So many companies are still struggling with inbound sales. While there are a lot of tactics that can be used to generate leads, the truth is that most B2B companies aren’t doing them well.
You want to make sure that your marketing and sales teams work together from the beginning so they can get off on the right foot. If you don’t do this, it might take months before you realize that something isn’t working as planned or even worse, until after a deal has gone south because no one was listening to each other along the way.
The problem doesn’t lie in the lack of marketing automation or poor lead nurturing strategies — it’s rooted in how businesses sell and market their products today. Inbound marketing has changed what prospects look for from your company, but most businesses haven’t adapted their sales approach to this new reality yet.
Nathan shares his experience on how his team at Kinsta has leveraged inbound sales by using an automated process where qualified leads get passed through a series of steps until they become customers (or not). It involves understanding exactly who your ideal customer is and then making sure you attract those people to your website so you can convert them into paying customers at scale!
Nathan Bliss is the VP of Sales and Marketing at Kinsta, a managed WordPress hosting provider that helps take care of all your needs regarding your website.
Nathan is a data-driven sales and marketing leader with more than 12 years of experience founding companies and leading teams.
He is an expert in SaaS tools for small and mid-market businesses, collaborating with remote teams, and has worked at companies like PayPal and Flywheel.
In this episode, Nathan shares his experience and insights to help us leverage inbound sales the way prospects buy. Insights he shares include:
Some topics we discussed include:
- How Nathan leveraged a background in sales in a marketing role
- How Nathan leveraged a background in sales to hone in on the right persona
- How Kinsta has developed a successful inbound marketing approach
- What is inbound sales? Why inbound sales matters
- What is the difference between outbound and inbound sales?
- How to use outbound sales tactics in an inbound way?
- Inbound Sales vs Inside Sales: What’s the difference?
- How inbound sales is changing
- The key elements to a successful inbound selling plan
- Common mistakes sales reps/AE’s make with inbound sales
- and much much more…
Listen to the episode
Related links and resources
- Check out Kinsta
- Check out Nathan’s personal site
- Learn from David Ledgerwood – Sales Operations: What it is And How to Implement it to Drive Growth
- Learn from Robert Elliott – Sales Process Mapping: What is it And How to Use it to Drive Growth
- Learn from Tom Williams – What is B2B Sales and How to Create a Successful Sales Process
- Listen to my interview with Simone Vincenzi – How to Build a Personal Selling Process That Boosts Sales: 7 Steps
- Listen to my interview with Mark Welch – How to Craft an Action Plan to Improve Sales Performance
- Get even more inspiration with Sean Whitford – Generating Demand to Boost Growth: How to Use Demand Generation Strategies
Connect with Nathan
Our guest today is Nathan bliss. Nathan, you are the VP of Sales and Marketing at Kinsta. And for those who may not be familiar with Kinsta, it’s a managed WordPress hosting provider.
Nathan, you’ve got something like 12 or more years of experience in companies working with teams, primarily driving sales and marketing. In fact, I believe you described yourself as a data-driven sales and marketing leader. And you’ve had a fair bit of experience in the software as a service (SaaS) space, having worked for companies like Paypal and Flywheel? Would that be a good summary of yourself?
Yeah, absolutely attracted to entrepreneurship and in the sales space, and consider myself a salesperson through and through. So yeah, you hit the nail on the head there with like, my background and history, of course, over the course of about the last two years been against, again, Vice President of Sales and Marketing here and leading spearheading our revenue efforts
Excellent. And I’m curious, is there or was there a particular instance or event that triggered your interest or passion for sales in particular?
Yeah, I broke into sales coming out of the service industry, which I think is a lot of people like finding themselves making that transition. So sales is something that I got there by that sort of transition, but I’ve stayed in it just because of Whirlpool, really, for a variety of reasons. It can be really engaging work and challenging work. And I really like it at the individual contributor level, like the sleuth and detective work that sales is and putting puzzle pieces together and solving challenges and like that aspect and element of sales. And then, for me, I’d say that the most, right where I’m at now, in my career, the most engaging aspect of my role is just building teams and seeing individuals grow up in their own careers. That’s the part of our of my job, the side of my job, the element of my job that gets me the most excited is seeing people come from point A to point B, and then transition to level C, but in their own careers is really the element of my job that I get the most was
Was there a particular moment, though, that kind of triggered this realization that this is where we really need to be?
Yeah, I would really say I had some really great mentors and strong mentors along the way. And if I could give any advocacy to your audience, it’s the value of mentorship and being underneath people that you have the opportunity to learn from, in terms of, of your own careers. So that started at Paypal for me, really, where there were some individuals there, that I really was able to like mirror and model, and really start to learn the discipline of sales and how to do it effectively.
And then transitioning to a place like Flywheel. It was such a great time to be there. And coming on as an early employee, transitioning away from the business and seeing that business evolves from a startup to an acquired company was really awesome. And I had a mentor there for the majority of my time, but not all of my time there who really served as like a guide on how to lead teams, how to function within the context of teams, and how to identify people to bring onto teams, which translates most correlates most closely to where I’m at in my career.
Now, I can’t stress enough or overvalue enough that or I think that mentorship is undervalued. And if you can find yourself at a place where you feel like that is really strong, you really, I would argue if you can afford to put compensation to the side, put it to the side. Because every time that I found myself in that environment where my next, the next point in my career maybe a proverbial one step back on paper. It’s always been an accelerant in in in context and seeing myself really being able to take two steps forward in my career when I’ve been in environments like that.
And given your journey to date, what would you say is your personal area of strength?
I would say intestinal fortitude, the ability to get back up. And that’s indicative of, I think a lot of strong people in the revenue community in the sales space like you have to be able to deal with heartburn deal with heartache deal with, you know, in mirrors, a lot of one of my favorite sports in the US is baseball, and it is one of the most frustrating sports because you are successful if you’re failing 70% of the time, which has an eerie level corollary to selling. If you’re successfully running a pipeline, and you’re failing 70% of the time, you’re actually probably doing really well now. It’s relative to your context to your vertical to the type of business that you’re at, obviously, but sales can be a bit of an exercise in frustration. So learning how to, to work through those challenges, using every no is the learning opportunity to get the next young Yes, all those sorts of I know, it can be a little bit of a platitude or feel a little bit disingenuous, but it’s really true. So I would say for me, that strong point comes in being able to put one foot in front of the other and continue to move through challenges and come out the other side, ready to meet the next one.
And in that area of strengths that what would you say something that businesses don’t know, but should
Something that businesses don’t know, but should add? This is very personal to me, I would say I saw somebody tweet about this, and somebody in your audience could go look this up, I think it was one of the founders or CEO of Basecamp. And I know they’ve been in the news in the last couple of months. But there’s a lot there to be looked at and mirrored and modeled and respected, I would argue. And one of the things I think I read in a tweet one time was every time you hire, that’s an admission that you can’t move the business forward in the current context of the business. So I’m a very, I’m a big advocate for hiring very strategically, very specifically. And I would argue, probably slower than most people think they should. I know it’s very, in the world that we live in where venture capital availability is seemingly endless. And all of those various sources and avenue.
The business context that I’m in now is a bootstrap business. So we have to be very specific when we hire. And I would even argue, I personally am even more specific or even more conservative, when we hire that every time I think about bringing on somebody on board. To me, it’s an admission that we can’t move the business forward at the rate that we have historically, in the current context of the team without adding a new team member.
So I would say to business leaders, every time you hire, you shouldn’t just hire for the sake of hiring. Like you shouldn’t just hire because you think perceptively people think that you should hire at a certain velocity level, you should hire when data is telling you and your instincts are supporting that we can’t move the business forward at the rate at which be expected to move forward unless we bring on this next person or next individual. So that would be something that I’m not saying throttling hiring, I’m not saying don’t grow, but I am saying make sure that when you do grow, it’s with intent and purpose, not just because you think perceptively that’s what you are supposed to be doing.
They make a great point that I’m also curious as to how you mesh to leverage your brackman cells to hone in on the right person. And I asked that simply because it’s there’s a lot of conversation about targeting the right customer, ensuring the right fit. So how have you managed to do that?
Yeah, a lot of conversations have a lot of listening. I think at sales, I think Gong has some of the best information for revenue teams in the industry. And they long have been a longtime advocate for really well-balanced talk to listen to ratios. And the more that you listen, the more effective that you can become. And the more you can gain context clues on what your customer’s struggles really are. Like that would be the one thing that would be a standout thing there for me is truly understanding how well-rounded your persona is. And honestly, through our OKR exercises, we’re actually doubling down on the persona concept and making sure we have that more fully fleshed out than we have historic past. So I feel like this is one thing where I’m both a learner and an advocate here in sense of having a more well rounded, more well rounded, more robust understanding of who your customers are, it has to be something that is a big part of your playbook and 2021.
Certainly. And you’ve also mentioned, leverage this in the marketing space that you now sit across. How have you managed to leverage sales, your sales background rather, to add value to this marketing space?
Yeah, yeah, I really attack this from the angle again of a learner, Mike. So there are a lot of people who are really, the quality bar of the marketers on our team at Kansai field is really high. So it would be disingenuous for me to go to those individuals and say, I know more about doing your job than you. We have, for example, like all of our PPC advertising that we do, I don’t know more about that discipline than the individual that we have. Looking after that, for us, I don’t know more than our head of content about our content, some of our content strategies, and our SEO strategies that we deploy at Kinsta.
So it would be disingenuous for me to go to those individuals and pretend to know all the idiosyncrasies about doing their job. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t come alongside them, and take up the disposition of how can I help? What sort of barriers or blockers are you encountering and almost treating them like not like a lead in that sense, but it’s more about solving problems in sales, and in leadership, to this new discipline.
For me, it’s also about like, taking on that same sort of frame of reference or frame of mind, if you will, in how I attack the angle of marketing. And then the other thing I would say, too, is that, at the end of the day, we’re all driving towards the same goal, which is revenue. Yet, those two things correlate really well. It’s why so many teams have those two departments so close, closely correlated, and nested underneath the CIO type position, or what have you is that those two things in those two disciplines have to be able to work well together and work hand in hand and be able to have good feedback loops and things like that.
And I think that, at the end of the day, we’re driving towards the same end goals, which is maximizing our opportunities when it comes to revenue. And that’s something that I feel like I’m intimately familiar with on the sales side. And one thing that I’m trying to indoctrinate into the mindset and mentality of our marketing department is that the means here have to be justified by the end, meaning that what we’re doing in marketing has to translate and correlate to revenue. And we have to be able to measure that and show that and if it doesn’t, we need to move away from strategies that aren’t leading towards that end or outcome as quickly as we can, and doubling down on the ones that we know are working for us
I have noticed, and perhaps a few people would be aware that Kinsta has a very well-honed inbound marketing strategy in place. So your SEO is a very tight game that you run over there. What would you say have been the key drivers to that?
Yeah, committing to it early on, and not making trade-offs to those strategies that we’ve deployed well, and if you follow discipline in a disciplined manner, will work overtime for your business. So many businesses, I think, make those trade-offs and try and gain things early. And we live in a very micro consumed culture and micro consumed in a way that is often gnawing at our attention spans and making those like growth hack level trade-offs. And I’m not saying some that some of those strategies don’t have merit when you can play the long game. And we have evaluate Kinsta that we take the long view in the long lens with respect to everything that we do. And it’s a part of our decision-making framework and a part of our values as a company that has paid off in spades for us as a company. I would say, that’s a big part of the, like you said, the recipe here for us. And one thing, I think that is a bit undervalued in a lot of other business contexts and revenue contexts out there.
So when it comes to moving the, so to speak, with revenue, and you’re trying to balance that out with hiring in order to enable that, what sort of more I guess I’m trying to get a better idea of how you approach this, because you were saying that you’re pretty conservative in the hiring process. So at what point do you know that you’re maxed out at the moment in terms of what you can achieve, and then look to hire because with something like the inbound marketing strategy that you follow at Kinsta. It’s a constantly evolving process. And I guess, in a certain sense adapting as well to the changes in the world around us. And in particular, the search engines, how do you balance that out in terms of ensuring that there is continual growth?
Yeah, you got to start amassing data early. Like early on, when I started it against that, one of the things I wanted to do is, start aggregating data and like understanding what our KPIs are, or what I could predictively feel strongly that our KPIs would be, and like, amassing a lot of that information, so that we can make draw conclusions from that information, and then use that information to help us make business decisions later on. It could be simple things like understanding conversion rates at different points along the buyers journey.
But you have to understand that information first, and be able to gain some data that you can look at with historics month over month and year over year, to be able to make some reasonable predictions with sort of the changing proverbial wins of the marketplace and understanding, you know how the micro fits into the macro, in order to aid your business decision making and knowing that you’re not going to get it right every time, I certainly don’t get it right every time. That’s it goes without saying. But I feel like we do a really good job of adjusting and you know, making those adjustments on the fly.
And not being too big or too little in terms of too rigid or too flexible with how we make decisions. Again, just to, to hone in a little bit and clarify what I’m trying to say there is no your data, understand your data marry that together with trusting your instincts, and the more experience that you have, that’s a messaging that I get to our leaders and revenue all the time, I’ll say to them, a lot of times in a one on one context, trust your instincts, like what are instincts telling you that we should do with this sort of like set of circumstances. And then knowing that your instincts are being refined by fire. And you’re, they’re always getting better, the more situations that you go through in a business context. So it’s really about, like marrying what the numbers tell you with all of that stuff. And it’s part art and part science at times. But it’s Yeah, that’s probably the best way that I would put it.
So correct me if I’m wrong. But from what I’m hearing, you’re looking at the data, understanding where you’re at each stage of the buyer’s journey, and who you have on the team to be able to facilitate that on an ongoing basis. But then you also bring in your experience and observations in the wider marketplace to say that there are possibly better ways of driving the numbers in particular aspects of the by showing, is that a good way to put it?
Yeah, exactly. And then understand, having a good understanding of what makes you unique. And how you can leverage that is a really big part of that, too. I’ll give you an example. Like one decision I made early on when I became a revenue leader at Kinsta, is we really started to target multilingual sellers in the immediate MENA region. So why did we do that? Because uniquely in our marketplace, we have availability, in as many as nine languages, our platform, and our software is available when that makes us really unique in the marketplace.
So for us to be able to go into some of the key markets for US and in Europe in particular, understanding the context of some of those markets is really valuable. And having people that can communicate in those mother tongue languages in those markets is a big strategic, unique advantage. So it’s both a combination of understanding the numbers and understanding your sort of like KPIs at any fundamental level, but also having a good understanding of what does make us unique as a business. And then being able to put things in place to be able to highlight those things that make you unique, can be a really great go-to-market strategy. And that’s been one that’s really paid, I would argue in dividends for us, especially over the last couple of years.
Excellent. And so you’ve got this great inbound marketing strategy in place. And that’s what drives I would say a good number of inbound sales. Now, I’d be curious to get your definition of inbound sales.
Yeah, for us. It’s things that come in that I ascribe to the HubSpot philosophy of inside selling and inbound selling. I couldn’t advocate more for Mark Roberto’s book sales acceleration formula here, in terms of how I would define that structurally. So I think the most accepted you know, the definition is those that you’re utilizing your content and marketing strategies, then to gain sort of awareness from a lead, and then nurturing that lead to be either marketing or sales qualified which marketing would be, I would, we would argue, as Ken said, the more passive but yet, data is showing that there’s potential for that to become a buyer.
And we can very easily identify what persona of the potential buyer that M qL would be. And then on the SQL side of the house, those are ones that have raised the proverbial hand, if you will, saying, hey, I’d like more information about your services, and then taking them through there. So anything like incorporating that fits into that in terms of those of that definition wise? Again, a lot of again, I’m we’re not reinventing the wheel here, we’re taking a straight from some of those time tested philosophies that we’ve probably most closely subscribe to like those HubSpot philosophies that have been going on for the better part of the last 10 years.
And how would you say is that different from outbound sales? And is there any correlation between the two, either at Kinsta, or companies in general?
I certainly think there’s a correlation, you have to be able to do both, and everybody’s context is different. So what I would say is, to thine own self be true, you have to understand your context, for your business. I think it’s definitely preferential when you have SQL is falling out of the sky that becomes buyers and buyers at a great rate. But I also understand the industry well enough to know that everybody listening to this doesn’t have that luxury. So to be able to have some true answers. And some true, like wolves, as defined in a lot of the best sales literature, what have you, but you have to be able to have that sort of mentality to be able to go outbound. And when you have somebody that has the ability to do both, that is great with, I would say placing a little bit of higher importance on somebody’s ability to go outbound just in terms of hierarchy because that skill set is a little bit more unique.
So yeah, doing both obviously has its merits because outbound, you can choose the size of the customer that you target. And one big fish landed can equal a month, a quarter or a year made in terms of customer acquisition. But again, so much of that is contextual relative to your business. So you really have to understand the dynamics of your business and make sure you’re in alignment as a leadership team for your business on what sort of path you want to choose and stick to it and commit to it for a measurable amount of time where you can actually see the demonstrated result. Would you say that inbound sales is changing, given the changes in our world over the past couple of years? At the very least?
Yeah, I would say that inbound sales are always changing the strategies of yesterday. So much of the strategies that I deployed when I ran a pipeline day in and day out are antiquated. And especially that just absolutely gets exacerbated in a, what I would say, a COVID context where you’re at different phases of that context. And so much of this is driven by vertical but if you just look at the SAS space in general, you know, who’s doing, everybody’s doing inside selling now, you have to forcibly 18 months ago, outside selling, getting on a plane, that that was like the accepted practice of yesteryear, and so many verticals are big at the, at the event space and acquiring customers via that is a channel.
Well, when that all pauses that definitely causes a lot of introspection in leadership and evaluation and tactics. And I think the one thing that we’ve benefited from is that we have staked our claim in terms of an inbound inside sailing context. And, you know, so we were able to stay the course there. But the information that we have at our disposal in our industry is so great. There are so many thought leaders where you can obtain really sound strategies for today. And you need to look often no further than your own LinkedIn feed. And what those strategies are that are working in today’s marketplace.
Go listen and look to people like Morgan Ingram and Dave Gearhardt, and Kyle Lacey and Scott Lease and Amy Bullous. And so many other really great revenue thought leaders who have a great pulse and sense on what is working out in the marketplace because of how well connected they are. And you need to look at that stuff. And we have a Slack channel for marketing and sales resources where our leaders are sharing that stuff daily with our teams because you have to be nimble and I would argue that nimbleness is a very undervalued trait when it comes to revenue success.
I think people often aren’t predicting and proactive enough when it comes to making decisions faster if you are always reactive are always the third mover in a tactic, that’s a great recipe, to not grow or not grow at the rate that you have come expected accustomed to. So I always operate with the idea that somebody is trying to steal my lunch, meaning that if I always am only looking ahead to in the market to our competitors, that’s not gaining enough credence for the nimbleness of the entrepreneurial spirit that could be coming up on my six and ready to strike while the iron is hot, because they’re seeing it faster than me.
It’s why that I always say that you need to make big bets on emerging talent. And when I say emerging, I don’t say emerging talent, with an ageism disposition to it. Talent can emerge at any age 2030 4050 6080 years old. What I would argue too, is that in my career as a leader of people, it has always worked out well for me when I have made big bets on emerging talent. And I would definitely throw that out there as a strategy anecdote that leadership makes.
Certainly, a valuable point that so nimbleness is certainly, I guess, a key element of your inbound sales strategy or plan, what would you say are other key elements to well develop the inbound sales strategy?
Well-developed content strategy. A well-developed lead acquisition strategy. There’s, I use this thing and phrasing all the time, there’s more than one way to bake a cookie. But you have to know what your way is, I’ve been fortunate enough to be in a couple of different contexts that have operated very differently. So I’ve been able to see the good and the bad of both. So being able to incorporate the best versions of both of those, and be exposed to different ways of obtaining leads, and lead flow via paid acquisition via organic, whatever thing, whatever works contextually, for somebody’s business, like you have to be able to understand the merits and the demerits of both of those, or the Yeah, we know really well, I would say at kids, though, what we’re good at, and we understand also, what we’re not like, I’ll just throw this out there. Like, we’re not the best partner marketers, we’re not like, we want to be good at that. And we are getting better at that.
But we also understand that’s not how we’ve grown our business. And that’s not the best version of ourselves, we don’t lend too much time to going out there in, in seeking every world-class partnership that we can, because that’s not where we’ve come from. And it’s not been essence, something else I said earlier in our conversation is being true to who we are. So you have to really have a good, you know, you know, understanding of what you are good at, and we’re really robust and rich on the content side, and we understand how SEO works, which is to say that it’s always changing, but we try to read, you know, finding those changes really quickly. Yeah.
So you mentioned developing a content strategy. It’s something that a lot of people talk about, but what would you say has been a key element of really making it work, especially in the case of concern?
Yeah, putting, I would say, here’s what I would say, I’m not the expert for this at our business. But we have people at our business that are experts have this, for us, it is that leaning into their expertise and their advisement. We, a lot of people will do this and do this with third parties, for example, like we have somebody who’s an SEO strategist on staff with us at Kinsta. And we are always seeking to find the first-party solution internally against as opposed to going the third party with this and this element of our business. We felt was that important that we in our marketing team, that we have multiple staff members that are in tune to that as a discipline and working on that, essentially full time. I don’t know if that answers your question, but maybe the spirit of your question, but But yeah,
Okay, so I’m hearing that you’re thinking more of an SEO focus rather than a particular content type focus very strategically, in order to make sure that the content that you’re producing actually gets traction on the SERPs, which naturally also gets the attention of people who are searching for certain bits of information.
That’s exactly right. And I’ve seen this to where I’ve been in other business contexts where the perception has been, we’re going to write content. And we’re going to be committed to that content. And thinking that it’s effective. And it doesn’t get any traffic and it gets no, there’s no keyword volume for that. Where I would argue, then why are you writing about that? yet? Yes, it could be great. It could be really niche, it could gain the audience and attraction of one potential persona that could lead to a great amount of customers. But I just don’t think the data plays itself out there. So we’ve we’ve put the ink on the clothes of our pen with intent, and with purpose. And we want to write about things that we know people care about. And you have ways of illuminating and gaining insight into what people care about.
And you can infer that if they’re searching about it, they care about it. So yeah, like, it really is about just that formula that you just described is really the only way that we do content. And written content is the foundation. And now that we have a well-laid Foundation, we’re able to repurpose that content in so many other different ways. And the way is expresses itself, mostly for us over the last 12 months is taking written content into video content, which again, is a strategy anecdote in and of itself, it we’re not reinventing the wheel around here. I’m sure many members of your audience may roll their eyes at that and say, okay, that’s obvious. Okay, great.
We now know what gets traction and gains traction, because we can measure it and we’ve seen it. And now we are able to be more properly prioritize the video content we’re creating. And we’re starting to gain traction there slowly. But we again, in our value system and at Kinsta, we’re willing to make big bets for the long haul. And for the long term. And in a world where so many people can’t see the next past the last quarter’s results, it worked really well for us,
And you’re developing this content based on people’s search terms. Would you say that you’re producing content? Because it has sufficient search volume alone? Or are you also building it out based on some of the questions that you get? Because I’ve noticed, you’re doing a bunch of case studies as well, which probably won’t neatly fit into that context that we were talking about before?
Yeah, I’m not maybe sure the best way to answer this question. But again, what I would say, again, is, every time we write with intent and purpose, and I would say what we know people are interested in via the modes and mechanisms that we have to be able to measure that. That’s what we write about most in terms of prioritization and how we prioritize what we’re writing about. Now, it’s not exclusively what we write about, for example, where we want to write more, and we want to evolve into being more of a voice in the development community and understanding more about that persona. So we are starting to look internally at Kinsta. And starting to launch more content in the future that speaks to that audience.
Now getting that in of itself isn’t going to get a ton in search, but we’re doing it with a different purpose and express and stated purpose in mind, is to gain more eyes and audience and attention in the development community. And honestly, one big portion of that is just because that’s a team, that kids that we want to see grow over the next two years in terms of personnel. So we want to be able to speak to that audience, for them to be able to consume information from us knowing that we understand, you know, their roles, we understand them as humans as being human beings as individuals. And again, that’s writing in written content on our blog, that’s going to serve a very different purpose. But again, it will be there. So again, but again, everything that we do centralizes around that strategy, as if it’s gaining eyeballs, attraction and attention, if people are out there looking and searching and querying for it. That’s where we want to be at in terms of what we’re producing.
So would you describe the content as being more informational and catering to the mindset of someone in the development community who is looking to provide a solution for their own particular use case, as opposed to being more of a narrative style?
Oh, yeah, absolutely. Definitely the former over the ladder, like, we want to provide information that gets them to where they can use that information to craft solutions for their own business challenges, because and that’s really for us the basis of trust, like, people read what we write about in this solution. That we’re prescribing or advocating for, and they work for them. And that’s where the seedlings of trust begin to sprout. And they, it’s reasonable to infer that if we’re providing them solutions for this, that our products will provide solutions for that. Meaning that if they can grow to trust our advocacy and recommendations on whatever it may be related to our vertical into our products, that our product may be able to be a good solution for them also. And again, we’re big on delivering on that it’s why the customer matters most here and again, that can be lip service, that can be a platitude, nobody’s not going to say that. I understand that.
But where the rubber meets the road there for me, I think is in sentiment, and in what your customers are actually saying about you organically, unsolicited, or solicited, whatever. But that’s why I tell candidates all the time. Well, I tell others people all the time, just go look at people what people say about you on Twitter. Now, again, Twitter in and of itself, you can debate the merits of that as a platform in 2021. I understand all of that. But in a business context, what people say about you is really perception is reality. And what people are saying about not only our content on that platform but on the customer experience on that platform, people look at that, I look at that.
I look at that, in my own life, when I’m making a decision on a product that I need from in a b2c context, I want to know what people are saying about banking solutions that I’m looking into or investment solutions that I’m maybe looking into what’s their experience, like as a customer of those products. So again, we’re not reinventing the wheel around here, we’re just trying to connect all of the best strategies together.
We talked about sales and marketing sitting pretty close together. I’m also curious as to how you view the relationship with customer support, or customer service, depending on what you call it, in relation to the entire inbound sales strategy.
Yeah, yeah, we use the term customer success, because I feel like we believe strongly that their success is our success. And we’ve had the fortune to see so many businesses grow on top of our platform. And as they’ve become raving fans of us, we’ve become raising raving fans of theirs. So I would say this is one thing it gets to that we are we’re working on, we are working on this, because I think it’s okay to say that not everything is perfect in every business at every moment of every hour of every day.
And so it starts at the top, like making sure that there’s a lot of symbiosis between the leadership of those two teams, where we’ve started meeting regularly and meeting with predictability and frequency, and encouraging our leaders to exchange information to have an agenda when we’re meeting together. And let’s work through the hard challenges that are the relationship between sales and customer success. Because at times it can feel to both sides of the house that we’re competing, or there’s a competition in terms of priority. We’re trying to gain customers, and they’re trying to support them the best they can and, and at a time, there’s just no way that can’t feel it odds at times, it just happens.
But being able to work through those challenges, and then at the end of the day, just understand that everybody involved here are humans, we’re going to make mistakes, we’re not going to get it right every time. But we can look at things on paper and say, okay, what’s the best thing for the customers at the end of the day, you can say your customer-obsessed, or you can be customer-obsessed. Those two things are two different things. And I think a lot of businesses will then put together a facade on the surface.
And then on the side, if you were to read their internal slack messages, there’s a lot of rolling eyes emojis when they talk about their customers and a lot of rolling on-the-floor emojis. We don’t we just don’t do that. Like, you can’t fake it, people will be able to sniff you out if you are doing that. And we don’t get it right all the time. But when we don’t get it right, we evaluate it to say how can we learn to use this to get better? And again, this is something we’re always constantly working at is the relationship between sales and support and identifying what the where that process is breaking down and how we can improve it.
Would you say that it certainly feeds into the sales process and vice versa as well?
Oh, absolutely. For our base of customers too. We want to look at those and evaluate those accounts is the next revenue opportunity for us in terms of being a company as well. So I think that what you said there actually hit the nail on the head. There has to be good information exchanged. And there has to be mutual buy-in on how information is exchanged between those two parties to be able to create the best version of, of, again, all driving towards the same end goal, like your customer success is your company’s success. And if they’re not growing, if they’re not thriving as a customer of yours, then there’s only one direction that your business can head.
Terrific and you’re also building up this outbound sales aspect to your processes at Kinsta. Would you say that you’re taking more of an account-based marketing approach to that?
Right now we’re taking a listen and learn approach to what is working in the data working approach. Again, this is something that again, you have to understand your context, your vertical, your business, your niche, what have you. And I think it’s okay to make admissions like this. I think, too many people are too not forthright with information. We’re not great at this. We’re just not like we’re getting better at it. we’re defining strategies we’re testing, we’re, we’re like working through a challenge of being able to go outbound and do it effectively. And if something isn’t a core competency, for the composition of your team, you have to be able to understand that and be able to do like work accordingly and adapt. We’re taking a posture of learning around here with respect to strategies that work the best there. And acting accordingly. Yeah, I would actually throw that back. Because the question is, do you Is there one strategy that you’ve seen maybe from somebody that you’ve had on as a guest, you could say, Oh, yeah, you should definitely go check out this person’s information about the best 2021 outbound strategies or something like that, I’d be all yours and my pen is writing.
We haven’t really covered channel sales in particular. Though, I would recommend if you’re looking at Channel partnerships and channels, sales, Marcus Cauchi is a good person to follow his He’s a professional salesperson in the channel sales space. So it’s definitely worth checking out and I’m sure he can put you on to several other people in that same space that you could follow read up on them as well. In fact, his book out as well, I’ll share the link with you. We’ll put it in the show notes as well. So people can look it up. But the reason I was asking is I was wondering if that ABM approach has been to also impact your content development in terms of producing specific pieces catering towards specific accounts.
Yeah, here’s what I would say about this. We don’t consider ourselves to be an enterprise-level platform. My opinion on this would be vastly different if we did, meaning that as a strategy anecdote, I would be probably tripling down on ABM, marketing. And being that specific, if that’s the end of the market, that we thought about ourselves. We don’t think about ourselves in that in in the market. So we do have a bit more volume-based strategies, I would say when it comes to going outbound. But again, that’s specific to our context as a business. So I would feel vastly different about that if our acds were six figures, or whatever the case may be. So again, you have to be able to be flexible or valuable or moldable. enough to be able to understand your context, and to be able to see strategies like that in the market, and then deploy them accordingly.
Yep. Would you say a hallmark of the way you approach inbound sales be transparency?
Oh, yeah. Oh, gosh, going back to something we talked about to talk about early in this call, or this conversation, excuse me that that is an anecdote that I definitely grafted into my business philosophy via mentorship. One of my biggest business mentors was more on the end of being overly transparent. And it’s why fine projects like bear metrics, or buffer. And there have been advocacy projects. They’re transparent to the point where they shared codebase and salary information internally and stuff like that.
And I, I find projects like that to be fascinating myself. But that’s one thing that I feel like I’ve brought to the table like instead that I’ve had some advocacy for in the direction of transparency, what and what’s the I would say some major kudos for us as a business to be able to be adaptable, and to be adaptable and to look at those things, and to be able to open things up and do things operate a little bit differently than the way we have historic past and I think that means a lot to our employees. So yeah, like transparency. It’s something that we’re trying to indoctrinate more and more into our culture.
And I was talking to our project manager and our marketing department just this week about a status report for our projects and where that should live, should that mean in a private message in slack to only the stakeholders? Or should we put that out there to the entire team, knowing that there’s a bit of a level of business risk in doing that. But it is the more transparent approach to where we can open ourselves up to some scrutiny, knowing that that actually is going to make us better, and make us improve and create some self-accountability in that process as well. Yeah, that’s something that we’re constantly advocating for as leaders of our business. And trying to get that permeating into our culture, the more that we can do on public channels, the less that we can do in a direct message context, gives the gives more people the ability to learn from that, and then be able to adapt it into their own.
Excellent. I think we’ve covered a fair bit of ground and Ethan, would you say that there is an element we quite touched upon or, given its due significance, given what we’ve talked about so far.
Yeah, I would. There isn’t really anything that sticks out to me. But there’s one concept I would say I would double down on that we discussed today. And that’s making big bets on emerging talent, to leave your audience with one thing that I would advocate for. And again, I want to be very specific talent can emerge at any age, I think people will hear what I’m saying here in terms of messaging and infer that what I mean is young talent or youthful talent, that is actually not the case at all. And I have seen talent emerge far greater into to a greater extent when you’re giving people new levels of responsibility and opportunity at the mid-level or later on in their careers, which I think is was awesome, but it is awesome.
But when talent emerges, it often brings in exuberance for that next opportunity or role that can launch somebody into a position and launch them in with more impact than you could ever anticipate. make big bets on people if you’re looking at CVs. And on paper, while this one might not have the level of vertical industry role level of expertise, this may be this one over here on the other side, what I would say is don’t discredit exuberance and enthusiasm and fresh eyes, look at, you know, problems or roles. That would be the one thing I would say is every almost every time that I’ve made a big bet on emerging talent, or somebody where they were given an opportunity to step up into a role, I can’t really think of too many circumstances where that is bitten me or burned me in a way. Yeah, give people a shot? Because you’ll never be surprised at how much you can be surprised by doing that.
Would you say in identifying emerging talent, that you’re looking for certain indicators? If so, what would they be?
Yeah, I think you need to identify this early on in your hiring process. And in Marketo, bears talks about that in his book in the sales acceleration formula, when he talks about hiring, you need to understand the character traits that you’re looking for. And you need to ask questions that will flesh that out. For us. That’s for me, one of those character traits is coachability. So put together some questions in your interviewing process that will flesh out is this person coachable? Or are they committed to their own ways? Or go ways of doing things or operating? Are they willing to adjust and change? Or do they think that the way that they’ve learned how to do something is the best way or the only way? And, for me, I steer clear towards those people that think that they are their way of operating is the only way of doing things. And I find myself gravitating towards the people that are coachable.
Like, honestly, one of the ways that this expresses itself is in I’m just gonna say it like I’ve hired a lot of former musicians and athletes. Why are those people successful in revenue? If you’re going to become a concert level, individual playing the clarinet, you have to be a pretty disciplined individual, to be able to get to a certain level of that as a discipline. If that’s a character trait that got that person there. Maybe they’ll be really good at, you know, working in a remote context because that requires a lot of discipline. Things like that. Be on the lookout for those sort of like little niches or Things like that you can fall back into when it comes to emerging talent.
And on a related note, and this is also related to a question that I had for you, in the inbound sales space. We talked about content more specifically. And SEO, I’m assuming that there are people within the organization who also actively go about building relationships with others in the development community because I would think that link building is a key aspect of the whole SEO game. And is there an overflow of that relationship building that also goes into this space of keeping an eye out on potential talent?
Oh, absolutely. I definitely do think it holds true that your network becomes your net worth when it comes to new talent. And I’ve had the fortune to be able to work with several individuals and multiple companies now. And it takes a lot of trust to be able to get there as a people leader. And so yeah, that that is the power that says expresses itself out when it comes to hiring. And I think the analogy that you drew to content and SEO as it relates to backlinks there is absolutely true, the more that you’re seen as a subject matter expert in your discipline, I think the more eyes that tend to attract, so you can tend to be a little bit more specific, specific with who you’re willing to work with once you’re there. So yeah, there’s a correlation there, I can definitely see it.
Brilliant. Nathan, this has been terrific. Thank you so much for doing this. For listeners who are curious and would like to know more and or to connect with you. Where would you recommend they had to?
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I’m pretty multi-platform. So you can find me at Nathan underscore bliss on Twitter, for the American audience that you have in the Latin American audience that you have. I’ll probably be tweeting mostly about baseball or something like that. But definitely, LinkedIn or your audience is always welcome to email me anytime. And Nathan, it gets to that calm as well.
Perfect. Thanks so much for doing this.
Thanks. I appreciate you. Have a good rest of your day.
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