My interview booking process used to be a mess, and it took up too much of my time.
I never knew if my pipeline of upcoming guests was big enough or if I had to scramble to find new ones. I had to approve or reject every single guest myself. My producers didn’t know whom they needed to pre-interview. When they got on calls with upcoming guests, they didn’t know what the interview would be about. All this uncertainty meant I often got 6:00 a.m. text messages asking for solutions to problems that could derail an upcoming interview or damage my relationship with an upcoming guest.
At the time, my wife was just a few months away from giving birth to our first child. I realized I couldn’t be both a good dad and a good interviewer unless I solved the chaos.
So again, I tapped into what I learned from my successful interview guests and created a system for managing interviews. The system allows my team to do their jobs well without needing my help, and it gives me the freedom to focus on doing meaningful interviews.
I use Pipedrive, a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. I picked it because it’s goal-oriented and process-driven. The first thing you need to do when you start using Pipedrive is decide on a goal for each contact. For us, the goal is a published interview. Then you have to lay out each step toward that goal. Our team has ten clearly defined steps, which I’ll describe in this section. Once you do that, Pipedrive allows every member of your team to collaborate and shepherd contacts through each step.
Regardless of what tool you use, find something that clearly defines the steps you need to publish an interview. Your tool also needs to be collaborative so that multiple people can move guests through the process.
In Pipedrive, each step of the booking process has its own column. Each potential interviewee is assigned a contact card that starts in the first column. The card moves along each column until their interview is published. We change up our steps as needed, and if we have a problem, we add a step to address it. If a step becomes unnecessary, we eliminate it.
As of mid-2021, these are our steps, along with an explanation of each one:
Suggest Guest: Anyone can add a potential guest to this list. People who work at Mixergy log right into Pipedrive and add anyone they want. Those outside the company (listeners, PR people, entrepreneurs who want to be interviewed, etc.) use the suggestion form on Mixergy.com. When a form is submitted, a contact card is automatically created and added to this column in Pipedrive.
Regardless of who adds a guest to this list, we want as much information as possible to help us contact the guest and decide if they’re a good fit for our audience. So, in addition to name and company name, we ask for a suggested interview topic, growth metrics, and articles that help us learn about the potential guest.
Approve Guest: Using the information we collect in step one and the vision for the type of guests we’re looking to interview, a producer decides whether to move the guest to the next step in our process.
When we reject guests, we sometimes write a note about why they’re not a good fit, so future team members learn how we make decisions. Nobody is ever deleted from the CMS. A guest who isn’t a good fit one year could be perfect in the future when their company grows, or if they launch something new.
Find Contact Information: Finding a way to reach out to a potential guest used to be a difficult process of asking friends in the industry to help, but it’s much easier today. Sites like Hunter.io allow us to find email addresses for almost everyone we’d want to interview. If that fails, we can usually reach people through a direct message on social media.
If all that fails, we can reach out to past interviewees who might know the guest I want to interview.
Invite to Do Pre-interview: Once we find a prospect’s contact information, we email them a request to have a conversation with our producer. That’s when their card moves to this column in our software.
Remind to Do Pre-interview: I added this step when I looked at why we lost so many prospective guests. The benefit of using sales software is that it shows us at what stage in our process we lose people. Turns out, only 25% of people who were invited to do an interview bothered to respond to our email.
So I tested sending a follow-up email. That helped increase our numbers beyond 50%. Now, if a guest doesn’t respond to our interview request within a week, we send a second email instead of removing them from our booking process.
Book Pre-interview: As soon as a guest adds themselves to our producer’s calendar, we add them to this stage in our booking process. At this stage, the producer has clear guidance about what the interview will cover. Each suggested guest’s card in our software has their company name, growth metrics (revenue, number of customers, etc.), a suggested interview title (“How a Homeless Man Founded a Multimillion-Dollar Software Company,” for example), and maybe even a few articles.
Our producer can change the interview’s headline, topic, and anything else she wants based on her own research or conversation with the guest. But she never has to text me at 6:00 a.m. on the day of an interview and ask, “Who is this person, and why am I talking to him?”
Did Pre-interview: After the producer pre-interviews a guest, she moves their card to this column.
Remind to Book Interview: Guests who’ve been pre-interviewed know that their next step is to book an interview. They usually do it on the call with our producer. But, sometimes, they procrastinate. They may tell our producer they need to consult someone before scheduling and then forget to do it.
So we added a step to remind them that they did all the hard work. Now all they have to do is schedule an interview with me and enjoy the conversation.
Booked Interview: When a guest books an interview, my assistant adds them to this column.
Done: When I finish recording an interview, my assistant moves their card to this column.
Mixergy episodes are hardly edited before publishing. This is by design. I love the sound of a raw conversation. But I know this style isn’t for everyone. If you choose to edit your episodes, add an “Editing” column to your system before the “Done” column.
When an interview is finished, we mark it as “Won.” That’s a sales term, as in “we won the sale,” but it feels appropriate for interviews. We did all the work to find, prep, and interview. The interview is live on our site and all the major podcast apps. Pipedrive even throws virtual confetti to help us celebrate the win. We won.
And the right booking system will help you win, too, without the headaches.