Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 99: Q&A with Jen Spencer

January 15, 2018 Matt Heinz

By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

Late in 2015 we started producing a bi-weekly radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which runs live every other Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific.  It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.

We’ve already featured some great guests and have a line up of awesome content and special guests into 2016. Our very first guest was Funnelholic author and Topo co-founder Craig Rosenberg.  Next we had Mike Weinberg, incredible writer, speaker, author, followed by Conrad Bayer, CEO & Founder of Tellwise.  Recent Guests: Jim KeenanJoanne BlackAaron Ross; Josiane Feigon, Meagen Eisenberg, and Trish Bertuzzi.

We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into and throughout the year. We’ll publish similar highlights here for upcoming episodes.  You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.

We were thrilled this last time to be able to talk to Jen Spencer, Vice President, Sales & Marketing for SmartBug Media.

In this episode we talked about:

How to enable your entire go-to-market team: Best practices and advice to increase conversion rates and sales success

Some Highlights:

Intelligent Inbound

– Data-oriented

– Not just blogs and whitepapers — web design, PR, sales enablement, creative working together to grow revenue and marketing ROI

– Importance of the marketing to sales handoff with inbound

– Evolution of public relations; how to use it to enhance inbound strategy

MORE ABOUT OUR GUEST: 

Jen Spencer is Vice President, Sales & Marketing for SmartBug Media, a leading intelligent inbound marketing agency that assists businesses in generating leads; increasing awareness; and building brand loyalty through inbound marketing, digital strategy, design, marketing automation, and PR.

Prior to her role at SmartBug, Jen was the VP of Sales and Marketing at Allbound, a partner sales acceleration software-as-a-service solution provider. She was responsible for developing and executing an inbound demand generation strategy, raising brand and market awareness for Allbound, and channel sales and marketing. She helped the company reach 50 percent growth in year-over-year traffic and a 363 percent increase in sales leads.

While serving as Director of Marketing at nettime solutions, acquired by Paychex in June 2014, Jen developed and executed an inbound lead generation and content marketing strategy while supporting a channel of referral, reseller, co-branded, and white-labeled partners. Through her role, the company saw a 103 percent increase in website traffic, a 415 percent increase in direct sales leads, and an 89 percent increase in revenue.

Whether she’s writing a blog, delivering a speech, interviewing clients or managing agency relationships, aligning with her audience is always at the forefront of her mind. Jen subscribes to the notion that “we’re all in this together,” and great communication leads to great partnership.

In her free time, Jen serves on the Board of Girls in Tech – Phoenix, a local chapter of the global non-profit focused on the engagement, education and empowerment of girls and women who are passionate about technology.

If you get to know Jen, you’ll discover she loves animals, technology, the arts, and really good Scotch. She’s also the mother of twin teenage boys which means there’s likely a lone dirty sock in every room of her house.

Matt:  It’s day four of 2018. I hope everyone listening is off to a strong start to the new year. If you’re listening to us live on the Sales League Management on the Funnel Media Network, thanks very much for listening. If you’re listening to this on the podcast, thank you very much for subscribing. You can check out every one of our episode moving forward. You can subscribe at Google Play and the iTunes store and every episode past, present, future available always at salespipelineradio.com. We are featuring every week, experts and best practices in b2b sales and marketing, mostly featuring experts in the field who are doing the work and today is no exception. I am really excited to feature today and for to join us on Sales Pipeline Radio, Jen Spencer. She is the vice president of sales and marketing at SmartBug Media. She is a well known person in the b2b marketing space, speaker, a board member at Girls In Tech Phoenix. Has just done a ton of great stuff. Jen, thanks so much for joining us today on Sales Pipeline Radio.

Jen:  Aw, thanks for having me. This is awesome.

Matt:  So there are dozens of topics we can cover. We only have a finite amount of time, but we of course need to start with a quick discussion of the Denver Broncos. The season has ended, the Broncos maybe didn’t have quite the season they wanted to. It looks like they’re going to retain their coach in the next year. What’s your feeling exiting this season and looking at 2018 for the Broncos?

Jen:  So, just so you know, about half way through the season my entire household was basically wishing them to lose more games to improve our draft pick for the next season. It’s a rebuilding. I’m hopeful. Hey, I start companies from scratch, so I’ve seen things in worse shape than the Broncos.

Matt:  Yeah, I mean, as a Seahawks fan up here in Seattle, you know, first time missing the playoffs in like five years or so, you would think that the sky was falling. I think you look at other teams like, my dad’s a die hard Bears fan and like listen, clearly it could be worse. Hey, let’s talk a little b2b sales and marketing. You are now running marketing at SmartBug Media. I know you guys get significantly into inbound marketing, digital strategy, tell me a little more about it. And you guys spend a lot of time talking about this concept of intelligent inbound. Let’s talk about what inbound marketing is and what you need to differentiate that or why or how you differentiate that in terms of intelligent inbound.

Jen:  Sure. I’d absolutely love to. So when most people think about inbound marketing, they think, “Alright, I’m going to write blogs, I’m going to conduct webinars, I’m going to put content out there that hopefully is alighted to a particular fire persona that is within your ideal customer profile and those people are going to be attracted to me and then they’re going to convert on my site and they’re going to become leads. Then we’re going to pull a lot of business and beautiful.” The thing is, that’s great for attracting visitors, but there’s more that has to be done and there’s more that can be done to enhance that entire process. That’s why we established this term intelligent inbound, because it’s more than just doing the research and crafting a strategy to attract leads and to nurture leads.

It also involves the handoff between marketing and sales through sales enablement strategies, to ensure that that new visitor that’s coming in to you has a good experience that’s cohesive and consistent with how they’ve been interacting with you online. It could include ensuring that your website is not just designed beautifully, but that it’s optimized for your particular buyers journey and one organization inspired journey is going to be completely different from somebody else’s. That’s why you might see, “Oh hey, here’s a great template that I can buy for $100 somewhere in a market place.” It’s going to look nice and it might get the job done, but it’s not intelligent and it’s not optimized specifically for your business.

In addition to that, public relations is completely changing the way that it fits within inbound and producing a lot of cool ways that we can layer PR with inbound marketing practices to really help scale business and focus our energy in the right places that are actually generating leads and sales for you.

Matt:  So there’s a period of time in b2b marketing, I feel like we go in these waves where we’re looking for some kind of a silver bullet that’s going to fix all of our problems. There was a period of time, maybe four or five years ago, maybe a little longer, when all of a sudden HubSpot really kind of created this inbound movement and everyone said, “Wow, we can create content, we can win the Google wars and we can just get all the right business to come from us.” It seemed like after a while there was … I don’t know if there was a backlash, but then people started to say, “Wow, this isn’t working the way I want. I’m not getting the quantity or quality of leads that I want.”

I know you’ve been a proponent in the past and you previously worked with a company called All Bound. I use that term a lot, not in terms of the company name, but just thinking about having the right mix of inbound and outbound. The route way isn’t a one size fits all. Like, I like your description of intelligent inbound, but I don’t know many successful companies that are purely using one or the other. How should most companies think about integrating the push versus pull marketing to help their number?

Jen:  It’s going to come down to that individual strategy for that company. I was just talking to someone earlier today who needs to have a very account based approach to his organization, because he’s identified there’s a finite group of potential businesses that he’s selling to and he’s competing for that attention. You can leverage some of the inbound techniques but apply also some account based strategies that are allowing outbound to not be just, “Hey, let’s grab a phone book and just start dialing.” They’ll actually be thoughtful about this and develop a list and then develop campaigns so we can reach out to those individuals. I think the key is knowing, okay who do you sell to? Understanding your market space and what’s going to be a best practice for one organization is not necessarily going to be a best practice for another, which is why even the term best practice is a little bit frustrating, obviously. So, because it’s just going to depend on that particular business, that sales cycle, how you sell, who you sell to, what the buyer cares about. The biggest thing is making sure there’s consistency and there’s not an inbound approach, an outbound approach, an account based market approach, there’s just not. It’s one plan. It’s one plan and you’re going to use different tools and you’re going to pull different levers at different times in a buyer’s journey. And base off of your market, depending on what you need.

Matt:  Yeah. Amen to that, I think. I was going to ask the question next, what’s the connected tissue between all these efforts and I think that having a consistent message is really important. We did some research earlier this year around integrated marketing and found that the integrated message across channels is a huge differentiator in driving marketing results versus working in silos. Even if you have great strategies in silos, when you can’t leverage the effect across channels, it just doesn’t work as well. We’re talking to Jen Spencer today, she is the vice president of sales and marketing at SmartBug Media.

We want to talk also about the panel we were on at DreamForce just a couple of months ago. We were on the topic of revenue enablement for the entire Go to Market team. I don’t know who came up with this topic but I think we hear a lot about sales enablement. Revenue enablement, does that move in a different direction? Does that imply something different when you think about, you talked about this a little before in terms of integrating not just the marketing efforts, but making sure that the marketing and sales hand off is done well. How important is sales and revenue enablement today and where do you see that in the priority list for b2b marketers as we sort of accelerate into 2018?

Jen:  I think this idea of revenue and focusing on revenue enablement, it’s meaning a lot, especially to staff organizations or anyone really in this certain type of economy, because as buyers we have more choices than we’ve ever had before. I am constantly inundated with messages and things that I may want to buy. And everything that I scroll through on my Instagram profile is like particularly chosen for me and what have you. We have to be on the top of our game as far as that goes. So it means making sure we’re not just focusing our energies on top of funnel acquisition of leads, which is where the majority of organizations send their dollars for marketing and sales. It’s making sure that sales, of course, is enabled effectively to communicate and collaborate with those buyers that they understand, and that they understand the journey they’ve been on to get there. We want to make sure we have transparency between what marketing campaigns are occurring and what those individuals are consuming before that sales person gets on the phone and talks to that said individual.

Further than that, your customer success team or client services team that’s ultimately going to be working with that customer, that person needs to be enabled and supported as well. So, they can’t just be this kind of catch all one size fits all for everybody in that entire ecosystem. That’s going to be important for creating evangelism, helping spread great word of mouth for your company and for your product, serving as a referral base for you, serving as a reference base for you, and then keeping that as ongoing customers. That even then extends into your product development team. As your organization is expanding on its offering, how are you implementing feedback that’s coming in all throughout the entire customer lifecycle journey and not just creating something in a vacuum and then hoping that it’s going to meet the need of one of your customers.

Matt:  So let’s dig into that just a little bit. Because I think, you know, a lot of companies are sort of realizing the impact sales enablement can have. Realizing that it could be a very strong marketing function. I think a lot of companies are saying, “Wow, this all sounds great. This sounds like a great thing.” How do you operationalize this or how do you even start to operationalize this? I think a lot of marketers are struggling to get some momentum with the team and to get even their feet on the ground, coordinated with the sales organization on some of the key elements of sales enablement. What have you seen work well in the market? What are companies doing that are getting them to step one of sales enablement execution?

Jen:  I think to get people to kind of step one of sale enablement execution and having everyone be on board is to take a customer centric approach to your business. You really have to do it, you can’t just say you’re doing it and then go about your business and do everything the way you’ve always done it. You have to start there. There’s far too many organizations we see where the concept of a buyer persona or that ideal customer profile, where that lives and dies within the walls of the marketing department. That needs to not happen. There needs to be the voice of the customer in organizations, and some companies are literally doing that.

I see organizations who actually have an employee on staff whose job is to solely be the voice of the customer they needed. People are going to lengths such as that to ensure that that’s the beginning of everything you do; the north star that you’re focusing on. That’s one thing, but I think that marketing teams can feel like, “How do I actually get some momentum going? What do I do?” I think what they need to do is be humanizing their personas. Be openly talking about their personas.

I mean, I had a really great opportunity at All Bounds specifically because we were new, we were young, and I could come in and say, “Okay, our persona is our San, this is Hue Son, he’s the VP of sales. This is Abby she’s the partner program manager, this is what she cares about. I was able to talk about these individuals and I got their names and their personalities ingrained in the product team, in the customer success team, in the executive teams. We were talking about these people as if they were actually there with us. If you’re in a bigger organization, obviously that’s going to be much more challenging. That’s where in those larger organizations, there’s actually somebody who is responsible for being that, like I said, voice of the customer.

That’s where everything has to start, and then anything that you’re doing, whether it’s a campaign, some kind of a sales start, your onboarding process, boarding customers, you’ve got to look at it through the lens of that customer. And that’s really where enablement’s going to be most effective.

Matt:  Absolutely. Well sage advice from Jen Spencer joining us today on Sales Pipeline Radio. She’s the VP of sales and marketing at SmartBug Media and has spent a ton of time in the b2b space getting a lot of experience and insights on both the sales and the marketing side. We’ve got to take a quick break here, pay some bills. We’ll be back with a lot more with Jen Spencer. We’re going to talk a lot more about revenue enablement. We’re going to talk about girls in tech, we’re going to talk about scotch, we’re going to talk about twin teenage boys, all of the above before the top of the hour. This is Sales Pipeline Radio.

*Break*

Matt:  Well, thanks again for joining us on Sales Pipeline Radio. Hope you’re enjoying our conversation today with Jen Spencer covering a variety of topics related to b2b sales and marketing and not. If you like what you hear, you’re going to love some of our future episodes as we head into January. The rest of January into 2018, got some great guests lined up. Next week we’re going to have Alex Terry. He’s the CEO of Conversica. We’re going to be talking about the power of AI in sales specifically, and what AI and machine learning are doing to create greater efficiency in the sales organization. Following week, we’re going to have Lauren Patrick. Her title is Chief Storyteller for a top company called Terminus in Atlanta. We’re going to talk about the power and impact of storytelling in b2b and how important it is at every stage of the buying journey.

Lots of great guests coming up in future episodes. We’re getting a great, great start to the year for Sales Pipeline Radio. Want to get back to talking to Jen, and I guess maybe where we’ll start, Jen, is the scotch related to managing teenage boys? I mean, is there a connection there? Are those separate? Paul made a good point there, but maybe talk a little bit about one or the other or both.

Jen:  You know, my boys are pretty darn good. No, I blame my parents and my, I guess step-grandfather for my scotch addiction. I blame my parents because when I was an infant and I was teething, apparently they would take a q-tip and dip it in scotch and put it on my gums to numb my gums. So, I do believe that this is my parents have been grooming me for my love of scotch for quite a while. Then, when I was in college I used to have dinner about once a week with my step-moms sister, so my aunt. But, they’re Italian and their father, he was Italian and we had amazing dinners. But every night, before we had dinner, he would always drink scotch. Scotch and water, scotch and soda, and so an old man taught me how to drink.

Matt:  I’ll tell you what man, yeah no, Paul literally has a bottle of Glenlivet 12-Year in his studio producing and I can tell there’s some days when I think he’s already dipped into it already by the time we get to our show here on Sales Pipeline Radio on Lead Management Network, but hey, nothing like a good scotch. And on your bio, I love that you write that you’re a mother of twin teenage boys, which means there’s likely a lone dirty sock in every room of the house. Our kids are younger, they’re eight, six, and four, but no, I feel that. It’s a combination of lonely, dirty sock and Legos that you find everywhere around the house. Before we get back to a few more questions on b2b sales and marketing, I do want to give you a chance to talk about Girls in Tech. You are on the board of the Phoenix chapter of Girls in Tech. Talk a little bit about what that group is and why that’s important to you.

Jen:  I’d love to. So Girls in Tech, we’re a global non-profit and the focus of the organization is on engagement, education, and empowerment of girls and women who are passionate about technology. There are chapters all across the world. We have one in Phoenix, specifically. We serve two different segments. One would be girls ages 10-17 who have shown an interest in technology and want to explore that and learn more. Then, we also focus more on professional women who are already either active in a technology role or working in a technology related industry or would like to. What I love about Girls in Tech Phoenix and why I joined is I really hate when there’s just a lot of complaining and there’s not a lot of doing. I’m a doer. So what I love about our mission as a chapter, specifically, is we’re looking to move the needle. We’re looking to say, “Okay, how many technology focused jobs were held by females in 2016 and what can we do to change that number to make an impact in 2018, in 2020 and so on? And how can we use our own community to help?” That’s what we’re really focused on and I co-chair that as the marketing community for that.

Matt:  I love it, I love it. Thanks very much. Where can people learn more about Girls in Tech if they want to learn more about the program overall as well as in their market?

Jen:  Girlsintech.org.

Matt:  Perfect. Awesome, well some great conversation today on many fronts with Jen Spencer. She’s the VP of sales and marketing at SmartBug Media. Jen, I mean, you’ve been in b2b marketing for quite a while, worked in a number of different organizations. You know, what are the things that you — whether it’s Girls in Tech or with others that you talk to that are starting their career in b2b — what are the things that you wish you knew when you were getting started? What are the things that you would recommend people early in their career focus on or pay attention to?

Jen:  I didn’t have a traditional career advancement being that I got a business degree or a marketing degree and then got right into marketing. I actually started my career as a high school English and Theater Arts teacher, which I swear I use those skills every day, and then transitioned into marketing via none other than non-profit professional theater. So, I was running sales and marketing for a professional theater company, and that was an amazing opportunity for me to learn. It wasn’t a lot of money and I was extremely underpaid by all means, but there’s always a lot of work to learn. There are people who are willing to teach you. It’s a lot of sink or swim and I built up my skill base.

My advice would be regardless of what industry you’re in, wherever you are, especially when you’re early in your career, think less about your salary. Think more about where do I have the opportunity to grow? Not just where can I grow within this company, because people don’t just work for the same company for 20 years anymore. Think about what skills can I add to my own repertoire? How can I play and grow myself and figure out kind of what I want to be when I grow up? I just take that approach into any job I take to the point of I’m still trying to figure out what the heck I want to be when I grow up. But, I think it’s done really well for me by doing that.

Matt:  So last question before we let you go, we know your crazy busy, we really appreciate you taking the time to join us on Sales Pipeline Radio today. Who are some of the specific people that you’ve learned from? They can be people in your career, mentors. They can be people that you’ve read. We hear Zig Ziegler, for example, quite a bit in this answer. But you know, who are some of the people that would be on your Mount Rushmore of sales so to speak that you would recommend other people might pay attention to as well?

Jen:  Man, okay so, I think from an overall sales management perspective, I think that anything that Mark Rivera says is just beautiful and has really helped me as I work on building out teams from scratch. He’s been phenomenal. I’ve got to do a hat tip to my own founder and CEO at SmartBug, Ryan Malone. I’ve known him for about four years. I knew him before I came to work here and I think he’s been an exceptional leader in really focusing on the bigger picture of what you’re looking to achieve. He’s taught me to focus less on maybe a very specific minute metric in a vacuum and looking at things from above and looking at bigger goals. And then, this is definitely a bit more marketing focused, but the person who has my ear right now is Jay Acunzo and his podcast Unthinkable, which every time I listen to it makes me want to be better at what I do. Those are the three I got for ya.

Matt:  Love it. Awesome, thank you so much. I wanna thank Jen Spencer for joining us on Sales Pipeline Radio today. If you wanna learn more about Jen, I encourage you to check her out at LinkedIn. She’s at linkedin.com/in/jenspencer. Join us next week as we give you another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. As always, we will continue to have great guests related to sales and marketing best practices. You can check out all future, past, and present episodes at salespipelineradio.com. We are running out of time for my great producer Paul. This is Matt Heinz. Thanks again for joining us, we’ll see you next week. Sales Pipeline Radio.

Paul:  You’ve been flying high on the Sales Pipeline Radio. One of the many shows brought to you in the Funnel Radio Network for at work listeners like you.

The post Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 99: Q&A with Jen Spencer appeared first on Heinz Marketing.

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