first thing we do is we capture all of the business activity that salespeople are generating as they interact with prospects and customers. You think about the email transactions that happen, the video conferences that happen, the calendar appointments. Everything that a salesperson is doing already exists. It’s just that today it’s been really hard to get that into the go-to-market systems like Salesforce. So we’ll automate that process. Think of auto-populated CRM as a result.

The second thing that we do is run AI on top of that. And we’ve got some very sophisticated algorithms, lots of patents that basically read that specific information and mine it for insights. And those insights will help our customers understand, for example, what are the best reps are doing a ramp more quickly? When a rep is in a certain kind of deal, what are the next moves that they’re making? And that becomes incredibly powerful if you’re a manager trying to coach someone have a set of leading indicators and some signals that say focus on X and Y, but don’t worry about Z.

And then the third thing that we do is we actually embed these insights into role-based workflows. Whether you live in Salesforce and need to interact with the insights there, whether you are an executive that basically works out of Power BI or Tableau, or whether you’re a manager that wants a custom coaching experience, we’ll either through APIs, development work we’ve done in Salesforce, or our own applications, give you what you need in the form factor that works best for you.

Matt:  Well, what I love about that is the ability to be highlighted and take advantage of those signals, that you may not be able to see yourself where you’ve got these different channels that are in different places. I can maybe look at my email, but if I looked at email versus video, versus conferences, all the data I have about someone…

This gentleman, Pascal Finette, he talks a lot about exponential thinking and finding the next trends. And he uses this concept called the weak signal. Saying the strong signals everyone can see. It’s very obvious. It’s very explicit. The weak signals are those that are less obvious, that are sometimes in the weeds. And I think if we’re relying on humans to go and sort through all that themselves, it’s going to be very difficult to (A) make the connections and (B) identify where there really are those weak signals that mean something. That actually imply either overall trend data of where you could be taking your product in the market, but also specifically for those individuals, what they should be seeing next.

And what I love about it is also just leveraging conversations and insights that you already have, and just helping to bubble up where you really should be doing with that. How does that then play into sort of workflow? Is it built into like the Marketo and Outreaches of the world? How do you operationalize those insights?

Justin:  Well, let me give you a practical example. Going back to this point you made about the fact that you’re seeing younger professionals involved in buying decisions, more professionals involved. One of the trends that our data has manifested, and this won’t be a surprise, but I think CEB did some great work on just the expansion of the buying committee. And literally they’re updating the number of people in the buying committee every year.

So historically the approach to identifying personas in the buying committee is you get product marketers that do some interviews and anecdotally piece together who’s involved in a sale. What’s fascinating though is if you have all of the information related to that first touch from a marketer, all the way through all the meetings, all the emails that transpired, and you can resolve the people affiliated with those activities to actual individuals. You now have the data to know exactly who the personas are that get involved in your buying cycle.

Now, the volume of data is intractable if you’re trying to simply go through this as a human, but using AI, you can say, “Hey, there are five people that are always involved in the buying, the decision-making committee, and this is the order in which they get involved.” Based on that, marketing can then build a series of campaigns that correctly engage the individuals at the right time. Sales enablement can build a sales cadence that is targeting the right buyers in the committee at the right time. And then when you’re actually in a deal, the coach can monitor who you’re involving in that specific deal and recognize if you’re running low on engagement for a certain persona and encourage you to reach out and find that person.

Matt:  Talking on Sales Pipeline Radio today with Justin Shriber. He’s the Chief Marketing Officer at People.ai. And we’re talking about signals and trigger events really that you can pull out of your consolidated information and have better contextual conversations with your prospects.

As you think about this with these complex buying journeys, that not only take a long period of time, but also sit across multiple members of the buying committee. It’s not one to one. It’s not one to many. It’s really many to many is what we’re talking about here because we have multiple people on the buying committee. We have multiple people on the selling team. So if you have an insight, it’s not as binary as saying, “Well, let’s put that into an email sequence,” or, “Hey sales person, go mention this on your call.” Ideally it’s integrated across multiple channels in an appropriate sequenced way.

So when you think about how sales and marketing are increasingly embracing that complexity. What are some keys to helping companies integrate those insights and those triggers into that more complex nuanced sequence?

Justin:  First of all, I think you’ve got to assemble the complete picture. Take a firm like Accenture, literally half a million employees in that company. And they’re constantly interacting with the same individuals, but you might have someone out of the Hamburg office talking to that person. And then someone at the New York office talking to that person. There is a puzzle comprising thousands of pieces, but if you’re not able to assemble the puzzle, you ultimately don’t know that person that you’re engaging with. And if you’re Accenture and you’ve got half a million people that are reaching out and engaging, you’re leaving on the table one of your most competitive assets, which is the pure number of touches that you have into that person. So the most successful companies have figured out a way to consolidate all of the information and create a cohesive picture out of it.

The second thing that they’re able to do is enfranchise both sales and marketing around that common data set. And I know that this has been a topic that’s been top of mind for CROs in CMOs for many years, and yet we still are working out of Marketo and Eloqua. We’re working out or Dynamics or Salesforce. So for all of the talk, we still haven’t gotten that fundamental unit of understanding, which is the underlying data where we can all look at the same information.

I was talking to Meagen Eisenberg, who’s the CMO over at TripActions. And she said the tech is so important when it comes to sales and marketing alignment. You’ve got to agree, first of all, on what you’re trying to accomplish. CRO and CMOs sitting in a room. You then have to build a tech stack together. And I thought that was wonderfully insightful but also so obvious. But we skipped that step. I know I build my marketing stack, my CRO builds their text. You got to build them together.

And then the third thing is you have to be brutally transparent about what you’re learning. We need to move beyond this idea that marketing needs to defend itself and withhold information that maybe puts us in a bad light and sales also, and just get around the table and good, bad, or ugly have conversations about data. When you have an integrated pipeline set of data, when you’ve got a common tech stack, and when you’re all looking at the same information, suddenly you see a continuum that starts from first touch all the way to close. And everybody’s problem solving on those friction points and trying to get through them together.

Matt:  Yeah. Super interesting. I think you’re right that it seems obvious that the techniques to support everything. I hear people say people process technology, which is probably the right progression. It sort of ignores the fact or assumes the fact that you have a strategy first, which probably is not a fair assumption in some cases because we get right to the… I mean, I don’t know if you’ve seen this. I’ve seen so many times and continue to see it. I have this tool and what do I do with it? Everyone said I should buy this tool in this category, how do I use it? As opposed to stepping back and say, “Where are the constraints in my go-to-market opportunity? Where are the roadblocks I have? Where are the things that people are doing that robots should be doing, that are things that are done manually that should be done in an automated way? They can increase that impact.”

So let’s talk about some of the stuff that you guys are launching because I’m really actually pretty excited about your Legends of Sales and Marketing Podcast. Want to hear a little more about where that originated, and what are some of the things you’re focused on there?

Justin:  Well, this has been a real pleasure to get involved in. The podcast is called Legends of Sales and Marketing. We drop new episodes each week. The focus is on those sales and marketing leaders that have made moves that really have turned them into legends. They’ve written the playbook that the rest of us now as B2B sales and marketers are using to be successful. Folks like Jim Steele, who’s the president over at Salesforce, came on the program and talked about how he and Mark closed the deal with Merrill Lynch for $35 million, and basically turned Salesforce into an enterprise company.

Just this week, Shellye Archambeau who is one of the first black female CEOs in Silicon Valley, talked about her experience of stepping into a company that was headed for disaster and turned it into one of the great companies in her sector. And she shares all the secrets. Now she sits on the board of Verizon, of Nordstrom, of Okta.

As I started though to talk to these guests, the thing that fascinated me the most was the backstory. We see the professional for the most part fully formed, but what we often don’t realize is they were kids that had experiences and innate capabilities and interests that they over the course of 30 or 40 years developed and parlayed into the professional skills that they have.

I’ll give you a great example. Hilarie Koplow-McAdams is a real innovator in Silicon Valley. She was one of the early sales executives at Oracle. She pioneered the… This is going to sound crazy because we all use it now, but the telesales model to sell databases. And her insight was I got to sell databases over the phone and I got a demo, but how do I do that? So she spun up a team in India. Overnight they would put these demos together and then that’s how she would sell.

She then went on to New Relic, took them public. At New Relic, kind of pioneered a new model for selling open source software. She was one of the first sales executives at Salesforce, was the president over there for a while, and really figured out how to sell SAS.

So I’m to Hillary and she’s explaining all these ideas, but then we get into her backstory. Well, it turns out that her dad was in R&D and was an inventor. And so growing up as a kid, she talks about, I’m probably going to date myself here. There was a program called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which is about this… you know what I’m talking about?

Matt:  Oh, absolutely. What’s her name? Murder She Wrote, wasn’t she in that?

Justin:  Angela Lansbury and Dick Van Dyke.

Matt:  Yes.

Justin:  Yeah.

Matt:  You got the theme song’s in my head now.

Justin:  So I say the adventure, and she’s like, “I lived in that house. I remember sitting on the toilet and on the side of me, there was this big thing hanging off of it, which my dad installed to help my mom rinse out the diapers. And that was totally normal for me as a kid to have those experiences. So when I got into business, I was just like, if it doesn’t exist, invent it.”

So you get into these stories and what you realize is that every one of us has something that’s special. And if we can focus on that, that becomes our competitive weapon, our advantage. And that’s what we need to parlay into the strengths that we exhibit from a business perspective.

Matt:  That is so cool. I think so much I like about that, just highlighting the journey, highlighting the backstory, highlighting the whole leader, not just the front facing front of stage leader. If you’re familiar with and like the podcast How I Built This, I think you’re going to like this podcast as well because it showcases the journey. And it’s important for so many reasons, but also because as you kind of referenced, you see these people on stage, you see them on lists of most fastest rising, most successful people. And it’s never a clean line to that outcome. There’s always adversity. There’s always challenges. There’s always noise in the background and sometimes in the forefront along the way as well.

And so I think that telling that story and telling that journey, it’s so important to make sure other people that are at the beginning of that journey or in the midst of that journey to understand what the adversity they’re facing, the challenges they’re facing, the different components that maybe don’t feel clean are almost exactly the kind of things that the successful people have all faced as well.

Justin:  I’ll give you a great example of that. I had a chance to interview Cedric Pech who’s the CRO over at MongoDB. He shared early experiences from his career in sales. When he started off, he made a very smart move. He said, “I just wanted to work for a great sales leader. I focus more on the sales leader even then on the company.” And I believe he was in Italy at the time. He had a territory down there. So he’d flown down. He was living out of a Cracker Jack apartment. Things were not going well for him. It was one of his first sales gig. So he didn’t really yet know how to sell, but he was trying to keep a stiff upper lip, put his game face on. He gets into the office and his boss comes in, Carlo Capernelli. We’ll never forget that name.

And Carlo comes in and he looks at Luca and he says, “Luca, what’s going on?” I’m sorry, Cedric. “Cedric, what’s going on?” And Cedric kind of says something. And he goes, “You’re not doing well. Where are you living right now?” And he says, “I’m living out of a Cracker Jack apartment.” It might’ve even been a hotel. Carlo reached into his pocket, pulled out his checkbook and wrote him a check, which covered the deposit in a real apartment. And Cedric said, “I can’t pay you back right now.” And his boss, Carlo said, “You’ll be able to pay me back when you close your first deal. And I know you’re going to close your first deal.”

And so he went, he rented an apartment. That changed everything for him. And just hearing that story, we’ve all been there and knowing about how someone can change a life by a simple gesture like that by exhibiting confidence. To me, that was just a great story about humanity and two people connecting.

Matt:  Yeah. So good. I love that. Well, we’ve just got a couple more minutes here with our guests, Justin Shriber. He’s the CMO, Chief Marketing Officer at People.ai.

Where does it go from here? I mean, I think we’re going to emerge at some point from this work, from home work, in our basement environment. We’ve seen exponentially more conversations and more exposure to the person behind the executive. Like normally you’d maybe be in your office or having this meeting in a hotel conference room, but now we’re sort of talking to each other with Pelotons and pianos and kids and pets all behind us. I’ve had many people say tell me that that’s refreshing. That that’s refreshing and valuable and makes it even more comfortable to have those conversations.

I mean, as we all start slowly going back to some degree of normalcy with business travel and working from an office, should we and how do we maintain some of that sort of well-rounded connectedness with people around us?

Justin:  Yeah. I mean, if I had a crystal ball, I probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now. But I’ll tell you a couple of the lessons that I’ve taken away from COVID and from other experiences like this.

Number one, the human race is incredibly resilient. You throw a curve ball like COVID at it and it responds. And what I love about moments like this, obviously extreme trial and a lot of people really struggling right now across a lot of different fronts. But the innovation and the opportunity that have come out of this are remarkable. I’m seeing people now enfranchised that didn’t have access to the dreams of working for a great company and building skills. And now they can live in the middle of who knows where and they’re working for a great company and they’re getting the skills that they need.

I’m seeing people connect with a level of frequency and an intimacy that before was impossible because you had to get on an airplane and you had to schedule it and book it. I’m sure that the pendulum will start to swing back a little bit, but I’m confident also that we’re going to retain a lot of the intimacy that hopefully we’ve gotten more comfortable with. And also we’re going to start to access talent that previously was locked away from us because of location or access to technology or education. And that’s going to open up new levels of productivity and innovation that we haven’t seen yet.

Matt:  Well, just as we wrap up here, where can people get access to the Legends of Sales and Marketing Podcast, and where can they learn more about People.ai?

Justin:  Check out the podcast on Spotify, on Apple, wherever you access your favorite podcasts. You can also come to People.ai/legends if you want to get a little bit more of the backstory on each of the guests. And definitely drop a comment, let us know what you think. This is a work in progress. But as I said, we’re having a great time with it.

Matt:  Well, and LinkedIn live, recording live. So Justin Shriber, Chief Marketing Officer for People.ai, Thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for being part of this. We’ll definitely let people know how to get into that podcast and to learn more about People.ai in the notes.

Justin:  I’ve had a great time. Thanks, Matt.

Matt:  Thank you. Thanks everyone for watching and listening. My name is Matt Heinz. We’ll see you next week on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.

Sales Pipeline Radio is sponsored and produced by Heinz Marketing.

I interview the best and brightest minds in sales and Marketing.  If you would like to be a guest on Sales Pipeline Radio send an email to Sheena.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.

ADD YOUR COMMENT

Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here