630: How to Align the Sales & Marketing Story w/ Chris Black

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to Chris Black, VP Sales and Marketing at Graycon IT.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-black-yyc/

Looking for a guaranteed way to createcontent that resonates with your audience? Start a podcast, interview your ideal clientsand let them choose the topic of the interview, because if your ideal clientscare about the topic, there's a good chance the rest of your audience willcare about it too. Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening tothe BE TOB growth show, podcast dedicated to helping be to be executives achieveexplosive growth. What you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources?You've come to the right place. I'm Jonathan Green and I'm James Carberry.Let's get into the show. Welcome back to the BB growth show. Weare here today with Chris Black. He is the VP of sales and marketingat gray con it, which is a division of Rico. Chris, howyou doing today? I'm doing very well, James. Thank you very much forhaving me today. Excited to chat with you. We connected on onLinkedin a few days ago and quickly figure out what we were going to talkabout. We're going to be talking about aligning the sales and marketing story,but before we get into that, I'd love for listeners just have a littlebit of context on what you and your team er up to. A greatkind I t yeah, no, thank you very much. It's amazing thepower of Linkedin and how you find people of value. I've been following youfor a while and there and I love your podcast and and the you know, the stories that you're putting out there. I'm a big storyteller and believer instory, so I love what you're doing. Greak on it is adivision of Rico, a worldwide technology conglomerate, and are our small piece of theirworld. Is it support and solutions in in Canada. So where innational company supporting over a thousand clients, providing day to day it support andwhat we like to call smart sourcing, you know, helping companies achieve theirbusiness outcomes through technology solutions. But we take a little bit of a differentedge. We focus on the business first.

What business outcomes are you trying toachieve? And we always believe that a business need should find a technologyoutcome as opposed to technology leading business. So that's what we do on aday to day basis. There's a couple hundred of US running around and we'repart of you know, a twenty billion dollar Japanese company that was really empoweringthe digital workplace and doing some amazing things, and companies of all shapes and sizesaround the world. I love it, Chris. I love the approach thatyou guys are taking with it, because I was just I forget whatI was listening to. I think I was listening to another podcast earlier thisweek. It was talking about how it services. It's so it's so hardto stand out from from the noise because they're there are lots of other folksselling something similar, and so the you know, the average CIO or CTEOis inundated with messages from folks you know, at at companies you sound like similarto great on that do the type of work you guys do, butbecause of your focus to say, Hey, we want to focus on what youknow, what is the business result that you're trying to drive first,instead of immediately going to well, this is what we do, it's nosurprise to me that that you guys are seeing big wins by that. Youknow that that little shift there. Yeah, absolutely, I think that's been thesecret sauce for a long time for us. I mean people hate whenI say this, but everything that we do is commoditized and and this isthis is happening in every industry right now, where those barrier standry or lower thanever before. So you truly have to have a differentially or you haveto have a different voice, and you really really need to know your customerand the value proposition, the outcomes you can provide, and you better beable to back it up. So I think business today is fun because itforces you to be damn good at what you do and you can't just bea mental I love it. And so so, in transitioning, Chris,into this idea of aligning the sales and marketing story, when we were talkingabout this offline, you said, you know, there's a lot of folkstalking about sales and marketing alignment from the...

...perspective of kind of how do youalign the teams and who are the players involved and how is the communication betweenthose teams work? But you said for you guys, the success that youguys have seen is really of defining what that story is. And so talkto us a little bit about and of your own journey. You were afirm that was wanting to go national and as you were thinking through. Okay, if we want to go national, what do we need to do?You landed on this idea of okay, we need it, we need totell a certain type of story. Can you elaborate on that? Yeah,absolutely. I mean I don't want to downplay that. The mechanics of salesand marketing alignment, I think all of that is really important. You knowthat, the team collaboration, that shared voice, all of that stuff.But I think at the beginning, and like anything in business these days,it's got to start with the customer and it has to start with the storythat you're telling the customer, the value that you're providing them. So youknow, in our journey, and I'll throw it out there right now,and I always sort of throw this caveat out there, I'm a career salesguy. I mean I've been, you know, to use the sales fromI've been carrying a bag my whole career. I was I was given a marketingdepartment almost five years ago now, and my my thoughts and perspectives onmarketing were very limited. I'm a continual learner. I'm somebody who believes anddiving in and becoming and if I'm going to own something, I'm on ownand a hundred percent. And if I'm going to sit in the room withmarketing people and agencies and all that, I want to be a part ofthe solution, not just some check mark on the board for some guy inan executive seat that needs to approve something. So I really dove in and Idon't want to say I'm a marketing expert, but I've become very fluentin the language of marketing. And what I noticed right away when I satdown, as we're doing so many things in our small business, but wehad a we had a pretty aggressive game plan. We wanted to grow nationally. We wanted to move out of our little western Canadian, comfortable, CozyNiche where we had, you know,...

...the eccentric, charismatic individuals who couldreally carry the business and marketing was kind of a reactive part of our company. And you know, when you're growing into new markets and you're going newplaces, it's not about it's not about salespeople, and I think you knowmore and more salespeople are there so critical, but their critical at an important time. Marketing's really got to carry the bag. Now at the beginning ofa customer conversation and then surrounding the sales apparatus to support them and making asale. And what I noticed when I took over the marketing department is thatwhat I was saying as, as you know, I carried most of ourmajor accounts at that time. What I was saying to customers it was relevantand important to them. What customers, more importantly, we're saying to me, you know, they're buying behaviors, their needs, their wants, thingsthat matter to them, that that triggered their decisions weren't represented in our marketingcontext at all. Wasn't on our website, wasn't in our collateral, wasn't onthe Road Map. Hell, we didn't have a road map. Sothe the first thing that I said, you know, and I took overthe marketing group, they had a lot of different priorities and from marketing automationto you know, knew this and knew that and all important stuff, butwithout the story at all. Kind of seemed wrong. So I set usdown the path of let's let's get our story straight. So early in thatprocess, Chris, as you're talking offline, you said, you know, yougot to collect those stories. So you asked, you know, youasked the question to yourself. Why do we matter to the customers that wecurrently have? Did that just look like having a lot of conversations, ordid you guys already have those stories? They were just kind of tucked awayand cram or somebody's inbox and it was just a matter of extracting them.Like, what was your process for going about collecting those? You know,people talk to people and and I think we've become overreliant on crms and notes, and notes don't they don't display emotion.

I think we've all been there andyou know sent the text that didn't mean to have emotion, but theperson took it with the motion and crm's are the same thing. Notes ina crm and and things and files that they don't have emotion. So Ithink some of those stories, some great story, set with our CEO,who would who had started the company and have been there selling for twenty fiveyears. They sat with our great sales teams in our regional managers and theysat with the people who talked to the customers. They sat with our techniciansand honestly that these are the stories of you know, here's your need.We've identified this and they were the customer decisions that got made and they werethe customer decisions that didn't get made. And it really comes back to takingthe layers off of the onion. On the wise. Why did you makethis decision? Why didn't you make this decision? So we journeyed into ourorganization and talk to our sales people, to talk to our service technicians,and we looked for wins and we look what. Looked for losses. Welooked for our evangelist customers. We looked for the ones that absolutely left usin a burning rebel, who were the furthest thing from evangelist. And asa marketing department, we went out to talk to them, to get theirvoice, to understand you know, what are the challenges within Your Business?Why did you choose great con? Why do you continue to choose us?How do you make decisions? And then for the ones that didn't choose us, and this was some of the most important learning. Where did we missthe mark? What was different between us and the solution that you chose?Why didn't you choose what we put in front of you? And we collectedall of that feedback and really it came down to some fundamental concepts that youknow, when you take a step back now and you look at these fundamentalconcepts, there are no brainers. But when you're in the middle of thefish pole, it's hard to see what's happening outside of that because he getsso busy with the daytoday that could net. That makes perfect sense. So soyou collect these stories, you go...

...through the process of having these ofone to one conversations. What do you then do with the data that you'vecollected? Does it get spliced and diced into a lot of different assets,or what was the step from there? You know, we really distilled itdown and we distilled it down into the story. We distilled it down intothe core concepts and the way that we looked at it is, what isthe customer challenge? What are they facing in this straight from the customer?What are you facing on a day to day business? You know where inand again, all of this is in the context of technology, but astechnology plays a bigger and bigger role in business every single day, and Ilike to think of it as part of the DNA of a core business,the way that they communicate, gather information, the way that they they they dotheir business. What we were able to do is we're able to saythis is the customer challenge, here's what they're facing on a day to daybasis, in their words. So there's a beginning of the story and thenyou break it down to what are the four main concepts? And you know, really we were looking for to one or two main concepts and we alwaysset back and thought, and I think a lot of businesses and a lotof sales operations do this, and they think, okay, how do wesave you money? How do we show you return on investment? And weheard from customers time and time again. Listen, money matters, absolutely,but it's a lot more than just money. We don't need to just save costwe need to rationalize what we spend. We recognize that technology plays a biggerrole and everything that we do then ever before, help us rationalize whatwe're spending so that we can see that the attribution to our business, wecan see the value and we can check the boxes of our needs. Thesecond one that we saw from them in this distilling process of all this informationwe gathered was that risk was a huge concern and and that's not just fromviruses and spam, and it was business risk, outages, downtime, peoplenot being able to get to the information and have the business impact that theirroles were intended for. You know that...

...slowdown of business, any slowdowns ofbusiness, any hiccups, any sort of turbulence, as as one executive setit to us, costs money and it impacts client satisfaction, it impacts staffmorale and it goes against those critical dynamics that help a business succeed. Anotherone that we heard that was really striking to me, James, was,you know, we want to spend last time managing it. We don't makemoney from my t. We recognize it's part of our business, but thisis not our modus operendy. This isn't how we develop cash flow create customersatisfaction. We need to spend less time doing this. How do we dothat? And that the one that just was shockingly apparent and one that wascompletely off our radar, was we need help navigating change. And navigating changeisn't just I'm switching from an android to an iphone, so much more thanthat. It was our customer buying behaviors are changing. Our share holders arelooking for more information in a more real time basis. The constituents and stakeholdersaround and within the business are expecting more, different, faster. Help us withthat. That is value. So we really distilled all that information tothose for key themes. And once we had those four themes, James,it was like there was like the blinders came off, because all of thesudden, you know, you talked about it, dude, taking all thatinformation and just turning it blindly into content and web presents and, you know, social media apparatus and all of this fun stuff. It would be toomuch. It's like throwing the kitchen sink at somebody. Yeah, but oncewe distilled it into those for key themes, all of the sudden your web presence, that the journey that you take them on on your website, yousocial media presence, the type of people you hire, the way that youtrain them, the sales conversation, the brochures, collateral, everything started fallinginto place. It makes perfect sense. And then once you have there beenany particular channels, Chris, that you...

...know, once the collateral fell intoplace, you had those four themes which really shaped, you know, thethe content creation than that that followed you. You mentioned earlier in the episode makingsure that it's reflected in your web presence and your social channels. Canyou speak a bit to and of how that content was distributed so that itwas an evergreen asset and not just kind of roped into a quote unquote campaignthat goes out and then loses momentum after that email gets sent out? Yeah, absolutely. I you know, I hate breaking things into campaigns because campaignsfeel like they they have a finite beginning and end and everybody's looking for themto, you know, to measure them. Where they successful? How many leadsdid they derive? How much business did we get from it? Whereasthis is, this is your entire story, this this is a perpetual, ongoing, living, breathing so we went old school, to be honest withyou. We didn't start on the website, we didn't start with salespeople, westarted with our brochure and we started with our brochure, and our brochure, if you look at our brochure, is not a product catalog, itis not a skew's or products and solutions. It's a customer journey and it's acustomer story and and are brochure truly became that centrifical think of almost ahubband spoke. It became the center of the wheel and I know a lotof organizations do this with their website, but I think the websites to dynamicfor this. So we started with the brochure and if you go through ourbrochures, it's not about us, it's about the customer and it is metaphors. We love imagery and it's metaphors along with, you know, really keencustomer language. That talks about and for us it's IT and modern business.It talks about the customer challenges in the for outcomes, The for alignment pointsthat they're looking for. For sure, we wrap ourselves into it and ourdifferentiator of being strategic and taking a business first approach to technology decisions. Butit winds through it all the way through.

Here's the customer, here's the proofpoints, here's a validation. This is why we're a no brainer tobe sitting down with you in your office to make them an offer to youof business partnership, and I think that's that's such a fundamental component of it. So we started with the brochure and once we had that. Everything elsewent from there. The sales training in alignment, the pitch to our prospectsfrom our business development team, the account executives using the brochure as as theirprimary point to walk people through our solution, set, the web presence that wethen redesigned to have the look, the feel, the language in thestructure of the brochure, our Social Media Platform, where, if you lookat what we're doing on social they're always going to be wrapped around those themesof rationalizing your cost, reducing your risk, helping you spend less time managing itthrough education and enablement and helping you navigate this crazy world of change.So we started with that brochure and everything tiered from there. I love it, Chris. This has been fantastic. I really appreciate you walking us throughthe high level story of your story, so to speak, and also thepractical execution of of what you guys did to to really put legs to thisand this this has been incredibly helpful for me. I think our listeners aregoing to get a ton of value out of it as well. If there'ssomebody listening, Chris, they want to stay connected with you, they wantto learn more about great kind it. What's the best way for them togo about doing that? Now you you want to be connected to us andwe're on all the social media channels. Great concom. You can hit allof our social channels from there. If you're looking to be connected with me, I share a ton on Linkedin. I don't do twitter and I knowI took a lot of flak for that, but hit me up on Linkedin.Chris Black Yy, see on on Linkedin and you know, if you'relooking for business, customer centricity, start up mentality, ten x growth,I share and present a lot on that...

...and I'd love to be connected withyou. Wonderful. Well again, Chris, this has been fantastics. I reallyappreciate your time today. Thank you very much, James, thanks forhaving me. There are lots of ways to build a community and we've chosento build the BEDD growth community through this podcast. But because of the waypodcasts work, it's really hard to engage with our listeners and without engagement it'stough to build a great community. So here's what we've decided to do.We're organizing small dinners across the country with our listeners and guests. No salespitches, no agenda, just great conversations with like minded people. Will TalkBusiness, will talk family, will talk goals and dreams, will build friendships. So if you'd like to be a part of a be tob growth dinnerin a city near you, go to be to be growth dinnerscom. That'sbe toob growth dinnerscom. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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