Revenue guru Matt Heinz on operationalizing growth mechanisms

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In this episode, Elias Rubel is joined by Matt Heinz. Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways. Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty. Matt is a repeat winner of Top 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management and Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers.

Episode Outline

[04:39] Matt’s background

[07:16] How does sales and marketing operationalize their work

[10:13] The ability to be more creative and more agile with more of your execution moving forward.

[11:18] How do you become an essential service?

[12:04] Why focusing on internal process improvement can really provide a strong ROI

[14:34] What CEO can do to improve that interchange between sales and marketing

[16:35] Some of the most common mistakes leaders make

[17:04] Be creative and unique with your approach to unique businesses

[19:22] Use empirical evidence to decide what, what the best option is moving forward

Matt's Inspirations:

Morgan Ingram

John Barrows

Dave Gerhardt

Max Altschuler

Connect with Matt:




Elias Rubel (00:02):

So today I'm super excited to have the opportunity to speak with another brilliant guest who leads a company that specializes in B2B marketing and sales acceleration. He's also a nationally recognized author, award-winning blogger. He speaks a ton. He's the president and founder of Heinz marketing. And Matt Heinz. I'm so excited to have you here. Thanks for joining us today.

Matt Heinz (00:54):

Oh man, thanks so much. It's a pleasure.

Elias Rubel (00:56):

Yeah, absolutely. So just to get right into it, I mean, the whole purpose of this, what everyone's here to listen for is, is really looking for these patterns and playbooks that you've seen in your 20 year career across marketing, business development and sales. Really as a thought leader across all of those different spaces, looking for those patterns and playbooks that help a company go from let's say one to 2 million in ARR. They've got that initial product market fit all the way to the 10 million air, our milestone and beyond. And, and because of the way the world is today, I thought it would be really helpful for our listeners to focus in more specifically on those tried and true playbooks that you come back to when you don't have a ton of budget or when, when you need to lean out a little bit. Yeah, I just love to hear kind of your take on that. Sure.

Matt Heinz (01:47):

Well I think, you know, any company as they're getting started as trying to, you know, figure out their way. I mean, there's no playbook that exists for any business. Just like, you know, I think you can't apply, you can't read a book and say, that's exactly the program that I'm putting in place for our business. Every one of our businesses is different. We're different in terms of our audience. We're different in terms of our industry. We're different in terms of our internal makeup and culture and people. And so I think you have to, you have to account for those differences. That said, I think as companies grow, as they figure out, you know, things as they, as they're reactive, as they're doing sprints, as they're doing, like just crazy agility, just trying to get things out to the market to see what works.

Matt Heinz (02:25):

Eventually you have to convert those random acts of sales and marketing into something that's a little more systematic, systemic. So, you know, thinking about how do we take what we're doing and what's working and replicate that on a more regular basis to create more predictable results. And we're seeing as companies grow those that adopt that sort of predictable mentality of thinking about who's my audience and why, how do I go to market and why? How does sales and marketing operationalize their work together on a daily and weekly basis? There's a set of foundational elements that really help those companies not only sort of organize and make more efficient the work they're doing, but create better accountability and predictability of sales and marketing efforts moving forward.

Elias Rubel (03:09):

So in a way, it almost sounds like the orchestration piece is now more than ever something to come in and focus on. Why do you, why do you think that is? Why does that really move the needle?

Matt Heinz (03:21):

Well, I think it's the foundation for better execution. I mean, it always feels good to say, well, let's just write an email and get it out there. Let's just execute, let's just ship. And clearly execution is where things actually get done. But you know, as we over time have identified, so the seven key areas of focus for companies that want to develop predictable pipeline, the first four of seven, like the majority of it is what we call plan and understand it's, it's making sure you understand who are we selling to and why, who are the companies that we should be approaching based on what characteristic and attributes of those organizations that care about us. And because buildings don't write checks, people do. We now have to understand who are the members of the buying committee inside the organization and what do they care about. And I think a lot of companies probably feel like they have that.

Matt Heinz (04:06):

But if it's not written down, if it's not documented, then I guarantee it is being applied inconsistently across the organization. So this doesn't mean you have to go spend months and you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars to figure this out. My guess is a lot of companies that have been doing this at least for a little while, have institutional knowledge that can tell them what some of those answers should be. Who should we be selling to and why? How do we talk best to early stage prospects? How should we orchestrate this is the right message to the right person across multiple channels. The fundamentals of how to do that probably exist in your organization. Getting that to a point where everyone agrees and then operationalizing that. So it's implemented consistently every Tuesday, every day, every week. That's, you know, there's work that goes into that, but it can unlock your ability to be more creative and more agile with more of your execution moving forward.

Elias Rubel (05:01):

That makes perfect sense. So let's assume that I'm one of our CEOs who's listening. I'm maybe halfway through my series a as far as my, my burn is concerned and, and runway and I was growing at all costs, building up the sales team, building out the marketing team, and now I got a call from my investors and they said, Hey, lean it out. Go into survival mode. In theory I already am pretty clear and crisp on my personas and, and who's actually buying and why they're buying. If I've made it to this point, maybe not, but let's assume that I am. How would you coach this CEO's listening to think about their sales and marketing spend and how to balance that in a time like this?

Matt Heinz (05:44):

Well, I think at a time like this, focusing on internal process improvement can really provide a strong, in many cases, fairly quick ROI. You know, let's take the concept of sales and alignment. A lot of people talk about, well unfortunately a lot of companies sort of just use that as a strategic play. They'll get in front of this team at sales kickoff and sales and marketing will say like, we agree in marketing, says we are here to support you and we are going to be revenue responsible. And that sounds great until you don't really know what to do on Tuesday. Like what, you know, marketing generates a lead, what does sales do and why? What are they saying and why? So the dish, so one lead versus another based on what they're interested in, right? And so there's all kinds of sort of, if then statements that if you could improve that interchange between sales and marketing, how they're interacting with leads.

Matt Heinz (06:31):

If you can improve the consistency of what leads see and what target accounts see from you, you can pretty dramatically and consistently increased velocity with the deals you already have. So if you're hunkering down and spending less, maybe that cuts out some of your media spend. But if you, even if you've only been doing those for a little while, you already have leads, you already have opportunities, you already have deals and leads in motion. What can you do to increase the precision and consistency of how you engage with those leads to maximize your ROI and conversion from what you already have.

Elias Rubel (07:08):

So one of the things I love digging into with guests is sometimes you can almost learn more from mistakes and hearing stories about mistakes that have been made than someone saying, here's how to do it. I'd love to hear kind of as you get into, you must have maybe, maybe it's thousands of companies you've worked with at this point across your entire career, but what are some of the most common mistakes that you're seeing in these internal processes, collaboration and kind of these areas where you see companies should really be focusing right now? What are some of those? Like you roll your eyes and laugh and it's not that they're doing anything wrong maliciously, it's just a common mistake that you see over and over.

Matt Heinz (07:49):

The one that always comes to mind just because it, people think it's kind of draconian, but it's so, so important is the, the assumption that institutional knowledge is consistency, right? The assumption that, you know, we all know, we all agree and you know, if I asked someone sort of, what's your ideal target customer profile, you know, can you show it to me? And they'll say, well, let me just describe it to you. So, so that's, if it's not written down, like if I go and ask that question to the head of sales versus your SDR versus your demand gen person, there will be differences, right? And the in those differences create inefficiencies and inconsistency in the type of leads you generate. It creates inconsistencies in whether the sales team is willing to follow up with those leads. And so getting it down on paper doesn't constrict your opportunity.

Matt Heinz (08:33):

It actually accelerates it. So, you know, just taking the time, get into a room, get on a white board, if there are disagreements or if you have different ideas about things, either resolve it or resolve to test it, you know, to say, listen, we don't know if a B or C is the right target account profile, but let's do some AB C testing to see which one gives us the best throughput and use empirical evidence to decide what the best option is moving forward. So I, you know, so again, a different way of saying that is, you know, operationalizing and documenting the way you want to manage your pipeline is critically important. It doesn't mean you have to follow it every step of the way. I think the challenger sale in particular doesn't really nice job of outlining the consistent way of going about engaging your prospects. But like the last third of the book talks about how important it is to be creative in the sales process to be creative and unique with your approach to unique businesses. But if you purely, you're, if you're, all you're doing is just making it up as you go. And not doing that from a basis of a foundation of understanding who your best customers are and how to talk to them, you aren't going to get the most ROI and the best results out of your efforts.

Matt Heinz (09:44):

So across your career, I mean, you've worked with companies ranging from Amazon to the bill and Melinda Gates foundation. I'd love to hear you walk us through some of the most interesting campaigns that you've ever run and why they ended up being so interesting. Oh man. I mean there's, there's been so many different things. I mean, I think, I think some of the most interesting are those that sometimes are a little bit old school. I, I'll, I'll always go back to, we worked with a company that was selling admissions management software to private secondary schools. And so one of their primary targets was the admissions director for, you know, like a private Catholic high school, for example. And when we came up with a profile for this audience, we actually found that, you know, it was the, the, the profile of an admissions director is very similar to a realtor.

Matt Heinz (10:38):

You know, the average is a 55 year old woman who's been doing this for awhile. So we came up with this and the company is based, you know, the company is based up here in Seattle. They were acquired a couple of years ago, but you know, when they were getting going, they, we put together this, you know, you know, homemade and Seattle stress-reliever kit and so right in the heart of admission season when we know they weren't gonna take a meeting. Like we, they were just busy dealing with the paperwork they had. We did a little kid that was like, it was a jar and it had like, you know, some Starbucks coffee and some smoked salmon and just, just some, just some fun stuff. Just meant to be kind of comfort food, comfort stuff and just said, listen, we know things are crazy right now.

Matt Heinz (11:16):

We know your, your desk is probably stacked with, you know, unorganized paper, you know, hopeless gets through it. Give us a call after where we may have a better way. And I think the response rate on that, not in terms of pipeline creation, but I think of the units we sent out, I think we got like 70% of them to take a meeting with sales afterward. Wow. Not because we offered them a webinar or white paper just because we we were thoughtful in the right moment, right. And it had something land at the right time. And I use that example not only because it was just unique and it wasn't the most efficient. I'll still remember our conference table just it was assembly line and putting these things together like we did it ourselves. But also because it wasn't like it was a lot of companies we see that are doing target account marketing want it to be as efficient as possible.

Matt Heinz (12:05):

This was not an efficient program. Like we did not really have it. We were, we're marketers, we don't know how to do an assembly line stuffing jars. But it worked and it was different and we weren't focused and the client was okay with it. They weren't focused on getting the immediate meeting. This wasn't focused on getting someone into a demo tomorrow. It was taking a little bit of the long game, knowing that sometimes three steps is better and faster than one to get to where you want to go. So, you know, did that campaign generate pipeline immediately? No. Did it generate pipeline over the next three to four months? Hell yeah, it did.

Elias Rubel (12:39):

Wow. So I mean I think that's a really clear lesson for all of the CEOs and VPs of marketing and heads of sales out there who are listening in that sometimes coming back to the basics and really thinking about the person. And almost, I mean it seems that so many companies are looking for immediate gratification with demand gen or, or whatever, you know, however they want to categorize it. But to have that level of foresight and know that it's an investment in kind of making it rain leads down the road as opposed to right now can actually work. So have you, I mean that, that, that seems really potent. Is that something that you've rolled out in various formats, time and time again with success or coming back to that?

Matt Heinz (13:25):

Well, I, yeah, yes. And I think especially sort of in this moment, we find ourselves in, you know you know, an early April, 2020 is we're dealing with the rise of the, you know, this, this pandemic. I did a blog post a couple of weeks ago as we started to see, you know, cause the city's shut down, you know, the questioning, you know, sh, you know, how do you keep selling in this environment? How do you in, in the question even came up like, is it ethical to sell in this environment? Like you have to be, you have to be aware of what's going on, you have to acknowledge that in a sales call. But you also need to find out like, do I have something of value right now to offer someone? And so I think this is a moment and I'm really excited to hear so many CMOs and particularly in into this, that this is a time to invest in your brand.

Matt Heinz (14:12):

This is a time to invest in the reputation and trust and credibility you have in the market. There are certain businesses that just aren't going to be able to sell right now. I've intentionally talked about like with some clients and we've even seen this as a, you know, evidence in our own business. There's a big difference between a, a sales pipeline drying up and a sales pipeline freezing solid. And I think that what I've seen most evidence of right now is, is not demand going away. Just demand pausing as people sort of recalibrate around the, you know, what we're dealing with right now. So how do you sell into that? Well, I think you, you're, you're, you be generous. You offer whatever you can, you call your prospects not to pitch, but to say, are you okay? Are you healthy? Do you need anything?

Matt Heinz (14:53):

Like how are you coping through this? I've seen companies, you know, throw open like dream box up here in Seattle. It's a, it's a tool that they sell into school districts that does like math, Manos sort of math program for elementary students. It's a, it's a product they sell to school districts and occasionally to small private schools and they have a 15 day trial for for curriculum directors and teachers if they want to try it out. A couple of weeks ago they said, well screw it, we're just going to make it available for 90 days for free for anyone that wants to sign up, you know, and we'll record a couple of tutorials to make it easy for parents to figure out how to get it going. Did they create a product for parents? No. Is it a little clunky to get set up if you're not a school? Yes, but they just said, screw it. The Gates are open. People need this right now if you've got kids at home. So I, so I think the response do you have now, even if it's not immediate revenue driving you, those are the companies that are going to come out of this stronger. Those are the companies that we're going to have loyalty and preference for coming out of this.

Matt Heinz (15:54):

That makes a ton of sense. Are there any companies in particular I think this, this school software one was a great example, but any other companies that you think are doing a really fantastic job? As an example, if, if an executive was trying to kind of piece together, okay, how can I turn inward and figure out what I could do with my own product to be generous and give back? Are there other examples out there that you've seen that you thought were remarkable? Well, it's not just products and I think it's just sometimes it's just, it's ideas. You know, there's a company called chorus, chorus dot. AI. it's a, it's a sales, it's a sales coaching call monitoring software system. They are doing a daily stand up that they initially were starting to do for their employees. And then they basically said, screw it, we're going to invite anybody.

Matt Heinz (16:39):

Anyone who wants to join can join. And so every day there's a different topic. There's sort of a, it's a, some data on where the market's going. It's data they're able to pull out of their own sort of customer database. It's a motivational sort of, here's a reason to be positive for today, kind of a thing. And they just said, we're just gonna do it every day for awhile. Right. And if we get 10 people, 20 people, a hundred people, we don't care. Like we're just, we're going to try to do our part to, to provide some value here. I've seen a bunch of companies you know, create things like, you know, there's a, there's a COO coffee talk on Friday mornings where B2B CMOs, it's like eight o'clock Eastern time, eight o'clock Pacific time. B2B CMOs just get on the line and just talk.

Matt Heinz (17:14):

And, you know, sometimes there's a loose agenda. Sometimes people bring up questions. Sometimes people just sit there and just just, you know, commiserate after a long week, you know, with a cup of coffee. But I, you know, I think, you know, when you can just say, listen, I'm not going to focus on selling. I'm going to focus on giving like that works in a lot of scenarios. But again, back to sort of understanding who your audience is, what they care about, what they're working on right now, what they're pivoting into. Where can you be useful as a B to B company to use the language of a lot of governments right now? How do you become an essential service? How are you a company and an organization provider, product sell, whatever. How are you something that your customers can't live without? It's worth thinking about that answer because if you're gonna try to sell, if you're going to try to sort of be proactive in marketing and selling today, you better have a good answer to that question.

Elias Rubel (18:05):

Absolutely. So I, alright, we're going to go back to the examples of things that didn't work or that, that didn't work as, as planned, as kind of a, almost some levity and just encouraging folks to continue to test and try things and not be afraid to go out on a limb. I'd imagine at various points in your career, you've come up with some fantastic campaign ideas that went out on a limb and totally bombed. Are there any that come to mind that are, they're like funny almost war time stories, if we could call them that of a, of things you've tried that didn't work out the way you thought they would.

Matt Heinz (18:46):

Boy there's, there's a lot and just pausing just cause when me, it's like where do you start on those? I think, you know, in the right environment, you know, you realize the path to success is littered with failure. Just, you know, of trying new things. And I think, you know, it's easy in any given market to look out and say, okay, you know, here's a company that I think was really tone deaf and how they reacted to, so the current pandemic, or here's a company that seems like they're you know, they're you know, being a little opportunistic. I would say we might've avoided maybe a little minor misstep this morning. Like we usually do some kind of a fun April fool's day message, you know, our blog posts kind of, you know, kind of something that's kind of funny. On April fool's day we decided after thinking about it long and hard then not to do it today.

Matt Heinz (19:32):

And I've seen a couple examples of companies that have gone ahead and done it anyway. And I'm just, I just look at it thinking like, Oh, there's people dying. There's, you know, we're setting up hospitals in central park. I just might not be the right time and I'm all for being aggressive and all for testing new ideas and all for like getting things out there. But I think also so you read the mood of your audience. Sometimes being conservative is better and look, hindsight is always better. You know, I was pretty gung ho yesterday morning about something I thought was going to be pretty mild for an April fools content piece and I'm pretty glad we didn't do it.

Elias Rubel (20:06):

Yeah, it's smart sometimes that that, that extra level of awareness and just taking, taking a second to pause really makes all the difference. I'm curious, this is, this is one of my favorite segments of the, of the show, which is, you know, everyone has those people in their lives and in their career in this case who have either been kind of a source for inspiration or a source for mentorship or just the folks that you keep coming back to either the work that they're doing or their advice that they're sharing. And I'm curious if you could shout out to a couple of those people who have filled that role in your career and in your life as it pertains to growth and marketing and sales and all the wonderful work you've ultimately produced yourself.

Matt Heinz (20:52):

Well, there's a couple people, I mean there's, there's, there are literally countless people that I could call on about. I think a couple of people in particularly my parents you know, I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. My family is all from the Midwest. You know, my, my parents taught me a combination of humble, hard work and empathy. I think just, you know, putting your hard hat on every day. You know, checking your ego at the door and just getting work done and being empathetic about other people, like thinking about other people's situation, asking about other people. And then, you know, the other person, I guess I usually call it as Don Gregory, who's become a good friend. He's our research partner. I've been working with him for 25 years through various efforts and he's, he's, he's been a great mentor to me and I think from early on he really taught me not just the theory but also what it looks like to be a servant leader. What it looks like to be someone who is, is, is constantly thinking about how to provide and give value with integrity oftentimes without expecting anything in return. And that how, by doing that you end up getting more business and getting more coming back your way because of the way people feel like they've been treated. So those are a couple people that I certainly, it's not a top of list for me.

Elias Rubel (22:08):

Sure. And let's flip it around again and being that you are now one of these kind of Sage experienced voices in and you have been now for some time in, in marketing and sales. Are there any younger people who are kind of rising up and you see a ton of potential in that you're excited to kind of follow along with their careers that you're seeing out into the B2B marketing world or sales world who, who you're special, excited about?

Matt Heinz (22:39):

There's a lot of people. I think I think about people like Morgan Ingram who works at the J, you know, John Barrows is in sales training company. I'm just so impressed with his, with his with his hustle, with his content, with the smarts, with his instincts. Dave Gerhardt, who was it? He was at HubSpot, he was recently a draft. He's at privy now. Just the volume and quality of content he provides the market right now is phenomenal. Max Altschuler who created sales hacker, he's at outreach now. Just in terms of producing good content, building interesting businesses. The fact that he can balance all that while having a wife and son and young baby. I don't know how he does it. But there's just a ton of people that, and, and those are people that I think maybe have more sort of public visibility just because they have sort of created a little bit of a brand for themselves and they publish a lot of outbound content.

Matt Heinz (23:31):

But, you know, then for every one of those, there's five or six people that you wouldn't, none of us would have heard of that are just, that are, that are hustling on their own, that are not focused on building a brand name, but are focused on what's important to them, their family, their career helping others around them. You know, I think that, you know, for me, I started like almost 12 years ago, I started this business just with a laptop and a bus pass. Like there was no, it's still not, I mean there's no, there was no intention to be a brand. There's no one, there's no, you know, I never used the word thought leader influence or anything like that. Like if that happens, and if that's, if that, if that is true, then great. My job is not to be a thought leader.

Matt Heinz (24:07):

My job is just to create value. I think every day about like, what do, what, what am I thinking about that I can translate into some piece of content that can help someone else. And I think, you know, I think about the people I follow that seem to have a similar focus. People like Seth Godan and others that just, they just, they just put their hard hat on every day and turn out good content. I think about people like Morgan and Dave and max. I mean, they're, they're in that boat of just giving.

Elias Rubel (24:34):

Well, this has been fantastic, Matt. I think there are so many great takeaways for whether it's a CEO or a head of marketing, head of sales, listening to this, both strategic and actionable things that they can walk away from this today and, and really focus on with their teams and ask themselves some of these kind of hard but important questions in a time where it really, really matters that they're, that they're prioritizing those questions. So thank you again for taking the time to be on the show and and sharing this wisdom with us. Really appreciate it.

Matt Heinz (25:05):

Of course, man. Thanks for having me. Right.