Chris Rack, CEO of MRP, a demand generation solution, joins Mike Maynard to discuss intent signals, lead generation, and how MRP can help accelerate B2B businesses’ demand generation activities.

Chris explains the benefits of aggregating different intent signal sources and why this can work better across different industries and services. He shares why direct mailers may be the best strategy when targeting C-level personas and why sales remains a vital ingredient in the sales/marketing mix.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About MRP

MRP is a demand generation platform connecting assumptive and deterministic engagement signals to help brands identify target accounts with the highest likelihood for conversion.

Time Stamps

[00:39.0] – Chris discusses his current role at MRP and his career journey.

[01:18.1] – Chris dives straight into what MRP delivers for its customers.

[07:45.4] – Chris offers his insights into how to target the bottom of the sales funnel and how direct mail might make the difference.

[14:05.0] – Sales is here to stay – Chris gives his thoughts on the vital role sales continues to play.

[17:38.3] – Chris discusses how MRP approaches its own marketing.

[20:55.8] – Chris shares some marketing advice.

[22:33.6] – Chris’s contact details.


“Most of the conversations happening in B2B sales and marketing are about tactic… but those things are generally irrelevant if you have good timing.” Chris Rack, CEO at MRP.

“If you happen to know that a company is really, truly interested or has a challenge that your product can solve and you reach out to them – if your timing is good, your conversion rates are almost always good.” Chris Rack, CEO at MRP.

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Transcript: Interview with Chris Rack – MRP

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Chris Rack

Mike: Thanks for listening to Marketing B2B Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in B2B marketing today. Welcome to Marketing B2B Technology, the podcast from Napier. Today’s guest is Chris Rack, who’s the CEO of MRP. Welcome to the podcast, Chris.

Chris: Awesome. Thanks for having me. Happy to be here.

Mike: It’s great to have you on now. We always like to start off, let’s just learn a little bit about yourself and your career journey. So you can can you give us a bit of background and how your career has developed over the years?

Chris: Yes, I mean, I started out in sales in roughly 2004, I entered the the B2B demand generation space 2006 2007, I’ve been through a couple different roles ranging from I was a BDR. At one point, my last tenure was at a company called demand science. For six years as the Chief Revenue Officer of that company grew from very small, roughly 6 million, just over 100 million, and that six year timeframe. I started as the CEO of MRP, May of this year, so I’m right around seven months in and really enjoying it so far.

Mike: That’s awesome. I mean, let’s dive straight into MRP. Can you tell us a little bit about what the company does?

Chris: Yeah, so we’re demand generation solutions provider, primarily in the B2B technology and enterprise space. So the core of what we do well, is we, I like to say we make the haystack smaller, right. So we have a nice piece of technology that identifies companies that are showing propensity to buy across roughly 700 product categories. And then, unlike most vendors in this space, we just deliver that data and let the marketing team kind of do what they do with it. We monetize through a series of solutions or services to drive. In essence, what are leads for the B2B technology marketers, so top of funnel leads all the way down to, you know, very down funnel leads driven by my US based call centre in Philadelphia. So I guess that’s probably describes it as simply as I can.

Mike: So it’s interesting. So it sounds like you’re a mix between marketing technology all the way down to actually execution with a call centre, is that right?

Chris: That is correct, I found over my my career is that there are so many marketing tech products, and the stack is so big that it can be a bit daunting for a marketer to take on a new technology can also take a lot of time to implement. And there’s some costs associated there. So we monetize on the services end of it, because it’s generally easier to execute on right. And we could do it on, you know, a more per lead or more per monetization basis, which a lot of customers in our space.

Mike: That’s sounds like a really good solution for a lot of marketers who maybe a time press they want they want good results. You talk about the database, can you give us a little bit of background about what you’re doing to understand this propensity to buy? I mean, how do you know whether someone’s ready to buy.

Chris: So we probably heard of the phrase intent, it’s quite the buzzword over the past two or three years. So we’re not dissimilar. I believe that a little differently that most vendors have a single source of intent that they’ll, they’ll leverage across their data set, right, whether it’s a bid stream or website engagement across a network of sites, or something of that nature, I believe that intent or true signals should be aggregated. So I have two or three proprietary sources, right. Some of them are, I call it voice verified intent, where we listen to calls. And we understand based on the call centre, what B2B decision makers are buying based on those calls, we have an email engine that kind of disperses case studies out into the space, right, we tRack engagement with those case studies, because again, they’re a bit more down funnel than just regular website engagement. And then I partner with two of the five largest review sites, I’m to ingest their data into my algorithms as well. So by aggregating multiple sources of intent, I can drive a solid volume of folks who I know are interested, but I also eliminate the false positives, the biggest issues with content providers is that they’re too singular focused. So you’ll find a lot of people who you think they have intent, but they just don’t, because it’s not cross verified. So my tech is built to ingest as many signals as I can. And I’m always I’m always building new ones, partnering with new companies and trying to adjust as many as many different types of signals as I can to identify with the highest propensity, what companies are actually in market across software and technology categories.

Mike: That’s interesting. I mean, are there particular categories that this works, you know? Well, for? I mean, quite often, the review sites, for example, you mentioned, they’re pretty focused around SAS products. Is that something that the system works really well for? Or is it applicable across a broader range?

Chris: They’re pretty focused on SAS products and tech products, because that’s where most of the spend is right now. And SAS and technology tend to be fairly progressive and how they market right I do believe the next wave from a from a B2B marketing standpoint, especially in the technology is all of the other industries and categories that haven’t quite been as developed as tech and at SAS. Right. So, I mean, I have a friend who works at a $3 billion packaging company, for their marketing and sales team still uses Excel. Right. So, you know, there’s hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on events in packaging and manufacturing. And, and some of these, I guess, you would say, less innovative, right marketing teams and sales teams that I think is like the next step forward. So again, that’s why I’m focused on many different types of signals, because in the B2B tech space, they might see a lot of value in website engagement and review sites. But in the procurement space, I might want to partner with an event company, right to be able to tRack what companies have been or attended events in the past six to 12 months, right. So what I’m doing is leaving myself open options to be able to ingest and aggregate signals that might work for different industries or different products or different solutions better.

Mike: I’m presuming that’s always going to be a work in progress.

Chris: There’s always new sources of intent, that consistently being refined, right, and I believe at the end of the day, if you can solve for timing, right, most, most of the conversations happening in B2B sales and marketing are about tactic. Should I email should I call? Should I LinkedIn message should I do this? What software you know, like, those things are generally irrelevant. If you have good timing, right? If you happen to know that a company is really truly interested, or has a challenge that your product can solve, and you reach out to them, you could reach out to them on the street, or in an aeroplane. And they happen to have that pain that the moment you reach out to them. If your timing is good, your conversion rates are almost always good. So I’ve been really pushing my team to solve for that sold for having good timing, and then the ways that we can monetize it are infinite. You know, the joke I have with my team is if I went to the VP of Sales for an HR software company, and I handed him a, a post it note with five companies that are looking to buy HR software the next three months, and he cold calls those five and two of them schedule a meeting, right, that VP of sales would pay me $10,000 For that posted note, right? Because it got it got him the two meetings that he needs, you know, that he needed with the least amount of effort possible. And so that’s what we’re trying to solve for here at MRP.

Mike: I love that simplify it down to a post it note is a real goal. I mean, presuming you’re not giving people post it notes at the moment. So can you just explain your how people can engage with the product. So maybe someone from the marketing side how they might engage to get perhaps at some of that top of funnel intent. And then obviously, you know how you’d work with sales to get some of them or bottom of the funnel.

Chris: So on the top of the funnel, we have a pretty dynamic content syndication engine, right? So B2B, marketers are giving us their content, we disperse it via email across our engine, and we’re generating leads on a CPL basis that go into that top of funnel. And then in the mid slash bottom, I have a pretty innovative direct mail solution like actual physical mailer, that connects to a digital landing page, where we’re able to capture both survey and request for sales call information that customers are really loving right now, because the desktop or the screen is just so crowded, right? And to be honest, the mailbox isn’t crowded right now. So we’re seeing a lot of great conversion rates with customers, leveraging that turn G physical mailer, and then I have a, I have two call centres, one in Philadelphia, and one in Belfast. So for my US customers, I provide really high quality, voice verified BANT type leads driven by a US call centre with very talented high skilled callers, right, which is unique in my space, because most of the calling teams these days are outsourced. And then in Belfast, I do about six languages across Europe as well. So being able to do that, and again, similar style, you know, high quality, long tenured, you know, outbound phone callers who are generating leads that have high propensity to convert into meetings and deals and pipeline because of the quality of them. They’re not cheap, right? We’re not that particular solution is at the bargain basement per lead, right. But if you’re a customer in this space, looking to drive quality and not quantity, right, then it’s an it’s an amazing solution that we see a tonne of success with as well.

Mike: That’s that’s sort of interesting. I’d like to get back to what you said about the middle of a funnel. You mentioned postal mailings. Before COVID People were starting to see postal mailings working really well. And then obviously, as everybody moved to work from home, postal became harder. So how were you seeing postal mailings? Right now? Do you see people coming back to the office? Or are you having to find home addresses for people?

Chris: It depends on your persona. So we only send to the office addresses because finding the PII data attached to home addresses is fairly difficult, if not impossible, and in fact, if you could, if you had the data it would Probably be worthless in two years with all the data privacy regulations coming. So it really depends on the persona. So we we sell a lot to customers who are looking to target it, finance, legal, HR type personas, those are the personas that they have a high propensity to be hybrid and go into the office, and B, have a high propensity to engage with male, it finance, legal, and HR are the four personas that a business that likely engaged with the male most regularly it because they’re always getting something a package, a delivery, a service, a server or something, HR and legal, you know, somebody’s always sending a document or a paperwork or something. I’m in finance, because usually someone in finance is, is checking the the mail for checks, you know, obviously, so the bills can get paid. Interestingly enough, we see great engagement at the C level, just what happens is someone who may not be the C level is the person checking the mail, they see a very formal mailer with an in an envelope addressed to the C level person that looks somewhat important. And it’s actually hand delivered to the C level person, which generates obviously a high level of engagement and open because it’s delivered to the person like, Hey, you should read this, right? So, um, you would think Oppositely, but one of the most successful, you know, audience bases that we reach are those very high level or C level, folks, because the mail is usually dispersed directly to them by hand.

Mike: That’s fascinating. And then presumably, on the other hand, you know, maybe someone like a software engineer might be harder to reach, they don’t tend to engage with mail. They’re quite often remote with that, would that be a fair comment?

Chris: Yeah, you know, software engineering, and marketing, from time to time has a high propensity to work full time remote, those are probably the two is the most difficult personas. What we’re also seeing as well, too, is, again, we’re not a gifting platform, so we’re not sending heavy, you know, heavy boxes, or bulky bottles of wine or some of those things. So a lot of companies post COVID have set themselves up to forward mail, simple postal mail to the home addresses of those folks should they be sent in. So I mean, our delivery rate across all personas is over 90%. But in some of the higher you know, those those, those personas that we really resonate with, it’s 97 98%.

Mike:  Wow, it’s amazing. That’s, that’s up there with email, although we know most of those emails probably get delivered into junk and never get read.

Chris: Or there was so much automation right now, on the email side of the fancy that I mean, I think, like yesterday, I got like 172, prospecting or inbound emails from vendors trying to sell me something. So it’s pretty gnarly.

Mike: Hard to stand out in amongst 172.

Chris: Yes, but it’s easy to stand out amongst the two direct mailers that they might get. So again, it’s been it, I will say a pleasant surprise. When I took the role. I knew we had the capability, but I didn’t have an opportunity to kind of jump in and kind of see it. And it’s been really favourable as we’ve combined. Our syndication solution, the top of funnel leads solution with the direct mailer. So we generate a lead for the customer through syndication, which is valuable to them because they have a high conversion rate over time. But a lot of buyers of syndication are getting pressured by their leadership team to convert faster, right. So by combining the direct mail nurture follow up to the syndication we’re delivering leads at a very solid CPL, through syndication with our customers like, but we’re also converting them at a higher clip, because we’re attaching that direct mailer follow up to it, which is unique in the industry that I work in. And again, customers are really digging it.

Mike:  That’s awesome. I love that. That sounds great. I mean, traeth talking a little bit more about COVID. I mean, one of the things a lot of people have said, is it’s harder for sales teams to engage customers, post COVID. Basically, customers enjoyed not talking to salespeople during COVID, and actually doing a lot themselves self directed research. Is that what you’re seeing, and that’s why people need those, those leads more, are you seeing other trends?

Chris:  I’ve been in the sales, and I’ve sold to marketing for the better part of 17 years and the amount of times over that 17 years, someone’s referred to the buyer journey changing. You know, I think there’s enough times to where I can, I’ve lost count, right? The amount of information available to buyers, more now than ever is more than it’s ever been. Right. But the part that sales brings into the mechanism. As far as the buying process standpoint is sellers are there to make a buyer feel good about their decision. And if you’re a great seller, you have the expertise and the amount of knowledge to make a recommendation to that customer that makes them feel secure in the decision to sign that paperwork with. And that might happen a little bit later in the process these days because people are collecting information. Right so that really what’s happened and the only part of the buyer journey that’s changed is that the role giving customers information has pivoted a bit more from the seller to the marketing side of the house. Right. But what’s the the buyer has collected the information required to move forward, that motion is still very much handled by the sellers. And again, the good ones are the ones who aren’t continuing to give information. A good sellers are the ones who are making the recommendation that makes that prospect feel feel comfortable and good about their decision. And that’s what that’s the real difference in this, this, this consistent narrative of the buyer journey changes. It’s really just a simple, small pivot in whether the sellers are disseminating information or marketing. Right. And that’s the difference between 2004 and 2024.

Mike: Interesting, I think that’s a really neat way of looking at, you know, some of the changes we’ve seen is it’s just a slight pivot between sales and marketing. I love that. Looking at the product, I mean, you know, I’m interested in lead generation, it can span a huge range of costs. And obviously, the quality of the leads spans and even vaster range of qualities, you’ve obviously indicated, you’re at the top end. So is working with MLP. Is that is that an expensive thing you need to be a big company for? Or can you address the needs of some of the smaller startup companies?

Chris: I mean, I have large customers, you know, that are that are fortune 100 technology companies that are seven figure commitments annually. I have I have small companies that are are simply looking to just begin their outbound journey or begin their inbound journey, right. So a commitment can be as low as $15,000 A quarter, right or as high as 15 million annually. The only real qualification point for working with an MRP is that you sell B2B products, right, I don’t do b2c And the most difficult part for me is when I’m, I’m generating my own leads and navigating paid search and all that like keywords like lead generation bead 17,000, things ranging from I’m looking for mortgage leads to roofing leads to plumber leads to LinkedIn, like, again, like the term lead generation is so vast that it becomes sometimes difficult to navigate, you know, the type of lead generation that we do, because there’s so many different types of quote unquote, lead providers out there.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a real challenge that range of what lead generation means. I mean, how do you market MRP? Is it primarily through search where people are actually looking for a product? Or are you doing other things to promote the company?

Chris: So we most certainly practice what we preach all the products that I’ve described here we use, right, so I send monthly direct mailers to targeted groups of people. I have outbound callers from my Philadelphia call centre, my Belfast call centre that are hooking, you know, interested bent type leads that my BDRs follow up on, I do syndication that I nurture and score up to the point where my BDR team is looking. Yeah, so all of the things that I sell, I do, which is wonderful, right? There’s nothing better than nothing better than selling someone and they’re like, Well, how do I know it works? And I say, Well, I’m talking to you, aren’t I? Right, you know, like, so it’s a, it’s a tends to be a pretty strong use case. And you’re convincing someone that direct mail works if they were someone who became a lead because they engaged with your direct mail, right, so we knew that my, my target audience, again, I know the companies that have a high propensity to buy, we do so My Tam is not small, but very focused. I’m only, like, 40 ish, million dollar company, right. So my resources are infinite, that I can’t boil the ocean. So I have a very focused group of companies that I know have a high propensity to buy, I use our technology to further refine that list. And then I have, you know, obviously a team of outbound sellers and a small group of BDRs that, you know, really focus on, I have a very full cycle selling org, right, I have a small group of BDR is but they’re mostly for lead qualification and passing, I don’t do the SDR and, and the seller and the renewal rep. I don’t have the multiple facets, it’s, you know, single sellers who handled the whole lifecycle lifecycle of the account and the prospect. Again, keeping it simple, right.

You know, the go to market is changing massively right now, to be fair, you know, we’ve killed it ourselves. Right, you know, like, all the technology, all the automation, all the products that you know, all the spray and pray that, that marketers and sellers have been leaning on for the past three or four years, right? It worked in 2019 to 2021 because interest rates were so low, that money was free, and everybody was investing, like it was going out of style, right? And again, a lot of sellers in this current market never sold in 2011 2009 2008. I have zero so people are always like, when’s it gonna go back? And I’m like, It’s not this is it? Like this is what sales is actually like before money was free. So you know what, what we’re seeing now is, is really what I call like, a thinning of the herd. urge sellers and marketers and revenue teams for those who are actually who actually have the skill set dedication, and, you know, again, general focus to be able to be a career seller or marketer, right? Those are the ones that are emerging to the top right now, and those who don’t who just happen to be in the right place at the right time, in 2021, are going to be slowly working themselves out of revenue teams.

Mike: And that’s a bit of a warning for people in careers, then they gotta gotta learn what the new reality is, or maybe not the new realities, obviously, it was a reality back in 2011, as well, Christmas has been been really interesting. Before you go, there’s a couple of questions, we always like to ask people, you’re doing a lot in terms of helping marketers find leads, and really almost expanding what marketing does versus sales. I mean, what would be your advice to a young person who’s thinking of a career in marketing.

Chris: Play the long game, marketing isn’t an instant thing, your leadership is always going to continue to push you to try to solve things very fast and quickly. And with that comes my second piece of advice, learn how to manage up, like setting expectations is the most valuable thing to do as a marketer, right? And what happens is why most 10 years of marketers, especially marketing leaders is so short is because they’re just not great at setting expectations, they over promise, which vests and sets them up to under deliver, and then you know, things don’t work out. But you have to be able to sit down with your executive team and say, Hey, this is gonna take time. And if that doesn’t work for you, I’m not your person.

Mike: That’s great advice, I think not only for, for somebody new to marketing as a career, but people already in marketing, talking about that, that advice for people who are ready marketers, is there something you give us like the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, about marketing about how to do marketing?

Chris: The best piece of advice I’ve ever received was from one of my earlier mentors, and it’s, you know, learn how to say very complicated things in very simple ways. You know, that’s always resonated with me, if you can’t, you can’t say something in two sentences or less, you’re probably overcomplicating it and your audience isn’t receiving it. And that works in both marketing, sales, leadership, life business, you know, all facets, but it’s, I guess, especially relevant in marketing, given that sometimes you only have 10 to 15 seconds to catch someone.

Mike: That’s awesome. That’s great advice. Chris, this has been fascinating. I mean, just to finish off, is there something you’d like to say to you know, the summarise what MRP does? Or perhaps anything you feel we might have missed during the conversation? No,

Chris: I think we’ve covered it really well. And again, and for those looking to increase their pipeline, right cost effectively, generate leads for their revenue teams in the B2B marketing space. You can always reach out to myself, I’m on LinkedIn at Christopher RAC, M MRP, is on LinkedIn as well. We’re also on most social channels, or hit us up at MRP

Mike: Thank you so much for your time. This has been fascinating. And thanks for helping everyone you know, understand a bit more about the world of lead generation.

Chris: Awesome. Thank you so much, everyone, have a good weekend.

Mike: Thanks so much for listening to marketing B2B Tech. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And if you did, please make sure you subscribe on iTunes, or on your favourite podcast application. If you’d like to know more, please visit our website at Napier B2B dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.