Data-Driven Marketing - The Trust Factor Replaces The Price Factor With Eric Dreshfield
In this day and age, more and more people are caring more about the trust factor of the business more than the price. They prefer doing business with a company they can trust to serve their needs and provide solutions for their problems. Taking us deep into why the trust factor is replacing the price factor, Chad Burmeister talks with Eric Dreshfield, Partner Marketing Manager at ActiveCampaign. Eric then shares how companies can leverage automation and technology to build trust, using data-driven marketing behind it. Plus, he tells us where he thinks the future of AI is heading, especially in sales and marketing.
Listen to the podcast here:
Data-Driven Marketing - The Trust Factor Replaces The Price Factor With Eric Dreshfield
I've got a special guest with me from Southern Indiana who's with a company that you have heard of called ActiveCampaign. Eric Dreshfield is the Strategic Partner Marketing Manager that works with Salesforce.com and the user community at Salesforce.com. I'm excited to unpeel some of the layers of the onion because Eric had some interesting roles over his career. Eric welcome and thank you for joining.
Chad, thanks for having me on.
The grass for those who care is a reminder that it's coming into the winter season. It's important to cut the grass that one more time before everything freezes over. We're going to get into the weeds too so let's go deep. The first question that I have for you is the same questions I like to ask everybody so that they can get to know who's on the show. You're doing this role as Strategic Partner Marketing. How did you first decide to get into marketing? What's your passion? Why do you like to do what you do?
It lends to telling the story of how I got to the role I'm at in ActiveCampaign. I've never considered myself a marketer for many years. I went to college and got a Bachelor's Degree in Economics and Accounting. I went back later for another degree in Information Systems and never did a whole lot with any of that. Throughout the course of life and the jobs that I took, I always gravitated towards things that were systems-oriented, systems-administrator type roles and those types of functions. When I stumbled into the Salesforce ecosystem, I was a reporting analyst. I’m the data guy and numbers guy. Anything you need to know about what's going on with the business from a Salesforce data perspective, I'm the one who would pull the data.
I did that at an infant nutrition company for a while then I moved into a different company that was a software company. I had a similar role there. Through my interaction with the Salesforce Ecosystem back then, I discovered this whole massive Salesforce community. It’s a great place full of thousands of people that are willing to share their own experiences, challenges, successes and help you solve problems related to Salesforce, generally speaking. I got deeply involved in that. I started going to user-group meetings all over the Midwest because there wasn't one locally and finally reached out to someone at Salesforce and said, “Can we get a group local here in Evansville, Indiana? I'd love to quit traveling around. There's got to be more people here besides me using Salesforce.” Their response was, “Congratulations. Thanks for volunteering to lead a user group.”
After a bit more conversation, I said, “I'll give it a shot.” My first thought was, “I'm the wrong person to do this because I know nothing about the platform, relatively speaking,” but I did it anyway. I've been leading that group for many years. Some of the same people that showed up at that first meeting still show up for the meetings going on now. A year later, I started a Salesforce Community Conference, primarily because I jokingly tell people it was selfish because I could not attend Dreamforce that first year that I was on the platform. I decided I'll bring Dreamforce to me. I found a hotel in Louisville, Kentucky that was willing to work with me on a limited budget and had 100 people show up for a full day Salesforce Conference led by Salesforce Community members. That was in 2011.
In 2014, I brought this conference back to life, I did it in Chicago with the help of a group of people some additional Salesforce MVPs and community group leaders. The event was going strong in Chicago from 2014 through 2019 with anywhere between about 500 and 900 people attending every year. COVID hit and we couldn't have this year in 2020. I’ll be removing it to Minneapolis in 2020 for a couple of different reasons. It's already scheduled for June of 2021 in Minneapolis but throughout that entire process and everything that happened during all of that, I changed jobs a couple more times. I met some people. One of the people that was a speaker at Midwest Dreamin' in 2014 was a woman named Maria Pergolino and she is now the CMO at ActiveCampaign.
I worked with her previously at Apttus when I was there for a few years between 2016 and 2018. When it came time for me to search for a new job, I simply reached out to some people I knew and started the process without even knowing if they have openings but I'm looking for a role that we need to chat about. Maria wasn't among those people but she randomly hit me up with a message on LinkedIn at the same exact time that said, “Eric, I'm at ActiveCampaign. Here's what the company is all about. We’re the customer experience automation category leader and defining the category. The company is doing great. I'm looking for a role to be held by a person like what you did at Apttus but I wanted it at ActiveCampaign. Do you know anybody that's interested?”
I was like, “It's me.” I missed the part of the story. Going back to my original interviews at Apttus when I talked to Maria for the role I ended up getting there. She said, “Tell me about your marketing experience.” I said, “I don't have any. I've been a data analyst, a business analyst and systems analyst but I've never done anything marketing.” Maria said, “You have.” I said, “What do you mean?” She said, “That conference you started called Midwest Dreamin’ that's been going on for a few years now. How do you think that thing grew?” I smacked myself in the face at that point in time and said, “Marketing.” She said, “You're one hell of a marketer, Eric. It surprised me that I had to tell you that.” She hired me for my very first marketing role. Now she hired me again for another marketing role. I got lucky that I found somebody that believed in me, showed me what I was doing and made me realize that I was a marketer.
In reality, AI is a great thing because it can help augment what humans can do.
What you've described will lend itself to a few questions that we can ask you then because the markets changed in a short window due to a pandemic that nobody foresaw, things have changed. A field rep is now doing what an inside rep would do. Having sat on top of sales teams, you've done analysis on A/B testing, marketing campaigns, SDR, BDR, conversions. Where do leads come from? Where do they get converted? What can you share with the audience that's changed as it relates to the data that you're seeing?
Years ago, it seemed like the price was the big deal where you had to be the lowest price or the fastest to be able to respond to an RFP or something like that to be the one who gets the job. Over time and in particular years, the price factor is not as big of a deal as it used to be. It's more of the trust factor and that's harder to build. That takes creating a relationship. That's not something that you can create overnight. It's stretching the sales cycle where things are taking a little longer and it's taking more personalized interaction than it used to. Without having the ability to go to a physical event, that's a challenge in itself too. How do you get a personal conversation going with an individual you've never met before?
Most of us have received those emails where we know it's a form letter where they put on their name or sometimes the integration doesn't even work. It says, “Hello, first name,” and those funky little brackets. You're like, “Delete. I'm not even going to read those. Get rid of it.” There's got to be ways to gain that personalized interaction at scale for larger companies with hundreds and thousands of customers. Oddly enough, that's part of what ActiveCampaign does. That fits right in with where my sweet spot is as an individual where building relationships has been a big deal for me.
I've spent the ten years in the Salesforce ecosystem unknowingly building in a big personal brand at first. For years, I've given talks on what it takes to build a personal brand and what the benefits are of having a strong personal brand. Because of that, sometimes companies come to me regardless of where I'm working because they have an interest in the product that the company I'm selling is about. Even if it's not my role to be the salesperson or the BDR, they're going to say, “Eric, can you help us out? Can you get us a demo? Can we talk pricing? Can we do whatever?” “I'm going to do that. It is not a problem.”
My marketer consultant and now a good friend lives in the neighborhood, 10 or 12 houses down, Nick Cavuoto. He says, “Relationships are like rocket ships.” He talks purely about trust. How do you scale trust is the question. He helped me to develop ChadBurmeister.com, which I'd owned forever but I never used it. I've got the press kit there. A lot of information that points to different things I've done like books. It's more build the personal brand and then the other things can come off of that.
The way we're scaling trust is doing interviews like this. I have a video editor who will go in and find when you answered the question, price is big and it's more about the trust factor in a relationship. He has a knack for finding those segments and then putting it in a short 30 to 90-second clip that has the core thing at the top. It would say, “More about the trust factor than price.” It'll convert all the audio to text at the bottom. It drips out every single day is one more of those posts. The next day is a flat-file visual image.
When I show up to a sales call now, the trust factor is already here and now it's mind to blow. People are like, “I've heard of you. I've seen you before.” What it would be like if you went up to some celebrity at an airport like, “Tom Cruise, you're cool.” I feel like I know Tom already. That seems to me that that's what needs to happen through tools like ActiveCampaign that can continue to foster those relationships. To me, it puts more stress on the human-to-human connection and it's a full augmentation, not a replacement.
It definitely is not a replacement. There are a time and a place for the very personalized and truly one-on-one. With COVID going on, more and more we're seeing Zoom meetings. People grabbing a phone and hopping on a video chat or hitting Google Meet or whatever and doing it on purpose because they haven't talked to someone in a while. Even if it's a five minute, “How's it going? Is there anything I can help you with? I heard you were feeling bad. I hope you're feeling better.” If you look at my Twitter feed, I've been working on getting some of our senior-level managers onto some podcasts. One of the people that we are scheduling a podcast with is Elements.cloud and Alyssa Abbey is their VP of Community.
She’s the person on there and coordinating it. Through emails, she mentioned to me, “I'm sorry, I delayed in response. I haven't been feeling well.” We had flowers sent to her. She got them from ActiveCampaign and she stuck it on Twitter. The tweet said something like, “I got these amazing flowers as a get well wish from my friends at ActiveCampaign. I think Eric Dreshfield had something to do with it.” I was like, “I did but I wasn't the only person behind it.” It is that personalized thing that you got to do because, at some point in time, that may be the one deciding factor that tips the scale for a serious decision that gets made.
I once had a leader, MJ Shutte with Riverbed Technology and she would bring in a cake for everybody on their birthday. By the time the org had 150 people and then 250 in her organization, it’s every other day. It was one of those things that stuck with me as, “That's a good thing to do,” because that person is appreciates being appreciated. When you can carry that over to customer relationships and vendor relationships, the world will be a better place.
I had a manager once tell me I'm a very hands-off manager. The way he described it, he says, “I'm going to give you a length of rope. It's up to you whether you want to tie a noose and hang yourself or tie a perfect square know but if you ever need me to help you with figuring out how to tie the knot, I'm here for you.” It was fun. It was amazing working for that guy. Once every three weeks or so, I'd sit down in a meeting with him and he's like, “Eric, I keep hearing your name from other people all over this company that you're doing things for them. I want to make sure you got your priorities in order.”
Back then, I read and wrote everything down on a legal pad so I pulled the thing out of my drawer and said, “Here's the legal pad. This is the order. I've got any problems with that.” He'd go, “No. That's good. What's this all about? No, that's fine.” We're done. It was a ten-minute meeting every three weeks I had with this guy and that was the extent of my management interaction with him. He trusted me to do what I felt needed to be done and everything was cool.
What about artificial intelligence? I have to believe ActiveCampaign uses some kind of AI. What I'm finding is most people don't know that it's behind the scenes and it can be looked at as a four-letter word even though it's two letters.
The ActiveCampaign platform definitely has some AI and machine learning built into it. That's for sure. It's an interesting beast if you want to think about it that way. To some people, it's scary. The robots are going to take over the world scary kind of thing which in my opinion is silly. In other people's opinion, it helps humans figure out what's important or find the trends much faster than we're able to do on our own. Thinking back to some of my previous roles, I used to spend three weeks a month digging through data looking for trends at one company to be able to help the organization make decisions better.
If those trends could have been identified through a machine, when this matter of minutes, the company would still be around. They wouldn't have filed for bankruptcy and done everything that they struggled to do. They'd be in a much better place. I helped him about quite a bit while I was there. It was an airline and this was pre-2011. All sorts of crazy things happened after 2011. I was gone from the company by then. There's a place for AI. In reality, it's a great thing because it can help augment what humans can do.
I love that identifying the trends. I hired a CRO who came from Miller Heiman who was the Head of Sales for eight years. He and I are having different conversations than you would have with a consultant or somebody else. These are much more intellectualized conversations and it snaps. I'm like, “That reminds me of Riverbed, RingCentral or working for large organizations that ask the right questions.” We're on a one and a half-hour call going through some segmentation questions like, “We've got a new guy coming in, how we're going to carve things up?” What we discovered is that a good seminar and $50,000 in revenue came from non-funded companies. Traditionally, we've been focused on seed round series A, B, C, D.
They've got the funding, they got all the money in the world, they can write a big check but with the pandemic, there's such an acute pain with the National Speakers Association, salespeople, sales trainers that they lost 80% of their revenue of speaking on stages around the country and around the world. They came to us because they've heard of what we do. When you proactively go to them and make them an offer, “$2,000 cost or your money back. We'll get you 100 replies from your best prospects in under 90 days.” They jumped in the boat. We discovered that because we saw that the spike went up massively. Our business now is 50/50 non-funded versus funded. It used to be 10% and I coached the team, “Stay away from the non-funded,” which was the right decision at that time. Now, there are such acute pain and a need that people are willing to spend the money. I have a product that's different. It's $500 a month instead of $5,000.
Particularly in this environment, the non-funded companies that are surviving, I have learned a valuable lesson and they're going to see some strong growth moving forward.
There's a company called D’Artagnan that sells food to restaurants. $152 million worth of high-end lamb, beef, duck, you name it. We ordered some because we wanted to feed the meter and help them survive. They moved from 80% restaurant based and $152 million vanish. They moved to selling homes. They recap their entire market. $150 million is what they'll do on a $152 million number. When it comes back, they're saying, “We're going to do both.”
The biggest thing AI can do for us is to tell us when that bright moment is.
A good friend of mine who was a former colleague at one of my jobs years ago opened up a restaurant here locally in Evansville in 2018. It’s a great little breakfast place in a decent part of town as far as traffic goes. When COVID hit, she was struggling a lot as all the other restaurant owners have been. I made it a point to go once a week, at least to get some carry out for me and my wife. They’re a breakfast and lunch place only. Breakfast is generally speaking the favorite meal of the day for me and my wife. It is a 7:00 run down to the restaurant, grab some breakfast from her, say hi if she's working there at that time. Supporting local companies and supporting smaller organizations like that is a big deal. Even prior to two pandemic situations. The locally grown, homegrown organizations and things like that deserve support from the communities that they're in.
It reminds me, we're going to the Dive-In. A friend from high school owns the place. In Colorado, they have a law that they closed down the bar. You have to stop serving alcohol at a certain time. I said, “We're getting a group of 25 people. We're going to ratchet up the ticket from 6:00 until 8:00 PM as high as we possibly can.” We'll buy a round for everybody. This is interesting. The last question that I'll ask you and this has been a good discussion. Keeping on the topic of AI, how can it increase the trust relationship between the buyer and the seller?
The best thing that AI can do for relationship building is to enable the sellers to deliver the right message at the right time. AI can say, “John looked at your email. John went to your website, John browsed all these things and put all this stuff in your shopping cart but he hasn't finalized the deal. Now is the time for you to get on the phone and call him or shoot him an email that says, ‘I've noticed you've got this stuff you've been looking at. Is there anything I can do to help you solve your dilemma?’”
My wife complains about it once in a while that she gets those emails from Target, Amazon or something that says, “You still have these things in your shopping cart. Are you sure you want to keep shopping or you want to finalize it?” From a B2B perspective, that's a different animal. In some cases, the decision-makers need those little reminders that, “I was looking at this great product and here's why it was great.” Getting it to them at the proper time is more valuable than anything else. That's the biggest thing AI can do for us. It’s to tell us when that bright moment is.
We're planning to launch another division of ScaleX and we'll get our arms around it with a few beta pilots but we should keep in touch because we're planning to use AI to more automate the customer success, client success function. Especially at the lower-tier customer like our business, $500 a month model versus $5,000, that requires a different level of touch. Traditionally, you haven't been able to give the voice greeting or the video. We now have ways to personalize a video without the person being there. It's not done through deep fake. It's a stitching mechanism.
Ninety percent of that message is the same. “Chad Burmeister, I know your renewal is coming up in 60 days from now. If you haven't heard, we launched a new product. I see you guys have been growing, if you want to add a second seat.” We want to start to automate personalization at scale in the client success role and then bring the human in when the human is required. Automate a voicemail drop to the person or send the Vineyard video. We haven't standardized on the platform that we want to build this service on and I suspect ActiveCampaign. We didn't get here by accident. I have a firm belief that this was ordained. In fact, we're writing a book called God Centered Selling between me and Rich Blakeman. It's amazing when you turn the keys over to the car what happens.
I don't think there's a whole lot of coincidence that goes on in life. I agree with you there.
Especially when you say, “Let it flow, let yourself go.” You landed with the CMO that you met years ago at Apttus. She called you back in your time of need and interest in getting back into a relationship. It's fun when you let things go like that. This has been fabulous. I knew I had a low-risk of bringing up my relationship with the higher power when someone is from Indianapolis. I've enjoyed the conversation, Eric. Thank you for making the time. I have a feeling that our paths will continue to cross. Thank you.
It’s my pleasure, Chad. Thanks for having me on.
Chad Burmeister, ScaleX.ai, signing out. We'll catch you on the next one.
About Eric Dreshfield
I'm a "Connector", a Blogger, a Marketer, a mentor for those new to the Salesforce ecosystem and a Community Advocate. Working in the Salesforce ecosystem since 2009, with experience in across multiple industries including transportation, retail, life sciences and more.
Able to bridge the gap between technology and the people who rely on it. Founder of Midwest Dreamin' and a Salesforce MVP, 2013-2020, now MVP Hall of Fame. I am the "Kevin Bacon" of the Salesforce Ecosystem. #EqualityForAll