Welcome to the e-commerce marketing podcast, everyone. I am your host, Arlen Robinson. And today we have a very special guest, Craig Klein, who is the founder and CEO of SalesNexus.com, a leading CRM, marketing automation and lead generation solution for sales teams from 10 to 100. He’s also the author of “Inside-Out Selling”, a guide to growing and managing sales teams.  

Prior to founding SalesNexus, Craig spent 15 years building and leading sales teams selling multi-million dollar, multi-year contracts to energy companies such as ExxonMobil, BP, Shell and Chevron.  The long, complex selling environment within these energy behemoths gives Craig a keen sense of the risk of mis-allocated sales time.

Craig’s belief that business growth is the engine of human advancement has led him to serve as a mentor to students in the University of Houston’s Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship.

Craig’s the father of 3 beautiful children.  He’s an avid sailor, hunter and skier.  When he’s not growing SalesNexus or writing, he’s probably planning his next adventure to somewhere you’ve never heard of. Welcome to the podcast, Criag.

Thanks, Arlen. I’m really excited to be here.

Yes, thank you. I’m super excited to talk to you as well. From looking at listening to your intro or reading that, it sounds like you’ve definitely kind of been around the way for quite a while. He’s had an interesting past coming from the cell side on those huge megacorporations. The energy corporations tell you what you’re doing now, helping businesses formulate gathering leads and helping them with cells. I know that’s a big shift. How did that shift actually happen?

How did you happen to kind of leave that whole energy company scene and what you were doing there and to to do what you’re doing today?

Well, it was really a classic build a better mousetrap scenario, you know, in the energy business. And of course, this is a long time ago now, 20 plus years ago, I was managing sales teams and I needed tools to help me manage the team. And I wasn’t really happy with the tools that I had available back then. And so I decided to build what I thought would really work for for a small business, medium sized business sales team.

Again, back before Salesforce was even around. So tools have changed a lot.

Gotcha. Gotcha. Well, that’s awesome. It’s always good to hear how people birth a business, an idea just out of the need that’s out there. And you saw the need for a better mousetrap, as you said, and this was even prior to the Salesforce days. So that was kind of before. There’s kind of now there’s a multitude of two tools that are out there to help with sales prospect generation and all of that. So, yeah, that’s good that you kind of saw that particular need and then jumped on it.

So really, really good to hear. Well, today, since your background and your bread and butter is really lead, nurturing, building kind of a database of leads and prospecting to those leads, nurturing them, and then something to really talk a little bit about that and also text marketing, because today that is how a lot of businesses nurture leads is through communication or conversations that they have with these prospects. You text marketing. So you’re going to enlighten us a little bit about that as well.

So I’m super excited to really dig deep into that. We’re really where I want to start off with is, you know, these days there’s a variety of different ways that companies and specifically e-commerce businesses can get leads and nurture them. What are some of the ways that maybe people aren’t that familiar with or just don’t do too much that these days that you think can can help businesses out?

Sure, sure. You know, it’s funny, we were talking about, you know, 20 years ago and Salesforce and all the tools that are available in the CRM world. Of course, it’s the same thing when it comes to digital marketing. Right back back in the days when we started sales. Nexis, Google AdWords was a new thing, right? It was unique. Now, there’s just so many options. It’s just overwhelming. Right. You’re starting a business.

You show up at the local amay meeting or something and start meeting all these marketing experts and start telling them about your business and what you want to do with your business. And next thing you know, you’ve got proposals from 10 different people. Proposing 10 different, totally different strategies, all tens of thousands of dollars each, right.

And you don’t know how do you know which one is the right one? Right.

Right.

Unfortunately, in my story, I spent a lot of money trying to figure out which one works. You know, what’s ironic really is the original digital marketing channel. Was email marketing right, and it really is still one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to build your business now, of course, has to be done in coordination with all the other channels that you’re marketing through. But the way I like to use email marketing is because it’s so easy to just put together a campaign and get some data back immediately.

It’s eminently measurable. You can really especially a new business or a business that’s introducing new products, let’s say. You can measure and test the response to messaging very quickly, messaging, packaging, pricing, and really optimize very quickly using email marketing at very low cost. And then when you really feel like you’ve got everything dialed in, then you go start spending some money on AdWords or, you know, other channels that you might like to choose. By the time you’re making those larger investments, you really already know that you’ve got the messaging and the packaging and the pricing all dialed in.

Yeah, definitely makes sense. Yet the beauty of it, with all of these areas, there are all of these marketing channels that are available is the way that you can use them to test your messaging, like you said, at a very low cost these days. The Google ads. Now, it’s a great way to do text messaging and you have to spend a lot which you’re able to get feedback and see what’s resonating with your audience, prospective customers.

So it hasn’t always been like that. If we think back in the days before Salesforce and all those other solutions and before a lot of these other social media marketing channels, prior to that, it was a lot of trial and error, but it was a kind of a thicker cost to it to be able to market on some of the channels that were out there back in those days.

So it’s like if you’re going to really test out something on AdWords, let’s say you’re probably going to need to spend at least a month, maybe two months, a lot of time involved and just setting everything up and in the going. But you’re also going to need to spend five to ten thousand dollars minimum to really drive enough traffic to get meaningful data with an email campaign. You could do you could learn the same thing with an email campaign that costs you maybe a thousand dollars and might take you one or two weeks to put together.

Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Exactly. That’s a big difference. These smaller campaigns are definitely a lot more palatable for businesses to try. You know, as I mentioned earlier, alluded to the fact that you’ve also worked with a lot of companies, that, of course, they’re not only using email marketing as a vehicle to grow their lead engine, but you also are familiar with utilizing text messaging and text marketing systems. And if a company is looking to go that route, you know, how do you nurture leads that way?

Because it is a different form of communication that you’re having with these prospects.

Yeah, for sure. Yeah. And it’s number one, it’s so much more effective in terms of response rate.

Text messaging gets 70 percent of people respond to a text, whereas only one or two percent respond to an email, you know. Right. So it’s just night and day. However, I think that that by itself makes it really tempting to people to kind of overuse it and abuse it. And so I think you’ve got to be careful that I mean, my approach to all kinds of marketing is, what, five or 10 years ago that people were calling content marketing?

Right. You want to offer people something valuable to them and use that as a way to entice them to take a step towards you. Right. Right. You don’t want to show up saying, hey, buy something from me today.

You want to show up saying, hey, I have something for you that you might find valuable. You don’t spend any money. And if you like it, I’d like to talk to you or here’s something else I’d like you to do that works. And it builds trust in the relationship. And that’s the kind of relationship that’s going to last forever. So text messaging has to be integrated into that kind of thing, or it’s you can blast a lot of people with a text message, but if they don’t see value in that text message, they get more annoyed by spam texts than they do by spamming emails.

So you’ve got to be careful about that.

Yeah, that’s very true. And I can testify to the fact of that annoyance that comes with the text because, you know, these days who doesn’t have a smartphone? You know, the amount of people that have smartphones and of course, that have to text messaging available with them and have that smart phone or smart device with them typically at all times these days, even right next to their beds nightstand, that when they go to bed.

Sure, it’s always there.

So because of the fact that you could be reaching. Out to somebody when they are doing whatever they’re living their lives, doing their day to day, they’re out, maybe they’re at a movie theater, maybe they’re at a show, maybe they’re on their job, maybe they’re in a meeting. You don’t know. And so when you’re reaching somebody that they could be doing anything, you have to be careful. It’s not like email where you’re sending something to somebody’s inbox and, you know, they’re going to get to when they get to it, they’re going to read it when they get a chance to.

And at their own time, it can be done the same.

It can be the same way with text messages, but it’s a little different. I think the way people react to text messages is that kind of warrants kind of instant attention or an instant reaction. You’re looking at it. You’re saying, OK, who is this? This is my friend, OK? This is from some company. They’re offering you this. So that’s why I think brands, you definitely have to be a little bit careful because it’s a different type of communication and you’re reaching someone.

Yeah, but you know what works great is when the relationship heats up, right? So somebody on your side and they’ve requested some information or they just made a purchase or something like that, that’s a great time to send a text message. Yeah. Yeah, they have you on their brain already. But then so you have to what we try to do is think about sort of the the heat of the relationship. Right. So when the customer is very engaged with your brand, that’s when the permission is there to text them know and possibly even frequently.

But then when the engagement really drops back down, you probably also want to drop down the frequency of texting or possibly turn it off altogether until they show some interest again. Otherwise, you’re just going to wear them out and they’re going to ignore, you know. Yeah, exactly. You really kind of nailed it there. You have to kind of hit them while they’re hot, so to speak, when there may have already been some previous engagement that you’ve had with them.

And, you know, you’re just kind of following up on that previous engagement and offering something else, offering more value or just furthering the conversation. Maybe you’re getting information from them, but it’s a little bit more timely if you just had some recent engagement with them, as opposed to kind of a blind out of the blue text that comes maybe, let’s say a month later after some engagement, you know, there could be a case where that may be useful to do, like wait a period of time and then send it to somebody because you have something that you think may be of interest to them based on your previous correspondence.

It could be possible. Again, you still have to be careful about the timing of that. And the bottom line with the text messaging, and I know you know about this, is you got to be careful because you don’t want people to fly with me to stop and stop all communications, because after that, you kind of lost them.

Yeah, you’re done. Yeah, that’s right. You want to be sort of proactive in giving them the opportunity to say, hey, stop texting me without saying stop, like I said. Right. So in your message, you can say, hey, thanks for your recent purchase and here’s a coupon for 10 percent off your next one or something like that. But then at the end of that message, you can also add something else. It’s just, you know, hey, if you’d like to adjust the frequency of these messages or if you’d like us to if you’d like to choose your method of conversation or communication, click here now.

So if they want to change the relationship, the communication they can without just shutting it off.

Yeah, exactly. Ultimately, you have to leave it up to them. That particular customer prospects that you’re reaching out to and you don’t want to force anything down the throat because again, ultimately you get that stopped. You really lost them right now to make all of this happen as far as the texts, communication and then nurturing these leads that you have over a period of time, what are some tools or resources that you would recommend that you’re familiar with that e-commerce business should look into to sure.

Manage all of this?

Well, in my experience, doing this with thousands of companies over the last fifteen plus years, the hardest thing for most businesses, including me, including our business, it’s very difficult to talk about your own business in your own products and services without sounding like a salesperson, right?

Definitely.

You just always want to tell them what a wonderful product you have. And that’s the nature of business you have. You’re excited about it. It’s hard to get to really think about the customer’s needs and how can you help them meet their needs, right? That’s where you got to start, I think is if you have some tools and tips and tricks and advice and lessons learned and case studies and those kind of things where you can help somebody that’s on that buying journey, navigate that road.

Using their own criteria, then that’s what works in terms of nurturing leads. Right, because that way your position yourself is a resource of trusted, valuable information, not a salesperson. Right. And so what we recently did is we released a guide. We call it the we wrote it specifically for our customers who are most often trying to create their first email campaign like this to nurture leads. So we call it the email campaign creation guide, but it really applies to any kind of marketing campaign.

And one of the things that I think is so valuable about it is that there’s a few pages is not along. We’re not talking about a 20 page thing here. We’re talking five or 10. And there’s a couple of pages where we just walk the reader through. How do you really understand what’s going on in your customers mind? What are the questions they’re asking themselves? And then how can you position your own company and offerings to be the answer to those questions?

Right. So I think going through that exercise and then developing that content, whether it be free PDF or blog articles or videos that you create or actual products, in some cases that’s the key because you can’t have a relationship with someone if you’re always asking them for something. Right.

That’s not a healthy relationship.

You have to have a way of giving back.

Very, very true. The thing is, a lot of times, like you said, it’s hard for business not to come off sales because obviously they want sales, they want to increase their revenue, the profits, all of that. But the bottom line is, I think these days customers are a little bit more savvy. And I think people are generally a lot more turned off when it comes to aggressive sales tactics, overly aggressive sales tactics. I think these days people can kind of sniff that out very quickly.

And I think people would rather be informed, as you mentioned, educated. And then if that information has provided them with value and they trust that value coming from whatever source that is, whatever brand that is, then you can have somebody become a loyal customer because you’ve provided value to them. You’ve educated them, help them out. So that’s what it comes down to in a lot of marketing and sales.

And buying is timing, right? Yeah, yeah.

I may wake up in the morning and have a question on my mind or a problem or a challenge or an opportunity that I’m focused on. And I might do a little Googling and looking for answers and I may end up on your website and I might sign up or do something right and end up in your funnel. So it’s easy to treat that as, OK, this person is ready to be sold.

Right.

Which absolutely should offer them the opportunity to spend some money. But at the same time, you have to be aware that they might not be quite ready. They might still be in that education phase of the buying process. Right. They’re just learning. And so when you get that, you offer them the opportunity to buy something.

And they don’t take it sometimes the smart thing to do is take a step back and say, OK, well, let’s switch over to more of an education series for this customer, because timing will always work for you. Right? And the good news is that most businesses are really bad at doing all this stuff we’re talking about. They really don’t have much of a lead nurturing campaign and in place. So if you just have a very simple once every couple of weeks type of a drip or you just kind of keeping your brand in front of these customers and maintaining that relationship of trust, then whenever they decide, OK, it’s time for me to spend some money on this, you’re going to be the one they contact because why wouldn’t they?

Right. Yeah. Yeah, exactly, exactly. I think you also really do have to be on the pulse of those prospects and their reactions to because like you said, you could encounter the case where you find out based on the activity, based on the click through, based on where they’re going on your site, it could be they need to be in a different spot of your pipeline. They may be that type of person that this takes a lot to sell them or win them over.

They need to do a lot of research. They have to be educated. And so that type of person then, yeah, your funnel needs to be a little bit different. Like you said, you may want to switch it to more of an educational funnel over a longer period of time, because that’s just that type of person. And I think the main thing is you have to be quick to recognize that and then maybe segment your last segment, your text communications, and put people in those correct funnels because you’re communicating with them totally differently.

Yeah, and it’s challenging. You know, it’s difficult. Again, it’s just the same as creating that that content marketing strategy, messaging that we talk about. It’s hard to do that for your own business. You know, I could talk to any business owner and help them figure that out for themselves. Then you put me in a room and ask me to do it for myself. And it’s just I don’t even know what to do.

Right, right, right. But it’s the same thing you just mentioned about segmenting. Same challenge is very difficult for most businesses to really work that out and come up with a reasonably simple way to do it, because they see so much nuance and subtlety in their different customers that they tend to sort of overcomplicate it. And it really doesn’t need to be really, if you overcomplicate it, just makes it so unworkable and unmanageable that that is not sustainable. And it really has to be pretty simple.

So it has to be more complex than just people that bought from us before. And people that have it bought from us yet can be a little more subtle than that. But it can’t be every person’s eye color and what alma mater, what college they went to and income level and 10 other variables. And you’re managing different campaigns for all those different groups. You know, that’s a little too complex for most.

Yes, that makes a lot of sense as we get ready to wrap things up. Wanted to kind of switch gears. And just based on your experiences, the businesses that you’re working with and have worked with, are you just knowledgeable about or are there any particular ones that have really been successful with lead nurturing, with text marketing and marketing that you can highlight? And what specifically did they do?

Sure, yeah, that’s a great question. Know, we’ve especially in the last year or so, we’ve had a lot of clients that we worked with that are in the health and wellness space in one way or another. Sure. Everything from manufacturing and marketing, different kinds of immunity, boosting supplements and things like that to more medical treatments and things like that. So anyway, in my mind, I’m thinking of a particular customer that. Owned by a doctor who had developed this very specialized treatment and they ironically, about six months before the lockdown, had come up with a way to provide this treatment primarily remotely.

So it’s great timing for them.

But they didn’t have any kind of automation of any of the relationship. All salespeople on the phone. Right. Right. So what they did was exactly what we talked about earlier. Right. We worked with them. We helped them come up with an education series. We came up with the list of five questions that somebody who probably needs that treatment has in their mind. Right. And we created a little PDF for every one of those questions. If you’re asking yourself this question, here’s some information you might want to know.

Right. And then we put that together as a little campaign.

Right.

And that drew people in to setting appointments with them. Right on the website. And then what we did that really changed the game was people would engage with those PDF that we created, that it was an email campaign that would engage with those PDF and show some interest, but not set the appointment with the clinic to do the initial assessment. And so those people that got almost there but didn’t quite get all the way into the appointment with the technician. Those people started getting text messages and.

It went from 50 percent of the people that looked at the PDF would then set an appointment right afterwards to eighty nine percent of know how, almost all of them. Which is almost unheard of. Yeah. And then they continued to add the text messaging into, OK, after you’ve had your first assessment with them, then there are a lot of people that would not take the next step. That’s when it’s time to make the purchase.

So that’s when they introduce text messages to if they were starting to stall rather than just a here’s ten percent off, please buy from me. They sent text messages to take the customer back up to that education series. OK, you’re not ready. Great. Here’s the next question that most people are asking themselves. Here’s a valuable resource that might help you with that question. And it works every time it’s tried. Really, it’s all about having that informative content for the customer that’s going to help them answer their own questions so that they’re ready to make the purchase with your business.

Yeah, it makes sense. So I think where a lot of businesses fail is that after that initial kind of sales type outreach, where they’re offering some type of discount, maybe they were somewhere in the pipeline, maybe they requested information. And people that don’t respond to that offering the discount. I think a lot of businesses look at that as like a lost cause and maybe even remove them from the funnel. But like you said, well, you can then do is just switch them into more of an educational pipeline and don’t give up on them, so to speak, because if they’re still in there, they still haven’t opted out.

They still haven’t replied with stop, then, you know, you still have a chance, I think, as it comes out.

Yeah, absolutely. It’s like we talked about earlier, it’s probably mostly timing now.

That’s really what it comes down to. Craig, it’s definitely been awesome talking to you. I have learned a ton about lead nurturing with text marketing and business marketing. It’s it’s really exploded over these past few years, especially because of the pandemic and of the like down. There’s a lot more people that are looking for that are just not out and about. And so you have to try to reach them other ways.

And using text messages is a great way to do it. And it’s a great way to nurture these leads as we see. So it’s something that I think every business can can try to do for sure. Before we let you go, I always like to switch gears here. And just so our our listeners and our viewers can get to know you just a little bit better if you don’t mind sharing one closing fun fact about yourself that you think our audience would be interested to know about you.

Oh, yeah, well, let’s see. Fun fact. Well, let’s see, not last summer, because that was not a good summer for traveling, but the summer before my kids and I rented a sailboat, chartered a sailboat and sailed from the mainland of Puerto Rico out to a whole bunch of islands out there and spent a week just kind of island hopping out there, island to island. And that was just one of the best vacations I’ve ever had as of just a blast.

I highly recommend it to anybody who ever has the opportunity.

That sounds awesome. Definitely. So you chartered a boat. So I take it to you. There was a captain and a whole crew there.

Now I know enough about sailing to be dangerous.

So this was all on your own. Wow.

You’re a better man than me.

I don’t know if I would have been a little daunting. You know, I was a little worried.

Yeah, but going into it. But once we got out, there was just so beautiful and so well and relaxing.

It was awesome.

OK, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. I appreciate that. It’s definitely something that I would consider doing, but I don’t think I would have even after some sailing lessons, I don’t think I would have the nerve to do that on my own without having an experienced captain or at least a couple of crewmates there as well, just to assist us, just in case something comes up or we encounter a freak storm. You never know.

It’s a little scary when those storms come up.

Yeah, I could imagine, but yeah. Awesome. Thank you for sharing that, Craig.

But before we let you go, if you don’t mind letting our listeners and our viewers know how they could reach you if they want to reach out to you and pick your brain any more about the topic of today, that’s the best marketing and the lead nurturing.

You can just go to sales nexus dotcom and there you can find no one, you can find that email campaign creation guide that we talked about earlier, that’s a free download. And also, you can start a free trial account of a resource that we have available where you can build lists of customers, mobile numbers. If you want to get into text messaging. That’s a great place to start.

Yeah, that sounds awesome. Yeah, I definitely encourage our listeners to take a look at that and access that resource. And thank you for sharing that. Really appreciate that. Well, great, but thanks again for joining us today. I’ve learned a ton and more listeners and viewers have as well. Of course. Thank you for joining us on the e-commerce market and podcast.

Thank you. Arlen spent a lot of fun. Likewise.

Thank you for listening to the e-commerce marketing podcast, 

Podcast Guest Info

Craig Klein
Founder and CEO of SalesNexus.com