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Podcast Pitstop: Cold Calling with Kevin Hopp, CEO of Hopp Consulting Group

"Cold calling is the most raw form of communication.

There's a way that a lot of people do outbound which is terrible and burns plenty of bridges. Joining us in episode 51 is the CEO of Hopp Consulting Group, Kevin Hopp. His company is dedicated to helping early-stage SaaS startups build outbound sales structures and processes. Kevin shares his insights on the value of cold calling done effectively when executed with a customer centric approach. There are many tips and tricks that allow you to have great, high-quality outbound that drives inbound. 

Hold on tight for an exciting 20 minutes if you're ready to learn about how to outbound effectively. 🏎️ ✅

Pitstop Highlights

Contact Data

  • Cold calling is the most raw form of communication so it has to be done effectively and it must develop trust.
  • Who (context) is calling and why (strong purpose) are you calling.
  • Invest more MONEY and TIME into contact data. 

Tech Stack

  • Instead of having lots of people push a huge boulder up a hill, you can have a well trained group of people manning the boulder pushing machine. 
  • Tech enables people to do so much more.

Good quality outbound DRIVES inbound 

  • Cold calling conversations should be executed with a customer centric approach.
  • Inbound conversations then should be a very consultative.

Engaging with Kevin 



Full Transcript

Brendan: Hey everyone, welcome to Pit Stops to Podium, the RevPartners podcast. We talk to execs who've competed and won, taking their companies from high growth, to high scale. My name is Brendan Tolleson. I am the co-founder and CEO of RevPartners and i'm delighted to have with me today, Kevin Hopp for this version of Pit Stops to Podium,  welcome Kevin.

 Kevin: Thanks for having me on. I  really do appreciate it and glad we could connect here, I think it's gonna be a really fun conversation.

Brendan: I'm excited as well, this has been a… I'm not gonna… I'll tease out the big idea we've had a little bit of a debate around cold calling and so we'll get into that in a bit but Kevin before we dive in, who is Hopp Consulting, what's your background, how did you get to where you are today? 

Kevin: Great question, great question. So, how Consulting Group is my own little consulting company that I run, it's all about outbound sales process and strategy. How I got to that is just by having a bunch of jobs where I had the same problem everywhere I went. “Congratulations new sales guy, go build a pipeline,” and I got really obsessed with this problem of, “Wow I don't have a pipeline handed to me,” I never really had great inbound at any of my sales jobs you know, one, maybe two leads a month. So I got very obsessed with the problem and I'm a problem solver. So now, Hopp Consulting Group exists to help companies that are not investing heavily in inbound or don't understand inbound, or don't have that inbound funnel figured out go get it. Outbound is about going and getting it and finding the right people that you want as customers and that's what I do; uh process strategy technology and actually all the way down to tactical coaching of reps on the phone.  

Brendan: Okay well I want to dive into that further but before we do that we do a tradition here at Pit Stops the Podium and that's to get to know our guests outside of work so what are three fun facts about you that our audience should know? 

Kevin: Three fun facts about me, well, I guess we'll start off number one. I'll wrap a few things into number one. Number one,  I  live in San Diego which is pretty cool because I'm a golf freak so living in San Diego is really cool if you like golf I can play Torrey Pines for 30dollars in the summertime so golfers everywhere right now are going, “gosh that guy is lucky” - know it's US Open Golf Course, I have played it more than 15 times. Fun fact number two, I was uh born with three thumbs. 

Brendan: Wow.

Kevin:  So you see two thumbs today. I  had a third one thicker off of my left hand here uh people will literally know me for years and never notice recognize anything and that one night one time they'll be like “yeah what happened to your thumb?”, and I'll be like. And then of course like “no you're lying show me the picture”, and I have the picture saved on my phone because I know that people are gonna ask about it. Here's fun fact number three, now what's more rare than a guy who was born with three thumbs? How about a guy that was born with three thumbs that married a girl who is a paediatric occupational hand therapist that specializes in dealing with kids that have hand injuries. The only kind of OT I ever went to in my entire life was a paediatric occupational hand therapist and her father is a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon who has done this exact surgery three different times. He did not do my surgery but yeah I did not pick my wife that way believe it or not that's a total coincidence but man we are we are thumb people. 

Brendan: Oh that's awesome. well I only know Torrey Pines from Tiger Woods’ golf video game so I'm very jealous that you've been able to play that and that's fascinating about your thumb so thank you for sharing that. Well Kevin let's transition into the big idea and you talked a little bit about what you do at Hopp Consulting talking about how to do outbound effectively and so I'd love to tease that out a little bit further and talking about really in this modern kind of go-to-market that you're seeing a lot of scale-ups try to employ, it's really interesting. Is cold calling really relevant when scaling up our revenue system  and we talked about the demand gen being outbound plus inbound so let's dive into that topic so why this, I know you kind of gave a little teaser in your opening about not inheriting a pipeline but do you really see cold calling being effective at this point?

Kevin: Yeah cold calling is, I mean the better question is, is having business level conversations with people who are not your customer, is that going to be relevant? Yeah, yeah absolutely. The you know, the dirty little secret here is that if you're really trying to scale and you're really you raise a lot of VC money you're really trying to grow your company quickly you can't do one without the other like you need really good demand gen and a really strong marketing inbound function will only help your outbound motion and vice versa that's one of the points that I think we'll get to here is if you do outbound the right way it actually builds as like a snowball in terms of people that will come back to you later right? There's a way that a lot of people do outbound which is spammy, terrible and burns bridges everywhere they go and that's not the way that I advocate for doing outbound or cold calling.

Brendan: Well let's dive into our three topics, I think that will flesh out how to be effective at doing cold calling to your point or it's a good way in a bad way. Let's start with the first which really gets into the the data so the contact data so help us understand that foundational piece because if you don't have that right uh you're not gonna be successful at all. 

Kevin: Yeah, yeah it's the most raw form of communication is cold calling. It is the most raw right? Meaning there is no hiding there is no as soon as you talk to a stranger you get a stranger on the phone; who are you and why did you call me? Who are you and why did you call me? And then the why needs to be really strong and who are you needs to be contextual as to why you're reaching out to them otherwise we're bad news bears, right? So if I call for Brendan and it's Stephanie, immediately there's no trust in that scenario right like no one's ever going to trust you if you call and say, 

“Hey, is this Jackie's cell phone?”, 

“no it's not this is Kevin's cell phone”, 

“oh well do you want to buy my stuff do you want to take a meeting?”, 

“no you don't even know who I am!”

So, I'm a huge advocate for investing probably you know and I guess the hot take here is, invest more money and time into contact data than you probably are today. Now here's what I call like the, the, the chain of decisions that I have seen again and again and again at venture backed companies that I've worked with and consulted with.  At this point I've consulted with around 45 different companies in the last four years and I worked at four or five as well, so the problem is we need to go outbound. We see this big revenue number that we need to go get. Then we see a bigger pipeline number so these big numbers lead cross and VP’s of sales to say I need a lot of leads now when they say they need a lot of leads they go talk to one of the big vendors the zoom info the gun on brad street uh blah blah blah blah, right? There's a bunch of these data vendors out there. The vendors sell the VP of the CRO what they want, which is big data. Three million data points and the VP or the CRO makes the decision yes more is better than the director gets director or manager level now gets told I went out and got you three million numbers, “let's go get some pipeline!”, and the director manager says, “okay cool I'm gonna put a thousand leads in every reps funnel and guys you have more than enough go go like come on you got a thousand leads in your name all right come on”,  and now the rep is stuck with a thousand leads which are probably a mixed bag with this crazy mixed bag of like you know, anyone in the southwest united states in you know a company under 500 million and over 1 million in revenue in any vertical and I see this again and again and again. So the big problem is kind of the way I described it, “the big problem”. Because at the end of the day, if you flip that on its head and you say how do I get my reps, the front line reps people that are going outbound sending cold emails making cold calls? How do I get them 200 perfectly manicured leads at a time? That's it, that's how many they own and then it's like a continually fulfilling funnel where in a week they might go talk to 20, 30, 40, 50 people and we replace those yeah that way. 

Brendan: Yeah I like that it's a whole garbage in, garbage out kind of concept similar to what you know Sangram, who's been on our podcast before talks about account based marketing kind of coined that term in the marketing space. It's flipping the funnel even on the outbound side of you know, less is more high quality contacts versus massive volume because conversion rates naturally, it sounds like we'll be higher, if you're talking to the right people. So you talked a little bit about Kevin, the data, we started talking a little bit about the tools you mentioned zoom info and DMV. How does tools play into this because you know, if you're building a team and you have all these contacts you have to be able to organize that effectively and ultimately execute against the cold calling tactics so let's talk through the tech stack a little bit. 

Kevin: Totally, totally. So the the best analogy that I have for the tech stack which you know like the the way that I’ve learned this is, the bigger, the more seasoned someone is meaning the further away they have been from that frontline conversation right, like if you're talking to a CEO who hasn’t made a cold call in 15, 20 years but now he commands this big organization he's got all stuff like I've talked to a lot of guys like that and they're like well we just can't afford the tech we just can't like no way like, “back in my day we would just pick up the phone and trigger all I had was the yellow pages in my phone I crushed my quota.”  Okay all right, well so the way I explain the tech problem to them is look, we gotta get this boulder up the hill,  got to get the boulder up the hill. Now, the solution is let's get the boulder up the hill faster. Now, how can we do that? A lot of venture backed companies say, “I know how we'll get the bullet up the hill, we need 30 people pushing the boulder at once. I worked for a few companies where the answer to how we get more pipeline was to throw more people at  it. More people ah, 15 bdrs 20 BDRs you got 20 BDRs making cold calls one at a time that goes faster. Now you can take 30 people to push the boulder up the hill or, you can get a bolder pushing machine and train less people how to use the boulder pushing machine and then the activity of pushing the button on the boulder pushing machine still needs to be done. It's actually a skilled job. There's skill involved with using a tech stack the right way and it's something that a fundamental, like a fundamental tenet of what I teach the sales reps that I consult with is, you have to work the system. You gotta work it right, this is not a Tesla where you get in and your hands are off and it drives you all the way right? This is a lot closer to uh a muscle car that hell yeah it's going to get you from A to B but you gotta know how to work that clutch, you got to know how to do this, you got not you know don't  RPMs too high here blah blah blah, right? So what that means is let's put technology in front of sales reps that enable one person to do way more the answer there is automation right so sequencing is is pretty much table sticks these days you know when I first started in tech sequencing wasn't really even a thing like outreach didn't exist, sales loft didn't exist, they're like the kind of big gorillas in the sequencing space but there's a bunch of other tools that do sequencing and my favorite tech stack in the world is a CRM with a sequencing tool on top of it to keep track all of your outbound motion in terms of activities and then even level up one level deeper and get a dialer an auto dialer because an auto dialer is going to get past like the biggest problem today which is our phones are working against us, right? Apple and Google are working against every single sales person out there. It's harder than ever to land in an inbox and it's harder than ever to get a phone to ring so you gotta use some tech to get through things faster and that's the boulder pushing machine that enables you to do more with less and technology is cheaper than people period.  

Brendan: Yeah like it's kind of, I mean tech becomes the science behind it as well so it's a it's the multiplier in terms of the accelerated your point but also allows you to combine the art of what you describe those two questions that you need to be able to answer up front but also have the tools that allow you to be effective at it. But Kevin, let's transition to the last point. So we talked a little about the importance of data and the importance of tech to actually execute it but then kind of going back to something you talked about earlier. How this all bound strategy when you think about demand meaning inbound plus outbound, how did these actually not only support one other but create that multiplier effect to your earlier point? 

Kevin: Yeah, so I  think if you train your reps to take inbound conversations, inbound conversations should be super consultative. “Hey, what prompted you to reach out?” Now that's inbound right, now the only difference between inbound and outbound the conversation the reps having is that first 30 seconds of awkwardness which is who are you, and why are you calling, right? Now what we need to do is build this like tough skin and I think building this tough skin attitude of rejection is part of this and having a customer-centric selling approach to outbound sales you actually create really good brand exposure experiences. Like moments that your prospects will be like,  “oh yeah, I got that call that one time from the guy he was super nice on the phone and you know he never said anything like I would love to get you on a demo. He actually said things like look Stacy. I'm not sure if it makes sense for us to look at this but other people that are speaking other people that I've spoken to in your position have gotten these things out of sitting down with us.” “Well I still don't want to take a call.” Right, if you talk about things right way in a customer-centric prospect-centric language you build positive brand impressions which actually leave a good taste in people's mouths as opposed to that right and and you know part of my whole philosophy around cool calling is you fight the number one problem in cold wine the number one problem in cold calling is the false negative which is, I call you I say hey Brenden how you doing it's Kevin and you say, Hi Kevin who are you, why are you calling me? And as soon as I say my name my organization and who I am you say I'm not interested and you hang out instantly. Now a lot of reps a lot of reps will mark you as not interested in the CRM and we probably will forget to reach out to your organization it'll get you know lost in the trash in the CRM for three to six months where that's a false negative impression they don't know who you are how you serve your customers the value you bring them you do not have a business level conversation. That's what I call not a phone lead okay that means Brenden  doesn't like to take cold calls. It doesn't mean that we know what Brenden’s company is doing to solve this business challenge that we exist to serve right? So, the all-bound approach here is having an outbound, prospect-centric approach about business problems and valuable solutions instead of, “Hey Brendan, I would love to get you on a demo of our solutions it's the last day of the month come on can you please accept the calendar invite for next monday.” Which a lot of reps do the commission breath desperate nature. If we can train them to be more relaxed and by the way, one of the ways you help reps relax is you get rid of that the phone ringing when a phone's ringing a rep's heart is like 120, 130 beats a minute if we get rid of the phone ringing by using technology where we're pushing the button on the boulder machine and they're calmly ready for the next conversation, then they can build this very prospect-centric approach which will lead to positive brand impressions people coming inbound to you.

Brendan: Yeah I like all that. I think the challenge on that is or at least a commentary on that is you know what's reward is repeated and so when you think about there's a there's responsibility on the manager too. Like if you are telling the SDR or the AE, they are being measured on meetings, not only meetings I mean in outbound motion meaning I guess you create an opportunity from a meeting. They are going to keep calling and they're going to call, and call, and, call but if it's A to your point it's  prospect centric then you probably to change the way in which you track and measure performance because it's almost like what's happening in marketing too there's a whole multi-touch attribution where it's not necessarily one thing that leads to that engagement that there are all these different impressions as you described earlier and so it's how to use a management team from a sales perspective not only acknowledge it but then create systems by which to reward that.

Kevin: Yeah it's an interesting challenge. At the end of the day, activity drives outcomes with outbound right it very much is and this is part of the reason you know I'm an ex high school football player I coached high school football like I'm a very athletic minded, competitive guy, ask any of my friends I compete with them on literally everything. I'm into sports betting. I love sports betting. Part of what I love about that with outbound is that activity does drive outcomes so there is the bottom line approach of like look if you don't make your calls it's not landing in your inbox like people are not going to reach out to you, right? So there's a happy medium to be found between you know, don't make a thousand calls in a week necessarily but you gotta have enough conversations, enough at bats, enough swings at the plate to get the home runs to get the meetings, right? But, the fine line to your point is you can't annoy people you can't push them off and create a negative impression so yeah. 

Brendan: Well it's a good reminder any of the A's out there that your phone was actually originally designed to call people so hopefully this inspired you to actually use it for that purpose as opposed to the other aspects of a phone but, Kevin, thank you so much for joining the podcast today I really did like hearing your stance on cold calling and how that is a critical component to building that all about motion for a scaling company as we wrap up, any final thoughts then ultimately what is the next step our audience can take to engage with you? 

Kevin: Sure, sure. You know one of the final thoughts I just want to share is you know I'm all about teaching this approach where it really solves two problems. It helps a founder lay down a predictable framework to go get meetings, go get new business opportunities in a pretty expedited fashion. That's the magic of outbound, you pick up the phone, you make it happen and the sales reps that I work with hate their job a lot less right they don't hate their job they actually I help them build a system in the process that they enjoy coming to work and they're excited to get into the next conversation to get to the next thing so that's what my consulting practice is all about I'm also obsessed with stories and people stories and storytelling and Brendan you're gonna be on my podcast  here in the next week or two. The sales career podcast if you're interested in the stories of salespeople and how you can learn from that and then apply that to your own career check it out anywhere you listen to podcasts. 

Brendan: All right. I’m excited about doing your podcast so that's one outlet if people want to engage with you on your consultation side to achieve what you just described how can they reach out to you?

Kevin: Yeah go to my website or Linkedin, Kevin Hopp. I've got phone icons that's my name so I can spot automation from a mile away but yeah I'm on Linkedin I post about cold calling and outbound a lot connect with me there or 

Brendan: All right, Kevin thanks so much for joining really do appreciate it have a great day.

Kevin: Cheers, thanks!

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