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The Digital Utopia Podcast Episode #5

Philosophy 4: Top Down Optimization

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About the podcast

The Digital Utopia Podcast is for SMB Marketers and Business Leaders looking to align their Marketing, Sales, and Service departments so they’re part of one powerhouse growth team.

Each episode will dive into the strategies, philosophies, and tools that will change your approach to organizational growth, give you renewed focus and clarity, and allow you to build a brand that not only helps you stand out—but win.

The Digital Utopia Podcast is produced by Digitopia and hosted by Frank Cowell and Joseph Freeman.

Episode transcription

Frank
Hey gang. Welcome to Episode Five of the digital utopia podcast. I'm your host, Frank Cowell. and I'm joined by my co host,

Joe
Joseph Freeman,

Frank
Joey, Joey,

Joe
Frankie,

Frank
what's going on this morning, man,

Joe
so much is going on this morning. And I think today is a fun topic. Today we're going to be talking about philosophy, number four of the digital utopia methodology, which is top down optimization

Frank
top down.

Joe
We touched on this a little bit last time when we were talking about flipping the funnel upside down. And once it's flipped upside down, I think you give a you know, a great explanation of what that means and what each level what each lifecycle stage could be is. And now we're talking about optimizing each of those levels of the ascension path, right? So can you just give us a quick rundown a quick recap maybe of what those levels are? And what it means to optimize from the top down?

Frank
Yeah, so as you mentioned, you know, we look at funnels, in a flipped fashion, it's an ascension path and ascension ladder. I'm certainly not someone who invented that, you know, Ascension paths have been talked about for a long time, synonymous with funnel, just a different view of how you're going to look at it, I prefer the ascension view, because it really emphasizes the point that we want to be relationship driven. In what we're doing. Then we talked about some other things that play into that, like hyper specificity and slow down to speed up and whatnot. With top down, what we're saying is, once you have your system in place, aka funnel, aka Ascension path, once that system is in place, what you want to do is when it's time to optimize, it's time to do that from the top down, meaning you want to start with customers and fans. And you want to ask yourself, are we elevating customers into fans? Are we turning customers into fans? Are we doing the things that make that happen, and if not, and there's work to be done, then the optimization work starts there. And that's not to say that you forego the development of the rest of your funnel, your Ascension path. But once you have it in play, when it's time to start tweaking, you tweak from the top down, there's a an ROI reason behind this primarily, the ROI reason is kind of almost like an engineer's mindset in any given system. When you optimize second, in subsequent steps later in the system, you'll get more output without increasing the input. So in our world, when it comes to business, the input is awareness. Right input is new eyeballs, new visitors, new conversations, that inputs very expensive, right? If you go to try to buy traffic on any platform, that's one of the most expensive parts. So if we can take the existing traffic, we have be at paid organic, whatever. And we can optimize that system, we're going to get more output without any more input, right, we'll have a better ROI. And so the deeper into the system, you can go and start from there and work backwards, will yield the best result possible. Now, you get into some some, this this conversation, there's a theory called The Theory of Constraints. So just know that I'm speaking generally about top down optimization that you start with customers and fans, like we want to get real technical, you might find the biggest bottleneck within that system and start there. And that may not be the very top. But the general idea is that you start with your your ability, or how well you turn customers into fans. And if that's not happening, that well. Start there.

Joe
Yeah, so you mentioned a funnel, you know, and I think traditionally, people think of a funnel as part of the the marketing attempts, right. So when we say funnel, which we've actually kind of shifted to an ascension path, we've turned it on its head. You know, we've talked about it being an ascension path. Is the funnel just related to marketing, or is it? Is it more than that?

Frank
Oh, no. So that's probably one of my biggest gripes in, in the line of business that we're in is that people hear digital and they think digital marketing, or they think they, they think funnels are marketing, as you mentioned. And really what I'm talking about is, and again, that's why I don't want to use the word funnel as much, but I use it just to so people understand.

Joe
Sure.

Frank
It's, it's this idea that that whole funnel, that whole path is really about the entire buying journey. From the moment people become aware of your brand, all the way through their lifecycle to becoming fans of your brand. And you know, the thing that is important to emphasize is that transition isn't binary. You know, they don't go from like, unaware to then customer. But so many times businesses, that's all they care about, are they customers or who are they not customers, are they prospects are they not customers are the customers, your buyers go through a journey, and a big portion of that journey is done without you And so By having a business that is, has a full funnel built to across the entire lifecycle, you give yourself an opportunity to actually be part of that journey during times when otherwise, you just aren't there.

Joe
Yeah. And so when someone goes through a journey, I mean, certainly we work with businesses all the time that are looking for those ready now leads, right their sales teams that are ready now

Frank
they're ready now they're so hungry for those things.

Joe
So it? So does that imply that people actually don't go through a journey that they're just ready now that they wake up and they are ready to buy?

Frank
So look, if they are ready now leads in your market? And every market has them? You should absolutely do the things you can do as a brand to capture them. Nowhere would I ever suggest that you you know, ignore ready now leads are don't attempt to go get them. They're just going through their journey, and they just haven't done it with you. And so if they're ready, now you have an opportunity to be there for that conversation. But just know that you may be fighting on heavy ground, right, as sunsoo calls it. Right, you may be fighting on heavy ground, because you haven't had a chance to influence them with your brand, you haven't had a chance to influence them with the way you think about the problem that you solve. They've been influenced by God knows who

Joe
I mean, probably your competitors, right?

Frank
Very much. That's a possibility. So just know like when you go to fight for ready now leads that's heavy ground, then you should go get them. If they're in the marketplace, you should absolutely go get them.

Joe
But let's be very clear, there's actually no such thing as a ready now lead. The it's like, it's like a overnight success and rock and roll, right? There's no such thing that what you don't know is that person or that group has been working for years and years to create the illusion of an overnight success.

Frank
Correct. It's, it's what I mentioned a moment ago, it's not binary, they just wake up one day and go, I'm ready to buy, right, this major services contract or whatever, that's just not how it happened. Somebody is in their ear, and we just just look at it this way, in any normal human relationship, right? Like, if you're not looking for a long term relationship, and you're looking for something cheap and fast, you know, there are places to go to find those kinds of situations. Right. Like, of course, I don't know if that's a sustainable game. Right? If that's a sustainable lifestyles, same in business, right, you know, so that you have to, yes, capture those ready now's. But you you, you have to be alongside that building something that allows the audience at large to engage with your brand as they go on their journey, and they're going to go on it without a company involved for a big portion of it. So find ways to assist that journey.

Joe
Yeah, I heard you mentioned bottleneck earlier. And that's something that we talk a lot about here. And when we work with clients, we often do bottleneck analysis. That's certainly not a new concept. But why don't we talk through that for anybody who's not totally familiar with what that means?

Frank
Yeah, bottleneck analysis is when you look at the major milestones, and the entire journey of that a buyer will go through with your brand all the way from, again, being a stranger, unaware to being a fan, someone who's purchased and purchased again, and tells others about you and reviews you positively and, you know, it gives you feedback, like that's a fan, right? And so the entire spectrum in there, you've made your milestones, we give suggested milestones in our methodology. But regardless of how you're identifying it, they're these milestones. So at those milestones, what you want to do is you want to measure what percentage of people move from one relationship stage to the next, aka a conversion rate. And so you want to see at what rate do people move through those relationship stages. And then you want to compare them to your own benchmarks, you can look at, you know, one of the things that people often ask about is like, what's the industry standard? What should it be? And we can give general numbers right all day long. But what's most important is your measure going against yourself, start to create your own benchmark and see just where reality lies for you. Right? So once you measure that, and you look to see, okay, where are we having, you know, conversion rates that are really low throughout this whole process. And you start there, the find that like where the pinch point is where that constraint is. And that's, that's how you do a bottleneck analysis, you obviously have to put real numbers in. You can't do this analysis without real math and real numbers.

Joe
Sure. But so let's say we do a bottleneck analysis. And let's say that we see that the true bottleneck is somewhere in the middle around the qualified. So if we think in the ascension path that we've been talking about at the bottom, we've got strangers and those turned into visitors to your website, those visitors turn into leads, leads turn into qualified and those qualified hopefully are turning into opportunities, which become customers and fans. So if you did a bottleneck analysis and found that the biggest bottleneck was at the qualifiers, which is right in the middle, do you start there when we talk about top down optimized optimization, do you start there or do you start Truly at the top of the fans level,

Frank
I mean, if we're going to top down optimize, you start, you start at the very top, okay? And this is where I think a lot of organizations just don't get the power they have in their existing relationships and past relationships with clients who are maybe dormant, stagnant, you know, haven't purchased or engaged in a while. If you start there with that base, and you ask them questions, you survey them, you interview them, you sit down and have coffee with them, you get to know them on a one to one human basis, all of that, that learning and feedback will not only feed the kind of content and information and support that you could be giving them and also new programs and new offerings, right to elevate them into a fan. But that information will also then feed everything below it. So imagine if you take that information, and you turn it into amazing, proactive videos that preemptively answer the questions that your sales team that they're getting, from their buyers from their prospects. What if you were to turn those into inspiring case studies, for all the strangers to become aware of your brand, and to really dive in deep with your brand. So if you start, they're not only going to turn more people into fans, but all of your learnings, all of that content, all of those conversations can feed the rest of it, they literally can be the source of so much content and valuable information for everything below that level.

Joe
Okay,

Frank
and people St. Pete, and this is the thing, it's like, we're like addicts that run around in business we like are so obsessed with the new, right, the new, the new, the new, when there's so much information that exists with your existing base, that if you were to mine, that if you were to like, go really deep with that it would feed the entire system, you wouldn't have to, you know, ask yourself, Well, what blog articles should we write this week? What should we be posting on social media today? You wouldn't be asking that you'd already have the information.

Joe
Okay, so this is starting to make sense. Theoretically, if we were to start talking about this more tactically, in a more practical sense. Where do you start? How do you start, and maybe you could even give us an example of what this looks like when we talk about top down optimization, maybe throw out some some numbers that would help paint the picture as to why this is important. How does it result in, you know, ultimately, more customers and fans, but what are we looking for? We're looking for improved conversion rates, right, we're looking for.

Frank
I mean, if we want to get really black and white about this, you're looking for more output at the end. Right? So the at the end, it's how many people turn into customers? And how many of those turned into fans, those are kind of like the two major endpoints that you that a business cares about?

Joe
Yeah,

Frank
right, you've got to, you've got to fuel growth,

Joe
right.

Frank
And so at a very basic level, you know, if if, at the bottom of this system, you know, you have 10,000 people becoming aware, each month, at the very top, you have one customer coming out of that. And if your goal was to get to five, well, you either drive 50,000 more visits more awareness, or you can figure out how to optimize that system to create the five out of the 10,000 you're already getting.

Joe
Right?

Frank
You follow me? So that right? There is just a small example of how you can spend no more in terms of the awareness and the traffic

Joe
because it actually costs money to get more awareness in most cases, right?

Frank
It is, it's the most expensive thing that we do in business,

Joe
right?

Frank
One of you know, clearly, like your offering has a lot of cost involved cost of goods sold every measure that in your business clear, that's a big expense. But the next biggest one, and sometimes it's it's more in some businesses is like your cost of acquisition and everything. They think about everything that goes into your acquisition, if you're advertising to content creation, your marketing people, your sales team, all the bdrs that try to make both of those units happy. That's a ton of money being spent on acquisition.

Joe
Okay, so someone who is listening right now is buying into this methodology. They want to get started with this. How do you get started? What's the very first step? If I were to take this to my team right now? and say, Hey, we want to start optimizing from the top down, what would be some practical advice you would give somebody,

Frank
just start measuring What's happening? Right, start measuring what's happening, don't worry about what your industry does. And these measurements, don't worry about what your competitors doing, just start measuring what's happening

Joe
and what are we measuring.

Frank
Okay, so you're gonna measure at the very, very top you want to measure how many referrals do you get from your clients unsolicited,

Joe
because we know that it's, it's cheaper to acquire customers from referrals and to retain absolutely actual customers and going into getting new ones

Frank
that exactly, but it's also just an indicator of how well you're elevating people, okay? Like if you're, if you're doing your job, and you're elevating the After that you've transformed them from buying your offering, and you're doing things properly, those things will start to happen a little more naturally.

Joe
Okay,

Frank
you should ask for referrals for sure. But, but you can also gauge like, How many are you getting unsolicited?

Joe
Right,

Frank
right? How many reviews? Are you getting unsolicited? Right, when those are amazing indicators to let you know that you are actually elevating that person. And so you want to start measuring those things.

Joe
So this is interesting, because when you talk about measuring those things, you know, obviously, there are operational things you can put in place to help make fans. But we also need all the tools to measure that. So when we talk about optimization, are you also talking about just the operate operationalizing of the systems that will help you collect that data? And the automation or, you know, the internal processes that will help you actually serve these people?

Frank
Yes and No,

Joe
okay.

Frank
Yes. And no, I say yes, because those tools, and those systems are amazing. And every organization should have an amazing technical stack at the core of what they're doing. Every organization needs that today. But in lieu of that, I find that those things to often be excuses for organizations, like the business world today has gotten so flippin lazy, it's not even funny. Okay. And it, a lot of those things are used as excuses. Well, you know, this project and can't decide on which platform and we tried for six months to get things going. In the meantime, you can call your clients. In the meantime, you can take them out to lunch. In the meantime, you can send out a simple survey, right, right there. There's so many things that we put in front of action in the business world. And so I want to emphasize that, yes, you should have an amazing tech stack at the core, yes, you should have some Automation features, and some things that will roll up this data for you in an easier fashion. But you should not let that get in the way of simply asking your clients for referrals, or simply engaging with them in conversation for simply asking them what is happening in your business, not how are we doing? What's happening in your business? Tell me what's going on? and broaden that conversation. So you're not so obsessed with the line item that your clients paying for, but more so what is the impact of what's happening with their or within their organization based on what you're providing to them? So those things, you know, the tech should never get in the way of making these things happen. So you want to start there? How many unsolicited referrals are getting? How many unsolicited reviews are you getting? What are the reviews? What is that rating, you want to look at those things, the next thing you can do is then you can start talking to your existing clients about how well you're actually performing on your service. Right is it actually, you know, creating the transformation you had hoped for? You could be, you can measure that in terms of client satisfaction score, you can simply measure what's called a net promoter score, which is to ask one simple question, how likely are you to refer us to a friend or colleague on a scale of one to 10? With one being no way in hell? And 10? Being? Absolutely I'm going to do this, you don't even have to ask me to refer you. I'm so happy with you, folks. So that's the that's the Net Promoter Score question. And you know, there's some math about how you go about calculating what that score is from that? That's a very simple question. You don't have to get real complicated to ask that question. And so when you start asking that, then you can start understanding how well you're doing, you can measure that. Okay, so now we can measure referrals, we can measure reviews, what those review rates are, we can measure things like Net Promoter Score, you can also and I would encourage you to ask additional questions of your client base that support the brand promises that you've made. And so the brand promises are often around the things that are above and beyond what you're supposed to deliver as a result of them paying you money, right. So like on the invoice that might say, we're going to deliver this tractor to you, right, like you bought a tractor, you got a tractor? Okay, well, your brand promises are above and beyond like, you just given me what I paid for, what are the things you're going to do as part of this transaction as part of this relationship that address the things that you know, are frustrating for me, or difficult for me are the things I just can't stand about your industry. Okay. In a book called uncommon service by Anne Morse and Francis Frye, one of my most favorite books, by the way, they really talk about what goes into creating these types of brand promises. And they have a really amazing case example in there about a bank that built its brand promises based on what people hate about banks. Right? And so that is kind of a little clue as to how you develop your brand promises. You look at the things people really dislike about your industry and your business model and type. And so this bank did that. And so they decided that they were going to be the best in each of the top three frustration points for their clientele. And lo and behold, you know, they created raving fans, right? And so Those brand promises, you can ask questions about how well you're meeting those brand promises. You so for example, when we, when we talk about that bank, you know, the two that came to mind that I remember from the book, were, you know, there were two major frustration points that they're the clientele of the banking industry had, and that was, you know, they're really sick and tired of the fact that banks had "banking hours", you know, bankers hours, you know, people get off work at five or 530. So,

Joe
banks are already closed,

Frank
right? Like, you got to be in to work by eight, and it doesn't open till nine. So, you know, Saturday, you know, if they are open or open till like 11, or 12. Right. And so, what they realize is, their clientele just can't stand this, you know, they really dislike it. So they set out on a mission to be the most available bank on the planet. Okay. And so then they use that as one of their brand promises, you know, we're gonna be here for you. Right? So we're not talking about, we're great at customer service. No, no, but keep in mind, like the product of the bank is hold my money, do it safely. And in certain products, you don't give me a return on that money. Yeah, right, safely. And when applicable, give me a return on my money. That's generally right. And banks, new lending, they do other things, I get that. But generally, that's like, that's the product. So when they say they're going to be available in here for you, that's a brand promise, it kind of goes above and beyond that transaction.

Joe
Okay, so

Frank
the thing you're paying for

Joe
gotcha

Frank
on the receipt, if you will, on the invoice. Okay. They also found that, you know, people had this sentiment about banks that they were just really unfriendly people, they it wasn't a pleasant experience. So they set out to be the friendliest bank on the planet. Right, that, that changed their hiring practices, by the way that changed how they were recruited. You know, this goes into a completely different topic than what we're talking about on the show today. But you know, what that meant was, they had to be willing to then forego certain things and not be the best at certain things, because they were going to invest in these things. By the way, when you decide to be the most available bank, that's a real financial commitment, because it means you're open more hours than anyone else on the planet that costs money, there's more staff to support those hours. And so to fund that, that has to come from somewhere, that means they have to choose another area of the business, to not be the best in to create a savings that then fund what they will be the best at. And that is one of the biggest mindset shifts that you'll learn and gain from reading this book on common service. Highly recommended. And so you know, that's just an example there. You know, this, this went off on a tangent, but this was started because we said you should be measuring, in addition to the net promoter score, question. questions around your brand promises. So how well are we doing? You know, our do like our availability? How was that working for you?

Joe
We should do an entire episode on brand promises. It sounds like,

Frank
Yeah, I love it. It's a it's one of my most favorite books on common service. Because look, when you develop strategic language, for your business and for your brand, there are lots of elements that you defined. You define things like mental model, ie things, you define things like positioning, you defining define things like one phrase strategy, taught by Vern harnish, by the way, from the book scaling up, you find that thing, right? You define your target market and your core core beliefs and core values. And then one of those things is like, what are your brand promises? So for brand promises, this is, you know, hands down one of the absolute best, you know, teachings on that it's very practical, very practical, and, and when you read that, you can definitely define those.

Joe
Okay, so we'll dive deep into that in a future episode. So let's start now going down, again, the ascension path.

Frank
Okay, so we're measuring, you know, to try to create fans and what's happening there. We're measuring satisfaction with with customers and what's happening there. And lots of things you could be doing. Again, I'm a huge fan of just sitting down having coffee with people and just asking the questions, right. But if you want to measure and get real data behind it, you'll do those other things, then we want to do is like, what is the, you know, how many opportunities do we turn into customers, because we're going to come another level down, right? So if you have 100 opportunities, and you create 50 customers, then you have a 50% opportunity, customer conversion rate.

Joe
And when you say opportunity, you define that as what proposal sent or

Frank
so it's different in every organization depends on what you define as an opportunity. It should be clear, it should be black and white should be defined. In our organization. For example, the very first introductory call doesn't get qualified as an opportunity. We use that as a filtering mechanism to understand if we truly have somebody we can help. We have truly have somebody who's a fit for us and we're a fit for them. If there is that fit, then they move into the official sales process. That's when we call With an opportunity, and that has about three additional stages in there, three to four, some companies, they only wanted to find an opportunity when a proposal has been provided, or once a proposal has been requested, and that's fine, too. So whatever it is, in your organization, whatever you define is opportunity. And again, it should be very clear, very black and white, it should be no ambiguity. And what an opportunity is in your organization to start measuring that, how many did we create this month? How many we creating on a monthly average. And then over a span of time, what percentage of those turned into customers, you want to be careful to when you start measuring this stuff? When you start measuring, especially when you want to start comparing, like, how many people turn into customers compared to lower levels, like how many people turn to customers from these visits that happen, which is at the very bottom right, you have to expand your timeframe in which you analyze that data. Because the process is typically long. For most businesses, you can't then say, Well, how many of those visitors turned into customers this month, you're dealing with to kind of different cohorts, if you will. So if you're going to want to compare customers to add, even if your opportunity stage, by the way, even if your sales cycle is long, you have to make sure that your data set is wide enough. So if you may have to say it's 30 days, you may have to say 60 or 90 days, right? When you pull that, okay? How many how many opportunities in 90 days of rolling 90, and then how many customers, then you can start to get a better picture of like, how well you're converting, but that a lot of people don't realize that when you start measuring data within a within a business funnel within a business system. In fact, we you and I had this we sat down with a company a couple of years ago, you recall, and they wanted to know how many of those, you know, people who click this month and like how many customers are we're getting, it's like, Whoa, timeout, they're still doing research, you're, they still have sales conversations, they compare you to other people, they sit and think about it, typical sales cycle kind of stuff, you can't measure it within the same month in so you have to, you know, when you start measuring this stuff be have a real good understanding of what your true cycle is for your clients. It's not just the moment like you attended to your sales team. Right? There's a longer cycle. So depending on where you're measuring against, keep that in mind. But you can't measure it. Okay.

Joe
Yeah. And on that point, you know, we work with a lot of businesses, I would say the average that, you know, we work with is, is six to eight weeks, a lot of the companies we work with, say it's six to eight weeks that they even potentially could close a deal. Like, that's kind of the starting point. So

Frank
and that's, by the way, for those people six to eight weeks from what they call a like sales opportunity, right? Like forget, forget the fact that maybe there was an initial email that came in and an initial phone call to kind of qualify it out, forget the fact that maybe they downloaded something on your website and were received, forget the fact that they may have been nurtured by your emails for, you know, several months. Like, yeah, you have to really like understand what that entire journey is for your buyers.

Joe
Absolutely. And so we end up setting up dashboards more often than not at either 90 days or 190 days so that we can see that rolling set of data. Because Yeah, it's so critical. 180 days for many businesses, somebody can actually enter into your, your purview, and kind of take that entire journey within that timeframe. So you can actually see, alright, how many people were created, how many contacts were created, how many new opportunities were created? And how many of those turned into customers? You can see that within that window. Correct?

Frank
Yeah, yeah. So if you're here today, and you're trying to hold your team or your marketing agency or whoever accountable, you have to make sure you're looking at the right data set. Right, it is it. I see so many start and stop efforts when it comes to, you know, go to market activities, where CEOs, heads of companies will say, hey, it's been 90 days, and this, we're gonna can't we're gonna do something else. That's like, Wait a second, you're the whole journey is longer than 90 days. Right? You're What do you expect? What do you expect to happen in 90 days?

Joe
Yeah, I think that's tainted often by the fact that many sales opportunities that present themselves from networks or from conferences or from, you know, referrals, a lot of the times those conversations are already pretty primed. And so when you first meet that, that person at that business, the conversation moves pretty quickly. We're now talking about total strangers. We're not talking about people who already have a need and their buddy referred them to you. Right, right. We're talking about bringing people in and nurturing them from the top. So this takes a long time.

Frank
Yeah, I mean, look, are you hanging out in bars for your leads, right, and you're hanging out in bars for your dates? Are you looking for a long term relationship, right? And so when companies get tired hanging out in bars, quote, unquote, to find their business, when it's dried up, and they're like, wow, this, this is not turning into the kind of fruit we had hoped, well, then your alternative is to play the long game to build positioning and awareness within your marketplace. So ultimately, that process speeds up,

Joe
right,

Frank
which it can, but you have to be committed to it.

Joe
Yep. And we often, we always watch two different conversion funnels, we watched the conversion funnel for any contacts that were originated from an offline sources, what we call it, but that's anything that you know, comes in from a referral or a trade show, or just the sales team outbound hunting, that's offline. And those often go a lot quicker. And it's for sure to segment those out and watch the conversion rates for those differently than anything that is created from an what we call inbound, right, which is anything that comes in on its own online, whether it's through advertising, whether it's through organic searches, whether it's through an email blast that somebody forwarded on, that's all online, those take a lot longer. And you really need to be looking at the two different funnels next to each other.

Frank
Yeah. So when you're measuring to your point, you do have to separate those things out, you have to look at the timeframes and the windows, you have to take those things into consideration when you start measuring this stuff. And

Joe
it's unfair to compare them, you just have to look at them as two totally separate efforts.

Frank
They're two separate efforts. And you have to do both. Correct, right, like this idea that, like, I'm really actually against what a lot of people in our industry, you know, say is like, hey, it's only inbound, and only inbound like, Look, that worked for quite a few companies that had an early start and in were really entrenched early with, you know, within their industry, okay, it's still possible today, but it just takes longer, and it takes a higher level of commitment. So you can get there, you can absolutely get there. But the level of commitment is really high. It's really high. I mean, you have to be willing to, like, go really deep, get really specific, you have to be willing to, to do things that ultimately that seemingly have no ROI. You know, look, look us doing this podcast here, doing it because I want to share information, right, we want to share information with the world. But ultimately, we have a business, right, we have other ventures, like we want those things to grow. But having the faith that really digging in and committing, and having high level of commitment over a long period of time, will will create that like speeding up it will create that flood of business. But to your point, you do have to measure them separately. And you know, the inbound ish stuff won't become the the hot ready nouns and match that volume until you've been consistent long enough. But but it's both now. Now here's here's the thing, guys, if you're hot ready now stuff like you have there's no end in sight, exhaust that clearly exhaust that. Right, because time is of the essence, you need those opportunities today. Go get them? Absolutely. But if you're like many companies that I talked to, they're feeling like Well, we've kind of exhausted that, well, now we've chased so much, we now have so much chaos inside of our business. Right? That's the other byproduct of that. You can you can outbound yourself to a very bad place. But But I'm not suggesting it's one or the other, you have to have the outbound you have to go get the business. But also Don't be so outbound focused, that you chase things that aren't appropriate for your business, right? At some point, if you put in the work around positioning awareness, and driving value to the marketplace, you can start to attract a much better sales conversation, you know, people who are more ideal fits.

Joe
So I want to bring it back to optimizing each of these levels. So we've made it down to the upper top example took us a while to get through all of those because I think everybody our listeners need to have practical examples of what we're talking about in terms of what we're looking for, to optimize at each level. And then I want to quickly talk after that, you know, how does this work across different teams? So maybe, let's get down to where we're at qualified.

Frank
So now we're talking about qualified so what you would measure from qualified to opportunities is how many opportunities are you creating? And to your point, Joe? It's it's both the inbound side and the outbound side, how many opportunities are you creating to start measuring that each month that's really easy to measure? How many are you creating? And if you want to start to compare that to a conversion rate, you can then start to say, Okay, how many of our qualified leads became an opportunity? What What, what was that percentage? Okay, so you can measure the percentage of conversion from one level to the next. You can just measure the sheer volume. How many opportunities are we creating on a regular basis, and here's the thing through all this. I was gonna say This for the end, but I'm gonna say this now, you need to be trend focused when you measure this stuff, right? So you may have a given month where it's like, Oh, damn it to hell, we had, you know, 10 opportunities, we're supposed to have 20 We're so angry, we're so mad, let's cause like, Let's sit down and like, let's hold some feet to the fire and, you know, crack some skulls, right? Like, you can absolutely run your business that way. But you could also step back and say, oh, every now and then it's normal for the number of opportunities to go 18 2020 to 1810. Yeah, then backup date to like every now and then that's, that's, that's kind of the normal cycle. And so if you just step back and look at the trend, and see that, oh, the trend is going up. That's really critical. When you look at when you look at this stuff, right? So you don't freak out over a given month.

Joe
Yeah, after you've been doing this a while. That is why it's important to also look year over year, because you've got seasonal trends, you've got economic trends, you've got all kinds of different things that go into that. And if you just look at the peaks and valleys, you will freak out every month. But if you compare it year over year and understand, okay, we did have a peak, but that peak actually didn't even go below our sorry, the other way around the valley, it didn't even go below our peak from last year. That's important to know. Yeah. So to lay those on top of each other is a really important exercise to do, you know, every few months,

Frank
or how about a pandemic should not affect the business at all?

Joe
Sure.

Frank
Yeah. Right.

Joe
Right.

Frank
So yeah, it takes looking at, it takes oftentimes zooming out,

Joe
right?

Frank
When you look at this stuff, okay, so number of opportunities, right, the next thing is qualified. So that's an important thing to measure. So you can measure qualified in two different ways, what marketing deems is qualified, which has one level of criteria, and we're going to get into that, by the way, that's another whole show,

Joe
right?

Frank
Like, what is the risk criteria in a qualified lead? How do you determine that? How do you agree upon that? Okay, yeah, so there's what a marketing qualified lead that has certain criteria, and then there's a sales qualified lead, which has a higher level of criteria. And so you can start measuring how many of those were created, just how many were created, and how many mq ELLs were created, how many SQL were created? By the way, there's another one in between those called sales, sales accepted lead, and you can start measuring that too, which is to say, how many of the marketing qualified leads were accepted by the sales team? Right, you can start measuring that for a quality score, if you will, of how well marketing and servicing the sales team. That's another topic. But but you want to measure those? How many are you creating? Okay, each month, and again, you can measure the conversion from all of your visitors and your awareness and just initial leads in the database kind of getting down to that bottom level now, which is say, how many of those people you drove awareness with and in visits with in? And how many of those turned into leads? And then how many of those leads were qualified? And so you can just start looking at the simple numbers at that point, how many were created? And what was the, you know, the conversion rate from one level to the next? Okay, those those, by the way, you can start to measure in shorter timeframes. It's much, much easier to say, how many visitors? Did we drive this month that turned into contacts in the database? Or what what are called generally leads in the database, not ready now leads, right? That you can measure in a one month timeframe because that cycle is really short. But when you start measuring higher up, you have to really, that's when I said we were talking but you kind of have to start to zoom out, the higher up you go, the wider you have to go in in your data set.

Joe
Right. And I don't think it's just higher up, I think it's as you jump level. So as you measure the conversion rates between visitors all the way up to opportunities or up to customers, that's where you return from level to level, that transaction can happen pretty immediately. You know,

Frank
again, depending on sales cycles, right? Because opportunity customer like that could be a 90 day sales cycle. So you might be directly engaged for that. So yes, you have to be aware of level, the level what that cycle is. But you're right, when you want to compare a lower level to a higher up levels and skip levels,

Joe
yes, zoom way,

Frank
you got to zoom way out. So after zoom was taken for qualified, by the way, this idea of someone hiring somebody, whether internally or externally to drive traffic, you know, and then saying in the first month, how many customers you drive? It's asinine. It's absolutely ludicrous that you would attempt to measure that.

Joe
And when you say that, you mean, you know, send paid advertising visitors that don't know who you are? Send them to your website and expecting that you're going to get sales conversations out of that immediately. Right,

Frank
correct. Yeah, you might have, you know, a couple that that come about, but again, there's, you're you're engaging people early in their journey,

Joe
right. We do see high conversion rates on the b2c side. But you're right, in b2b, if you're just sending cold traffic to your site, you should not expect that that's going to convert into anything, you know, right away. Right? Right. So okay, take it from qualified back down to the level before that, that gets us to leads. Okay, so What kinds of things can you be doing for leads?

Frank
Yeah. So once you get down to these levels, it's kind of you're measuring the same things. If we're talking about just measurement, right, you're just measuring quantity created each month, or each quarter, whatever, you know, you're gonna standardize on quantity created and then conversion from the previous level.

Joe
Got it? Got it. Okay. And then one step before that would then be visitors,

Frank
visitors,

Joe
visitors to your website, that's pretty self explanatory, right?

Frank
pretty self explanatory how many visitors you creating? And then if you want to measure "conversion", you can start to then look at things like, Okay, what percentage of people clicked on the ads?

Joe
Right?

Frank
So now that will tell you like how well ads are performing? Right?

Joe
Right.

Frank
So you can start to go even deeper, deeper than that,

Joe
right?

Frank
But the idea is that, you know, quantity created each month, and then what was the rate the conversion rate from the previous level to the next?

Joe
Yeah,

Frank
and you can measure those things. And so start measuring those things. I can't, I can't emphasize enough that the main thing to do is just start and get it all in one view. So that way, everyone in the organization can understand like, Oh, well, here are these seven levels. And now everybody in the organization can see how the business is flowing. Which is another thing I'm really passionate about, we're going to talk about at another time. But this idea of flow is ultimately what you're trying to create,

Joe
right?

Frank
Like, if you're a business leader, if you're an executive in the business, your job is to create flow, which has many, many implications, by the way.

Joe
So for somebody listening today that this is all news to them. And certainly there's listeners who have probably been doing some or all of these things for a long time. But for somebody that this is brand new information, it's a lot, right, we just talked about a lot of stuff and a lot of levels and a lot of tactics, and we barely even you know, hit the tip of the iceberg. So to simplify it, what would be the number one thing that you would say somebody should do to get started down this path today,

Frank
talk to your customers, sit down, have a conversation, send out the survey, do the net promoter score, start there,

Joe
okay,

Frank
talk with your clients, both in terms of surveys and collecting data that you can analyze and measure, but talk to them, have coffee with them? Right? Hear them? Right? Find the stories, document the stories, I'm telling you, that will not only improve your product, it will improve that information can then be fed to your sales team, it can be fed to your marketing team, talk to your clients, obsess about them there. Because you're going to create so much fruit from that it's not just one thing that's gonna come out of it, you're gonna have many things that come out of that that's that's the one thing you can start doing today is actually engage your clients, get the data, get the stories.

Joe
And in the true spirit of core philosophy number four, you really will be starting at the top.

Frank
Absolutely.

Joe
With your top down optimization.

Frank
Absolutely. Joe, this was super fun. I think we're out of time.

Joe
I think we're over time

Frank
we're out. We're over time. We don't really have a time limit on this podcast. But for today and what we allocated. We're out of time. And so it was super fun having this conversation if you'd like to learn more, go to buildingyourdigitalutopia.com. We have additional resources about the things that we discussed today. Links to the book, we have templates and stuff you can download. We have all sorts of things they're going to be launching there. So go check it out. We'd love to see you there buildingyourdigitalutopia.com. Thanks for joining us have an amazing day.

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