Episode 83: Winning the Long Sales Cycle with Automation

How one marketer is using marketing automation to drastically increase sales for clients in the pro audio and video industry.


Once Peter Malick realized how effective marketing automation could be for companies selling very high-value products with a long sales cycle, he combined his marketing skills with his knowledge of the AV space to help businesses boost engagement rates and increase sales—by almost 300% in one case.
Peter is the founder and CEO of Inbound AV, an agency that helps companies in the pro audio and video space sell their products.


Chris Davis: 00:24 Welcome to the ActiveCampaign podcast. I’m your host, Chris Davis. On this episode I have Peter Malick of Inbound AV. He’s the CEO. They are an agency that serves businesses in the audio, the AV space, the audio-video space. These businesses primarily have higher price products or physical products that involve shipping, so the sales cycle is a bit larger than your average online sale of an in full product, digital product, or online course so I’m really excited to have Peter on to talk about how that marketing looks. How does the marketing for a company that potentially may not make a sale online because of the price of the product, how do you get sales? How do you use marketing automation and your website to make sales of products like that? Peter dispels it all on this episode. Enjoy.

Chris Davis: 01:22 Peter, welcome to the podcast. Glad to have you on. How are you doing?

Peter Malick: 01:27 I’m doing great, Chris. It is great to be here.

Chris Davis: 01:30 Yes, yes. I’m excited to learn about some of the strategies that you’ve been unleashing for your clients but before we jump into that, give our listeners a little bit of insight about your background and your business.

Peter Malick: 01:45 All right well my background is I’ve been in music pretty much all my life. I started playing guitar in bars when I was 14 years old and about five years ago now I had sort of a radical shift and I went to work for the company that I’d bought recording gear from for about 10 years. Went to work to build their eBay store, help them with their eBay store, and it turned into a marketing job and I ended up heading up their marketing and building their original eCommerce store and I sort of took a deep dive into this world that we’re in and have never looked back. It’s really exciting.

Chris Davis: 02:31 Nice. Nice. You’ve got a background in music. At what point did the business kick in, the business acumen kick in to where you were able to transition, I shouldn’t say transition, but add the marketing piece to it?

Peter Malick: 02:50 Well, I think that I have always had sort of an ability in business, although for a lot of my life the music was the most important thing and actually turning a profit with it wasn’t all that important but the sort of a-ha moment I had when I started taking this day job was I saw a need because this company I was working for, they just weren’t really marketing very effectively and the a-ha moment was I had been a music producer for 15 years and had pretty much learned a lot of marketing myself. I had done a pretty good job at marketing myself and I realized I kind of have these skills. That was kind of a shift that made me want to dive in deeper.

Chris Davis: 03:46 Got you, got you. So now fast forward, you’re the CEO of Inbound AV. You guys are an agency that helps companies that sell audio products. Right?

Peter Malick: 04:00 That’s exactly right. Yeah. We really focus on the world that I know, which is pro audio and I know video and I know musical instruments and the software that’s around these verticals, so that’s what we’ve been focusing in on.

Chris Davis: 04:21 Nice, nice. Now what was really exciting for me when I read about what you wanted to come onto the podcast and speak about is the idea that it was not digital companies, digital businesses, that you were primarily focused on. These are retailers, vendors who sell audio equipment and/or software so that sales process, that marketing process, probably looks a little bit different than somebody who says, per se, has an online course or an e-book for sale or something like that. Can you talk about some of the marketing and how it differs for your clients than what a traditional online marketer may see?

Peter Malick: 05:06 Sure. Yeah it’s really kind of fascinating because the thing that I found, and again this first marketing job that I had, we built an eCommerce score for the store and we had high hopes. We’re gonna watch this eCommerce store and people are gonna buy stuff the first day and sure enough we launched the store and there were crickets. As we developed the store, I became fascinated in a marketing automation platform whose initials are HS, who we won’t necessarily say any more about that. I incorporated that HS with this eCommerce store and we started to see some different stuff. Some of the stuff that we saw as we started to build out some very basic email sequences and tracking of products on the store that might be $60,000 or $250,000, very big products, products that people are never going to add to cart and click and buy. We started to see that for instance a customer who had been looking at this $150,000 recording console and had disappeared, well we got an alert. The sales person got an alert that that person was looking at that console again and he called him up and he made the sale essentially is the short story.

Peter Malick: 06:38 We saw that marketing automation could be very, very effective for these long sale cycle and also high value items. These items were never going to be purchased directly off the site, just not. But it doesn’t really matter because the tool is there and the tools allow the sales people to actually close the deal. To fast forward a little bit, when I left that company I was searching around. I realized that a lot of my potential clients in the agency wouldn’t necessarily have the budget to incorporate that platform and I toyed around with a GPU product called [inaudible 00:07:21] which is actually an interesting marketing automation platform but it’s really, really not very accessible and also kind of buggy.

Peter Malick: 07:32 Then we found ActiveCampaign. The interesting thing was one of the things that attracted us to ActiveCampaign, but as I’ve gotten into it I’ve fallen in love, Chris. I mean it’s … All things equal, I would choose ActiveCampaign over any other platform out there. It’s just so customizable and so adaptable to our particular use case, which isn’t necessarily the default marketing automation business model.

Chris Davis: 08:08 Yeah. You said so much there, Peter, that’s exciting because you’re right. That is one of the things that once you can grasp exactly how flexible the platform is to your specific business use case, the sky is the limit and you’re like oh my gosh we can do anything. It’s a different feel. I’ve used other platforms in the past where I felt punished for trying to do certain things. It’s just like I go in there and it literally is fighting me back. It’s just like you know what? Maybe I’ll try it again tomorrow or I’ll have somebody else do it. What I really liked too was speaking about the sales cycle, the longer sales cycle and items that will never be purchased. I have to highlight this because you will be amazed, Peter, and maybe not. Maybe you see this more often but a lot of times when I work with companies who do sell higher ticket products and they’re not familiar with how selling online goes, in their mind they’re thinking all eCommerce is equal so I’m going to put my expensive equipment online and when someone sees it, if this is what they’re looking for, oh they’ll just pay $3,000 online.

Peter Malick: 09:22 Yep. Exactly.

Chris Davis: 09:23 That’s just not the reality.

Peter Malick: 09:26 You know the wild thing was with this particular experience is the CEO would be looking at the sales that are coming in from the website. It’s like Peter, we’re not really making any sales off the website. I mean we’re wasting all this money. Meanwhile, his sales are going up and at the end of the year their sales had increased by 50%. We’re talking about a company that’s like sort of borderline what you’d call small business, mid sized business, in other words the first year after we launched the website and incorporated marketing automation they went from a small business to a medium sized business. It’s fairly serious numbers.

Chris Davis: 10:06 Wow. Wow. Yeah. I love it. I love it because it’s staying true to the business. You’re not trying to force a tool or a particular process or strategy. It’s assessing the business saying look let’s use the website as a qualifier. You know? And all the technology involved. Let’s use it to make the phone ring. Once the phone rings, if you have some people who are able, willing to do some sales, let’s grow the business that way.

Peter Malick: 10:40 Yeah no that’s exactly it and you’re absolutely right. It’s like you have to look at what is the reality of this business? In this business, the high priced items that they sell are never going to be checked out online but that doesn’t mean that ActiveCampaign and marketing automation and lead scoring and all of that can’t be an incredible tool to get the job done.

Chris Davis: 11:06 Absolutely. One of the things that I’m learning about your brand, just in our brief conversation, is increased sales is practically synonymous with the name of your company. Right? It’s almost like when you think about Inbound AV just think about increased sales because you were sharing with me a big win that you had with a client on black Friday.

Peter Malick: 11:30 Yes. That’s actually a software client. This is an independent business. He’s a one-man shop and has developed a line of audio plugins that are awesome. I mean this guy has done it all. First of all, his products are really clever but the user interface is gorgeous and engaging and he just really has put together a really cool brand. It’s been really fun working with him because he’s kind of willing to try anything and in fact yeah we did the numbers that he had from black Friday before we started working together which I think would have been like all right so he was black Friday of 2016 and we started working together like February or March of 2017. Black Friday of last year was 297% of what black Friday of 2016 was.

Chris Davis: 12:34 Wow. Now what did that encompass? I know he’s selling software so perhaps that sales cycle was a little shorter and people were buying online or what did that … What was that formula?

Peter Malick: 12:45 Well I think we really sort of really analyzed what his products were and how we could maximize the sales of those products. For instance, he had one of his first plugins that he built was kind of end of life. I mean it was something that he’d sell a copy of every now and again and so we decided that we would offer that at a really deep discount and so basically sold 1,000 copies of the product that he thought was done. It’s basically just getting in there and I think working with again working with what you have. What have you got and how can we maximize the assets that you have?

Chris Davis: 13:38 Yeah. That’s key because honestly every time you introduce a new product or a new process, per se, there’s always this getting started time that people do not take into account. It may seem in your mind it’s like okay let me just try a different product but the whole process and getting that product situated in the market and getting it positioned properly takes a lot of time that if you could just take something that’s working and maybe you weren’t the one to sell it. For them, they reached out to you as an agency and you could be that outside force, the set of eyes from the outside to say hey wait a minute, this isn’t dead yet. Let’s … For this market, let’s put this in front of them. Now for this software client, were you running ads for them?

Peter Malick: 14:33 Actually pretty much everything we’ve done has been organic and one of the things we did, I’ll give you an example, is we decided we wanted to increase the size of his email list. He put together a plugin that was free. We put it out on some of the various industry sites, websites that cater to music producers, music engineers, etc., and we increased his email list by about 16,000 names in the course of a week with those free plugins and then actually planned on after that we no longer offered the plugin for free. We offered it at a particular regular price but still used it as an upsell that we can do marketing automations around to engage new clients.

Chris Davis: 15:32 Nice. Nice. You know this really speaks to the power of the niche, too. When you have a plugin, you may not be able to put it on a website and like have everybody excited but if you have access to a group of people who are practically ready and willing and searching for that one product, I mean just getting it in front of them sells itself, whether it’s free or not. Then once you have those emails and once you’ve made that initial connection, now you can nurture and now you can start building the relationship for other sales.

Peter Malick: 16:07 Yeah no I totally agree. I’m a firm believer in organic growth. Now this particular client that we’re just talking about, you know I think we throw $100 at Facebook or something, essentially a dinner.

Chris Davis: 16:24 Yeah.

Peter Malick: 16:25 Just to see what would happen but really the results we’ve had have been doing exactly what you’re saying. It’s going after the niche and just being really creative in ways that will engage people and grow the list and sell stuff.

Chris Davis: 16:41 Nice. Nice. Now you also are using ActiveCampaign internally. Can you talk a bit about that process as well?

Peter Malick: 16:50 Yeah. I mean I definitely use the CRM a lot with prospects and I have a number of sort of different levels of prospects. Actually the thing that’s been wonderful is my contact, my regular contact at ActiveCampaign is Jay Kilas.

Chris Davis: 17:13 Oh Jay.

Peter Malick: 17:15 Yeah.

Chris Davis: 17:15 Good ole Jay.

Peter Malick: 17:17 Jay has been amazing at sort of directing us to refine how we use the CRM which has just been amazing. So [inaudible 00:17:28] four prospects, potential clients, but also using it for potential partnerships and by that I mean I think I’ll veer off a little bit here as we’ve developed this software product that was originally the idea was to use it as a customer acquisition tool and not really to be a profit setter itself. Let’s see. Without getting into too much detail that I’m sure will bore everybody to death, this software product allows immediate fulfillment of software purchases from a retailer’s website, even say like an Amazon. You want to buy a piece of recording software and would get that product delivered immediately through an API. Consequently we’re reaching out to different software vendors to be partners with us so that we could offer their products for delivery. That’s kind of the partnership part of the CRM that I was mentioning, if that makes sense.

Chris Davis: 18:37 Nice. No, no that makes sense. You’re using the platform that you have because it can deliver the software in a more immediate manner so any vendor that sells software, especially audio software, any vendor that sells software and wants the benefit of delivering it faster, you now have a solution for that.

Peter Malick: 19:00 Exactly.

Chris Davis: 19:01 Okay so now you’re using the CRM to prospect those types of partnerships.

Peter Malick: 19:07 Exactly. They are potentially more partners than clients, whereas the resell is the retailers are the potential and existing clients.

Chris Davis: 19:17 Got it. It all makes sense. This is … Peter, I love it because you’re using the tools true to their use but you’re not being limited to what others may say or others may promote their using it as. Like hey I use ActiveCampaign and I made $1,000 last time I sent an email. You know? Every time I send emails, this happens. I love that you are truly integrated with the market and identifying the model for that market, then applying the technology to help you with that model for the market.

Peter Malick: 19:54 I think that’s where ActiveCampaign really shines. Again, I think that there are other platforms that have elegant user interfaces and they’re very feature rich and I won’t deny that but at the same time the ability to customize ActiveCampaign to your particular needs and your particular niche and your particular quirks even is amazing.

Chris Davis: 20:24 Yeah. I agree. I agree. Peter, I wanted to ask you something I think would be really fruitful for our listeners. You mentioned off the record before we started recording how you’re kind of like all over the place at times, right, and what I’ve seen in the past is people take that same mentality and approach into business and then they try to do everything. At some point, you got smart and said you know what? I’m not gonna be the type of person who never does more than one thing so I might as well build an agency. Right? Can you just talk me through that thought process for you?

Peter Malick: 21:06 Sure. I mean I think the first part of it is the big realization is that if I were going to do it all myself, that this thing would be an absolute train wreck disaster because I am not that guy who like is the person who writes an employee manual or even basically gets in and does all of the various work. I mean I certainly know my way around all of the platforms that we use but I guess I’m more sort of a scattered idea guy. I realize those limitations and at the same time as I’ve gotten into it I mean we have our COO, Catherine Brock, has sort of mad experience in enterprise marketing and she’s somebody who decided that the corporate world wasn’t for her and so we had this great resource in her and she’s that person who can really get in there and dig in to process and the details of it, which is not my strong suit. She can also tell me like when I come up with a new idea is to like you know what? Put that aside please because we gotta focus.

Peter Malick: 22:38 Then at the same time, we have somebody who is a specialist in ActiveCampaign automations pretty much period and we have a couple content writers and we have a lot of our clients who come in who think they want marketing really they need to look at where they want to send these customers to. In other words, their website is a wreck and that’s really the first step. We have a website and development team and so I kind of feel that in order to offer truly excellent service that you can’t do it all yourself. It’s basic business. Prince could do it all himself. That was it. He’s the only one.

Chris Davis: 23:25 Right, right. Yeah, no I feel like the theme that just keeps coming up and it’s you, is you Peter, is staying true. I mean you stayed true to you, thus your business has stayed true to itself and now you help other businesses stay true to what they do, how they do it. I mean there was no shame in saying hey look, I’m not the process person. I value it. I know it’s important but I’m not the process person. I think that that identification is key and critical for every entrepreneur or business owner to be able to say okay who am I? Am I the big visionary with all of the ideas? If so, that means I need somebody that can help bring them out the sky to the ground and actually build something for me. It’s not that you have to be different, right? It’s just that you have to find the complimentary help to allow you to operate in your strong suit.

Peter Malick: 24:33 Absolutely. I couldn’t agree with you more.

Chris Davis: 24:34 Yep. This is great. Peter, thank you so much for all of the insight that you shared on this podcast. I’m fighting going even deeper into some of the marketing for the retailers but I don’t wanna overwhelm people and you’ve given so much good juice for drinking for marketers.

Peter Malick: 24:56 Thank you Chris. I will say the same to you and I’ll tell you before you let me go is I’m a big fan and I’ve listened to pretty much all of the ActiveCampaign podcasts.

Chris Davis: 25:08 Oh I appreciate that.

Peter Malick: 25:09 And then you know we had that little meeting after Activate with a lot of the various consultants and man I thought your presentation was just so valuable. It just was some really profound moments for me of thinking about ways that I want to improve my business and directions I want to take it.

Chris Davis: 25:31 Oh I appreciate that, Peter. I mean consultants and businesses like yourselves are it’s really what keeps us going, what keeps us striving for greatness. If people want to find out more about you, connect with you in any capacity, where can they go?

Peter Malick: 25:49 Yes. It’s inboundav.com. My Twitter handle is @silvertone, which is a holdover from my guitar playing days but yeah the usual places.

Chris Davis: 26:04 Great, great. Well all of those links will be in the show notes. Again, Peter thank you so much for taking the time out of your day and helping us all understand ways to stay true to ourselves and our marketing and help shape expectations honestly. I hope there’s a CEO, a business owner, an agency that’s listening to this and is refreshed to hear about your approach and feels like okay I’m gonna use that approach in my business.

Peter Malick: 26:35 Awesome. Thank you very much Chris. Thanks.

Chris Davis: 26:37 Yep. No problem Peter. I’ll see you online.

Peter Malick: 26:39 All right.

Chris Davis: 26:42 Thank you for listening to this episode of the ActiveCampaign podcast. I hope that what you learned on this episode is freeing in some way. If not freeing, I’ll take revelatory. A lot of you may have a service-based business or just like I mentioned in the intro, a business that has higher ticket products and maybe you’ve used agencies. You’ve used digital strategies and they just didn’t seem to work for you. Perhaps the approach that Peter has introduced here is something that you can take an implement and say okay maybe I’m trying to do something unrealistic by driving strangers to may brand to a high ticket product and expecting the sale. Maybe I should get that phone to ring and see if sales will increase that way. It’s definitely something worth considering and honestly it’s not limited to if you have high ticket products. If you have mid-size or lower tier it may be fruitful for you to use automation as the assist, as the tool to get the phone to ring, assisting the salesperson to close the deal. Just some thoughts. Think about it. Try it in your business and let’s see what happens.

Chris Davis: 27:53 If you are not subscribed to the ActiveCampaign podcast, this is my personal invitation to you to join the family of listeners who get this type of insight, knowledge, and tutelage every week with every episode. Please subscribe. Join us. We’re in iTunes, Stitcher, Play, Google Radio, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, SoundCloud, anywhere where you can subscribe to a podcast we are there. Type in the ActiveCampaign podcast. Subscribe. While you’re at it, leave us a five-star rating and review. Those help validate. They help to show iTunes that we are a podcast worth featuring and worth listening to. If you could do that it would be a tremendous help and I would be eternally grateful for that.

Chris Davis: 28:42 If you’re just getting started with ActiveCampaign and find yourself a little stuck or confused or just overwhelmed, don’t stay stuck long because we have a Success team that is ready and willing to help you at the moment you have expressed need. How do you express that need? Go to activecampaign. com/training and sign up for a complimentary one on one to talk to someone in person about your business and ActiveCampaign. If you want to use the more self-guided approach and learn on your own time at your own pace the education center is the place for you. Activecampaign.com/learn and you’ll find all of the guides, podcasts, webinars, videos, anything that you need to learn and get up to speed with ActiveCampaign at your pace. It is there. This is the ActiveCampaign podcast, the small business podcast, to help you scale and propel your business with automation. I’ll see you on the next episode.