Episode 3: Tactical Approach to Your ABM Strategy with Erik Kostelnik
We are at a point where digital account-based marketing is overloaded and creating diminishing returns. This means if you want to see results, you have to move into the offline space. ABM is a behemoth topic in sales and marketing and Erik Kostelnik joins us on the show today to help us tackle it. Erik is the Founder and CEO of Postal, an experienced marketing platform that helps companies drive brand loyalty, increase conversions, boost overall employee happiness, and improve customer health scores. Before Postal, Erik founded TextRecruit, served as the Head of Sales for Wrike, and was named Upstart 50 Inventor by Silicon Valley Business Journal in 2017. We kick our conversation off on the subject of the rise of sales-driven CEOs and hear about the lessons Erik took away from his extensive sales experience before Wrike and TextRecruit. From there, we take a deep dive into the world of ABM, hearing Erik weigh in on the need for an omni-channel approach and the services Postal offers as far as tactile and personalized offline strategies at scale. In this episode, Erik also gets into the fundamentals of a masterful ABM strategy, the huge increase in conversions Postal generates, the role of incentivizing, and a whole lot more, so be sure to catch this one!
Key Points From This Episode:
“I started seeing that in the path of sales, marketing, engagement, and technology, that digital focus is still where everybody is at and I thought that this tactile experience and humanizing the sales and marketing approach was key.” — Erik Kostelnik [0:04:33]
“We’re just making it dead easy to create connections with customers.” — Erik Kostelnik [0:06:00]
“Whether it be a direct incentive for one of the reps or some offering built into their marketing automation, if Postal touches it, 40% convert in the pipeline.” — Erik Kostelnik [0:35:10]
“I’m not saying every single lead that you are going to send a gift card offering to is going to accept a meeting from you but I will tell you people are incentivized by something, some thing.” — Erik Kostelnik [0:36:49]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Speaker 0 00:00:01 Coming to you from Orlando, Florida, Orlando, Florida, and streaming around the world around the world. You're not tuned in to the sales samurai podcast. The only B2B sales podcast, providing unfiltered unapologetic views and tactics directly from the sales trenches. Here's your host, Sam Capra.
Speaker 1 00:00:30 Welcome to episode three of the sales samurai. Thanks for listening. Before we begin, do us a favor, take a moment to subscribe and download we on today's show. We're going to be discussing tactical approach to your ABM strategy. And I have a very special guest to help us tackle that topic. Erik Kostelnik is the co-founder and CEO of postal IO. It's an experienced marketing platform that helps companies drive brand loyalty, increased conversions boost, overall employee happiness and improve customer health scores. Prior to postal IO, Eric found a tech to recruit one of the fastest growing HR technology companies in the world, leading it to its acquisition in 2018 by iCIMS incorporated. And he also served as the head of sales for Reich from 2014 to 2016, helping it reach number 116. In 2015, Deloitte fastest 500. Eric was named as upstart 50 top inventor by the Silicon valley business journal in 2017 and currently lives in California with his wife and three kids.
Speaker 2 00:01:34 Eric, welcome to the show, man. Super excited to have you. How are you?
Speaker 3 00:01:39 Great to be here, Sam. Thanks man. Appreciate it. I love in the background, by the way we are back. I never left the office. I have three kids at home, so my wife was like, no, it's going to be your executive office now. So I've actually been in office since we got quarantined, but we're starting to have everybody come back here and you know, intimately, some of the desks are starting to get set up, but yeah, man, build a business during COVID.
Speaker 2 00:02:01 I never signed up for that one. That's an unusual task at hand.
Speaker 3 00:02:05 Yeah, but it's all good, man. It's uh, we were born in the darkness.
Speaker 2 00:02:10 Hey man. So I know we're going to be tackling APM today and I know that's a big kind of behemoth subject line, especially in sales and marketing and all that kind of fun stuff. But before we do, because it does closely tied aid in what your guys' solution does is solely so intertwined to Navien. Can you give our listeners just a little bit of context around postal IO? Kind of what you guys do? Yeah.
Speaker 3 00:02:32 I'd love to. So postal IO is we're just calling it postal now. So postal is, is a sales marketing engagement platform that deals in the offline. So the last 20 years have been spent. All the investment technology infrastructure has been set on really optimizing the digital. And we're now at a point to where we're receiving 10,000 messages per day from brands, right? So we're just constantly interacting with these brands B to C brands, B2B brands. What makes sense? What makes sense to actually start driving more engagement? The offline, we saw a tremendous amount of, of offline engagement in the B to C side of things. We said, why isn't B2B doing this? Well, they were, it was just completely decentralized, right? So we were all been spent $120 billion on sending all this stuff or the last, you know, 20, 30, 50 years. But there needed to be system. There needed to be technology. There needed to be automation and tracking in order to do that. And that's really what we're doing here at postal and super excited to talk to you about this today. And obviously, you know where we're going with this in the future and what I'm seeing out there. That's
Speaker 2 00:03:28 Awesome, man. Hey, so it does lead me to the question. Obviously we talked about a little bit earlier that you've done quite a few different ventures. I'm curious what made you go in this? Like what interested you that much about what you're doing now from an, because obviously the ABM component of things, what just got you to go down this path?
Speaker 3 00:03:48 So you and I worked at CareerBuilder together and by the way, unbelievable experience back in the 2000 working crew butter, but what did they have assumed, man? They're like, you gotta meet with a C level every single month and we're like, I'm managing HP. Like, how am I going to go? Right. So what worked was was that that leadership said, you need to write handwritten notes, you need to send personalized things. You need to be taking people out for dinners. So it's not like this strategy has not existed. It's just the strategy in order to scale, this strategy has not existed. And so this has been something that I've really been thinking about for a while. Ultimately, you know, the last four ventures that I was a part of, you know, we had great success with those, but when I started seeing the path of sales and marketing engagement and tech and technology, again, that digital focus is still where everybody is at.
Speaker 3 00:04:42 And I really thought that this tactile experience and bringing and humanizing the sales and marketing approach was key. But the reason why people didn't do it because logistically it's very difficult. I mean, to build something that operates on the online and then on the offline, it's very difficult. And so we approached it in a different way by having, you know, vendors and a marketplace, we took the door dash model and the Amazon model and say, great, let's not touch those atoms, but let's connect all these businesses to the best vendors out there could, that can produce these things for them. And then let's create a centralized platform that does all the automation and helps it work in your models, in your workflows. And that's really where it man, like, you know, Manny and Manny from outreach and I really close and he helped me ideate this business and we were drinking wine in the backyard and like, he's like, you really should go to school.
Speaker 3 00:05:28 So I was like, I want to do AI sales. He's like, dude, he's like, you should go back and take a look at this thing that we were talking about. And obviously a little push from Andy always helps. But yeah, ultimately I love the positioning in the market. I love what the product is doing for our customers. And we spent 13 grand a month right now on our own product and we're scaling and fast, fast, 120% quarter over quarter growth consistently three quarters. So, so, you know, we're there, we're, we're drinking the Kool-Aid, but I think inherently what you see, what I saw back as individual contributors, we're just making a dead easy to create connection with, with the customers.
Speaker 2 00:06:03 And I know I want to get into that because I know you guys drink your own Kool-Aid and I know you guys live and breathe this, not just in trying to sell it. We're a customer of you guys. So I'm a firm believer in postal. I always ask this question, especially with founders, you know, leaders of organizations, what did you not expect when you started this? Like, what's the thing that kind of came out of left field. Like, Hey, that's something I didn't even plan on and think of how it was a curve ball. To me, just curious, has anything like that bubbled up or was it kind of some,
Speaker 3 00:06:32 So the pandemic minor, minor thing would start. I mean, I will tell you, we were about to launch. I built this new office in St. Louis Vista, where I wanted to, I wanted to live and grow business and we did all this stuff and you know, we built an amazing product, raised our for series a pre-product pre-revenue from Mayfield and was just like, everything was going awesome. We had our beta customers and everybody was happy. And then, you know, obviously the, the end of the world happened for a second and it happened literally on the week that we were supposed to release our press release March 16. Okay. So we, we peel back and we said, okay, let's take this time. Hey, it's fine. Everybody take care of themselves. We got capital we're okay, let's take this time to continue building, continue learning and let's just push it out.
Speaker 3 00:07:21 Right. So let's keep on pushing out. Let's keep on building and learning. So we officially launched in may, but really we were still in that building and listening mode until we got until about September. And then September things started turning on and people also realized that their marketing closet was locked up and they're like, how am I going to do this? And I can't meet with people. And so we got this weird tailwind from COVID, which is bizarre, but it helped us. And I would say that there are all these challenges in businesses that you're never gonna see. And they're always, it's all. And one of my best mentors, this guy, Seth Shaw, who's now CRO over at air table, but I work with at Reich. He's always like, listen, man, this is a rollercoaster. It's neither as good as it gets or as bad as it gets. It's always just is. So just learn and accept it and be happy. And that you have this amazing model and these amazing people that work for you and these customers and, and just try to learn. And that's really what we tried to do during that process. And I think that's why we've been able to be successful.
Speaker 2 00:08:20 That's awesome, man. And I kind of want to transition about any one of our days at career builder, like eons ago, but you know, I think that's important. And one of the learned with organizations, it's a different mindset, you know, founders coming from a sales background versus, you know, maybe more of a technical background, different philosophy, that's a different approach to running an organization. So tell us a little bit about your background. I know, kind of, when did you get started? How long were you kind of grinding it out on the B2B business sales side of it? Yeah,
Speaker 3 00:08:51 Well, I mean, I was selling cars and power tools before I got career builder. So it wasn't like I started my career in like technology and had this like illustrious career and like as an IC tech, no, I was in power tools. And so that being said, you know, I was in the bay area, selling power tools for a company called Hilti, which by the way, amazing brand amazing company, I got to learn a lot about mechanical and industrial plumbing and HVAC. I mean, asked me, I know about load load, bearing walls and all this stuff, you know, all this stuff that's back, back there. So I think the opportunity was when I got to CareerBuilder and had that chance as an IC. Yeah, it was during the recession. I literally joined career builder in 2008. You remember how hard it was? So it's like those selling job postings during a recession, I will say that's probably the hardest thing you can do.
Speaker 3 00:09:45 You're like, Hey, I got all these job postings for you. It's a recession. I know, but like, it's fine. It'll work, it'll work. No one's hiring during our set. So they literally was like the most difficult job. And I was like, I should go back to the sun power tools. But my first big deal was with sun Microsystems. And it was like the first six months that I was with CB. And you know, it was this international deal and it was this huge amount. And like I got rookie of the quarter and all of a sudden I was like, oh, I can do this. And like, for me, you know, I am self motivated, but I'm also motivated by recognition. And then like, and just give me a little bit of positive interaction and like feedback. I'm going to go through a wall. And so I just made it my job to be high activity, high octane all the time, get into leadership as fast as I could.
Speaker 3 00:10:35 Cause I knew I wanted my path to go into leadership. You know, Kyle Bron and Gilpin took a chance on me. Malik back in the day, took a chance on me in leadership in that group. I love those guys. You know, some of them are customers now as well, right? So I believe in that network and that, and that effect. And then, you know, Carolyn Betts who now runs Betts recruiting was on my team at, at CareerBuilder. And when I started saying, Hey, I want to go back to the bay area. Cause I was in Chicago at that time. I was like, Caroline, you just started this business. You're killing it right now, your access to all these startups, like what do you got? And boom, that led me into my first VP job of sales and identified, which later became workdays for sex it right.
Speaker 3 00:11:13 So, uh, or was Workday's first acquisition. We exited to them and then it just took off. Right. Then it was like, right. You know, I joined Wrike early on and was able to build that sales model out and grow to 200 reps from four. And then I started text recruit and you know, we started working with a good friend of mine starting business and go back to your original question, starting businesses and being a part of business as a sales leader and having that mindset. There's a couple of things. It does. Number one, you gotta make sure you have an amazing technical co-founder, which I do in Jed. So you can't pretend like, you know, everything that goes on over here, get yourself an amazing co-founder that has technical expertise, but it allowed me to
Speaker 2 00:11:51 Let that called swimming your lane.
Speaker 3 00:11:54 So when you're like getting your lane yeah. Do not pretend to be anything you're not, you do not. So where I was really good was like understanding clients' needs, you know, the pain analysis, Sandler understanding like, Hey, where are all these challenges within these businesses? And then I was really good at kind of understanding, oh, how do you build technology around that Jed? Like, and then Jen and I working together on text recruit point solution, texting and recruiting, boom done. What does postal, same thing opportunity. I understand from customers where they're seeing this and then executing on building the product and then I go out there and push it to go to market. So I do believe that there's a shift in leadership right now. And I think Benioff was probably the first on, on this train is that he really was that first big sales focused leader. You know, you could say Ellison was as well, but he was a software developer. So I think Benioff really was the guy that made this, made it okay to hire and bring on a sales focused and invest in a sales focus CEO.
Speaker 2 00:12:53 And that was definitely a shift because then there was, there was a time that if you were a Salesforce in that being a founder of it like a startup that just didn't happen. You had to have that technical chops to really kind of give you that credibility in the space. 100% agree with you. Hey, so let's shift a bit because this is near and dear to my heart. Obviously I know it's near and dear to yours is ABM, right? And we kick things off a bit because it is an elephant in the room. Like ABM means so many different things. You bring up ABM in a room full of salespeople and marketing. You're probably not going to get the same answer for many to different people. Like it's this sales people going after target accounts. No it's marketing, running air cover with your collateral webinars. You hear a lot of different things. So first and foremost, cause I know you said you guys do this, you live and breathe it. How do you view define ABM internally? And then from there I'll layer that on externally when you're talking to clients as well. Yeah,
Speaker 3 00:13:50 Absolutely. So I look at this as an assigned account strategy and that's what it was called before it was called ABM. Right. It's your assigned accounts. Okay. So what do you do with assigned accounts and you signed them to sales reps and guess what marketing is also assigned to those accounts because what are you doing? You find your ICP and then you find your persona and you create messaging across that. So I believe that ABM is actually this like connector of the two entities of sales and marketing and because both are so involved in this and now technology gives you the ability to have this omni-channel approach. The omnichannel channel approach really is the backbone of ABM. Are you taking the data that you have from marketing and the interactions that these companies are making in these assigned accounts, on your marketing content? Are you creating like triggers and things that are happening in a sales org that are happening from these indications of, of interest in sales can score able to tell the story and build the infrastructure in order to see that through and measure that properly.
Speaker 3 00:15:00 And so companies like, you know, like HubSpot and then, you know, outreach and SalesLoft and Marquette, obviously all of our partners, you guys are great. These guys have figured it out to connect together. And now that enables you and I talk a lot about automation and technology, but technology has really allowed it to scale ABM. And now with postal interjecting these points of offline engagement into this cycle of omni-channel, it's increasing the overall ROI on it, right? 20% increase for companies that use offline in this omni-channel approach. So we really think about it and I think it's bringing sales and marketing teams together. Like there's been this like, you know, corporate bro, and those guys are always like, oh, marketing and sales. I don't think it's that way anymore. I really don't see that. So, you know, we've even gone as far to put SCRs on our marketing order.
Speaker 3 00:15:48 And so that before like as a sales lead leader, that's like never, never would I do that? That's our pipeline for AEs, but we only started looking at it. We're like, no, no, no, no. That's like our ABM strategy. Like they're assigned to the accounts that the AEs are and marketing is it's an inbound engine and marketing, since we have a great demand gen leader and Lauren, you know, she's able to then manage these, this team of STRs that actually can produce and create more of that EBM strategy. So plus at the top of the funnel, you always have to have content being the focus of it. So yeah, that's really the way I'm thinking about it for, for this business.
Speaker 2 00:16:26 So you kind of bullet that down ton of good information is, you know, you're right. It'd be, have people think that's a new term. It's such a new thing. Like the ABM that acronym started back in 2004, I think, I mean, it's not a new way of doing business by issue, but I think what you hit on there is the ability to scale it, to are going back to curb, you know, writing handwritten note. I can't do that across 75 80 accounts and do it efficiently. And then on top of it personalize and understand he likes cigar, let me send him this. He likes this, let me do that, that ability to amplify. And
Speaker 3 00:17:04 Even in that, even in that sequence. So if you think about the sequence that outreach set, it sets up and your ability to go out and target these sequences based on your different personas that you have in these ICPCs, you know, that is a process. And then, then your nurturing strategy of what nurture tracks are you putting people into based on their personas? I think the key doesn't work generalization doesn't work anymore. It did, by the way, when like no one was using automation, you're like sweet. I can automate a hundred thousand emails to go across and like have a voice. Or I'm just cranking out calls that automation got us select 2010. But since then everybody's got that playbook now. So how do you create this personalization track that actually takes out what you know about these personas and then puts them in the right track to ultimately have them have a better experience and how do you make the product?
Speaker 3 00:17:58 And this product always ties into this, right? Is that how is the product aligned to the way that you're signing? So companies can come in and take a trial and see success and pilot, the days of like not offering a trial to your product done, you have to have people come in. They want to have a buying experience and they want to know what they're getting into. So I think that it's all connected. So you do have to have your marketing sales and product all aligned to ensure that this personalization and automation does work at scale,
Speaker 2 00:18:29 Without a doubt, in your opinion, is ABM applicable to all business, to business organi like isn't like, is there a scenario where India may not make sense to an organization it's just not applicable to their business model? Or is there some aspects of ABM that it's kind of be pretty hard for ABM not to be applicable?
Speaker 3 00:18:47 So, yeah, that's a really good question. When you first started saying that my immediate thought was like, well, product led growth companies. A lot of times they don't have ABM really truly set because they're just so focused on top of the funnel volume and having the product lead the growth of their organization. So ABMS gets a little bit lost. A great example is a sauna actually. So Asana never paid their sales reps quota, or never had a quote on never paying them commission back in the day when we were selling against them at Reich. And we're like, how can you have a pro how can you have a sales team without a commission structure or variable compensation? And it was apparent to us that actually the product was set up differently. And so, because they were kind of one of those, those first product led growth organizations that people came in and saw the value and the price point was pretty cheap to come in and start using it.
Speaker 3 00:19:39 Their salespeople were just like order takers and onboarders, and you need those because you need to create human connection, which still needs to exist, especially in companies that are spending a little bit more with you. But, you know, I would have to say that like for B to B product led growth companies that have mass volume and low average order sizes, probably doesn't doesn't work. You have to have at least, you know, a six to $10,000 minimum AOV deal cycle has to be predictable as well. And you have to understand your ICP and your personas because you're going to stick those, those SDRs BDRs, your reps on accounts that you've targeted, that, you know, you have a better chance with, but that doesn't really exist in a product like growth company.
Speaker 2 00:20:22 That makes sense. So really, as your AOV, as those deal sizes grow as the complexity of a deal grows, that tends much more to the ABM model, if you will, because you got to get much more tactical and strategic, I guess, at the same time and how you go about getting those new business into the door.
Speaker 3 00:20:41 Yeah. And the product, the sales cycle might be complex. You might need sales, engineers involved and stuff with the is not able to support a trial and then purchase model, which is really that, that lower end. Then you're going to need a strategy like
Speaker 2 00:20:55 This, for sure. No, no doubt. Hey, so how do you guys go about like, cause you said, listen, we're doing $13,000 a month ourself. Like how do you guys meet then? And specifically, I want to talk about that because I do think that offline, that gifting as a solution as a, as a viable tactic within the strategy is really imperative. And I, I drank the Kool-Aid as well. I think it's unbelievable solution. So talk to us a little bit about some ideas, how you guys weed that into your day to day strategy over our postal.
Speaker 3 00:21:25 Yeah, of course. So the way that we're approaching it is there's an online marketing automation system, which is HubSpot that we use. And then there's an offline automation platform, marketing automation platform, which is postal. And then we have our outreach, right? So we have these three components and then those are all systems of action. You take action in each one of these. So postal on the offline HubSpot on the online and an outreach on the sales engagement side. So we create a connection, all three work with each other. So this is not a single channel approach. This is a omni-channel approach through our marketing efforts and through our sales efforts. So when I say we're spending $13,000 and send them to get X amount of things across, it really is just our offline strategy that gets interjected into this omni-channel approach. So, you know, a, a good example just to boil it down is that we start off a lot of our outbound and so named accounts non-active meaning that there's no lead score to them.
Speaker 3 00:22:25 So we've got our non accounts, non-active accounts, prospects in our SDRs, they're sending off handwritten notes to start, then there's following it up with that email. Then it goes through a cycle of phone calls, LinkedIn, all that stuff. And then we're interjecting depending on the size of the customer, different experiences through our platform, because ultimately we sell on our platform. So they should be saying, whoa, cool. I can actually, if it's a big enough opportunity, you know, they'll get, they'll see the swag experience with postal. If it's an enterprise opportunity, they're going to get some bottles of scotch from Erik, right? So that is kind of how it all works. And with experiences and events that we have as well through posts, we also are able to do top of the funnel. So, and I hate making this an infomercial. I don't want to do that, but essentially these events experiences, we've got hundreds of these events in our inner system.
Speaker 3 00:23:14 So you go in and you just like do these events and these events become this massive top of the funnel virtual event pipeline. And they've kind of replaced webinars for us. So we've got, you know, hundreds of people attending these events on a bi-weekly basis and then those going to our model. But, but overall, I mean, we do have some complexity to how we set it up and I don't want to like overwhelm your listeners either. You can do this very easily by just creating a very, even if you don't have outreach or Mar or Marketo or HubSpot or whatever, you can very easily say, I'm going to send an email, I'm going to make a phone call and then I'm going to send them something. Or in that email, I'm going to have here's some coffee, you know, a link. And I have some coffee on me, let me know if you're free, right. And just interject some of those surprise and delight parts of this, of this, uh, outbound. So we work with our customers to determine like, Hey, what is the best solution for you and how to use this offline engagement. Some have larger opportunities than others. But I think at the end of the day, what we're just trying to do is we're trying to increase conversions. That's it, you know, increase the conversion of your overall funnel and those that are adopting and have done, done well with it. You know, that they're seeing
Speaker 2 00:24:24 That, you know, you bring up a number of good points there. And I know in my own journey here at flux engage, leading a sales team. And there's one thing that happens and it's a slippery slope. And I know it's sales leaders listening to this podcast will start talking about ABM. They think a lot of technology to our book allows you to scale. And to your point, we have outbreaks that does this with HubSpot, that does that, that we just inject postal here and already, that might be thinking, and that's blowing by my desk three, four or five different technologies. But the key piece you brought into there is they need, it's not agnostic. You don't need to be working in each individual. Something needs to be the crux, the backbone of it, that guides everything to that. Am I saying that right? Is that fair? And that
Speaker 3 00:25:10 Is Salesforce and that is Salesforce. So that's really, yeah. Salesforce is the middle of that triangle, right? So then you have those points and that's the system of record, right? So you have to have your core infrastructure set and you have to have your CRM, really your data integrity for your CSM is number one. If you're in an invest any money at all and do anything, it is how strong is the integrity of the data that I have in the system. Cause guess what? You know, cramping crap out. So, and we all know that, but it's like, but in less marketing and sales really believe that. And that executive leadership is focused on data integrity. And then it doesn't work. This falls apart and you'll end up spending, you know, $50,000 on the best tech stack, but the records are wrong, right? The information in your central place in your hub is wrong.
Speaker 3 00:26:06 And so, you know, I think when this is all said and done and you know, we're old men and we're talking about like what the next thing is. It'll I think both happiness that this will all collapse into one system eventually, right? And Salesforce is trying to do it. We're trying to do it, but it's really hard because you know, these point solutions of, of offline, online and sales engagement, those still are growing so big. They're getting so big independently that it becomes hard to consolidate all those into a single platform. So I think that there's, there's something there that's going to happen in the future. And whether it's mass consolidation, a recession or you know, something that that's going to drive the consolidation of this it's, uh, it's gonna happen. I think, unless the VCs want to keep on pouring hundreds of millions of dollars to these point solutions, which I'm okay with because we're one of them. But yeah,
Speaker 2 00:27:01 No, we talked about, Hey, it's all about driving convergence, but along the way to conversion, like what are some KPIs? Like what are the metrics that are important to say is my ABM strategy working? Is it not working? Where do I need to tweak? Or do I need to refine? What have you seen as best practices along the way to say, Hey, keep, keep going down the path here. You're getting there versus, Hey, listen, let's hit the nuclear button here.
Speaker 3 00:27:24 Hundred percent. Okay. So this is why sales and marketing super important to be working together. Because guess what marketing does really well. They measure, measure, measure, measure, measure, measure. They are dead data nerds. They should be. You don't have a data center in your marketing department that you need one because those people will tell you, ABM is working. And why is that? Well, you see first off, you know, before it was like, I'm going to pick up a phone, there's no website and I'm going to just pitch, pitch pitch. And then you get a call back of they're interested. Now you don't get call backs. Everyone knows. Right? I think, I think Google stopped cold calling, by the way, there's like some big, huge company. It was like, no, we're not cold calling anymore. I'm like, that's the worst idea ever. But the companies that actually see instead of the guy picking up the phone and calling you back, the companies that they're seeing and tracking the behavior of those individuals online and the content that they're self-educating on, that is the indicator that your ABM strategy is working.
Speaker 3 00:28:21 And you've got to lead score correctly. And you got to make sure that that lead score follows to your reps and your reps know, Hey, this, these are hot. These are hot. Now you got to hit them hard, like LinkedIn phone call. And there's gotta be those triggers that happen, not automated. It's like, no reps got to go through. That's your job. What is hot? And what is not, I'm going to go hit all the hot ones up that marketing is selling that it's hot. So I think that really is the crux of, um, of the reporting on ABM.
Speaker 2 00:28:46 Gotcha. And just, and you, as you're going through this, because I found we go through this probably annually from a, from a tech stack evaluation, what are we using? What are we not using? Like to talks to one another? And one of my main criteria is it's got to integrate without me going back to Manny and your conversation. That's where our lives and breeds every day. Now we have a central repository of data, which is Salesforce without a doubt, but we don't live in there. We live in outreach and that pushes everything back to Salesforce our day to day. So if all of these silos, single point solutions can't interact with our database solution, that's usually a knockout for us. Like, Hey, if you can't, I think that's where sales leaders missed the boat a bit on ABM is they get overloaded because there have so many different systems and then start to navigate on their own. And then they don't and then it breaks down. Right. And then all of a sudden it doesn't in the metrics aren't hitting. So thoughts on that is that, is that a fair assessment? Is that something you see quite a bit as well?
Speaker 3 00:29:48 You're right. No, no. The assessment is right. Yeah. A hundred percent. I mean, cut those that are not like, okay. So I think they got to that position because either number one, they were really good IC or number two, they just like worked their way up. And they're like, there are even a better manager than they were an IC. And so the, but most of them, most, most sales professionals are not extremely technical when it comes to the, the actual test stack itself. So we, we get happy years when we see some, oh my God, this is going to solve all my problems. Oh my God. As a sales leader, right. You're like, oh my God, this is going to do everything. And I'm going to get this thing. And next thing you know, your sales ops is like, why did you buy this? Like this doesn't even do any of the stuff that we need for this thing.
Speaker 3 00:30:31 And you're like, oh my God. So I think, you know, you gotta have strong sales ops in order to help you guide your path to what you want to accomplish. And for startups, that's really hard because sales ops is usually a really expensive role and it's like, and they have to be good. And that is that, you know, you have to find someone that, that, that actually you can trust to do the research and understand how does this all fit together. And, uh, in our sales ops person, Asia, she's fairly junior in her career, but man, she gets it. You know, her, dad's a physicist like a nuclear physicist, right. She's got brain like super smart, like, and it's like why we saw amazing potential in her. And she's been managing our reps. No, everything we do is kind of connected to each other. And she can take really what the sales leaders opportunity is in, in your ABM strategy and then provide insights into technology that can solve. Yep. So let
Speaker 2 00:31:26 Me ask you this. Eric is, I mean, you know, I hear this quite a bit, actually. I just heard it earlier today. You know, you got to choose buckets and I know there's more than this, but there's two buckets in this scenario. You've got the organizations that have invested in Avion. They've got the Terminus, they got the postal, they got the outreach, they understand the value. A lot of that's a well-oiled machine where they're figuring it out with help from individuals like you and vendors and solution partners. But then the other side of that, where they're a little slower from an innovation, they don't quite see the value of ABM and they got throw reps out here. They're just like, well, what about us? Like how, like, what about, how do we approach this? If we're doing this on our own, like from a tactical standpoint, because you brought it up the other day, you brought it up earlier, Hey, it's, it's no different. If you don't have the budget, don't want to do something, send an email. Maybe you go to Amazon, maybe you write a hand, a handwritten card. And he sends it out yourself manually. How does someone that doesn't have these tools right now? How should they look at strategically, tactically, whatever, kind of implementing some baseline things. That's a good starting point as a sales professional to start going down this path.
Speaker 3 00:32:37 Yeah. So first off, let's not talk about technology. Let's just talk about the flow. So I don't think necessarily that the flow has changed that much. You're still, and over the last call, like seven years. Right? So you've got like, you got your email, you got your telephone, you got your, your LinkedIn. And then you've got, whether it's like some note cards that you have or things that you have, or maybe you like find some you gifting stuff that you can figure out this, this low barrier to entry. And really what you should do is you should just figure out, okay, let's test these different models of how to do this. And you know, if you don't have an outreach to spec it out, you can do it manually. So you can figure out like, okay, this week, I'm going to try this cadence of sending an email, making a phone call, sending a note, you know, making another email, doing a LinkedIn connection.
Speaker 3 00:33:29 And like you just kind of follow your path and just make sure that you are understanding like how that path is performing. So you, they call them cohorts. And it's a fancy word for groups that you have to understand your cohort of. Okay, great. If I did this this week, I'm going to measure this in 30 days and see of the outreach that I did. If you're just doing it manually on a spreadsheet, here's what my conversion rate is. And so then once you're done with the manual aspect, then you go, great. How can I actually build technology to help me manage this more effectively? And then you start looking at, okay, outreach and postal in order to do that. And then, you know, the HubSpot and the marketing automation stuff, that's all a whole other beast that to ABM that you do need a system for. I mean, it's really hard to like test landing pages and like do all this. So you do need a system for that component. But if you're a sales rep, you know, it is a pretty straightforward process to understand is an omni-channel ABM strategy work.
Speaker 2 00:34:30 Right. That makes sense. From the standpoint of what do you guys see in internally? And I know your system does a lot of metrics and analytics behind the scenes to help navigate some of those decisions you've made. What's the difference in a sequence that maybe doesn't have an offline component. Do you guys gauge that a sequence that may have an offline component, like a gifting versus one that does, can you kind of, and I know that's a very broad, you know, analysis or what are you typically seeing from that area?
Speaker 3 00:34:59 I'll give you one of our customers. So Lessonly, and I'm sure you've seen this too, but Lessonly is a good client of ours. And so 40% of the leads that are sent with a postal incentive. So whether it be a direct incentive from one of the reps, or there was some offering built into their marketing automation, if postal touches it, 40% convert into pipeline, okay. So 40% of those leads convert into pipeline. That is an extremely crazy number. But if you think about it, it makes complete sense because what are you doing? You're differentiating yourself from your competitors. I hate the I, the gifting I'm trying to get away gifts. Cause it's not gifting. It's incentives. All you're doing is giving people incentives to like do something gifting. I cringe. I'm like, oh God, it's gifting. It's horrible. So I'm trying to say instead of marketing, because it really is, what we're trying to do is incentivize you to take an action. And by the way, I get incentivized to take actions all the time, right.
Speaker 2 00:35:56 Eric had mostly pushed back on that, not the gifting. And I think you can admit, I think you can see this as well. I know I've done this. I've been solicited from G2 or one of those deals, Hey, on a gift card, just take the survey or $20 and have a book, a meeting with us and they do it. Is there a downside if it's not done right? Because are you just throwing money? Like, is there a point of diminishing return where it's like, that's not the right setup. That's not the right bull. That makes sense. Because I know I've got, I've got about $50 gift cards in the last two weeks,
Speaker 3 00:36:34 By the way, do you take action on every single Google ad that you see? Like, are you just tossing money down the drain for paid advertising a hundred percent? Why do you do that? Well, because there's a conversion rate in that channel, right? I'm not saying every single lead that you're going to send a gift card offering is going to accept a meeting from you. But I will tell you that people are incentivized by something, by some thing that they get, they can touch or spend or whatever else they are incentivized by that. So, and by the way, man, like this is like not a new thing, right? This is like, we've been taking people out to dinner forever. I played how much golf did we play at CareerBuilder?
Speaker 2 00:37:14 I was a lot better than way back then. That's for sure.
Speaker 3 00:37:18 I like, I want that back. I want to go play golf all the time. I love that. I love that. So I think that like the companies that, that have like a note gifting policy, I, I totally respect that decision. And I think that, you know, some companies just that's part of their deal, but like when you have we're talking to, I will say parts of government, side of the world right now, military potentially to where it's like, they're looking at this as well. Right? Sending a piece of, of something, right? Whether it's, uh, something that says army audit right. Or something, anything, it doesn't need to be monetary. It can be something that's branded. Right. So I think you really need to define, and that's why incentives are important because incentives do cover branded promotional things or flower basket or whatever you want to send a gift card. So you have to know your audience with that. So, you know, sending a $50 gift card to somebody that's no gifting policy, not a good idea, but maybe sending them something that's branded and just saying, Hey, or a charity, like sending something, Hey, I want to, I want to donate this on your behalf. It works. But that
Speaker 2 00:38:23 Goes back to your original point. You got to, your dad has gotta be good. Like you got you correct her to know you've got to know who you're sending to your ICP. It doesn't make sense to be sending that to that group. I mean, that's really what you're getting to. That's just a bad data that you did not account for. You did not adjust for you to not adapt to or whatever the case might
Speaker 3 00:38:43 Be. That's correct. Yeah. You know, not everything is going to work and it's not going to be a hundred percent, but you know, what you really do need to understand is that there is a conversion rate built into every single channel that you operate through. There's your, we talk about omni-channel reporting. But, and generally, by the way, the number that we've found in our customers is that by adding in this omni-channel ABM strategy, an offline touchpoint, it increases conversion by 20%. That is what we're seeing now. So 20% lift in that overall challenge or that overall omni-channel approach, that piece is important to understand, because if you break down each one of those channels and independently, see what works better than others. Incentive marketing is always going to perform better than email marketing, because guess what, you're doing this last, because there's a cost associated to it and you're doing this more, but the conversion rates are lower.
Speaker 3 00:39:39 So we're at this impasse right now to where digital is overloaded and creating diminishing returns. So you have to move into the offline in order to have equal or better results than you had. So I just think that like, and again, we're not changing the way people are doing business. Everybody's always been doing this before, but now it's easier to scale this. So I think that the channel based metrics, understanding what your channel conversion rates are, what your, your omni-channel conversion rates are, conversion rates in your ABM strategy. Like, okay, these are the types of accounts, size of accounts, type of personas. You're going after. You got to really understand all that stuff. And it sounds like a lot, man, I'm saying, and I'm like, God, it's a lot. But if you're going to do it and you're going to scale fast, you need to do this, this for organizations, I've been a part of, we've gone fast. Now you also can sit back and be like, dude, I want to do that. That's way too much work. Right? And that's not my expertise. You go back to grind and phones and hidden GRA grant Cardozo. Like dude just hit the phones, like go. And that might work for you. But an channel approach I think is, is going to be a little bit more effective. You
Speaker 2 00:40:50 Know, when I, when I'm listening and we're having this conversation, it really just comes down to how do you separate yourself from the notes? It's all around to your point. People are getting barraged with email. They're getting, even now people are getting calls on the cell phones because you're in the office and now you're getting barraged on the cell phone. You're getting hit up on LinkedIn, a million ways to Sunday. Now it's how do you start to distinguish yourself from the pack? Right? And that's why I think this is a valuable solution and we've used it. And I used it to our, to our conversation around career Boulder in a very micro way back then sending a thank you card. You know, if I knew a guy likes cigars, I go by him at the ABC wine shop. I freaking mail it to and relationship just the conversion. Those always seem to be my best relationships as well here. The ones that have carried through as I've changed and I've gone back to them, they're either now, now a customer or there are at least a relationship that I can lean on. So I think there's a lot more than just the conversion aspect of it that you can lean on. Right. It's they converted them, but they might have converted today. But that relationship that you're building there's value to that.
Speaker 3 00:42:02 Yeah. So, yeah. While you were saying back in version a lot and it's robotic, you know, it's robotic. It is because I live in this world of like, you know, automation and trying to like scale things, the human approach, man, that's a hundred percent, right? The human approach, just being a good person, figuring out what someone likes or is figuring out how you, how you can create a better connection with them making a donation to their favorite charity, you know, send something that's nice. Or even just, you know, making a phone call and just saying, Hey, how are you going? Not, not trying to sell you anything. How's it gone? You know, I think the best relationships I've had in business and it all comes back around, man, you're a customer of ours now, right? Like it's, it all comes back around. People want to buy from people. People want to buy from people. They don't want to buy it from machines. Right. So I think that, and I don't subscribe to the whole with product led growth. I don't subscribe to sales. Sales is dead. There's a lot of companies are like, we don't need salespeople. We've got product. Like, no, no, no, that's not worse. People want to buy from people. And until you build a robot that can act exactly like an SDR, which by the way, I was going to try to build it before I started
Speaker 2 00:43:05 Was that the first iteration,
Speaker 3 00:43:07 The first idea that I had after post, after texter crew. And I was like talking to a couple of buddies that are in the industry and they're like, you should do that. That's really great. And then Mandy came up, it's a horrible idea. Dog's doing, doing it. Everybody's doing it like, okay, but you need to be a human. And especially now it's harder to connect with people than ever because you know, attention spans are like, you know, fruit flies. So how do you build that? But you're dead, right, man. You gotta gotta be a human
Speaker 2 00:43:36 For final thoughts for the listeners. Like just kind of takeaways. I, if you, if you heard nothing else, couple of things that you recommend doing, just as feedback for those that are grinding it out there or sales leaders that are trying to figure this out on the fly or build and scale as well.
Speaker 3 00:43:52 You know? So first off you cannot be an expert in everything. You cannot be an expert in everything. So do yourself a favor, take meetings with technology companies because they are experts. You don't need to buy. And by the way, you can even tell them, listen, I'm not going to buy right now. I just need to understand we are experts in what we do. You are experts in what you guys do, right? So if you are considering starting something new and starting a new strategy on something as a leader, even an IC, you need to really take these meetings and understand what is available. Yes. We're going to try to sell it to you, but you're going to learn a lot along the way. So I think that's, I think the second thing is is that you have to be different. You have got to be different. We talked a little bit about it, but like there, in order to win and B to B, it is going to be as competitive as B to C eyeballs, we interact with 10,000 brands a day, a day. All of this stuff is branded everything, branded everything, right. We interact with. So how is your brand, this B2B brand I'm going to stick out. And I think that that's the only way to that as being different. Yeah, man, those are kind of the two, two thoughts that I had.
Speaker 2 00:45:00 We appreciate it. And we know you're extremely busy. We appreciate you taking the time. How can people out there to connect with you online, how they learn a little bit more about postal postal, but they'll still help us understand how do we get in contact with you guys?
Speaker 3 00:45:16 Yeah. So feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn. I'm fairly active on that. We're sharing things about the company and things that I'm seeing as well in this industry, you know, student of the game. So, uh, happy to connect with you and yeah, for postal postal.io, free trial, we can walk you through. We do humanize the trial process. So you will be assigned to somebody, but yeah. Feel free to reach out and you obviously appreciate the time and reconnect. Awesome brother. Thank you.
Speaker 0 00:45:43 Thank you for listening to the sales samurai podcast with your host, Sam Capra, be sure you subscribe to our podcast and visit sales samurai.io and join the conversation. Access show notes and discover bonus content.
Founder & CEO @ Postal
Erik Kostelnik is the co-founder and CEO of Postal, an Experience Marketing platform that helps companies drive brand loyalty, increase conversions, boost overall employee happiness, and improve customer health scores. Prior to Postal.io, Erik founded TextRecruit, one of the fastest-growing HR technology companies in the world, leading it to acquisition in 2018 by iCIMS, Inc. He also served as the Head of Sales at Wrike from 2014 to 2016 helping it reach #116 in 2015 Deloitte Fastest 500. Erik was named an Upstart 50 Top Inventor by the Silicon Valley Business Journal in 2017 and lives in San Luis Obispo, CA with his wife and three kids.