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Picking the Right Tools for your Sales & Marketing Tech Stack

The new age of sales and marketing is here, and sometimes it’s difficult to keep up with all the latest tools.  There are so many options! How do you keep track of what’s most critical to your sales and marketing efforts? As anyone who’s been following the evolution of the MarTech map over the last few years knows, the sales and marketing tech space is only getting more crowded, from 150 tools in 2011 to 7,040 tools in 2019.  

Despite the ever-changing tech landscape, one fact remains true.  Today’s tech is powerful, and anyone responsible for generating business will be at a disadvantage if they don’t embrace technology in their sales and marketing processes.  

Tools don’t replace what reps do every day.  They empower reps to go further and faster. By leveraging market-leading tools like CRM, Marketing Automation, Sales Engagement, and Data Prospecting tools, B2B companies can build a flywheel for revenue generation that feeds leads through the top of funnel, nurtures them in the middle, and empowers reps to stay relevant throughout the entire deal cycle.

How?  Well first, it starts with a well-defined strategy, talented people and a desire to standardize and scale business process.  Tools alone don’t help business move faster. They empower people within the business to be more efficient. If the people don’t know which direction they’re going, tech can only complicate things.

We’ve been fortunate to implement a lot of tech over our combined 30+ years as sales and marketing professionals, and there’s one cheesy phrase we’ve heard time and time again that always rings true: “a fool with a tool is still a fool.”  

Companies can’t expect technology to transform the way they do business, despite the fact that this is the vision that most tech companies are selling.  The tech is an enabler. In order to reach that promised-land, your company must have a clearly defined strategy and plan to get there. You need to have talented people in the right seats throughout your organization that can inspire and empower your people to create the growth you need. And you need to establish a process that scales.

The tech CAN help you reach that promised land.  In fact, you likely won’t get there without new tools.  But always remember it’s not the tech alone that can achieve your goals.  

Build the plan.
Align your talent.  
Then, pick the right tools that empower your people to execute on your strategy.

But which tools should we be looking at, you might ask?  We believe there are four categories of tools that are absolutely critical to empower B2B sales and marketing professionals today:  CRM, Marketing Automation, Sales Engagement, and Data & Sales Intelligence tools.

CRM

More often than not, CRM sits at the center the sales & marketing tech stack. CRM serves as the “source of truth” for customer data and provides a user interface for sales reps and marketers to interact with and update the data on a daily basis.  

Amongst our customers, there are two CRM’s that stand out above the rest: Salesforce and Hubspot.

Salesforce is by far the leader in the category and provides powerful CRM capabilities for sales and marketers alike.  With a wide range of products and licensing levels, there’s a Salesforce solution to meet any firm’s needs. If you need a robust CRM that you can bend to fit all of your business processes and add additional functions with an enormous ecosystem of partnerships, integrations, and apps; Salesforce is the best solution by a longshot.

Hubspot can be a great entry-level CRM for those who are just getting started.  Small businesses may not need a ton of customizations and may not have the budgets for a market-leading product like Salesforce.  In these circumstances, Hubspot can provide beginner-level capabilities across the CRM, Marketing Automation, and Sales Engagement categories.

Marketing Automation

Oh, MA… where to begin.  I love Marketing Automation.  Marketing Automation serves as the marketing engagement layer that sits on top of CRM, enabling automated marketing communications with known contacts.  In short, Marketing Automation enables the ability for an organization to provide the right message to the right person at the right time in the right channel.

I’ve been working with Marketing Automation tools for the last 8 years, and I’ve been lucky enough to see most of them in action.  A few of my favorite platforms for B2B organizations are Pardot, Hubspot, Marketo, and Eloqua.

Pardot (owned by Salesforce) is an excellent tool for Salesforce customers, and the Pardot product gets better and more closely aligned with Salesforce CRM every year.  I’ve been working with Pardot for years, and I believe it’s the best all-around product for small to mid-market businesses who are using Salesforce as their CRM.

Hubspot is a great entry to mid-level tool, and Hubspot provides fantastic thought leadership and guidance to customers.  Hubspot coined the term “Inbound Marketing” and leverages the inbound methodology as a core element of its platform.  For organizations that are just getting started with Marketing Automation or don’t have many advanced requirements, Hubspot can be a great fit.

Marketo (owned by Adobe) and Eloqua (owned by Oracle) are the most advanced and robust platforms available today, and both can be viable options for mid-market and enterprise B2B companies that have more advanced requirements. Eloqua is arguably the most powerful tool on the market, but with power comes complexity. Marketo is a great all-around solution with a major focus on functionality for marketers, and with the recent acquisition by Adobe we expect Marketo’s integration with the broader Adobe marketing suite to only become more powerful.

Sales Engagement

If you haven’t caught on to the Sales Engagement wave, catch up!  Sales Engagement is here and it will be the next big component of your tech stack to have a huge impact on your bottom line.  Marketing Automation has been around for a while, and the ROI of proper MA usage is clear. Now imagine if that powerful communications capability was specifically built and optimized for a sales team, enabling reps to more easily communicate with more prospects in a more personalized manner.  That’s Sales Engagement.

Sales Engagement tools enable sales teams to plan, execute, and optimize communications between a sales rep and prospect across multiple touchpoints and channels.  For sales leaders, imagine mapping out the ideal cadence of communications to a prospect that will capture their attention, get them to engage with your sales cycle, and ultimately purchase your product or services.  Oftentimes this can include a combination of emails, phone calls, social connections and messages, value-add content, snail mail, etc. Now imagine plugging in that ideal method into a tool so it can be replicated and optimized for your reps to engage with every prospective customer in your database in a highly targeted, personalized way.  That’s Sales Engagement!

There are two big players in the Sales Engagement space, SalesLoft, and Outreach, and a host of up-and-comers, including MixMax and the new Salesforce High Velocity Sales product.  Like all tools, they each have happy customers, but at InStereo we are big fans of SalesLoft due to their emphasis on the personalized sales experience and tight integration with Salesforce CRM.  A recent study by Forrester showed that SalesLoft can provide a 329% ROI in 3 years. SalesLoft is a powerful tool, and B2B companies should absolutely be checking them out if they don’t yet have a means to empower their sales teams to have personalized 1:1 conversations with prospects at scale.

Hubspot also has some basic Sales Engagement capabilities with their Sequences functionality.  Hubspot Sequences provides sales reps the ability to map out their ideal sequence of communication and schedule call reminders and automated emails to engage prospects along the way.

Data & Sales Intelligence

When it comes to digital technology, data is everything.  Bad data can kill sales and marketing programs before they even get off the ground.  To ensure your organization has a solid platform to maintain good, clean data, start with CRM and ensure everyone who interacts with the data has a central repository to work from.  From there, marketers may want to enrich the data on your known prospects and customers. If you want to grow (and who doesn’t!) sales will need to build lists of prospective buyers who meet your ideal customer profile to fuel their prospecting efforts.  Both of these scenarios are solved by Data & Sales Intelligence tools.

Sales Intelligence tools provide a marketplace for accessing prospect data. Notable players in the space include ZoomInfo, Clearbit, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator, amongst many others.

At InStereo, we use LinkedIn Sales Navigator and ZoomInfo.  Starting with LinkedIn Sales Navigator, this is a necessary and complementary tool to your CRM and Sales Engagement tools.  Of greatest value is the visibility of connections, news, and career movement of the prospects you are targeting, giving sales valuable information to aid in personalizing their communications.  Oh, and, it seamlessly integrates with SalesLoft to support social engagement steps as a part of cadence activities.

For contact level information, there’s none better than ZoomInfo.  There will always be a healthy debate about data accuracy, which means you need to do your research to find the data provider that is best for your target industry and buyer.  That said, ZoomInfo recently acquired Datanyze for technographic data, and then boom!, ZoomInfo got acquired by DiscoverOrg, becoming a true data intelligence powerhouse.  In terms of features, the level of fine-grained company/person search, the ability to create and save lists, and the CRM export capabilities enable sales reps to quickly dial in on a clean set of prospects to work with.

While there’s no one right answer to build the best sales and marketing stack, today’s leading B2B companies must at a minimum have a solution in place for CRM, Marketing Automation, Sales Engagement, and Data & Sales Intelligence tools.  These platforms provide the necessary framework to maintain customer data and engage with customers in meaningful ways. If your company is looking for additional perspective on any of these platforms and how they can help your business grow, let’s chat!  We’d love to help.

The Real Value of the Buyer Journey Map

Having spent much of my career working at digital agencies, I’ve seen many deliverables that collect dust once presented. To me, it’s clear why this happens. The issue is that too often the delivery of documented outcomes is viewed as the end-game.

It should be quite the opposite, in fact. Any deliverable should be a key that unlocks the next stage of information gathering, learning, and executing.

In my experience, if there is any deliverable that suffers from being well-designed shelfware, it’s the Journey Map. Why is this? The Journey Map typically acts as a pretty picture that describes the Promised Land, the utopian customer experience which will never be achieved. So it’s shelved.

Maybe that’s another way of saying that, oftentimes, the Journey Map is a visionary document, not a document that drives execution of ideas. This is a lost opportunity.

To move the Journey Map beyond being just another pretty deliverable, we have to redefine what the Journey Map really represents. The Journey Map must represent actions the sales and marketing teams can take immediately to create an exceptional buying experience. When businesses create exceptional buyer experiences, they can expect an uptick in revenue as a result.

At InStereo, we are intensely focused on creating Journey Maps that represent:

  • The Ideal Customer Profile
  • Targeted Buyer Persona
  • Stages the buyer goes through to become aware of, evaluate, and choose a product/service
  • Identified gaps between the Buyer Journey, internal sales, and marketing processes

These identified gaps are whats most important. So, let’s break down how to make it happen.

Talk to your customers (and the ones that got away)

Really. Go talk to those you’ve sold to. Why did you win their business? Why did you lose their business? 

Assumptions only go so far, so it’s important to talk directly those who participated in the buying process in order to understand their approach, their goals, and the kinds of questions they ask.

Running the interviews doesn’t need to be complicated:

  • Identify 8 – 10 current/former customers (and throw in a couple you lost)
  • Invite them into a 45-minute discussion aimed at gathering information to help you improve the customer experience
  • Ask them 10 – 12 questions about their experience buying from your firm
  • Review all of the answers to identify the key themes that illustrate their buying experience
  • Share with your sales and marketing team

Agree on your ideal customer profile (ICP) and buyer personas

ICP

Your ICP is the definition of a company that was put on this earth to purchase your product or service. What I mean, is that you designed your product or service to relieve a specific pain in specific situations. There are companies that are directly in the sweet spot of pain that your product or service can solve. Agree on your ICP.

Buyer Personas

If the ICP represents the company you should target, the buyer personas are the specific people at the company who show up in the buying process either as the economic decision maker, the champion, an influencer, or some other role. 

Personas are incredibly important to ensure alignment of value proposition, messaging, and call-to-action as a part of your sales and marketing outreach.

Before you can create a journey map, first identify each role, prioritize the most important ones, then answer these questions to build out their profile. 

Put it all together

Now that you have fresh customer interview data in hand, and you’ve agreed on your ICP and buyer personas, it’s time to pull it all together.

Define the Buyer Stages

First things first. The buyer journey should be 1:1 with a buyer persona. So choose the most important persona to begin. 

Next, define the stages that the buyer goes through to become aware of, evaluate, and choose a product or service such as yours.

Use action-focused stage names. Stay away from generic customer lifecycle terms, like Awareness, Evaluate, Choose, Purchase, Experience. (I don’t know any buyers who come into the office ready to solve their pain with Awareness. Rather, they search, the ask others, they get referrals, etc.)

So put yourself in the shoes of the buyer, reflect on what you heard from your customer interviews, and write down the stages, from the initial triggers that kickstart their buying process, through being onboarded as a new customer.

Capture Buyer Goals and Questions

For each stage,  what does the buyer need to accomplish? Every buyer has explicit or implicit, stated or unstated goals to achieve at every buying stage. Write down one to three goals for each stage.

To achieve their goals, buyers will have a range of questions to consider before continuing forward in their decision process. What are the most important questions they need to have answered during that specific stage before they can confidently move to the next? Write down the top three to five questions that buyers have.

For example, if the buyer is in a stage to Get Referrals, their goal might be to Get five referrals from peer network. To achieve this goal, they may have questions like “Who’s solved this for companies like ours?” “Who is best at this?” “Who should I talk to?” 

You get the idea.

Find the gaps, and fill them

This is where the real value of the Journey Map comes into play. 

Up to this point, we’ve been standing in the shoes of the buyer: What is triggering the buying process, what are their buying stages, and what are their goals and questions. Now, it’s time to step back into your shoes.

The questions you need to ask your team for each buying stage is: How well do we support the buyer through our sales and marketing activities? What do we specifically do to help the buyer answer their questions, achieve their goals, and advance to the next buying stage? 

To answer these questions, go stage by stage and survey your current inventory of content, engagement activities, and processes. Capture those that you believe support the buyer within a specific stage. 

It’s likely, however, that you come up without any answers for some stages. You’ll realize that you don’t have much in the way of targeted content, engagement activities, and processes to support the buyer.

That’s ok. Because these gaps represent opportunities to implement ideas that lead to the delivery of an exceptional buyer experience. 

To fill the gaps, this is where brainstorming comes into play. Get creative. Come up with new ideas that are targeted, engaging, and valuable to the buyer. Capture these ideas and align to the most relevant and impactful stage of the buyer journey.

And there you have it…

Truth be told, when our team at InStereo helps customers develop their buyer journey map, we spend at least 8 total hours locked in a room with members from both the sales and marketing teams and lots of whiteboards. 

Sure, it’s a lot of work, but I guarantee it will be eye-opening, fun, and inspirational, as your collective sales and marketing teams set the stage for a well-aligned go-to-market plan, all in the name of delivering an exceptional buyer experience.

InStereo

At InStereo we focus on finding and closing these gaps in the buyer journey. We take a people first, technology second approach and believe there is nothing more important than customer experience. 

The goal used to be to capture buyers, now the focus should be on connecting with them on a deeper level. Creating relationships that span a buying journey and result in repeat good business. 

Want to learn more?  Let’s talk!

B2B Demand Generation: The Keys to Success

Demand generation is becoming more and more of a necessity for B2B businesses.  Buyers expect more from their vendors, and companies must adapt to deliver a seamless experience throughout the entire customer lifecycle (Thanks, Amazon!).  Before we dig into what companies should be thinking about when implementing demand generation strategies for their business, let’s level-set on one thing: What is demand generation?

As Hubspot states, “Demand generation is more than just a branding concept or early funnel marketing tactic. Demand generation programs are touch points throughout the conversion optimization and sales cycles… The goal of demand generation is to build and nurture key prospect and customer relationships for the long term.”

InStereo has years of experience working with brands on their demand generation programs. We’ve been fortunate to help many companies scale existing programs to take them to the next level. We’ve also had the opportunity to work with those who’ve struggled in their sales & marketing efforts to get them back on the path to success. Through these experiences, we’ve learned from those successes and developed a framework for B2B professionals to consider when implementing demand generation programs in their business.

At the highest of levels, the goal should be simple.  Create amazing experiences for your buyers. Anticipate their needs and answer their questions before they know to ask.  Be there when they need you, and deliver value even when they don’t. Why? Companies that create great experiences win. And winning companies create revenue and growth.

At InStereo we know that the only way to build a successful program is to take a step back and take a strategy-first approach to customer experience and revenue generation. A well-rounded plan will include a focus on five key areas:

  • Strategy
  • Tech/Data
  • People
  • Process
  • Content

When all of these elements are balanced and working together, great things happen. We force both Sales and Marketing to work together on a common plan for customer engagement.  And when the right people align on the right vision in an environment where constant change is encouraged, organizations can begin walking down the path of creating amazing customer experiences that maximize revenue.  

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Strategy

It all starts with Strategy.  And Strategy begins with a deep understanding of your buyers.  When you know your buyers and truly understand their pain-points and wants, you can anticipate their needs and build touches into your sales and marketing processes that deliver against those needs.  In order to accomplish this, organizations must have a deep understanding of their:

  • Ideal Customer Profile — Who is the ideal target account?
  • Buyer Personas — Who is the buyer within that account?
  • Buyer Journeys — What is that buyers’ ideal buying experience?

By understanding your ideal target accounts, the buyers within those accounts, and their ideal buying process, you can then architect your internal sales and marketing processes and content to surprise and delight them all along their journey with you.  

Technology and Data

Once the strategy is defined, an organization must implement tools that most efficiently and effectively allow their teams to execute upon the strategy.  Commonly this includes CRM, Marketing Automation, Sales Engagement, and Data platforms that help manage data and process and automate communications with customers.

The tools are important, and data is the fuel that drives them. Without good, clean data, we can have a great vision, solid tech, but inability to execute and connect with customers in a meaningful way.  

Another one of the common mistakes we see businesses make is prioritizing new technology over people and process. Truth is, a fool with a tool is still a fool. Taking a strategy-first approach lets you evaluate which tools best align with your teams and processes and allows you to implement in a manner which empowers the business users.

Said another way… make sure to get the technology that’s right for your business. Don’t buy a Ferrari if you don’t know how to drive stick.  Don’t buy a heavy-duty pickup if you don’t have anything to put in the bed. And don’t buy a coupe if you have a team of four. In the end, you may get to your destination faster, most comfortably, and most cost-effectively in a Honda Civic — even if it’s not the sexiest ride.

Whichever tools you decide to implement, make sure the business is ready, and make sure they are right for your team.

People

B2B sales and marketing is a people-driven ecosystem. Even with all the technology we use today, organizations still buy from human beings. Tech alone does not drive demand gen, but the people within organizations that harness the power of technology to improve the connection to buyers.

In order for your strategy and technology to align, people need to be in the right roles throughout your organization. The first thing you can do is define roles throughout sales and marketing and evaluate if people have the right skills.

Once you have the right skills in the right departments, how collaboratively do your departments work together to achieve their common goals?  All too often we see sales march to the beat of one drum while marketing is off marching to another. And IT can’t hear the music at all. For programs to be effective, all parties must work together with a common strategy and common goals.

One trend we love is the emergence of the Chief Revenue Officer or Chief Growth Officer.  This is a leader who oversees all revenue-generating activities, including both the Sales and Marketing departments. By bringing these groups together, the CRO can ensure that all are focused on the common goals of growing the business and driving revenue.  

Even if your business doesn’t have a CRO, sales and marketing leaders can take steps forward by aligning on their department goals and working together on plans to achieve them.

Process

Once you have a strategy in motion and the technology and people to support it, you must develop a repeatable and scalable process for audience engagement. By doing this you deliver a consistent customer experience that drives revenue through your pipeline.

Oftentimes we see the “wild west” scenario: a sales team that has many reps doing their outreach their own individual different ways. You may have have seen this masquerade as an “entrepreneurial sales environment.”  It can be effective for hitting short-term numbers on a growing sales team, but ineffective for scaling a growing organization.

Rather than allow sales reps to do whatever they wish to close their business, ask those same reps how Sales and Marketing leaders can provide tools to help.  You may find that reps want the partnership. Some of their current methods may be effective, and the organization can benefit from taking those reps’ practices and standardizing them in a scalable way.  

The same thing goes for marketing. Create repeatable processes for campaigns and customer communications, and create an internal constant dialogue between sales and marketing, that allows for input on what marketing tactics reps are seeing be effective and what needs to change. This helps each department understand how they best support the other.

Create a plan across Sales & Marketing and have everyone committed to the same goals, systems, and schedules.  Work together. Grow your business as a team and not as individuals.

The most important thing to consider about process is that it’s never finished.  Processes defined 6 months ago may be stale and outdated today. Organizations must plan to review and revise process constantly to make sure teams are most efficient in working towards the collective goals.

Content

We’ve all heard it before… content is king. And it is!  

Whether the content delivery mechanism is via a sales rep, automated email campaigns, website, blogs, webinars, e-books, or any other tactic your organization can dream up, in the end the content must provide value to your buyers.  Without content that is targeted, engaging, and valuable to your audience, none of the other elements matter.

All too often, content is considered an afterthought. People think, “The tools will solve my problem!” or “the new-hire will figure it out!.” Always remember that audience engagement tools like Marketing Automation and Sales Engagement are just a means to automate and scale process.  If there are no processes in place to automate and no content to deliver, the value of these tools diminishes quickly.

Those who focus on their buyers’ needs and deliver value to them at the right time and revenue will fall in place.

InStereo

InStereo is a consulting firm of modern Sales & Marketing experts.  We help our clients create amazing buyer experiences that drive more revenue.  We work with customers every day to define their Strategy and plan for Technology & Data, People, Process, and Content.  It all starts with a deep understanding of your buyers’ needs and building a framework to deliver value time and time again.

Can you do a better job of delivering value to your buyers to accelerate revenue?  Do you have gaps in your sales and marketing process?  We can help. Let’s talk!

10 Things We’re Most Excited for at Rainmaker 2019

Rainmaker is coming up in just a few short days and we can’t wait to be down in Atlanta for three days of learning, conversation, and fun! The conference has 100+ speakers, 1500+ attendees, and 40 workshops all centered around the sales engagement universe. Here are the 10 things we’re most excited about for #RainMaker19.

1 – Celebrate!

We can’t wait to see our customers and SalesLoft partners and to celebrate an amazing year of success over a beer or two. We will celebrate the hard work, passion, and achievements of all those we have been lucky enough to work with this past year. Being together will also allow us to reset, get inspired, and move forward into the future.

2 – Level Up Sessions on Monday

Don’t miss the Level Up workshops on Monday including our very own Bill Galfano talking about sales leadership and strategy. Bill will take a deep dive into buyer journeys and how to leverage SalesLoft as the platform of engagement that helps to deliver an exceptional buyer experience.

3 – SalesLoft Admin Certification

See the launch of the first ever SalesLoft admin certification. All of our customers now have the opportunity to become officially certified. Many of us have been using SalesLoft for sometime, and now we can make it official and flash that badge.

4 – Hear from Kyle Porter

We’re excited to hear the latest from SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter. This has been a ground-breaking year for SalesLoft and as a partner it’s been a ground-breaking year for InStereo. We can’t wait to hear Kyle’s views on the sales engagement space and what’s to come from SalesLoft.

5 – Danny Meyer Keynote

On Tuesday, Union Square Hospitality Group CEO and Shake Shack founder, Danny Meyer, will be sharing his secrets to customer centricity. At InStereo we tailor all of our strategies around the concept of delivering exceptional buyer experiences, and we’re excited to hear from a true icon like Danny.

6 – Blues Traveler

The big Hook is we can’t wait to Run-Around with Blues Traveler on Tuesday night to celebrate with all of our customers, partners and friends. But anyway…

7 – Women of Rainmaker Breakfast

Wednesday morning is the Women of Rainmaker Breakfast. We’re excited to hear empowering stories of women in sales to kickstart the final day at Rainmaker. The panel will include women at different stages in there career sharing their journeys and adversity they have faced.

8 – SalesLoft Roadmap with Butler Raines

Don’t miss VP of Product, Butler Raines, share where SalesLoft is headed in the future. Hear about new enhancements that will be coming to the platform over the next year and how to get the best out of SalesLoft’s newest tech.

9 – How SalesLoft Sells

At a conference all about SalesLoft, why not hear how SalesLoft actually uses their own tool. They’re going to be pulling back the curtain on strategies, best practices, and how SalesLoft manages their own workflow.

10 – Colin O’Brady Keynote

Lastly, to end Rainmaker with a bang, world record holder Colin O’Brady takes the stage to talk goal setting and overcoming obstacles. Colin is a Pro Endurance Athlete who has set record paces hiking the highest mountains on all seven continents, and who recently completed the first unaided and unsupported solo crossing of the land mass of Antarctica. Nbd.

Come Join Us!

As you can see, this is going to be an exciting three days. Let’s connect out there. Give Bill Galfano a holler at bill.galfano@instereo.io or call at (612) 888-8978. Happy Lofting!

InStereo, 23 Years in the Making

It’s crazy for me to think that I’ve been at my career for 23 years. Shit, when I started in ’95, I first had to educate marketers on what the internet was, let alone the value they’d get from having a website. Crazy.

Through it all, I’ve gained so much to be grateful for…so many people and so many experiences along the way that paved the path to making this day possible. Before bringing InStereo to market, I took some time to reflect on what got me here, and what has mattered most to me throughout my career.

Back in the late 90s, I was working at a fast-growing digital agency in a client services role. One day, armed a bit of frustration about our operations and a few ideas to fix it, I walked into one of the founder’s office, sat down, and commanded, “I can run this company as well as you.”

Why would I do this? Well, I wanted my ideas to be taken seriously and felt I needed a bold entry (which I now know would never have been an issue for this open-minded and inspirational entrepreneur.)

The result? A promotion. (And a now 20-year relationship growing businesses together with these guys.)

So what’s my point of this story? It was that experience that made it clear to me that I wanted to run my own consulting firm one day. In 2004, I tossed around a couple of ideas, (one of which was to start a UX-focused consultancy, which were very few at the time. Dang.) But I wasn’t sure I was ready and took another job.

In 2008, ready for a change, I had the opportunity to join Magnet360 as a founding employee, which became the largest regional Salesforce partner, and is now a global powerhouse. Back then, it felt like I was starting my own thing, but there’s a reality…I wasn’t a founder.

But that didn’t matter. I started at Magnet360 as a quota-carrying rep, was promoted to a regional VP of sales, and soon took over as North America EVP of sales and gained a seat at the leadership table. I had a blast helping to grow that business over 8 years.

But I have to admit, a thought occurred to me at some point and I questioned why a guy like me was in this sales leadership role. I started feeling a bit of imposter syndrome.

Let me paint the picture a bit: Here I was, a digital agency guy. I spoke the language of creatives, user experience designers, and web technologists. But here I was working for a fast-growing Salesforce partner. My counterparts at Salesforce were career-long sales professionals, working for the #1 sales platform on the planet, true leaders in their roles. How could I stack up to that?? I didn’t look like them, talk like them, or lead sales teams like them. Or so my thinking would go.

Sometime after leaving Magnet360, something else occurred to me:

I F*N LOVE SALES!

I realized that I, too, was a career-long sales professional. I also realized that my approach often was different than those I’d meet in the field. But instead of questioning that difference, as if it made me less of a sales leader, I realized that it was mine to embrace and own.

Which brings us back to the present moment. After leaving my sales leadership post two years ago, and spending 18 months in between working with a SaaS startup, helping to build and market a product for inside sales teams, my love of sales was clear to me.

I reflected on what it meant to build winning sales teams, to set aggressive growth goals (and beat them), and to approach selling in a truly authentic way.

And that’s what inspired InStereo.

I have the opportunity to bring what I’ve learned over the past 23 years to other sales and marketing teams. A foundation of client service, user experience, digital marketing, and authentic selling.

All of which is precisely what InStereo stands for: We help our clients create richer buyer experiences as the path to revenue. We help sales and marketing teams reframe their approach to be authentic, helpful, and most importantly, empathetic. In the end, buyers, users, and customers are people, and when sales and marketing professionals connect with their prospects as people, great things can happen.

We’ve been fortunate with our timing, too. In August, we became one of the first SalesLoft certified implementation partners, and the partnership couldn’t be more strategic to our vision. To authentically connect with people is core to SalesLoft’s position, and their customers are placing a bet that this approach will give them a competitive advantage.

So what does all this mean? Well, I’ve known since the early days of my career that I was destined to run my own shop, but it had to be the right thing. And now I’ve found it. I’m grateful to those who have mentored me along the way, and to those who are putting their trust in what our team can do. We’re ready to have a blast growing this new venture and to pave the path for an entirely new experience.