Podcast

Episode: 501 |
Nate Kievman:
Nate Kievman, CEO of Linked Strategies:
Episode
501

HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL

Nate Kievman

Nate Kievman, CEO of Linked Strategies

Show Notes

Nate Kievman is the founder of Linked Strategies, a company that helps create better relationships between businesses and their ideal buyers. Link Strategies has been in business since 2010 and has evolved over the years into a full-service digital agency.

Link Strategies

Will Bachman is the host of Unleashed, and he and Nate discuss the services that Link Strategies offers. Link Strategies works with companies of all sizes, from one-person consulting shops to large enterprises like BlackRock and NASDAQ. The company typically works with companies that are looking to scale beyond their current referral- or network-based sales models. Nate talks about the lead generation industry, and how it is highly competitive and non-consolidated. He describes how there are many firms that claim to be able to generate leads, but in reality, most of them use spammy tactics and are not very effective.

The book The Outsiders discusses how companies like Salesforce have disrupted traditional businesses by using technology to their advantage. The book argues that companies that are able to use technology to their advantage will be the ones who succeed in the future. The book has had a major impact on the business world and has inspired many companies to adopt similar strategies. The book states that companies that are able to use technology to their advantage will be the ones who succeed in the future.

Lead Generation Strategies

They talk about how there is a low barrier to entry for anyone who wants to start a lead generation business, and how there are many firms that do this with very little experience. They also talk about how recent changes in spam detection have made it very difficult for companies to get their emails delivered, and how this has caused many companies to reevaluate their lead-generation strategies.

Nate Kievman explains that the key to getting a response from a busy executive is to respect their time and give them enough information to make a decision about meeting with you. He also notes that it takes experience and knowledge to craft a compelling email that will engage the reader. Finally, he cautions that companies often fail at outbound strategies because they don’t commit to the process.

Cold Outbound Strategies

Nate discusses how cold outbound strategies are designed to generate leads, appointments, and conversions, and how companies often fail to properly utilize them. He argues that companies should invest in their partners and salespeople in order to properly execute these strategies and maximize their potential. The conversation discuss tips for sales conversion on cold outreach meetings. They mention that it is important to think of these types of campaigns as a short, mid and long term pipeline development, and that most companies get into it as a tactical buy. They also mention that it is important to understand the nuances of all the facts in your current business, and that contracts should be for a year or more. The salespeople at Kievman’s company are focused on finding out the challenges, goals, and gaps of their potential clients. They want to assess whether or not they can help solve the gap before going into their sales pitch. This is important because Kievman’s company offers dynamic and customizable solutions.

Timestamps:

  • 1:51: Categories of competitors in the appointment setting and lead generation space.
  • 3:57: The book “Predictable Revenue”
  • 8:52: What’s happening in the world of email deliverability.
  • 14:15: How to get into the psychology of the executive office.
  • 20:25: When you’re sending emails out to your email accounts, who are you sending them to?
  • 25:42: What are some of the archetypes of copy that you use?
  • 30:18: The importance of being a growth partner and not a lead generator.
  • 35:17: The importance of having a candid conversation with your prospects.
  • 40:51: If you had 100 really good friends, how many of them would work with you over the course of two or three years?

Links:

https://www.amazon.ca/Predictable-Revenue-Business-Practices-Salesforce-com/dp/0984380213

https://linkedstrategies.com

CONTACT INFO:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/nathankievman

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

 

SPEAKERS

Nate Kievman, Will Bachman

 

Will Bachman  00:02

Hello and welcome to Unleashed. Unleashed is produced by Umbrex, you can visit us@umbrex.com. That’s unbrx.com. I’m your host, will Bachman. And I’m excited to be here today with Nate cavemen who runs a firm linked strategies. And I’ll let him tell us what he does. Nate, welcome to the show.

 

Nate Kievman  00:22

Thanks. Well appreciate it. Thanks for having me.

 

Will Bachman  00:25

So why don’t you start by giving us an overview of the services your firm offers?

 

Nate Kievman  00:31

For sure. So link strategies is a executive meeting setting company, we’ve been in business since 2010. started off as a LinkedIn marketing firm and evolved over the years into a full digital agency and then converted into what we would call a direct response company. Our aim is to help create better relationships for our clients with their ideal buyers.

 

Will Bachman  00:58

And what type of clients do you serve?

 

Nate Kievman  01:01

So we work with companies, from one person consulting shops all the way up to companies like BlackRock and NASDAQ, and other other bigs in a large enterprise space. But typically, what we’re doing is serving, I’d say 80% of our clients are, you know, consulting, enterprise software, it service firms, b2b companies selling higher ticket items that are between three to 15 million give or take. And the typical challenge that we’re looking to solve for is that they’ve been a referral base or network based sales organization, and they’re looking for something to help them scale beyond that, that limitation, meaning that they’ve kind of hit their capacity limit, or they know that they’re wanting to diversify one or the other.

 

Will Bachman  01:51

Okay. So I imagine that as companies get to a certain scale, they will begin bringing this in house and hiring, you know, a whole batch of sales, development representatives, and a head of sales and so forth. But when a company is a bit beyond the stage of just inbound referrals, but they maybe don’t have the scale to hire their whole team, it sounds like that’s where you play.

 

Nate Kievman  02:17

It is. Yeah, I mean, some we, you know, like I said, we work with some of the big companies. And what they’re typically doing is bringing us into, to build out like a large account, enterprise meeting setting part of their business. So they want to go secure more of their largest deals that they’ve always, they’ve had a couple of wins that they’d like to expand that. And so that’s what we’re being brought in, in those in those spaces. So in return, whether it’s small or big companies, it’s building a new, a new vertical or new vehicle to getting executive meetings consistently.

 

Will Bachman  02:50

Okay? Before we dive in to your firm, in particular, give me a little bit of an overview of your broader set or categories of competitors in your space are not necessarily just competitors. But I’d love to understand your view of the kind of categories of players in this appointment setting or lead generation space. My sense is that you’re playing kind of at the top of that sort of pyramid of, but there’s like this whole range, you know, every day I get spammed with multiple people saying, Oh, we can generate leads for you. So maybe walk me through the different categories of the firm starting at the, the kind of the, maybe the most spammy? Or, if you would, you know, because, you know, I get these every day, right, multiple ones, and maybe just describe what those different firms actually do in practice. And I don’t know if there’s like one or two or three or four categories, in your view of the world.

 

Nate Kievman  03:51

Yeah, it’s a it’s a very non consolidated space for a variety of reasons. But, you know, many years ago, there was a book that came out called Predictable Revenue. And this book was written by a VP of sales in Salesforce, who said, hey, you know, what world you can go you know, pick up these tools, these scraper tools, find the data and start emailing people, and you can, you know, get a whole bunch of junior kids at a school and build this kind of pound sand model and, and go go to town and, and, and grow your business. And he’s like, this is what we did with Salesforce. Right? And, and then the world took over, took a took it off, and that there’s been, you know, hundreds of companies that were built after this. This technology, right? We’re just scraping technology and data companies that have evolved since then. And then in the P world, for example, took over and took the model and said okay, let’s apply this to everything. Now I read that book. I thought This is insanity, right? Because I’m not like every lead gen firm, we’re not we don’t even consider ourselves a lead generation from? Well, what we do and the difference here is that our specialty is in executive access, right? How do you get Elon Musk and Tim Cook to respond to an email? Right? And why would they respond to a 13? Or 15? Paragraph E? Well, that’s what we do. So when you think, think about this market, there’s a lot of players, um, give me a little backstory, because it’s important. So if you think about this book is came out, well, what was Salesforce, who were they selling to? They’re signed to directors, and some are small firms and big firms. But typically, the people that were overseeing the CRM tech for the sales division, right, the sales CRM, and they are a sales tech stack, with a low ticket, low purchase price, you know, low level decision, maybe that seniors would get involved in the decision there as at the end, but they weren’t at the entry point. And so can you get into the directors and the mid market and the lower tier access points with that approach? Sure, absolutely, you can. And that was their product. And that was what they were built on. And it wasn’t a very expensive product at the time it is now there’s more, you know, for the enterprise space, that’s it’s a little different today. And so what happened is, is this technology took off, and everybody that was in marketing, that was promising some kind of lead gen, whether it was through SEO, or an agency or a call center, or whatever, all of these different industries and verticals in the, you know, the played around lead gen, in some way, shape, or form, started to take on this technology and these datasets and said, Hey, we can do this for you. Right. And, and there was very low barrier to entry. So anybody could just up and start up. And they can still do it today to some degree, you know, find a tech, if there’s tools out there, like outreach and quick mail and a bunch of others that are email outbound technologies, right, the different from a Marketo, or an Eloqua. Or, you know, keep, which is the old Infusionsoft, those CRMs that because they allow you to plug in and use your Gmail and your outlook. And so there’s these tools out there. And then there’s a bunch of data sources that started to evolve over time, most of which got gobbled up by zoom info. And in the process of doing that, some, some survived, some didn’t. And there’s continues to be small ones that grow and then they’ll get gobbled up by a bigger data provider, and wrapped up to either eliminate competition or to for whatever reason. And so for all intensive purposes, like head of sales, or a team could say, Okay, well, I can send an email and I can write a copy. And I can get that. And if I can use these tools, I’m good to go. And there’s a lot of firms that run off of that today, there’s a lot of firms that do that. There’s a lot of services that leverage these resources. And then, and we’ll call them solo shops that have a small team in the Philippines or in India. And they’re managing your your data, they’re managing your campaigns, and they’re promising over the world for, you know, two to 5k a month or something like that. Now, that’s kind of like the backstory. And then you have also now you have call centers that say they do the same thing. Now you have agencies that say they do the same thing, marketing firms and say they do the same thing. And they all have somebody in there that does that stuff. Right? We check that box. And so the ploy is for firms to buy into the concept of That’s That’s enough. The complexity that’s evolved over the past many years, particularly in this year, earlier, and I’m sorry, earlier in 20, to 2022 Is that deliverability, and spam has gotten to an all time high, you probably understand that right? Well, you’re already saying I get spammed by this stuff, all day, every day. And it’s still noisy. But But what we have to remember is emails always been noisy. And it’s always been noisy for executives. And so the barriers to entry haven’t really been there. But what’s happening, what’s interesting is, is in the middle of last year, I’m not going to get into too much detail about it. But Google and Outlook, Allah, Microsoft rather, both rolled out what we would consider like an AI spam detection technology of some sort. And email deliverability just went through the floor. And it stopped everybody in their tracks. And it’s it’s affecting most companies, they don’t even know it, like certain back end ads to the websites that Google require. For deliverability. I had friends telling me, hey, you know what’s going on here? I can’t even get my own emails, if I send it to myself. Right? It was it’s been really interesting to watch. And so what we’re seeing is a pushback from the industry saying Hey, enough is enough, you know, more spam. And then you have the blacklist companies that build fake profiles for those scrapers, and if you use the cheap data becomes really risky to your brand. And so all this stuff is happening right now. And it’s dynamic. And over the years, we’ve evolved. And we have we built over 200, QA steps to ensure deliverability and brand protection and things like that, where most of the entry level organizations are, literally it’s a, it’s a guy with a couple of interns are, you know, that he picked up from up work out of the Philippines, and they’re managing your data, probably illegally, probably breaking some kind of laws, and usually putting you at risk of significant fines. And you don’t even know nor do they,

 

Will Bachman  10:36

right. So let’s let’s start with like the lower end firms, you know, so you say that you’re not used to you don’t consider yourself a lead generation firm. Let’s take the lower end firms that the ones that are spamming me, they’ll you know, every day, I’ll get some like, Hey, would you be interested in more appointments with you know, executives will help, you know, set those up for you? What are they probably doing in practice? Like, what is the actual service that they do?

 

Nate Kievman  11:03

They promised leads, they probably don’t guarantee anything, they probably are sophisticated enough to maybe get you a few. But here’s, here’s, here’s the three things that you need to pay attention to. One, what’s the source of their data? Right? Low quality data sources are are plentiful, scraping tools would be part of that, or there’s providers that will that use scraping tools, and they just aggregate it. Why does it matter to you poor quality data used on your behalf by an outbound outbound provider like these, these these two providers, they can cost you in a handful ways one brand damage to your internal company deliverability rate will go down, right, your external marketing deliverability rate on your own will go down, you’ll probably end up on a handful of blacklists a quarter, which will cause those two things. And then you’re at risk for lawsuits, compliance violations and huge fines. Alright, so that’s number one. That’s on the data side. The second side of it, is the copy. Are they actually able to how are they going to market? Are they going to market and so a lot of these guys, what they’ll do is they’ll use a good looking woman, and I’ll send from their account and they’ll make sure pictures are involved. And they’re, you know, I had one that emailed me like, I’m like, I get these, by the way all the time? Well, so I already know that they’re not they don’t know how to validate their data if I’m getting it, right, because we’re in their competent, competitive range. So but I do get them and I look at these, like, every week, I have a file that I put everything into, and I look at him. And I see what’s coming through. And you know, one of the one of them sent one through and it was they’re actually asking me, if I take a meeting for 150 bucks. I was like, Are you serious? And so I actually emailed him back now. I’m curious on what what kind of scam is this one. And they are actually trying to just buy meetings, and their client was paying them a little bit more, they’re playing the arbitrage game. Right. And so they probably were a performance based company. And they figured that if they said somebody said yes to it, and they they took the meeting, then they’d get 500 bucks for their $150 that they paid me. Right, which is crazy, because that’s there’s no actual interest there. And so there’s all kinds of things that you have to watch out for, and that centers around the copy, like, Do you approve the copy? Does that copy, protect your brand? Does it put your personal and business company at risk? Those sorts of things. So those, those two things are really important. And the third thing is the technology that’s being used. And they can really only use a handful of technologies. Those technologies are at high risk for blacklisting. If you use them outreach, quick mail, a bunch of other tools out there. They’re good. I mean, they can they can be used in short bullet blasts. But if you use them for significant campaigns or long term campaigns, to anything like that, then you know, the risk of you ending up in a blacklist by using those platforms is pretty high at this point.

 

Will Bachman  14:15

All right. Now let’s talk about your firm. Walk me through your services. Maybe you want to kind of narrate a sample engagement with the client, how do you start, you know, strategy, writing the copy figuring out the avatar or the target client, just walk me through the whole process?

 

Nate Kievman  14:36

Sure. So you know, our model is built on a concept we call the five psychological triggers. And these are getting into the psychology of the executive, office, whatever that target might be. Sometimes the executives are VPs and directors but most of the time it’s you know, companies are trying to gives the C suite. So, in working with us, what we’re going to help you understand is that we’re going to help bring in the highest quality data. And we spend million, we spend a half a million to a million a year on data, depending on which clients we’re working with any given year. And then we will leverage that data in a reseller relationship with these high quality vetted data providers, multiple sources. And then we clean that data anyway, even though it’s from a high quality source. And we have a whole technology stack behind the scenes. And our tech stack behind the scenes is cleaning your data. It’s validating the data. It’s spot checking the data, and it’s ensuring that we’re not going to end up blacklisting, getting getting anybody on a blacklist that all happens right up front. Before we run campaigns. Then we read our copy. And our copy is built on a combined combination of things, client interviews, deep dive client briefings by you. And 12 years of experience, writing for companies like Blackrock down to single person consulting firms that want to engage the Blackrock so the world, right, so we have a vast amount of experience in that space. Reading the copy builds on these five psychological triggers. What triggers the end, the five psychological triggers are trust and credibility, which is what all marketing has to have just to gain some attention. But for executives, that’s not enough, right. So for executives, time, trust and credibility are a given like you got to have them. But if you don’t have them, you’re not going to get through. And then the three things that create interesting to I’m now interested in actually meeting with you is time, money and risk. And how we write about time, money, and risk is what our genius isn’t. And then we combined that five psychological triggers with a thing called the executive buying arc. And the executive buying arc is the process of decision making by executives, which has insights, implications and options. So we combine all that into a anywhere from a 10 to 15, paragraph text on the email. And then we have a whole format that we’ve built proprietary to our model that goes to market. And then we have about five variations of that that will test till you find the one that works for that particular target market. So once we have the data, and we have the copy, we need to set up the right email step right or the go to market model. And we combine email and calling right. And what we first do is we build custom email servers per client, right? So to ultimately to protect you, you need to own the email server, the email server needs to be controlled, it can’t be shared with 1000 other users, there’s a whole bunch of things that have to be in play. Right. And so for every campaign we run, so a lot of our clients run multiple campaigns, we build a custom email server for each campaign, protect them, isolate them,

 

Will Bachman  18:09

what does that even mean Exactly? A custom email server? I mean, I’m assuming it’s not like a physical server. This is some kind of virtualized server, but like, a lot of people use G Suite or Outlook like, what does it mean to have a custom email server?

 

Nate Kievman  18:23

So part of deliverability is when you like, let’s say you have a G Suite account, right? And on when you write your email, and you send it out, it’s filtered on the way out, and it’s filtered on the way in, right to the other Gmail or Outlook receiver, right. So what happens is you have two points of failure that you can be a spam filter. So by us building your own G Suite effect deliverability and you your own email server, which is what the what the suite is, right, then we don’t we skip the first one. So the first filter, so what we found is that we have about 65%, better deliverability than than a traditional G Suite campaign would, or an outlook campaign with mitre, Microsoft.

 

Will Bachman  19:07

So you are not using G Suite, you’re actually kind of building an email, an email client for you, email client, that’s just a one, like just an email client. It’s not G Suite, it’s its own kind of email sender. And then you and then your, I think you said before that you’re not using your own domain, but some variation of it.

 

19:29

Yeah, so we’ll protect your brand through were using an alternate domain that with you know, there’s over 200 Little QA steps that we have behind the scenes on the technology piece, like how your emails set up the the you know, da DK I am the all the different technologies and settings that have to be in place have been checked off, right, to ensure high deliverability. And then we do a whole warm up process where we build build the credit delivery of the server and which is effectively running it for, you know, hundreds of emails a day into and out of it for a week or two, just to build it up and what we call warming up a domain. And then we and a handful of other technical pieces that we do to ensure deliverability. So while you’re writing your copy and getting your data set up, that’s all happening in the background. And then we’re running. Once we have that all dialed in, then we run it out to market.

 

Will Bachman  20:30

know, when you’re doing that warm up process, are you sending those to like, email accounts that you that you own? Or something so that you know, or who are you sending those to when you warm it up?

 

Nate Kievman  20:42

We are we have a whole automated system that we’ve built part of our tech stack.

 

Will Bachman  20:48

Oh, cool. Okay, so you’re building this email server? The, and then you start sending emails out? Tell me about that you send let’s say that someone goes with I think you have an email only option, or you also offer the Email Plus calling just let’s talk about email only. First? Do you typically just send just one email? Or do you find that you need to hit someone, you know, half a dozen times? How often would you follow up and talk to me about sequencing,

 

Nate Kievman  21:24

everybody is slightly different, but will typically run anywhere from the fewest to three sequences, sequences of emails to 11, depending on the industry and the target, that’s something that’s kind of CO decided upon with the client along the way. Three is the fewest because most of our engagement will come in the first three emails, but we also know that we get quite a bit of a trickle effect from emails, you know, like four through seven, for example. And then, you know, going longer just requires more spacing, right. And, you know, being cognizant that we are trying to build a relationship between our executive and you at like, for example, you will and target market. So, we want to make sure that we’re building a good relationship between you and them. Right, that’s really important. And we’re in business, and we’re invisible in this process. So we’re building your brand to market and this is effectively you going to market and so in making that happen and taking you to them, we’re we’re facilitating this relationship. So the tone of the message, how often we send the message, the the feel of the email itself, along with the wording is all important. And that’s all taken into consideration. So when we go out to market, we’re going to split test it, we’re gonna create 27 variations of your first of your of your email. And then we’re going to go to market with those randomizing.

 

Will Bachman  23:01

When do you find you get the most engagement? Is it sometimes maybe not necessarily on the first email, but on the second or third after people have seen it once? Or? I’m curious about, you know how that looks over. If you were going to send five or seven? What’s the percentage response rate look like on each one? Like when when do people finally respond?

 

Nate Kievman  23:21

They respond to every email, but most of them on the second? Is that right? Most most a majority is by two times the second and then the rest are kind of you know, if you had a 1% response rate on every email, one would be the first two three would be the second and then one for the rest.

 

Will Bachman  23:39

Oh, no kidding. So it’s like, the first time they kind of ignore but maybe they’re thinking about it. And then the second time, it’s like, oh, yeah, okay, I did want to respond to this person. I’m glad they followed up. Yeah,

 

Nate Kievman  23:51

exactly. And it’s, it’s, there’s a whole array of a lot of different models for reading copy. But typically our second email always follows the same model which is a reminder of the first and it’s usually because executives are psychologically they might have liked it and been intrigued but they got busy and something pulled them away. And that was a nice polite reminder that hey, I’m still here.

 

Will Bachman  24:16

How might that one be worded?

 

Nate Kievman  24:19

I’m just you know, just this very little like a one sentence following up with you will like they will meet here following up to see if you got my original email. Let you know copy that below in case you missed it.

 

Will Bachman  24:32

And are those usually like a reply to the first one? Reply All Okay. Talking about subject lines, what what are the different maybe categories of subject lines that you like? Maybe give me some examples of subject lines that that you find work,

 

Nate Kievman  24:49

you know, for most of our history, and we’ve done pretty simple introduction, quick question. So Some book, items like that really something that would not say no, but be intriguing enough that curiosity is going to get the best of you. And those will flow between a 25 to 40% 50%. open rates. I’m testing a couple of new ones now that are more question oriented. I have one campaign running at an 80% open rate. So I’ll tell you more as I continue to test.

 

Will Bachman  25:26

Yeah, if I get those that are like, quick question, those almost automatically I send to spam. But maybe other people are different than me. That

 

Nate Kievman  25:36

I think they’ve been. Yeah, but introductions, one that said all time, great. You never sent introduction to spam, you just don’t know. So you open it to look, right. But there’s, there’s a bunch that there’s others, there’s, there’s ways of testing. And I think, actually, you know, part of marketing is interesting is that whatever works today is not going to probably work forever, and probably not going to work in the next within the next year. Because if it is working, it’s gonna get copied, which it is because, you know, that’s all over the market now. And and so, you know, people are watching each other that are looking for new ideas.

 

Will Bachman  26:17

Can you give me a sense of the without revealing your, your secret sauce, some of the kind of classic archetypes or of the copy itself? Like, what would the email look like? You know, how long is it? How many lines? What sort of the typical, maybe, I don’t know, if you have three or four categories that you liked, depending on the client.

 

Nate Kievman  26:39

We do story copy, we have direct copy, we have appropriate person copy, you know, we have Stiles, high level executive copy, the structures all vary quite significantly, historically will not run short copy. But you know, sometimes our clients really, really, really insist, so we’ll split test it and never wins. But we always do. We have historically will range between so far I’d say is five paragraphs is the shortest copy, we’ll write typically, to our longest will be 15 to 20. paragraphs.

 

Will Bachman  27:26

Wow, holy cow. That is, I am surprised, I thought you were going to tell me that these should be just short, you know, a few sentences.

 

Nate Kievman  27:36

Look, the thing, the thing that’s counterintuitive is that executive have all executives, even if they’re directors or VPs of bigger companies, most of us in life right now, your time is our most valuable asset. There’s just only so much of it, right. And if you have the wherewithal to get someone’s attention, then give them the respect of giving them enough insight to make a decision about meeting with you at the same time. That’s my philosophy about it. So we train our copywriters to unlearn whatever you’ve learned, and, and then follow our model. And we had Elon Musk respond to do a 13 paragraph text only email, Tim Cook responded to a 15 paragraph, text only email different clients of ours to engage and open the dialog. And you know, that only happens one first by getting in their inbox with all the things I told you about the technology and approach. And then to to have copy that’s compelling enough to get engaged them, and three to understand the psychology behind why they would even respond. Right. So that’s the philosophy that we take. And it’s not it’s not rocket science here. Well, like I mean, but it does take sophistication, experience and knowledge to get there. And you have to be willing, and this is this is one of the primary reasons that companies fail at outbound strategies like this, is because they come into a campaign, they hear from one of those cheap, spammy guys that email them, and they wanted to take a couple of calls to say they qualified the opportunity. And then those guys said, I’ll do it on performance, or I’ll do it on a three month contract or a month, a month, right? Now, by setting up your model, that way, you’ve already committed to failing. And what I mean by that is, is that if you don’t invest into your partner for a year, and then trust that they’re sophisticated enough on the copy side, to crack what’s called the messaging code, right, like the message to market match that you’re trying to achieve that process done, right can take anywhere from if you’re lucky a month, but typically three to six months. And then from there, you need to figure out how to handle outbound type leads, because these companies probably haven’t ever done that before. Now, there’s not like a referral. It’s not like anything else. So you need to understand how to build rapport appropriately and how to do those things. And, and part of what we do is trained how to take the first call to convert them from cold to qualified. And it’s, you know, 12 years of doing this, we’ve seen some of the biggest companies in the world took over 12,000 meetings from our campaigns over many years, and converted very few of them, because they would not listen on the sales conversion side. Now, huge pipeline, he had nurturing opportunity for him. But that’s not really what companies are after you’re not after leads, you’re not after meetings, you’re after deals that close. That’s what everybody’s after. So the reason that we don’t consider ourselves a lead generator is because we’re really a growth partner, we don’t want you just to get a lead, and then figure out a schedule, because you’ll miss schedule or not schedule most of those leads, we don’t want to just give you a meeting, right? Because if we just gave you a meeting, you probably say, hey, that’s great. And then at the end of it, say, you know, they just weren’t as qualified as I was looking for. Right? What you have to understand is that cold outbound strategies are built for three things. They’re built for short term, midterm and long term pipeline development. Now, if you think in year one, you’re gonna make some 10,000% return, I mean, your deal size better be really high, right? Because otherwise, you’re probably not gonna, but you have to look at as your first year of investment into this as a breakeven to maybe double or triple your money, right? Because you’re not going to start closing deals, whatever your sales cycle is, add that to the time it takes to optimize for the meeting scheduling. And that’s effectively when you’re going to start getting an ROI. We have clients that have ROI in the first three months, that’s happened, we just had a lady who’s in the publishing space, closer, firstly, and 480,000 bucks, you know, and she closed her third leak for another 180,000 bucks, she made ROI on our first three meetings, right? So it’s like, okay, that happens. But it’s not something that’s typical, was more typical is you have a three to six month sales cycle, you start getting meetings around the first to third month in some decent quantity, and that your sales cycle is going to then push out to the seventh to 10th month of the campaign. And you’ll start to convert those. But what you’re doing at the same time is building your future short term pipeline by doing this the right way. So you have to think of these types of campaigns as a short, mid and long term pipeline development. And what most companies do is they get into it as a tactical buy. They say I’ll give it three months. And if it doesn’t convert in three months, then it’s a bad deal. Look at the nuances of all the facts in your current business, the likelihood is that doesn’t align with the contract you’re signing. And those contracts, we won’t even do, right, we will we won’t do anything less than a year because we want real partners that understand how to think about business the right way, and are not out after a tactical relationship that’s been doomed for failure anyway.

 

Will Bachman  32:41

What are some of your tips for sales conversion on these cold outreach meetings? So let’s say now your firm has been successful at getting a meeting set up for one of your clients. And they’re new to this game, most of their previous growth has come from warm referrals, personal relationships. So this is kind of the first time now that they’re encountering somebody who’s like, Okay, I read your email, I’m willing to give you 20 minutes. How do you make the best use of those meetings?

 

Nate Kievman  33:17

Yeah, so our first meetings were really particular about what we suggest. And the bottom line of all sales is that you need to find out what their challenges if they have it, if they have a challenge, what their goals are, and what the gaps are between their goals and where they’re gonna get on their own. Like, that’s your first thing. Once you know that, then you can assess are is that gap, something that I can help solve? And if you can’t do that, then you’re not going to get a deal, right? I mean, that’s the bottom line. So we’re most most people get on and they want to do a show up and throw up model, I’m gonna get up. And then the clients gonna say, Oh, tell me about your business, you know? And then you and then the, the ego and US wants to Hell yeah, sure, let me tell you all about it. But we should never do that. Because we can’t tell you about what we do until we know what it is that you’re looking for what your challenges are, your goals in a particular area that I might solve? And whether is is is there a gap there or not? Because I can easily tell you if that’s gonna work or not. And the reason that that’s important is most most of us offer dynamic solutions, and something that’s probably customizable in some way. And so if we just show up and throw up on them on everything that we do show up and throw up meaning that we get on the column and we give you this demo, let me just tell you my standard sales pitch. Like that’s just like I don’t know shooting in the dark. Maybe we win it maybe we don’t. Right. Some people are better at that than others. Some of them are really good at casting a compelling future that you know, they don’t have and that that that does the job and but the bottom line is if you want to make professional deals, and you want to build an establish qualified opportunities, And you’re okay with the main now in the near term or the long term, then the thing you have to do is a happy to do that. But can I ask you a couple questions, so I don’t waste your time when I answer those questions, and I can start it specific to the things that matter to you. And then we have a dialogue that matters. And nothing, there’s nothing that prospects like more than talking about themselves. So ask them questions, so that we can understand where we can go and guide them. And then you’ll know if you have a qualified opportunity or not, and they’ll agree with you. Alright, so I am very good at this process, I do a few million dollars a year myself in sales, on an average deal size between, you know, 120 $300,000 a year. And most of our leads come from, in fact, 25% of our leads come from short term versions of this type of campaign. And 20% of my annual business comes from leads that I generated in the past one to three years, sometimes four years, that lead is nurtured. And so if you think about that 45% of my annual business that we close comes from cold outreach, and the rest is from networking and referrals. And so we don’t really do any outside marketing, other than networking, referrals and our own campaigns. And so as we as we look at that concept, as you are trying to convert this type of lead, as they come on, I would just say show up with curiosity. And we have what we have, we provide a whole script and training as part of our solution to help them walk people through this process. But the thing that I’ve found is those that understand how to have a solid business conversation, and appropriately just ask politely, well, so what are some of the biggest challenges in this area? What are your goals in this area? Are you going to get to? Are you going to solve those goals yourself this year? How urgent is that, right? Like those very basic questions seem very common sensical. But oftentimes don’t get asked. And once you know that, now, you can talk about yourself, now you can tell stories that are relevant to them, instead of just boring them with something that you’ve you’re guessing, right? We don’t ever want to be guessing on a call. And so that’s, that’s how we started, you know, there’s obviously a lot more to it well, but I think from from the standpoint of sales, that’s one of my greatest gifts and skills is that that ability to have a very candid conversation, learn where you’re at learn where you’re going, what’s the gap? Hey, you know what? Well, you know, if we do a market analysis, I can we can go through like a impact session where we can see what kind of impact we can have to help you fill that gap. Is that interesting to you? You know, it actually wouldn’t be he has, have you guys budgeted for it already? Are you? Is this urgent to you to solve? Like, what happens if you don’t hit those numbers? Right? Those are the kinds of conversations we want to have. And if they have real problems, and they have a real gap, and they’re charged to filling that gap, then they’re going to be curious to know you have a qualified meeting.

 

Will Bachman  38:03

Talk to me about the nurturing piece. So some of your clients may be, you know, selling a service where clients either want it right away, or they’re never gonna want it. So the they’re like, oh, yeah, okay, well, we’ll buy now, but some might probably have the answer of like, wow, okay, I’m glad I learned about your service, you know, to one of your clients, this is great. We don’t need it right now. But I’m definitely going to keep your name available in case you know, we do need it sometime in the next year or something like that, right? One of these like, okay, great conversation. What is your advice to your clients on how to then nurture that relationship? Like, how often do you follow up? How do you follow up? You don’t want to just ping people every month saying, hey, you know, do you need the service now? Right? But like, hey, just checking in, you know, we spoke in January, you know, is now the time. So how do you nurture those? Those sort of now, warm relationships?

 

Nate Kievman  39:03

Yeah, for each one. I don’t recommend, like marketing automation for those actually recommend sales, automate sales, triggering automation for those. So there’s most of the sales tech stacks that exist allow you for future pings and notifications or reminder emails to follow up with something. Now there’s this pretty common. And so our tech stack, we have a pre write email feature, and we have notify a feature. So we’ll do one or the other. My team, my admin team manages that for me. And part of the conversation is guided by the client. So I always ask them, what would be a good follow up process here for for us to stay in touch and keep a relationship developing? And they’ll tell me, they’re a Neela check in every three months or every six months and sometimes they’ll say longer and I’ll say Would it be okay if I just checked in and a little bit less time Like every six months, if they said a year, next year, right? And they’ll say, Yeah, of course. And so then I just put that in my notes. And my team will schedule that with a ping. And the ping is typically either pre written or in my notes and actions on, you know, some of the background of that particular client. And so, what’s really important here, and I think nurturing is the unsung hero, because I mean, we’ve closed, we close so much business from nurturing campaigns, we’re turning our, our long term into short term pipeline. Once you commit to pipeline development, with not all companies do, right, they’re very volatile in a lot of companies. But if you can commit to pipeline development, and understanding that this is a game of relationships to develop, then the nurturing becomes second nature to you. Right? And so like, one question I like to ask everybody I talk with well, is, if you had 100, really good friends, and those 100 really good friends, meaning their friends that like, really respected you, they thought highly of you, they thought you were intelligent, they would love to work with you, somehow there was an opportunity. And those 100 Friends, were all ideal buyers of yours like they could they fit all your target criteria for you as a client as a customer of yours. And you develop those relationships over the course of this year. Maybe they weren’t great, great friends, but they’re they’re close enough acquaintances to where it was like a really positive experience. How many of those do you think over a course of two or three years end up doing business with you if they knew exactly what you did? And it fit their model? And it solved their challenges? Right? That’s the kind of question I like to think about, because we’re going to know that they fit all your target criteria. The only thing we don’t know is that they have budget right now. Right? And is the timing right? So they fit everything else that you’ve outlined in terms of title and geography and industry and size. You know, they those all fit. So the question to you will and to the audience is out of 100 people, individuals that represented their companies like that there was an ideal buyer of yours, potentially, but you just made friendships and relationships with them. How many of hiring you, I get some pretty interesting responses, by the way, but I’d love to know what yours is.

 

Will Bachman  42:26

Oh, my is probably on the neighborhood of 10 or 15 out of 100, you know, process to be the, you know, the right time and budget and the need and stuff like that.

 

Nate Kievman  42:37

So all time, right? So like the no time limit to this right? Maybe

 

Will Bachman  42:42

Oh, time limit? Oh, I mean, longer than I thought you meant like over the course of one year? Yeah. Yeah. You know, longer time period would be obviously a higher percentage. I mean, I don’t know 50 60%, something like that.

 

Nate Kievman  42:52

Yeah, that’s what I think too. But what most people are only focused on is that 15%, right, the for the first 10 to 15. And it’s not wrong, when it’s a cold relationship that’s oftentimes 10 to 15%. Conversion is not a typical, but what you had this private equity firm that we were talking with, and they they made a nest out, like none of us down. And it was just a nice observation. They said, We don’t measure our marketing campaigns in terms of time. We measure them in terms of impact over time, right? And I said, Well, what do you mean by that? They said, most people have the mistake of measuring their SEO campaign or their outbound strategy or whatever, on a 12 month cycle. I said, but sometimes relationships take longer to develop out of that. And so if you ran a campaign and got me 100 relationships, and over the course of 510 years, I closed half of them, and my average deal size is a million bucks. Guess what that’s worth to me. $50 million for that small little investment. Do I really care about the time, because that’s where most most small businesses get stuck. It’s such a short term timeframe, that they they lose sight of their mid and long term clients, because they’re so tactically focused. And that tactical focus crushes the relationship eliminates the future desire than wanting to work with you because you’re such a NAS or to focus on the short term. Right? And so the point of this is, is that build great relationships with your potential buyers, and the rest will take care of itself? And that’s what we’re really about.

 

Will Bachman  44:27

I agree with that. I think you should be, you know, prepare hard for a meeting but then be indifferent to the immediate result. Like you know, if you’re a great fit fantastic if you’re not tell him someone who is but focused on the relationship. Nate, if folks wanted to follow up with you, and reach out, learn more about your firm, where would you point them online?

 

Nate Kievman  44:55

They can reach out to me ever website linked strategies.com Li N ke The strategies.com or there’s a there’s an audio form on the website can reach out there. I can find me on LinkedIn. Links to Nathan. It’s linkedin.com Ford slash n. Ford slash Nathan cavemen. And you’re welcome to private message me there and I’m monitoring that or my team’s monitoring that on the daily. And either those will be the best place and you can also email me, Nate K at linked strategies.com.

 

Will Bachman  45:30

Fantastic. We will include those links in the show notes. Nate, thank you so much for joining today.

 

Nate Kievman  45:35

Thanks. Well appreciate the time

Related Episodes

Episode
562

AI Project Case Study

Karen Friedenberg

Episode
561

Why and How to Become an Adjunct Professor

Panel Discussion

Episode
560

Building a World-class Professional Services Firm

Russell S. Reynolds, Jr.

Episode
559

AI Project Case Study

Paul Gaspar