On this week’s episode of Conversational Selling, we sit down with special guest Matt Heinz. Matt is the President of Heinz Marketing, which focuses on B2B sales and marketing based on buyer insights and market-driven best practices. He is also the host of a weekly podcast, Sales Pipeline Radio. He is also a prolific author, nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, and dynamic speaker, known for his keen insights and actionable takeaways.

“I think, first of all, it’s just being willing to write and talk the way that you would if you were in front of someone in a casual format. There’s an awful lot of our marketing that, if we look at it and think about it, and if we’re honest about it, is us trying to get a message across to a prospect. It’s us trying to say something that we want to say. That is a one-sided conversation, it is technically not a conversation, but it is. I think if you can have a two-way conversation that, if you’re the seller, is really focused on what the prospect wants, what the buyer wants, what they’re looking for, you’re much more likely to get the engagement you want,” says Matt about the nuances of conversational marketing.

We chat about Matt’s podcast and how it has helped his business, as well as:
  • The nuances of conversational marketing
  • How sales and marketing have changed post-pandemic
  • What’s keeping him optimistic about the future of marketing
  • How a clear, concise, and informal message can boost your marketing results
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:



Nancy Calabrese: Welcome everybody to Conversational Selling. This is a podcast where sales leaders and experts are going to share what’s working now in sales, sales management. And it all starts with that human conversation. I’m your host, Nancy Calabrese, and I am so excited to welcome Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing and the host of weekly podcast series Sales Pipeline Radio.

So, Matt’s the president of Heinz Marketing, his weekly podcast featuring the brightest minds in b2b sales. He is an engaging speaker as you will hear, a repeat winner of several top 50 awards including Sales Lead Management, Sales and Marketing Influencers and most recently, Top 50 Keynote Speakers. Matt, that’s a lot of tops. Welcome to the show.

Matt Heinz: Well, it’s my pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.

Nancy: Yeah, I’m really excited to learn a whole lot about you. So you have two really important businesses, your marketing business and the podcast where you’re able to exchange b2b ideas with other sales leaders. Tell me more about what motivated you to start the podcast and how has that helped you in your business?

Matt: Well, our business has really been grown over the last 12 years on our content, you know. I don’t know 12 years in, I still don’t have a salesperson or a sales team. You know, we don’t have a dedicated marketing person but we do create a lot of content. I’m on a print journalist by trade and education. And so, you know, started just writing blog posts and doing written content from the very beginning.

And about almost five years ago, I decided to, you know, take a leap into podcasting. And I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s kind of a different strategy. It gives us another channel to reach and release, sort of, you know, share other ideas. And, quite frankly, it’s been a great way to engage prospects. You know, we invite a lot of prospects on to talk about their sales and marketing strategies on the podcast as well.

Nancy: Yeah, awesome. And when all of you get to his podcast, I’ve joked around with Matt that he should have been a broadcaster. He’s a natural at it. So one of the other things I’ve noticed your post is, are you a pro at conversational marketing? Tell me more about that.

Matt’s Take on Conversational Marketing

Matt: Well, I think of conversational marketing two different ways. I mean, there is the sort of, I guess, tactical definition which had been promoted extensively by Drift, which is a sort of an intelligent chatbot tool that companies can put on their website. And from their perspective, I think conversational marketing means instead of asking people to just fill out forms and just blindly walk around the website, it engages your prospects in a conversation in real time, right? When they’re on the website, you know, depending on what they’re looking at.

I think more broadly, to me, conversational marketing is simply sort of a reminder that we are people talking to people, even if we’re business to business. And I think, you know, it’s really important to make sure we are not preaching to prospects, that we are not writing too formally, that we are truly conversing with the people, with our prospects, with our customers with our employees. And I think it’s, you know, that conversational, more informal approach is what most people want.

Nancy:  Yeah. So what do you have to do differently in conversational marketing versus having a human conversation? What are some of the nuances?

Marketing as a Two-Way Conversation

Matt: Well, I think it’s, you know, I think, first of all, it’s just, you know, being willing to write and talk the way that you would just if you were in front of someone in a casual format. I think it’s also understanding the context in which that, you know, prospect or customer or individual is in. What are they interested in right now? What are they looking at? What are they trying? What are they seeking? And just having a real-time conversation about that.

I think it’s, you know, there’s an awful lot of our marketing that if we look at it and think about it, and if we’re honest about it, it’s us trying to get a message across to a prospect. It’s us trying to say something that we want to say. That is a one-sided conversation. It is technically not a conversation, but it is, you know, I think if you can have a two-way conversation that if you’re the seller, is really focused on what the prospect wants, what the buyer wants, what they’re looking for, you’re much more likely to get the engagement you want.

Nancy: Yeah, I totally agree with you. You know, for many of us, including me, I never thought I would be passionate about sales, not what I studied, and lo and behold, I got the fight many years ago. How did you get started in sales? You had a journalist background, right? Journalism.

Matt: Yeah, yeah. Journalism and political science degree from University of Washington, never took a business class, don’t have an MBA. You know, just really just, you know, took different jobs that got me engaged in sales and marketing. You know, and I, and I’ll preface this with, you know, I am a lifelong marketer. I am definitely on the marketing side. But I think as I worked with more and more companies, and as we dealt with, you know, more and more complex sales and complex buying processes, I realized how important it was for sales and marketing.

We work so closely together. And so I wouldn’t describe myself as a sales expert at all, but I would say that, you know, to be an effective enterprise marketer, to be an effective, you know, complex buying cycle marketer, you have to understand and appreciate the sales side of the equation so you can integrate those efforts effectively.

Nancy: So, what are your recommendations about getting the two together? How should they be working together?

Matt: Well, I think there’s two keys to that. One is making sure you’ve got the same metrics, that you understand, you know, how much demand is required to hit a certain amount of pipeline to hit a certain sales number. I mean, so starting with the right metrics and then working down towards who are the right prospects? Who are the people we want to talk to? You know, having that as your foundation, what numbers do we need to hit?

Who are the people we need to hit them with? And then sort of working through going from strategic alignment, meaning we agree to the same numbers, we agree who we’re working towards, to operational alignment, which is, what do we do Tuesday morning? Like if a lead comes in that we all agree is a good lead who follows up? What do you follow up with? How many times do you follow up? Where do we record this?

I mean, there’s a level of very detailed integration that we work with our clients on to ensure that that integration happens, that you’re putting your best foot forward with your prospect, and that you can do that again and again seamlessly so that not only the prospect is getting the best experience, but so that you’re creating the greatest efficiency and conversion of those prospects through your pipeline.

Nancy: Yeah. It’s all about communication, right? Conversation, it goes back to being on the same page and having no mutual mystification if you would, right?

Matt: Absolutely.

Nancy: Making it clear. And so, from your marketing point of view, do you target any particular industries or have any special niches?

Matt: You know, we target prospects in across a lot of different industries, I would say. You know, a lot of technology, a lot of cloud computing, a fair amount of manufacturing and healthcare. But, you know, our focus is really b2b and that complex sales process. It’s understanding, you know, taking what can sometimes be months, if not quarter-long sales processes and breaking it down to steps that make sense to buyers and sellers. And we find that there’s commonalities of how that works and needs to operate across both the sales and the marketing teams.

Nancy: Mm-hmm. You know, it’s June 29. We were pretty close to the end of the first six months. And three months ago, I mean, the world changed, and it’s still changing. And we’re in great industries. Marketing, there’s always a need for that. Sales, always a need for that. But marketing and selling has definitely changed to your point with conversational marketing. What is the biggest change in your mind? And what are you doing differently as an organization?

What’s Different About Heinz Marketing?

Matt: Great questions. You know, we have really doubled down on our mission of being a sort of a teaching organization. I think that, you know, when I think about our sort of noble sales purpose, if you will, it’s to be a teaching organization that helps our clients understand a better way of doing business. And, you know, that includes doing that for companies that aren’t paying us. We’ve invested in some pretty significant resources this quarter to help companies get through these difficult times, to help rethink the way they’re going to market.

I mean, you know, four months ago, three or four months ago, all of a sudden, all of your field marketing and options went away. All the events you could do went away. So you had to rethink, Okay, I still have to hit pipeline, I still have to hit my numbers. How am I going to do that? So lots of companies were working through those that we’ve helped with, you know, had numerous conversations with past clients, you know, with people that haven’t spent a dime with us just helping them think through those things. We’ve done a series of Friday morning CMO coffee talks with a partner.

And we’ve been, you know, sort of, and we get over 100 CMOS that join us Friday mornings just talking about what’s going on, the pivots they’re making, the things they’re testing, how they’re taking, you know, live events virtually, how they’re taking field marketing and putting that into digital channels. And so we’ve just figured, listen, we’re playing the long game here and we know that not everyone has budget they can spend right now but we still have an opportunity to help our clients and help the company on the b2b marketing community overall.

Nancy: Yeah, and Friday morning, 100 CMOs, that’s pretty awesome. Yeah, and I think we’ve all had challenges, certainly during this period. But I also feel we’ve gotten through the first six months of the year and we should be congratulating ourselves for surviving. What successes can we share, or can you share with my audience? You know, what have you done that has kept you afloat in addition to some of the, you know, the assistance you’re giving companies without compensation?

Matt: Well, I mean, I think as any small business, you need to look at your numbers and make sure okay, like, look at your cash projection and say, okay, what’s, you know, do we have enough money, if sales are going to be down a little bit, to continue? Do we need to conserve cash in a few places? You know, we were lucky enough to get some of the Payroll Protection Program money, which was certainly useful this quarter.

But I think, you know, we’ve also just, you know, continued to sort of pivot to new ways we can help clients. We created a product this quarter called Pipeline Rescue, which instead of being a long, you know, more traditional project for us was a very short and very precise program to sort of help people identify opportunities in their pipeline as well as leads in their database that were more likely to engage and convert in a short period of time, that had a more acute need that, you know, that a client can solve.

And so instead of being, you know, sort of a three or four-month project, it was literally a two-week project to quickly get to results so that they could start to unstick deals. And so, you know, just like our clients, like we had to figure out a way to reposition, and in some cases, repackage what we’re good at and what we can do to help the market. And that has been, you know, being proactive and doing that has been very important and very successful for us.

Nancy: Yeah, and I think the key word here is being proactive, right? Thinking ahead, thinking about what we can do as organizations just as a whole to forge forward. What do you think mindset had to do with this period? What would you say about that?

The Importance of Self-Care

Matt: Couple things. One, you know, just, you know, I’ve had my business for 12 years. And there have been, you know, there haven’t been pandemics through that whole 12 years, but there have been challenges along the way. And I think you just have to realize, you know, you got to be kind of even-keeled in how you approach it. You got to think about different options. You got to realize and recognize that at every stage of our company’s growth, there isn’t any, there aren’t any guarantees.

There isn’t, you know, there aren’t any assurances you’re going to get that something’s gonna work. But I think they go into things with your eyes wide open, to have more than one option to, you know, to be proactive at testing new things. And just to be open to that change. I think the other thing that has been really important, and we talked about this on the Friday morning CMO events quite a bit is this, you know, metaphorical concept of putting your own oxygen mask on first. The fact that, you know, it’s really important that you focus on self-care.

And I would, I don’t think I was very good at that at the beginning of this. You know, as things shut down, like we closed our office before some of the lockdowns, the stay at home orders came into place. And so we’ve been all work in home for while. But, you know, in that there was a time three months ago when like the sports teams were shutting down and they were telling us all to stay in place and like, it just felt like there was like, these bombs going off all over the place. And as a business owner, I just felt Okay, I’m just gonna lean in, I gotta figure out what to do with my team, I got to figure out what to do with my clients, I got to figure out the projection.

And it was really easy just to, I mean, I’m recording this as I sit in our little, my little basement office, it would have been easy just to sit down here like all day, and just use it as a bunker and not prioritize being healthy and taking time off work and, you know, turning the computer off and reading a book or playing with the kids in the yard. So I think, you know, being flexible and agile, I think would be how I would summarize my first answer and the second one is just to prioritize self-care.

Nancy: Self-care is so important. You’re so right. You know, I, like you, we kicked into high gear, major high gear and, you know, through April. And by the end of May, colleagues of mine, we all started feeling like whoa, we got to just slow down a little bit. And I don’t know about you, but we were all so focused on staying afloat that it zapped our energy. So you’re so right with self-care. So what makes you optimistic about the future of marketing, sales in general?

Matt: Oh, man, I mean, I think, look, attention spans are continuing to, continue to shrink. People are busier than ever. I feel like the more information that is available to buyers in any, in a number of different industries, the more we have available online, the more we have coming at us, the more confusing it all is. So the ability for marketers, I mean, this is, I go back to sort of my training as a journalist, right?

I mean, it’s not about, as a journalist, you don’t learn how to write, you learn how to tell stories. And so the ability to create a compelling story that speaks to your prospect, that cuts through the clutter, that converts your marketing from being interruptive to being irresistible, to being something your prospects want to engage with. That skill, that differentiation as a marketer, as marketers, as a marketing team, as a brand is going to only increase.

I think that the opportunity for companies to look at their marketing and to think of it as media channels, to think of their company as a media brand, to not have to rely on renting the attention from third parties, whether they’re events or magazines or websites, but to own that attention, to earn that attention to be a channel have great content for your prospects that they want to spend more time with. That is enormous opportunity that some companies are doing a really great job at already.

Nancy: Wow, you know, how can my people find you?

Matt: I’m at heinzmarketing.com most days. It’s funny, like we have, before we started this, you were mentioning that our website’s down. Apparently, there’s a WordPress server that’s down right now. So hopefully by the time you listen to this, you can go to heinzmarketing.com. That’s just HEINZmarketing.com. You can reach me at Matt, MATT@heinzmarketing.com. And we’re posting content on all, every day on both our website as well as on Twitter just at Heinz Marketing.

Nancy: Awesome. What about Sales Pipeline Radio?

Matt: Salespipelineradio.com. We’ve been publishing now for two years. We’ve got almost 250 episodes available on demand up on the website. We publish a new episode almost every week, and we’d love for people to check that out. You can catch it all. You can subscribe, just find individual episodes at salespipelineradio.com.

Nancy: Yeah, I highly recommend it, folks. I’ve listened to several of them and they’re all worth the time. You always walk away with a nugget. And, you know, in wrapping this up, I like to close by offering one takeaway. It’s a crazy climate, you’re passionate about the outreach. What takeaway can we give our listeners that can be applied immediately?

Deformalize Your Marketing

Matt: You know, the one thing I would do is just to write the way that you talk. I mean, you started this conversation around the idea of conversational marketing. You know deformalize your marketing. Look at what you’ve written and cut at least 33% of the words. Spend time making your message clearer, more concise, more approachable.

Nancy: Love it. Love it. Matt Heinz, I thank you. Thank you for spending time with me this morning and I hope to have you back on the show soon.

Matt: I’d love that. That sounds great.