This Asher Sales Sense Podcast – “Building Sales Pipeline with Cold Calling, Podcasts, and Video” – features host John Asher with guest Collin Mitchell, Chief Revenue Officer of Salescast, the only fully-managed tech and service stack offering an end-to-end thought leadership platform. Collin Mitchell is also the host of the Sales Transformation Podcast.
Many sales professionals believe that cold calling is dead, that podcasts don’t bring revenue, and video is a waste of money. Collin Mitchell gives examples for why these commonly-held beliefs are false. It’s all in how these messaging technologies are applied, not in the capabilities themselves.
- How can you identify which people will pick up the phone?
- Are there automated ways to help you get more phone connections?
- Which people listen to podcasts and watch videos?
- Do “blended” approaches work? With whom?
- What is “intent data” and what value does it have?
- Is it possible to research podcasts to get inside the C-Suite?
- Do you know what podcasts your clients listen to?
- How effective is the use of video in the first sales touch?
- Can you use video to help your coaches sell for you inside their companies?
Listen to the answers of these questions and learn new ways to build more pipeline by turning your sales craft into sales art.
Dave: I’m Dave Potts in the Asher Strategies studio in Washington, D.C. Your host today is John Asher, CEO and founder of Asher Strategies. John’s guest is Collin Mitchell, chief revenue officer of Salescast, the only fully-managed tech and service stack offering and end-to-end thought leadership platform. Collin is also the host of the Sales Transformation podcast. The title of the show is Building Sales Pipeline with Cold Calling, Podcast, and Video. Over to you, John.
John: Collin, thank you so much for coming on the show.
Collin: Yeah, I’m glad to be here. Thanks for having me.
John: You are welcome. You certainly have an impressive couple of titles there. You also have a great reputation. I’ve done a little research. As you can tell, you have this great reputation. I know one of your areas that you like to focus on is helping to build pipeline, principally for B2Bs, companies selling business-to-business. Some of those ways I know you use are just the phone. You’ve got a very sophisticated cold-calling process using podcasts to drive business and pipeline. Also, everybody kind of knows this now, using video. That’s come to the forefront as we’ve had this kind of lack of face-to-face, but there are also other areas, LinkedIn, social media. Could you start off by telling the audience what’s the big picture on building pipeline from your standpoint and experience?
Collin: Yeah, great question. I love talking about this topic. Any top-of-funnel, building pipeline gets me excited, always has. A lot of it has to come down initially with your targeting, right? A lot of times knowing who you serve well is going to help you tremendously because a lot of companies, especially early on, make this mistake. I learned this through first-hand experience of thinking you can help everybody, right?
Collin: The more laser-focused you can get on who your ideal customer profile is, then it’s going to become easier to build pipeline, regardless of what channel you’re using or if you’re using them altogether, which is my preference. But targeting the right people that you can solve a problem from is the number one thing that you need to focus on first before you go into any of those channels, whether you’re using the phone, whether you’re using LinkedIn, video, podcasting, you name it. Making sure you’re targeting the right people first is the priority.
John: Yes. I’m working with a new client out on the West Coast, been working with him for about a year on how to book more meetings basically and be successful in the meetings. They hired a different company, a marketing company, to do a persona analysis. That is to come up with exactly who the customers are for them, the right ones, and build that persona. Boy, they just did an A-plus job of doing that, I have to say. That’s got the company off to a great start, just understanding the profile of the typical buyers that would buy their products and services and process these, of course. Totally agree with that.
Collin: Yeah, I mean the technology these days is pretty crazy of how you can get very targeted on who you need to be speaking with. It can be challenging when you’re first getting started because you kind of just got to test a lot of things until you figure that out.
John: No, I agree with that. I’m not too sure how new this technology is, but you can now buy, when you’re thinking about buying customers or customer data, you can now buy what’s called intent data. That is buyers who have a current intent. It’s not only the buyers who have the right persona for you but the buyers who have the current intent to buy. Of course, that’s an analysis of what websites they’ve been looking at and when have they been looking at them. Not only now can you see what the right persona is, see that list of, I’ll make a number up, 200 buyers in your area that would be interested in what you sell, but now also you’ve got this intent data. That is, of the 200, 17 of them right now are looking for solutions that you offer. That’s a great new source to work with a persona.
Collin: Yeah, it can be helpful because there’s only a small percentage of people that are actually in market buying whatever it is you’re selling right now. To be able to know who those people are is a big help. Then knowing how to reach out to those people. Do we call them? Do we reach them on social? Do we send them an email? Do we do all of those things? Personally in-house, when we build our lead list or our customer data that we’re going to start to target, they go through a pretty rigorous process with a vendor that we use. We have different methods of reaching out. We use LinkedIn. We use video. We use the phone. We use email.
Collin: Some people are more likely to pick up the phone. There are some people who just really don’t pick up the phone no matter how much you call them, they’re just very unlikely to answer. Others are more likely to pick up the phone. They go through a process that helps identify are they somebody who’s most likely to pick up the phone? If that’s the case, then we’re mainly going to prospect them through using the phone, or we can look at how active they are on LinkedIn. If they have a higher score of being active on LinkedIn, then we’re going to have more touches in our outreach process that might be engaging with their content, sending them a video, sending them a message, things like that. Then email kind of serves in all different types of outreach that we do just to warm up the other channels in a lot of cases.
John: Yes. It’s kind of funny. I get a lot of cold calls. Most of them you can kind of tell are B2C calls trying to get me to buy replacement windows for my condo. That’s kind of useless because the building replaces the windows, not the people who own the units. But every now and then, I’ll get one from a B2B salesperson. I try to answer as many as I can. The reason I do is I want to learn their techniques. I want to see how well they can respond to different types of buyers. Not that I’m ever going to be a total jerk, but you can be a difficult or a very easy buyer. It’s always useful, in my opinion, just take some of those calls just to learn what’s going on.
Collin: Yeah, just to see what techniques people are using, maybe even give them a few tips.
John: Yeah, exactly. Hey, maybe to be a sales training client. Maybe they need it.
Collin: Yeah, it’s funny. I use the phone a lot to book meetings and build pipeline with my team, but I personally don’t pick up the phone very often. If someone was trying to prospect on me, calling me on the phone would be the least effective method.
John: You mentioned you use an outsource company to do this kind of multichannel, I guess it’s called multichannel prospecting.
Collin: Well, we use a company to put the data together, right?
John: Oh, I see.
Collin: In our business, we’re targeting directors of marketing, VPs of marketing, and CMOs in a lot of cases. They’ll take that sort of target market that we’re looking to get into in these specific industries that we play well in and they’ll put that data through a process to say, “Hey, here’s 20% of these people are likely to pick up the phone.” We’re going to have a sequence. We’re going to have an outreach process where there’s going to be heavy phone calls. Then maybe 30% or 40% of it is active on social media. We’re going to have more social touches in our outreach. Then some are just questionable, not that active on social, not quite sure if they’re going to pick up the phone. With those, we have more of just a blended approach.
John: Right. When you say blended, I’m assuming it’s mainly using the phone, social media, LinkedIn, and email, but there is a place for podcasts and also for videos, aren’t there, to build pipe?
Collin: Yeah. I love that you brought that up. I’m a big component of using video. I’ve also run some experiments just for fun. There’s a lot of people, a lot of sales gurus, who will tell you, “Never use video in the first touchpoint.” I sort of wanted to just have my own experience. There’s a lot of people that say there’s a lot of dos and don’ts and there’s a lot of hard lines on do this or don’t do that. What I like to tell sellers is you need to have your own experience. They don’t know who you’re targeting. They don’t know what problems you solve. Things work differently and more effectively in different industries or different people with different titles or companies of different sizes. You as a seller in your role, or as a leader leading your team, need to kind of test and experiment and have your own experience and not just listen to everybody that’s a talking head about what they say you should or shouldn’t do.
Collin: I ran a little experiment. It was right when one of my favorite video products that we use, Vidyard, had rolled out its integration with LinkedIn. They now had an integration where you go into your LinkedIn message box and there’s a little icon there and you click it and you can shoot people a video. What we did is for four weeks straight, and this is another thing that a lot of people say, “Never send a connection request on LinkedIn without a personalized message.” What we did is we did exactly what people said you shouldn’t do. We didn’t send a personalized message in the connection. We just sent blank connection requests. Then we sent a video in the first touch. We did that for four weeks.
Collin: We maxed out our invites every week. Per person can send 100 invites a week. Every week we sent 100. We’d send no personal message. Then we’d send a video in the first touch, a 30-second video offering something of value to them that was educational that would require them to set up a call so we could talk about it, not trying to sell them anything. Allowing them to raise their hand and say, “Hey, I’m interested. I’d like to chat.” Not sending them a calendar link, all these things that people tend to do for whatever reason. I don’t know why because it does didn’t work.
Collin: What happened is when we did that for four weeks, 55% of the connection requests that we sent were accepted. We booked about three to five meetings per day using that method. Then for the following four weeks, we did what everybody says, send a personalized message in the connection request, which we did. Then we sent a video on the second touch. We got a slight lift in the connection acceptance, like 65%. 10% more accepted our connection request, but we booked less than half as many meetings. We were booking one meeting a day, as opposed to three to five in some cases.
Collin: Yeah, yeah. About one and a half meetings per day were the average when we were averaging between three to five with the previous method. It was a lot of fun. We booked a lot of meetings. We learned a lot, but here’s the interesting thing is one of the reps on my team, what was working for me, didn’t work for him. I have a much more optimized profile. I put way more original content out. It was much easier for me to get people to accept without that personalized message. For him, it didn’t work. We had to kind of tweak it a little bit. We did come up with a personalized message and he was able to see the same results with tweaking it.
Collin: Every individual is different. What your profile looks like, how much original content you’re putting out, who you’re reaching out to, what your title is, what their title is, all of these variables matter.
John: Now, when you said 55% of them, is that right? These are 55% of the prospects that you sent the video to through the Vidyard plugin to LinkedIn-
John: … 55% of them connected. Were they cold?
Collin: Yeah, they’re all totally cold. We never reached out to them before in any capacity. When we did not send a message in the invite, just blank, 55% accepted, so slightly lower than sending a message. However, as soon as they would connect, we would send them a video. That was the first experience of us saying anything to them was them receiving a 30-second video offering value. We were able to book three to five meetings a day on average doing that. Then when we switched to sending a message, it was a slightly higher acceptance. 65% percent accepted the connection request, but we didn’t book as many meetings when the video was the second thing that they got from us, which was followed up from the original message in the connection request.
John: Very interesting Collin. I can give you one insight that you may find useful about why video works so well. By education, I’m a physicist. By training, I’m an engineer, but I couldn’t do real work. I hated real work. I have lots of friends here in D.C. who will say, “If you can’t do real work, get into sales.” I’ve essentially been a sales guy for 30 plus years. If you go back to physics and optics, the comprehension rate of our brain for video is 2,000 times faster than reading words. That is just a stupendous amount of difference, right?
John: 2,000 times comprehension rate of the watcher of the video, watcher and listener, is 2,000 times higher than if it’s just words.
John: That explains why video is taking over the whole world, really, and explains why Google, a very smart company, bought YouTube 15 years ago. That’s how smart they were. Now it’s like YouTube is like 40% of Google’s cash flow, which is amazing.
Collin: I mean, it makes a lot of sense. I mean, I know we’re talking about building pipeline, but I’m a fan of my team using video at all stages of the sales process, right?
John: Yeah, right.
Collin: When you would normally send a big, long email with too much information that nobody wants to read as an email, type that up. That’s a script for your video.
Collin: You send a proposal and you want to break down some of the terms or you want to go over what the deliverables are, put that in a video. Anything where you’re explaining something to somebody then may have to then explain it to a committee of buyers, you put that in a video that they can share with everybody rather than relying on them to hopefully remember what you typed in the email and put it into their own words and help you win that deal. Good luck.
John: Yeah. No, that’s excellent. Let’s switch subjects a bit. We talked about the importance of video. How about podcasts? How can you use them to drive revenue and pipe?
Collin: Yeah. Yeah, great question, my favorite topic. A couple of ways. First, I’ll talk with one that maybe people aren’t as familiar with. There are three ways, all right. Let’s start with the simplest one, the simplest way you could use podcast and build pipeline. Let’s say there are certain prospects that you’re looking to open doors with, get conversations going with, maybe book a meeting, get on a call, you’re looking for some creative ways to reach out to them. Well, you can go search out and see what podcasts they’ve been on. You can listen to those podcasts. You can even put it at two-X speed, maybe even read the transcripts if that’s available, but you can get some insightful information of maybe what they care about most. You might even be able to learn some personal things about them, things that light them up that they’re passionate about. You can find some really interesting stuff.
Collin: For whatever reason in the podcast context, a lot of times people get pretty personal and tell things about them that you’d never learn anywhere else. A podcast can be a great resource. If there’s a C-suite executive that you’re trying to get their attention, go check out some of the shows that they’ve been on and use that as a way to sort of stand out and catch their attention to get a conversation going. That’s the easiest way. It’s also one that people don’t talk about that much, but there’s a really simple website that you can use. It’s listennotes.com. You can pretty much search anybody who’s been on a podcast and find what shows they’ve been on and listen to them right there on that platform. That’s one easy way that sellers can use podcasting to build pipeline.
John: Let me just make sure the listeners heard that right.
John: Is it all one word, listennotes.com?
Collin: Yep, listennotes.com.
John: Got it.
Collin: You can search somebody’s name on there by episode and see what shows they’ve been on and then listen to them right there on the platform. Take some notes, learn some things, reach out to them in a way that most people aren’t.
Collin: The second thing you can do is you can guest on shows. Maybe starting a show seems a little too overwhelming, you don’t know where to start. I would recommend guesting on some shows. Find out who is it that needs to hear what you have to say. Figure out what type of shows they listen to and go provide some education and entertainment on those shows. You can reach out to those guests in a meaningful way. If you’re going to reach out to those shows, we’ve done masterclasses on teaching people how to do this, but it’s a simple formula. Find those shows, build the list, reach out to them, five to eight times before they say yes. Maybe use video in your outreach, highly recommend using video. Write them a review on the podcast, if you took the time to listen to it. Listen to the podcast so you can say, “I enjoyed this particular episode with John where he talked about this. Here are some topics that I could talk about. Do you think your listeners would benefit from that?”
Collin: The biggest problem when people try to get themselves booked on podcasts is they make it all about them. It’s very similar to the seller that pitches features and benefits and throws up in your LinkedIn DM inbox, right?
Collin: But there are two things podcasters care about most, reviews on their show and providing value to their listeners. If you can touch on those two things, you’re going to have a pretty good success rate. Then the key there is to have a really good call to action. A lot of podcasts end something like, “Hey, John. Thanks so much for coming on my show. How can people reach out to you?” Then they give them too many options. They tell them, “Hey, I talk about fantasy football on Twitter. Here’s my side hustle website. Here’s my company website. Here’s my LinkedIn.” They get zero ROI because they just overwhelm the listener. Come up with one simple, really good strong call to action at the end of each show. That’s kind of a recipe that works for that.
Collin: Then last, but not least, and my personal favorite, is starting your own show. I mean, sellers today need to be marketers. They need to be active on social. They need to be creating original content. They need to be building relationships with people. A podcast solves a lot of those things. Podcast allows you to get access to people that would be a lot harder to otherwise. I mean, we talked about using the phone and using email and using LinkedIn. Even if you’re great at those, the numbers are not great. But if you reached out to the same 100 people that you reached out to in any of those other ways and you ask them to come on your show, about 80% or 90% of them are going to say yes. You can use the podcast to create content, to build relationships. Now you got to do it in not a sleazy way where you say, “Hey, John. Come on my show.” Then try to sell you something right after, which has happened to me before.
Collin: But people are genuinely curious. If you can solve a problem that they have and you’re are targeting the right people, they’re naturally going to get into your pipeline through conversation before the show, after the show, or if you continue to follow-up or engage with them. There’s a lot of things that we can get deeper into the weeds about that, but most sales processes and sales motions are highly relationship-driven. A podcast is a great tool to build new relationships. It’s not going to solve all of your prospecting problems, but if you have your Dream 100 or your top 100 accounts, podcasts can help you get those.
John: Yeah. No, that’s excellent. We talked about podcast, videos. You touched on email a little bit. How about the phone, cold calling?
Collin: Yeah, my personal favorite, right?
John: Even though you don’t like it.
Collin: I guess they’re all my favorite. I love video. I love using LinkedIn. I love using the phone. I love using podcasting, but a lot of people just really hate using the phone. We’ve all heard, “Cold calling is dead. It’s harder to get people on the phone.” Yeah, if you’re not targeting the right people, you don’t know what to say when they pick up, you’re dealing with gatekeepers and phone trees and all of these frustrating things, and prospecting via the phone is the first thing that you make an excuse not to do in your role. There are some things that you can do to make it a little bit easier. Number one, have good data, right?
Collin: There are tons of tools to get good data. We use a combination of AI tools. Plus we have a company that processes that data for us because people are moving, they’re in new roles. We’re only calling direct-dials. We’re only calling direct-dials and cell phones. We’re not calling main company lines or any of that. Then we use a tool called MonsterConnect, which is a partner of ours. It’s a parallel-assisted dialer. What it allows us to do is do a whole day’s worth of prospecting in one hour. What I mean by that is if you plug into the system, there are about six to eight people making calls on your behalf, finding your decision-makers. Once they pick up live, then they live transfer them over to you. The type of success that we’ve seen with using a tool like that with good data is in 60 minutes, we can have 25 plus conversations and we can book two to three meetings.
John: That’s pretty darn good.
Collin: Yeah, not bad, right?
John: Yeah, it’s really good. Especially since it just seems like, I’ve never seen much data on this, but it seems like as we’ve been through the pandemic, everybody’s attention span has gotten shorter. Have you seen that?
Collin: Yeah, we’re all just so busy, right? Everybody’s busy, busy-
Collin: … busy, busy, busy doing nothing.
Dave: John, we’re also busy. It’s time for the wrap-up.
John: Dave, it couldn’t be. We’ve only been talking it seems like for five minutes. Collin, thank you so much for coming on the show. Let me just ask if you would end with a couple of big ideas, from your standpoint, on what you’d like people to remember, what you could do to help them if they wanted that help? Then, of course, how can they get ahold of you?
Collin: Yeah, I mean, we talked a lot about building pipeline with these different channels, right?
Collin: I think the big takeaway is to try them all, have your own experience. Going all-in on one versus the other is not going to set you up for success. Leveraging all of the channels and having your own experience with each one and seeing how they complement each other is how you’re going to have a successful prospecting motion to build pipeline. The best way to get in touch with me and how I can help, is you can, whatever podcast platform you’re listening to this episode on right now, you can search out Sales Transformation where we drop five episodes per week highlighting elite sellers and their own transformation stories and sales to help fuel your next sales transformation.
John: All right, terrific. Thanks so much.
Dave: Thank you both. That’s all the time we have for today. For our listeners, be sure to subscribe to Asher Strategies Radio on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast venue. You can also ask Alexa or Siri to play Asher Strategies Radio. From now until we meet again, John reminds us to please, please get out there and sell something.