How to Use Marketing to Filter Out Unqualified Prospects
May 1, 2019

Notes from the Show

In this episode, we join Dave Orrechio, CEO of Bristol Strategy, to discuss using marketing to filter out unqualified prospects:

  • The challenges of sales in getting connected to the end user in the digital world
  • How service companies have difficulty finding new business due to a lack of time to seek prospects
  • How inbound marketing leverages all the available digital tools in a way that forces you to focus on the prospect’s journey


Intro: You’re listening to Dare to Differentiate, a podcast for business owners in crowded industries who want to learn how to rise above the noise. In this show, we focus not on doing everything for everybody, but on doing a few things for the right people with excellence. So, if you’re ready to leave the herd, then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get into the show.Intro: You’re listening to Dare to Differentiate, a podcast for business owners in crowded industries who want to learn how to rise above the noise. In this show, we focus not on doing everything for everybody, but on doing a few things for the right people with excellence. So, if you’re ready to leave the herd, then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get into the show.

Susan: Dave Orrechio. Thanks so much for being here to talk to me today.

Dave: I’m really happy to do so, Susan.

Susan: I think you’ve got some great stuff that you’re going to be able to tell us about what I think are really different ways of using marketing to help get to the right people, to help get us in front of the right prospects. But before we get into that, do you want to just take a minute or two to tell us a little bit about you?

Dave: Oh, yeah. I’d love to do that. So, the short story is, I’ve been running my inbound marketing, digital marketing agency called Bristol Strategy for five years now. And prior to that, CEO of a startup company that actually utilized inbound marketing to drive traffic, leads, and sales. Then, prior to that, basically, for many years, I was a high-tech sales and marketing person and basically loving life and generating a lot of revenue, generating a lot of demand, had several exits in there.

So, a wonderful experience, and part of the reason that drew me to starting an inbound agency was I did some consulting for several businesses along the way and what I discovered there are many businesses really don’t understand how to crack the code of getting the right kind of leads and sales for their business and I felt that my prior experience would lend itself well to it, and my experience with inbound marketing would really tie together nicely. 

Susan: You and I have talked in the past and I mentioned that I talk to a lot of business development people and a lot of business owners, and we all – I mean, you and I are in the same boat. Across the board, it’s a challenge to get in front of the right people, and sometimes, for us, it’s a challenge to have time to do it consistently because we are also the people that deliver the services that we’re selling. And I think that that’s a place where inbound can help you be more consistent. Would you agree with that?

Dave: Yeah, absolutely, and the problem is not restricted to services companies. It’s just that, with services companies, as you said, the problem is exacerbated because the service people are also delivering the service. So, when they’re delivering the service, they’re not actually out there trying to find new business. Service businesses typically have higher ebbs and flows of their business because they’re doing a service delivery. But the problem exists even for product companies who have dedicated salespeople and services companies who have dedicated salespeople who are doing all the selling. The challenges are they can’t get access to the prospects and they’re struggling connecting with people.

Susan: And the conventional – we could call it conventional tactics that sales and business development people would use to get to people, to prospects in the past, you know, we’re seeing that cold calling and cold emailing and that sort of thing certainly like beating your head against a wall these days.

Dave: Yeah, and in fact, you know, you and I know that it’s intuitive that that has gotten hotter and hotter mainly because of the way we treat people who do cold calls to us. I mean, I get dozens of cold calls on my cell phone now. I get many, many cold emails, and the first sentence in the email is, “How are you doing today?” or “I hope you’re well,” and those kinds of beginning emails cause me to delete them instantly. And I would imagine that it’s getting quite frustrating for these salespeople because the world, people humans who they’re trying to sell to are getting bombarded so much that it’s really, really hard to get ahold of them.

In fact, HubSpot did some research last year about what’s harder to do now in sales then it was two or three years ago, and the point you made, getting connection with a user both through email, through phone, through any method has gotten far more difficult. And the fundamental reason behind that is they have options. They can do the research on their own and figure out what they want. They don’t need to speak to a salesperson to do it.

Susan: Right. So, they wait until they’re 75% of the way through the buying process, right? Somewhere around there?

Dave: Yeah. Yeah, and if you think about that, 75% of the way is really all the time that they’re taking to do their research into how to solve their problem, right? So, you think about sales in general. Sales are all about helping people solve problems, and you certainly hope that your product or service solves the problem that they have. And, you know, generally speaking, the role of a salesperson is to find those people who need a problem solved that they can solve and get them to buy. It’s all about mining available databases, context, resources to get those connections.

If you circled back to your original point that salespeople cannot get people on the phone, that means that if that person is not someone that a salesperson already had a relationship with, meaning that person is in your Rolodex or your database and you’ve done business with them before, they trust you, you trust them, and you can pick up the phone and call them and say, “Hey, I’d like to get your advice on something,” or “There may be a solution to a problem that you have. I’d like to talk to you for five minutes and see if there’s a fit,” and the person who knows you, has a relationship, will listen to the voicemail, will call you back. Right? If you don’t have that level of relationship, then you’re not really readily connecting with people. And really, really, really, businesses need a solution to that problem so that their sales will flow and the business will grow.

Susan: Just in case there’s anyone listening who’s not familiar with inbound marketing, can you just tell us real quickly what that is?

Dave: First and foremost, inbound marketing was developed based on the realization that the buyer behavior was changing because of the internet, that people were doing research online. They do that research, they figure out what kind of solution they wanted, and the companies that would deliver value in terms of content were the ones that would get the sale. That was the original concept behind inbound, and inbound has actually gotten much broader than that, in that it’s now leveraging every element of what people generally classify as digital marketing. So, that includes social media, email marketing, everything that’s on your website, blogging, calls to actions, offers, any kind of technical papers you might be offering, basically the whole soup that is digital, right? Everything but offline.

In other words, a trade show is a human to human event that’s happening at some location, or other offline events where people congregate live. Basically, inbound leverages all of the tools that are available in a digital medium, but does it in a way that’s focused on the prospect. So, what’s happened is it’s flipped everything upside down. 

If you think about the way a website used to be created in the old days, a website used to be like a glorified data sheet. You know, you had the homepage that’s like, “Welcome to my company,” product page would list all the products and the feeds and speeds, a service page would talk about the types of services, then you have a contact page. And basically, the page’s created that way, the website’s created that way, and all the content that’s there required the visitor of the website to try and figure out what information they needed and, in fact, your website back then was judged based on how easy it was for people to figure out what they needed.

But, in the end of the day, the website was created in a way in which the seller logically thought about their services and what you should buy. With inbound, that gets flipped on its head, and there are a couple of key concepts that people should understand, and I won’t go through a master class in inbound here, just touch a couple of the key points. The first is understanding the buyer’s journey for information. When I use the word “buyer” in this case, I’m talking about any prospect who’s visiting your website. They go through three phases. It’s the awareness stage, where they recognize they have a problem and they’re researching solutions, and not just your solution, but other companies’ solutions as well, the consideration stage where they’ve figured out how they want to solve a problem and they’re looking for companies that can address the need, and the decision stage where they look for information to schedule a call with the company about the solution that they’re looking for.

So, it’s really, really important that when companies set up, everything that relates to their website: their website pages, their content that they’re creating for the visitor to engage with, the whole workflow, effectively, that the user uses when they engage a website, the sequence of content on every single page, has to be thought of in the context of, “What would the visitor need to learn first, second, third, fourth,” up and down every single page so that when you deliver content in that way with an eye toward the buyer’s journey, the information they need, the sequence they need it in, now you really are catering to them in their terms.

When a visitor comes to a website that’s structured that way, with all of the content that supports their needs, that builds trust with the company. And that’s what inbound’s all about. It’s attracting the right kind of clients to your website, delivering content in a logical way that services them and addresses their buyer’s journey for information, and, hopefully, if you provided enough value, they reach out and ask for a call. Those are the kinds of leads that, unlike a cold call or a cold lead, someone that you got out of a database you purchase, these leads are actually warm, and in some cases, hot leads because they have reached out to you and want to have a conversation with you about the solution that you provide. Does all that make sense?

Susan: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Thanks, that was good. You said something that made me think, though. I talk to a lot of sales and business development people and business owners, and over and over and over again, the ones that do have inbound programs that are working, I hear complaints about the leads, “They’re not qualified” or “They’re not our ideal customers, and that I spend a lot of time on the phone, when I do get on the phone with these people, realizing that they’re just never going to buy anything.” I hear that from some surprisingly – I wouldn’t use any names, but some surprising sources that you would think would not have this happening to them. I had one person recently tell me that only 10% of the inbound leads that he gets are any good, and this person is supposed to be an expert in the inbound marketing.

Dave: Wow. That’s scary.

Susan: But I know that your clients, when they come to work with you, experience a decline in the number of irrelevant people who visit their websites and an increase in the number of relevant prospects, so, how are you doing that?

Dave: Well, yeah. This is an interesting point. First and foremost, the companies who are getting bad leads from inbounds, I would argue they’re not truly implementing inbound the right way and they don’t have the right content that’s going to attract the right kind of leads. Let me talk a little bit about content as it relates to lead generation and inbound marketing.

Just like if you were going to go fly-fishing, right? You know, fly fishing is a lot of fun, and people who do fly fishing, they understand that you have to use a particular fly that resembles the bug that the fish want to eat, okay?

Susan: Yeah.

Dave: And when you’re fly fishing, that’s the first problem. The second problem is you have these long lines and these leaders that you’re whipping back and forth, and the goal is you’re trying to place the fly at a particular place on the lake or stream or river or whatever it is where you think the fish are congregating so they’ll spot this bug and go and take a bite out of it. So, you’ve got a bunch of complicating factors. You’ve got to have the right bait, you have to put the bait in the right place, and if you’re lucky, the fish is going to eat it and you’re going to catch the fish, okay?

So, it turns out inbound marketing is much the same way. What’s happening is the people who are getting the bad leads, it’s like they’re fly fishing with all the wrong flies. They’re using the bugs that the fish aren’t eating at that time of the season, they’re casting and the string is getting caught in the tress, and –

Susan: Just throwing out a net.

Dave: Basically, think about it this way: Random content will produce random results. They’re getting random results.

Susan: Okay.

Dave: And if they’re lucky, one of the pieces of content they create might be the right kind of content. So, that’s got to be the realization of these people who are making investments in inbound that aren’t producing the right results. It’s ludicrous.

One of the things that I did before I started Bristol Strategy is I thought about that whole problem of content creation because I knew from my own experience that content was one of the critical factors in being successful with inbound. And, you know, I had some personal experience, and maybe this is why I’ve got a greater appreciation for it. When I was leading marketing, we were creating all kinds of content based on what we believed needed to be provided to the prospects. Then I shifted my role into sales and, you know, you’re a quota carrying sales rep, you live or die by being able to close a deal. But if you don’t close a deal, you get fired or you don’t eat. Or both, right? I mean, salespeople know.

Susan: It’s a different story, yeah.

Dave: Yeah. There’s no excuse, right? If marketing doesn’t give you what you need, you still have to close the deals. You have to still fill your pipeline. There are no excuses in sales, and when you move to a sales role like that, you get that appreciation. So, I found myself creating my own content, things that I needed as I engage with customers. The nice thing about being a salesperson is the amount of service area or the amount of time you spend in front of customers is much, much higher than most marketing people. So, marketing people are basically at a disadvantage to knowing this.

What I realized was you needed content that aligned with the triggers that cause your ideal buyer to purchase your product or service. Let me talk about that for a second.

So, really, really, really great salespeople, what are they really good at? The first thing they’re good at is figuring out what messaging, what communication, what story causes customers to buy over and over and over again. If you’re a good salesperson and you’re selling funnels, okay? I’m talking about a physical funnel that you might use to fill a bottle with water, right? So, you know, that’s a low-tech product, but let’s say they figured out that you need a certain type of funnel to be able to fill bottles of tequila in order to do it so that you don’t contaminate the tequila or whatever. You have all these people out there that need to feel tequila bottles and they need the right type of funnel, but they have a real problem about it.

Well, that salesperson would figure out, “Okay, who needs to fill tequila bottles and how do I find them and how do I communicate to them why they need my funnel and all the other funnels won’t work?” The salespeople are great at figuring that out, and maybe that example is a really bad one. It probably is a very bad one, but the message is true. Great salespeople figure out what trigger causes customers to buy and they know where to look for those particular customers, and what they do is they basically repeat over and over and over again a sequence of events that relate to a particular trigger. And then, once they’re done mining that set of users, they figure another trigger for another set of users and they do the same thing, they mine that one over and over and over again until they’ve exhausted that set of clients. So, great salespeople can figure out what they need to say and do, how to get in front of prospects and sell them the product. Okay.

Susan: Dave, when you say “trigger,” are you talking about something external that you can see that’s happening that would – like an acquisition of a company or a new executive comes on or –

Dave: No, actually. Not that. Although those can be keys to finding the right person to try and reach out to. The trigger is a problem that they’re going to invest money in solving. And thank you for asking that qualifying question because that’s a critical point. If you think about it, all of your prospects out in the world are getting bombarded with people trying to get them to spend money on their products. But, there’s a subset of priorities in your target customers that they’re willing to spend money on. Okay?

So, a trigger is a problem that’s high enough in a priority list that they’re going to want to spend money on it. And every company out there that I engage with can easily tell me what the primary trigger is, why people spend money on them, and the one that’s most important, and then they can tell me what the second most important one is and the third most important one and they can identify these triggers that are common factors that drive most people to buy their product. Does that make sense?

Susan: Yeah. It’s like something that we might call – I guess I refer to is as “paint points.”

Dave: Yeah. But it’s more than just a pain point. People have lots of pain points. It’s the pain points that people are going to spend money to solve.

Susan: High priority pain points.

Dave: Yes. Absolutely. So, that helps you narrow down the list of things that you want to talk about, and then, basically, you can imagine that if it’s a high enough pain point that they’re going to want to solve the problem, you would imagine that, if a company were to be creating content around that pain point, that that would attract visitors to doing research on the internet to them.

Another way to think about this is these triggers are the reasons why people are going to want to buy your products. What companies need to do is they need to create content that relates to those triggers so that when people do research on the internet – because we really described that they’re doing that research online to find solutions to their problems. If you’re talking about the trigger where they want to spend money and they find your content, then you’ve effectively attracted the ideal buyer to your company. Does that make sense?

Susan: Yeah. What I’m thinking is, so when we talk about triggers or pains or whatever, that could be being felt by a wide range of people. So, it seems to me like it has to be even narrower. If my target audience, for example, is, say, a certain size company versus and individual or a small business – I understand what you’re saying. I could be talking about pain that I’m feeling is my CRM isn’t keeping up with what my needs are, but there’s a big difference in what an enterprise company would need versus what an individual would need.

Dave: Yeah, but I think the common factor here is every company that has success in selling really does understand what their differentiation is and who their ideal customers are. So, as long and they’re writing the content targeting to those ideal customers and indirectly including their differentiating points in that content, what’ll happen is the people who are the right fit will engage with that content in a very positive way.

Here’s a new concept that people who are thinking about implanting inbound marketing need to consider: If you’re creating content around these triggers that are pain points that they want to spend money on, you have to think about it and basically publish the content on your website in a way that it, in fact, creates a funnel. Now, this is a concept.

So, if we circle back to the beginning of our conversation where we said the top two-thirds of the sales funnel has been obliterated by the internet because users are doing their own research and not answer the phone, in essence, the strategy for success for business is to restore that funnel digitally, utilizing the website and marketing automation technologies. So, the content in and of itself is a prerequisite as long as it’s written around the clusters of content that address the triggers that people want to spend money to utilize your services or products.

Susan: I think I hear you making a point that’s what I tend to be on my soapbox about, and that is the need to differentiate.

Dave: Yes.

Susan: And I wish it were true that everybody is well differentiated and including that in their content and their marketing, but it seems like that’s a key factor. If you haven’t differentiated yourself, you’re going to be putting out generic content that is going to appeal to everybody and their brother.

Dave: Exactly. Exactly. So, yeah, the elements of the content have to be differentiated and then you have to restore your sales funnel by creating what I call and inbound marketing sales funnel. It’s a particular methodology for publishing the content on your website and including nurturing to get the visitor that basically converts on an ebook or other offer at the top of the funnel, like that awareness stage, converts them and pulls them down the funnel until they’re ready to speak to sales. And if you create these funnels, these are active funnels that are delivering content, utilizing social media, email marketing, and everything else.

Once you’ve got someone who came to your website and they were attracted to your website organically because of the content you’re publishing in these content clusters, they convert on an ebook that relates to the content that you’ve written about that is also related to the trigger. They download that ebook. You now know that that particular individual cares about the topic that that ebook was written about, which correlates to the trigger that they have.

Now, when you send them content that also correlates to their trigger in the form of emails, they will open those emails, they’ll read those emails, and those emails nurture them to the next stage of the buyer’s journey. They get to the next stage, they’re learning about your company, they consume that information. All of this content they’re consuming is educating and differentiating your company. So, you haven’t talked to them yet, but because of the way they’re interacting with the content and the marketing automation is delivering content at the right time to that visitor, they basically move down the funnel until they’re ready to buy.

The key to the problem with marketing on the internet is, you know, more than half the people who visit your website generally are qualified but not ready to buy. Any by implementing these nurturing methodologies, effectively, the automation of the funnel, what used to be done by a human is now done by machine through care, creating the content, and stitching it all together, you now get leads at the bottom of the funnel that are hot leads and very highly correlated to your ideal customer.

I have seen this happen over and over and over again in the years that we’ve run Bristol Strategy and we’ve implanting this methodology for our clients. They see an immediate shift to a higher quality customer who’s coming to their website and asking for a discussion.

Secondly, when they have the discussion, the visitors, because of the differentiation and the content, they want you more. In other words, they appreciate the way in which you deliver the service or product such that your competition would be caught flat-footed. So, you in the differentiated position, you’ve educated them so you develop good will and trust, and then you just share with them the way in which you solve problems, and a good salesperson can close those deals every day.

Susan: And not waste their time on people who they don’t need to be talking to.

Dave: Bingo.

Susan: Yeah. Yeah. Well, Dave, we said we would talk for 20 minutes or so. I still wanted to hear your thoughts on putting a sales funnel in digital form. Do you have time to do that? Maybe we come back later.

Dave: My recommendation is to leave that for another call. I do have a website page that literally describes how to create an inbound marketing sales funnel for your company. And maybe we could just include a link to that there and then do a follow-up call to talk about that.

Susan: Okay. Okay. Yeah, I’ll put that in the show notes, for sure. So, if anybody wants to get in touch with you how do they do that?

Dave: Well, the best way is to go to my website, which is and you can learn all about the company, you can learn about me. There are a tremendous amount of resources there, of course, and they can just reach out on the contact form or any of the other offers that we offer companies to help them address their needs of, you know, traffic, leads, and sales.

Susan: All right. Well, thank you very much. This has been very informative, and I appreciate it, and we’ll talk again soon.

Dave: Well, thank you very much. Have a great day.

Susan: You too, Dave. Bye.

Dave: Bye-bye.

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