Hey there! Welcome to the Marketer Of The Month blog!
We recently interviewed Eric Quanstrom for our monthly podcast – ‘Marketer of the Month’! We had some amazing insightful conversations with Eric and here’s what we discussed about –
1. How outbound marketing aids in achieving typical goals for enterprise clients
2. Prioritizing building an aligned brand to drive growth
3. Doing more with less : marketing budgets in the downturn
4. Customer experience is now tablestakes : taking brand authenticity one step forward
5. Using social media to practise various types of dialogue and awareness
6. Helping prospects understand the value in partnering with your product
About our host:
Dr. Saksham Sharda is the Chief Information Officer at Outgrow.co. He specializes in data collection, analysis, filtering, and transfer by the means of widgets and applets. Interactive, cultural, and trending widgets designed by him have been featured on TrendHunter, Alibaba, ProductHunt, New York Marketing Association, FactoryBerlin, Digimarcon Silicon Valley, and at The European Affiliate Summit.
About our guest:
Eric Quanstrom serves as CMO at CIENCE and is in charge of both the company’s inbound and outbound marketing strategies. Eric has a solid background in building marketing strategies for IT and sales enablement industries, working in companies like KiteDesk, Pipeliner CRM, and Nimble.
EPISODE 087: Pushing the Limits of Growth With a Consistent Brand Image
Saksham Sharda: Hi, everyone, welcome to another episode of Outgrows Marketer of the Month. I’m your host, Dr. Saksham Sharda. I’m the creative director at Outgrow.co. And for this month we’re going to interview Eric Quanstrom, who is the CMO at Cience, which is a company that helps others grow primarily through lead generation. Thanks for joining us, Eric.
Eric Quanstrom: Well, thanks for having me. Appreciate it.
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The Rapid Fire Round!
Saksham Sharda: So Eric, we’re going to start with a rapid-fire round just to break the ice. You get three passes. In case you don’t want to answer the question, you can just say pass. But try to keep your answers to one word, or one sentence only. Okay?
Eric Quanstrom: Sure.
Saksham Sharda: All right. So the first one, at what age do you want to retire?
Eric Quanstrom: Never.
Saksham Sharda: How long does it take you to get ready in the mornings?
Eric Quanstrom: 20 minutes
Saksham Sharda: The most embarrassing moment of your life?
Eric Quanstrom: Several, once when I had a freaky surfing accident and was trying to unwind from being concussed in our office space and was discovered by somebody else.
Saksham Sharda: Wow. All right, the next one favorite color?
Eric Quanstrom: Probably, Spartan green.
Saksham Sharda: What time of day are you most inspired?
Eric Quanstrom: 8 am
Saksham Sharda: How many hours of sleep can you survive on?
Eric Quanstrom: I’m an eight-hour sleep kinda guy.
Saksham Sharda: Fill in the blank: An upcoming marketing trend is ________.
Eric Quanstrom: Account-based marketing.
Saksham Sharda: The city in which the best kiss for your life happened?
Eric Quanstrom: Rosarito, Mexico.
Saksham Sharda: Pick one – Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey?
Eric Quanstrom: Pass
Saksham Sharda: The biggest mistake of your career?
Eric Quanstrom: Mistakes are learning events. So I don’t have one die slate.
Saksham Sharda: How do you relax?
Eric Quanstrom: Sleep
Saksham Sharda: How many cups of coffee do you drink per day?
Eric Quanstrom: One
Saksham Sharda: A habit of yours that you hate?
Eric Quanstrom: Pass. I’ll think about that.
Saksham Sharda: Okay, the most valuable skill you’ve learned in life?
Eric Quanstrom: Empathy.
Saksham Sharda: And the last one is your favorite Netflix show?
Eric Quanstrom: Cobra Kai
Saksham Sharda: Okay. All right. Well, that’s the end of the rapid-fire round. You had 9/10 because there was just one pass. So that was quite good.
The Big Questions!
Saksham Sharda: So the first question in the long form is, while talking of enterprise sales development, what are some of the typical business challenges encountered by enterprise clients?
Eric Quanstrom: While there are many, they’re varied, and they’re usually unique to the client themselves. So oftentimes, we’re helping companies penetrate new markets, introduce new products, focusing on new geographies. And really, a lot of it is isolating down on how that company wants to grow, where they want to grow. And typically, we will be engaged to run the outbound or direct response outreach on their behalf, depending on those goals.
Saksham Sharda: And so could you give us an example of one interesting case on this point?
Eric Quanstrom: Yeah, sure. So a very familiar publicly traded company wanted to open up Latin America, and primarily Mexico, and tap Cience and many outbound teams to run campaigns directly in the kind of like the borders where they had isolated down and had key accounts and key prospects that they want to develop. So we help them with a multi-channel outreach strategy and ultimately bring new sales opportunities to their teams in Latin America. And we’ve been very successful at doing that, and ultimately providing a lot of results for that company.
Saksham Sharda: And what is it like expanding into a new region for companies in general, do you find that is increasingly becoming the strategy of a lot of companies, or what is happening in this area?
Eric Quanstrom: We see the reverse, even more, it’s an overwhelming amount of foreign companies that want to penetrate American shores and want to do business in the good old USA where I’m at. So I would say that the vast majority of our business is on US soil in the 50 states here. And I think that there’s a lot of interest, especially for multinationals, or other companies that are kind of looking to up their game in America and outbound is a great place to start, primarily for the reasons that number one, without bound, you get to kind of call your shot, you figure out who your ideal customer profile is, you figure out what audiences you want to target, even down to the contact level, and the role that they play or the persona that they would have. And then you set your course on essentially reaching those individuals and starting up sales conversations through multiple means email, phone, LinkedIn, advertising web. And ultimately, by using those channels of penetration, we’re able to hand back to companies a steady stream of predictable net new revenue opportunities.
Saksham Sharda: And how important is it to prioritize especially when the different regions are involved, how important is it to prioritize building an aligned brand to drive growth in the coming year? Would you agree that there is a great challenge and risk linked to brand perception to achieve marketing goals?
Eric Quanstrom: Without a doubt, I think that brand is part of the story. And one of the things that are unique that we have a kind of a catbird seat on is that for every company that we run our outbound or lead generation managed services for, we’re running it as them. So nobody even knows science exists in the prospective case. And so ultimately, we are for better or worse tied to the brand. And kind of the awareness and the brand promise and everything that is like essential to that company, that name that associations, the positive or the negative images that would already be associated with the brand. So a lot of our campaigns are focused on taking that into account. For unknown brands where there’s very little brand familiarity, a lot of our kind of chief goal underneath producing net new sales appointments is raising awareness. And so that is part and parcel of everything that we do.
Saksham Sharda: Has there been any difficulty in particular that you’ve come across with Brand alignment?
Eric Quanstrom: Sure, I think that it is on average, all things being equal, easier for well-known brands to penetrate even new markets than it is for unknown brands to do likewise. And I like to think of brands as a container, and ultimately if they’re a container, or a bucket of associations and ideas about that brand, if I were to say the words Coca-Cola, you would immediately have associations that you would put into your container about that brand, what it is, what it stands for, what it makes you feel, the kind of things that would conjure up, if all of a sudden, you’re working on behalf of a brand that has an empty container, you know, and there’s just nothing that anyone understands or feels or otherwise recognizes about that brand. That’s both a blessing and a curse. It’s whitespace, a blank canvas that you can paint on. And you can create very favorable associations. But it’s also a potential negative in the sense that the person on the other end of the line, on the other end of an email, on the receiving end of being a prospect won’t have any associations positive or negative, and you have to build from the ground up.
Saksham Sharda: And so branding is one thing, what is your opinion on marketing budgets being the first seafood budget to be cut and then the last to be restored in the coming years? In the recession that we expect to be coming, would you say there is a certain disability to the CMO role as compared to other CCOs’ roles?
Eric Quanstrom: I think that first of all, the marketing budgets being the first to be cut is very short-sighted. And what I would say is that, if you think about strategies of kind of creating that new growth, strategy is changed when conditions change. But one of the things that I would encourage anyone who’s thinking deeply about these things to recognize is that in a recessionary environment, the general rule is always to do more with less. So I think marketing, is no different from getting cuts or seeing cuts across the board to budgets, but I would encourage thinking that was a little bit more equal because marketing is oftentimes the solution, the place where you can make huge gains in downturns. I’ve seen this happen with winning and successful brands over and over. I’ve got a few gray hairs on my head, and I’ve lived through a few recessions and I’ve watched it happen. I’ve watched the companies that went in, to the downturn, to the turn right like they always say in-car driving speed into the turn, rather than or accelerate into the turn, so to speak. That’s the motion that I think winning companies embrace. And they realize and recognize moments in time when a macro economy is giving them a gift. And that gift is, “Hey, I can do what everyone else is doing. Or I could do the old familiar playbook and just cut, cut, cut. Or I could be very judicious and I could be very, like, strategic. And I could say, marketing is one of those things that I might cut less to grow more than my relevant competitors, and take market share in this time of turmoil.”
Saksham Sharda: Okay, and so it’s almost like drifting through a recession, I suppose. That’s just sort of a Tokyo Drift, kind of like turning with a drift.
Eric Quanstrom: Well I think that ultimately, you can be reactive to trends, or you can kind of play the trends to your own best benefit. And I don’t know that there’ll be a listener in the audience, or people that are running a business that would want to be labeled as just being reactive and taking, kind of like, I’ll get what I get no, I don’t have a fit. That’s what I used to tell my kids. I think that most downturns and recessions present awesome opportunities. And at least at our company, that’s how we’re looking to attack a potentially recessionary environment.
Saksham Sharda: And so do you think brand authenticity itself will grow in the coming years, and optimizing the customer or prospect experience will be more important than sales or traditional marketing campaigns?
Eric Quanstrom: I think the guy’s already cast on that, and you can look nowhere else but the B2C markets for kind of all the cues, you need to learn about B2B, what used to be considered extraordinary customer experience is now table stakes. And I think that trend, if you will, only exacerbates or continues going forward. There’s a lot of people, a lot of pundits, a lot of analysts in the space that have talked a lot about, you know, we’ve moved from various economies, and right now the economy that we’re in is an attention economy. And if you dial it all back to what does an attention economy mean? It means that the customer experience is kind of everything. It kind of means that people will vote even in B2B non-transactional sales environments, with their wallets, if they’re not having their expectations met if they’re not getting the attention, the service, the right foot forward that they believe they deserve because frankly, they’re getting it in every other aspect of their life. And they’ve been conditioned to be treated very well not poorly, not as a number not as just a digit on a piece of paper. And so, ultimately, I think that we’ve already had several brands really lead or blaze a path here, to where the expectations game has just been raised so high, and I think every marketer that doesn’t recognize that trend is kind of foolish.
Saksham Sharda: And when it comes to social media, in particular, would you agree, the best way to increase your business’s visibility is by the right social media platforms? Where does social media stand in all this?
Eric Quanstrom: Sure, I think society has a role. And I think that’s another strategic choice of channel and time, money and resources, where you exercise, the types of campaigns, the types of dialogues, the types of engagement, the type of awareness that you want to raise on a given social media platform. So in a sense, like, it’s all in the name, right “social” media. And ultimately, these are aggregators of people, the aggregators of affinities and groups. And ultimately, how a brand chooses to interact and chooses to kind of go forward on a given social media platform is a really big deal. It creates a lot of awareness and creates a lot of those associations that bucketing that I was talking about earlier. A lot of people take their cues from what they learn about your social media presence.
Saksham Sharda: So what are the key social media platforms to be on right now?
Eric Quanstrom: Well, for our business, B2B, especially LinkedIn is number one by an order of magnitude. And I think that having a very cogent LinkedIn strategy not just for obtaining followers and being regularly seen in the feeds of network connections, but also for producing high-quality content and having a favorable brand impression on that particular network is a very important area of focus for us.
Saksham Sharda: So, what would be your opinion on say, value-based selling?
Eric Quanstrom: Well, I think that value is everything. Value is also always in the eye of the beholder or the prospect. So, one of my favorite sayings and sales, and by the way, I’m one of these marketers that believes that marketing serves sales, and people should never lose sight of that, and I don’t. I think that one of my favorite sayings is that price before value, just like commoditizing is your brand. So I think establishing values is possibly the key to just about every sales cycle that you might have, especially as a B2B brand. So I think about value and value creation, as helping prospects, companies that you would be doing business with, understand or unlock the value that they would see in partnering with your product or service. And ultimately, it’s their goal. It’s there in state, it’s their not before, but they’re after that matters. And helping them kind of like realize what that after might look like, with your help, with your guidance.
Saksham Sharda: And so speaking of value before price, then how can brands measure results accurately, and ensure their marketing goals are set for long-term brand building, alongside also, of course, short-term growth?
Eric Quanstrom: Well, I think that one of the first things is to have everything aligned, and to understand who you serve, how you help, and what you can do to create value in every situation that you might encounter. And so ultimately, then putting the structure in place on top of that framework is an important part of the journey. The second half of that is understanding what a customer’s experience to go back to that theme is going to be like with your brand, with your company. And ultimately, the value that you can unlock during that journey, how you can communicate it, how you can essentially provide analytics on it, how you can ultimately get somebody where they want to go and do so in a way that they understand and see the value that is provided on that journey.
Saksham Sharda: Could you give us an example of any companies that come to mind that are nailing this quite well?
Eric Quanstrom: Yeah, sure. I mean, I would be self-serving and overly biased if I name Cience first, but I think that there are a lot of companies out in the market these days, especially in the explosion of what I’ve seen in the SaaS space, of a lot of companies that have provided enormous amounts of value. And that’s one of the reasons why they’ve rocketed in overall success, I would point to some of the market leaders, I’d look at someone like HubSpot as a perfect example. They’ve recently adopted not that but kind of the flywheel concept. And I think that they’re, you know, CRM attached to their marketing automation platform attached to their customer service suite, attached to all of the feature functionality that you might get through that platform is a great value creator, because ultimately you’ve got a company that focused their eyes on the prize of becoming kind of like a system of record. For businesses, we standardized HubSpot in the CRM, a few years back. And we’ve seen a lot of like, uptake, and frankly, really efficient usage of the platform ever since. So helping us where we wanted to go.
Saksham Sharda: And so what are some of the things you guys are doing on LinkedIn to create value or to tap into a value economy?
Eric Quanstrom: Sure, I think our presence on LinkedIn, we try to be regular, we try to be consistent, we strive to be conversational, and provide content that we would want to read, and that we would want to interact with and ultimately find fascinating. We have a podcast, it’s called enterprise sales development. That’s something that we put out weekly, every Wednesday. It’s something that we share. And I don’t know that you ever hear the word Cience mentioned in the podcast, even once. It’s largely for the benefit of, discovering insights of other practitioners in the sales development space, and kind of what they’ve gone through from different perspectives and bringing ideas to the table. So that’s a regular share for us on LinkedIn. As is most of our blog content or our guides, and our long form. Things that we produced, again, we find to be very useful and valuable for people in our areas of promise.
Saksham Sharda: And so for B2B Especially it’s hard to measure when such a conversion takes place through all this value-based content. So what do you think about that?
Eric Quanstrom: Well, I like to think of it holistically and I don’t get too wrapped around the axle around attribution, because whether you’re measuring first-touch attribution, last-ditch attribution, blended attribution, there’s a lot of different ways to get confused, and really like over your skis, so to speak on what credit should I give to this source for this particular deal? That was one without recognizing that a buying cycle is just that a cycle. And part of the cycle starts with the first touch, starts with the first awareness, starts with the first kind of brand impressions, and then moves its way through numerous experiences. It’s funny, our VP of Sales went through and did several audits on just the number of emails exchanged before a sale was closed in our average sales cycle, and that number was north of 30. So just the back and forth on that particular channel, for deals to close is a lot of conversations, we assume that our buyers are also active on the web, researching our company, researching our products, they’re definitely on social media, they’re checking us out there. They’re forming associations and impressions of what it might be like to do business with us. And so LinkedIn is one of those channels where it’s a great place to discover more about a brand. I’ll be honest, on the buy side, which I am, more often than not as a CMO, you know, turns out that when you have a marketing budget, and then a big title, you end up being on the buy side buying a lot of either tech stack or services on the regular. I look at LinkedIn very regularly to get a good sense of who a company is, what they do, the size of that company, the footprint of that company, and how active that company is. And ultimately, it’s kind of like a second place, if you will, besides just the general web, where you can get a really good feel for what a company is all about.
Saksham Sharda: And so, in your opinion, what are some concrete ways that businesses can create a solid and sustainable sales foundation for the years to come?
Eric Quanstrom: Well, I think that the solid and sustainable is to recognize first, depending on your phase of growth, whether are you searching for Product Market Fit and early stage or are you well past that, and multibillion-dollar enterprise organization, once you understand the stage of growth that you’re at applying the appropriate, configuration strategies, resources, headcount models if you will, and our methodologies are appropriate. So I’m a big proponent of kind of the specialization model, which says that, again, every sales cycle is a cycle and contains several moving parts. And there are great efficiencies to be gained by, adopting kind of an SDR first model in feeding into a sales cycle, feeding out into an account management kind of like approach. So, ultimately, having the ability to give the right touch at the right time on the right journey, is one that I think most customers recognize as being best for them. And the numbers would tend to agree with what I’m saying, back in yesteryear, we saw a lot of like variabilities, leakage, and real problems with scale when you tried to place all of those functions that I just mentioned, into the brain of one person. And so we’ve kind of moved away from those, I don’t want to call them battle days. But ultimately, I think that there’s a better model, and this is it. And so ultimately, recognizing then, phase of growth, scaling that model, and having that model, kind of produce results for you in good times and bad, and ultimately be very efficient go to market motion is important.
Saksham Sharda: And well, that was the last question, but we have one additional bonus question for you. Which is basically, what would you be doing if not this in your life right now?
Eric Quanstrom: Boy, that’s a tough one. Surfing on a professional surf tour, maybe. Okay, if I could wave my magic wand and travel the globe and serve only the best surf breaks.
Saksham Sharda: So you’re into surfing?
Eric Quanstrom: Oh, yeah.
Saksham Sharda: Okay. All right. Well, that was the last question.
Saksham Sharda: Thanks, everyone, for joining us for this month’s episode of Outgrow’s Marketer of the Month. That was Eric Quanstrom, who’s the CMO at Cience. Thanks for joining us, Eric.
Eric Quanstrom: It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Saksham Sharda: Check out the website and the podcast for more details and we will see you once again next month with another marketer of the month.