July 20, 2023

The Revenue Acceleration Playbook

What is a surefire way to snuff out any interest from a potential B2B buyer? A product pitch. Unfortunately, our brains are wired to pitch, so it’s going to take a collective effort and a lot of practice to rewire how you talk to your customers and prospects in market.    

Enter Brent Keltner, President of Winalytics LLC and author of The Revenue Acceleration Playbook. He joined a recent Bonus Huddle to share how to develop your own revenue acceleration playbook, hit personalization at scale, and collect the customer stories that people really want to hear.

If you find this conversation insightful and would like to participate in these Q&As in real time, check out cmohuddles.com.

What You’ll Learn 

  • How to build a customer-centric marketing strategy 
  • What questions to ask your customers 
  • How to deliver true personalization at scale

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 354 on YouTube

Resources Mentioned 


  • [3:14] Dr. Brent Keltner & HR strategy
  • [5:14] Key customer centricity principles
  • [7:36] Talk to your customers!
  • [8:55] Case Study: Torchlight
  • [11:17] Multiple targets, aligned content
  • [12:57] Building emotional trust
  • [14:56] Consolidating content
  • [18:24] Case Study: ABC Fitness
  • [20:57] Questions to ask your customers
  • [23:02] Personalization at scale
  • [28:19] Integrating marketing + rev ops
  • [30:55] Ever-boarding content
  • [32:35] Cross-GTM enablement
  • [36:52] Navigating difficult economic environments
  • [42:23] True personalization at scale
  • [46:25] Brent’s wisdom: Driving revenue growth  

Highlighted Quotes

“Our brains are wired to product pitch. Playbooks that force you every time back to buyer & customer centricity help. The more you practice those playbooks with team members, the more you collectively rewire your approach.” —Brent Keltner Share on X

“Personalization at scale is basically figuring out how to say I know people like you without knowing anything like you.” —Brent Keltner, Winalytics LLC Share on X

“Capture your customer stories and your name drops all day long. Set a goal every month, every quarter.” —Brent Keltner, Winalytics LLC Share on X

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Brent Keltner


Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. I’m excited that you’re here to listen to another episode of Renegade Marketers Unite. And if this is your first time listening then welcome. This show is brought to you by CMO Huddles, the only marketing community dedicated to inspiring B2B greatness and that has a logo featuring penguins. Wait, what? Yeah, well, a group of these curious, adaptable, and problem solving birds is called the Huddle. And the B2B marketers at CMO Huddles are all that and more. Huddling together to heat up the coldest job in the C-Suite. And now that CMO Huddles has three membership tiers, we’re ready to inspire B2B greatness at all levels. To learn more, check out cmohuddles.com.

Now before we get to the episode, here’s a shout out to the professionals at Share Your Genius. We started working with him over a year ago to make this show even better and have been blown away by their strategic and executional prowess. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast or want to turbocharge your current show, be sure to talk to Rachel Downey at shareyourgenius.com and tell her Drew sent you. Okay, let’s get on with today’s episode.

Narrator: Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, possibly the best weekly podcast for CMOs and everyone else looking for innovative ways to transform their brand, drive demand, and just plain cut through. Proving that B2B does not mean boring to business. Here’s your host and Chief Marketing renegade Drew Neisser.

Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Marketers. Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, the top rated podcast for B2B CMOs and other marketing obsessed individuals.

Alrighty, folks, you’re about to listen to a Bonus Huddle, a specially curated Huddle that we run once a month with experts sharing their insights into the topics that are most important to our CMO community, we call them Huddlers. The expert at this particular Huddle was Brent Keltner, president of Winalytics and author of the Revenue Acceleration Handbook, a book I really enjoyed. He joined us to discuss revenue acceleration, you’re gonna want to check it out. So let’s get to it.

Welcome to today’s Bonus Huddle with Brent Keltner, the author of the insightful book and I really encourage you all to read it. It’s called the Revenue Acceleration Playbook. Also, he’s the CEO of Winalytics, a firm that specializes in helping a wide range of companies accelerate revenue growth. With that, hello, Brent, how are you? And where are you?

Brent Keltner: I am in Boston, and I’m thrilled to be here. I spent a lot of time talking with sales leaders, so always love this. The marketing leadership group usually has sharper questions, less tactical, of driving pipeline.

Drew Neisser: You’ve thrown down the gauntlet, so we’ll see if you get some sharper questions or not. So I was looking at your LinkedIn profile today. And I couldn’t help but notice that you got a PhD from Stanford in Politics and Industrial Relations. So I should be calling you Dr. Keltner.

Brent Keltner: I would feel really old if you did that.

Drew Neisser: All right. I won’t. It’s a term of endearment, frankly, with that. But what was your plan back then? Were you going to be a professor? What was your plan with a PhD?

Brent Keltner: I was just really good at school. So I just kept going, I couldn’t figure out what to do.

Drew Neisser: Amazing.

Brent Keltner: I did spend a decade doing qualitative research with companies on human resource strategy. So that was how I started in. A lot of the work I did has given rise to some of the work we do at Winalytics was thinking about how do you segment human resource investments for the right level of balance of technology versus human contact, but I spent a decade doing qualitative research. And as a qualitative researcher, I was reaching out to busy insurance executives, banking executives, telecom, they could care less about my PhD, they could care less about the RAND Corporation. They just wanted to know why I was reaching out to be in a research study. So I got very good at telling people what was in it for them in my email outreach, in my call connect, in the first call asking for a follow up call. So I spent 10 years doing that and then transitioned to Kaplan as a VP of Marketing. My first role was around people that I will talk about today trained in more traditional positioning strategy, and more traditional sales strategy which tends to be more about us and not our buyers or customers, this idea of buyer or customer centricity. And so I have no traditional training in go to market strategy. But I was really good at training teams how to be more buyer or customer centric. Always starting with what was in it for them.

Drew Neisser: We could pretty much describe the essence of marketing is figuring out what’s in it for them. So you had me there. So let’s talk about the revenue acceleration playbook just for the initial start, setup the key principles that we can sort of break down and help folks get a sense of your approach of solving the problem of what’s in it for them.

Brent Keltner: Yeah. So if you think about buyer centricity or customer centricity, easy to say, harder to do, and I think there are two key things in the Revenue Acceleration Playbook we anchor on, which is what does buyer and customer personalization actually mean? And how can you start to personalize your messaging, your content, around specific buyer goals, specific buyer roles, and specific buyer segments and cascading into just more and more relevancy to our buyer. So one thing is just making it easier to think about how do we personalize at scale? And then the second thing is to do that your teams actually need repeatable playbooks, right, because our brains are not wired to be other centric. I mean, our brains are wired to start with a conclusion and collect evidence to support us. So our brains are wired to product pitch. Playbooks that actually force you every time back to buyer and customer centricity help and then the more you practice those playbooks with team members, the more you all kind of collectively rewire your approach. So it’s making buyer centricity easy. What does that mean to do it at scale? And then how do we get it into practice?

Drew Neisser: So let’s break those down. I mean, we’ve had a lot of conversations and Huddles about customer centricity. Obviously, Forrester is very big on customer centricity and thinking about that. But as you said, it’s a lot easier said than done. There’s always this yin and yang between what marketing thinks about customer centricity, what product with sales and even customer success, and all these different groups have a different perspective on the customer. So how can the B2B CMO sort of ensure that their marketing strategies are truly customer focused?

Brent Keltner: Yeah, let me ask you a rhetorical question. What group did you not mention in your list?

Drew Neisser: Let’s see I mentioned marketing, sales, product, and customer, I guess the executive team? Who did I miss?

Brent Keltner: How about the customers?

Drew Neisser: Oh yeah, the customers.

Brent Keltner: Yeah, and I’m being slightly facetious. But we always say if your customer doesn’t say it, it’s not true. And the number one reason we don’t have a better sense of our customer voice is because we don’t ask. So if you look at our dominant positioning frameworks, and some great work that’s done, you know, if you think of the kind of classic positioning work from recent try out, updated recently, by an awesome book that many of you may know, from April Dunford on, Obviously Awesome. It’s all about competitive position. We start with our competitive landscape, and how are we different from what’s out there? And then the opposite is kind of the blue ocean stuff, right? Like, how do you create a market, you got to tap into a big market trend, and you got to have a competitive division framework. But what we say is start with talking to your customers and ask them how you deliver value. Product value matters, you change a workflow, you collect different set of analytics, you change a user experience, but ultimately, people buy because you’re helping them drive revenue, you’re helping them reduce costs, you’re helping them utilize their staff capacity, their infrastructure, so figuring out those next measurable goals. And then how does that vary by persona? And then how does that vary by segment?

And I’ll just give a specific example and then we can get the next little question. If you think about a company like Torchlight, it’s a caregiver platform, that usually folks that are serving either an adult parent or a young kid, they you know, had sort of more of a product positioning around all the things they did that your EAP didn’t do. And then as soon as they started talking to their customers, they realized that the reason a business owner buys and the reason HR buys very different, right? This person over here has a business objective, this person usually is looking at their benefits, offerings, and what are the gaps they want to fill, relative to being competitive. And then as they talked to like manufacturers, who was all about time on task for their employees versus professional service firms, where it was all about the pipeline of female talent, right in terms of keeping those high potential managers so same exact product, different marketing skins based on the buyer telling you where the most value is, and then capturing content and stories that link to those individual personas and those individual market segments. So for us a lot of when we do positioning work, we always say, let’s look at your existing success stories. What are the patterns? Do we need to capture any new stories? Gotta start with your customer voice where they’re telling you the most value is, because until a customers says it, it’s not really true.

Drew Neisser: Right. And I want to think about that you could end up, if you take this to the extreme, where, in your example, the end user has a completely different value prop. It’s just easy to use, and I know how to do it, and I’m used to using it, and it’s easy for me, right? Whereas the other one, I’m pretty sure the head of HR will say, “I don’t get any complaints about this.” And the finance person says, “This is more cost effective than another one.” Those are kind of three very different looks at the same elephant. And if you go the route that you’re talking about, where suddenly we have almost different promises and different value propositions for each target. How do you bring that back together?

Brent Keltner: Well, the good news is, that’s a sales problem. That’s not a problem for your marketing team. Right?

Drew Neisser: Well, is it? Because like, this is one of the things that I think everybody wrestles with is they’ve got all these different targets, but marketing’s job is to make sure that there’s one brand, right?

Brent Keltner: 100%. Well, we recommend, I mean, it’s pretty easy to build on a website, you can have different wherever you put it on your solutions, you put it on different ones, but just thinking about your key buyers seeing themselves in a persona list. As you said, this is for your marketing team, this is for your CMO, this is for your business owner, whatever segments you serve, and whatever kind of key use cases. So we just encourage have those multi drop down lists and then have aligned content around them. And I think the way you said it, you have a macro brand, but you should have micro brands that kind of meet in the middle, and they meet in the middle around those people that could buy from you. There was a company called the SEAM Group, about a $100 million industrial automation company that we did some of this work with, they built out their website. So you can see the key personas, you can see the key verticals, you can see their key use cases, they found immediately, their website conversion rates started to increase, and particularly from more user buyers of training, people inquiries and sales calls. But what that setup was kind of a land and expand motion, as they would be engaged with people on training they saw business needs around safety, around maintenance, that they could then sell into. So I think the answer, you have to speak to those people personally. And then often you can connect product knowledge, it’s kind of a classic land and expand product value, connects to the next level up business value, connects the next level up kind of executive or enterprise value.

Drew Neisser: Help me because as I’m listening to you, and I’m way off the script a little bit, but I’m trying to get it. So when you described the appeal of a product or service to these individual personas, they were very rational, and even B2B, while we want to believe that there’s rational involved, there’s a certain amount of irrationality that goes into this. I just didn’t like that salesperson. There’s stuff that’s irrational. And I’m curious how those, in your mind, because you could go to the extreme and just say, “You know what? Every CFO, that persona, always cares about ROI. That’s all we have to sell, we have the best ROI of any product consumer.” Tt doesn’t necessarily work, it might get in the door, but it doesn’t close the deal. So I’m curious in your framework, and in these playbooks, where does sort of an emotional connection versus a rational?

Brent Keltner: I think it goes back to, start with your customer voice and your customer stories, because I think all selling is social, in some sense, right? And we know when you’re a consumer, you kind of ask your friends, I think we find the easiest way to build emotional connection is if you can name drop or show examples of people like a CMO in a related company, people feel an affinity based on that peer connection, and not an idea we came up with you guys have probably seen the Content Marketing Institute research on this, like the number one thing people want to see is peer testimonials, peer examples, peer stories, right? They want to see content organized by specific use cases. And then for peers, I think often the emotional connection is if they see themselves on your website, they see themselves in your content, then it just kind of builds trust and, “Oh, they know people like me.” And so this is where I do think having that content that speaks to your specific personas and your specific segments, just builds emotional trust.

Drew Neisser: Okay, so we’re gonna go back to customer centricity, I think everyone’s sort of listening at this moment and saying, “I understand the customer’s important. I do talk to the customers.” We have a joke in CMO Huddles that the best sentence that any CMO can ever say in a board meeting is, “I was talking to a customer the other day.” In fact, one CMO suggested that should be my next book, what are they doing wrong? Because they are talking to customers, but your book identifies that people don’t do this quite right. What are they not listening for? What questions aren’t they asking to sort of get at this, being able to have a better understanding of the customer, their journey, their needs, their pain points, and so forth?

Brent Keltner: For those that are really advanced on that, “Hey, we talk to customers, we capture the voice all the time, we feel like we’re doing a good job on the website.” Often, that’s where this playbook aspect comes in. Because you may be talking to customers all the time, but is that voice being well represented across your field teams? So in other words, I mean, often I think content marketing is often thought about as for marketing, but content is honestly the easiest way to enable our prospecting teams, our sales teams, our CS teams to actually speak with the voice that we want them to speak with. And so if I think in the current very buyer centric environment, one thing marketers can do to help themselves a lot is just say, “Hey, you know what, content cuts across all go to market teams. And we’re in the best positioning, honestly, to partner with those other department heads. But we’re in the best position. What’s your feedback on how to make this more actionable?” And sales playbook, CS playbooks, but we’re talking to customers all the time, we’re capturing data all the time, and where the most urgency is so we need to partner in terms of making that actionable content available for your teams. So they can take that message in a repeatable way to your market, because buyers don’t and customers that don’t follow a linear journey anymore. We all know that they could come in any place, so the consistency of the team’s messaging, if it’s not there, can cause a lot of friction and just confusion, right?

Drew Neisser: I know, Brent Adamson’s research in Challenger Customer spoke to the fact that if the messaging, if you will, the stories and the whatever you want to call it enablement, looks different to each of the particular people that are on the buying committee, you’re a lot less likely to make close the sale than you are if there’s that consistent thread. And so I think the dance that we’re talking about is, how do we get this consistent thread of, there’s this company that stands for x, and this specific, and you talked about at the second point of buyer personalization. And again, I think the best way is, give us another example, perhaps, of a company that you’ve worked with that has an uber thread. But yet you were able to find a way to personalize. I mean, some of the folks in CMO Huddles, they have 15 people on a buying committee that end up being involved. And it’s complicated. And you’re right.

Brent Keltner: Yeah, well, I’m not making any of this sound easy. It is complicated. And I think it’s a great part of the challenge of your customer, you have to have those value themes or value motifs that everything aligns to, but different personas will care about different value themes.

So I was just on a call with a company we’ve been working with for a while called ABC Fitness, which is kind of the leading gym automation software. And they’ve done great in the enterprise, because they have the kind of this one platform, but they need to go deeper to grow in the way they want to grow. They need to grow deeper into the micro sub micro small mid market segments. And so capturing their customer voice, it was like, what are the four themes that are gonna get the owner, the financial manager, sales, and marketing those more engaged, and what are the business things? Okay, it’s around collections, right? What percentage of collections are past due? It’s around my reporting and revenue management, I’m a three owner gym, I can see that with visibility across all my gyms, it’s about my member experience, because we’re all moving to omni channel and I want to move a lot of stuff to automation, right? It’s better for me, it’s better for them. It’s about the level of response and expertise. So coming up with these bigger themes that are the brand, but then obviously CFO cares about some of those sales and marketing leadership cares about others, the operational staff that’s managing your team cares about owner. So when we think about the cascade, we do say start with those. What are the three or four key buyer problems, we call them value place, how do you drive value for your customers, and often personas will care about one or two of those. And so that’s where your content can just help your sales and success team and expansion motion, be more situationally fluid, right? You’re linking buyer persona. So there’s three or four bigger goals.

Drew Neisser: The order changes.

Brent Keltner: The order priority changes. And then as you go to the segment again, right towards like, as an example, we can help people spend time on task because they don’t have to run around to three different appointments, we can help just  as a recruiting and retention tool, right, we can pass a candidate recruiting in NPS, talent to pipelines, all of those things we can do. Manufacturing leader cares a lot more about time on task with a hourly workforce. Financial services leader cares a lot more about their female talent pipeline, often because they’re having trouble keeping those talent. So to your point, I mean, starting with those kind of three or four elements of your brand promise, big problems you can solve, that’s going to trickle down to personas, that’s going to trickle down to segments.

Drew Neisser: So one of the Huddlers asked me, this goes back to gathering the customer voice, do you have a process or any software tools that you’re recommending that help gather the customer voice across an organization and sort of representing it back in aggregate to internal teams? Have you found any tools that help or what’s the playbook for that?

Brent Keltner: Yeah, I don’t have a great technology, what we find is, that usually it’s just agreeing on a common set of questions. I mean, literally get it on one page. And there’s a very standard structure, which is, why did you start with us? What was the immediate problem you were trying to solve? What alternatives did you consider to solve that? And then you go down to like a Torchlight, you would go down to, what are those top four value plays and tell me more about, did this help with kind of managing time on tasks? Tell me more about, did it help with talent pipelines? Tell me more about it. So now you ask those individually and you’re really just kind of creating a structured way of your team collecting it. And we would encourage it’s almost always account managers and CS team folks that are the best at capturing this, because they’ve heard all the situations, they just tend to be more conversational, and drawing people out. And so we often encourage to just come up with a standard set of questions, and then you video record those, and then you can assign responsibility for kind of pulling out the key themes.

Drew Neisser: Yeah it’s funny, I was at an AI conference yesterday. And I just think there’s going to be some major advancements in this process where AI will be able to analyze some of this and help sort it out and maybe also help ultimately make it easier to get to this personalization part. So if you were to thinking about it right now and you said, “I’m writing something to this piece of content, but now it’s aimed at a CFO with these needs, versus this piece.” I think this could get a lot easier.

But let’s get back to the personalization part of this, the second component. Right now you’ve identified in your book, a lot of folks get that wrong. Let’s get it right. How do we do that?

Brent Keltner: Yeah, I mean, I think starting with, capturing your customer voice, right, and then thinking about these three levels of personalization, what are the big problems that we solve? Ideally, there is some kind of measurable outcome around that. Who cares? Who are the personas that care about each of those? And then how does that vary by the key segments I sell into? It starts there, and then it’s like, how does that apply to each playbook? And how can I build playbooks for each team? So if we talk a little bit about how marketing can help with that, and this is an application for AI, is if you think about—people will engage with an email outreach at a much higher rate, if there’s something personal in there about your company initiative, something you posted on LinkedIn. And this is where if you want to use AI to reap at scale for anything, it’s combing the web’s for coming up with people on your contact list, something about their strategic plan or something that they posted on recently. So we do encourage—if you think about outbound sequences, get a personalization postulate in there that AI can help generate, you probably need somebody on your SDR team to just kind of check those. But if you think about just your sequencing, whether isn’t there a first or a second touch something very specific to those folks, we’ve had clients increase by fivefold the percentage of conversion to first meetings. So it’s very much personalization at scale as a standard sequence or sourcing, some personalization postulates and then getting it out and people engaging at a higher rate. The other thing we encourage, and it sounds really simple, but it makes a huge difference. If you think about your stories, we will build for people just success story decks encourage them to do it themselves. If you just take your stories, and let’s take Torchlight, around those three or four major use cases, you build a slide, what are our top ones for time on task, where we sell Dell, or Amgen, or whatever? What are our top ones for talent pipeline? What are our top ones for recruiting? And then you have a second one, and what are our top ones for financial service? And so we will tell people, build a success story deck where you just have clickable links to all of those logos, your salespeople, your CS people, can see in one very easy to manage place, what are my best stories by use case and what are my best stories by segment? They will become much more, and then their managers have to ask them, “Hey, if you’re going into a call, you got to prep two stories.” Maybe its use case segment combination, maybe you have two perfect ones. But if you enable your team in that way to be more fluent, and at the expectation of, “I’m just going to prep good stories.” So now my product discussion is not just a presentation of my product, it really should be, “Hey, let me tell you a little bit about how we solve that problem. And here are some other people we’ve worked with.” In a board meeting, the best thing you can do is tell a story. In a sales call and a CS expansion call, best thing you can do is tell a story. So make it really easy for your teams to tell stories. And you will take your personalization up by two or three steps.

Drew Neisser: Use case and segment. So we have five use cases, we have five segments, that’s ultimately 25 stories, potentially, right? And it makes a lot of sense. So if you could get it down to this level where the person that you’re reaching with is connected to a customer already, and you have a quote from that customer, you would be able to say, “Hey, your friend said this about this service.” You start to get it a very good level of personalization, if you can get that far, is that feasible today?

Brent Keltner: You set it up as once you have that framework, and now they’re thinking I need to prep with stories, what you say is okay, now start to put in your own stories. And now as you’re going to a board meeting you want to look at, do you have any LinkedIn connections? And do you have any connections to a relevant customer in that industry, but you’ve given them the framework. Okay, these are default stories, these are companies stories, but what are your personal stories? And can you prep a more personal story where you have an individual connection, that’s even better. So I think that’s kind of then 201 of storytelling. 101 is you can get to the right use case in the right segment. 201 is now I can create even more and more personal connection through my LinkedIn network or, to give an example, I’m going to the ATD conference—Association of Training and Development—and one of the companies I’m going to go meet with out there, they just downloaded from our website, right? And I can check that, your sales team can check who’s engaging with my content. It’s a much more easy ask, “I would love to talk more about why did you download that book chapter.” Just see what landed and what didn’t land. So now you can look at LinkedIn, you can look at who’s engaging with the marketing content or analytics. And you can give them a more personalized reason for meeting with you.

Drew Neisser: So I’m curious because I’m imagining you’re having these conversations with your head of sales and with your SDRs and BDRs. And in some cases, Brent, many of them have the SDRs or BDRs report to the marketer. So they would be in control of this where they’re not necessarily as in control is, what sales is doing. Do you have any tips on integrating the marketing team and the RevOps team? Because some CMOs oversee both.

Brent Keltner: Yeah, I mean, ultimately, the CEO has to say, “Look, I want cross functional collaboration.” So if you’re a CMO, and you don’t have the RevOps team reporting to you, I think I would talk to the next level about why that’s important. Just had a really interesting revenue leader story with a guy who’s been enabling this for years. And we’re talking about all kinds of great stuff, what he said is, “Number one thing I want you to take away from this is, if your C level leadership isn’t aligned on the need for collaborative GTM leadership, with a growth mindset, it’ll never happen. We can talk about this all day long.” So I think that for a CMO, you have to get that buy in from your CEO that we need this kind of in a very hyper personalized environment where people are expecting that. And you’ve all seen the Salesforce study that it’s like 77% of B2B buyers now, expect the same website experiences on a consumer website. This is one of a number of stats like Gartner came out with this study that companies that have this lifecycle personalization grow twice as fast. I mentioned the Content Marketing Institute people want to see stories about them, their use case. So it’s a lot of evidence you can collect for your CEO, but they have to prioritize it that we have collaboration. And that part of what we do is marketing is great at positioning and they’re great at content. And so marketing has to have an entree, to train these other teams, to train the other field teams make sure it’s being reinforced. So that’s one of the other things I would just point out is, once you’re down this buyer personalization journey, it never stops. Because again, our brains are wired to be product pitchers, they’re not wired to go in every conversation and tell me more about how I can be helpful to you. And so the marketing team, I think, just keeping up the pace of new stories, this is how we can get more personalized, making sure it’s easy to collect data on who’s engaging and not engaging, and then your CEO creating the expectation that the other field teams are going to use that to personalize and kind of continue the ongoing process.

Brent Keltner: There’s another revenue enablement story we did that he talked about “Ever-boarding”, not onboarding, but “Ever-boarding”, you are continually keeping this stuff fresh and reminding people on the new content, the new value props we’re coming out with to personalize, because if you don’t keep doing that people just revert to, this is my piece and I’m going to just talk about my product.

Drew Neisser: It’s funny, you mentioned revenue enablement. And we had a lunch Huddle the other day in Boston. And where we all hit, we need to start calling it value enablement, because it’s really about delivering value wherever they are in the journey. But I have a question related to this. So another Huddler shared—and this is an enterprise $100,000+ deal type thing—and they found that from trackable start to finish they had 137 touches and marketing was 100 of them. And so marketing, I guess that’s content, that’s emails, that’s whatever they could be a demo in a virtual demo. So in that, how does your playbook—because you talked about playbooks, and we’ve got an insight, we then segment we have great case histories—that’s like one set of content when we had a six to 12 month journey.

Brent Keltner: So we have this idea. And then I’m going to say the idea and see if Dave has his hand up as a related comment and if we want to weave it in. This idea of conversion sequences you can put in front of people that are already in your sales process, which I’ll say a little bit more about. But Dave, what was the direction of your question or comment so we can weave it in?

Dave Bornmann: It’s so interesting. So I was listening to your talk I’m like, okay, great. We’re doing all of this. We’ve got our case studies, we’ve got them by persona, we have them by segment as much as we can, we’re a start up, we have 10 of them right now and growing. And one of the things I was interested in, so when we get a new case study, we launch it to the sales team, we review it, we tell them what the three issues they were challenged with, and why they chose us and all the things that you said belong in a good case study. But I haven’t viewed it partly as my responsibility—and I want to challenge myself to think maybe it should be—to do the follow up saying, okay, now are you guys out there saying this, the way that we just went over it? And maybe we should be training, introducing it in somewhat different way. But I literally, and I’ve got a great relationship with my sales team and my sales VP, but I have believed that once I do that, I’m relying on them to go through roleplays and listen to sales calls and make sure it’s being told the way we thought it should be from a marketing perspective. And I’m just curious, is that a marketing role that’s doing that I feel like I’m a little bit stepping into the sales lane.

Brent Keltner: It’s a great question. And what I would say is, and this is on the earlier question about what’s your CEOs role in this, is honestly we encourage the idea of a monthly cross GTM Huddle. So it’s not marketing getting in sales stop, but ACS should know the stories as well, because it’s key to their expansion motion. And so thinking of immersion, or an ETU where their CEOs are literally joining once a month these storytelling Huddles just as a way of saying, this is important. And so marketing is there, you’ve enabled them, but the expectation is, then your field teams are going to use them. And we want to just, you know, see all together, like, come back at a regular interval, how are those stories landing? How’s it going? What stories are working from you? So I would encourage you, maybe it’s just you joining sales, but it could be cross functional. And the idea is like, hey, this is an opportunity for us all to learn what stories are landing where do we need to tweek the stories, etc. I don’t think that’s intrusive at all. We have seen when marketing takes initiative to build these clickable decks, it’s just really easy, right? That sales uses them at a much higher rate. One place to go to, find them, you use those to support that monthly Huddle. The one other thing I’ll say Drew on your point is, something we’ve just started to do in the last six to nine months and it’s really working well is now, Dave, you have your success stories in there by use case or their by persona or whatever. This idea of conversion sequences, that where basically like, so if we go back to the ABC Fitness case, where, okay, in a discovery call the interest is really in recording and revenue management, we have a couple of stories and a montage video with some snippets or could be a blog or whatever. But, you know, the salesperson is saying, “Hey, it’s so great to hear you’re interested about that. Looking forward to our meeting and two weeks on in the meantime, I’m just going to share over some of our best stories and content.” So now you’re already in a sales process but you’re again, leveraging that content, all they got to do is trigger, hit go to that person on the conversion sequence and drew to your point, like we often have to touch these people, a lot of times, you’re not taking that value added content and finding a very specific sales application and making it very easy for salespeople to bring it in, because you can tag them by use case persona and segment which ones to launch.

Drew Neisser: Got it. Dave, question answered sort of?

Dave Bornmann: Yeah, I got some ideas out of there.

Drew Neisser: Thank you for the question. Yeah, I’m sort of thinking about, this can get really complicated, because as we talked about this long buyer journey, and the questions change over time, and new people come in, which is why again, this sort of consistent notion matters. Because if we’re talking 18 months to finally close the sale, there’s been a lot of communication and a lot of matching between content, and persona and story and so forth and then finally, they pull the trigger.

One question is, right now, given that it feels like there’s a recession mentality, whether or not we’re in a recession or not, in the B2B world. It’s like, I am only going—me being the CFO,—I’m only going to approve purchases that have a very fast impact on the organization in terms of increasing efficiency or improving ROI, or I’m gonna kick it down the road, even if I know we need it, unless it’s like speed value is really high. Or as I like to say, speed to hero is very high. Do you think given your sort of playbook and alignment, I mean, a lot of the cases are a year ago, from a year ago, when things were pretty happy, and people were investing more, are you tweaking things a bit?

Brent Keltner: Well, I mean, to your point, when you have these kind of different value plays in a more difficult economic environment, the thing we always say is, one, lead with what you just said, the ones where there’s a very clear either revenue or cost impact. So, take ABC Fitness, I mean, not surprising that current environment as a gym industry is just coming back. Collections, massive hit rates, engagement meetings being set for all the reasons you said. So in a more difficult environment, you have to focus on those that are more short term. The other thing we say, and this is where I think these folks are in a great shape to help is, like all those assets you’re building for your sales team, your CS team can use them in the exact same way your customer success team. Customer success, like discovery, you lead with how we’ve been successful, you don’t lead with kind of broader discovery, but then eventually it’s like, is there anything else we could work on? And so your use case stories and your customer stories are equally relevant. Tight now, a ton more CS teams that are being pushed to be strategic and proactive to surface expansion dollars. So all of that stuff you’ve done to enable your sales team, a lot easier for your CFO and an existing customer company to buy more from you because your CS team is surface. So we say, you know, go deep on your existing accounts and focus on your value plays or your use cases with the most immediate business and economic impact.

Drew Neisser: So I was thinking about net new logo, I wasn’t thinking about current customer. And I want to just sort of put a pin on this idea for a second. So the companies that are growing this year, and this is gross over generalization, but many of the companies that are growing this year are growing because they have a large installed base and they’re upselling and cross selling them other products services, which is a heck of a lot easier in theory. And so again, your insight is CS team should know what those buttons are to push, CS team is feeling those. And so let’s just talk about do you see any difference in the plays and your playbooks for upsell cross sell versus net new?

Brent Keltner: Sure, to go back to Dave’s point. This is where I think again the cross functionally I think often we think about enabling sales teams, and I think increasingly determine the market is field enablement. Because as CS teams play this role, they’re not selling, but they surface upsell cross sell all the time. And so I think it’s honestly enabling them to just recognize the stories we have and they’ll pick up your stories quicker often than sales will, recognize the stories we have and connecting that to an expansion motion and just giving them some light discovery on, okay, they are working on this one, often that one leads to this one leads to this one. So I do think you need a bit of enablement but you can use all the same assets with sales to help your CS team surface, cross sell upsell, which might go back to an account manager, or might go back to sales, but it will require some push from us. I just also want to note, Kristen had put a question in the chat and want to make sure we got to as well. I think your question is about scalable and repeatable. And I would say that we’ve touched on the two elements but just to be clear, often marketers do a great job of marketing and they put it on the website and they put it in there kind of drip sequences. For us a scalable process has to be a playbook. You can call whatever you want. But until you have written down how sales and CS and account management, go to market, everybody’s doing their own thing. So there is no repeatability. So there has to be some notion of a playbook. We have a shared way. Everybody can have their own voice and approach but playbooks that build some consistency, and we can compare. And then the second thing and this is to Dave’s question is, you got to practice. And if you think about a sports team, had a playbook and never practice, like, how serious would you all think they were? You’d say they were a joke, right? But go to market teams do it all the time. There’s no expectation for practice. And Dave, I do think, and we’ll say this with when we do sales coaching, we say you need an hour of week of practice manager with each of your reps and reps say, “Well, I’m experienced, I know what I’m doing.”  It’s like, we’re talking about 3% of your time to get better. And the Challenger and the Sales and Marketing Association have shown you can get a 15 to 20% performance bump from an hour a week, and CS teams are no different. So it’s not a lot of practice, it’s intentional practice on making sure we’re really sharp with each of our buyers. So scalability is we have playbooks, we practice our playbooks.

Drew Neisser: So when we talk about the importance of repeatable, of course, this makes it measurable, right? So this issue of personalization at scale is one that I think a lot of CMOs suffer from, we all suffer from. And by the way, from a personal experience, it’s like personalization is they use my name, and then they hit me seven times with the same email. “Hey, Drew, just following up. Hey, Drew, thought you’d be interested in this.” They don’t know anything about me. They just see me as a name on a list. Can we just sort of talk about the challenges of really, truly personalization at scale?

Brent Keltner: Yeah, I see that comment in there. I mean, a lot of times when when people think about personalization and marketing, it’s like, hey, we can merge all of our engagement data from all our different and we know exactly how people are engaging with them. If one of you has figured that out, I’d love to know, because I got 300 people I know, would like that. I’ve never really seen that level of one to one personalization work. This is where again, we think about you deliver value by their specific value plays goals, or personas, or segments. So two things we think about personalization before we even get into a personalization postulate say, we know a lot of people in your role are working on this challenge. Here’s company x company y names on links on my website that are working on that issue, are you working on that issue? So personalization at scale is basically figuring out how to say I know people like you without knowing anything about you. And honestly, those leads will convert at your highest rate, because they engage very specifically in a problem you could solve for people like them. The second thing you could do, and this is where I mentioned earlier, we have done work with teams or we can bump their SQL conversion from a lead campaign to a lead from an industry average of 5%. You can increase it by fivefold, just by coming up with a simple personalization postulates. It’s more labor intensive, but you have to find out something about that company something about what people are posting on LinkedIn, we will usually listen to CEO podcasts, we’ll look to CEO LinkedIn posts or news items or quarterly reports and just say, “Hey, I heard your CEO speak about, I see your CEO posting about. Seems like this is a priority for your company. We work on that, would you be interested in talking about it?” So two very simple ways of personalizing just saying more. One to one is really really hard, but putting people in categories so like I know where you’re walking today you will get a much higher conversion than just the hey name, hey company, personalization.

Drew Neisser: Well and I also feel like as the value per customer increases the opportunity and the worthiness of investing in a higher level of personalization becomes important, right? And it becomes viable. If a customer is worth $100,000 a year or it’s 100,000 hour contract, you sure as heck can spend, you know, $5,000 on personalization research in terms of time and staff, right. So I think where it’s harder is when you’re at the smaller level. But in an ideal world, it would be me talking to Brent about, hey, I noticed that you went to Stanford Business School, got your PhD at Stanford, that must have been interesting, huh? Where you really get into a personal level. And I have to say, I do see this happening and being enabled by AI. I’m absolutely convinced of it. Man, I think it’s going to happen on a couple of dimensions. I think one, it can happen on a sort of psychological perspective in terms of what kind of person and how do they process information, are they big picture? Are they small picture? Do they like the details? There’s that kind of thing. And then there’s the personalization that could happen based on all this other information so what a machine can do is a lot more matching. Right? And therefore sort of, say, based on this person’s profile, based on what they’ve written about based on the company, I have the feeling the machine can just do this at scale.

Drew Neisser: Anyway, that’s me pontificating to wrap up, can you offer two do’s and one don’t for CMOs when it comes to driving revenue growth?

Brent Keltner: Yeah, and I don’t mean to be a broken record but there’s urban legend, and I’ve been trying to track down the stat that 89% of satisfied customers are happy to give a testimonial or reference, only 7% of people ask. So just to be a broken record, I think we under talk to our customers, we should be capturing new customers stories, new testimonials, every quarter, doing a refresh. That social proof is the most important capital when it comes to personalization. And so the related thing is, look, it might be a testimonial, it might just be a name drop of x,y,z company in that sector. And you can use on prospecting, you can use it in expansion. So I guess the two to do’s is, capture your customer stories and your name drops all day long, right? Just set a goal every month, every quarter on that, and then take this idea of if you don’t actually give it to your sales and your CS team in ways that they can use it in their workflow they won’t use it. So good content is then put into a playbook that enables those teams. I think that’s the other to do, so everybody can speak in the same level of personalization as the CMO. Without the playbook, it won’t happen. And I think that don’t is don’t feel overwhelmed. I mean, I preach this stuff, we don’t have our segments on the website, right? We will by the end of the year, but we started with the use cases, we saw in the personas. I’ve been doing this for years, it takes time. So just make progress, right, just make progress. But people want to be spoken to based on what they’re trying to solve. Not a product, a product is meaningful if it solves the problem I’m trying to solve. Otherwise, they couldn’t care less. What’s my goal? What’s my role? What’s my market segment? Just get better and better personalizing around those and you’ll see an impact, I promise.

Drew Neisser: Very cool. Well, thank you, Brent for joining us. I really appreciate your insights. And I know Huddlers will too and our larger audience when they get a chance to hear you. So how can people find you?

Brent Keltner: They can connect with me on LinkedIn is probably the easiest. I think I’m the only Brent Keltner there.

Drew Neisser: All right, thank you so much, Brent.

If you’re a B2B CMO, and you want to hear more conversations like this one, find out if you qualify to join our community of sharing, caring and daring CMOs at cmohuddles.com

Show Credits

Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me! This show is produced by Melissa Caffrey, Laura Parkyn, and our B2B podcast partners Share Your Genius. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro Voice Over is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about B2B branding, CMO Huddles, or my CMO coaching service, check out renegade.com. I’m your host, Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade thinking caps on and strong!