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How to Sell During the Crisis with Jake Dunlap of Skaled Consulting

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Should you be selling during the crisis? If so, how? The answer to the first question is yes, and the answer to the second question is more complicated. The simple version starts with one word: segmentation. In this episode, Jake Dunlap talks about his approach to segmentation, the pieces you need in place to make it work, and areas where he's seeing the most success with his own business and his clients' businesses.

Up next…

Check out the four sales fundamentals every top performer masters, how to use value-based selling to increase your leverage, and how to improve your remote selling skills as the world becomes more virtual. 

Connect with Jake Dunlap online:

Jake Dunlap on LinkedIn
Jake’s company, Skaled Consulting


How to Sell During the Crisis with Jake Dunlap of Skaled Consulting:

Full Transcript

Jake Dunlap:
You’ve got to know your buyer.And if your pricing model, is the way that you go to market is counter to anything that they buy, it’s an uphill battle. What we’ve realized now is, we just need to go to marketing. You know who knows what a cost per lead is? Marketing. You know who does it? Sales. Let’s just take that same product and maybe take it to where the business model is more familiar. So that would be my other learning that, when you’re trying to make and change the way that people have done things in the service, it’s not easy. I would also try to think about, “Hey, is what I’m doing presented package price? And you can be the leader in price. I’m not saying… you don’t have to be cheap in a way that this company buys other things. And for us, I think again, we’re starting to learn like, hmm.

Jake Dunlap:
So with sales teams, it’s going to be this packaging and with marketing, it’s a little bit more like this. So that’s a very fresh one for me. Literally this week, I’m kind of tackling.

Liston Witherill:
That’s Jake Dunlap of Skaled Consulting. He’s got some ideas on how to sell during the crisis. And it all starts with segmentation. It extends way beyond the crisis too. It’s just a good approach, period. You see, in normal times, you always segment, meaning you spend time with people you think are likely to buy from you and exclude everyone else. Whether you’re conscious that you’re doing it or not is another thing. The difference in a crisis or a downturn or any other change in market conditions is simply who’s in and who’s out. The changes may mean you need to make adjustments to who you serve. You may need to adjust how you position and frame your solution. You may even need to make a hard pivot, but it all starts with segmentation. In this episode of Modern Sales, I talked to Jake Dunlap about his approach to selling in a crisis, why it starts with segmentation and how you can alter your approach to better serve your clients and win more business.

Liston Witherill:
Welcome to Modern Sales, a podcast that’ll help you sell more by understanding how people buy. I’m your host Liston Witherill founder of Serve Don’t Sell. And I dig through academic research, interview people inside and outside of sales and nerd out on psychology, economics and neuroscience to figure out how people make decisions. And I am on a mission to change the way 100 million people sell so that buying B2B services can feel as good as a morning workout followed by your most productive day, ever. Wouldn’t that be nice? If you’re listening on Spotify, hit that follow button so that you don’t miss a single episode. And if you’re listening on iTunes or Apple podcasts, please subscribe and leave an honest review as long as it’s five stars. It helps me get the word out for the show so we can, together, change the way 100 million people sell. Thank you in advance for your help. Now to the show.

Liston Witherill:
When the pandemic started, everyone was scared. Me included. Soon, the stay at home order followed. It was totally unprecedented. It felt like the whole world was shutting down. People were wondering how to conduct business in an environment like this. Lots of voices started to emerge on LinkedIn, in blogs, in the news. Some people said, “Keep going, keep selling as you always would, like nothing’s changed at all.” Others said, “Don’t sell, don’t be so selfish.” My guest today had a much more nuanced take early on, one that applies in every environment, and one that relies on segmentation to reach the right people. In this conversation I asked Jake about his approach to segmentation, what he’s seeing working or not with prospecting and business development and how he’s approaching all of it in his own business. What buckets does he use for segmentation? And how can you do the same thing? That’s coming up right after this short break. Hey, there it’s Liston from Modern Sales and I’m here with Jake Dunlap today. Jake, how are you?

Jake Dunlap:
I am doing fantastic. How are you, man?

Liston Witherill:
I’m good. So Jake, I spend way too much time on LinkedIn. Do you spend too much time on LinkedIn, like me?

Jake Dunlap:
I guess it’s in the eye of the beholder. I feel like it’s an appropriate amount, personally. Others may define it differently, but that’s for them to decide.

Liston Witherill:
Yes. I think it’s a matter of personal preference and results of course. So, in one of the times I was on LinkedIn, you came up in my newsfeed as you so often do because you have a pretty solid following there, and one thing you posted about was these two buckets of how you think about your clients. So I’m going to ask you about that and that’s going to be the jumping off point of our conversation, but to get started, tell us a little bit about you and your company.

Jake Dunlap:
My background, I was a VP of sales for many years. And through my experiences in the tech startup world in particular, realized I was not a good employee and was maybe better served… I loved the work. I loved building and creating and scaling, but thought maybe my path was to work with a lot more companies. And so in early 2013, January, 2013, I decided to go on my own. I started Skaled. Really, what we do now is we’ve got about 25 people between, I guess we’re all remote now, but New York, Austin, and everywhere. And usually what we’re doing is we’re partnering with sales leadership around very strategic or tactical initiatives. So Jake, we’re trying to modernize the demands in process. We’re trying to optimize our sales process or create a sales methodology that’s customized us. We’re not a sales training firm. We’re not the shot in the arm.

Jake Dunlap:
We partner with your business to help you to execute. We’re a lot like a marketing agency is to marketing. We’re a lot like that to sales and part of the work we’ve started doing in the last year and a half and what you’re alluding to about LinkedIn is we’ve realized that LinkedIn is a core part of… If you’re in B2B of B2B demand generation. And so we built out a practice where we work with organizations on their sales and marketing sides to have a really an intentional digital presence, as opposed to the Wild West, or just treating it like any other social platform, because it’s certainly not. And so we do a lot of LinkedIn work as a part of our consulting and agency work as well.

Liston Witherill:
Okay, fantastic. So you guys are… You do some of the strategy, but longterm, you do ongoing execution with your clients?

Jake Dunlap:
That’s right. And we do some interim leadership or interim sales operation support. We’re deep on technical expertise. So that’s really kind of my ethos. I worked with consultants, both at Glassdoor and at Chartbeat. And I was like, “Thanks for this 35 page document.” Like, what the hell am I supposed to do with this thing? And that really, for me is like, look, I want to start a firm where we actually help people to pull things through. And it’s not just like, “Hey, here’s good luck.” It’s like, “Hey, we’ll actually help you to execute.” That’s a core part of what we do.

Liston Witherill:
Oh boy. Well maybe that can be a separate podcast because I’ve so many questions about that.

Jake Dunlap:
No, I’m happy to. We can jump into it and we can take it whichever way you want, man.

Liston Witherill:
Fantastic. Well, let’s stay on track here. On LinkedIn, I saw you posted, one question I get from my clients, from my listeners, from my email readers is, “How should I approach sales in the pandemic?” And usually the question is much simpler than that. It’s more like, “Should I be selling? How should I be selling?” And what jumped out to me about your post is it was one of the earlier, more nuanced ways of looking at this, which is essentially, you’re saying like, “Look, some people are okay and they have a problem you can still help them with.” And on the other hand, there are people who you can’t help with and their problems may be more fundamental or their business is in trouble and you can’t help those. So walk me through a little bit. What was your early thought after, I think you talked to some other sales leaders, what was your early thought on how to approach sales in this environment?

Jake Dunlap:
Well, and I’ll kind of talk through maybe even my own thoughts and evolution on the topic and what I’ve seen since then too. So what I saw initially was a rush to, we can’t do anything and are rushed to our core use case isn’t the core use case anymore. And what I didn’t see… and I saw some people who kind of started to figure this out, but most people, I felt like they rushed to, “We can’t sell right now. We need to just nurture people.” And as they talk to me and as I looked at their product or had conversations like, “Well, why? What you’re doing is very applicable to a work remote culture or whatever it might be,” and so I think what’s happened though, is people have started to get comfortable with now I’ve kind of evolved this to there’s three buckets, right?

Jake Dunlap:
There’s very clear fit is a very clear that there is a need in that market. You sell into healthcare, you work for Zoom or whatever. And a lot of people don’t work for Zoom, but they work with something that could be as maybe in that world, but they don’t see it that way. And then there’s that second bucket that you mentioned, which is, you’re in travel and tourism right now where you’re planting seeds to hopefully have a great Q3, Q4, but it’s a lot about relationship building. But what I’ve realized now is there’s actually a middle and that’s where actually most companies are, that if they would just pivot their value prop to be somebody a little different than they are today, still the same product, that they actually could have more people in that first bucket. I’ll give you some very practical examples.

Jake Dunlap:
And this is kind of is my thinking evolved and more and more people were like, “Well, we can’t sell them.” I’m like, “Well, what if you talk about it this way?” And they’re like, “Oh yeah, I guess we could do that. But that’s not our core.” I’m like, “Who cares for the next three months? The alternative is you sit on the sidelines the whole time.” So there’s a guy, he joined one of our first webinars and he’s like, “I’m in office furniture. It’s horrible. It’s over.” And I pulled up his website and the guy sells those there’s chairs. Those high back chairs that have the soundproofing. He sells desks. I’m like, “Dude, you’re in the home office business now.” There’s every executive is having to work from home with their kids for the first time. Why aren’t you calling instead of… and you don’t even have to call the secretary or the office manager.

Jake Dunlap:
They’re not there. And so it’s like, why not position as, “Look, I’m going to make your home feel like your office.” If you’re an executive and you called them three weeks ago, an executive might take that call. Another client we work with, they do onboarding. And it’s like, “Well, what if instead you help people with off-boarding and you help with corporate comms during these times.” Like, yeah, we could do that hard pivot. That company out of New York, IT security, simplified. No it’s remote work IT security simplified. So, it’s whereas all these different mutations that if people would just forget this whole concept, that the whole world’s shut down, woe is me, this is not the truth. It’s just not what’s happening.

Jake Dunlap:
Instead, there’s a group of people who are doing extremely well and their businesses are doing quite well. Some that aren’t, and there’s a whole bunch of people that if you could be creative and that’s what we’re missing in sales, is we’re missing the creativity of… I have a dynamic value proposition I do this thing. And that’s really what I’ve seen and how I think it’s evolved over the last three, four weeks as we’ve gotten deeper into this.

Liston Witherill:
Quick side note here, on this idea of creativity because I firmly believe that as well. And I think that’s one of the reasons so many people struggle in sales is they often look at the problem in too limited of a way, and they need to open up their minds to say, “Hey, what’s the bigger picture here. And then how can I fit into that?” Do you think some salespeople should take more cues from marketers on creativity and product positioning and learn some basic marketing skills? Do you think that would help?

Jake Dunlap:
It’s really interesting you bring that up. I reflect from time to time on my own past. And I was always drawn early in my sales career to marketing books. I was reading Seth Godin back in 2005.

Liston Witherill:
He’s the best. Yes.

Jake Dunlap:
For whatever reason I read Purple Cow when it first came out, which I think it was one of his first books. And there’s a guy in sports sales, is in sport sales when I started called Jon Spoelstra, and he was doing all these creative things and he did a vasectomy day at some minor league team. And so, I’m not kidding. He really did-

Liston Witherill:
Hard to believe you.

Jake Dunlap:
Look it up, there is something around vasectomy. I can’t remember exactly what it is. So don’t totally quote me. Jon Spoelstra is a guy I used to ask him, “Is this the name of the book?” But I think that what it does is it allows you to think maybe a little freer and outside of maybe the day-to-day comfort zone. So yeah, there could be something that… But let’s, I’m going to call it what it is.

Jake Dunlap:
I think most marketers are also not creative. I think a lot of marketers have beaten the creativity out of their own role because they got all their fancy tools 10 years before sales did. And they’ve been beating creativity out for the numbers for a long time. And I think this is challenging marketers and sales leaders the exact same way and people on the front line, because we’ve been used to optimizing and making small, [inaudible 00:12:52] thinking about it, it sounds like we’ve been so used to making small, incremental changes to the machine, we’ve forgot how to make monumental leaps. We forgot how to take a step back and be like, “What if we broke the machine and did it this other way?” And I think that’s marketing and sales right now.

Liston Witherill:
Yeah. I mean, it does seem like there may be a little bit of startup culture involved in that too, because there’s the whole customer development phase, lean startup kind of approach. Once you get past that, most companies don’t even entertain the pivot. Right? We talk about Intel’s big pivot because so few companies do that.

Jake Dunlap:
Yeah. I mean, well Predictable Revenue had a lot to do with this too. Like I love you Aaron Ross, but people over indexed on this concept of X widgets in, Y widgets out. And it forces you to take out the actual sales techniques which generate an increase in percentage conversions at later stages, as opposed to Predictable Revenue really simplified building a B2B company. Just more leads, hire SDRs. And so I think that actually was the beginning and then sales technology was like a nail in the coffin for a lot of teaching of sales and coaching and… Look at onboarding plans now. And we’re not in a good spot for sellers to not… They’re going to need to equip themselves basically. First, rely on your organization.

Liston Witherill:
I do sales training. I also work with a lot of people who have no sales training background, no sales background, business owners who sell services. And what’s really interesting is when I start to talk to them about some of the fundamentals of the way I think about it and approach it, they often say, “Oh, so the basics.” And I’m like, “Yeah, that’s the important stuff, right?” If we can’t nail the basics, there’s no sense in moving to the 400 level course.

Jake Dunlap:
All the time, man. And I’ll tell you one of the most, I think aggravating for potential clients, a thing that I do, is when they come to us and they say, “Okay, Jake, our team needs work closing more deals,” or “We need negotiation training.” I’m like, “Oh, so we got to work on your discovery process.” No, no, no, no, no. Discovery is fine. We need to help closing deals.” I’m like, “No, the reason your deals aren’t closing is because you’re not getting the information you need upfront to then disarm the objections or put together a solution that makes the close an outcome versus a now stage that is supposed to be dominated.

Jake Dunlap:
And I think that that’s what a lot of people steer away from. The quality of your first one to two interactions sets the whole stage for everything. And too many people have forgotten that. And it’s not just, it’s how you prepare for that first meeting. It’s how you listen. It’s how the questions that you ask, it’s how layered you go. It’s those fundamentals that set the stage for so many different other sales skills. And if you don’t execute that in the beginning, it’s nearly impossible to be super, super strong in the late stages.

Liston Witherill:
You preach the truth, my friend. So we talked about two buckets, then you’ve moved to three buckets. The client’s kind of in the middle who needs to make more of a pivot. What are some of the key differences you’re seeing right now in people who are more or less successful in their approach in this environment?

Jake Dunlap:
Mindset. There’s two mindsets I see a lot. And maybe there’s a middle for this too. There’s look, man, we’re going to take this approach and they’re labeling themselves as taking the high road, right? We’re going to take that. We can’t do this. This is it. What if this? And there’s probably some nuances and truth in that. No doubt. And then I think the other mindset is like, “We got to adapt. What are we doing? We’ve got to change. We’ve got to do everything differently.” And then there’s people that if that’s zero and a hundred, right, then there’s like a lot of people in between. But I think more people are toward the zero side. So I think the people that are successful, I think they have a sense of urgency. They’ve got a sense of urgency, like I can’t sit around and wait for the economy to bail me out, for some new product release to bail me out, for some government or whatever it is to bail me out.

Jake Dunlap:
They’re like, “I got to do something about this now.” And the company, I was talking about New York’s called Electric.ai. They’re the IT security company. They’re the company… And then another one, TripActions, who ended up having to lay off a ton of people. But they pivoted very quickly away from corporate travel to corporate security, which is, you need to know where your people are in the world. When they’re ready to travel again, what countries are blacklisted versus we help to manage your corporate. These companies pivoted in a weekend to be a completely different company that they’ll come back to in three to six months. That’s the mindset. It’s okay to be different or to talk about different value products for the next three to six months. Throw out your 2020 plan, get ready to pick it back up and whatever happens. I mean, Atlanta, I don’t know what George is doing right now.

Jake Dunlap:
I mean, they’re going to the movie theaters and stuff apparently coming up here. So I think for the rest of us, we’ve got a long haul here. So I just feel like the sales leaders and marketing leaders that are winning right now are saying, “Look, we’ve got a whole new playbook right now and this is the place we’re running. And we’re doing these community things. We’re doing these brand things and we’re doing these call to action things. We’re being more segmented in terms of how we message to people.” And they’re doing kind of a much broader mix of things in a much more specific tactical messaging to different groups than they probably ever done before.

Liston Witherill:
I got some outreach and I’ve received a message like this on webinars that I’ve done when I get emails like this pretty frequently. It’s slowing down a little bit, thankfully, but the message is essentially, “Clients are slow to make decisions. What can I do to make them faster?” And so in this particular case, I thought, I’m going to call this guy up. And he sells at a big large software firm market leader, very well known name, which I won’t name, and he was like, “It’s really hard for me to plan about my pipeline because clients are slow to make decisions.” And I won’t tell you exactly what I said to him because this is a family show, or at least I try to keep it that way.

Liston Witherill:
But I basically said, “Look, man, your clients don’t care about your pipeline. The problem is your value prop is no longer applicable to them or it’s no longer as high of a priority. What can you do in order to give them something now that solves them a problem they have right now. Think about that. Give that to them and you’ll see a difference.” Do you have other advice for people who see a slower pipeline or maybe a longer sales cycle? Because decision making, I think, it’s not even up for debate. It has slowed down a little bit in most situations.

Jake Dunlap:
Of course it has, but you shouldn’t be scared to call people out a little bit still too. For example, if you sell a product, they came to you for a need before. It’s okay at least ask the question. “Look, Jake, before this was the main motivator. Is that still the case? Is this still a priority?” Like, okay. You just need to be more flexible with payment terms. I think that we’re not even having that conversation. I think we’re defaulting to everyone who isn’t in the not buying bucket. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you putting someone a little bit on the spot and say, “Look, help me to understand, because you had this challenge, that’s still a challenge for your business and was a priority. Tell me, has that changed completely? Oh, it has. Okay. Great. Makes sense. Let’s wait.” “No, Jake, it’s still a priority.?

Jake Dunlap:
“Okay. What do I need to do to make this easy then so I can help you?” That is where we should be coming… we should be leading from a place of that there’s still an opportunity there, but I think this is for all the sellers out there and founders. Look, your pipeline has always been comprised of, maybe in a few months, I’m almost there and I’m about ready to buy. So if you haven’t been running your pipeline that for forever and now guess what? You got some more people in the two or three months. You need to know how to nurture people right now.

Jake Dunlap:
But it doesn’t mean that other box is down to zero, it’s just the mix of where your pipeline is has shifted. And I think that’s where a lot of sellers are struggling too, man, is that a lot of people are… They don’t know how to nurture. They like, “Nurture? That’s marketing’s job.” Like, “No dude, that’s your pipeline.” So you’ve got an, I’m like hardcore nurturer. Maybe we can do a free trial and do whatever to get him in there. And then there’s still the people that at least ask the question so you know what bucket to put someone in. That would be my advice is be okay, just asking them the question.

Liston Witherill:
Well, it’s almost like moving up the process a little bit too. So, if part of your sales process was some sort of proof of concept, what’s a bite size way you can do that now? Before the deal closes, because if you’re having a hard time closing deals, why not offer that? You’ll learn more from the client about what they like or what they don’t like.

Jake Dunlap:
Yeah. But make it [inaudible 00:21:17] .. A lot of people running the freemium too. And still my friends, freemium only works in this environment if your product requires no implementation. Because people aren’t not buying because it’s free or it’s $50,000 a month, they’re buying because of time. And it takes time to train and to get people up to speed and adoption takes three or four months. Free doesn’t matter. It’s not about free. It’s about status quo and the time it takes us to flip the status quo. So I feel like you’ve got to know what’s the right lever for you. Is it free? Is it a proof of concept? Is it structured proof of concept?

Jake Dunlap:
I don’t think there should be anything wrong if you’re thinking about free to say to someone, “Hey, look, I’m going to give this to you. I want this to help. Over the next two months, if we’re able to do this, this, this, this, and I’m going to run that like a real proof of concept, then we can find the budget. Are you going to be comfortable moving forward if we can hit those KPIs, assuming that the budget and these things are there?” Again, it’s okay to still run a structured proof of concept. You might want to change the terms a little bit. You adapt, but don’t just go to like, “Here it is. It’s free. Good luck.” That’s never has worked ever anyway and it’s not going to work now.

Liston Witherill:
I definitely agree with that. Okay. So I want to turn to your business now. So one of the interesting things about you, one of the reasons I wanted to have you on is not only are you in sales, but you’re also in services and that’s a topic I care deeply about, how to sell services. So, just at the very top, 30,000 feet, you have a background as a VP of sales in large software companies. Now you sell services and you’ve been doing that for almost 10 years. What are some of the key differences that you observe in selling services versus selling a product?

Jake Dunlap:
Oh my gosh. Where do you start with this? You’re a glutton for punishment. Start a professional services business, or how about this? Or try to scale a professional services business. Starting one is not the difficulty, scaling is what’s difficult.

Liston Witherill:
That’s right.

Jake Dunlap:
There’s a lot of things that are different. I think one of… the thing as a firm like ours, we always struggle with, the easier something is to package together the less people from the services business want to hear about it, right? But if you go too custom, it’s like, “I don’t know what to make of this.” And so I think when you’re doing that is just the thing that I continue to learn and I stop myself sometimes because then I go off in a rabbit hole for six months in some side project that our business, I think we should get into.

Jake Dunlap:
I think the more that we’ve focused and said, “Look, we’re not a sales training company”, right. That was a big leap for us. Like, Oh my God, what is this? And it’s like, look, we still will do trainings. If it’s like our current client or someone comes to us, they need it, but it’s just not who we are. It’s not who we want to be. And I think what I’ve seen is that the more that we focus in, look, we did these two things. Or these three things. We help companies that are demand generation process. We help them to build repeatability in their sales process. And now this LinkedIn thing is kind of weaved in between because if you’re in B2B, it’s an important piece, as opposed to like, “Well, we can do this in comp planning and roles and positions.”

Jake Dunlap:
I mean, today, I’ll just tell you today. Like my day-to-day, I’ve had one-on-ones with a bunch of our clients. One one-on-one we talked through, basically they’re pivoting and they’re opening up a new market. And so how are we going to open up a new market? Another client we talked to completely field led sales organization. How do we build out an inside sales team? Another client, we rebuilt their comp plans for their entire organization then create a new role. That’s what we can do in consulting. Those things are like A7G25… so I think in a professional services business, you’ve got to be okay having a very cohesive story about who you are to where people can quickly get it and that’s not going to hurt your business. And I think I was very scared to limit messaging and to limit and say who we were early on because I was worried. But it hasn’t stopped us from still doing these types, these engagements that are in different spots and with parts that are related.

Liston Witherill:
So focus, simplification. Do you think that’s one of the core challenges of selling all services?

Jake Dunlap:
Yeah. And know your market too. I can tell you… and actually, this is a very fresh thing I can share. What we’re starting to realize is sales organizations are not used to buying reoccurring services. That they do it in an interim basis. And we have some of our digital presence. Some of the LinkedIn work we do, et cetera, that has been a reoccurring services. And we’ve had clients where we set 17 net new meetings for them with one rep in two… I think it’s two and a half days. And then they didn’t renew. And I’m like, “What is going on here?” And so I think too, it’s like, you’ve got to know your buyer. And if your pricing model is the way that you go to market is counter to anything that they buy, it’s an uphill battle. What we’ve realized now is we just need to go to marketing.

Jake Dunlap:
You know who knows what a cost per lead is? Marketing. You know who does it? Sales. And so let’s just take that same product and maybe take it to where the business model is more familiar. So that would be my other learning that when you’re trying to make and change the way that people have done things in their service, it’s not easy. I would also try to think about, hey, is what I’m doing presented package price. And you can be the leader in price. I’m not saying… you don’t have to be cheap in a way that this company buys other things. And for us, I think again, we’re starting to learn like, hmm. So with sales teams, it’s going to be this packaging and with marketing, it’s a little bit more like this. So that’s a very fresh one for me. Literally this week, I’m kind of tackling.

Liston Witherill:
Yeah. One of the ways I think about what you just said is in music, right? There’s experimental or avant garde music, which is code for nobody’s going to listen to this. And then popular music usually has lots of elements of familiarity. It’s not very different, one song to the next, but that doesn’t prevent it from being the next number one song. And so I think if you introduce too many changes or differences, people just reject it outright. Okay. How do you think about your inbound and outbound messaging as a company now, trying to sell your own services to maybe even clients who have increased demand for what you do now?

Jake Dunlap:
Well, again, it’s about adapting. So, for us, people have always asked me, “Jake, what are you going to do in a downturn?” So I wasn’t like, “Oh my gosh. Hmm.” And it’s like, why aren’t more people prepared? What’d you guys think… we’ve had the longest bull run of an economy of all time. I don’t… you can’t predict a virus and we’re all working from home, but you can prepare that there’s going to be a downturn. So, like again, same with one of the companies I mentioned, they started doing work from home days a week or two before it was even close to being mandated. Why? They saw. The leadership was like, “Hey.” And so I feel like I thought, and I spent time and so for us, like our big pivot has been one, how much value where maybe we wouldn’t do shorter engagements.

Jake Dunlap:
Well, look, we’re adapting. And we’re saying, “Look, let’s do this thing to get started,” et cetera. And then the other thing is we’re preparing for an unfortunate thing that’s happened and I don’t know what the jobs number is going to be for tomorrow, but look, we’re going to be at what, probably 30 million people unemployed? A lot of days… Sales is not unaffected by this. Marketing’s not unaffected by this. And if I have a company that does interim sales leadership, and in term of sales, operations support, I think that there’s going to be a market for that. And so we’ve got messaging ready. We’ve got one-sheeters ready. We’ve got a whole campaign, but guess what? It’s not time yet. It’s May. Nobody wants to have that conversation now. And so I think you’ve got to see where the market’s headed and think about what that’s going to mean for you.

Jake Dunlap:
And so that’s what we’re doing right now is I’m trying to… We knew that this would happen. It would be a downturn. And we knew that, therefore, this kind of staff augmentation, strategic leadership support and tactical operations support would be needed. We kind of prepared for some of that. And so I think that would be… And if you haven’t prepared for it, just start to think where’s the economy most likely, where’s your space going to most likely be in May and June. And that you probably have some leading indicators and then the wind shifts this way and you shift your strategy that way a little bit. The wind shifts that way you shift your strategy, but you can’t just sit there on the sidelines because you’re not sure what’s going to happen next.

Liston Witherill:
Yeah. I think that’s the hardest thing for a lot of people is certainly, I’m reading the news all the time to try to figure out how long is this lockdown going to last? How soon do we go back to status quo? I have a client that sells into the restaurant industry and they’re doing exactly what you’re describing. They’re trying to figure out who are the winners and the losers in this market and how can we cater to the people winning? And also maybe to the middle of the market that just needs a little bit of help in making a decision faster and more effectively. In terms of marketing, I’m interested because you are sort of a recovering salesperson, but mostly a marketer in my eyes, at least.

Jake Dunlap:
All right. I’ll take it.

Liston Witherill:
Well when I see you on LinkedIn, one of the reasons I relate to you is I have a long background in marketing, more than sales. Yours is the opposite, but we both talk about sales publicly, but I know behind the scenes, you must be doing a ton of marketing in order to keep everything going in the right direction. So I’m curious about your inbound mix. Obviously LinkedIn is a big part of it. Are there any other channels that you are looking at now and starting up or thinking about starting?

Jake Dunlap:
Yeah. I think this will be helpful for people. I can talk about my journey, as a sales leader/marketer and kind of, if you do follow me on LinkedIn and we’ll put the link in the show notes, hopefully, I had an epiphany. It was in 2018. I was doing what every good professional services firm is opposed to like every [inaudible 00:30:25] consulting. I was producing blog posts every week. I was writing eBooks once a quarter or sometimes more. Then in May of 2018, for those of you who remember, there’s a thing called GDPR, which is in basically in the EU, they have privacy laws in the U.S. We scoff at these things, but we wrote this eBook. It was a beautiful piece of content. If you’re in sales and marketing and you just want to get your hands on what are the gist of GDPR?

Jake Dunlap:
This ebook was like, I feel, the definitive guide. But then you share it on social. And it gets like 20 likes or whatever. And you know how much work we put into this shit. Do you know how much effort and time? And then that is when I had the epiphany as like a marketer/CEO/sales leader. I’m like, “This isn’t how people consume content now.” Nobody’s trying to read an eBook. People, we consume a LinkedIn feed. We consume an Instagram feed. Now we consume a TikTok feed. We consume small bite-sized chunks of information. Now you have this longer form stuff, but what’s most important for a marketer is to be top of mind for where your people are. And my people are on LinkedIn. I saw the CEOs and sales and marketing leaders. And they’re on LinkedIn every day.

Jake Dunlap:
And so for me, from a marketing standpoint, something clicked and I’m like, “Oh, maybe brand isn’t just arts and crafts. Maybe it’s like, there’s a tangible value here.” And so we easily last year generated seven figures from LinkedIn and LinkedIn inbound and then direct engagement strategies that we run behind the scenes of once people connect, et cetera. And so for us, that is 80 plus percent of our demand [inaudible 00:31:57]. Now, we’re getting into webinar game and I have to tell you, holy crap, I was dumb, but we did not jump on this sooner. And I think COVID, of course, has something to do with it. But look, we’re now at what, how many… We’re about a month into this. A solid month, month and a half now at this point, something like that, roughly, I don’t know. Let’s just call it that.

Jake Dunlap:
So, people are still doing it. We’ve got an event I just saw… Lydia just saw the email. We have a thousand people attending, a thousand. I got the list. Do you know how many CEOs? There’s literally at least a hundred CEOs and founders. Another few hundred directors and VPs. I’m like, “What you been doing? I’m like, so I feel if you take the time to build the brand and now I can do this type of stuff, I can go through an in-person event if I want to, but it takes time and you have to put yourself out there. And so marketing to me is a mix of both. It’s about, if you put in the brand work, it’s like, I think Aaron Ross in Predictable Revenue, he refers to it as seeds, nets and spears. The brand in the LinkedIn is the seeds.

Jake Dunlap:
That shit grows over time. And then the fruit starts to come off, et cetera. And so that then makes your direct outbound and more of these plays easier to execute. First, like purely having to use paid or other channels. So for us, LinkedIn is where we’re heavily invested. I want us to get more into YouTube. I think there’s still is some big opportunity there around sales, sales, training, sales, operations, people like looking for different support. I’ve got over 300 plus videos on YouTube, but I think we could do more there. But I think for us, LinkedIn is still the main focus and will be.

Liston Witherill:
Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for your openness and sharing what you’ve learned from your clients and how you’re running your business. If anybody wanted to connect with you, where should they go? What should they do?

Jake Dunlap:
I think you know by now. Like I hope at least. At least we’ve talked about it, but no, if you go to LinkedIn and you just type in Jake Dunlap, D-U-N-L-A-P, you can find me, /jakedunlap. If you literally just go to YouTube, just Google Jake Dunlap or YouTube, Jake Dunlap and the number. I should be the number of, hopefully. Those are really good places. I’m very active too. If you DM me, I’ll get back to you. It might take a little sometimes, but I think it’s a really good place. I really like the platform. I do some fun stuff on Instagram, Jake_Dunlap_, but I’d say those would be the two places to get at me.

Liston Witherill:
Awesome. And of course, all of those will be linked or are linked in the show notes. So Jake, thank you so much for being here.

Jake Dunlap:
Thank you. I enjoyed it.

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