2020

Sales Drivers

Michael Phelan

Go-to-Market Pros

beth mccluskey

Beth McCluskey

RAIN Group

Profile
2020 Innovator Of The Year
Profile

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Michael Phelan

Michael Phelan is responsible for conducting ongoing research with hundreds of B2B buyers and leading B2B reps to facilitate the development and optimization of a new demand generation category: NNPM Programs (Net New Prospect Meeting Programs). These programs are designed to directly drive meetings, not downloads. The top 20 NNPM programs enable his clients to cut through the clutter, boost meetings, increase meeting hold rates, elevate the prospect conversation, prioritize new segments and close deals.

Can you share any particular achievements you are most proud of in your current role?

I work with both “for-profit” and nonprofit organizations. On the for-profit side, I am most proud of a new demand generation methodology, called NNPM Programs. It is based on extensive B2B buyer research and interviews with leading B2B sales reps. These programs enable clients to better understand and execute proven programs to engage prospects in higher-value strategic discussion, leading to increased pipeline and longer-term relationships.

Can you share any details about how your team, or individuals on your team, have helped drive innovation? How have you maintained your collaboration and innovation despite the current WFH reality?

I create custom best-in-class teams for each client engagement. These creative, make-it-happen teams are not constrained by organizational structures, reporting relationships or internal politics. The only thing that matters is their reputation on delivering excellent work, bringing “outside-in” customer-centric insights and making a tangible difference to each client

On the nonprofit side, it is about morphing for profit sales and marketing best practices to meet the unique and contextual fundraising needs of nonprofits.

In the midst of Covid-19, what are some lessons you’ve learned that will impact or influence the future of your work?

Prospects have more time than ever. However, they are also more discerning than ever. It’s what you know about them that Is important, it’s what you know about their customers and their competitors that is important.

What sources for inspiration help you stay excited and invigorated in your work?

Meaningful interaction with best-in-class peers, customers and prospects and a natural curiosity that is constantly trying to understand, adapt, experiment, test and ramp and optimize.

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Beth McCluskey

As the Director of Marketing at RAIN Group, Beth McCluskey is a true “Jane of all trades.” In addition to driving the marketing strategy at RAIN Group, she’s an award-winning graphic designer, web developer and manages the company’s martech stack. Her results speak for themselves: Marketing assets have influenced millions in revenue for the company. Beth is the epitome of an out-of-the-box thinker, and passionate about giving sellers everything they need to attract and close new business. Her ideas have resulted in not only increased website traffic, email subscribers and conversion rates, but also new leads, new clients and increased revenue.

Can you share any particular achievements you are most proud of in your current role?

I’ve been with RAIN Group for over eight years, so I have a lot to be proud of. Our team has seen amazing global growth in that time, none of which would’ve been possible without leadership’s steadfast belief and investment in inbound marketing. Our team has been empowered to spend where necessary, take advantage of educational opportunities and grow with — and at times faster than — the rest of the organization. We’ve increased organic web traffic, conversion rates, leads, email and social engagement, grown our list and more.

But as a marketer, nothing makes me prouder than seeing the direct impact I have on the sales funnel. Millions of dollars in revenue have been influenced directly by content and campaigns I’ve created and managed. Target accounts are reaching out after having interacted with 12+ pieces of content over multiple years. We’re getting fantastic content feedback from clients and prospects at the top of their industries. Sellers are armed with the white papers, research, infographics, webinars, blog posts, slide decks, collateral and more they need to be successful with prospects. It’s been quite the journey, and nothing could be more rewarding than another successful sales story.

Can you share any details about how your team, or individuals on your team, have helped drive innovation? How have you maintained your collaboration and innovation despite the current WFH reality?

Innovation doesn’t stop at the office door; it happens when you’re out in the world solving real life problems. Especially now, we have the opportunity to view “the way things have always been done” through a critical lens. I’m fortunate to work with a global team full of innovative, thoughtful creators. We’ve been able to take something that was already basically functional and nurture it into a full-blown service offering with fully supportive messaging, content and collateral in a very short period of time.

In terms of working from home, we’re ahead of the game. I’ve been remote for 5.5 years, and our organization went fully remote in December before Covid-19 hit. We’ve been set up for virtual collaboration for years. We use Slack daily for communication, Asana for project management and Zoom to stay connected, collaborate and boost morale.

In the midst of Covid-19, what are some lessons you’ve learned that will impact or influence the future of your work?

I was reminded of the 4 Ps: Perseverance, Persistence, Partnership and Patience. Considering the majority of our client work was in person before the pandemic (is that another P?), we pivoted (ok, I’ll stop) pretty quickly.

Perseverance: Our leadership was very open about the mental toll of the pandemic compounded with the election and politics in the U.S. and the amount of work it takes from all teams to create new products and services. We were drained, but we weren’t alone. In many cases, solidarity isn’t enough, but when you care about the success of a company — and more than that, it’s people — you’re willing to do the hard things to come out the other side. I’m proud to say we have.

Persistence: We’ve done a lot more experimenting over the last seven months than we’ve ever done before. We’ve always cross-promoted assets and shared over time, but we’re now a lot more creative with subject line changes, image variety, email template changes, etc. We’re achieving big results where we wouldn’t have pursued them before.

Partnership: None of these matter if you don’t have a good team by your side and clients who are flexible and receptive to new ideas. We’re fortunate to have both. It was amazing to see our team step for each other and our clients in new ways, offer to help with things they’ve never been involved with before, and thrive. Our organization and our clients are better for it.

Patience: No matter how quickly we pivoted, it wasn’t going to matter if the market didn’t catch up. We had the product pages, the sales and marketing content, the promotion — we just needed our prospects to be ready for a new approach. To be honest, it was pretty slow going at first. Our sales team was adept at working with new clients and buyers later in the pipeline to transition to a new solution, but as an inbound marketer, I was hungry for organic leads to start rolling in again. It took time, but that time allowed us to finetune our messaging into something we’re really happy with.

What sources for inspiration help you stay excited and invigorated in your work?

I’m passionate about personal development, and truly believe you can’t be your best self at work if you’re not your best self in other parts of your life. I strongly believe in the power of meditation and sound healing. I love things that make me think critically about the world, which has recently included “Man and His Symbols” by Carl Gustav Jung, Brené Brown’s “Unlocking Us” podcast, and the show “Black Mirror.” The creativity of others really helps me stay creative in my own role even if they aren’t directly related — music, art, theater, books, etc. Keeping an open, eager mind creates endless opportunities for growth and innovation.

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