TAM 031: Dan Dobos – Marketing Automation Lessons Learned
In episode 31, I chat with Dan Dobos, creator of LeadMachine.com. LeadMachine is a marketing automation platform that is really great for running an outbound sales team.
Dan has a great deal of experience with automation and shares some of his best tips on how to use it correctly with an offline business.
We chat about:
- Design or map your sales process first
- Don't forget the junction points along the way (yes, no, maybe later)
- Get a notebook and a pen
- Map out the objections
- Value add first
- Re-engage cold leads
- Be proactive and head off problems before they start
Links Mentioned In The Show
- Episode 09 – Jason VandeBoom
- Dean Jackson's 9 Word Email
- Notebook For The Shower
- Please stop following up
Announcer: Welcome to the active marketer podcast where we talk about how to design, automate and scale your business to the next level using sales and marketing automation. You can find out all the tips, tactics and techniques you need to get more customers and sell more stuff over at theactivemarketer.com. Now, here's your host Barry Moore.
Barry: Welcome to episode 31 of The Active Marketer podcast. I'm your host, Barry Moore. In the last few episodes we've been talking a lot to users of marketing automation platforms, but this time I thought we would chat again to a creator of a marketing automation platform.
You may remember back in episode nine, I talked to Jason VandeBoom, the CEO of ActiveCampaign. In this episode we are going to talk with Dan Dobos, the creator of leadmachine.com, a really great marketing automation platform especially if you have an outbound sales team that needs to make calls and follow up with clients.
So we're going to get Dan on the show to talk about lessons learning using marketing automation. Some of the best ways to get started and some of the best points in your business that you can use automation to make sure that you are still keeping that personal touch with your leads and your customers. So let's get into this week's episode with Dan Dobos of leadmachine.com.
All right, like to welcome to the show Dan Dobos from lead machine. Welcome Dan.
Dan: Hi Barry, good to chat.
Barry: Thank you. Now first of all I have to ask you the major question there is for those of you who aren't familiar out there in listener land with what Lead Machine is, you want to give us a rundown quickly on what Lead Machine is?
Dan: Sure. So Lead Machine is a CRM and marketing automation platform where we've worked hard to build something that's really simple and really easy to use so that you can automate your sales and marketing processes.
Barry: And what lead you to build your own product?
Dan: Sure so at the time, looking around it was something where the solutions that were out there seemed really difficult to use, complicated. And really what I wanted was something simple, something that was easy and also something that really covered the sales side of things. So a lot of the products out there, they're really great at sending emails and automating different processes but when it came to actually making phone calls and completing tasks, they didn't handle that situation too well. So we really wanted something that could do both the marketing and the sales side.
Barry: Yeah and that's something I have seen from a lot of the automation platforms is they're great at building the automations and sending the emails and stuff like that, but when you get a bunch of leads into sales pipeline, for example, I think a lot of them kind of drop the ball there. If someone has, if you're a business that has an outbound marketing team who's making calls and tracking deals through a pipeline with multiple sales people, some of those don't really work that process terribly well. I think they're more focused on kind of the online marketing rather than the offline stuff as well.
Dan: Yeah, exactly right. So we wanted to actually focus on offline businesses that wanted to do online marketing. As opposed to online marketing businesses that wanted to automate their marketing processes.
Barry: Fair enough, well very cool. And I think that's a huge market. I think marketing automation now is kind of like Facebook ads were a couple years ago. Nobody really was kind of doing it, nobody kind of knew what they were and now they're everywhere.
Dan: Yeah, yeah.
Barry: So I think 12 months time, everyone's going to be, or not everyone, a large amount of people are going to be having, implementing, or have had implemented marketing automation in their business.
Barry: So I kind of wanted to get you on today so let's talk about that. Let's talk about you're an online business, you've got no automation in place, you maybe have a basic kind of email list on Aweber or MailChimp or something like that, or maybe you're not even gathering email addresses at all. How do you get started from taking an offline business into the world of marketing automation?
Dan: Sure, so I think the point to really emphasise is that automation is a great thing and it can save you a lot of time. It can also ensure that things are done at the right time and that things don't fall through the cracks when you actually define your processes. But with that being said, I don't think automation really is the top priority. I think the top priority is ultimately to generate more sales and improve your conversion rates, do the things that are really going to grow your business. And really automation, I think, often is used too quickly by people.
So for example, say if you take something like Dean Jackson's very famous for the nine word email. So that involves sending a short email to someone and then they reply. Then you reply and that process is certainly not automatic the first time you do it because you really want to, you want to do that manually yourself. And you want to understand and figure out what are the best things to say that will trigger the best responses. And then once you've done it and you've figured it out, you then want to create templates for it and then you can outsource it to someone else and they can just use your templates.
But think it's a good example of something where if you were to automate that and send a series of emails, you actually miss out on a whole lot of business.
Barry: Yeah, for sure and I think a lot of people even miss that first step of … our three pillars are design, automate and scale and everyone seems to want to jump into the automate and scale bit before they've done the design bit. There's a famous quote from Bill Gates that says, “Automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency.” But the second rule is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will just magnify the inefficiency.
Dan: Yeah exactly.
Barry: If you don't take time to sit down and go through your sales processes, your business processes to make sure they actually work and they'll actually scale, you may have a process that works but if you got, but if somebody 10x'd your business tomorrow what's going to be the first thing to break is always a great question.
Barry: Don't be-
Dan: Go on-
Barry: Don't be in a rush to automate something that you haven't really thought through in the first place.
Dan: Yeah. Excellent. Yeah and I think that one of the good things that often happens when people start thinking about automation is they realise if I'm going to automate it, there does need to be a process. So a lot of the time people will just with a sheet of paper map out their process. Realise sort of how someone goes from being a complete stranger to an amazing client. And in that process they discover there are junctures where people say, “yes,” and there are other junctures where people instead of saying, “yes” at that same juncture they say, “Well actually not sure,” or “Maybe.” And in doing that they often realise there's some follow up which we're just not doing.
So I think that can be a really really positive thing to do and if you're just starting, I think just mapping it out and figuring out where you're missing out, where you're not doing anything. And also as part of that, where you're sales process is not that good. Like actually where your conversion rate from lead to customer, say maybe that's not that good, but maybe from customer to client it's really good. So spending a bit of time with that process I think can be really really helpful for a business.
Barry: Yeah that's a really great point there that I want to circle back to. When you ask somebody what's their sales process, they tended, if they know, a lot of people don't even know it first off-
Dan: Yeah, exactly.
Barry: But if they know, they'll map out or they'll tell you about that ideal process like you said from a cold lead to a raving fan. And they ignore any of the other juncture points on that process. It's just like, “This is how we get a raving fan.” It's like great, but like you said, what are the forks in the road where people are dropping off. And I don't think a lot of people think about that let alone cater for it specifically. So I also wanted to ask you quickly, as someone who does this a lot, are there any tools that us use, or what have you found to be the best thing for actually when you sit down to actually map out these processes?
Barry: I'm still haven't found a replacement for the good old whiteboard or the notebook.
Dan: Yeah. Yeah I think the most … I think the best tool ever invented and the most underrated tool is a pen and a blank sheet of paper.
Barry: Yeah absolutely. Absolutely.
Dan: Like, literally I cannot, this is a slightly unrelated point, but it is very relevant as well in the sense that I cannot replace going to a café with a blank, I've got like a sort of like a visual notepad and just using that and not having [inaudible 00:08:25] and just … the thing with computers is that we've become perfectionists and you focus more on the process than on the substance-
Dan: Whereas I find that just with a pen and paper you get to the point quickly. There's no distractions. There's no nonsense and yeah that's definitely what I'd recommend.
Barry: I find that, too. I'm looking around my desk as you're saying that. There's four notebooks sitting on my desk at the moment. And that's the way I like to do it. I like to shut down the laptop. Get away from the computer, completely remove yourself from technology and just map out the process with a pen and paper is still the best I think.
Dan: Yeah, I actually just recently bought a notebook for in the shower, it's actually waterproof. [inaudible 00:09:03] actually a product, but it was something I saw somewhere just randomly. And it's got like a little pencil holder and it's like waterproof pages and it's awesome.
Barry: Very cool. Very cool.
Dan: Yeah, yeah.
Barry: There goes the water bill.
Dan: Yeah, yeah well. It's more just random stuff comes up, you know. Right, yeah.
Barry: Yeah. All right, so what have you found with your clients, your customers, what are some of the things they don't tend to automate, the things they forget about?
Dan: Yeah, for sure. And linking back to that process of a juncture where you get a “yes,” but you forget where-
Barry: Where the “no” goes-
Dan: Where the “no” goes or someone goes on not really sure. So just to really sort of common occurrence in most businesses is they get a phone call, just an inbound call. Someone calls in and they make an inquiry and they say, “Look I'm inquiring about X-Y-Zed.” And the person might answer their question, may even try and make a sale, but then it doesn't happen and they just ignore it and totally loses, they just totally lose a lead.
Whereas, if in that process, they said to them, “look there's something really useful I can send you.” Get their name and email address and then maybe there's an objection. And what most businesses find is there's usually three or four or five objections, which keep coming up all over and over and over and over again.
So actually going through that process and figuring out what are the objections we get when we do, when we get inbound calls. Let's write those down. So let's just say there's three common objections, and then for each objection, coming up with something really valuable, not even trying to sell, just something really valuable that you can add value to the client. And using that as the first email in a series of emails to add value to the client.
So that when you get one your inbound calls, you choose which one of the objections they said and bang, they are off on a very targeted email follow up.
Barry: Cool and what's the mechanism that's making that happen? Are you just putting them in a specific automation manually? Or, applying tags to them or just as, or is that just up to the individual consultant who is on the phone?
Dan: Yeah sure, so there's a couple ways you could do it. You could do it so that tags are really a bit of a hack and what we try to do with Lead Machine is sure, you can add a tag and that can trigger an automation sequence, but really what we're always just trying to focus on is really trying to find a real solution to a real problem. So for example, with phone calls we have something called, [call 00:11:34] queue. So in that situation, each queue has a set of outcomes.
So the way Lead Machine would handle it would be you create a queue for inbound calls, you then add a task to the queue, and that task would then have a number of different outcomes. You choose the outcome that's appropriate and then that will automatically trigger an automation sequence which we call a [float 00:11:53].
Barry: Ah cool. Very cool, very cool.
Dan: Yeah, yeah.
Barry: What are some of the other things that you've come across that people seem to forget that end up in those orphan buckets around the business?
Dan: Yeah, sure. So I guess the first one was inbound call, so inbound call and we don't actually follow up in a specific way related to the price objection or whatever the objection was. Same scenarios often happens say, with a sale appointment. So you've gone through the trouble, you've booked an appointment, you've done the appointment and a lot of the time if there's a no, people number one, worst of all do nothing, but my favourite of the time they will do something that is just general. They'll say, they'll sort of just put the one on a recurring newsletter. But really a much better way of dealing with that is to, like we discussed, figure out those three to five objections and send them on something very specific to their situation. So that's one.
Dan: Yeah, now one that often people forget about particularly sort of agencies, sort of they have like a pipeline where they'll meet with someone, they'll have an appointment, they'll send a proposal. And at certain stages, they realise something's been there for a week or two weeks. They're starting to lose the sale. So having a trigger so that you try and attempt to actually save that deal after a certain period of time has elapsed, is a real useful thing to do. So yeah, something after a given period of time.
The other one is even if you try to get that person, but you don't get them as part of that deal, to then have something sort of two or three months later to actually reengage them.
Barry: That was another question I was just about to ask you there. I've talked to some other people and the question becomes when do you give up that lead. So the deal has stalled, it's not going anywhere. You continue, maybe you put them up in a follow up sequence, or you put them in a follow up pipeline or something. At what point-
Dan: When do you give up-
Barry: Yeah, when do you give up? Now I've talked to some people I say, “I don't give up until they buy my product.” What are your thoughts on that? What have you seen that works well?
Dan: So I wrote a blog post awhile ago and it's called, Please Stop Following Up. The basic idea of it is that to me there's nothing more annoying when I've demoed various different products and then someone will send me an email and say, “Hi, I'm following up.” It's like, “I'd like to get your money please. Can you please pay me for this product?” It's just no concept. And it's quite common. Like I've seen these actually massive eight, nine figure businesses that actually have using, they stopped templates.
So really I guess what I think it's really about a philosophy change, I think. And really what we're talking about here is instead of following up I think what you want to be doing is you want to be thinking how you can add value. So one of the keys to sales is to really understand the problem. And there's a great line which goes, “If you can give someone more clarity about their problem then they've ever experienced before, you will automatically become the solution.” And so I think that not enough people do that in the sales process which stops them from getting sales.
But the other problem with not doing that is that you don't really have anything useful to follow up with. You just sort of being an annoying, pushy salesperson rather then someone who's understood their problem. And then you can say a much, instead of [inaudible 00:15:42] following up I think the exact inverse of that subject line, of “I'm following up” rather, is, “I thought of you.”
If you send a prospect a subject line, an email with a subject, “I thought of you dot-dot-dot,” and then you actually provide them something really of value that's just happened in the news, you know they go, “Wow that's really useful.” And even if they don't buy your product, they're thinking, “That's a great person. They really actually care about me.” And they may really even refer you to other people.
Barry: Yeah, I think the just following up kind of email is like that annoying kid on the car trip. “We there, yet? No, We there yet? No. We there yet? No. We there yet? No.”
Dan: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So I think there's also a few other things to think about like you can do Google alerts if they're really important client, you may wish to go to that trouble. And there's also a web site called Newsle, where what that does is often you have, you'll add a prospect to your LinkedIn connexions and if ever they appear in the news, it will actually send you a link to that article. So yeah it's news and then with L-E, at the end, dot com.
So actually sort of thinking of ways that you can engage with clients rather than actually following them up, I think will number one, lead to a lot more sales and number two, be a lot better for your brand.
Barry: Yeah it's something I harp on quite a lot is that marketing automation or just automation in general gets
a bad rap, because people think it's cold and impersonal and you're just blasting emails out to people. But if you're using it properly, you're using it to trigger you as much as the customer. But you're trying to trigger those human touch points. Like when's the appropriate time for me to reach out to this person on a personal level and send him a personal email, or congratulate them on a new business venture, or whatever just like you said. And I think that's the way to use automation is to bubble up the most receptive people at the most receptive time that you can reach out to them.
Dan: Yeah exactly right. The sending the right message to the right person at the right time. And yeah, I think exactly the point is that with marketing automation, it's as much marketing towards the client as it is to getting you organised to actually do the things that you need to do. And specifically I think what we're saying here is instead of sending out an email to the client, we're creating a task for a team member to really get on and do something.
Barry: Yeah, that's right. That's a fantastic way to do it. I think that's one of the features that's missing from a lot of the platforms is that it's not just all email triggers and sequences out to people. You've got a team of people or even if it's just you, as a business owner, you've got that team of people who are there to look out for the customers. And you need to be automating that process, or automating the triggers to that process as much as you're automating the messages to the customers as well.
Dan: Yeah and I think this also works not just in actually generating customers, but also in terms of customer success. In that a lot of people sort of say, “Well I've got the customer that's it.” But I think a big part of this is also to ensure that once you've got a customer, they actually turn out into a client. They're a repeat customer and they give you a long term testimonial and they refer people over to you, so yeah, definitely think this is important.
Barry: Yeah, I'm a big fan, a big proponent of the power of a really well crafted onboarding sequence to do a number of things for you and your business. One, that gives that first email out after someone's bought something from you is the impression they're going to get from your business.
So you can use that to take the opportunity to set the expectations about what's going to happen next. Congratulate them on the sale. You can use the onboarding sequence to head off buyer's remorse by making them feel comfortable with what they've just purchased. How they can get quick results out of your product or service straight away.
Dan: Yeah, exactly.
Barry: What are the common pitfalls so you can reduce your support desk load on your support desk. And then while they're feeling happy and super excited about their new product or service then you can then ask them for a referral or testimonial.
So a lot goes into that onboarding sequence and I think too many people just go right, “That's one customer we got, onto the next one.” And they're throwing their fishing pole into the water trying to get the next one before they've even landed the last one properly.
Dan: Yeah, definitely. And just a couple things to add to that is sometimes you may want to create a task to actually send them a handwritten note at the start. If it's an information product, you may wish to work out say, ten nuggets in that product. So what you were saying related to quick wins, and then send those out at periodic times so they get the most out of your product.
And I think the other one which a lot of people miss out on is just by checking 90 or 180 days later, depending on the product, and say, “Look, have you got value from it? What else could we do?” And actually just getting feedback from the customer as to what you can improve so that you're always improving yourself and potentially and hopefully that you'd know from your product that there's a certain life cycle.
So with some products it's 80 days, some products it's 90 days, some products it's a year where the best testimonials, are not just … a lot of people do testimonials at the start and they go, “Oh this was a great seminar, blah blah blah.” That's great, but what was the result? We don't know. We just know that you enjoyed the product, the consumption of the product. So long term testimonial at 180 days, a year out, can be really powerful.
Barry: Especially if you've got some sort of recurring product where you know where churn rate is. You got X number of people who drop off at 90 days, so maybe 80 days out you start a warm-up cycle again to, “Hey did you know that we just put this into the community?” Or, “Hey did you know that this new training product that's part of it since you made your purchase?” So you're kind of heading off those dip points when customers tend to fall off.
Dan: Yeah, exactly. And I think really what we're getting at here is that automation can be great when it preempts things. So that instead of you reacting to customer disasters and people cancelling, it actually forces you to do the things so that those problems never arise in the first place.
Barry: Yeah, fantastic. All right and what other great kind of features do you have built inside Lead Machine that the people need to know about?
Dan: So I think one of the things that we mentioned just before was about calls. And we talked about how with an internal call, or an outbound call we have something called, call queues. So yeah that's definitely one sort of big venture which a lot of people are using to automate our [inaudible 00:22:42] from calls.
Also batch all the calls. So say if you have 100, not 100, you'd probably only have maybe say 10 or 20 handwritten notes, that all goes … like they're different categories of tasks and each … so that's what a call queue is it's like a category of tasks. So essentially when you got to a queue, you di all the tasks at once. You get that like economies of scale in that you just everything done more efficiently rather than doing one task of this type, and another task of this type. It's a lot more efficient. So yeah that's definitely one feature which is pretty innate from the systems I've looked at. No one really seems to have anything like that. So that's definitely one thing.
Terms of other things that we have, we have a visual campaign builder which is really simple and easy to use. People seem to really love that. We have some people, a bit of an interesting feature is we allow you to also connect a contact. So for example, if you want to show how contacts are related to each other. Some people find that to be very useful.
Barry: All right, very cool.
Dan: Yeah so there's a few things.
Barry: I like the fact too that you can use your platform on a mobile device. If you try and use some of the other automation platforms on an iPad for example, it just turns into a giant mess. So and the fact that you have all those apps here integrations as well that you can connect it to all your other systems is fantastic too.
Dan: Yeah, definitely. Definitely the mobile side's something … so that's working well.
Barry: Well Dan, thank you very much for your time today and if you could give people one action step to get started with automation tomorrow, what would it be? Other than buy a notepad for your shower.
Dan: Look if there was one action step it would really be to, once you've bought the notepad for your shower, buy a bigger size notepad and really just map out your processes. Work out where you're not following up. Even write down the conversion rates of each juncture in your sales process and then create a recurring task to review that every 90 days.
Barry: Ah yeah, very cool. I think a lot of people don't do that as well. They don't sit down and debrief what's happened in the last quarter or the last six months or whatever and see if anything's changed. That's the easy, that's the kind of the lullaby siren song of marketing automation is that once you put it in, that it just kind of happens behind the scenes. I don't think a lot of people never go back and check what the metrics are or tweak and change the automations that are there. So really good advice.
Dan: Yeah yeah, awesome.
Barry: All right thanks, Dan. I really appreciate your time. I'm sure the listeners got tonnes out of it and if they want to reach out to you, what's the best way for them to do that?
Dan: Yeah sure so they can go to leadmachine.com and if anyone wants to email me, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do end up looking at Lead Machine, send me an email, mention this podcast and we'll sort something out for you.
Barry: Awesome. Thank you very much, Dan. See you next time.
Dan: Thanks mate.
Barry: I'd like to thank Dan Dobos for coming on and sharing his expertise with us and I'd like to thank you the listener for tuning in and listening. We really do appreciate it. We are doing this show for you so I'd love to hear from you. So if you'd like to head over to theactivemarketer.com/31, please leave us a comment in the show notes. Tell us how you're using marketing automation. Tell us what subjects you'd like to see. Tell us what things we can cover in a future podcast, just leave us a commenting the show notes there down below, at the bottom in the comments section. We'd love to hear from you. And we'd love to tailor this podcast to exactly what you want to hear.
So next week we'll be back with another episode. In the meantime, get out there and design, automate and scale your business to the next level using marketing automation. Good day, everyone.
Announcer: Thanks for listening to The Active Marketer podcast. You can find the show notes and all the latest marketing automation news over at theactivemarketer.com.