Dan Englander is the founder and CEO of Sales Schema, an agency that helps companies customize their B2B sales process. Currently, Dan’s team has executed over 7,000 campaigns and generated over 3,000 agency brand meetings for clients with companies like Birchbox, Stripe and Venmo.
Dan moved to New York for college in 2010. He often jokes that if you don’t know what you want to do and you move to New York, you end up in the agency world. He worked on some big consumer accounts, led new businesses, and ended up landing a job as an account manager. Essentially, his job consisted of a sales and client service hybrid role, selling creative services.
At first, he didn’t take ownership of the sales department, but finally realized he needed to if he wanted to make any money and help the company stay afloat to keep his job.
He started taking every training course available, and studying all tactics under the sun. They did tons of inbound marketing, and figured out what it would take to sell a complex creative services product.
A lot of sales education is about tech or something tangible: how to walk, how to talk, and how to present yourself. But Dan felt like he didn’t have enough instruction on how to manage a split sales and client service role, or how to juggle things that were more abstract or complex.
Dan chose to go off on his own, and self-published a book about account management. He started getting clients who paid him to give them advice about sales. What he continued to find was the main place he could help was getting prospects in the door.
As he built his own company, Dan saw a need in the agency space: people selling complex marketing services to mid to large companies.
Essentially, that’s what the team at Sales Schema has done since 2014. They worked to keep the pipeline full, regardless of who their clients were, however busy their clients were.
More recently, they have expanded out to other B2B sales process services and consulting opportunities.
In the early days of the company, Dan believes they were doing what most people do with outbound sales, whether it’s through a lead generation company, or people doing it in-house.
Recently, they’ve reached a high point of market sophistication or skepticism about marketing services. Most businesses that aren’t brand new tech products, businesses that you can do from a laptop from anywhere, are often not trusted. The scarce commodity has become trust.
Eugene Schwartz talks about the stages of market sophistication, and Dan believes this is just as true today as it was then. Eugene writes about the fifth stage of marketing sophistication, when you have the most aware buyers, and the importance of identifying with them.
In short, one of the key steps they took towards scaling was spending a lot of time up front crafting a distinctive and creative campaign. A campaign might last anywhere from several weeks up to a year, but eventually you’re going to have to rethink that.
Dan tried to figure out the secret to networking for years, and eventually he just assumed that he wasn’t good at it. But as he studied the problem more closely, he found that over time, it wouldn’t work for anybody that was selling anything slightly “weird.”
Especially in New York, the same dynamics work, you just have to do them digitally. When you expand out to the internet and use those tools, then your networking will really take off.
Email has matured as an important channel in the B2B sales process. People often try out email, and decide too quickly that it doesn’t work for them. After investing a lot of time and energy, nobody’s opening the emails, and it starts to feel like a waste.
There was a time where you could play the numbers game, build giant lists, and see what happens. Because email providers have gotten smarter. We get less spam than we used to, which means the numbers game dynamic has changed. You still need that scale, but if you’re sending to a list of a hundred people, and 10-30 mark you as spam, you’re not going to be able to continue doing what you’re doing for very long.
All of this has led to the increase of the personalization trend.
Some people refer to personalization as using somebody’s name, but with B2B sales, the bar is much higher. You get a much higher level of personalization, which means strong connections that are almost tribal.
Though things are constantly changing, what Dan and his team has seen work for longer periods of time is channeling the old school dynamics of in-person networking.
Having the ability to put people in touch with each other who already might know each other even loosely, and being able to do some form of scaled batch outreach, will increase the likelihood of warm feelings towards the campaign.
At the most skeptical level of marketing sophistication, it’s more about identification. The goal?
Creating a high quality email, very targeted, with the right messaging, rather than just sending a hundred thousand emails.
Dan and his team use Streak for the G suite interface.
One of the most difficult parts of a CRM is making one thing talk to another: making data go from one place to another. Within the sales world, a huge percentage of the sales process is email and phone, and Streak lives in the Gmail inbox.
There’s a lot of different email platforms, one of the bigger issues is when people are trying to do outbound through a newsletter platform, or through an inbound marketing platform.
For true success in this area, you need to make the distinction between different email platforms that handle inbound and outbound.
Having the right tools that fit your B2B sales process, without getting so lost in the system that you’re working for it rather than the other way around, is the goal.
Once you have a relationship with somebody, you don’t want to over automate.
The main level of automation should be happening before you build that relationship.
So, instead of focusing on increasing your automation, Dan believes what is better for followup are systems and processes. Instead of saying the same message over and over to the same type of person every other day, you might have a template that you reuse and simply “fill in a blank.”
What Dan’s team pitches to their clients is their role of creating lots of relationships, and the actual wins coming from follow up. If you have a CRM, whether it’s Streak or one of the million other CRMs that can do this, using a simple filter that allows you to identify who hasn’t been contacted, and the timeline of contact. From there, it’s all about thinking about distinct campaigns – thinking creatively, and figuring out a reason to re-engage them.
Once you’ve developed a dependable rhythm for your team and clients, where you know generally what works and the process you use, you can begin to make little tweaks to it.
In the B2B sales process, there isn’t a lot of anecdotal data, but you will notice trends, and you’ll want to make sure you’re using them to your benefit.
Dan’s top tip is investing in people first, and following that wisdom. All of the techniques and advice in the world can’t replace the voices of your clients and your team.
Second: time and motivation above everything else.
You could have the best tactics in the world, but if they don’t get implemented, they fall apart.
If it’s just you in that seat, you might be wearing a lot of hats, but at least you can have uninterrupted time devoted to one type of task. For example, if you’re crafting an outreach campaign, work on that instead of bouncing around between things.
If you have a team, then ideally you can delegate and have somebody building the list, someone else teeing up that meeting for you, securing relationships, scheduling, and allowing you to do what you do best.
Dan has a huge amount of resources on his site. They have a live training recorded from a call on Sales Schema, and for in depth relationship-advice (not the dating kind), Salesforce is Dan’s CRM hub.
To contact Dan directly, email him at [email protected].
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