On this episode, I was joined by Evan Huck, CEO of UserEvidence, a SaaS platform that helps automate content creation from happy customers. Evan previously helped run enterprise sales at SurveyMonkey and thinks the best reps are masterful customer storytellers. We talk about how customer stories can help with the toughest parts of the sales cycle and the different types of customer content that SDRs and AEs would find most useful. Without further ado, here’s my conversation with Evan.
Margot Leong: Hey, Evan. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Really excited to have you with us today.
Evan Huck: Hi Margot. Yeah, thanks for having me. I’m stoked to participate.
Margot Leong: Can you give us that 30,000 foot view of your background and journey and how you ended up in your current role at UserEvidence?
Evan Huck: Yeah. So I graduated from Stanford in 2010 and wanted to get into tech startups. So I joined this small company called Tech Validate where I was the first sales person there and Tech Validate’s in the customer marketing space, now owned by Survey Monkey. I grew the sales team there for gosh, maybe eight, nine years from just me to a team of 60, and then we were acquired by Survey Monkey in 2015, which was awesome. And I ran enterprise sales there for a few years, and then moved from San Francisco to Jackson to be a ski bum for a couple of years, which was awesome.
And then I wanted to get back into the startup world. I’m the co-founder and CEO of UserEvidence, which is also in the customer marketing space. And we’re small. Again, we only have five people, but growing really quickly.
Margot Leong: And I’ve been at those size of companies and I personally really love it. It just kinda feels like anything is possible. So I love the energy of those types of smaller companies.
Evan Huck: Yeah. It’s absolutely my favorite stage. We’re having a lot of fun. It’s challenging of course, but it is great.
Margot Leong: Tell me a little bit about why you decided to start UserEvidence. What gap did you see in the market based on previous experience, and maybe if you want to back up and just say a little bit about what User Evidence does, and then we can go into that.
Evan Huck: Yeah. So I’ll talk about what User Evidence is first. So it’s a web based application that enables customer marketers to capture feedback from their customers and users at scale, and then turn the feedback into marketing content and collateral like case studies and testimonials and statistical evidence on the fly. So it’s a great way for marketers who have a larger customer base to generate hundreds of content assets, and a library of evidence and proof points from their customers they can use in sales presentations around their website or wherever.
So the company, why I started it? Tech Validate was in the customer marketing space and I had a lot of domain experience. And furthermore industry-wise, I think we saw the importance of customer marketing was really just about to blow up. SaaS companies and software companies, there’s tons of those now. And everyone knows that’s a really powerful business model. So all of these software and SaaS companies are getting a ton of investment and growing really quickly. But older customer reference models that were primarily one-to-one, that worked with a smaller customer base.
We knew that wasn’t going to scale for the kind of modern SaaS and software companies that were more wide user bases that might be in the thousands. We knew that customer marketing was going to be really critical, and we saw a gap in the market where there wasn’t a ton of solutions that really automated a lot of these customer marketing functions and really scaled them to the level of the modern software company that has thousands of users. So you have a space we knew how to play well in and we knew it’s an important market and so it seemed like a good fit.
Margot Leong: You mentioned this thing around how the more traditional customer advocacy models that were a bit more one-on-one meaning basically I’m the customer marketer. I want to get some references, whatever form that may be. I reach out to the user. I get the approval. Then I get an hour long interview to capture the story. Then I figured out how to form that into interesting collateral, what are you seeing companies are needing that’s different than the model I was just referencing.
Evan Huck: Yeah. I think the older model, while still very applicable and that kind of more manual white glove approach is still necessary, but even the best customer marketer, you can do four to eight of those a year, something like that. You can’t do that to a user base of 2000 users.
And so I think what we’ll see is, we’ve seen this already in just marketing and sales in general, back several years ago, you had the advent of marketing automation, like Marketo and Pardot and Eloqua, which really opened up the playbook for marketers. And then a few years later, we had the advent of sales automation, which was Outreach and SalesLoft and Groove and other folks like that, which opened up the playbook for salespeople to scale. And now I think you’re going to see the same thing in customer marketers.
It’s like, how do we have a one to many conversation with thousands of customers, but in a way that still feels organic and natural and not just like template spam, but how can we uncover interesting stories from thousands of people with only a customer marketing team of one or two. So I think you have to apply some of that sort of marketing automation, sales automation style of both outreach and data collection to really make that work at that sort of scale.
Margot Leong: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that customer marketers are typically underresourced as well. And so that’s something that comes up a lot is we’re expected to be in service to a lot of these other departments in terms of basically sourcing customer relationships, finding the stories, engaging customers, it’s a lot on people’s plates. And so it’s like, how do you scale ? It’s through people or technology. You either have to hire more people to build those relationships or you figure out how to leverage the content or getting of the content in a different way, but it’s also comes out in a different way that may be more usable or interesting for a more modern audience.
I’ve always been a bit more bearish on needing to write very long form case studies. It’s interesting to think about how the market is evolving when you just have so much content that companies are churning out. What is actually going to be valuable? And is like a quick hit for what your prospect needs at that time basically.
Evan Huck: Yeah. I think that quick kit element is interesting. I mean, for better or worse, societally, I think it would probably be better if everyone had the attention span, but the reality is I think with Instagram and things like that, we’ve kind of gotten used to swiping through content in just a crazy pace. And so I think B2B brands will have to adjust to that new style of information consumption that’s been led by frankly, social media companies.
There’s a place again still for the longer format, more in-depth content. But if you think about mapping the content to the buyer’s journey or the funnel, if you will, more of that evaluation, I’d argue is happening in that kind of what we traditionally think of as an earlier stage awareness where your attention spans are really low because they’re not super interested in your solution yet.
So I think if you can find ways to capture customer stories and proof, but then containerized them into short little digestible nuggetoids that look really visually appealing and could fit well on Instagram. I think that’s where customer marketing is going. And again, not to say that it necessarily obviates or replaces the longer format stuff, but you know, I imagine most of the gaps right now are on the kind of digital, shorter format channels where the buyer’s journey is just happening a lot more relative to six or seven years ago.
Margot Leong: It’s the consumerization of B2B. It’s we are so used to Amazon Prime, one day, two day shipping. We’re so used to our consumer products fitting us like a glove and serving us content in these very specific ways. It’s crazy to think that the way that I, as a human, am going to think about absorbing B2B content, is totally different. It’s very much the same. You can’t help but be influenced by it. And so I do think the market has to start moving towards this. It’s not create content because that’s what everybody else is doing and what people have always done to hit some sort of status quo. It’s really understanding your users and their specific buyer journeys and meeting them where they’re at. And I really do think that just requires a real shakeup of how we’ve been thinking about all of this content in the past.
Evan Huck: Yeah. I think also one of the big bottlenecks, if you’re trying to accomplish that, to put a name to it, you know, trying to create a bunch of variants of visually appealing content. Take a happy customer, but chunk it up into 17 different formats of different lengths. Like one of the big bottlenecks is design, right? To create these kinds of eye-popping stats and customer testimonials and good looking formats, like going to the design team every time you get stuck in this queue and you just can’t accomplish the speed and velocity to get enough interesting customer proof out there.
So the technology is just starting to get there where we can automate basically routing customer stories and data into different formats on the fly. It really started with ad technology. There’s ad technology these days that you can automatically create different variants and test them to see like, alright, on this toothbrush ad, does the blue background or the red background work. And so that sort of technology applied to creating really visually appealing customer story snippets is brand new. And it’ll be really exciting to see how it develops.
Margot Leong: Yeah, absolutely. What we’re really excited to dive into today is actually like it’s a little bit meta, but it’s basically how I’m personally super interested in we have as customer marketers all of these things that we’re working on to try and help out different departments and a lot of that starts off with telling compelling stories.
But sometimes I don’t feel like I’m fully dialed in to whether or not what we provide to different departments is useful for them. That’s the most important thing, right? Is the content that we’re providing you valuable and what can we do to basically accelerate the sales process with whatever we’re providing.
So I think it’d be really interesting to understand, especially with your background, how you think about training your sales team here to think about internalizing customer stories. Like, how do you use that currently? So I’d love to dive into that.
Evan Huck: I’ve had a lot of experience running sales teams and being a customer, right, of the customer marketing function and really depending on that team to give us stuff to help sell. At one point I had 27 STRs and 17 account executives, and the hard part is the senior ones will figure it out. Like the people that have been there for a while, they probably have their own customers. And so they know their own customer stories, or they can get them. The hard part is when you’re scaling an organization and, I have a bunch of folks that have been there for two months, that maybe graduated from college six months ago or something like that.
I’m trying to teach them, all right, we’re going to go sell this, you know, our solution does weird API management whatever, and they have no idea what that is. And you have to go tell them to prospect into people that do know what it is and convince them to buy their stuff. So that’s hard.
Customer stories is a vastly more effective way to get them to communicate the value proposition of your company than trying to spit out what the heck it is they do, and all the features and benefits and stuff like that. Particularly like in a tactical thing, if you’re trying to sell some IT solution again, that they’re never going to have the understanding to be able to explain that well. But what they can do without really any knowledge of the solution at all, is at least communicate social proof.
In other words, communicate to the prospect. I don’t even know exactly how I can help you. But what I can say is that we’ve at least worked with folks that look like you. They’re in a similar industry, it’s a similar persona. Maybe they have a similar problem. And I know we work with folks in that space. We’ve heard similar things, you know, you should at least be talking to us. So for an SDR, like that might be enough of a pitch to at least get someone on a half an hour intro call, which is their goal.
In my experience, when I think about onboarding and trying to get SDRs up to speed quickly, where they’re generating a lot of meetings, I’m going to spend a lot more time just training on fundamentals of how to use customer stories way before I start training on like down level features and functionality of the product.
Margot Leong: If we think about the process for how an SDR might get to a customer, maybe it’s cold calling. It makes sense that if I only have maybe a few minutes to really capture someone’s attention, it may not necessarily be the most valuable to get into like the technical, all the like speeds and feeds of the product. Can I do some name dropping and use a story to tell the benefit of the solution. So then I can pass them on to the AE who is more knowledgeable. Is that how you would think about it?
Evan Huck: Yeah, exactly. And taking it a step further in terms what names to drop, I think if you can give salespeople like a few, it doesn’t need to be seven or anything like that, but like two or three parameters where they can match your list of customers with the prospect in a targeted way, that’s beneficial.
So for example, like if I’m talking to a healthcare company that is a small company with less than a hundred people in the US, ideally, obviously we’d want to then drop some names from similar types of companies that are like them, same industry, same size that they would recognize.
So even way back in the day, we just had a Google sheet that just you could literally go in and filter by industry and company size or like competitors that they already use if it’s an incumbent. And just find a bunch of names like on the fly, they could do that on a cold call, like as they’re talking. Just to drop relevant names, but that’s where like, you need a pretty large story database to be able to do that if you’re selling to 17 industries and three different sizes of companies across four regions, that’s a lot of unique, different kind of segments.
And so that’s where, if you can build a larger library of little snapshot baseball card type stories that you can regurgitate in 30 seconds, that gives the SDRs dexterity to be able to communicate that you’ve worked with very similar types of customers to the prospect.
Margot Leong: I think what would be interesting too, is what types of content would be valuable for SDRs versus AEs? And so for SDRs, it sounds like the minimum of information that you would need is a way to be like, okay, I’m targeting users in this industry and in this geo. And so it would be nice to have a list of similar companies and probably in geo. That would be probably nice as well. So that, and then maybe something about a little snippet about the benefit, but you probably don’t need to like get into it that much because of the amount of time you can even spend on the call.
Evan Huck: Yeah. And it’s not just cause calls, it’s outreach. So literally just to give you a very tactical example of what we did, we put this data in Salesforce, so we had a field that said what industry they’re in. And then depending on what industry that is, we would have a bunch of names that would correlate to that industry.
So if it was healthcare, as you know, GE healthcare and Phillips and McKesson, we would automatically route that into our automated email templates that they sent to prospects. So if their industry is healthcare, that sentence would say, we work with companies like Philips, McKesson, and GE Healthcare. And if it was tech, it would say Box and ZoomInfo and folks like that. And that made a huge, measurable difference on the conversion rate in those emails.
We were sending ten thousand email a month or something like that, so even little incremental going from 1% response rate to 1.5%. That’s a difference of scheduling 60 calls versus 90 calls for an SDR, over the course of a quarter. And that’s huge. So we saw that kind of relevance of social proof very much in a measurable way increase our conversion rates.
And so we could use that, that same sort of infrastructure. Just like tagging it essentially with the right metadata allowed us to not only on calls, but across emails and decks and things like that, just have a lot more relevant presentations of customer proof.
Margot Leong: I’ve noticed a trend too, where I remember if we think about maybe over the past five years in terms of just receiving cold outbound from vendors, I noticed they would not put in, or not drop customer names that often and more just speak to the benefits of the product. But now more recently, I’ve been noticing a lot more cold outbound where they specifically talk about other companies that are basically using the product that are similar.
I got one recently where they basically use a customer example. The company that I’m at is Series A startup. They sent me an example of a fast food chain, that’s like, and that actually like turned me off.
Evan Huck: While impressive, not relevant at all.
Margot Leong: This is like so basic. And I actually wrote back to the, the SDR and I was like, can I give you some feedback? This customer example is totally not relevant to me. He’s like, the reason that I decided to use them is just to show you that anyone needs power of analytics. And I was like, oh my God. You barely have seconds to read this email. You’re going to report it as spam. You’re just basically wanting to have nuggets in there that just keep someone’s attention. And so like anything where it doesn’t match, I’m just going to basically delete it.
Evan Huck: Yeah, totally. Do I recognize anything? And probably not. Like dev shop ones that are good ones. Like we work with Deloitte and McDonald’s and stuff like that. So, all right. It’s not relevant at all. Versus I see some we work with Something.ai and Something.io, I was like, Ooh, those are SAS companies. Nice. So yeah, totally.
Margot Leong: Let’s move on to AEs, right? What kind of customer story evidence do AEs need? And what ways have you seen that utilized best?
Evan Huck: I’ll tell my story as an enterprise AE at SurveyMonkey for a while, that was when I moved to Jackson. And here’s my frustration.
So obviously we spent millions of dollars, like we spent a lot on brand and communications and stuff. Like are our big customer stories, like Bank of America and Kaiser Hospital and stuff like that were the most beautiful things on our website and they looked awesome.
But the problem is I couldn’t use that stuff. I was doing a deal with LinkedIn. I was like, all right, what do I use? And even if I wanted to use those things, like it doesn’t fit in my deck. Like the big long five page PDF. How do I get into my deck? Like tactically? I don’t know.
And so like many resorts, like taking screenshots of the PDF, which look crappy obviously, and then putting them into the deck in a horrible way. And that was the biggest problem for me as an AE. I couldn’t get what I needed from these stories in a way that I could use them as components in my decks and all my demos and stuff like that.
So I think that’s one problem is just like, when you spend all this effort on this big, long story, and then it’s just locked in this PDF format, which is fine. If you’re going to send a five page PDF to someone, but it’s just getting the nuggets out of that into PowerPoints and stuff like that was super frustrating.
So what do AEs need to answer your question? I think that is a big thing. Like it needs to be like componentized so that you can just grab the relevant pieces of a story in a way that you can easily drop it into a deck or a demo or something like that. And it doesn’t look like a foreign white blood cell thing that’s going to get attacked. So I think that creative element, just presentation, is a big thing that doesn’t happen much. And it was always a huge frustration point for AEs.
And then, yeah, the other one we’ve already talked about was just relevance to the stories again. I’m trying to sell the LinkedIn and I had this Wells Fargo story. It’s just this just a little different, right? So like having breadth and depth and scale, I think that’s one of the biggest challenges for customer markers is like your CEO and, your VP of comms or whatever is we need your biggest, best, most recognizable customers to do this press release for earnings and go on stage and stuff like that.
And then the sales teams asking for very different things. We need a hundreds of shorter format things. And those two things are totally at odds. So that’s one of the biggest challenges for customer marketers today is like, how do we manage that? Very different requests from two very different functions.
Margot Leong: I’m curious as well. There’s the content, right? Which is if you think about the more traditional forms, is a longer case study. You know, in your experience, in order to extract the nuggets of a story that you did not yourself sell, so you’re not familiar with it, would you yourself go and read through the case study and then be like, okay, like these are the relevant points so I can speak to them. Or like, how did you sell the content if you yourself did not sell the customer?
Evan Huck: Yeah, that’s a good question. I don’t know if this scales, but like one little trick that I learned is like once you know a story really well, that’s the story that you tell and then you just switch out the names. The story that I would tell it’s probably not actually the story, that was the actual story for that customer, but I knew one story from one of my customers really well that just came off like super authentic and you can tell us it was like a real story that I knew. And then I just switched in the names to make the industry matching more relevant. That trick is good.
You know, when I try to train folks, like the advice I give them is pick a story that you’re actually interested in yourself. And what the company does. Like for us, for example, I could try to tell a story about how some random it company did X, Y, and Z, but I’d rather choose one of our customers like Postal, which is a Sendoso competitor. That is a gifting solution that we actually use. Like my sales team uses it and we’ve seen benefit from it. Like we booked more meetings and stuff like that. And like, thinking about how I tell that story versus how I tell some story that doesn’t really matter to me much. Like it’s just going to be a lot more engaging and interesting.
Yeah, I think if you can find some stories that actually resonate to you as a sales person, like you actually understand what you’re saying, that is going to be a lot more impactful. So pick customers that you like, or you’re interested in, that can be more effective even then using a matching industry, just because you’re going to be more entertaining when you sell it.
Margot Leong: There’s always like the push pull around customer marketing as a department can provide this and sales can then figure out how to use it in the best way possible. And so you were saying stories that you have a personal resonance with. And so for example customer marketing, what if we had workshop training where we picked X amount of stories that we think would be most resonant for like these geos and then talked about them in a specific way that felt kind of like storytelling and then the reps internalize them. Would that be helpful or is it up to the sales rep to really just figure it out for themselves?
Evan Huck: I think that’s a good thought. Imagine you don’t do that, what’s going to happen is the really good reps will go find other reps that do know these stories that are really cool. And they’ll learn them from them, but you’re going to have a much bigger chunk of reps that, especially in the remote world, like when you’re on a floor, it’s a lot easier. You can just go up to someone and be like, oh, that sounded awesome. Can you tell me about that?
Versus remote people don’t know each other as well. You don’t hear auditorially people doing sales calls and stuff like that. There’s a lot less of that natural tribal knowledge sharing that is happening in today’s more remote selling environment.
So yeah, I think customer marketing has to take that on now. It probably is way more important now than it was. Three years ago, you’d probably get away with not, but with the remote selling force, it’s critical and better than the customer marketer telling these stories, sometimes might even be bringing in their rep that closed that deal or the CSM that managed that deal.
Again, if you’re just reciting some points off a case study or bullets, like, you know, they save time and money. It’s like, all right that’s cool. Every SaaS company does that. Versus I was working with Sarah and it made a huge difference. Like she couldn’t do this and now she can do this and she was stoked, that’s going to resonate a lot more with that sales force and they’ll remember that and be able to use that story in just a lot more effective way.
I think sales people know it in a way that works well on sales calls, which maybe gives them an edge over the CSM. Like you think about how a salesperson has to convey a story. When a marketing person tells a story, they almost read off of a digital content piece. Cause that’s what they’re sending out is this is the case study that gets delivered digitally versus a salesperson has to communicate the story auditorily which is a very different way of communication, right? So it’s finding someone that has experienced delivering this in a still compelling way. And that’s going to be an effective way to train people that also then have to do it in that similar channel.
I think like connecting it on the human level, particularly for sales calls, auditorially is way more impactful. It’s like, yeah, the director of dev ops was just pulling his hair out because you got all these disparate tools and people using them and blah blah blah like that. It was going to be a much more plausible story and yeah, no one cares if a big, huge company has saved a little bit of money, right? It’s not going to move the needle.
Margot Leong: Do you think that it’s pretty commonly accepted that really good reps know that customer stories are very important for helping sell or is that not common knowledge? Like, can you be a really good rep and sell very, sell a ton without necessarily having to use customer stories?
Evan Huck: I’ve seen very few reps that are good that don’t have a pretty masterful command of telling stories well. There’s a few reps that like just brute force their way there, but just grinding and generating a ton of opportunities. But at the same time as a sales leader, that’s not great either. Even if you hit your quota and you’d had a 2% close rate. That means you had 98% opportunities that we probably could have given to other AEs that they would’ve closed. So anyway, it was not a good scalable solution either.
But yeah, you think about why it’s not rocket science. If you’re a prospect and you’re getting on the phone about to go spend, a hundred thousand bucks on a solution or something like that, you kind of need to cover your butt, if you will. And you want to make sure it’s going to work and you want to feel you trust the person that’s selling you on this journey.
So imagine if you went to a doctor’s oh, haven’t done this much, but we’re going to give it a shot. Just take off your shirt. Let’s go for it. Like that’s not good. So yeah, I think that comfort comes from knowing that the rep and by extension that company has seen a lot of situations like this. And they’ve developed a lot of expertise in that particular scenario. And the rep communicates that and if they fail to communicate that, then we’re going somewhere else or we’re just going to hold off or something like that. It’s a pretty critical piece for, if you’re selling something high consideration and expensive.
Margot Leong: In terms of what customer marketing can provide to AEs, let’s say that we needed to create kind of a filterable library of stories, right? What kind of tags do you think would be most important for them to be able to search by quickly and then, you know, use the collateral in whatever way that they need, essentially.
Evan Huck: The obvious one first is let’s find a relevant customer, which is like industry, geo, maybe competitor that they evaluated. For some companies what kind of ecosystem around us did they have? Are they using a certain cloud provider? That helps you find the right company. And that I think makes sense to most people and is not a particularly novel concept, although if you’re not doing it should be.
But the bigger thing that’s tough is once I’ve found the customer, what I don’t think most companies do is give reps options for how to deliver and consume that story. And I’ve seen this a few places where it’s really well done where it’s like, let’s say the customer is Wells Fargo. Then I get into that folder. And now I have a bunch of different options for content pieces of different lengths and formats that are optimized for different channels. Yes, I do have the 12 page glossy PDF that I can send to prospects that are later stage in the funnel and just need more of a reference.
But I also have a little snippet that I can pull into my deck or a little stats or things that would work well on social channels that I can share on LinkedIn and Instagram. If we can give reps a menu, all from the same customer, all from the same story, just chop it up in different ways and apply different skins to it that are a best fit for different channels. So I think you’d see a lot more usage of that customer story if there were more options on how to digest and consume and share that customer story.
Margot Leong: Are there things where you’re like, okay, like I really wish marketing would help me more on this end or that end essentially.
Evan Huck: Yeah. I think the biggest thing nowadays that’s really important for SaaS and particularly like product led growth companies that do a lot of land and expand and upsell and positive net cross sell and positive net retention is oftentimes when I’m a rep, let’s say, it’s Cisco is the account I’m selling to like I’ll land and do a small proof of concept in one business unit. And that’s a 20K deal, but the whole Cisco account, that could be a million dollar deal cause they have 19 analogous, business units to switch in that I can then go sell our license too.
So I think one of the challenges I always had as a rep that was trying to do that land and expand and where marketing could help is, I would sell an initial deal, hopefully CSMs would do a good job of getting them off the ground quickly, but then I would go to marketing and be like, oh, we need to have a bunch of happy users. Like I want to package up that success so I can go market it to these other 19 business units because there’s $900,000 sitting there if we can just go show off this initial success. And then they’d go through normal case study process, which at Cisco, can take nine months, and so then I’m just sitting there.
So I think a really important metric that’s pretty new is this speed to initial proof with the first group that you land with. And so marketers need to think about like, how do we reduce the friction and get usable proof points or stories from this initial group in this account without having to do the whole legal and PR approval process that you normally get gummed up in, particularly at a larger account because we wanted to get that rep back in that account selling again and cross selling and upselling. That’s a totally new model and particularly with product like growth, it’s become vastly more important. VCs look at this, like what’s the rate at which you can upsell and cross sell on an account. And I don’t think we’ve really thought about like how to do that on that level.
Margot Leong: In the past, how has that typically worked? Like how are you able to do the land and expand if the approvals are not able to come through at an optimal time?
Evan Huck: We’d use what we can like, if I had a really happy customer, I could use that person as a reference. But that reference is only valuable if I get far enough in the sales process with another business unit where they actually want to talk to that person. I need something that I can put in an email, right? Like a prospecting email and say, Hey, look, here’s some examples of success within your current account from other colleagues at Cisco, check out what they’re doing. Let’s schedule a call. Like that’s what I didn’t have, but I could use references. But again, that’s late. The case study, once it came out, obviously it was super useful, but again, that’s eight months later than I needed it. So yeah, we would just try to try to hack together ways to name drop a little bit certainly.
And we work with Cisco switching and stuff like that, but we had a bunch of happy customers. We just didn’t have a way to capture their story in a quick way, and then present it to other business units or prospects within that same account. So intra account evidence for the purpose of cross sell and upsell, I think is kind of a new thing, but I think going to become increasingly important.
Margot Leong: Let’s say that you’re able to get like it anonymized until the approvals come through. Is that valuable?
Evan Huck: Yeah. Especially if I’m selling, I can be like, Hey, it’s a fortune 500 networking company *cough* Cisco. So yeah, as a rep, I can do a lot with that, right. I don’t want you to go through formal approvals and stuff like that. That’s disaster, that’s too long. I need something fast, anything that I can just be like, check it out. And that helps me get that cross sell done a lot quicker.
Margot Leong: One of the things that you mentioned about tribal dynamics, I know, like sales will learn from each other or learn from the best reps. Have you heard about the new ways that people are basically trying to overcome this in a organization that is much more comfortable being in person and like disseminating that information that way.
Evan Huck: At a larger company, I think we’ve seen a lot of growth in like sales asset management solutions, like Highspot, Seismic, Showpad. If you’re a bigger company, you have the budget. I think that those solutions are really good because you can do a lot of that searching and tagging and all that stuff. Which just helps the kind of discoverability, it also helps with tracking and effectiveness. It can tie content usage to opportunities. So you can say, this case study influenced $500,000 in opportunities created and 20K in closed business or whatever. I think those solutions for larger companies are definitely starting to become more table stakes.
But at a smaller company, you can recreate those technologies by just hacking together some normal tools. Like I’ve seen a lot of folks use Airtable really well to create searchable taggable repositories of customer content. Notion, you know, is another solution that organizes and stores and displays information really well. So I think it’s a combination of both technology from a storage and findability and searching and tagging and filtering perspective, but then also some human programs, right? But there needs to be a reason why I show up to those as a rep.
If it’s just the customer marketing team saying, Hey, you know, we’re going to do a road show about all these stories. I think that’s a good first step. But if you told me like, Hey, we’re doing a road show. And Samantha, who’s the number one rep in the company that made over a million dollars last year is going to showcase some or her favorite stories, okay, I’m showing up to that one. So I think if you can add a little, in a meta way, social proof to your social proof program that’s actually working for the top reps, like that gives people a reason to show up.
Margot Leong: Is there anything that you wish that marketing knew about sales?
Evan Huck: Yeah, I think just our needs are different than what the marketing and executive team wants when it comes to customer content, like the most difficult part of the sale is two parts. One: getting people on the phone. So it’s SDRs breaking through all the noise, like prospects, get thousands of emails every month, we need to break through the noise and we need cool looking little short format nuggets of customer content to do that.
And then second hardest part is like taking that intro call and then converting it into a demo. And that’s where again, just having a large repository so I can find super relevant stories to use is really critical.
I feel like most companies are pretty good. Like once I’m later stage, I need to provide a reference. Also, I feel like I rarely need to provide references anymore that much.
I feel like with the advent of like G2 Crowd and stuff like that, it’s like people check the box with that. It’s been a while since I’ve done a live reference call, but either way, like once we do get there, like I always felt like I was pretty well supported on pulling live references. Once they’re at that point, like the deal is basically done. They’re just checking their box and their process, but where the deal happens or not, it is really that kind of like intro call to demo spot, and then getting the call in the first place.
And again, I think we over-index maybe on the kind of later funnel customer content assets, just cause it’s easy and say, oh, I did this reference, then it closed the deal. Like that reference must have done a ton in influencing it. Well, yes, but like the hard part was like getting to that point in the first place. And I think that’s where we need customer proof and customer content a lot more and it needs to be wrapped up in skins that are better suited to that earlier stage, low attention span menu.
Margot Leong: What are your thoughts on things like, okay. Like beautifully produced customer videos. Or like a beautifully produced book of customer stories. Is that valuable to you? Have you used those and sent them to customers? What’s the reception? I’m curious about that as well.
Evan Huck: I love videos. Yeah, again, I like to have a pretty wide toolkit and array of different weapons, if you will. If I need something visually that stands out on a certain channel, then I obviously need like a big, bright, cool looking stat or something like that. But then I can send a link to a video or I can put a snapshot of that person’s headshot with the link to the video behind it. That stuff really works well. So I think that’s where just having a variety of different options so that you can just hit prospects in different channels. That is really the key and vary it up too. You know, if you think about an average outreach sequence is seven touches or something like that before it schedules a call, you need a variety of different offers essentially to finally get someone’s attention. So yeah, building a larger menu that’s more diverse, video’s a great part of that. It’s a good strategy.
Margot Leong: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat today. Where can people connect with you if they’d like to pick your brain a bit more?
Evan Huck: LinkedIn’s great, or you can just send me an email. Evan@userevidence.com. Would love to connect. We’re still at a pretty early stage company, been around for 18 months. So making a point to connect with customer marketing leaders and just make sure that community really informs our product roadmap and we built something that fits what people need.
Margot Leong: Thank you so much for coming on Evan.
Evan Huck: Thank you, Margot. Appreciate it, it was fun.
Thanks for tuning into this episode of Beating The Drum. For more interviews with advocacy leaders and tips on creating customers that will sing your praises, head on over to our website, beatingthedrum.com. If you enjoyed today’s show, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts and don’t forget to rate and review us. If you know someone that would be a great fit for the show, I would love to hear about it. You can reach out at beatingthedrum.com. Take care, everybody.