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 create content that resonates with your audience? Start a podcast, interview your ideal clients and let them choose the topic of the interview, because if your ideal clients care about the topic, there's a good chance the rest of your audience will care about it too. Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to the BE TOB growth show, podcast dedicated to helping be to be executives achieve explosive 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. We are here today with Chris Black. He is the VP of sales and marketing at gray con it, which is a division of Rico. Chris, how you doing today? I'm doing very well, James. Thank you very much for having me today. Excited to chat with you. We connected on on Linkedin a few days ago and quickly figure out what we were going to talk about. 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 little bit of context on what you and your team er up to. A great kind I t yeah, no, thank you very much. It's amazing the power of Linkedin and how you find people of value. I've been following you for 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 in story, so I love what you're doing. Greak on it is a division of Rico, a worldwide technology conglomerate, and are our small piece of their world. Is it support and solutions in in Canada. So where in national company supporting over a thousand clients, providing day to day it support and what we like to call smart sourcing, you know, helping companies achieve their business outcomes through technology solutions. But we take a little bit of a different edge. We focus on the business first.

What business outcomes are you trying to achieve? And we always believe that a business need should find a technology outcome as opposed to technology leading business. So that's what we do on a day to day basis. There's a couple hundred of US running around and we're part of you know, a twenty billion dollar Japanese company that was really empowering the digital workplace and doing some amazing things, and companies of all shapes and sizes around the world. I love it, Chris. I love the approach that you guys are taking with it, because I was just I forget what I was listening to. I think I was listening to another podcast earlier this week. It was talking about how it services. It's so it's so hard to stand out from from the noise because they're there are lots of other folks selling something similar, and so the you know, the average CIO or CTEO is inundated with messages from folks you know, at at companies you sound like similar to great on that do the type of work you guys do, but because of your focus to say, Hey, we want to focus on what you know, 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 no surprise to me that that you guys are seeing big wins by that. You know that that little shift there. Yeah, absolutely, I think that's been the secret sauce for a long time for us. I mean people hate when I say this, but everything that we do is commoditized and and this is this is happening in every industry right now, where those barrier standry or lower than ever before. So you truly have to have a differentially or you have to have a different voice, and you really really need to know your customer and the value proposition, the outcomes you can provide, and you better be able to back it up. So I think business today is fun because it forces you to be damn good at what you do and you can't just be a mental I love it. And so so, in transitioning, Chris, into this idea of aligning the sales and marketing story, when we were talking about this offline, you said, you know, there's a lot of folks talking about sales and marketing alignment from the...

...perspective of kind of how do you align the teams and who are the players involved and how is the communication between those teams work? But you said for you guys, the success that you guys have seen is really of defining what that story is. And so talk to us a little bit about and of your own journey. You were a firm 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 to tell a certain type of story. Can you elaborate on that? Yeah, absolutely. I mean I don't want to downplay that. The mechanics of sales and marketing alignment, I think all of that is really important. You know that, 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 story that you're telling the customer, the value that you're providing them. So you know, 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 sales guy. I mean I've been, you know, to use the sales from I've been carrying a bag my whole career. I was I was given a marketing department almost five years ago now, and my my thoughts and perspectives on marketing were very limited. I'm a continual learner. I'm somebody who believes and diving in and becoming and if I'm going to own something, I'm on own and a hundred percent. And if I'm going to sit in the room with marketing people and agencies and all that, I want to be a part of the solution, not just some check mark on the board for some guy in an executive seat that needs to approve something. So I really dove in and I don't want to say I'm a marketing expert, but I've become very fluent in the language of marketing. And what I noticed right away when I sat down, as we're doing so many things in our small business, but we had a we had a pretty aggressive game plan. We wanted to grow nationally. We wanted to move out of our little western Canadian, comfortable, Cozy Niche where we had, you know,...

...the eccentric, charismatic individuals who could really 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 new places, it's not about it's not about salespeople, and I think you know more 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 of a customer conversation and then surrounding the sales apparatus to support them and making a sale. And what I noticed when I took over the marketing department is that what I was saying as, as you know, I carried most of our major accounts at that time. What I was saying to customers it was relevant and important to them. What customers, more importantly, we're saying to me, you know, they're buying behaviors, their needs, their wants, things that matter to them, that that triggered their decisions weren't represented in our marketing context at all. Wasn't on our website, wasn't in our collateral, wasn't on the Road Map. Hell, we didn't have a road map. So the the first thing that I said, you know, and I took over the marketing group, they had a lot of different priorities and from marketing automation to you know, knew this and knew that and all important stuff, but without the story at all. Kind of seemed wrong. So I set us down the path of let's let's get our story straight. So early in that process, Chris, as you're talking offline, you said, you know, you got to collect those stories. So you asked, you know, you asked the question to yourself. Why do we matter to the customers that we currently have? Did that just look like having a lot of conversations, or did you guys already have those stories? They were just kind of tucked away and 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 and you know sent the text that didn't mean to have emotion, but the person took it with the motion and crm's are the same thing. Notes in a crm and and things and files that they don't have emotion. So I think 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 five years. They sat with our great sales teams in our regional managers and they sat with the people who talked to the customers. They sat with our technicians and 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 were the customer decisions that didn't get made. And it really comes back to taking the layers off of the onion. On the wise. Why did you make this decision? Why didn't you make this decision? So we journeyed into our organization and talk to our sales people, to talk to our service technicians, and we looked for wins and we look what. Looked for losses. We looked for our evangelist customers. We looked for the ones that absolutely left us in a burning rebel, who were the furthest thing from evangelist. And as a marketing department, we went out to talk to them, to get their voice, 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 miss the 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 collected all of that feedback and really it came down to some fundamental concepts that you know, when you take a step back now and you look at these fundamental concepts, there are no brainers. But when you're in the middle of the fish pole, it's hard to see what's happening outside of that because he gets so busy with the daytoday that could net. That makes perfect sense. So so you collect these stories, you go...

...through the process of having these of one to one conversations. What do you then do with the data that you've collected? Does it get spliced and diced into a lot of different assets, or what was the step from there? You know, we really distilled it down and we distilled it down into the story. We distilled it down into the core concepts and the way that we looked at it is, what is the 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 in and again, all of this is in the context of technology, but as technology plays a bigger and bigger role in business every single day, and I like 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 do their business. What we were able to do is we're able to say this is the customer challenge, here's what they're facing on a day to day basis, in their words. So there's a beginning of the story and then you 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 always set back and thought, and I think a lot of businesses and a lot of sales operations do this, and they think, okay, how do we save you money? How do we show you return on investment? And we heard 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 cost we need to rationalize what we spend. We recognize that technology plays a bigger role and everything that we do then ever before, help us rationalize what we're spending so that we can see that the attribution to our business, we can see the value and we can check the boxes of our needs. The second one that we saw from them in this distilling process of all this information we gathered was that risk was a huge concern and and that's not just from viruses and spam, and it was business risk, outages, downtime, people not being able to get to the information and have the business impact that their roles were intended for. You know that...

...slowdown of business, any slowdowns of business, any hiccups, any sort of turbulence, as as one executive set it to us, costs money and it impacts client satisfaction, it impacts staff morale and it goes against those critical dynamics that help a business succeed. Another one that we heard that was really striking to me, James, was, you know, we want to spend last time managing it. We don't make money from my t. We recognize it's part of our business, but this is not our modus operendy. This isn't how we develop cash flow create customer satisfaction. We need to spend less time doing this. How do we do that? And that the one that just was shockingly apparent and one that was completely off our radar, was we need help navigating change. And navigating change isn't just I'm switching from an android to an iphone, so much more than that. It was our customer buying behaviors are changing. Our share holders are looking for more information in a more real time basis. The constituents and stakeholders around and within the business are expecting more, different, faster. Help us with that. That is value. So we really distilled all that information to those for key themes. And once we had those four themes, James, it was like there was like the blinders came off, because all of the sudden, you know, you talked about it, dude, taking all that information 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 too much. It's like throwing the kitchen sink at somebody. Yeah, but once we 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, you social media presence, the type of people you hire, the way that you train them, the sales conversation, the brochures, collateral, everything started falling into place. It makes perfect sense. And then once you have there been any particular channels, Chris, that you...

...know, once the collateral fell into place, you had those four themes which really shaped, you know, the the content creation than that that followed you. You mentioned earlier in the episode making sure that it's reflected in your web presence and your social channels. Can you speak a bit to and of how that content was distributed so that it was an evergreen asset and not just kind of roped into a quote unquote campaign that goes out and then loses momentum after that email gets sent out? Yeah, absolutely. I you know, I hate breaking things into campaigns because campaigns feel like they they have a finite beginning and end and everybody's looking for them to, you know, to measure them. Where they successful? How many leads did they derive? How much business did we get from it? Whereas this is, this is your entire story, this this is a perpetual, ongoing, living, breathing so we went old school, to be honest with you. We didn't start on the website, we didn't start with salespeople, we started with our brochure and we started with our brochure, and our brochure, if you look at our brochure, is not a product catalog, it is not a skew's or products and solutions. It's a customer journey and it's a customer story and and are brochure truly became that centrifical think of almost a hubband spoke. It became the center of the wheel and I know a lot of organizations do this with their website, but I think the websites to dynamic for this. So we started with the brochure and if you go through our brochures, 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 keen customer 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 points that they're looking for. For sure, we wrap ourselves into it and our differentiator of being strategic and taking a business first approach to technology decisions. But it winds through it all the way through.

Here's the customer, here's the proof points, here's a validation. This is why we're a no brainer to be sitting down with you in your office to make them an offer to you of 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 else went from there. The sales training in alignment, the pitch to our prospects from our business development team, the account executives using the brochure as as their primary point to walk people through our solution, set, the web presence that we then redesigned to have the look, the feel, the language in the structure of the brochure, our Social Media Platform, where, if you look at what we're doing on social they're always going to be wrapped around those themes of rationalizing your cost, reducing your risk, helping you spend less time managing it through 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 through the high level story of your story, so to speak, and also the practical execution of of what you guys did to to really put legs to this and this this has been incredibly helpful for me. I think our listeners are going to get a ton of value out of it as well. If there's somebody listening, Chris, they want to stay connected with you, they want to learn more about great kind it. What's the best way for them to go about doing that? Now you you want to be connected to us and we're on all the social media channels. Great concom. You can hit all of 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 know I 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're looking 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 with you. Wonderful. Well again, Chris, this has been fantastics. I really appreciate your time today. Thank you very much, James, thanks for having me. There are lots of ways to build a community and we've chosen to build the BEDD growth community through this podcast. But because of the way podcasts work, it's really hard to engage with our listeners and without engagement it's tough 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 sales pitches, no agenda, just great conversations with like minded people. Will Talk Business, 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 dinner in a city near you, go to be to be growth dinnerscom. That's be toob growth dinnerscom. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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