How does Go-To-Market Pros help clients?

An interview with Michael Phelan Principal and Founder of Go-To-Market-Pros a Marketing and Sales Strategies company.

Helping clients better understand & engage with B2B customers and prospects

Interview

How does Go-To-Market Pros help clients?

My name is Michael Phelan. I’m the principal of Go-to-Market Pros here in Boston. And I have a background in terms of sales and marketing at both large companies and emerging tech companies. And about seven years ago I formed my own company, Go-to-Market Pros, and it was all around helping marketers and sales professionals, executives form a really strong go-to-market strategy, really understanding how to cut through to the clutter, how to kind of bypass and engage with buyers when you’re up against competitors who have very large budgets, large inside sales teams, and maybe your brand is not as established as other brands. So I work with both companies that are emerging growth companies in the US and I also work with companies that are coming into the US market from outside.

Generally they have a small sales and marketing team, or maybe it’s just one person, and a small budget and they really have a great product. But a lot of these big buyers, especially enterprise buyers, they’re not going to meet with them, they’re not going to engage with them because they don’t know them, and they don’t have the firepower, the sales firepower or the marketing firepower. Some cases they’ve got a much better product than what’s out there. So, I use a methodology that I called magnet marketing to help them engage with buyers. So what I do is I reach out to the buyers and I’ll conduct the genuine study on best practices. Right now I’m doing one on best practices on co-op and vendor marketing at major retailers. So I’ll reach out to the retailers, I’ll invite them into the study. I’ll pay them for their time and when they come onto the call, the sponsor will be there and it’s generally a senior sales and marketing exec at my client.

I will interview the prospect for 15 minutes. “What are you doing now? How are you solving this problem? What are the best practices? What are your challenges? What do you want to do in the future? what’s on your roadmap?” Meanwhile, my client’s getting incredibly smart about that account and what they’re struggling with and their pain points. And then we’ll offer some suggestions, some solutions, some best practices, which has a gift card, which they’re always going to open up because it’s got a cash gift card, and it’s got information that they can bring into the office the next day, share with their colleagues. And meanwhile my client will be associated with content that will help solve these buyers’ problems.

So it starts with the prospect call and ends with prospects centric marketing. And it’s really inbound marketing and reverse and it allows companies with smaller budgets to engage in meaningful conversations with buyers. Sometimes it’s early stage sales identification, sometimes it’s determining if that particular account is a real prospect for you, sometimes it’s understanding what’s going from a competitive environment, and sometimes it’s really collecting authentic content for content marketing. It combines about four different disciplines. It combines an analyst program with content marketing, with early stage sales identification, and best practices research. So it’s a combination of four different disciplines that come together to get meaningful conversations with smaller emerging growth companies and large prospects.

 

How do you “sell” Magnet Marketing to your prospects?

The first step is to get a client to understand the methodology of magnet marketing. It’s a little bit different. And for people who are used to very defined things and very standard ways of going to market with B2B marketing, it takes a little bit of explaining. But once they kind of get the concept of that this gets you net new meetings with highly targeted prospects and from an account based marketing perspective, they’ll get it. So how I get clients is, a lot of times, I do a lot of work in retail and eCommerce. There are about 8,000 different companies targeting the top hundred eCommerce and retailers, eCommerce companies and retailers. So anybody from say a Home Depot to an Amazon, to a Walmart, to a Chicos, any kind of major retail brand. So there are a lot more people trying to sell them than there are buyers.

So anybody that’s in that market understands the difficulty and frustration of getting these kind of meetings, getting these kind of appointments. And as much as they may have good sales and marketing efforts, a lot of times people will not respond to vendors because there’s just too many of them. So, it’s about really kind of getting the client to listen and understand a methodology, finding a client that will try something new, and if there’s some domain knowledge that I have, where I’ve done some work say in marketing personalization, or I’ve done some work in CDPs, customer data platforms, I’ve done work in terms of high performance advertising, social media. So, if I’ve done some work in the space and I know the retailers, and I know their competitors, that’s always a plus. But like any consulting, you have to make sure, or any agency business, that you work hard on keeping your name, on promoting on LinkedIn, on being in the right forums.

But what I find is most successful is where you have a client that understands that difficulty and has tried everything and is open to something new and you have the domain knowledge, you have some experience with relevant industry competitors. So that’s kind of that, that side of things. Then when I reach out to the retailers, I do a lot of it by LinkedIn, and I’ll typically try and connect with them. “I’m going to do a study on the following. You look like a good fit. Will you connect with me? I’ll give you more details on the study.” So, as they connect with me, that’s building my database of contacts into that vertical, into that network. I’ll invite them into the study, then I’ll coordinate. I’ll actually book the appointment and it’s easy for my client’s sales team because all they have to do is show up. There’s a lot of people doing lead gen services, there’s a lot of people doing meeting services, but they don’t actually manage the meeting for the client.

 

What are the best client acquisition tactics for agencies?

Videos is something that I haven’t done a lot of, but should do more of. I think that certainly all the stats will say that video on LinkedIn, for example, is much more effective. So, I did my first blog recently, not blog, I did my first podcast recently and we’ve got good views on that, but not everybody can have this special software to do it. It’s a little bit more involved. And so I think video could be a good way for me to do that. But some of the things that I do today is I post a lot of relevant content to my audience. So if I’m working on a program and it’s around marketing personalization and retail, I will gather a lot of content and share a lot of content around that topic. So, not always writing it myself, but curating it from my network so that they kind of see me as somebody that has a passion for that topic and is proactively sharing information, and has a good knowledge for that.

So when I come up to them and say, “I’d like to do a study on the topic,” they have some awareness of me around that. They know it’s just not a random reach out. “This guy comes out of retail. He’s very much involved.” I do host panels as well, so I’ll have panels and dinners and things like that. So I’ll be on panels or I’ll host panels. I’ll go to shows like the NRF, which is the National Retail Federation, and I’ll host a panel of retailers and we’ll invite people to come and hear what they’re talking about. So I think that’s good. I think for agencies, the events stuff, if done well, can be very good. I think that either moderating panels or hosting panels face to face, I think, is one of the best ways of doing it.

But also being at the forums that are discussing topics to make the product more tangible, and I think that helps on the client’s side where they know exactly what they’re getting and what they’re buying and what other people have bought. And of course references are a big part of that. I put all my references on LinkedIn so people can see all the clients that I’ve worked with. And a lot of people are not comfortable with that. And I think that’s really good. So anytime I do a project, I’ll have the customer do a reference and then everybody can see all the online, it gives them a sense of comfort that they’re there and they’re public, and there’s no kind of difficulty getting at that information, and they can always reach out to anybody who’s a reference directly as well. But I think that reducing risk and making people feel that they’re buying a tangible, proven product offering is important in the services business.

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