Hiten Shah On Content Marketing, SaaS, Sales, Bots, And More at Drift

Hiten Shah On Content Marketing, SaaS, Sales, Bots, And More at Drift


– [Woman] Hey. – Hi. What should I say? Hey, I’m Dave. I’m the director of marketing here at Drift. And today I’m going to sit down with one of our advisors, Hiten Shah, and we’re going to talk about everything from contact marketing to SaaS, sales, to podcasting, to why he thinks chat bots are not just about the hype. He’s going to join me right here in a minute so stay tuned. – I’m Hiten, I’m just visiting. – It’s perfect. – It’s the truth. – Hiten is one of our advisors here at Drift, and I had this idea. I said, you’re going to be here, let’s do a little segment called Hanging with Hiten. – Okay. – That’s good, right? – Yeah, great! – I have a couple of different questions I want to talk to you. They’re all different topics related to SAS. – Yeah. – All over the map. – Can we talk about life, too? – You have something that’s on your mind, I want you to bring it up. Actually, we were just talking about learning. Tell me what, repeat what you just said about learning. Like in your own style of learning. – Yeah, I think people learn different ways, so you know, if someone’s being prescriptive, like your boss was, about a way to learn. I think that can actually damage
someone’s ability to learn because they start conforming to someone else’s way of learning. You should know your way of learning. For example, for me, I actually
learn better with audio than reading a written book. – This might be silly, but how do you figure out how you learn? – So there’s a really simple way, which is like, when you try different ways. So try an audio book, and see if you can be like me and get to 3X on audible. Right, I can listen at 3X and still pick it up. Other people can. Or go watch educational video, and see if that works better for you. Or go read a book. And one test is what did you retain? So write out what you retained after. Just explore different ways. – I want to ask you about content. Every company in SaaS, every marketing person
in SaaS does content. And most people are just not good at it. – Yeah. – What do you think you
need to be able to do in order to be good at content today? And also, what is being
good at content get you? Like is it conversions? Is it awareness? – What is being good at content, though? – It’s building an audience and building a brand around things that you’re creating as a company. This video is a piece of our content. Even if you didn’t look at our traffic and you just looked at my inbox or other people’s inboxes, you just have this sense that people are really
digging what we’re doing. But it’s harder to map that all the way to this person converted. I think a lot of people get caught up in the blogging is a direct response
channel when it’s not. – No, blogging is not a
direct response channel. You’re not blogging to get conversion, you’re actually blogging to build brand. It’s one of the easiest ways to get in front of people every day. While people only convert like maybe once a month. Right, or whenever they feel like it. So, if you treat it like every blog post I’m going to do is going to get me paid sign ups, you’re doing it wrong. – How do you coach people on
what they should be measuring if it’s not conversion? Because a lot of people
have trouble with that. Even if it’s not
conversion, then what am I? – If you’ve got content you’re writing, and there’s some form of a response. So one form of a response on a blog is that they actually shared it. Another form of a response
is that they comment it. On an email it’d be nice
if you got a replies, unless you’re one of those people that uses no reply to send the email, which is not good. A lot of people waste a lot of time thinking they’re going to get conversions, and then they fail at content marketing and they stop doing it. Early on, you should just
focus on building that brand, and you’re trying to
build that early audience. That’s really your main goal. – Related to content, the
new thing that you’re doing, we’re doing, everyone’s
been doing, podcasting. – Yeah. – I’m going to ask you a lead in question. Five years ago, everybody has a blog. – Yeah. – Now, everybody has a podcast. Are you doing your podcast
for business reasons? Are you getting business
out of your podcasts? – No, I think it’s more like
the podcasts you guys do here, it’s for fun. You can tell on a podcast if
the person’s having fun or not. – Yeah, that’s so true. – Right? You can just tell. You’re like I don’t want to hear someone who’s not having fun. – Just like get the list of questions. – And they’re always the same. – I noticed in 2007 you started a company called Kiss Metrics. And you’re like yes. – 2008. So you got to get your facts right, too. – You got to fact check, yeah. – I hate to give this advice, to be honest. And the reason is, is because I think people want a tactical conversion, or they want to purchase
when they do these things because they think it’s
a marketing channel. It’s a human channel. Let’s not call this a marketing channel. And if you want to get in people’s ears, podcasting is the easiest way. People are at the gym,
listening to your podcast, they’re in the car
listening to your podcast. They’re not ready to sign
up for your crap, right? But you get to build your brand that way. And if you get excited to
talk, then do a podcast. If you get excited to write, then blog. But don’t do it if you
don’t get excited about it because it’s one of those things that it pays off in the long run, but it never pays off in the short run. At this point you and I are talking about converting from a blog, but we wouldn’t be talking
about that six months ago when you had ten visitors. – Next question I want to ask you. – [Woman] Wait, pause. Move the coffee a little bit. Yeah, that’s better. – It’s not a coffee, it’s a matte. – Which we’d like to say, which is like the best sales reps today understand that helping is the new selling. – Helping is the old selling. – The old selling? Like so it’s never– – We’re supposed to help people period. This is humanity, we’re
talking about humans right? – Yeah, but then something happened, where we got, we fell in love with (mumbles) and lead forms and nurturing. – Predictable revenue,
I think it’s called. – Do you think that’s what it is? – Yeah. Once something gets formulated, every one does it, because
someone wrote a book on it. Not just in a book, books are great. But we’re now beyond that. – You mean just the process. – Think about it. Do you want to get a cold
call from a sales rep? – No. – Do you want to sign up from a service and get a phone call? – This is the thing that we say a lot which is, think about
yourself as a person. We hate all of those things. – Yes, so don’t do it. – But then we go to our jobs, and we go do all of the things that we hate every single day. – Yes. So you just have to think about it. Think about a more human way to do it. I agree, it is helping. I don’t like the new word because we should always be helping. The best sales people have always been helpful. – There was the old school example where the guy was selling
vacuums door to door would just come up and dump
a bunch of shit on your rug and be like how you’re going to clean that up? – Yes, but he’s helping. (laughs) Maybe he put the shit there, but you put shit on your rug, too. And shit happens, and vacuums
were a new technology, so that he had to demonstrate. So I think that is helping. – Have you noticed a shift in SAS sales? Or are people sticking to
the predictable revenue model because it is predictable. – The predictable revenue model has become unpredictable. And the reason it’s
become unpredictable is that’s what happens when
everyone does something. So, what I think about sales today, is that if you go look out there in companies that have
been really well funded, many of them have actually
contracted their salesteams. So they’ve actually made
their sales teams smaller, even though they raise a bunch of money. Why? Stop working. Everything gets saturated. It’s like a marketing channel. – The traditional sales hiring model is it’s very scalable
because it’s quantifiable so you have ten reps that are working, we can drag the spreadsheet and all of a sudden we have. – 10X that, we’ll make 10X the revenue. – But then all of a
sudden when those numbers don’t catch up then you have
to lay off sales people. – Right, and then the thing is, if you have a lot of sales people and your marketing hasn’t caught up, and you don’t have enough leads then you have a different problem. If you have a lot of money
and you haven’t figured out how to spend it to get you more sales, besides just the sales people
component, you’re screwed. As they’re more companies doing it, it basically gets saturated. And people, the customer,
gets tired of it. So I think predictable revenue is great if you caught it early, now it’s late. So basically if you just
look at a sales funnel, figure out where your problems are, you’ll notice a lot of the times, the problems are not getting the lead and the problems are
getting on the first call, the problems have to do
with whatever happens from the first call, and when
someone actually purchases. And so if you ask me
about what happens next, I think we optimize those
areas without humans. – The bottom of the funnel. – Yeah. – Man, you are good at this game because my next question
was going to be about bots. – I didn’t even cheat. – I know you didn’t. Bots are the big topic in SAS right now. How much of that is real,
and how much of that is hype. People come up with something new and there’s a new set of technology, whether it’s the fact that Watson exists or now, I mean, now we know it’s real because Amazon has but out
a bunch of services around, like machine learning and AI and all that. It’s awesome, I’m so thankful for that. – Do you have an echo? – I do. – And you use it? – Yeah. My kid uses it. You know the number when
you use kids for an echo? – No. – You’re a marketer, think. Music. – Music? Oh okay, that’s pretty good. You’re a marketer, think. – So my thesis on bots today is like, it’s definitely a great movement because it enables us to
do seemingly human things without a human getting involved. But we’re still very far away from actually having
artificial intelligence. – But is that the point though? Do we want… The thing we talk about at Drift is we don’t want to have
bots replace humans. How do we optimize you? So if you are a sales rep,
how are you only spending time on the people who actually want to buy. Hiten has done this, he
works at this company, they have this much
revenue, let’s call him. Do you think are bots going
to replace sales function? Maybe? – I think bots will make
sales more efficient. I truly believe that. I think the ways that
we’re doing it today, it’s like most things, like hype cycle, it’s hype, so people think that yes, bots are going to replace humans. But bots should augment
them as you’re saying. And like you have this
bottom of the funnel problem. Once things get down to
the bottom of the funnel, and people have these dozens of questions about how to integrate your thing or whether it can do this or that, why should a human answer them? Because a bot could
probably do a better job answering them than a human. See, I love bots, I think bots are great, we are in the hype cycle where I think we’re starting to realize that all of these companies
that have been funded that are making bots are going to fail. Not all of them, but most of them. Just because the promise, we’ve been oversold the promise of bots. We, as in collectively,
we’ve created this problem. It happens with everything. Everything gets oversold
and then there’s this period where you have to come back to reality and you start seeing some
interesting things creep up as we’re back to reality. – Cool. You got a book recommendation or anything that you’ve listened
to lately that you love? – I have an old book recommendation. – Hit me. You know we were just
talking about old books. – Yeah. We like old books. There’s a book, it’s not that old, but it’s called The Five
Elements of Effective Thinking. It’s one of my favorite
books, I read it quite a bit. Like literally every
quarter, every six months. – Do you read it or listen to it? – I listen to it. I consider that reading for myself. And the reason I like it is it’ll tell you things
like whatever you think, think the opposite. And it gives you a bunch of these tools that are really effective. – That reminds me a lot of you. – Yeah, works really well, right? – It’s pretty good. – I like being counter-culture, so. – Cool. Alright, so thanks for being here. – Yeah, that’s for having me. – That’s Hanging With Hiten. – Yeah, there we go. Hanging with me. – Trademark. Cool. – It’s the truth. – Get me off this couch. – [Hiten] Well this couch is big. – Yeah it’s nice. (uplifting music)

2 COMMENTS

    Hi Dave, Hiten, Thanks for the nice conversation! Nice energy, and interesting points of view. Humanity and bots 😉

    love the conversation around building your brand with a blog/podcast (vs. trying to get a conversion)….still confused how we can listen to audible at 3x speed 🙂 🙂

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