What is the best approach for marketing and selling to your customers online? Should you focus on email? Facebook ads? Chatbots? Steve De Mamiel and his dog, Samuel, are here to show you “the mongrel method.”

Steve’s goal is to make marketing simple and approachable, so that you can make better connections with your clients. By the end of this episode, you’ll know why you need to stop selling and start solving.

Why did you write a marketing book about your dog?

I had a career in sales, and I was running sales training for small teams. One of the challenges for trainers is that everyone hates training. They dislike the time out, they’re distracted by other things, and they hate sitting in a classroom environment. Plus, everyone knows that 80% of the training is lost in three months.

In a lot of those coaching sessions, I told stories about my dog. I had a number of analogies where I would connect what the dog did back to the sales team.

For instance, I talked about going to the vet. Usually, I knew full well what was the problem. My dog would chew and swallow just about everything, so he was often in pain. The vet would go through this process of poke and prod, taking temperatures, and other things. Then he’d ask me another set of questions, and finally, he’d treat the dog.

“In sales, I used to say to the team, ‘You have to do a diagnosis before you come to a prognosis.'”

I’d say that because sales people often immediately jump to a solution for the customer, simply because they’ve heard it a million times before. But most customers get upset if they start to explain their issue, and the sales person essentially cut them off and says, “You need to buy XYZ.” Trust starts to unravel, and the customer feels unheard.

What else do you cover in The Mongrel Method?

One of the key ideas in the book is what I call “customer intent.” That’s an idea that replaces what’s traditionally known as “market segmentation by demographics,” or to a lesser degree, marketing personas.

I take it from an approach that these days — using Facebook, Google, and YouTube if you’re running advertising there — you’re able to actually look at what the customer is doing, what other interactions they’re having, what they are investing their time in.

For example, if somebody was buying a backyard swimming pool, they have to do all of these things upfront to enable the swimming pool to be installed. A lot of sales people might think, “A typical customer for a backyard swimming pool equals two kids, they live in a middle class house, they have a nice big backyard. I’m going to target that market.”

My view on the world is that you should be looking for people who are doing things that are prerequisite to having a pool installed. That might be, “Do they have to get approvals in place? Have they spoken to landscapers who might finish around the pool?”

“In many industries, there are a lot of things that need to happen upfront to enable that person to become your customer.”

If you’re looking at it from that perspective — you’re forgetting about their income, where they live, all of those biases and preconceptions that a lot of people come in with — then you’re looking at instead exactly what the customer is doing, and the clues they’re giving to show that they’re invested in your product or service.

What’s the biggest marketing mistake most companies make?

Pushing instead of pulling. A lot of sales people have it beaten into them. “You must get out, you must make calls.” It starts from when they walk in the office. “What are you doing today to meet that quota?”

What I found was I would be out chasing clients when I was in a sales role, and we would often bring in technical support people. I would get to the point where the clients said, “We need to understand how we address some of these technical issues,” and then I would race out and drag my technical support person in to have this conversation with the client. They had questions about very obvious things that I should have understood.

It was embarrassing, because my technical support would have a better understanding of what the client required than what I did. That was really my job, so when I did a project management qualification, I think that actually advanced my sales skills. Because that piece helped me have a conversation with the client to say, “If we are going to solve these issues for you, these are the things that we need to understand.”

“After that, sales got a whole lot easier for me. It no longer became a push; It became a conversation about how do we solve this together, and does it make sense for us to work together?”

How have people implemented The Mongrel Method into their sales and marketing?

Many professional service providers — such as lawyers, accountants, and other people who don’t want to sell — have issues where a new client wants to ask questions, and the professional is torn by this time that gets swallowed up. They say to the person on the other end of the phone, “Look if we are going to progress, you need to be a paying client. I need to turn the clock on.” Because a lot of professionals find they lose a lot of hours in that business development piece.

That’s where the technology piece comes into play. A few years ago, it was email automation and people would download the white paper. It would trigger a conversation. Somebody might come to a lawyer’s website, they would download a document that dealt with a particular issue.

A few days later, we would send them a follow up document saying, “Because of your interest in this, we thought this might also be of interest” and we found the people loved it. They would actually start this conversation over the email, and they assumed in a lot of cases somebody was actually doing it. But it was just a work flow in HubSpot.

The professionals were saving lots of time, and people were booking themselves to become clients because they felt like they were being heard.

How can our listeners connect with and follow you?

All the usual social media pieces. If they simply search for “Mongrel Method,” they’ll find me.