How To Market To A World Of New Clients With Jeanne Erwin
Getting clients is one thing, but what if there are none more of them from your old ways of marketing? In this episode, Chad Burmeister talks to Jeanne Erwin of International Business Consultants, LLC, about marketing to a world of new clients, particularly from online selling where more and more people migrate due to the pandemic. She discusses how she is leveraging AI and what she is seeing with companies who use them. Zoning into sales technology and technique, Jeanne then talks about how digital marketing can expand your universe of clients, where AI fits in the process, and how to motivate your sales team to leverage new technologies. Go inside this great conversation to learn more about the need to adopt new technologies to your processes.
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How To Market To A World Of New Clients With Jeanne Erwin
I'm with Jeanne Erwin from Houston, Texas with International Business Consultants, not to be mistaken for International Business Machines. They've been around and have already reached 500,000 people. We're going to drill into that on how to reach more people. The topic is how to market to a world of new clients as big companies go out of business and people move to online selling. Being able to reach 500,000 people in less than a year is fabulous. Jeanne, welcome to the show.
Thank you. Chad, I appreciate the opportunity to be here. I'm excited to learn more about your company, but also to share what I've learned in the last several years of sales experience. My company is International Business Consulting. It's a global professional services company with a broad range of services and solutions in business strategy, consulting, digital technology and operations. We're beginning to grow and we hope to get bigger, faster and better sooner.
I’d love to learn a little bit about your passion. The best way I've found to do that is where did you go to college? What was your schooling? When I was young, I woke up and thought about every day was this. A lot of times, it's fun to see the alignment of what you thought about as a kid to what you're doing now. Take us through college and then go back to when you were younger.
After several years in a shoebox full of transcripts, I'm putting all the pieces together for a Business Administration degree. I'm excited about it because it's opened up new eyes, new worlds and new information that I thought I knew but I didn't. Going back from there, I have been to school at Sam Houston State University for the last couple of years here in Houston. Before that, I was at the University of Central Florida. I lived in Florida for about ten years. Before that, I grew up north of Boston, Massachusetts.
My dad was in the Air Force, so he traveled around the world. That's one of my passions, to travel around the world, meet interesting people, become friends and find out how other people live, work and do cool stuff. Getting back to that, I've been in sales since I was five and that was a long time ago. I sold cookies, brownie cookies and blueberry cookies. From there, it got uglier. Whenever I went into high school, I was an editor of the school newspaper. Since I sold $1,000 worth of advertising, they decided I needed to be the editor. Unfortunately, I have tried not to be a salesperson but I have the gene for sales and I've been doing this for many years.
My wife finished her degree. She started at Louisiana State and then moved after a couple of years. She finished her degree in 2015 at the University of North Carolina. I was proud of her and she was proud of herself. That was fabulous. As far as sales go, similar, I knew at age 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or all the way through, I'm competitive. I was always thinking, “What could I apply that skill to of being competitive?” You could go to play golf, tennis, volleyball or whatever you want to do, it's always been fun. The scoreboard to me is how much did you sell? The new scoreboard to me is starting to become how much did you take home?
That's almost more important than what you sell.
Sometimes, we have to reset those expectations. As far as AI, we put out the book in 2019, AI for Sales and there are 21 chapters on how companies use AI. Most of the time, what I find is companies don't even know they're using AI. It's built into the plot platforms that they buy. Are you leveraging AI? Do you find any of your customers is leverage AI? Where do you see it starting to come up?
I have a background in hospitality management and I worked for 50 different hotels for many years before starting my own company. AI is used extensively in hospitality sales. For instance, with a CRM program, from the minute a guest walks in the door, they know the type of bed preference you want or your pillow, whether you want fluffy pillows or down pillows. They know your favorite drink. They know if your credit card declined on your last visit to someplace across the world.
Companies are using it now more extensively than ever even though they don't put the word AI to it because that's the scary word. They don't even mention technology. For instance, Marriott with 6,500 hotels around the world franchised-owned, they don't have a good, robust sales AI system at all. Most of them use Excel spreadsheets or old-school database tools which are not relevant for nowadays market. I've seen it. Companies are using AI in everything. They don't realize it and they don't want to call it that because it will scare away salespeople.
If you’re not using AI for sales, then you're missing millions of new potential clients who may be interested in your services and products.
Even in paid ads, we hired a head of marketing to help us in some of these areas with messaging and videos. One of the things that he showed me how to do is go into Facebook and do a search on what the preferences are of the individual. At first, I was surprised like, “Don't we use LinkedIn for business-to-business advertising?” He was like, “Watch.” He could say, “Is it male or female? What's the age bracket?” Those are two obvious things but then, “Do they follow Madonna? Do they follow Garth Brooks? Do they follow Elon Musk? Do they follow Tiger Woods?” There are all these different preferences. You don't have to pick 100 of those preferences, you could pick 5 or 6 and then you start doing the messaging to the folks that you know the right message will resonate with them. I've seen 5 out of 6 shares of my content when you pick the right audience and expose it to the right audience.
A lot of companies don't realize this and I'm getting off my subject here but Facebook now has 50 million viewers per day around the world. You can find anybody doing anything that has an interest in everything on Facebook alone. That doesn't even include any of the other top ten global search engines. You can reach millions of people that you couldn't reach before. Did you know that there are 30 billion internet users around the world? In 2015, it was half that.
For people, whenever they say, “I don't want to use AI for sales. That's too scary of a technology,” you're missing the whole market and millions of new potential clients that may be interested in your services and products. There are companies now around the world that are competing with you here, wherever you're at and can do it faster, cheaper, better and smarter. You're no longer dealing with a 5 or 10-mile radius for your sales. You're dealing with the world. That's what we found out with this global pandemic. A lot of salespeople working from home found out that they can reach new markets around the world that they couldn't reach before which is exciting.
You can live wherever you want to live under this new understanding of the world. A lot of people that I know are waking up going, “I could buy a motor home, drive across the country and live in different campsites.” I'm like, “That sounds fun.” For me it's, “Let me get a place in the mountains.” It's opening people's eyes that the virtual world is not a bad place to be to reach more markets. Let's talk a little bit more about that. What are some of the approaches or recommendations that you give when you're working with customers to reach out to those new markets and new regions?
First of all, I have to get an idea of scale. The 50 million people that Facebook reaches every day is double the size of the population of Texas. You’ve got to get an idea of scale. What's out there? Who is out there? Who's most likely to buy your product? Figure out a target market. The old way that sales teams used to do is outside sales calls. I worked with one company that had 1,400 hotels. Their sales teams were told, “You need to do 200 outside sales calls a week.” That's not even relevant or valid and that's not even how people buy. It's such a waste of your time, money and effort for your sales team if you're doing old school techniques that are not effective. When you go out and do even 50 sales calls a week and these are old school outside sales calls, you're going to a locked door or small room with a phone and that is your sales call.
Most people go to the Chamber of Commerce and pick up a stack of cards and say, “I'm done.” That's not effective. That's a waste of everybody's time, money and effort. Companies don't have that option and more because it's way more competitive. We're dealing with a globally competitive market with services whether it's manufacturing, engineer or construction technology around the world that you didn't have before. The first thing I would do is I would introduce companies to the world. If they didn't know that they could get business in Mexico, Canada or India, then let's open that door first and find out what type of markets they are. Let’s do the research.
The global pandemic is showing that if companies aren't technology-based and have a strong presence online on various platforms with either redirect, optimized technology or for reaching online buyers, they are missing millions of potential clients. The brick-and-mortar stores that are going under like Lord & Taylor, they've been around for over 100 years. There are half-a-dozen other big companies like Pier 1 Imports, Talbots and even some of these other stores that you find in the malls are gone away because they didn't embrace technology when they were able to or had the opportunity.
That makes me think of a stock opportunity because every time one folds, you can see the Amazon stock go from 1,600 to 3,500. I'll bet you if you did a correlation analysis to company files for bankruptcy, where does that market cap go? A lot of it goes over to Amazon and the cloud. It's a reinvent or die situation that COVID exposed because a lot of companies have moved towards this for years. Back to WebEx, 2005 to 2007, I was there. I managed a team and there was a guy named Ray Wine on the team. Ray lives in Arizona. I remember going one day saying, “I come from field sales. Let's get in the car, we're going to drive down and we're going to see this office building.” What happened that day?
We got in the car. There was a lot of construction. It was 110 degrees, summer heat in Arizona and potholes on the road. It took us an extra 30 to 60 minutes to get there, so we were late. We met with the person in a short, abbreviated meeting. I'm walking out and I go, “Let me show you how to canvas a building. Do you see that company right there?” He goes, “Do you mean that one on the second floor? That's not an Arizona-based company. They're owned by a California firm out of Sacramento.” That's where it all clicked for me. If you go digital, you can know more about the buyer and the company than you could buy knocking on doors. Even Aflac came to me a while ago and said, “We're doing a test at inside sales. Can you help us?” It's interesting what COVID has done not to the world but for the world.
Let's talk about India. Amazon web service is now the number one search engine in India. Imagine how many people they are reaching in India. That doesn't include the US or anything else that. It's phenomenal. In a short time, they increased their sales by 42%. All of these are online sales. What do you need a sales team?
I've heard the line in the sand for deal size being done by a field sales team keeps moving up. One person spoke in February 2020, pre-lockdown situation. I don't know how he had the foresight but he said, “My guess is within the next 12 to 24 months, the typical deal size by a field team should move up to 50,000 or more. Not only that, you need to look in the mirror. If you're running deals under 50,000, you may even want to outsource that to a third-party company.” Why is that? It’s because a third-party company with technology and capability can do it better, faster, cheaper than an in-house team ever could. It's an interesting shift in the third-party outsourcing world.
I'm taking a Business Analysis class, and I learned that this is one reason that companies need to embrace technology and AI to help improve their sales and their bottom line. It is not because there are competitors around the corner. I was told 56% of enterprises will increase their investment in big data analytics over the next three years. Seventy percent of IT decision-makers consider their organization's ability to exploit value from big data is critical to their future success. Sixty-five percent say they risk becoming irrelevant or uncompetitive if they don't embrace big data. Another 53% are seeing increased competition from data enabled startups. If you don't already have a robust AI sales technology program in place, then you're declining sales in the near future.
I had a friend from college and he is in the contracting business. He has $18 million of a backlog that he can't even quote because the market is so good for construction, which is weird to me because we're in the middle of a pandemic. How is that even possible? What he said is there's a company called Procore that has 80% of all of the bids and transactions go through it. He’s saying, “It's bad because I get texts to my phone and it's a waste of time.” At the same time, I had another guy who's in his mid-30s that said, “Let me challenge you on your thinking. What if instead of saying, ‘They're going to disrupt and take my job and kill the industry.’ What if instead you said, ‘I'm going to disrupt my own job?’”
What we said was, “You still need a person to build the brick and mortar, build the house and everything.” He goes, “We're moving to 3D printers for houses. What you're going to find is that they're going to be more dome-shaped because the printer can print that way. It doesn't do a very good job at building upright houses that are square.” The challenge to this person was, “If that's the case, maybe you don't want to do it. Maybe you want to start to think about your retirement.” Why not align with Procore, build your own 3D printing capability and start to say, “Instead of building in this neighborhood, we're going to build this other new community over here of dome-shaped houses. It's going to lower your costs down to pennies on the dollar. It'll be more efficient, whatever.” The lesson was to disrupt yourself versus being disrupted by other people.
That's a good statement. I like the fact that you said disrupt yourself. You'd have to think outside of your own comfort zone to embrace what's coming in the near future. Nobody was prepared for being in lockdown. Nobody was prepared to take their jobs that they did their standard commute every day back and forth, come home, live, breathe and work where they're with their family, teaching kids and living 24/7 with their family. Nobody could have expected that. Now that we're all used to that scenario, we have to think about and disrupt the way we've always done things and think about things in a new way.
For instance, with my company, my technology partner is Quocent and they're in India. I have my graphic designer and he's also in another part of India, which is great. They can provide cutting edge technology for ERP, SaaS, CRN and different types of inventory management systems way cheaper than I could get locally, which is sad to say but it's true. My Director of International Operations is located in the UK and he works with all of Europe. My Chief Financial Officer runs a Bitcoin consulting firm and he's in Iceland. If you're doing things the way you always did then you're going to miss out on such huge opportunities that are right at your computer and you don't have to leave home.
The last question we could cover is if you're leading a sales team and you're the VP, CRO, manager or you're in a leadership position depending on experience or age, there are some people who hold on to the past, me included. I've got a stack of papers that I still write on. How does one, as a leader, go about encouraging all groups of people to make the change and to be interested in the new technologies? What's the change management process that you recommend?
The first thing that I would say is to have the sales team learn the new technology and the technology that's affecting their company. Know it inside and out, and how it affects the supply chain, operations and management team as well as their future sales focus
You’re saying not even the tools to use for selling but like Procore and this example we gave, who you are competing against and how are they using technology to compete against you.
If you don't already have a robust AI sales technology program in place, then you're declining sales in the near future.
That's a good point. You still have to know your customers. You still have to put together a SWOT analysis and determined who you're most likely to be competing against and where you stand in the market. A good salesperson has to know, not their company but they have to know their client's business inside and out, but they also have to know their competitors inside and out. The way you get that information is online. One way that I would motivate my team would be salespeople are motivated by money and they like to also be challenged.
They need to be pushed outside of their comfort zones. I challenged sales teams to learn more about their technology and operations there that they're using and see how they can improve it with AI to reach more numbers bigger, faster, better and realize who their competitors are but also who other markets might be run throughout the world. By using immediate satisfaction games or gamification, one of the best examples of that is an online app called the Long Game. It's a savings tool. It's nice, fun and easy.
It has these stupid little games that are addictive that you are cryptocurrency for that gets put in your online wallet. They're addictive, stupid and you'd start doing them but you're saving. As a sales leader, I would recommend starting putting gamification apps because a lot of our teammates now are of a different generation than I came from. They might be a different generation than the Millennials came from. They're used to doing everything online and apps.
Letting them have that tool that they can be getting immediate satisfaction from by winning something and they're doing these sales activities whether it's reaching thousands of people, marketing online or old school emails and that kind of thing. That's one way to generate fast incentive and keep them motivated. Years ago, the Short Attention Span Theater came out and everybody is like, “Oh no.” Now, everybody's level of attention is more than 30 seconds is a lot. If it's too detailed and it doesn't have pretty pictures, then people aren't going to pay attention to it.
It's funny you say that because the SalesClass is where we put out 2,500 sales training videos. I met with a consultant who goes in and helps stand up sales enablement programs for other companies. I said, “Any thoughts or feedback you would give us on how we're going to market because we've only been out for a while?” He said, “What if you could shrink these 30-minute conversations into 3 to 5 minutes?” Imagine this talk and you put it through an AI machine that finds the salient points, ties it to some keywords or all kinds of things and then shrinks it down to the cliff notes or get abstract version of it and then serves that up to the audience. It's an interesting world we're living in.
You’ve got to take that to the next level and offer these little sales bites as a freemium. If they want a little more with more content, it's like starting out with an appetizer. It makes people hungry for more. You set them up as a freemium and then you put it out on social media. It’s reaching millions of people. This means that people are getting addicted to these little sales bites. From there, you reach up for a few dollars more than they get from the freemium.
You get the live interaction with other students and whatnot.
You get the monthly sales subscription fees, which are golden.
It’s recurring, ongoing and good margins. This has been a fabulous conversation. I wish you well and I hope that this pandemic goes away some time here in the near future depending on the region you're in. I heard a friend of mine who’s in Texas and he said, “You walk down the street and a handful of people are wearing a mask. If you go to Aspen, Colorado, every single person is wearing a mask, and police will be on you within seconds if you take it off for a breath of fresh air.” It's interesting the level of human behavior.
Here in Texas, we're texting, we don't care. What are you going to do?
I may have to move there sometime if this goes on for too long.
I've enjoyed talking to you and getting to know you. If I can ever help in the future, please reach out. I'm happy to help in any way.
Jeanne, if people want to get a hold of you, it's InternationalBusinessConsultants.com and your email is Jeanne.Erwin@InternationalBusinessConsultants.com. It sounds like you've got a wealth of knowledge. What is your core specialty area? Is it manufacturers? I heard you say hospitality because you have a lot of experience there. What are your top 2 or 3 target areas or focus areas you can add the most value?
The most value is small and medium-sized manufacturing companies with sales of $1 million to $5 million, 10 to 50 employees, 1 to 2 locations. It doesn't necessarily have to be here in Texas. It can be throughout the United States. I've had more of my clients reach out from other countries who want to expand to the United States and other parts of the world. I've got a large percentage of my business from other countries, which is interesting.
That's smart. I'll introduce you to our Head of Strategy and Partnerships. He came from a little-known company called Miller Heiman, and he used to run their sales organization. He's our Head of Strategy and Partners. He would be a good guy for you to spend a few minutes with some time as well.
Thank you. I appreciate that. If I can help you with anything, help promote SalesClass.ai, then let me know. I'm more than happy to do that.
We have guests on the show all the time there, so I'll make sure this one gets pushed through SalesClass, The Sales Expert Channel and the podcast. It’s fabulous getting to know you, Jeanne.
Thank you. Good luck with your book sales. I know you're going to be successful.
Thanks for joining. We'll catch you next time.