B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 1692 · 4 months ago

Scaling Mental Models, with Kyle Williams

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode, Benji talks to Kyle Williams, Founder of Brickstack.

As marketing leaders, we feel the ongoing tension between what we say the product does vs what the product ACTUALLY does and how we go about addressing the market. Our best SDRs and CSRs know intuitively, from practice, how to best address potential buyers. Today Kyle shows us how to get that useful information from the heads of our team members into a repeatable system.

Conversations from the front lines of marketing. This is be to be growth. Welcome back to be to be growth. I'm your host, Benjie Block, and today we are thrilled to have Kyle Williams joining us. He is the founder of brick stack. Kyle, welcome in. Hey, thanks for having me on, Bingie. Great to be here. It is great to have you here and our listeners are probably wondering why did Benjie invite a brick stacker onto a marketing podcast? So, for those that might be new to you, kyle, tell us a little bit about the problem that brick stack is seeking to solve and then maybe what led you to that. Yeah, for those listening and not seeing us, I'm not covered in concrete dust or anything. It's not physical bricks, metaphorical ones, and the problem that we're solving is what I call shadow ICP which is really the difference between what your ideal customer profile deck looks like and what's in everyone else's heads. And typically it's very different, and it might be different based on who you're talking to, if it's sales or SDRs or CS or marketing or product or someone else. And so a lot of what we do is help to understand what is your shadow ICP and then how do we go find and map your what we would now call your true ICP to the mark? Yeah, man, that is a big task, so thank you for taking it on. Yeah, let's start here. So what a commonly held belief that you think many have on how a's or SDRs do their job that you may be passionately disagree with, Kyle? Yeah, it starts with this debate on relevance versus personalization, which is really prominent on Linkedin. I don't think it's a true, true debate, but it really comes down to how do you customize what you say? Are you going to look for something like where they went to school, which is personalization, or you going to look for something about their business mechanics, which is more relevance? And I think the actual problem with the debate itself, as true or not as it might be as a debate, is that it is a messaging question and I think if you're asking should I be focused on relevance versus personalization at the Messaging Stage, then you've already lost. And what I mean by that is, if you take a step back, the three components of any great good of market is targeting and going after the right folks the right time, messaging or recommunicating in a way that resonates and scale. Can I do this enough to hit by CACTIL L TV ratio right? And the problem is a lot of the industry built for that last step, and that last step is important right, for not hitting our metrics and are unit economics, then we don't have a business. But if we start with scale, then we have a lot of assumptions built in which which that is what this question of relevance versus personalization asks, which is I must say something to this person. And if I must say something to this person, should I be personalized or should I be relevant? And and the reason personalization wins, even though what never wins on a Linkedin poll, is because it's the most consistent to find. Yeah, and the most of separate in answer. Yes, right, I know where to go to look for where you went to school and I know not everybody went to the same school, so I will be saying something roughly different to everyone and I will find it really quickly. But really we should say relevance is something we look for in targeting, and then I can just talk about it. Right, I can just show up and say, hey, your shoes are worn out, you should get new shoes, and instead of saying, like, you went to school and do you want to talk about shoes? And you wore shoes in school and yes, it is right, of the war out of it, make it work. Yeah, exactly. I thank you for walking that out for a second. Okay, as marketing leaders, I think we feel attention and we what we would say is that, and this is how you explain to me. I think this is so true. Right, what we say the product does verse what the product actually does. Those are things that we're kind of...

...walking through and working through. How do we actually go about addressing that in the market, though, and the way that we think about it? Sometimes it is like the twenty percent best of our strs, right, they have these spidy senses of sort and they're carrying the weight because they know what to do, how to do it, why they're doing it. But many times that's like what we leave it up to, as long as they can do it a great you've seen this issue play itself out. Talk US through how you've seen this issue and how it's kind of come to your attention. Yeah, it's I sometimes say I'd started brick stack because I was constantly running into brick walls, and so the way I came to this was just seeking it over and over and over again, which is it's not an explicit thing. Like no one sits down and says we're not going to figure out our ideals ideal customer profile, we're just outsource it to twenty folks that we just hired out of school. Like no one sits down and does that intentionally. I think the reason that we see that is twofold one is that it's hard sometimes for us to see the nuance of what our ideal customer profile really looks like. So it's hard to really tease out. You know, we build a product or we launch a new product line or we have a hypothesis for maybe a new set of customers to go do expansion, and we take that to market and the first batch of customers come in and sometimes it's hard to parse out what is the thing that brought them in in the first place. And if you go enrich them, they're all be to be SASSINS. We go ah Ho, it's be to be Sass but it's actually be to be Sass that came to you then. So I think that's that's a big part of the problem is we don't necessarily know what that true definition looks like, or it's hard for us to piece that out. I think two is it's comes down to who has the feedback loops right. So your sales team as a certain set of feedback loops that's different from your product team, different from your marketing team, different from your CS teams working with the customers, and so, using sales as the example, right there talking to these folks and they get to hear in the moment what that nuanced pain looks like or that nuance situation that caused them to take the call in the first place. And then, if they stack enough of those, well you what we describe as a spighty sense is their ability to predict how a call will go before it happens, because they can do a bunch of quick research and say, AH, I think they're in this scenario and this is how we're going to go and I'm going to ask the six questions instead of the twelve questions because I just have a sense of where it's going to go. But that is really hard to take out of that person's head and put it back into the core definition. We do lose the relay race in the baton pass and that's very much true inside of organizations. Is these handoffs. When you have those conversations where you're teasing out where your say, shadow ICP is, and you get those disconnects between, you know, the sales saying the website doesn't match. Those are things that one they affect your results right because the handoff that happens between, say, marketing and sales, if there's confusion about the conversation we just had and what our marketing materials say, that's going to add friction to our ability to close. If the customer is sold and they go to CS and see us has a different understanding of what's customers trying to accomplish and the customer has a different understanding of what they're trying to accomplish versus what the product can actually do, then now we have friction in time to value, which has massive implications on that revenue retention and our ability word of mouth and other other factors. I think even sometimes more hidden and insidious is that it breaks the feedback loops because if I'm as marketing, spending a lot of money to point at the market in a certain way, but our true ICP is maybe more special, scific and different. Then I'm getting feedback that is actually not useful and and may not know it, and so I might spend money in a different way or we might end up building the wrong product for the wrong team, because suddenly, you know, they're asking for like we need the debts. We did integration. It's the most important thing that we could possibly have, and then we build it and it's a big resounding thud. I think everyone's had that experience of the huge launch that no one cared about, and it's usually because we got the wrong feedback loop, because we weren't pointed correctly in the first place. Yeah, it's like you're in a noisy room right,...

...you got gotta pick out what noise actually matters and we don't want to overcomplicate it by your own doing. That's exactly it's exactly right. Like we it's kind of like if we were a rowing team and everybody's looking at different parts on the horizon. We might get there, but we're going to burn fifty or a hundred percent more calories just fighting each other to keep the ship straight. So it's almost like saying, okay, Great, you have some rock stars in your organizations, people that know what to do, but how do we translate that to others? Like how do we almost not templatize, but how do we make sure that we're able to hit this type of mark consistently? Right, yeah, I think one is you have to watch for. Is that really what this is, because sometimes you get strong opinions that may or may not hold up to scrutiny. Right, so it might be we need to find every time CEO talks about our company and their earnings, call and the answer that is yes, like, if that happens, we should have and we talk to them, but it never happens. It's what I called like this high, high value, low frequency signal, and those are those are great when they happen, but they're usually your your SHADOWYCP is one step outside of that. What it means is something internally has happened. That means we see an external signal for that, and so one understanding. Are the mental models that are built out actually predictive, and do they show up in the market? So I think that's that's part of the challenge. I think the other part of the challenge is, you know, see this with like product markers will sit down with a really good a really good Sdrd, interview them and str the a's this is a campaign we should run, or that they are speaking the language of the Vendor Building Block. So they're like it's really be to be Sass with a hundred of fivezero employees, the revenue between x and Y and their series a to IPO, and we're just using someone else's language, but we're not using the language of what's in our heads. And so that's one trick. When trap to watch out for is is the expert you're talking to. They have great mental models, but they're trying to switch into a context that they're not used to talking. They're talking to customers, they're talking one to one, and so I want them to stay in a one to one mindset. So instead of tell me all the patterns, it's tell me about the last perfect call that you had, or tell me what you would do if you're about to go into a call with these ten specific prospects and just show me exactly what you would do. And when you do that thing, stop and tell me why so if you scroll down the page in their website, you scroll back up. Well, you were looking for something and what did you not see and what does that tell you? And you want to gather all of those patterns because those are the real things that lead to how they predict what's going to happen and who really is a good fit for your company. And want to go through an example of that in a minute here. But I want to go back to something you said before. So said high value, low frequency. I want you to dig into that a bit more and maybe give us an example or some other like. Okay, outside of it being mentioned by like a CEO, what are some of those other actions that are high value low frequency? Yeah, it's one of the most common. Is The you know, like someone, our customer, switch jobs and went to a new company. That's high value, it's low frequency. Now you should absolutely you should talk to a company like user gyms instead up a flow for that and just automated, and you should absolutely got reach out to your current customers who went to a new company. Is there to speak your language and the language of a prospect. They're perfect for that. But it's hard to build your whole business around that specificing on ocean of thats exactly exactly. So that's probably one of the most classic high value low frequency, but it's it is not really specific to a specific company. The mentioning our product is another one that comes up a lot. That's what you want to watch out for and what you want to say is really the scenario of things that happen. So what I mean by that is you're really this knowledge transfer we're trying to do is not like learning music. Like in music there are steps, right. So I can say, Benji, here's what an a and at a minor looks like, and then...

I can say here's what chords are in scales, and then if you play these chords in this order, you will get the song. And if I taught you that in the eighteen hundreds and I taught it to you today, the same chords give you the same sound. Yeah, it's more good to market. Is More like firefighting, right. You just gotta rush in and you have to adapt to an ever changing situation. And so when firefighters train it's not like violinist where you're like play this scale a thousand times and when you hit tenzero hours, like no glad we'd close. Then you'll be a master gratulations. You've done it exactly right. Well, firefighters do is they have a building and they put you in that building and they set it on fire a hundred times a week so that you're learning from a real experience. And so instead of this is chemistry and here's how the atoms interact, because when you're thrown into a fire you don't have time to count atoms and molecules. You just have to learn and build instinct for it. And so what we're trying to do with the scenarios, and the reason I say tell me about your great customer or tell me how you would prefer real call, is that's the controlled burn scenario. I want a real life thing that has all the nuance of the real world, not the thing that goes in my deck that says bb Sass a hundred to five hundred employs. Hey, everybody, Olivia here as a member of the sweet fish sales team. I wanted to take a second and share something that makes us insanely more efficient. Our team uses lead Iq. So for those of you who are in sales or sales ups, let me give you some context. You know how long gathering contact data can take so long, and with lead Iq, what once took us four hours to do now takes us just one. That is seventy five percent more efficient. We are so much quicker withoutbound prospecting and organizing our campaigns is so much easier than before. I suggest you guys check it out as well. You can find them at lead iqcom. That's La d iqcom already. Let's jump back into the show. And so what we're trying to do with the scenarios, and the reason I say tell me about your great customer or tell me how you would prefer real call, is that's the controlled burn scenario. I want a real life thing that has all the nuance of the real world, not the thing that goes in my deck that says bb Sass, a hundred to five hundred employees. Sow. We can impact there. But I want to go to that second one and I want to have us keep this conversation movie. So when you think of key driving factors behind so many organizations, maybe not have having a formalized process. You started to dig into that right like you want to know the rep that they they scroll down, they scroll back up, like that type of in game if I can use that in game scenario. So what do you think are the key reasons why people don't have that? Like they went for whatever reason, they know that their reps are doing that but they don't have a formalized way of tracking it, of a system in place. Coyle. Yeah, I think part of it is if you've ever done sales, it's the five wise right if you know. So the prospect says like we don't want that, it's too much, shirts, too expensive. You should ask why five times to understand what they're really saying. What they might really be saying as we have an allocated budget, but this is a massive problem and so we're bandating it and the bandaid cost us a lot of problem, a lot of money, and if I said I could take that, you don't have to use the Bandaid, then suddenly you would have budget, and the budget is not the real objection. It's very similar in these conversations where the first answer is not at not often the final answer right. So they might say something like, you know, I worked with a company where it was B tob SASS and we're running out of BB SASS and how do we go find more B Tob Sass companies and you sit down with everybody and they'll say the same thing on the first blush. Who Do you go after? What? How do you prioritize? We look at B Tob Sass, would to be SASBB Sass, and then you actually look at what they do, and what they did is they sold a product. This is a very large billion plus valuation company that helps sales teams with, you know, different parts of their job. And the actual answer was, do they have a sales workflow? And had nothing to do with B Tob Sass. It was do they have, you know, sort of the flow of what we normally think of a prospecting motion, to a...

...deal flow motion, to a close motion? And if they did, then their product was really good fit. And it just so happens that ninety nine percent of b tob SASS companies have that tcular sales flow motion. Yeah, but if you look at insurance companies, look, twenty percent of them have that right. They have a sales operations person, Sills enablement person and they have sort of they might not be called inside and outside sales, they might be called like brokers or something like that, but they're having the same type of conversations and they have the same workflow. Now your deal friction might be a little bit higher the regulated of the other factors to consider, but the cores they'll have the conversation because they have the same motion. And so that was the actual why was I'm looking for. Do they have a sales motion not? Are They B Tob Sass? So I think that's a reason it's really hard to do. That is when we don't recognize when someone is speaking out of their own context. We need to put them at ease and start the conversation with don't worry about how we scale this, don't worry about how we find it a million times. Just talk about your actual experience. I think that's the first thing. And then the second thing is when they give you the answer, just keep asking why until you get to the abstract, fuzzy thing where there's a lot of nuance and they say, well, I do this unless this is true, and then, if that's true, that I do this, and that's when you're getting to the real mental model, and that's the thing that's usually more predictive. Okay, so walk me through some of that. Like you sit down with str and you're trying to map their mental model. Like okay, sweet, you keep asking them why, but like what is that conversation actually looking like? What are you are you having them record a video? Are you having them how are you starting to track some of this stuff? Like let's get hyper practical here for the next few minutes so that someone that's listening going okay, I want to take from this conversation what Kyle saying and want to start to implement it, they would be able to walk away with some steps as to what to do. Yeah, so I think there's two questions you're trying to answer, which is, one, is this predictive, and too, can I find it? And then the process to do that is sort of this back and forth between what is in the humans head and what can we get from the data, and then how do we get those two to a lines who sort of are going to bounce between these two states? So the first thing we want to do is say, is this predictive? So we want to ask one just qualitatively, how they would prep and what that would tell them, and we're looking for confidence in Ah, I'm not going to ask this question anymore because I saw that on their careers page, they don't have anything related to work from home, which tells me that they're probably bringing people back into the office, which means I'm not even going to talk about that whole other section of our product. Right, and they just know. Right. So we're looking for that confidence. So we're looking for the predictive nature of what they say and ideally we can take a thin slice of whatever they come up with. Right, so I might take munch a cruise pages that do and don't talk about work from home, and I map that. I can sure say close, lot, one, close loss, and if I see there's a pattern there, then I got we're onto something and we may not see that. And so I might want to say is, well, the reason they said that was because they were talking about whether work from home was predictive of some part of your product. And so I want to look at other factors that might be related to work from home. So I look for a just generally on your close one, verse, close, close lost, what terms show up, versus don't, and then say, all right, maybe those work from home just happened. Those were a high value, low frequency. But the essence of the mental model was there are things that companies that care about this talk about in a certain way. The things that companies that don't don't talk about in that way. And so now I'm flipping from the humans mental model, which was a specific set of things they look for to match a fuzzy mental model. Specifically, do they talk about work from work from home, which the Fuzzy Mental Model? Do they care about remote now I'm going to go from the machine to say what does the machine see on good versus bad, and then work with the human to say which of these also fit that mental model. And if we do that loop a few times, then we start to end up with something that both is predictive and I can find it. And that's the loop I'll take you on a couple different times. Typically go to the machine side for a second, because I'm not sure I fully like we spend a lot of time on the human side, but like so then what's the machine side in detail? Yeah, so part of this is like with brick stack. I've built technology and infrastructure to do some of this...

...stuff right. So like look at and analyze like a company site, similar to how an AE ORN SDR might navigate to a specific section and extract what's being said there. Yes, of mashup like similarities there. I think if you're not doing that, you're just using the tools that you have available to you. I do the exercise of I want to be able to say, if I pull them out of the hat, how many of them fit your mental model? Right. So typically, if you say BBB Sass, employee sighs, these are sort of the the metro, the typical go to. Those are attributes we have access to. Typically, if I were to just use those and put them in front of an expert and pull ten out of the hat, they're going to say yes to two. And so my goal, if I'm using these blunt attributes, is I want to make sure they saying yes to six and then and then ideal state is like eight or nine or ten. And so the way I might do that is I might get more specific or I m might look at the tags that don't show up as much and say, all right, what does that tell us? Or you can you can start to use combinations of things like I think I see a lot of people do, like Oh, founding date to plus type of industry is going to tell us about the nature of the type of culture that they have to build right. So we'll start with companies found in the last two years and that's how we'll niche down. And that might be close enough and may not exactly directly tell you that they care about that type of culture. But coup they found in the last two years just had to because they were found in the last two years. So I would start to think through the hops from the day to you have available that are going to allow me to do that, pull them out of the hat test where I can say here's ten. He told me too. Then I mapped all the coupies found the last two years. I give you ten and it was six. All right, now we're Gett we're in a world where you don't have to ask the relevance versus personalization question as much because we can start to make some strong assertions going in. HMM. Okay, so I'm a leader listening to this podcast and like man cow's got it going on. He knows what he's talking about. I'm trying to figure out how I would apply this in my organization. What would you tell me to do as a starting place? What would be my is it just sitting down with your str getting that mental model, start mapping it. What am I doing? Maybe steps beyond that, Kyle. Yeah, so I would one I would ask myself the question do I have a realized SEP VERSUS SHADOW ICP problem? And that will be evidence in things like does your best day? Say I don't like the website, and what they're generally saying is I had a very great conversation with someone and I explained perfectly to them what we do and then they go to the website and they get confused or to see us say the same challenge right, like our customers love us, but our new customers are totally confused about what they bought. And so you want to look for these moments where you know, we talked about in the prop this, that you lose the relay race in the baton pass, and so look at those handoff moments and look for the disconnects, and the bigger those disconnects, the more likely you are that you have shadow YCP. So first is like acknowledging that we have the problem. Second is then having those conversations across those groups. So sort of this exercise we described. If like, what does the human know? What can the machine show us? And the more we can improve both of those the better and then get them to line up. And then I would do some some testing to confirm, because what we want to do is move from a world where often in marketing we get caught in this world of needing to make all chips on black bets, or it's like we need to hit the numbers, we need to do this bet, and so we're going to run this campaign and if it works, we're awesome, but if it fails, we have no idea. Wanders across the yessing yes, and so you want to get into a world where fail your mode is learning mode. So that's when I say back test. What we're really doing is we're saying the shape of our ICP feels like this hypothesis that we now have, and so we're going to run an experiment where we're only going to focus on company it. So we're going to say we think companies found in the last two years match this hypothesis. Those are the ones are going to have the culture that we care about, okay, and so we're going to use messaging specific to the culture that we care about and we're going to send that out and if, if we get the answer back we should be able to learn from it and reinforce the core mental models. So in that case I probably could have come up with a better...

...in the moment, example, than when a company was founded. But I would want to make sure that the experiments I run give me answers about my mental model, not just whether I hit a certain metric. MMM, I like this. I think there's so much that we can take away in and even do on our own. Obviously there's stuff that you're you're a problem you're specifically also trying to solve. Kyle, and I do want to give you a chance here at the end to talk a little bit about brickstack and the work you're doing, tell us a little bit more about the company and then also ways that we can stay connected to you. Maybe that's Linkedin or whatever. You would want people to where you would want people to reach out? Absolutely. Yeah, so founded brickstack as a result of my work doing a lot of go to market set up. So I was early Google cloud on the sales team. So I'm sort of this like sales leader that learned how to code along the way from Google engineers and then built a business unit. Google's largest partner. DID START UPS. You did a sequoia start up as one of the earliest business hires. Both the centralized outbound function sort of got us to the the series B fifty million and funding, you know, stage, and then spent four and a half years as cofounder of a firm where we helped companies like stripe and sigment and drift in these other companies making the switch from inbound to outbound do more of this outbound data driven outbound motion. And the core challenge is the one we talked about today, which is they had this idea in their heads of what their market looked like, but it didn't match their building to manifest that in how they targeted. And then the targeting, as we talked about, leads directly into the messaging, right. So if we have a custom building block for the targeting, we can use that building block for the messaging, right. So one example of that is a work with company drift. This is you know, while back, and you know the challenge was. You know, you could imagine a lot of the same bb Sass type conversation, but what the A he's really we're doing was they would go to the site and they would look at all the calls to action, all the buttons and then Click on those. That most likely led to something where you had to fill in the form to talk to sales, because their whole message was, and for those who don't know drift this time was just on site chat. So the whole thing was no forms, just talked to the team. Right, don't put friction in your process. You have the storefront, somebody walks in, you encounters will say hi, exactly yes, and so that pattern showed up with every every top aight we talked to, was that they would go to the site or the form, sort of look at that form and you know, then you could say something like Hey, I'm on your side, I want to talk to you, but now I have to wait. And so I built a boat that would go and do that same analysis, sort of stack up. Okay, here's all the calls to action, here's how it scores in terms of how much they're driving to sales. People then go to the form, analyze the form, how many fields we have to fill out, take a screen shot and then it could convert all of that in the messaging, right, because the number of fields that I ask is going to change. How I talked to you the calls to action that I have. If it's contact US versus contact sales versus get a demo versus free trail, and then it's actually a form. You sort of this like false plg on. I'm going to change how I talk to you. And so the target. It was a targeting motion, right, which it counts. Actually have the problem of a form that keeps you from being able to have a conversation, but it also was the way that I would want to talk to you. So sort of like built in relevance because of this motion. And that's really the idea behind brickstack is everyone has that nuance, that insight, and it's being expressed with a building block that everyone else is buying off the shelf, and we hope you go figure out what your own custom building block is. Well, thank you for being on the show. How do we connect with you? Is it Linkedin? What are we we need to make sure people know what to do as far as that goes. Yeah, so may be up on Linkedin. Kyle Williams brick stack and brick stack is brickstackcom. So you know, feel free to reach out anytime. Love it, man. Thank you for dropping your wisdom here on B tob growth today. It was fantastic to get to chat with you, and I do think you mentioned it earlier, but that baton handoff it there is so much that's lost there if we do that wrong, and so coming out of this conversation that is a big part of what I'm taking away, as this whole process helps us sure that up so that in...

...the long run we're not losing where we in in areas where it's so easy to lose. That beaton handoff is in securing that is is vital. So thanks, Kyle, for being here today and for those that are listening, if you've yet to connect with me, I would love to connect with you on Linkedin. Always talk about marketing, sales and life over on Linkedin. Just Search Benjie block if you want to leave a rating or review for this show. We'd love for you to do that and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform. Keep doing work that matters. Will be back real soon with another episode.

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