#010 Sales Success Secrets with Rolly Keenan
A Journey to Revenue Excellence
Guest & Host
Rolly Keenan & Steven Morell
Welcome to Speak Revenue, the podcast where we emphasize that revenue is not just a goal; it's a result. In this show, we shift our focus from the output to the inputs. We engage in conversations with sales leaders and entrepreneurs about their remarkable journeys. Our mission? To uncover the true root causes of success. Join us as we uncover the strategies and insights that have propelled Rolly Keenan to success in the world of sales and revenue growth. Explore the power of content marketing, LinkedIn engagement, and technology in driving business growth. Discover how to transform your approach to sales and achieve remarkable results.
September 25th, 2023
Steven Morell: Welcome to our new episode of Speak Revenue. Remember, revenue is not a goal. It's a result, but a result of what this show. In this show, we turn our eyes from the output towards the input. We speak to sales and revenue leaders and entrepreneurs about their journeys. Join us on our quest to uncover and learn the root causes of success. Let's unpack what works for them. What didn't? Today with my guest, Rolly Keenan. So excited to have you here. Thank you for joining my show.
Rolly Keenan: Thanks for having me.
Steven Morell: It's a pleasure. For our audience, our introduction real quick, who are you, what do you do, and why are you so successful?
Rolly Keenan: Thanks. So who am I? I was born and raised in Texas. Got my degree at University of North Texas in Dallas. Got my MBA at Kellogg in Chicago in marketing. I started in pro sports quickly moved into technology, did a decade of that, did a decade of management consulting, and for the last. Six years or so, I've been a fractional CRO
Steven Morell: And you work for?
Rolly Keenan: …and I work for Tegrita. I'm a CRO for Tegrita. We're basically a digital marketing consulting firm. And what was the third question?
Steven Morell: Why is Tegrita so successful and how do you contribute to that?
Rolly Keenan: Tegrita occupies. There's a couple of elements to it, a couple layers. One is, They do some things technically that most firms can't do, so they're really valuable. They're things that most organizations can't do without, so that helps. Secondly, we focus on, and I can be way less vague than this and later on, but we focus on our people because those are the experts. And so we do a ton of things that are very specific to people in the business to keep them going. And I, and from as a CRO, I brought that as a key part of tactical things that I do in the business are very people.
Steven Morell: So would you say that people, culture is the key to success for Tegrita?
Rolly Keenan: I don't know if I call it culture 'cause that seems to hit on some definitions that I don't like. People think of culture in some ways. I'd say more like how do you organize people's roles so that they love coming to work, and are doing what they do best. Every day. How do you do that? It's very people-centric versus I need these outputs. Give them to me
Steven Morell: Is there a connection between your history in sports and running teams now?
Rolly Keenan: Personally, there is, because I have a big interest in developing people and that was a big part of . Coaching and sports. For me, I was a coach with the Olympic volleyball teams and a coach in college for volleyball while I was playing, I was doing both. So yeah, for me it, there's a connection there for sure.
Steven Morell: Interesting. You mentioned there is a technology that only you have and nobody else. Some light on this.
Rolly Keenan: Yeah. What I meant to say was we technically. Have some skills and abilities that most people don't have. In other words the way someone markets in revenue, whether it's marketing or sales the way someone might tackle a technical issue in order to work in their CRM or working their marketing automation tool or some other ancillary tool, the way they might go about it, it would be super inefficient. And a lot of times those are the projects that we jump into where they are. Are about to spend a hundred thousand dollars on a project, and then they talk to us for five minutes and we explain it'll be $6,000. How do we do it?
Steven Morell: Conversation.
Rolly Keenan: Yeah. And in a lot of ways they'll balk, right? They'll be like that's not, how could that be possible? But yeah, there, there's some technical things that we do that we just don't, people just don't know what they don't know.
Steven Morell: Yeah. Now I know because I always have a conversation before the podcast with the guest. I, and in that conversation you said something that stuck with me. I said, everything feeds into email and email feeds into everything. And sense there is a connection between. The special skills that you and your team and technology that you have, and email as a centerpiece, talk to me about more about this.
Rolly Keenan: Yeah, your sensing is correct. Essentially what email, when you think of email, you think of email marketing and sending emails, right? And the reality Is that at the center? Is this person's email? In other words, their address in the world is this email address. And it hasn't changed. And it's been tried in different ways to go around it, start texting people or whatever. But those just have become ancillary ways. The center of the universe is still that email address. And so if you, most marketers that I come in contact with, . Have basically pushed it aside and say I have my lowest level person handling that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Of course, as consumers, we all know it mostly doesn't work. We get emails that don't apply to us and all that stuff. But reality is if you do it well, it's this, it's a huge ROI. It's still the biggest ROI of any tool that you use in terms of getting return sales in return for what you're doing. But like you said, it feeds the other way. It's like a 300, everything comes to email, and email should inform everything else. So if all the things around it, whether all the demand gen work and advertising and all these things. Eventually you're gonna have to email somebody once they decide they want to do business
Steven Morell: Yeah.
Rolly Keenan: And if you are running campaigns through that, if you do it well, you'll also find brand new segments of customers, which means you should change how you're advertising or change this. So it comes to email and also email should inform everything else that you're doing all the time, not just at the end of the year or something, but it should, you should have a cadence where you check it.
Steven Morell: And do I get that right? If. I deal with a high volume of prospects and customers. And at the centerpiece of this communication, there is this old technology that is older than the web. Actually, what is it? 50, 50 years old? 82 RFC 822 was 1982. I believe 1983 or something. So for 40 years, four years this is the centerpiece, all technology, everything is lateral and around it. Are you, if I wanna get this working, what seems so simple? Becomes very complex. How do I know it's becoming complex, so complex that I should I need to call Rolly. What are.
Rolly Keenan: It's an interesting question because most of the time that's difficult to come around to for executives because they're so used to working around it that they think that what we're doing is impossible. So it's hard for them to come to that. They're like, oh, yeah I talked to Sarah recently who said, I just stopped doing email. I'm like, what does that mean? And he was like Why bother? I can't figure it out. I don't have time. And I've committed to it, it's a private equity funded business. I've committed to the board that I'm gonna spend X dollars on ads. And so they don't care who gets the email and they don't understand that just 'cause I'm emailing a million people and only a hundred thousand or even getting it. They don't know that. 'cause they see the report that I sent a million, so they think a million people got it And they're happy so
Steven Morell: How do I know? How do I know that? 900,000 didn't get it.
Rolly Keenan: You wouldn't if you didn't have the right tools. If you're looking at most marketing automation platforms, it looks like they all made it. They really didn't.
Steven Morell: is your first step, is your first step doing an audit? What percentage does it even arrive? We are probably talking about spam filters and secondary inboxes and things like this.
Rolly Keenan: Right? Yeah. These firms have been named a Fortune 1000. They all have it. They have software that opens your email and clicks on everything. So you're getting this, you're getting this report that, oh my God, they love our emails. opening all of 'em, and it looks like they love this link. They love this. Man, like we're really hitting a home run here. And really no one's look, even saw it. But it's hard to know that if you don't have the right tech, and like you and I were talking before, most heads of revenue, whether it's marketing or sales, don't have the tech for it. So they have no idea. And when I ask them, the most informed ones, they say, I know, but. , but it's okay. No one knows, like no one that I work for knows either. So it's cool. Like I know that my stuff's not getting there, but you can't prove it with my current tools. And so nobody can be mad at me for that. I'm doing what I
Steven Morell: That's a beautiful segue to how you get customers. But before I ask you how you get customers for your service and technology, do you talk about something that can get your prospect fired if they admit it?
Rolly Keenan: That's a practically impossible task. Because ultimately you have to not sell to them. for the most part. You have to sell to the board, you have to sell to the CEO. And then every now and then, I call it finding intelligent life. Every now and then you find intelligent life, somebody who doesn't care if they're making mistakes, they want to fix it. so they're not afraid of that conversation, but that's pretty rare. And so most time we're selling around them.
Steven Morell: So step me through your, step me through your sales process and I feel a little bit like In the Inception movie, are you sending out call emails? Nope. Okay. There are two ways of doing so there are four ways of telling people your offer. You can do one-to-one and you can do one to many, and you can talk to people who know you and people who don't know you. In which quadrant do you belong?
Rolly Keenan: We mostly talk to people who know us because a majority of us know us. Most of our business comes from referral. So we just answer emails of somebody going, Hey, I heard you're the only one that can fix this, kind of thing. And then we turn those into larger engagements. We fix one thing, but then once we're in there, we see some problems, we start pointing them out, and then they bring us on slowly. And that's how most of our biggest clients started, was just, we heard you could fix this.
Steven Morell: Sounds a little bit like content marketing, educating people about the things that need fixing.
Rolly Keenan: Yeah.
Steven Morell: Is the strategy there?
Rolly Keenan: Yeah, so we do, we definitely do a lot of content if, I feel like that's broad, but specifically we have a podcast that we do weekly. A live podcast. We have expectations of our top consultants to put into creating content. We have a whole plan for them every year of things they're going to, that they're an expert in that we want them to write about. And we put that up and people find us, like just yesterday someone found us for something we wrote two years ago. So yeah, we have a lot of attraction. And then The strategists, which is about as close as we get to sales, the strategists on our team look for I'm gonna say this in an entertaining way. On purpose. We look for fights to pick LinkedIn.
Steven Morell: So interesting.
Rolly Keenan: We jump around for people who are most marketers, and when they say something that we feel like we have a point of view on, we'll jump in and comment and then, 30 chief marketing officers will look at my profile if I do that. So we try to, and so we're not hard selling or cold calling or anything like that, but we're trying to be relevant.
Steven Morell: But making sure that the number of people who know you becomes bigger. As you go, huh? Now you said before everything feeds into email and email feeds into everything, and I'm gonna steal this and use this for the rest of my life because it's gonna be true for the rest of my life. How do you feed those LinkedIn conversations into email? Stepping through that they look at you. You pick a controversial position. You're in this thread. People look up your profile. What happens next?
Rolly Keenan: It is too simple to be interesting, but it really just goes two ways. Either once they look at my profile, they show up and fill out a form on my website, like pretty much that's most of it. And then I'd say 25% of it is . That they'll direct message me and then I set up a call and then we start our sales process. At that point…
Steven Morell: Is it a simple contact form or do you make use of any type of lead magnet? Giving away something for free additional resources.
Rolly Keenan: No, just your most boring contact me form. What we do when it happens though . And like we just did yesterday. 'cause it doesn't, it's not happening, we're not a giant volume firm, it's not happening a hundred times a day. We look at and share across the revenue team the path. What did they click on first, second, third, how did they get to the contact form? So we do look at that and take that into account when we meet about how we're doing content and how we're designing. We're redesigning the site right now.
Steven Morell: But is ado, is it anecdotal information or do you keep track of this of those paths and in, in what?
Rolly Keenan: We keep track of it in, in just essentially like a spreadsheet, because again, the volume's very low. We don't need it, we couldn't handle a lot of volume if we got it, we're limited by how many people work for us. But yeah, we track what's the path and we're really happy this year that our path has been super consistent. Like people are clicking the exact same. Path, like every time.
Steven Morell: How did you get there? by? How did you get there? It sounds like it wasn't always like this.
Rolly Keenan: No. It was a lot of trial and error and it's my favorite. It's my favorite way to find out answers, which is that we just experimented a bunch. We tried to bring people to one page first and we put money into trying to get people to a certain landing page that would naturally bring them somewhere else. And we tried all kinds of stuff and really what's happening that at least we can tell. So there's some dark social stuff that probably is happening that I can't and don't have the budget to go figure out. But people eventually start in some content somewhere and they go straight from whatever that blog post was three years ago or whatever. They go straight from there to our homepage to what services. That's always the second one or the next one after home. and then how do I become a client? Or I forget the wording on the website, become a client and then contact us. Pretty consistent now. But you're right, it was not that way. We experimented a lot and a lot, the website hasn't changed, but we've experimented in the way that we pushed people and it's, it seems like it, I guess it seems like what's happened is it's just the fact that we've created We've done five years consistently creating content that now people are just fi constantly finding it, on, on a very regular basis. They're landing on our content.
Steven Morell: In terms of block articles, what are we talking about? Hundreds, thousands.
Rolly Keenan: Hundreds.
Steven Morell: Hundreds.
Rolly Keenan: Yeah.
Steven Morell: Oh.
Rolly Keenan: Not thousands.
Steven Morell: Interesting. Did you learn that if they follow your, the buyer journey in a certain order, that this impacts the closing rate? Do you need to educate them in a certain order before you have the first conversation so that your chances are becoming better?
Rolly Keenan: We don't know that yet. And. Because of the kind of business we're in. So we're in many ways a cyst, everything's custom. So because of the kind of work that we do, once they show up to me, there's three steps. Once they show up to me. I dig around, is this even somebody we should spend time with? Are they just fishing with me or do they have something real? So I'm almost always a CRO in that first conversation. Second is they and the client know this from the beginning. Second, we scope everything that means. What's this? What's that? What's this? We take information for 30 minutes. . And then on the third call we present a full on scope: an hour for this half hour for this, seven hours for this 20 hour, and come up with a hundred thousand dollars project. But they can see every single thing that we're doing, the hourly rate, they see it all. So because of how that process works and because it's so custom, I'm not sure, even though we are tracking it, and we may be able to answer that at one point. I'm not sure if . Leading up the sequence is necessarily gonna affect close rate as much as those other three things that we do. That's more hand-to-hand, one-to-one combat.
Steven Morell: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. You said project size is, can be six digits. Is that correct?
Rolly Keenan: Sure.
Steven Morell: How long is your sales cycle?
Rolly Keenan: We're always trying for 21 days.
Steven Morell: Okay.
Rolly Keenan: And I would say that we're probably still a little over 30, but we, and I say 21 because that's how we structure our process, is our goal from those three calls is seven days apart. And. I should say that differently. Our, in terms of close, it can be very variable based on the size of our client. If they're a big client, it takes forever. If they're small, it's fast. But from zero to, we have a contract that they're ready to sign, we want that to be 21 and we're closer to 30 because that we want seven days between each step and just try to move them through.
Steven Morell: I think you mentioned the HubSpot before, step me a little bit through your tech stack. Any secret tools that you're using to run your LinkedIn operations.
Rolly Keenan: No, we mean we have some interesting little tools that we use. We use Uber Flip for our content, which I know we've talked about a lot on this call. We have Eloqua because we were born as an Eloqua consultant. Consultancy. And so we've always had Eloqua as our base marketing automation platform. We added HubSpot for two reasons. One 'cause we thought there was an opportunity to just be capable with HubSpot. HubSpot was growing fast. Eloqua has been shrinking every year for the past six years. So we're like, we don't want to duct tape ourselves to that sinking ship. And also HubSpot is great for inbound work. And so we actually work as you might imagine, highly technical. So we have no problem running two automation platforms at the same time. how we do it. So ELO is more for current clients and HubSpot's more for inbound work.
Steven Morell: How do you manage, how do you manage your content calendars and your content planning?
Rolly Keenan: We don't use any special tools for that outside of the process tool, which is agile. So we basically run Agile for our marketing efforts and instead of, daily standups like a software development. Process might go, we do weekly stand ups and refer to it all the time. So in, in look backs and look forwards, we're always pulling up a ban and just make, seeing where we're at, what's on the, what's on the backlog, what's in motion. So we use Agile for how we keep those calendars and pieces of content moving.
Steven Morell: Have you met any resistance from your team in, I ain't gonna write LinkedIn posts again.
Rolly Keenan: Yeah.
Steven Morell: And how did you break through this?
Rolly Keenan: Yeah, that's, it's a real human problem.
Steven Morell: It's.
Rolly Keenan: When we started this five years ago, it was very aspirational. And but people aren't following through, they're just not doing it. And so slowly over time, and I don't remember exactly when it got codified, but it became part of the job. And you're failing at your job. If you're not doing this, we're not just asking you to do it, but when we talk about your job, that's a big fat zero. And then of course we've hired people since then. And so when they're hired, they understand these are your expectations. The wording here is big for me. We use core co core contributions, not core competencies because I don't like saying someone's incompetent. So there's a core contribution across the firm of what's expected of you, and then there are specific things to your role. And at certain levels you're expected to produce content.
Steven Morell: Would it be fair to say…
Rolly Keenan: Whatever you…
Steven Morell: Would it be fair to say that apart from the sales quarter, you created a content quarter?
Rolly Keenan: Yeah.
Steven Morell: That's interesting, I've never heard that before. That's an interesting approach. Listen, Rolly.
Rolly Keenan: Yeah, and you can hire people for that, right? It's people that are proud of their expertise. So you can select for that. In the end, you're stuck.
Steven Morell: Yes.
Rolly Keenan: Who you got when you started, but you can select for it.
Steven Morell: Yeah. If I would have a time machine in which I can send a message to the five year I. Younger Rolly with a sticky note. Don't do this, Rolly, what would it be? What did you do in the last five years that you wish you wouldn't or you wish you would have done differently?
Rolly Keenan: I think the first one is like a glaring mistake that I've made over the years, which I stopped a couple years ago, but is trying to blend in. Hey, we can make money by. Capturing, a particular technical tool that we want our clients to use and we'll take 10% commission for basically selling that into our client. So I thought that was a brilliant idea and I worked really hard on it, and there's some good things that came out of that hard work, but what never came out of it was revenue. So that was a big mistake in terms of time. An effort, I think. And then secondly, I would say more broadly is the, some people side of stuff is, I feel like most of the stuff that we've done the last five years, I pretty much knew it five years ago. And I think I spread out those efforts too much and I probably should have pushed a lot harder early and got them done earlier and we'd be further ahead now, I was just a little too gun shy of let's not do seven things. Let's just do one and then do another. hindsight, 2020, maybe it wouldn't have worked and I did it. But I feel like most of the things, even things that we put in progress in the last year, I could have done five years ago.
Steven Morell: Nice. So do more, is that a lesson? Do more of your own stuff?
Rolly Keenan: Yeah. Yeah. Follow your gut. Like I feel like I knew it.
Steven Morell: Yeah.
Rolly Keenan: And I think some of it was but let's do this first and see how that plays out. And then I think I just delayed, so don't delay. If you feel like it's worthwhile. 'cause spreading it out, it's like motor learning. I'm a former coach. In sports, motor learning has this rule, which is, people like to break things up in sequences about a sport like first. If you know this move and spiking of volleyball, I've jumped, I've gotta pull my arm back, then I've gotta follow through. And then, and so they do, they break it apart. But that's not how the body works. So don't bother. Just throw the ball up in there and tell somebody to go hit it and then fix the whole thing. Not parts of it. The only time you break it up is if it's dangerous, like diving. You should break that up 'cause you might get hurt, but That's the same thing I think for a lot of these things in businesses, like if you, if there's really no reason to break it up, if there's no danger, don't break it up. Just do it.
Steven Morell: I can totally relate. I'm a skiing instructor. I learned the same things. So yeah, observe, analyze, and improve. Alright, everyone, that brings us to the end of this episode of Speak Revenue. I want to thank our guest, Raleigh, for joining us today and sharing these valuable insights. Huge shout out to all our listeners. Your support means the world to us. Remember to check our website: speakrevenue.com for a full transcript and additional resources. And if you enjoyed the show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you go for your listening needs. It really helps to get the word. Also, follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, and since yesterday on YouTube, we'll be back soon with another great guest. Until then, stay curious, keep listening, and stay safe. Talk to you soon.