Relationships VS Sales: Tips to help prospect during challenging times.

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John: Hey everyone, welcome to Life is Digital.

I am your host, John Bianchi. Get ready to learn about digital marketing and sales as we share our knowledge and perspectives on current trends, best practices and actionable tips to help you grow your business in the digital age.

Well, I am so excited today because I have one of my great friends, long-time good friend, Will Barfield, of Barfield Revenue here with me today. He is the President and CEO, and I wanted to give him an opportunity to say a little bit about what Barfield Revenue does, how they help customers and drive an impact in the industry.

Hey Will – it’s just fantastic to have you here today.

Meet Will Barfield with Barfield Revenue Consulting 

Will: Thank you, John. I really, really appreciate the invite. When you reached out to ask me the only answer I considered is “yes”, not only because you’re a friend and not what you guys are doing in the community and nationally as an organization, but the topic and what we’re covering today for folks is really germane and helpful. Quickly in a nut-shell, what Barfield Revenue Consulting is as a business practice. We focus primarily on helping growing companies in software technology, digital marketing, etcetera, higher revenue impacting talent, so we work on entry level roles up to senior level, and the ownership, and it’s everything from sales to marketing, to account management, all scopes of business development – really the human beings that impact revenue inside small, fast-growing and accelerating businesses.

John: That’s fascinating in what you’re doing, you’re touching on so many different aspects of how businesses drive bottom line revenue growth, and I love that you have revenue in the title of your company. On our Podcast, something that we like to focus on is helping business owners, small business owners drive their bottom line revenue growth, as you’ve said, and obviously through hiring the right talent, you can do that. And, I wonder if we can maybe dive a little bit in today, we were talking previously before we hopped on about some key industry facts that business owners could take away, that they could put into practice, maybe from what you’re seeing in the marketplace as it pertains to sales, marketing, and hiring the right talent. Maybe you can share a few of those with us today.

Key industry facts relating to sales, marketing and hiring new talent

Will: Sure, so John, we’re all were at least at this moment in time here, early August of 2020… the world continues to be in a different place, but the tenants of doing business and a generating revenue remain the same. And, you have to stick to those key factors if you’re going to survive through this difficult time and come out the other side better, faster, stronger, which is what we’re focused on. There’s always hiring, revenue-impacting talent as a key component of growth. Some folks right now are holding back. They’re waiting to see what’s going to happen. They’re trying to be cautious and thoughtful about the hiring marketplace, and there are others, a few, who are being strategic right now in understanding, there’s some talent loose in the market today, that wasn’t in the market, 120 days and isn’t going to be in the market 120 days from now and taking a risk and going after that revenue impact or that business developer… Right? That key digital marketing hire.

When others may be holding back could be the difference between you creeping out of the gate and exploding out of the gate, when we get to the other side of this, which we will. It is not the easiest decision to make, there’s a lot of factors that go into that. But, man, I’ve got some clients, a small percentage who understand that not only is their talent available now that they wouldn’t have found half a year ago, but really, John… Another thing to consider is this is the first time in almost a decade that it’s been an employer’s market, not an employee’s market.

This is also an opportunity where employers have the leverage and they can negotiate much more aggressively on salary and other components of a higher offer than they wouldn’t have had the ability to do four months ago.

Driving new client acquisition for your company

John: That’s fascinating. So, something I’m taking away from that is if you’re willing to take some risks and you’re willing to dive in, this is the time when you can actually grow your business strategically. And as you said, the companies that are taking that advantage, those are the ones that are going to explode out of the gate, rather than crawl. I wonder if this connects also to overall business development and prospecting and driving new client acquisition for your company. I think we’ve had a lot of conversations about this over the years, and you’re someone who has a lot of experience in developing new clients for yourself and obviously, really procuring what other businesses need, like certain talent or a higher… Something like that. So how do you see some of those activities either changing or maybe doubling down on some of those things that we all know works long term?

Will: Awesome question.

I did a webinar in early June with some friends all about prospecting during challenging times, because I had heard plenty of sales people and plenty of sales leaders and business development executives worrying about that. And I’ve been through this twice.

I went through the economic downturn in 2008, ’09 and ’10 when in the recruiting industry, and this is my second experience in the space, and we spent an hour on that. We could’ve gone two or more about prospecting, and there’s this feeling of, is now the right time? Should I be reaching out to try to development business? Or, are people going to say, why now? Don’t you know what’s happening in the world? Is there going to be negativity or fear? And, it’s not that you shouldn’t be always working to develop new business, you should… I’ve been in sales 22 years. I was a cold calling outside business to business, SMB prospector for 19 straight years.

I was a player coach with my own teams that I was responsible for leadership-wise – hiring and development. So, I’ve prospected in great times and I’ve prospected in poor times. Right now is an awesome time.

It’s not cold calling.

I’m not reaching out to people I don’t know and saying, Hey, in one of the worst hiring markets ever, are you ready to hire? Because, that’s not how you go about it. It’s really a mindset about reaching out to clients, reaching out to connections, reaching out to… Even to prospects and saying “Hey…

I’m just wondering how things are going with your business. What are you guys seeing right now?” Here’s what’s going on in our part of the world. Would love to get to know you and build a relationship so that when the time is right, we can find a way to work together. And, it’s a very simple message, but it’s all about where your head is at when you reach out to folks and making it more about the relationship without the concern for the sales cycle and putting lots of stuff in the pipeline right now, many, many things in the top of the funnel, so that as business starts to gear back up and we get beyond the election. You hear about the vaccine being announced as the market starts to loosen up, what I believe is going to be a mid-Q1 situation, you’ve got plenty of ammunition and plenty of good will that you’ve built prior to that, that you can reach back out, reconnect and take advantage of it.

How are companies marketing themselves to drive new business during this time? 

John: I love that. For any business, I think there’s always a lot of focus on middle of funnel and bottom of funnel. We want to be bringing on new clients today. We want a new client tomorrow, and that concern for your local small business, your brick and mortar, or your new online technology startup is always going to be a focus. It’s going to be a product of every sales meeting. I like what you mentioned there about filling the top of the funnel. When we work with our clients, a lot of times we’re helping them with top of funnel activities that then get nurtured into those relationships that developed for them long-term. Are you finding that businesses are having to change how they message and market themselves in this new time? Obviously, you said there’s a lot of hires out there that are looking in the job market, even a few months ago… How has some of the changes with, let’s say, people working from home or having different ways that they interact with brands and businesses, are you seeing a shift in marketing and obviously, that’s what we do to help our clients.

I always want know if there’s things we can learn from what you’re seeing on the other side about how brands are interacting in the marketplace.

Will: So yes, I am. And, messaging now more than ever, from what I’m seeing from a marketing standpoint, is about image, it’s about social impact, it’s about how are we reflecting our community and is our business looking like those that we are trying to do business with? Are we representing ourselves in a positive manner? Hiring-wise where I’ve been busy in this slower time, it’s really been equal parts of companies hiring some sales reps, but I’m doing more digital marketing hires, content, demand generation and then overall marketing leader than I am sales – which is an interesting statement.

Why is that?

That’s because that top of funnel piece is so important right now, and companies are spending money on marketing for brand, for image, for presence, for value of validity, and trying to make sure that people feel good about them and that they are seeing that they’re aware of what’s happening in the world, and they’re either at pace with it or out in front of it, so that when the they market well to them… they’re nurturing, they’re doing ad campaigns, they’re not overdoing it. They’re trying to get it just right in terms of time, so that they’re putting MQLs – those marketing qualified leads on top of that funnel, and then when it’s time to ramp sales, and these reps that either I’m working on hiring or that they will be hiring in the coming quarters, settle into their seats. They’ve got not only good marketing and qualified leads to reach out to, but they’ve also got a company that’s been thoughtful about the way an image itself… So that when they do call those prospects or introduce them in a link and follow up, or do shoot them an email that they feel good about the fact that they are hearing from this company, because they’re like…

“You know what, I love the way you guys messaged back in June and what you had to say online or the social media that you all were putting out there, the way that you handled yourselves was excellent. It made me feel good about the company.” Yeah, I think that brand is not just about right now and are we the best, it’s really about our company cares and how are we re-positioning ourselves from an image standpoint going forward.

Key Takeaways 

John: Well, I love that you mentioned that because something that we really strive to help our clients understand regardless of whether they work with us on this piece or not, is the value of, like you said, that strategic positioning and communication strategy. How are you presenting what you do to the marketplace that positively impacts the customer, the environment potentially? Are you taking into account things that are important to people on their day-to-day personal lives… Obviously, we look to the big companies like Amazon, and I love the example of when Amazon went through their branding process, they wanted to be known as the smile company, because they’re really a customer service company… Yes, they are a logistics company. That’s their main core function is getting things within two days to someone who buys two days or less, but they want to be known as generating that kind of experience and feeling when you interact even with their packaging.

So I really love that you mentioned that, and I’m sure that not only impacts who works where and who gets hired and why someone decides to work at a company… I have another contact that I think you know, Stacey Penn, and she mentioned that it’s important for companies to clean up their assets online, make sure their website presents their story properly. That’s going to impact the hiring process, especially as we have now, those millennials who are now in their 30s looking at where they’re going to work, that’s important to them. Will, this has been a great conversation today, I wonder if you could maybe leave the audience with a few key takeaways around that sales and marketing piece that we just mentioned, that they could really take digest and may be put into practice in their business and in their company.

Will: So happy to do that. Thank you for the tee up. I’m gonna say, first of all, that my comments are going to be around network and networking, regardless of all the amazing technological and online and sales-led tools and talents that are out there from a prospecting standpoint, the networks. The network is number one and you could never lose side of that so what I’m going to talk about here is about how you need to think about the way your networking, one would be an old fashion thing that I got taught very early in sales, which is two ears, one mouth. Listen more than you talk.

And, when you’re reaching out to your network, don’t reach out to your network to preach or ask. Reach out to your network to learn. Hear what’s going on with them. Let them tell you what’s happening. Listen more than you talk and you will receive… So, I had a networking conversation with an old friend this morning, she was telling me about a case, new job that she’s taken on. I just opened up the conversation for a half hour, just let her unfold everything and by the end, she had given me a new opportunity to work on that I didn’t even know it was available and would not have asked for it, but I just let her talk.

Okay.

So two ears, one mouth. The other thing – give without asking, Okay, you and I do a lot of volunteer work together. We support causes, we raise money, we network to benefit others, we give them our time, we give them… Without asking for anything in return. And we get a whole lot more out of it.

Much of what I’m doing with my time right now, because recruiting is a little slower in the land of hiring freezes and layoffs as you would imagine, is I’m donating a lot of my time to people who are frightened. They’ve been laid off, they’re in the job market.

Some of them are folks who are 30 years old or younger and have never experienced a recession or a down job market. They don’t know what it’s like to not be pursued, or it may be 45 or older and be in an age bracket that also finds it challenging at a middle management standpoint. Not only to find a new position right now, but they’re probably not the most adept networker, LinkedIn users, and tuned in to the new age of recruiting. So, giving them my time without asking for anything. Spending 30 minutes helping them out. Give them some tips, give them some guidance. Giving them some connections and introductions. Being endlessly beneficial. And, when I came out of the last recession, I did the same thing, and many of those folks turned into great referral partners and even clients down the line… Because I never asked them for a thing. They came back to me because they remembered that I gave…

John: Well, this has been an absolutely fantastic conversation today. I love what you’re mentioning about giving your time, that’s something, especially when you’re building your network and your referral… Obviously, your referral partners. Yes, we’ve done a lot to give back to the community, that’s important, I think even just to better where you live and where you operate your business. You want to be a part of gratuity so I love what you’re mentioning there. I love your statements about sales and marketing, making sure that we’re able to take risk, see this as an opportunity time, even if the results that we see now or down the road. This is an opportunity time. Maybe even like you said, get back to some basics, pick up the telephone… call. Ask someone how they’re doing. See what’s going on in their industry. Just like we’re having this conversation today on the podcast, I think this is where we really begin to build value for others because they can learn from the things that we’ve chatted about.

So again, thank you so much, Will, for volunteering your time to be on the podcast today, I really appreciate you joining me and I appreciate you, the audience, for joining us for this episode of Life is Digital. Once again, I’m your host, John Bianchi. Remember to rate, review, and subscribe to the show. There’ll be some other information and links below in the comments. Until next time, don’t stop marketing.

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