Paul talks with Aidan McCann of Outré Creative, a global marketing design firm, about how sellers can be more relevant, persuasive, and close more sales by thinking like marketers.
“Marketing is more important now than ever before given that the composition of the marketplace has changed dramatically over the last couple of years.” Aidan McCann
“Marketers realize that we have to have integrated solutions that have a number of different levels of messaging to them.” Aidan McCann
“When a seller approaches someone, they have to bear in mind that people are at different points in their buying journey or life cycle.” Aidan McCann
At a tactical level, it’s vital for the seller to have a value proposition statement specific to the customer’s needs and where they are in that buying journey.
Drip feed content: “Cadence is an important part of effective marketing and sales. You have to release content or collateral, or market at the right time. And it has to look like you’re in tune with the activities of the potential buyer as opposed to just doing an information dump.” Aidan McCann
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How do I sell like a marketer? With Aidan McCann
(Transcribed from podcast interview)
“You know, in terms of going B2B, look at that business, you look at their priorities, you look at where they are, what market, where they’re selling and sort of look at maybe some of the critical issues that they may be facing, or some opportunities that may be coming their way and aligning your sales narrative up with that so it becomes very relevant to the potential sort of customer.” Aidan McCann
Paul: Hello everyone. And welcome to another episode of the Q and A Sales Podcast. On today’s show, we’ve got Aidan McCann joining us. Now, Aidan is the managing director of Outré Creative. It’s a creative design agency and what’s great—I love their tagline here. It says, With Equal Parts Brain Power and Charm. And I can attest to both because Aidan and I have actually collaborated on a couple of projects with different clients, and I must say, I’m always impressed with his insights. And on today’s episode, we’re going to talk about marketing. And really, what sparked this episode is, I truly believe that salespeople can benefit if they could learn how to sell like marketers, and that really will help them become more influential, more persuasive. And I know you’re really going to enjoy the interview.
Now, before we get into the interview, just a quick reminder; pick up your copy of Selling Through Tough Times, wherever you get your books. Every week, I’m seeing more and more evidence of a pending recession. And I’m not a doom-and-gloom guy, but I’m here to say, when there are signals out there and we sense the slowdown, it’s time to prepare. It’s time to prepare. So pick up your copy of Selling Through Tough Times. It’s available wherever you buy your books. You can also go to Toughtimer.com and you’ll find several complimentary resources. Check it out. Enjoy the interview.
Paul: Hello everyone. And welcome to another episode of the Q and A Sales Podcast. On today’s show. We have Aidan McCann joining us. Aidan is the managing director at Outré Creative. And we thought it’d be interesting to have Aidan come on the show and talk, you know, really all things marketing and how it relates to sales. So, Aidan, how are you doing today?
Aidan: I’m doing very well, Paul. And you?
Paul: I’m doing wonderful. Thanks for being on the show. Thanks for taking the time from your busy schedule. To kick this off, would you mind just sharing with The Q and A Podcast community what Outré Creative does and just how you got started?
Aidan: Of course. So Outré Creative is a company that I own and we produce design solutions and that support a lot of marketing functions in quite large organizations. So we design collateral that allow companies to reach their customer base and often bring about a change in behavior or a response to a particular CTA (that being a call to action). And we produce collateral both online and offline. And we do this globally. So I have a company, both in the U.S. and in England, and our clients are often global and large organizations.
Paul: You know, it’s interesting how you mentioned what Outré Creative will do as far as helping with the marketing collateral and communicating and helping to change behaviors and having specific call to actions. You know, there’s a lot of parallels there to what salespeople are doing every day, albeit at a more tactical level. But very, very interesting.
And, I’m fascinated by all things marketing. I’m part of the marketing mix in the fact that I’m out there training salespeople in that regard. I feel like am I dating myself using that term marketing mix? Is that even a term used anymore, Aidan, in marketing?
Aidan: Well, yeah, I’m not sure actually, but it’s interesting [be]cause I think marketing is playing such a large role in the success of companies and has/is even more important now than sort of ever before, given that the composition of the marketplace has changed dramatically in the last few years. So, the need to come up with new marketing strategies and tactics to reach a much more diverse marketplace is becoming fundamental in delivering successful solutions. And those marketing mixes, whether that’s a term that’s used now or not, is definitely coming into play in larger companies in order to support their sales workforce.
Paul: For sure. Absolutely. And when I think about marketing and messaging and being more persuasive, it’s very intriguing to me to see how people make decisions, why they do what they do, why they buy this product versus another product. We’re just kind of throw this question out here. I’d love to get your reaction. How can sellers think more like marketers and become a little more persuasive? Do you have any ideas and thoughts there?
Aidan: Well, I think one of the big changes in sort of delivering marketing solutions is that marketers have now realized that we have to have integrated solutions that have a number of different levels of messaging to them so that you can’t just have one message or one solution and go out to the marketplace and grab the whole market. That, in fact, any marketing campaign or any marketing tools that developed now by marketeers, they often have a number of different levels. And I think when a seller approaches someone, they have to bear in mind that people are at different points in their buying journey or in their sort of life cycle or in their own personal experience. So being able to sort of navigate that and identifying that by viewing the perspective of the potential client or customer is critical. And I think marketeers are doing that very well.
A lot of the strategies that we develop basically assume a number of sort of proof points or pillars, which, you know, have associated messages that will sort of align to different customers, different personas, at different stages of the buying process. And I think sellers need to recognize that.
Paul: Aidan, that’s right on. I mean, in fact, that’s what I see with salespeople. And I’ll bring this down to that tactical level of communicating a message with customers. It must be timely for what that perspective client or customer is experiencing. It must be relevant to them, what they’re going through, and it must be relevant at that level. You know, what’s interesting, when I’m putting together a sales training program, we spend time crafting a value proposition statement. And when we look at the value proposition statement, we kind of define that as the tangible outcome that your customers gain from experiencing your solution. So, pretty broad definition there. But those value proposition statements, they have to be specific to not only a certain type of customer, but the timing has to be there as well. There’s, there’s a lot more to think about as far as what customers are experiencing.
One follow-up question to that, from a business-to-business sense versus a business-to-consumer. Because I’m working mainly with business-to-business type salespeople—that’s who’s listening to the podcast as well. From your perspective as a marketer, when marketing towards business-to-business executives, or even mid-level type of decision makers, any thoughts or ideas or tips on how salespeople can think more like a marketer when trying to appeal to those type of decision makers?
Aidan: I mean, I think from our perspective, really understanding from that, from those decision makers’ perspective, their interests and their behaviors. So, going beyond the immediate value add, but layering in the sales pitch with sort of something that aligns to the behaviors and instincts of those decision makers. Because then the sale becomes very relevant to them. And whether you are doing B2B or B2B2C, for example, you have to sort of think about what value are they going to get from this. And one way of determining that is by looking at what’s of interest to them, or what is a priority to them, or what is an objective to them of theirs engaging with sort of your product or service.
But yeah, I think it’s important in terms of going B2B, you look at that business, you look at their priorities, you look at where they are, what market, where they’re selling, and sort of look at maybe some of the critical issues that they may be facing, or some opportunities that may be coming their way and aligning your sales narrative up with that so it becomes very relevant to the potential sort of customer. Does that make sense?
Paul: It absolutely makes sense. And there’s one word you mentioned there, alignment. And, wanted to share a quick story and maybe get your reaction. We had a salesperson in one of our training seminars. He’s selling highly engineered fastening systems in the automotive industry. He was going after a piece of business, very large opportunity. And the customer basically said, “Quality is our chief concern right now. That is what we care about. That’s what’s important.” And what drove that immediate concern is, this company recently had a recall, and so that was on everyone’s mind. And the salesperson took that information—it’s relevant, it’s timely—and they aligned their solution with how that customer defined value.
It was really interesting. What the salesperson actually did is he almost created a campaign, and he’s not a marketing guy, but I feel like he’s got a marketing mindset. He created a campaign on quality. So over the three to four months, while this customer made their decision, the salesperson actually went to find collateral pieces within their company: case studies, marketing, examples, trade journal articles. And every time quality or performance was mentioned, he would highlight that and sporadically send that information to the key decision makers saying, “Here’s another example of our quality.”
What was cool, he also took his IPhone and went through and interviewed his quality-control department, and just asked them questions, just had a conversation like we’re having right now. And he said, “Hey, I wanted to introduce you to our quality department.” And he talked about what they do, their process that they go through. He even had a couple of customers put together a testimonial on the quality of their product and how it helped impact their business. And he sent all of this information over a three-to-four month period. Kind of like a drip campaign, I guess. And by the time he got to the presentation, he ended up winning the business. And the decision maker said, “It was clear that you had a pretty deep understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish.” He won the business. And I remember asking this salesperson, I said, “Okay, so realistically, is the quality of your product any better than some of your key competitors that were going after the business?”
And he said, “Not really.” The quality was very comparable. You may even be able to say the same, but he built that campaign, he aligned the solution with their definition of value. What are your thoughts on them? Is there anything else that salesperson could have done, I guess, to make it even more of a slam dunk? But it seemed like that alignment piece is critical.
Aidan: Yeah, and that was my actual point—looking at what’s important to them almost outside sort of the underlying product or service in the sense that, being able to drip-feed through content that aligns to this person’s interest and behaviors. In your case—quality. And I think cadence is an important part, too, of marketing in sales. You have to release content or collateral or marketing at the right time. And it has to look like you’re in tune with the activities of the potential buyer, as opposed to just doing an information dump. Because I think some people can suffer from information overload (inaudible), you could lose the sale that way, too.
So, it was interesting that you said he just sort of drip-feed through sort of content and related to quality, so when it got to the actual pitch, it was like a home run. And I think cadence as well as a careful consideration of how you release your insight that’s relevant to their perspective, is also critical. But it looks like this guy did it perfectly well, given that he won the pitch.
Paul: Exactly. It was one of those great examples where, you almost create a best practice for moving forward. And, I would say that that’s when marketing and sales can really marry up with one another and create greater outcomes for organizations.
You know, one thing, I think it’d be important to touch on here. I work with a lot of large clients, just like yourself—some Fortune 500 companies, global companies, and then also some of the small/medium-sized businesses. When it comes to marketing and sales, I do get a sense that sometimes organizations butt heads (marketing and sales) to some degree. But I think that creates a big problem for a number of reasons. One of which is the sales team is missing out on all the great opportunities, the great collateral, the great information that marketing has to help them be more successful. So maybe we could spend a few moments just talking about how good marketing design can help improve sales. Maybe share a couple thoughts on that.
Aidan: Well, I think in terms of good marketing design, that effectively means creating the tools that salespeople can use in order to close the sale. But if used effectively and at the right time, it should only enhance any experience. But there’s all different sorts of tools. And I do think we, when developing these, we have to look at the environment, you know, the type of content and, you know, the sort of platforms that are available to execute those tools in an effective way. So, I think there is a solution, but in a lot of the cases where, in my situation, it’s very specific to an actual campaign or to an actual underlying product. Because I think engaging with people in disruptive ways, in the sense that it’s unexpected or not typical, is also important in terms of getting the interest of the sales target. But yeah, tools are critical. And numerous tools with different types of messaging embedded within those tools will give the salesperson options.
You know, I think, if you’re looking at the sales journey of any sort of product, there’s creating the awareness sort of upper funnel, then you’ve got mid funnel and then lower funnel. So different tools at each stage of the sales funnel is critical.
Paul: You know what? It truly is. And, I know that business and more analogies exist, and they’re maybe tiresome when we hear them sometimes, but to use another one, it does seem like marketing softens the beachhead a little bit, to open the prospective customer’s mind to a little more persuasion, perhaps. If it’s timely, if it’s relevant, and if it’s at the right stage of their buying path.
In Value-Added Selling, we, talk about the Critical Buying Path®, and early on in the process, the need for information is one of the greatest needs. And what’s interesting today is, salespeople used to have a unique advantage going into the conversation because they would hold quite a bit of the information. We didn’t have all of this information available. But even given the amount of information available to customers today, when we did our latest survey, our buyer survey showed that salespeople, one of the greatest ways they bring value is by delivering meaningful insight early on in the decision-making process. And, I think that is another opportunity for marketing and sales to work together—to come up with the greater outcomes for customers and really to help become more persuasive in general.
Aidan: Yeah. I absolutely agree.
Paul: As we, start to wrap up the interview here, you and I, gosh, working on campaigns, we’ve talked about tough times and things like that. We’ve collaborated a little bit. One thing I wanted to get your thoughts on—as we go through tough times and customers are making decisions under a cloud of uncertainty, from a marketing perspective, do you have any thoughts on what’s important? What customers need to hear—what they want to hear when they’re either gathering information or meeting with salespeople. Any thoughts?
Aidan: I mean, it’s interesting. Cause like you said, the last campaign we did, you know, I think sort of the premise here you know, on the back of the pandemic, was really creating content with sort of purpose, seeing it from a client’s perspective, and you know, ensuring that when you’re delivering a message that it’s obviously quite authentic. I think a lot of people now are using that as like a censor check, to validate whether they want to do business with someone. But, you know, really presenting with purpose is sort of—it’s critical in landing sales because I think following, you know, what’s happened in the last few years, people are really evaluating what’s important to them, both within business and outside of business. So, everyone’s evaluating things with a much more critical eye.
Paul: You know, I think about that, the authenticity piece you mentioned, in having that censor. You know, I’ve seen that even in my own marketing material so to speak. You know, if I could be in a studio with a green wall, with high-production cameras, all this stuff around, but sometimes the things people watch are the iPhone videos when I’m in my parking lot walking to the car. It’s interesting how there’s almost a rawness that people want to see or they expect maybe because of just the past few years.
Aidan: A lot of the sort of creative design that we are doing is really now stripped back in terms of that rawness, because I think when it’s overly orchestrated and almost too professional, people are sort of assuming that it’s not authentic. So even some of my much larger corporate clients have sort of now taken a bit of a term with their brand and marketing collateral to sort of take it down a notch and not be sort of, so tight lipped or constricted or finding what they say and be a bit more natural in the narrative and the messaging [be]cause they are finding it is resonating even in sort of B2B conversations. The more sort of raw it is, the most successful it.
Paul: I love it. Aidan, I appreciate the insight. Thanks for coming onto the show. So how can people learn more about Outré Creative?
Aidan: Well, definitely you can visit the company website www.outrecreative.com—that’s Outré Creative—and check out all the service propositions. We’ve got some really interesting case studies on the website. And as a business that designs collateral and marketing, we always measure its success. So I think it’s really important that marketing always demonstrates return on investment. And that’s sort of the number one objective of every sort of project that we do. Being able to sort of have a return investment for our clients.
Paul: Well, good stuff, Aidan. Thanks for being on the show today. The Q and A Sales Podcast community appreciates your insights.
We’re going to have some links to Aidan’s website on the show notes. So you can check that out there.
Make it a big day.