In this episode, it's a 15 minute chat with Ryan Law about the relationship between sales and marketing.
Ryan is the VP of Content at Animalz.co, an agency that provides high-end content marketing solutions to SaaS and tech companies. Follow him on Twitter at @thinking_slow
In this episode, it's a 15 minute chat with Ryan Law about the relationship between sales and marketing.
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📍 Hi. So it's another episode of Let's Chat Sales, but a little different this time.
I'm speaking with Ryan Law of Animalz, animalz.co. Animals with a Zed dot co
And we're just talking about marketing and sales and content development and how they kind of intermesh.
It's a different chat and I think it's a really good conversation. I hope you enjoy it.
So let's dive in...
and as always, if you like, please share it with others and like and subscribe and all that.
So here we go.
So today we've got with us... Ryan Law. This is a little bit of a new thing, Ryan, bring in outside experts on various topics.
And we have Ryan Law from Animalz.
Ryan, tell us a little bit about what you do and where you are and so forth.
Yeah. I'd love to. So I'm the VP of content to Animalz. Animalz is a content marketing agency.
We work with everything from the biggest, most well known B2B, like SAS technology companies...
all the way through to smaller earlier stage startups.
And yeah, we do content marketing. So writing that's the thing we sell.
I started as a writer myself and have worked up to the company and now part of the leadership team.
And I run our marketing. Help out with things like new product development.
And also a bit of a like, uh, you know, extra gun when it comes to sales conversations and customer facing stuff and that kind of thing as well.
Okay. Very good. So I thought we'd spend some time talking about the relationship....
You know, positive and negative, the relationship between marketing and sales.
I've got some experience working in enterprise sales, where in larger companies where there's a marketing department, there's a sales department.
So I thought we talk about that. Does that sound sound fair?
That sounds very fair. Yeah, I'd enjoy that.
I start off by saying that I spent some time on Twitter...
and the thing about Twitter is I find the curious things is, is that people often comment and say, oh, they're doing marketing.
Or they're doing distribution.
And what they really mean is they're doing sales.
And I always find that it's kind of interesting that that marketing is oftentimes a code word for sales...
because you've got the sexy job and like you're the management and I'm I'm labor.
What do you think about.
Well, yeah, I do. Uh, one of the biggest topics I've always heard people talk about is like...
you know, sales and marketing alignment and how there's always this huge Gulf between the two things.
And marketers get to be the people that plaster their faces all over the internet and do all the cool talking.
And the sales people are the ones like hustling and kind of closed deals.
I think I've definitely seen companies where that was the case, but, Animalz for example, is a great example of a company...
I think we've closed that gap entirely to the extent that actually marketing and sales have basically been the same thing.
There's been no daylight between those two.
I agree with that. I think that there should be a close and very collaborative relationship with marketing...
if you're on the sales side and on the marketing side.
I guess before we go into that, like how do you define the difference? How would you define marketing?
Where does marketing start and stop and where does sales start and stop?
Uh, that's a good question. I, uh, so I shared a quote with you just when we were chatting ...
from a very smart man called Dave Kellogg. And his idea is that marketing basically exists to make sales easier.
So in terms of like a business growing, you know, the entire function of a company existing...
sales is the thing that matters and marketing is the supporting fodder for that.
I guess personally, I see a very, very blurred line between those two things.
Um, bigger companies like big enterprises, they quite often have different teams and there's distinct handoff phases.
So maybe you have like content marketers, writing, blog posts, they try and convert people.
They get them to download something and part with their email address.
And maybe there's a process of like lead enrichment or lead qualification.
And there's a very rigid handoff at that point to sales.
I think my belief, like it is much more fluid and the distinction...
between those two is not as clear as it could be because, a lot of the times when I'm, you know...
talking to people on podcasts or writing blog posts.
As far as I'm concerned, that is the start of the sales process. We're already addressing the objections that people have.
We're already trying to build that trust. Build that rapport and create that dynamic.
Um, and as a result, a lot of the times people come to us and talk to us at Animalz about new business.
We don't do a lot of the kind of classic like rigamarole about who we are and what we do.
And what do you need? Because they know that our marketing has served that purpose already.
That's good. I think that's good.
I'm a simple guy. I would say, marketing ends and sales starts when there's actually...
an individual conversation. When like, like everything that up to the point of the conversation...
that can be marketing, right? So the blast email that goes out...
to me, that's still marketing.
Uh, but the minute someone picks up the phone, you get on a zoom call. You're one on one...
in some sort of dialogue, even ostensibly via email or text. Although I, I'm not, I'm not a big fan of selling via text or email.
That's when the transition takes place.
There tends to be a lot of competitiveness.
You guys have eliminated it. So how have you been able to close that gap completely?
Well, so the most specific thing is something that I know big companies can't emulate...
because, uh, basically the company Animalz grew on basically word of mouth and referral for the first few years of growth.
And marketing was something that was added much later.
And when we did that, the decision was made to have the salesperson and our head of marketing was the same person.
So Jimmy Daily, wonderful guy, like my manager at Animalz at the time.
And that was it. We had this huge company of people creating content, but the entire sales and marketing functions were owned by one person.
So he was basically taking all of the prospect inquiries, talking to people, finding out the problems they had.
And that was the input into marketing. Marketing existed solely to document all the ...
like queries and complaints and confusion and misconceptions people had during the sales process.
You know, while you're not gonna say like enterprise company, maybe you should have one person doing both things...
um, you can learn from that in the sense of using sales as fodder for marketing.
That should be like one of the primary data sources you have for all the marketing you do.
I actually, I talk about that a little bit in my book that the relationship between sales and marketing...
in that good sales people know how to get stuff, information back to marketing to make their job easier.
You talk about how marketing's job is to make sales easier.
I think a good salesperson figures out way to make the marketing person's job easier too.
By introducing them to customers. It's surprising how often in a lot of companies, marketing people don't actually talk to customers.
They're somehow insulated with them, you know, in a lot of cases.
Maybe not yours, but in a lot of companies, they they're inside the shop.
They're, they're working with advertising, graphics people.
They're doing campaigns.
And they don't actually get as many opportunities to talk to customers directly.
And one of the things I found that was really useful...
and that that really ingratiated me with marketing people is I would bring customers in from AT&T, from Citigroup, from Merrill Lynch, you know?
And what they would do is they would sit down and talk to 'em and they could see how these people were thinking...
the kinds of problems they were having. Their objectives. And the consequence of that was the marketing got better.
They were doing a better job and, you know, so it was a positive feedback loop.
I, I definitely feel that firsthand as well because. One of, as the company's grown,
we have split out sales and marketing into separate roles. So I do marketing and we have Zach doing sales.
And a kind of unintended byproduct of that was exactly, as you say,
I ended up off in my marketing ivory tower to some extent.
There's this kind of idea that, you know, especially in the services company...
as you move up through the company, you get to escape a bit of the day to day client facing stuff.
And you know, maybe that's a little bit of a privilege.
But through doing that, you lose touch with the thing that really matters, which I wasn't understanding the problems people were facing.
I wasn't getting insight into the processes they were trying to do.
And my marketing, I think, was getting increasingly divorced from the stuff that they cared about and needed help with.
So I've had to be very deliberate to make time to talk to customers.
To wade back in and get my hands dirty again. And I think hopefully that reflects in marketing...
that is much more useful, much more interesting for people as.
Well, that's, that's fascinat.
I love that. And that's what I've seen in my own experiences. That it's easy to get removed.
And, and it's also easy from a salesperson standpoint to lose perspective...
um, for the kinds of challenges and issues that at the marketing side has to contend with inside the company...
politics, budgets, different, you know, demand, strong, pulling them in different directions, all that sort of stuff.
Um, maybe I'm getting a little farfield... one of the things that I see with sales is, and with founders in particular...
is this idea that I'm gonna sell through the product. And so the product becomes a bit of the marketing engine.
You know, this product led growth sort of thing.
Any thoughts about that?
Yeah, I do. I was talking to a wonderful guy called Benjamin, a company called Podia...
and they've recently launched a free plan so their whole like product led growth thing is very front of mind for them.
Uh, and the thing he said, which I'd never really thought about is that...
if you think about marketing, You can either give away like a bunch of value...
through writing and blog posts and books and that kind of thing...
which is kind of what we do.
And that's what our company does. Or you can give away a free product.
And really, which one of those two things is more valuable?
Like the product is always gonna win. So the thing he kind of like got percolating in my head was actually like...
as a marketer, your job in that case is not to like generate interest through your marketing.
It's actually to support your product's ability to generate interest through the product.
Yes. And that was fascinating. And I think while I do believe like some products, product led growth is really important...
I do also think there maybe are a subset of companies where it becomes a bit of an excuse...
for not doing old fashioned selling, which I think is still incredibly important.
And yes, you were talking about, you know, you obviously work with like lots of early-stage founders...
who maybe aren't inclined to sell and help them do that. I think sometimes if you feel like you're not a good salesperson,
the tendency is to let your product speak for itself. And actually probably shouldn't do that.
You should be able to sell it yourself.
It's a little bit the notion that, oh, if I just have really good marketing, I don't have to do any selling.
A lot of early-stage founders feel that way. If I can get a Twitter following.
If I can get good messaging out there, I don't have to sell.
That's oftentimes, uh, a dangerous assumption to make.
And the same way. So, so is this product led growth idea.
At some point you get a certain flywheel going and you have enough experience and so forth.
You can reduce the role that sales has because you get social proof.
You've got you, you know what, uh, your customers are gonna run up against...
but in the very beginning, you still need to have those conversations to discover those things.
Because I think in most cases, the customer doesn't actually tell you...
hey, I stopped using the product because of this feature confused me.
They just quit.
Yeah. You know, it's behavior change that they're challenged with.
And I think that there's another, another variable that plays into this, um, and that is...
It depends on the size of the company you're going after.
If you're going after a very large company, they expect, they expect salespeople.
They expect a custom experience. They expect... hey, I want this particular feature.
I want this particular hand holding. I want you to do the work for me or, or what have you.
It's gotta integrate with this thing, this, it has to integrate with SAP or, or Oracle. And it's gotta work within this crazy, uh, workflow.
And, and those things are hard to... you can't really tackle those things with, uh, with, with collateral,
I think, um, I definitely early in my career, I had what I've kind of dubbed enterprise blindness...
which was basically like, I assumed the way people bought and sold was largely the same, regardless of how big a company is.
And the more I've worked with enterprise companies, the more I realized that is absolutely not the case.
So I used to be very critical of like all these kind of convoluted sales processes...
and like linear marketing funnels and the idea that you've got to like nurture people and things can take months and years.
Uh, and it turns out it's totally true. I never realized that at all.
So as Animalz has grown and we've moved more up market, we've had to embrace more of that.
Like, we have an onboarding manager now.
Wonderful person called Tegan. And she basically does a lot of the stuff you were talking about there in terms of, you know...
navigating compliance and contractual stuff and getting buy-in from multiple teams across the organization.
Um, all of which is, is a type of sales. You do have, you can't let the product do that in its own. Right? Certain.
Any, uh, kind of final thoughts about how early-stage founders and startups should be thinking about marketing?
I know it's gonna vary a great deal from my company and company and sizes and so forth,
but are there any kind of takeaways they should be considering?
Well, so actually the thing you said earlier about like the transition point between marketing and sales being like,
you know, a one-on-one conversation, I almost, my advice is almost slightly contrary to that...
in the sense that I think a lot of the conversations early-stage founders have are ostensibly to learn.
They talk to like other founders and, um, they, you know, try and scope out the early stages of what the product could look like.
And it's all about networking and kind of building that initial network up.
But a lot of those conversations do absolutely play double duty as sales don't they, I think?
I think one of the tendencies is to build like a big sales process or a big marketing process when you're a very small company.
Uh, but I think the best thing to do probably is just to build out your network...
and not worry too much about the rigmarole and the additional process that comes with that.
When we work with early-stage founders and if you can hear the thunder in the background, um, we, uh, yeah, increasingly we basically.
We don't create content to help marketing. We create content to help them sell.
So we create like sales enablement resources.
We document the objections and complaints and pull out the, uh,
common ideas that come out of the conversations these people are having all day, every day.
And that is probably the most useful like point I think marketing can help solve in that early-stage stage of growth.
I'm a, uh, big proponent of don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
That's my, one of my interests. So I tend to under-engineer and so, a little marketing goes a long way. Uh, a little sales goes a long way.
But the, the, the combination of the two...
executed properly, can be really powerful. , so, so, uh, Ryan, how do listeners find out about you or track you down and what should they track you down to talk about in particular?
Well, um, so I spend most of my time, well, I write for Animalz on the Animalz blog. So that's Animalz with a zed dot co.
That was a great lesson for me as well.
It doesn't matter how crazily named your company is... you can still have a successful business in spite of that.
Um, so I do, yeah, lots of writing there, primarily about, uh, marketing and about content strategy and the, the intersection between things like sales and marketing and, um, yeah.
Happy to chat about all of those topics. As you found out, I spend a lot of time on Twitter.
That was where we connected as well. Um, so you can find me, uh, thinking underscore slow. I tend to wax lyric about, uh, all things, content marketing on there.
Yeah. It's a good thread. I love your post. They're good.
Well, thank thanks. I appreciate you coming on and it's a good pleasure. I really enjoy this. And, have to do this again.
Yeah. Thank you so much, Brendan. It's been good fun.
All right. Thanks. Thanks Ryan.
Okay. So that was another episode of Let's Chat Sales. I hope you liked it. And check out this one. Uh, this is the next one in the series. All right.