Richard is a leading demand generation specialist. With a background in training, building relationships, and delivering solutions, Richard has built up an enviable reputation by helping organisations of all sizes become more profitable and transition towards developing performance cultures.
Lee is a passionate and performance driven entrepreneur who enjoys nothing more than spotting, exploring and brokering the next big opportunities. With over 20 years commercial sales and marketing experience, Lee is an expert in delivering solutions to ambitious organisations.
Declan heads up marketing at strategicabm. After some 20 years working as a CMO in the Professional Services, SaaS and EdTech sectors, Declan is now Agency-side building the Strategic IC brand and sharing our clients’ ABM success stories.
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#neverstopselling from MQL to SQL
The full transcript
Declan Mulkeen (Strategic IC) - Well today I'm joined by Richard Lane and Lee Durham of durhamlane. Gentlemen, thank you for joining me today. Perhaps could one of you tell me a little bit about durhamlane and maybe something that maybe people don't know about the company?
Lee Durham (durhamlane) - (laughing) Go on then Rich
Richard Lane (durhamlane) - Yeah, Declan, great to be with you. Thanks for inviting us. durhamlane, we're a demand and lead generation agency. We come from a background of sales performance and there are three core services to our business. The largest part of our businesses is creating demand, both the upfront demand and then the qualification of that demand into a Sales Qualified Lead.
We also have our own sales methodology, which maybe is the thing people don't know. Selling at a high level is our way of working.A methodology that we also train clients in and then we build teams and we have a recruitment team that are able to build you your own demand and lead generation team if you don't want to outsource it.
Declan (Strategic IC) - Thank you Richard. So we've been talking over the last few weeks about what's been happening obviously. We're living through rather extraordinary times. Lee, Richard, what have you both learned over the course of the last few weeks?
Richard (durhamlane) - You go first on this one this one Lee.
Lee (durhamlane) - Great question Declan. I think certainly the whole approach to the market at the moment is one of empathy but being ever more professional than ever before one would suggest. Because of what's going on in and around us really. So I think we've coined a phrase '#NeverStopSelling' as we've learned a lot I guess through past challenging times. 9/11 being one of them. I think it's very important for people to understand, appreciate the wheels of commerce have got to keep turning as does the economy.
And I don't think we should be ashamed of the fact that we should be able to sell and position our way. I think we just do what we have to do in a very, I would say more subtle and empathetic way than ever before. So I think that's key. I think, also working from home for us as we've been fortunate that we've talked about it for a long time, but it's really forced our hand in terms of some of the technologies that we use.
Especially with working from home. We moved to a new headquarters building, two years ago. We went all Kyle Bass fortunately we did because it allowed us to mobilise, very quickly when this all kicked off. So yeah, I think there's a lot of learning all around, but I think with that in mind, getting through this and we will, as I'm sure a lot of people that have companies will. We will hope to come out of it a bigger, better, stronger business, more streamlined and in a position to scale not just in EMEA where we predominantly focus, but obviously globally as well, with full multilingual capability.
Declan (Strategic IC) - Richard, anything to add there?
Richard (durhamlane) - Yeah, I think, we've always been, we are a people business. We're a resourcing company. So our people in the adage are our most important asset. And I think what's been really interesting about this global crisis is that everybody's had to take a really good hard look at the people they have in their business and think more carefully about how they work with them. And to Lee's point there, we've become a really good virtual working organisation. I used to say our USP was, our three core services all under one roof. And actually, that that roof has sort of been blown away and has become a virtual roof.
But we've got some great ways of working. Our team has been magnificent and really has adapted really well and I hear that with a lot of customers and other people that I speak with who feel the same way and everyone seems to have grasped the challenge in making business work.
Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah and just touching on a point that you raised there, Lee actually, there's obviously been a lot of talk on LinkedIn and other channels about whether or not it's the right time to sell at the moment. And you touched on it there saying that businesses should continue to operate as the wheels keep turning. What's been some of the feedback perhaps in your clients around the idea of selling at the moment?
Lee (durhamlane) - I think that natural instinct is to put the brakes on, when something like this kicks off. And I think again, people that have lived through previous experiences, know better to do that. So whereas we've had some clients, pause and slow down, we've only had one client cancel, we've allowed that to happen even though we're on a 12 month contract because their whole business was keyed up around the hospitality space and we're not a business that wants to, do wrong by people in challenging times like this, we need to act and be different as well.
Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah.
Lee (durhamlane) - So yeah, I think it's challenging times for all people. So we've just got to act and shape up in different ways.
Declan (Strategic IC) - And let's just talk a little bit about durhamlane and ABM. So what role does durhamlane play in kind of the whole ABM ecosystem?
Richard (durhamlane) - So we come, as I said at the beginning, we come from a sales performance background. So our business, and we're in our 10th year of business as durhamlane has been about creating qualified opportunities.
So if you related it to the hauliers, it's the important last mile. And I think what happens in, the world of ABM often is that organisations get pretty fixated around MQL, Marketing Qualified Leads what we're starting, and how we're positioning ourselves as the conduit between marketing and sales.
So we can create that MQL for you. We can take an MQL that you've created as part of an ABM flow or whatever. And perhaps most importantly, we can then convert that into an SQL and make it sales-ready. And ever since I first started working a long time ago now, there's always been this friction between marketing and sales. And because we come from a sales background, but we also understand the world of marketing, then we're proving that we can become that conduit and translate all of the effort that goes in. And I think the effort on both sides is extensive and often for some reason the roads don't meet in the middle. And we're trying to position ourselves as that organisation.
Declan (Strategic IC) - And touching on that point actually around the whole MQL to SQL or Sales Qualified Lead or Sales Qualified Accounts, how do you help companies do better ABM?
Richard (durhamlane) - So part of it is, I think we talk about, we offer a very thin slice of focused marketing activity. So from an ABM point of view, we're not ABM specialists. We work with people like Strategic IC who do that part. Where we come in is picking up the baton later on, to be able to qualify the interest that is created into a Sales Qualified Lead. And ultimately it's about creating revenue. So we should all be focused on the same goal.We're getting more and more interested into the demand phase of that demand and lead generation.
But we're very much, we have an ability to partner with organisations that run those programmes. We have the ability to run the full programme. But we most importantly focus on the SQL creation and qualification.
Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah.
Richard (durhamlane) - I think it's fair to say Declan, they are very much two different skill sets. I think most people, most companies and most people within organisations recognise that sales, marketing, very two separate… If you can bring those two worlds together and climb in a successful way, then it's a formula that can be, is highly scalable and can be invincible in terms of what it can create in terms of success.
So yeah, forming that blend together or that dovetail effect, then it's a winning formula and I think more companies need to successfully, smaller mid to mid-enterprise businesses that want to become larger enterprises, let's say.
Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah and just going back to those couple of points you mentioned there Richard and Lee, obviously sales and marketing alignment is key to the success of any sales programme particularly for any ABM programme.
Can you talk us through a use case on how you've seen this best work with one of your clients?
Richard (durhamlane) - Yeah, so we've got a client, I won't name them, but they're one of the world's largest, telecommunication companies. And we've been working with them over the last six, nine months, helping them, to create new markets in France, Italy and now Germany.
And so that's been a real blended approach. So they had a footprint in their home, in their home market. They had a footprint in the UK, but absolutely zero-footprint elsewhere. So we've got focused on those countries. We've gone out, we've again provided a thin slice of marketing activity, which follows our methodology in terms of the approach, we're looking at the various personas that we know where they're successful.
And creating messaging, that resonates, that is hopefully finding people when they're looking out of the window of dissatisfaction, which is a phrase I love, which I wish was my own, but it belongs to a guy I know called Craig Elias in Canada. But looking at - people know they need to do something different but haven't started, trying to solve the problem yet.
So we've got really good at creating messaging that finds people in that state. And then our sales services follow in on the back of that and start qualifying. And it's about being inquisitive. It's a very question-based approach. It's about being interested to be interesting. And it's about just going out and finding the need and diagnosing, and business fit, business value orientated. And from that, we've been able to create a range of qualified opportunities, both in terms of growing their partner network, but also finding end customers for those partners to then sell to.
So we've created businesses for our customers in two new markets, which were total virgin ground for them.
Lee (durhamlane) - We're also looking now further afield, at taking them potentially out of the UK and EMEA and looking at the US as well as a potential, big market opportunity for those. And by using tools like Nexus by Cyance, which is obviously how we came to meet, Strategic IC. Intelligent tools like that allow us to, identify and engage with key decision makers and buyers in key markets and very well. So yeah, using some really good key tools as well.
Declan (Strategic IC) - And perhaps just a question regarding the whole idea of actually outbound sales with everyone working from home at the moment, how has that impacted the way that you're working with your clients?
Richard (durhamlane) - It's been really interesting to say actually because, I think there are some obviously some global impacts in terms of, if you track the weeks from when we first had lockdown. But what we found in the early days was that people were all sitting at home. They weren't in the meetings, they were normally in. They were more available. Tools like Lusher, enabled you to connect with people more readily when you're not going through a switchboard. So we were finding that we were connecting really well.
Actually our connections were up on the previous few weeks. What happened then I think two or three weeks in is it got to business as usual. I think organisations had more structure and it sort of got harder again. But I think overall, we now seem to be in a bit of a steady state or a new normal as I've been calling it. And what we're finding is that we're still having good conversations.
We're getting to people probably better than we used to get to them in terms of access. And that creating initial interest is working. I think probably part of the challenge down the line. And we as a business focus predominantly top of funnel,I think the challenge is farther down the line in terms of people actually buying things. But in terms of connecting and qualifying opportunity then we've seen a really strong continuation of opportunity creation.
So I think it's when you take out our pause customers and then you rebalance it, we're as good as we were in terms of percentages.
Declan (Strategic IC) - And I want to ask you a couple of final questions here. Richard or Lee, what advice would you give to any company who's looking to prospect at the moment?
Lee (durhamlane) - There is never a right or wrong time to start doing it. We talk a lot about, I think Richard mentioned it, keeping the wheels of business development turning back to my first point, I think you've got to keep moving forward. You just gotta do it in a different way, a more empathetic way. And I think, yeah, connectivity is really important. We will come through this. So you just, you've got to keep communicating, keep the speed, building great content.
It's now more than ever important to, with the exception of talking about COVID-19 all the time cause it just seems to be, I think infuriating quite a lot of people and I think research shows that as well. There's never a right or wrong time. You've just got to keep moving forward and say everybody's got a job and a role to play. So keep moving forward.
Richard (durhamlane) - I think one of our customers who is based in the US said to us early on, he said, "in my experience where a void is created your customers fill it." And that was in response to his frustration that his global organisation was sitting on their hands he felt.
So I think that's a reason why people need to make sure they keep in touch. I think also, just to sort of add to what Lee was saying there is that, I think the organisations and individuals that keep in touch now are the ones that will win in the longer term because you need to be top of inbox. We always talk about being found.
But also, what we don't want to be doing right now is going in and trying to sell people stuff. We should be going in understanding, listening, understanding their plans, what's changed, what needs to happen, how they're going to move these things forward, what's top priority, how the priority has shifted and all of that question based information fact-find that, should be what we do anyway, frankly.
So I think if we can keep that, that activity going and never stopped selling in the right way, then when we come through and budgets start to open up, hopefully we're top of the inbox and get found and can then move into conversations that progress.
Declan (Strategic IC) - Richard, Lee, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us today. Lovely to learn a little bit more about durhamlane and how you're helping your clients to develop a pipeline in this rather extraordinary times, thank you.