Do We All Have to Be Marketers to Be Successful?

Paul Boag

This week on the Boagworld Show, we introduce you to the world of sales and marketing and discuss why it is something all digital professionals should pay attention to.

This week’s show is sponsored by ResourceGuru and Omnifocus for iOS.


Paul Boag: This week on the Boagworld Show we introduce you to world of sales and marketing and discuss why it's important for all digital professionals to pay attention to it. This weeks show is sponsored by Resource Guru and Omnifocus for iOS.

Hello and welcome to the Boagworld Show podcast about all aspects of of digital design, digital diversity and working in digital. My name is Paul Boag and joining me is Marcus Lillington. Hello Marcus.

Marcus Lillington: Hello Paul. I'm slightly …

Paul Boag: How are you doing?

Marcus Lillington: I'm fine, but slightly freaked out because I'm on the left-hand side of the video and I'm normally on the right, so just everything's a bit strange with my world.

Paul Boag: Everything has gone wrong with the world. There you go. Well, I have to say I'm in a super good mood today, I have had, except for one little wrinkle I've had an amazing day. Not only did I spend a good chunk of it drinking alcohol in a beer garden, so …

Marcus Lillington: That's always good, yeah.

Paul Boag: Just bear that in mind as I …

Marcus Lillington: A sun shiny day as well.

Paul Boag: Yeah, if I say totally inappropriate things from now on you'll know why and I take no responsibility for my actions.

Marcus Lillington: Shall I make some notes?

Paul Boag: Yeah, make notes where you need to edit. I've also been playing with graphics tools which has been really good. The best thing about leaving Headscape, don't take offense at this, that sentence can only go in a bad direction, can't it. The best thing about leaving Headscape is I get to do design now, because of course while I was at Headscape I very rarely got to do it any more.

I'm doing, I'm having such fun at the moment. I'm working with a client to help them create a design system. They've got really good graphic designers in the organization, but they're not experienced in UI design. I've been creating a design system for them, so basically they can just assemble pages and that way they don't have to worry quite so much about the details of UI design.

It means that I got to play with a whole load of the different tools that are available. I've been playing with Sketch, the new version of Sketch, Sketch 58 that's got new responsive design tools and I've been playing with Adobe XD and I've been playing with Sigma and it's just great fun. That's how days should be, fun.

Marcus Lillington: Which one is it?

Paul Boag: Well, that is an interesting question. It's actually really … I'm writing a log post actually, so by the time this podcast comes out it should have been released, so if you just go in and search on Sigma and Adobe XD etc, you'll find it.

For this particular client, and based on the fact that I was trying to create … The big keys for me was that the design system had to be responsive in the actual graphics package, because if you're a graphic designer or a print designer, one of the hardest things is making that transition to "Oh shit, everything's moving," so I wanted them to be able to see that in the graphics package.

From that regard actually Adobe XD, which I'm shocked at, because I … If I'm honest, I'd written Adobe off a little bit as the old dinosaur kind of thing, but bloody hell, I've got to say, Adobe XD, for responsive design systemy stuff is the hands-down winner.

Marcus Lillington: Okay, well there you go, you heard it here first.

Paul Boag: Yeah, I mean Sketch 58, the new version of Sketch, which has got some really nice features in it that I like, but I have to say, yeah. Also of course these guys are already using Photoshop and that kind of stuff, so it make it easy for them.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, millions.

Paul Boag: My only down side today Marcus, sorry I'm full rant mode, can you tell that?

Marcus Lillington: That's okay.

Paul Boag: It's like verbal diarrhea, isn't it?

Marcus Lillington: I'll sit back and you go for it Paul.

Paul Boag: Yeah, so the only thing that ruined today was …

Marcus Lillington: They didn't have your cider in.

Paul Boag: No, they did actually. A dick that contacted me on LinkedIn, right, I've never had problems with LinkedIn people before, LinkedIn is this nice place. I got this guy, just right, you got a lot of … I don't know whether you get these, but you get these invites …

Marcus Lillington: Sometimes, yeah.

Paul Boag: Yeah, all the time, all the time.

Marcus Lillington: People who I've never hear of, yeah, I've never seen, yeah.

Paul Boag: Yeah, now I tend to say yes to those, because I have a lot of people that reach out to me that have read my stuff, or whatever else. I naively presume that they're interested in me right, which is hugely arrogant of me, so I normally approve. Then inevitably I get the message that follows up, saying, "Hey, why don't you hire us for $25 an hour," or something. That's fine I just then don't follow them. Today I had a special one.

Marcus Lillington: Oh right.

Paul Boag: He reached out to me and said, "I'm really interested in you being at an event that we're doing." Oh good, a speaking opportunity. I just, there was just something about the way that he worded it that made me a little bit suspicious, so I wrote back and said, "Are you trying to sell me the ability to speak at your event, rather than paying me?" I said, "I should explain that I speak at a lot of events and sometimes I do it for free, but often times I'm paid and I certainly wouldn't pay you to speak at an event."

He came back and said, "Well you've never, never spoken at an event like ours," which immediately put my back up, right. Then I said, "Look, I'm not interested." Then he wrote back to me saying … Oh I was really polite, I was very British, but I said, "I'm terribly sorry, but that's not something I'm interested in," right. He wrote back to me and said, "There's no need to be sorry, I understand that some people really struggle to know the things they should do to grow their business."

You arrogant little shit, right, so which I think perfectly segues into our topic for today, which is how to do sales and marketing. The key is not do be a dick, there you go, we're done.

Marcus Lillington: Kind of, yeah, that's it.

Paul Boag: It really is isn't it?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: It's all about being a nice, normal human being and don't be an arrogant prat, honestly, anyway, there we go.

Marcus Lillington: I always thought that things like that just washed over you Paul, but obviously they don't, you're deeply ranting about all of this and how can people talk to me, don't you know who I am? In that sort of way.

Paul Boag: Yeah, I am very conscious of that's what it came across as, but you wouldn't speak to anyone like that, would you?

Marcus Lillington: It will be just some kid who's under this massive pressure to sell … It's like …

Paul Boag: It is.

Marcus Lillington: When you get those … And these make me laugh, but it's like, a pop-up will come up on a website and "Sign up for our newsletter to get the amazing thing", and then in tiny letters, "Or you'd rather die," or something like that.

Paul Boag: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Marcus Lillington: It just makes me laugh, it's like how on earth is that going to make me want … Just firstly feel good about the business that at I'm looking at here? It's just going to make me think, "You're a dick, all of you are dicks," so don't do it. End of, full stop.

Paul Boag: The best one I ever saw was one my wife came across. Now why she was looking, she was looking at a Good Housekeeping magazine, right, neither of us has ever kept our house in any kind of order, so I've no idea why she was looking but she was anyway. It came up this stuff, an overlay that was top tips for keep your house clean, I don't know, some bullshit like that. It had a "Yes, sign me up," and the other one was, "No, I like living in a pigsty." Screw you.

Marcus Lillington: Exactly, yeah, there you go, that's it. Some of them make me laugh. I'll occasionally look up chords and tabs and things for songs, and they'll come up with "Sign up for whizzy app" or whatever, or "No, I don't want to rock," and things like that. That's quite funny, but when it's like, it's condescending, just don't to it.

Paul Boag: Yeah, and that's what it was with this guy, was that he was trying to condescend to me, which is particularly galling .. Nothing to do with the, "Don't you know who I am," but it's like, "You are half my age, don't you dare tell me how to run a business, considering you're working for some events agency and I've been running a business now for what, 18 years or something like that."

It's like, oh, so yeah, he got under my skin. Which might have been something to do with the fact that I'd been drinking at lunchtime. Or it might just be to do with, as Lewis has just pointed out in the chatroom, I'm getting old, and you shout things like, "Get off my lawn."

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, get off my land.

Paul Boag: Exactly, my West-country-ness coming out. Okay Marcus, what's your thought for today before we really sensibly get in to sales and marketing?

Marcus Lillington: Right, this one … I don't know, maybe I'm being a bit cynical and possibly a bit contentious this week, but sometimes you have to be. Basically I think there is quite a large gap between what we in the web or digital industry think people should care about and what they actually care about.

Of course, it's right that our industry is always thinking ahead of the people it works for, it's right that there's a gulf of knowledge between what we know and what our potential clients know, because they're hiring us for that knowledge after all.

The person, and I keep coming back to pitching I suppose, and that's relevant to today's conversation, but the person on the panel who's been brought in to see whether or not his or her company should hire you to design their website, basically wants you to reassure them that you'll do a great job. I don't think that they're particularly keen, a lot of the time, on you telling that they'll need to invest even more time and people and budget than they're currently thinking they'll need to.

Now of course there's an educational angle to this, but sometimes, and oh yes, I will say that the title of this little rant, because it is a rant I suppose, is, sometimes we need to get real. As the title goes, sometimes we just do need to get real, or put more precisely I guess, we need to find a balance between when we should be educating and persuading people, when it's appropriate to do so, against understanding when we just need to go with the flow.

Okay, and procurement is an excellent example of this. Though I wish there was, there isn't really a world where most would-be clients are willing to engage a third-party agency without going through some sort of pitching process, and this is particularly true in the public sector, which we work a lot in.

Now, don't get me wrong on this, I'm certainly not vouching for the ridiculous often and wasteful and inappropriate hoops of flame that we're expected to jump through just for the chance to work with say our local council. I've walked away from many opportunities, in air quotes, in the past and will do so again in the future because of this kind of thing.

I guess what I'm saying here is, do my actions make one iota of difference to the procurement processes that I'm bravely sanding up to?

Paul Boag: No.

Marcus Lillington: Of course not. No, so maybe I am being a bit cynical, I'm not really, what I'm saying here, today's thought for the day is, pick your battles wisely on this particular subject.

Paul Boag: It's really interesting you bring this up actually, because I've been having this kind of conversation with one of the people that I mentor at the moment, and she's running a freelance agency and she's very keen to do things the right way. Lots of user testing, all of that kind of stuff that you should do.

She's come across a client recently that is just saying, "Just do it. I just want you to make a website, right. I'm not even going to give you any content, just make shit up online." Yeah, I'm exaggerating for comic effect, but essentially that's … And the conversation we had is, "Well look, there are probably all kinds of factors involved here that you are utterly unaware of, right."

My gut told me, in this particular case, that they wanted a website live because they told investors that they would have a website live by a certain date, right, and actually beyond that it didn't really matter.

I said to her, "That's okay, it's okay. If they're … As long they're being honest with themselves about why they're doing what they're doing, and as long as you say, 'Look this isn't the right way of doing this, but I'm willing to accommodate it,' that's okay."

Sure enough, that's pretty much what they wanted, and they turned round to her and said, "Well look, okay, I totally accept what you're saying, but let's do the quick and nasty version and then we can sort out the rest later."

Marcus Lillington: Lazy.

Paul Boag: Yeah, lazy, and whether they do or not is besides the point. It's more the fact that you've just got to accept that sometimes there are other constraints.

Marcus Lillington: People we speak to have got … It might be, and particularly that person that I described to you, who's been wheeled in for the pitch, what we're talking about on that day is less than 1% of their job and their responsibilities and the pressures they're under. What you might get back from them, you might think, "Well hang on a minute, you're not really listening here," but actually because it's just not part of their … What's going on in their lives or in their work lives.

It comes back to the, as we've said over and over and over again, the Jared Ball thing, about you're never going to persuade an executive to understand or go with, you actually need to frame it in their terms. I'm going even one further, I'm saying sometimes you've just got to accept that what you're hearing is what's required, even though you don't necessarily agree with it, and you've got to choose whether you want to do it or not.

Paul Boag: To be honest this extends even beyond sale and marketing and clients and that kind of stuff, I also think with websites as well. To us it's like, making a website easy to use is the most important thing in the world, but I think the vast majority of users that hit our websites, they don't even, they're not even thinking, "Oh, this is harder to use or easy to use." They're just like, "Let's get this off my task list and move on to the next thing."

What we do is not that important. Which is a really … Yeah, I know and it will get you in all kinds of trouble these days, and no doubt I will do for saying that. All designers can change that world and all that stuff. Yes, in some situations that is true, and I'm not saying that's not true, but most of us … People don't care that much, they don't think about what we do that much, they're not aware of what we do that much.

That doesn't mean what we do doesn't have value, but it's an invisible value, it's not something that people are aware of. I want, my biggest dream, perhaps is our core dream …

Marcus Lillington: Our biggest dream is coming up now.

Paul Boag: Core dream, this is very core, but one of my biggest dreams is that somebody will go to my site and leave my site without really having a conscious feeling about that site at all. Do you know what I mean? That it doesn't create a strong negative reaction, but I don't necessarily need it to create a strong positive reaction, as long as they do what I need them to do. Does that make sense?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: I don't need them to go to one of my sites and go, "Wow, this is one of the best sites I've ever seen."

Marcus Lillington: It's about being appropriate.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, you're site doesn't need to be wow, or maybe it does need a certain amount of wow, because you've worked within …

Paul Boag: It needs enough wow to get people to do what you need them to do.

Marcus Lillington: Well, but it needs to support the Paul Boag brand as well.

Paul Boag: Oh sorry, I didn't mean just my site, I meant even my client's sites.

Marcus Lillington: Okay.

Paul Boag: I think it … As long as it gets people to where the need to be, I think so many people want to create these wonderful, glorious sites to impress their peers, right, or even sometimes to impress their clients, when actually they need to be creating something that does the job, right. I don't know, perhaps I'm just getting cynical and old.

Marcus Lillington: Well obviously, I started it so there you go.

Paul Boag: Yeah, you started it, I'll blame you, that's good. I expect so many people are disagreeing with me in the chatroom at the moment, but I can't read and talk at the same …

Marcus Lillington: They're not at the moment. What's next?

Paul Boag: Sales and marketing, that's what we're talking about today. Right, so, is sales and marketing something that we all need to pay attention to. I mean me and Marcus obviously have got sales and marketing as a big part of our job, it's a big part of what I do. What if you're a developer, you don't need to know anything about marketing then surely. What if you're a copywriter, you don't need to know about marketing and sales.

Well, not necessarily. I actually think that us all having an understanding of at least some aspects of sales and marketing is pretty important for everybody, and I want to lay out some reasons why I feel that that's the case, and then we'll get into what you need to pay attention to and so on.

I think the first thing to say is that most websites, not all, but most websites have a sales and marketing component to them, right. We are building thing that at least a part of what they do is sales and marketing. Now, there are exceptions to that, but even if you're building an app or something like that, you still want people to keep using it, right, you still want to keep them engaged with it, so there is a sales and marketing component going on there.

I think it's also worth saying that many digital roles, whether it's the majority or not I couldn't tell you, but certainly the majority that I encounter, actually those digital roles report into a marketing function. For better or worse, whether that's right or wrong, that's often the way it is, and so having an understanding of the context of that department that you sit within is very important.

The other thing is, obviously if you run any kind of business of your own, sales and marketing is unavoidable. I think probably the reason that most digital people fail in running their own business, whether that be a software as a service, whether that be an agency, whatever, is because they think, "Well, I can build stuff, therefore I'll be fine." Actually it's the sales and marketing that lets you down, or alternatively the business side of things, the finances and stuff like that.

If you can't sell yourself, you can be the best at what you do, but if people are unaware of you, if they don't know you exist, that means nothing. Stephen Hawking wasn't necessarily the best physicist in the world, but he was one of the best at promoting himself. That is the sad truth.

Marcus Lillington: It's true, I mean I think there's different levels isn't there? I think if you are a mid level developer in a team of 200 in a massive company, then I suspect you can probably get away with not really paying that much attention to sales and marketing, as opposed to if you're running your own business, then it's huge.

What you're saying I think is, it's unavoidable even if you're that person, the developer I described in the huge company, because what you're building is likely to have some kind of … You'll be creating calls to action, to make people do stuff, which is related to the marketing team that have designed the thing that you're building or whatever. Yeah, it will vary depending on your role I suppose.

Paul Boag: Lewis is picking on me for using Hawking as an example. Apparently I could have picked a softer target for that. Yeah, that's probably a fair comment too. I think I would go a little bit further than you over that. Let's imagine you are a developer that works in team of 200 people or whatever, actually I think being aware of sales and marketing and having a basic knowledge of that is still very worthwhile, outside of your immediate role.

For example, I know a lot of developers who work in large organizations, who've got that little side project on the go, where they're building a software as a service, and actually if you've got a side project on the go, and if you ever want to make any money from doing that, then you're going to need to know how to sell it and to market it.

Also one of the best ways of getting a job or getting promoted is to build an online profile, right, to become well-known. You will get paid more. You will get better job offers if you do that. Even in those kind of situations, and then if you're a UX-ey person or even a … Do you know what, even a developer as well, if you want to promote, whether it be user-centric thinking in your organization or digital best practice, or whatever, essentially convincing other within your organization to care about this stuff, that's sales and marketing. Just because it's happening internally, it's all the same skillset.

On that basis I think everybody needs to care about what I care about, and why don't they? Going back to the getting real thing.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, Paul, yes you need to get real.

Paul Boag: Yes, okay, let's take a break from my full scale rant, and talk for just a second about Resource Guru who are supporting this episode. The thing I love about Resource Gurus is that they tweet, whenever they sponsor a show they always out out a tweets saying, "Oh you should check out this." It's lovely, I want to give them a big hug, the love us. That could be the alcohol speaking.

Marcus Lillington: You have been drinking haven't you Paul?

Paul Boag: Yeah, I love Resource Guru. Okay, mental note, don't drink before podcasting. Resource Guru, if you don't know, they are a project management tool that helps you take back control of your projects and run more productive teams. It's got a whole load of really good features that you might want to check out, so Resource Guru will let you instantly see who's busy and who's available within your team. It gives you confidence about your project timelines, to make sure that they are realistic, make sure you've got the right resources available when you need them.

Alongside that fast resource scheduling you also get features like leave and absence management, calendar thinking. You get all these kinds of utilization reports which can be really important, especially when you're running your own agency. I would just say, give it a go, it's a really great app, there's some great companies that are using it, you've got a 30 day free trial to go and have a play with it by going to

You don't have to put a credit card in when you do that 30 day trial, and you know how great a fan I am of not tricking people into accidentally paying for things. If you decide to subscribe, you can use the promo code Boagworld 2019, which will save you 20% of off the entire lifetime of your usage, so it's so much worth doing. That's at Resource Guru. Right, what's next.

Marcus Lillington: Sorry Paul.

Paul Boag: Yeah, well we've kind of established that sales and marketing should matter and everybody should care about it, with my convincing and compelling argument. The next question is, what kind of aspects of sales and marketing should we care about? Now really this is where Marcus should leap in and tell us, being the sales and marketing expert that he is, but he wouldn't put any effort into doing the show.

Marcus Lillington: None at all, far too little.

Paul Boag: We've got nothing for this section. Oh well, never mind.

Marcus Lillington: Don't be a dick, there you go.

Paul Boag: Don't be a dick, there we go, we covered it earlier. Now because Marcus couldn't be arsed, I've identified some areas that I think is worth you spending a bit of time looking at, right. The first of which is content marketing, right. Content marketing is really good if you want to build a personal profile, if you want to promote some kind of side project you're working on, and also for increasing the understanding of your colleagues within an organization, to help them understand best practice and stuff like that.

We're talking about things like social media updates, blogging, podcasting, email marketing, all of that kind of stuff.

Marcus Lillington: The stuff I don't do.

Paul Boag: All the stuff that Marcus, no, well you do a podcast, you turn up for this.

Marcus Lillington: I do turn up for this, and I do occasionally blog, but yes, and occasionally, very occasionally go onto social media. Social media don't you know.

Paul Boag: Yes, right, what the young people do.

Marcus Lillington: Yes exactly.

Paul Boag: It's definitely, but then Marcus, you're old, you're pushing retirement, you don't care about building your profile any more, do you really? You've given up on life basically.

Marcus Lillington: Is that a true statement or not? I probably care, but not enough, is the truth.

Paul Boag: Yeah, not enough to do anything.

Marcus Lillington: No, I do, I have little bursts of, oh, let's start talking again on Twitter and things like that, but then it just fades away.

Paul Boag: You're like I am with getting fit. I want to do it, up to the point where it involves any effort.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, and I'm kind of …

Paul Boag: You can't argue with that can you?

Marcus Lillington: Well no, and I'm similar on getting fit, although I am actually getting better on that one, because you start seeing benefits, or you start to see, not benefits, you start to see results. Then you go, "Okay, yeah that's, it's worth doing this, so I'll carry on." That applies to marketing yourself as well I guess, if you start to see … If you're putting out blog posts for a year and no-one's looked at them, I guess that would start to grate a little and the same would apply with being fit or trying to be fit.

If you see people starting to read your stuff, or you start to see a change in your body, then you can carry on doing it maybe.

Paul Boag: Absolutely, yeah, so anyway there's content marketing, it's a massive subject, I'm not even going to try and cover it all in this show, but I am going to share some resources later that you can go and check out, and that's a reoccurring theme this season, it's really I'm just making the case why you should do it, telling you the specific parts you need to pay attention to and then pointing you in the right direction.

Yeah, content marketing is one, the other one is a step on from content marketing, if that makes sense. Which is understanding the idea of a sales funnel right, and when you talk about a sales funnel, it sounds suddenly very, very serious marketing stuff. It doesn't necessarily need to be that full on. What this basically is, is just thinking a little bit about how your audience progresses, right, how you take them from talking to someone for the very first time, or they're encountering your content for the very first time, all the way through to hiring you, right.

Even in my case, the fact that you're listening to this now, or you're in the chatroom, you are in my sales funnel. Wow, that sounds deeply disturbing.

Marcus Lillington: We just lost half the audience.

Paul Boag: Yeah, absolutely. Because you're engaging with my content, but what would be the next progression for you? Is it to sign up for my newsletter or is it to follow me on social media? Is it to hire me, buy one of my courses or hire me, or whatever else? All of these things, move on, I'm now freaking everybody out in the chatroom by me saying, "You're in my sales funnel."

By the way, just so you know, for the people in the chatroom, the fact that you turned up for a live event means you're deeper into my sales funnel than people that are just listening to the podcast.

Marcus Lillington: Just shakes head.

Paul Boag: There's nothing nefarious about my sales funnel, I want to emphasis that. If you're going to pay attention to the sales funnel you want think about things like your customer journey map, what's the journey that your customers go on? You want to think about things like your calls to action. The chatroom is now starting a support group.

You want to think about things like your calls to action, engagement, how you're engaging with your audience. How you're going to measure things within your sales funnel. What your KPI's are, so you know where you're losing people's attention, possibly by talking about sales funnels too much. Then also things like, subjects like conversion rate optimization, are all subjects that relate back to this idea of sales funnels.

The next area that I would encourage you to look at is sales writing, right, so writing content or writing copy. That primary purpose is to convince. This is, well Marcus, you do loads of this when you write proposals.

Marcus Lillington: Tons, yeah.

Paul Boag: There's things like … I tried to hand across to you Marcus there and let you take it, but you just said, "Tons, yeah." You're the worst co-host ever.

Marcus Lillington: That's so not true, you mean person. I'm just letting you fly today Paul. You've got the … You've been to the pub.

Paul Boag: Yeah, exactly.

Marcus Lillington: You're going great. I'm supporting you by just sitting back and letting you talk.

Paul Boag: Yeah, you're letting me dig my own hole, aren't you basically, yeah. If that's something you care about, how to present yourself in writing to the world, then you want to think about things like market positioning, compared to your competitors where do you sit, what's your role? Identifying your differentiating factors. I'm sure if I said to Marcus, "What makes Headscape different from any other digital agency?" He will instantly come up with a really pithy, compelling statement that outlines why that's the case. Go Marcus.

Marcus Lillington: My favorite one of these is one that Ian came up with, because we were talking about this … All we say on the website at the moment, because we went, do you remember, super simple and super direct, and it's just like, we do web design, development and strategy. Ian had a sub strap line that he wanted to add, is that we don't dick you about, or we're honest, full stop, and things like that.

I think, I know I'm joking about it, but I think that is our, one of our main differentiating factors is that we're a small … We're choosing to be a small agency that doesn't have a five year get out of the business kind of plan or anything like that. We're just in it to do a good job and enjoy it while we're doing it, and basically yeah, not dick people about.

That's a really hard one to get across in a proposal though, you can do it in a pitch much more easily, but it's a hard thing to write about.

Paul Boag: I think the problem with framing it in that, we're honest with you, we don't dick you about point of view is that, I always think a good way of working out whether something is a true differentiator or not is to flip it, right. Would any agency ever say, we're dishonest, we do dick you about? The answer is no, so it's not really a differentiator if you word it like that. I think what you're saying is, that whole thing about, we're here to work with you, you're not just a commodity to us, you're not just another client that we're churning … You aren't just funding our bigger, grander schemes.

Marcus Lillington: Correct.

Paul Boag: I think that there are agencies there that want to grow and want to be big and the consequence of that is you're just a stepping stone. Actually your differentiator is, we're small and we're personal, that's how I would do it I think.

Yeah, it's interesting isn't it? Somebody's just, sorry it's Paul, has just asked, what about objection handling? That's the next thing on my list actually. One of the big things when it comes to selling is actually handing objections and concerns, right. One of the concerns to hiring an agency is always, do they understand the unique challenges of our sector? That's why it's really important to show the different sectors that you work in, right.

Another one might be, are they going to go out of business in a year? You want to show, well actually we've been around X number of years, we're financially stable, that kind of thing. People have all of these different objections in their minds, and the big part of being compelling in sales and marketing is actually objection handling.

Now Paul was specifically asking in the chatroom, how do you handle objections? Well you don't say, "You might be worried we're going to go out of business in a year," because obviously that plants it in their heads. McDonald's is a really good example to look at, and how they handle this online, right. Because obviously we've all heard the rumors about McDonald's, about what or may not be in Chicken McNuggets. Yes, it's chicken, but what type of chicken? Or that french fries don't actually contain any potato, there are all these urban myths.

Now, on their website what they do is they talk about, that we always use chicken breasts, even in our McNuggets, right. Or, we source our potatoes from local … So they reference, they deal with the objection without necessarily directly referencing it, which I think is a really good way of dealing with it.

The other thing you want to look at when it comes to writing for sales, whether it be proposals or your online copy or whatever, is look at, focus on the benefits that you provide, not just what you're going to do. Again, going back to the kind of writing Marcus does, yes you do need to lay out how you're going to do what you're going to do, what you're going to deliver for people, but you also need to show what benefits that's going to provide the business, the organization as well. That relationship between benefits and features I think is a really important thing to look into.

Then alongside of objection handling you also want to look at peoples questions that they have, what pain points they're struggling with, that you might be able to help with them, so there's all that side of things. Writing compelling copy I think is a really interesting area. Then the last area is …

Marcus Lillington: I've got one thing to add to that Paul.

Paul Boag: Yeah, go for it.

Marcus Lillington: One further thing which would be, I think when you're, particularly when you're writing proposals, I've said this many times before, is don't avoid the stuff you don't want to deal with. Answer all the questions that you've been asked about. The other one, and this applies to all writing, I guess, not just writing proposals, is don't assume, or yeah don't assume that the person reading it understands what you're on about.

You need to explain, and it can often, that can feel like, I've got to write these five sentences instead of one, but you need to do that otherwise people are going to think, "What on earth is he on about?" That's really important, so yeah, answer the questions and answer them thoroughly I suppose is what I'm saying.

Paul Boag: Yeah, yeah, I mean an interesting example of that, right, because I think that applies not just to pitches, sorry, proposals, but it also applies to copy you're writing online, and to be honest, even conversations. I was having a conversation with one the people I mentor this morning, and I said, "I hate using this term but it's very applicable right now, really you need to be focusing on thought leadership, right." Thought leadership, everybody knows what that means, but this person didn't, right.

It happens, you do have these blank spots in what you know, so you can't … And that always get on my nerves when clients start using jargon, oh well everyone knows that. Well what if you're new to the sector, you might not know it. Or what if you don't speak English as your primary, your first language, you might not know it. We all have gaps in our knowledge of that kind of stuff, so yeah I totally agree Marcus.

I do agree about that whole thing about not avoiding stuff as well. People do that all the time. I see people doing that when they try and sell their design concepts, right. They go in to a meeting right, here's our wonderful new designs, and you know damn well that one of the people in the room won't like the fact that you've done X, right, in the design. You sit and go, "Please don't mention it, please don't mention it, please don't mention it." Of course they mention it. Then you have to … You look like you're on the back foot the whole time.

Well if you tackled it from the outset it would have been so much better, so yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, deal with stuff.

Paul Boag: Deal with stuff, totally. Then, so that brings us on to the final area which is in-person sales, right. That might be selling a design concept, it might be selling why your team needs an extra three people in it, or it might be doing a pitch as an agency. All of that is in-person sales that we all have to do from time to time.

You want to look at things like pitching, which is … I was just trying to think what the best advice about pitching is. Turn it into a conversation rather than a presentation, I think would be the best piece of advice I could give.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, I think it's really good to have a good PowerPoint, Keynote or whatever, to support you and give people something visual to connect with, but do not put a load of bullets up and read them out, because everyone hates that.

Paul Boag: Yeah, and to make it feel okay to interrupt you when you're giving that.

Marcus Lillington: I would rather have … That's what you just said about having a conversation, I would rather deal with questions as they come up, than they've forgotten about later.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: As soon as you start having a back and forth conversation it suddenly stops being them and us, it becomes, we could actually maybe work with these people. I've always said that that's actually the key, with pitching, it's getting people to think, "I want to work with these people." Because the chances are, who you're up against will be similar in price, they'll be offering similar skillsets and they'll have similar experience, so really often it comes down to whether you get on.

Paul Boag: Yeah, and then that, so a follow on from that then is the ability to network, and I don't mean network in … It's such a shit term with so many connotations associated with it.

Marcus Lillington: I hate that term. Go to the local chamber of commerce and meet other business people on a Tuesday night.

Paul Boag: Yeah, who are also trying to sell, yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Listen to everyone pitching their idea or their thing that they want you to buy. I don't think that that … That's hell that is isn't it?

Paul Boag: Yeah, absolutely, a total waste of time as well for all concerned. No, I mean what I'm talking about is building relationships with people, so you have good, healthy business relationship with people. Which a lot comes down to what Marcus was saying about being likable. I think building trust is a really important one as well. Somebody can be likable but you wouldn't trust them as far as you could throw them, and if you don't trust them you're not going to hire them are you really?

Marcus Lillington: Exactly, yeah.

Paul Boag: The lovable rogue is not somebody you want building your website. Then we get into this whole ara of emotional intelligence, which is a bullshit phrase that basically is, being a decent human being unlike the guy that I was dealing with on LinkedIn and …

Marcus Lillington: He's still there in your head isn't he?

Paul Boag: He's still there and getting me, yeah, building that kind of rapport with people and that relationship with people. To be honest, this is where Marcus is far better at it than I am, we've got, well we have one client we've worked with for years, that Marcus was best mates with and Marcus, he thought the sun shined out of Marcus' backside and he called me a snake oil salesman, right, yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, well it's true though.

Paul Boag: It is true. You've got something about you that makes you very good at this kind of stuff. It probably goes back to your very early pop star career and having to meet lots of people and deal with lots of people and that kind of stuff, while my formative years was spent sitting in a darkened room, it's different isn't it?

Marcus Lillington: That's absolutely true, because as a 19 year old, probably about a 19-20 year old, I was suddenly wheeled out into interviews with DJ's who had a million listeners and then a television interview the next day. None of us had had any experience whatsoever and you just had to turn on the charm like that. It was like, yeah, I guess that's where I did learn, because it's quite a lot, that's true, if you're in a pitching situation, it's going to be at 10:00 AM next Tuesday, and you might not feel that great at 10:00 AM next Tuesday, but you've still got to turn up and do the job.

That ability to turn it on, yeah, I got from those days, I guess that's a tip, yeah, you need to accept that it's a work task and sometimes you don't feel like doing work tasks, but it's a work task where you have to be empathetic with the people your with and friendly and making an effort to yeah, show that you're trustworthy and somebody that you might want to work with.

Paul Boag: I think that's the other thing that you're very good at, which is something that can be learnt, but I think it's harder to learn, is that empathy. That you come across as quite, you find it quite easy to put yourself in other people's position and to make those people feel valued and to make them feel that it's about them rather than about you. I think that's absolutely key to sales, is that ability to empathize, to identify people's pain points, the struggles that they're facing, the things that are frustrating them, and to stand alongside them and helping solve what those things are.

Rather than … The worst kind of salesman is the one where you get that instant vibe, they want something from you, right.

Marcus Lillington: A bully.

Paul Boag: Yeah, a good salesperson is there to offer you something, and that's the fundamental difference.

Yeah, there's a little bit of sales and marketing, there's quite a lot in there for you to look into, and I'll give you some resources in just a second, but first of all I want to talk about our sponsor for the show, talking of sales and marketing I'm now going to sell it to you in a very traditional way, but fortunately it's a cool product so you won't mind. It's more awareness building, let's call it awareness building. It sounds better doesn't it, than they're selling it to you.

It's Omnifocus. If you haven't tried Omnifocus, then you probably should do. Marcus I don't ever imagine you using something like Omnifocus, that would be far to organized wouldn't it for you?

Marcus Lillington: I don't know what it is. What is it Paul, tell me?

Paul Boag: We've covered it multiple times on the podcast.

Marcus Lillington: I always turn off at these points, you know that. La, la, la, looking at my phone.

Paul Boag: I mean obviously they'll … It's a tremendous …

Marcus Lillington: I know what it is.

Paul Boag: Yeah, don't be a dick. There you go, you're being the dick now. After I just said how empathetic you are you're being a dick.

Marcus Lillington: I've tried using all sorts of, just even just reminders and stuff like that. You have to commit and do it all the time, it's a bit like what I was talking earlier about, getting committed.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: I'll say do it, and then I'll just … I don't need this. It's not a thing I require, so I'm actually doing more work, I'm not selling shit, I'm not selling it at all, no.

Paul Boag: No, no, no, I actually think you are, right, and I'll tell you why I think you are.

Marcus Lillington: Because I'm wrong.

Paul Boag: It's because … No, no, no, I think you're entirely right for you. I think not everybody needs a tool like that, right. I think a big part of the reason why you don't need a tool like that is because you are a very laid back person, right, you don't get stressed, right. While if you're someone that gets stressed, having a tool like Omnifocus, that just remembers everything for you, is a huge weight off of a lot of peoples minds, it certainly was mine when I started using it.

That feeling, oh, I used to have thing buzzing around in my head the whole time of, "Oh shit, I mustn't forget that," and oh, oh. Well having it all in Omnifocus gave me a lot of peace of mind, but that's not something you struggle with. Obviously the other thing is it's better for planning, if you've got a tool like that then you're much more organized, it's easier to review stuff, but it's not like you're dealing with an enormous number of competing tasks, right.

Marcus Lillington: No.

Paul Boag: A lot of people are, but you just happen not to be in, your job.

Marcus Lillington: Once I know inaudible 00:50:25 usually that's about it.

Paul Boag: Yeah, and the other thing with Omnifocus is that it's really good for getting work done by specific deadlines, but not a lot of your work has got to be done by specific deadlines, some of it does obviously, but not the day to day sales activities. Really I think a tool like Omnifocus is good if you're someone under a lot of stress, if you're someone that has a lot of different things to juggle and if you have to work and deliver to deadlines.

I think, I would accept that. No product is for everybody, but yeah, so it's really good. Omnifocus for iOS is particularly good, it runs on your iPhone, your iPad, it even runs on your Apple Watch. It does all the thinking you'd expect. I works with Siri and all that kind of good stuff as well. It does everything you'd expect basically, it does actions, projects, flagging, due dates, notes, back scheduling, tagging, to give you an additional level of organization, depending on your location, energy level or whatever it is you choose.

It's got forecast views, it's got … You can review things so that you constantly feel on top of stuff. You can get obviously notifications, all that kind of stuff. What makes it really good is it's just easy to use, yet if you want to, you could delve in and it's incredibly powerful. It walks that balance between being a power user tool and something that anybody can step into and get started on, and that's why I've always loved it as a tool.

It works on your Mac as well, it works … Oh Omnifocus for the web, do you know what, I didn't know it did the web as well. Okay, you learn something new every day. Go and give it a go at

Okay, cool, let's talk about some resources as we wrap up. Basically I just get, I mean sales and marketing, blooming heck, you can't swing a cat without hitting something about sales and marketing, a book or a course or whatever, that's going to teach you some stuff. I can't say I've read a huge amount on this subject, it's more been trial and error with me, which isn't very professional, I'm sure I should have some proper education around it, but I don't suppose Marcus has either.

Lewis has just pointed out, Seth Godin, which is great course, Lewis. Seth Godin is a very realistic marketer. You read a lot of bullshit out there, but Seth Godin is actually quite realistic and quite true. What I want to … Basically in the show notes I'm going to compile a crap load of articles that I've written, so you can check those out and hopefully there will be some stuff that will be useful to you. Here's some of the ones that you might want to check out. I've got one on content marketing, and in particular with content marketing, how to do it when you haven't got a lot of time, because let's face it, none of us have got a lot of time.

If you haven't checked out the bonus stuff from before this season, with Colin Gray, he did a mini season on content stacking, similar principles in this article that I'm going to cover, but you might want to go back and listen to those as well. I've got an article on sales funnels, which you might find very useful. I've got an article, quite a long guide really to conversion rate optimization, which is definitely worth checking out.

I've got a post on why and how to gain user's trust online, and a lot of those principles will apply in any situation, even if it's in-person or in a proposal etc. Then I've got a load of stuff that you might not have seen, because it's stuff that I posted to the Shopify blog. I've got an article on persuading clients to hire your design firm, that's worth checking out. I've got another one on how to convince others of your design direction, so selling your design. I've got another one about writing proposals, which is a really good one. He says humbly.

Marcus Lillington: It's so good.

Paul Boag: It's fucking brilliant. Then finally, an article entitled, You're nothing special, how to stand out in a crowded marketplace. All of those are a bit of an introduction to sales and marketing, that you might want to have a look at. Okay, I think that's about it. Marcus, do you have a joke to wrap us up with?

Marcus Lillington: Paul, am I allowed to do a dyslexia joke?

Paul Boag: Yeah, go on.

Marcus Lillington: Okay, I'll have one a season, or maybe two. What do you get when you cross an insomniac an agnostic and a dyslexic?

Paul Boag: Go on.

Marcus Lillington: Someone who stays up all night wondering if there really is a dog. That's pretty good, come on.

Paul Boag: That is pretty good, that is, that's not bad. You've probably offended insomniacs, dyslexics and whatever the other one was, religious people.

Marcus Lillington: Hang on a minute, who told me that? It was, I can't find it, David Philips, so we blame him.

Paul Boag: That's pretty impressive David, you've managed to offend three groups of people in one joke, well done. There you go.

All right, next week we're going to be looking at the subject of user research and why everybody needs to pay attention to that. At the moment I have no idea why you should pay attention to that, because I haven't thought about it very much, and I haven't written the notes, and I just threw it in thinking it was a good idea. I'm beginning to struggle to wonder how some audiences might possibly need to care about user research, but I'm sure I'll be able to come up with some shit or … crosstalk 00:56:21

Marcus Lillington: I mean you'll get be able to find something Paul.

Paul Boag: Absolutely. Yeah, it will be fine. It will all be great. The whole camp's excited about a user research show, so that's good.

Marcus Lillington: Do you use a user research? A user researcher yeah.

Paul Boag: Yeah, see you're no good, I've to excite people like Lewis who's a developer, to care about user research, so that's going to be my challenge. To be honest, Lewis doesn't really seem to get excited about much. He's one of those stoic people, if I may say so.

Okay, so there we go, that's next week. Hopefully you'll join us for that, and we'd love to have you come along to the live shows as well. They're normally about 3:00 PM on a Thursday, though that does vary a little bit sometimes. You can find out when the next one's going to be by going to and you'll be able to see when the next show is and register for to be notified about it.

Because I'm getting fed up with these same old people in the room every week. I mean you get … Let's have some fresh blood, those dates. Thank you very much for listening, I'm getting confused with the chatroom now, and goodbye.

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