Episode 1: Joey Liner

Episode 1: Joey Liner Featured Image

Join us in this episode as Joey Liner, founder of Liner Connections, discusses the realities of tech, sales, and marketing. With a wealth of experience, Joey talks about creating real connections, understanding customers, and adapting to changes in marketing rules. His practical advice and personal journey offer a down-to-earth perspective on succeeding in a competitive field.




Cross: Hello, and welcome to 73 and Sonny, the podcast about the journey of getting things just right. We talk to tech sales and marketing leaders about how they’re growing, dialing in best practices and getting closer to that sweet spot with us today is a man who is a powerhouse in the performance marketing world, co founder of Double Positive, former CRO of Digital Media Solutions, and currently running Liner Connections, a sales consulting firm.

Joey Liner, welcome 

Joey: Joey. What’s up, Mr. Cross? Good to see you, my friend. Thanks for having me on your show. 

Cross: For sure. Thanks for being here. I first have to say walking with Joey through a conference floor is a problem. You can’t get five feet. There’s always someone coming up to you wanting to hug you, talking about, there are people that you’ve worked with, people that you’ve collaborated with, people that love you.

So first question is how do you get to be the man that everyone knows? 

Joey: I’m old, I’ve been doing this for 20 years but, it’s, I just have spent, thankfully, my early stages of joining the performance marketing space, just building amazing relationships, being that likable guy, and just getting to know getting to know.

Everyone’s inner workings, as far as who they are, where they’re located, their favorite sports team, how many kids they have. I just been able, it’s just a, it’s a cool trait that I guess have been able to carry through my career is just being able to hit that button when I know I can connect better with people and they trust me.

They like me. They know I’m genuine, honest, sincere. I give them my heart. And. Most of the time it really helps me have that better connection. So yeah, it’s like when I’m at the trade shows, it’s nice to see everybody. It’s just hard to have back to back meetings because you’re not going to make that next meeting.

You need to give yourself that 15 minute buffer. I’m 

Cross: not kidding. We had a 30 minute meeting and I think in our 1st sit down and I don’t, I think it was like squats. You were like, sitting down, stand up, sit down and stand up because people were just coming by. It was incredible.

Joey: Yeah, and I’ve also, just real quick. Sorry. I’ve also spent a lot of time in different verticals and industries. And so I think that’s been a a lot of folks in our space. They get they they stay into one specific vertical. And, if you really cast a wider net, and you build up a reputation through different verticals, it really helps you expand those connections. So for me, it’s just been, I’ve been very fortunate to work in different industries and work with a lot of direct brands, work with lead generators, service providers, just open to relationships that, really going to help me and the other side of that get better.

Cross: So will you give us a quick overview of how you got to to where you are running 

Joey: liner connections? Yeah, it’s been an amazing journey. I’ve been very fortunate. I got into the performance marketing space in 2002. My good friend, Jason Goldsmith and Sean Fenlon Ben Levy. We all start we all start working together at a company called theloanpage.Com during the first refinance wave coming out of the dot com. And, we crushed it in the mortgage space. In one of the big retail mortgage lead, our buyers had said, Hey, you guys were, we were selling leads like the shared leave model, just like lending tree. It was a leader in space still is today.

And, and they said, Hey, we’re getting, we’re having problems getting these people on the phone. Can you get them on the phone for us? And we’re like, Hey, we don’t really have call center back when we paired up with a call center that really helped us get the consumer on the line and kind of coin that warm transfer phrase and process and started transferring live, interested consumers to.

To a loan officer and started that sales process. We then went on to build out double positive after the loan page diversified into other industries. After the financial crisis, we got into insurance, home services. Education was a big one for us. And then we sold double positive in 2016.

I stayed on and worked for the private equity firm that bought. Bought the business and then I was approached by DMS going into 2019 after they had done a bunch of acquisitions. They were looking for chief revenue officer to help ignite the sales process height, ignite the solution that the business was offering through multiple different products and services.

And that was a great. Experience, for me to join a big company going from a hundred million to five hundred million in a couple of years, we went public and, it just unfortunate. Some things didn’t play out going public that we all wanted. And 2022, halfway through last year. I just, I’d worked it out with the management team that it was time for me to move on, and I always had wanted to go start I wouldn’t say I always wanted to actually, I’ve always been big part of a team, but I wanted to just give myself a chance to work by myself for a bit.

And so it’s been about a year and 4 months since I started a line of connections, and I’m loving it. I’m really enjoying working with different companies different verticals, different industries, and not just sticking to 1 specific thing. So 

Cross: how are you feeling coming from working in all these these large organizations and part of big teams to just being in your house office and kids running in and out and dogs running out?


Joey: you’ve seen that first hand, right? What’s 

Cross: the vibe? Are you liking 

Joey: it? I do, and I really value when I’m on a call with my clients and if they’re in their offices or working with their team, or I’m on a group call, I really value being present there with them because I’m an extension of, they’ve hired me as.

To work with them. I really value being part of that culture, that specific moment, in time where we’re blocking off that hour. We’re digging into what they’re working on. What are their pain points? So I’m able to get that connection just different than specifically. Under the same roof every day, but the same people I have, a diversified group of clients and prospects that I’m talking to.

So I really do value that connection when I’m outside of the, the 1 to 1 zoom. And also, going to conferences is big for me, getting out there. I think that’s really where all of business development is happening now, post pandemic, because, we used to get on planes and go visit clients specifically in their office and spend a day and a half, which, is important, but I think you can get a lot more done now being, going and attending shows that you can see a lot more folks in person and and really value that now knowing, that got, that was blocked during the pandemic really being present now at shows is something that, I don’t take for granted. 

Cross: It’s 

really interesting. You mentioned that’s where beat that the conferences and trade shows are where BD is happening. Because I think that from a direct selling perspective, I think that’s actually gotten worse at trade shows and conferences, like for people coming to buy directly.

Yeah, there’s the topics of these, the conventions and conferences that I’ve been to in the last, let’s say, year and a half, the vendors are going, man, where are the buyers? Or man, this place doesn’t seem to have a lot of buyers coming. But the B2B B2B. Building relationships and business relationships seem to be, that seems to be where you have to go.

And so it’s become less and maybe it’s always been that way to some degree, but it’s become less of a place where you might necessarily go to find new customers, but where you go to find partners. 

Joey: That’s a really good point. I think we are, there’s a couple conferences that do get a lot more direct brands to attend, but you’re right.

Most for the most part, it’s a lot of the generators, suppliers, service providers, vendors. But like you said, it’s a good time to sit down with them and have a more strategic, conversation, deeper dive into how you can work together and maybe go after a partnership with a brand together.

The brands do get attacked when they go to shows because some of them are scared to attend, but, we keep encouraging them to get out there. I think also part of the, it’s the economy, they’ve probably had budget cuts and just, yeah. As far as traveling and attending, they can’t attend all the shows.

Whereas if you work for a lead generator, service providers, really. You bake it into the budget. You get one win out of it and it pays for itself. So I think it’s different when you’re on the direct brand, but that’s a good point. That’s a really good point. But it’s, I think it’s, we still, we’re still evolving and learning post pandemic together.

Cross: And going back to liner connections. This probably is one of the, one of the top, from an opportunity perspective, companies and brands need consulting, maybe in the performance marketing space more than ever. I want to pivot to the challenges and regulations and legislation that are happening within the industry.

I guess we should start if you can give us an overview of kind of what are the most current challenges. I don’t know if we should assume that everyone listening to this podcast knows what TCPA is, but maybe if you could like a little bit a primer for those who don’t know what is, what are the regulations around the industry?

What are the challenges happening? If you could just speak into that a little bit. Yeah, I 

Joey: mean, there’s this is probably 1 of the most challenging times and I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I would say where the industry’s facing stiff regulatory front right now from the FTC, the FCC. In regards to, lead generation and consumer experience.

But you know what? I’ll back up a second. Just say I’ve, because I’ve been doing this for a long time, I have seen some pretty pivotal moments in time where. Everybody freaked out a little bit but it made the community stronger. Let’s go back to 2004. When the do not call list was evolved, I think everybody at the time didn’t know hey if and 1st, when.

President Bush just said that he was going to deploy the do not call list. That was really when, we were just calling every number in the phone book if you be , and and just harassing consumers. And I think the solution to that was, Hey, Mr. Smith filled an online form.

And in the privacy policy, it states that we can contact them, we have an existing business relationship and EBR, we’ll call him up to 90 days. that kind of persisted for a while and then cell phones grew, right? They evolved and people started buying plans. And if you remember when you bought cell phones, like at first and plans, you paid per minute.

It wasn’t all you can eat like it is today. And so you would get unwanted calls on your cell phone or texts and you had to pay for that. It took the government years and years to ultimately catch up and put legislation and expand the Telephone Consumer Protection Act to have the mobile provision in 2013 that said, Hey, you have to have written express consent to contact this consumer via automated dialing technology.

Okay. By that time, we were years into all you can eat plans. We weren’t paying per minute, but the government finally put that plan in place and, it now protected consumers that, we’re not going to pay for that specific instance, but it also woke our space. A lot of people, unfortunately, got hit up with.

Telephone Consumer Protection Act complaints for not having expressed written consent, but I will say it brought the community better together because we all at the time lead generators came to, hey, where do we put that language by the submit button that says, by clicking here, you have authorized ABC to contact me via automated dialing technology.

And it worked, do we put a check box? How big does the font need to be? Everybody came together around that and unified and built this marketing partners list that anytime you wanted somebody to be able to have the ability to call, you’d put them in your marketing partners list, fast forward to where we are today.

The industry has gotten a little way out of hand actually so it’s You know the marketing partners list for a lot of lead generation companies lists ten thousand different names So anytime you sign a contract with a potential buyer you just add them to your marketing partners list So it’s not clear who you’re going to contact Who the consumer is going to be in contact with and I think the fcc is saying that’s got to stop.

There’s just too many people on these lead generation pages. Number two is there’s a lot of cross sell down sell, that’s occurring that the consumer isn’t being aware of what’s happening. So it’s not clear. So actually seeing the multi lead generation paths that are happening today.

That’s got to stop as well 

Cross: to clarify what you mean when When people are opting in. So they’re going to a website, they’re saying they’re interested in let’s say a let’s call it an easy one, a mortgage. Let’s say they’re interested in a mortgage. They fill out an inquiry form that says they want someone to reach out to them to tell them what kind of rate they can get and then attached to that.

So then the rule is only the partners who are listed there are able to call me. So maybe I’m saying, maybe I’m on a website that has multiple mortgage lenders listed. I’m saying it’s okay for all these, let’s say five people to call me, but there might be a link that has. 10, ten thousand people in it.

That’s right. And by clicking submit that I’m because of the way that they’re structured that I’m also agreeing to 10, 000, those other ten thousand people to call me and that feels wrong. 

Joey: It is. And that’s what’s happened. Is that, you’re right. We used to be at a point where you fill out a mortgage form and say, these five lenders will contact you.

That doesn’t happen anymore. You go through a form, there’s a click wall. The consumer can click on multiple different offers, but if you get an outbound dial from a mortgage company. Up to five times, that’s probably how it should work for a competitive process, right? But then some roofing company calls you, some homes home insurance company calls you, and if you read the mobile provision for the TCPA from 2013, you’re only supposed to call the consumer for where they, where the direct offering was, where you have expressed consent.

The lead generation companies got crafty on, like you said, how they created that other verticals to outbound and I think the FCC rightfully so is saying we need to hone in really on what the consumer wants and, we’re not putting the consumer first as a lead generation business.

I think a lot of companies got revenue driven models way before first, before the consumer experience. And now the FCC saying, this has got to stop. So the biggest issue that I think we’re facing today as a community is the one to one consent doomsday model, which is the FCC saying, we’re going to take away lead generation agents.

So you no longer can go to a different site and then say, ABC will call you. You’re going to have to go direct to that brand. And get their consent. That’s doomsday, which I don’t think is going to happen because the consumer doesn’t win. Consumer goes online because they want to comparison shop and if we can go back and put rules in place on how many people are, how many brands can get matched to that consumer, how many times they can potentially outreach to that consumer.

And give them specifically what they were looking for. I think hopefully there’ll be some compromise. There’s 2 organizations that are working closely with the regulatory boards and the FCC It’s Eric Trotman’s reach and consumer consent council, which is now under pace. Those 2 organizations are leading the charge and trying to help build standards for our space.

So we. We do get to work in some common ground because I do think the worst thing that can happen for us and the consumer, quite frankly, is if. They only get matched to one company and then there’s no comparison shopping, they just they could if that consumer sells if that brand sells them a higher margin product, and the consumer just goes with it.

They didn’t shop. And I think that’s not fair. And so I think we, we have to find some common ground. I wonder 

Cross: how. So those are great points. Thank you for that insight. I wonder how, if you’ve followed up or been following how AI is expected to upset and disrupt search, instead of Googling me.

Best Italian restaurants and getting, whatever Google puts at the top and you could potentially through it through an AI search to something like chat GPT. That’s connected or through other searches be able to say, give me the highest rated or, give me the highest rated restaurants within this square miles this many square miles of this zip code.

And you might assume that the same thing would happen for something like a mortgage or something like home services where you’d say. Okay. Find me the companies with the best five rates. Is there, and I’m sure that the government’s going to be behind regulating how this kind of thing would work.

Is there something for consent in that way so that you might be able to provide consent via the actual search itself? I’m sure. There’s, as I said, it’s probably going to, the regulations are probably going to be behind on it. But is there any motion that you’re seeing behind the scenes towards using AI for consent or ways that, that, that might work in the future?

Joey: I haven’t, I’ve seen AI used as a mechanism to, it continues to evolve as a, to connect the consumer, through SMS or through even now there’s outbound AI replacing human agents. I haven’t seen it yet. From a consent capture, but I will say this. I think there is a little game of wait and see right now, from the lead generation community and they want to see how the FCC responds to the NPRM.

Which should be in the next month notice of proposed rulemaking change is what is the NPRM and I think, there, there hasn’t been any major changes to consent capture yet. Because I think most of the. lead gen companies are waiting to see what the FCC says is they’re going to do now, matching engines may need to change.

Like how said, you match up the 4 different mortgages. An example. 4 different mortgage companies will be paired up and it’s clear who they’re going there, who got matched to and there’ll be calling. I think there are companies that are looking into that matching process and publishing it so that it so they can be ready if the FCC says, hey, by March, you have to make sure that is clear.

There also may be they need more time. They may just say they may come back and say they need some more time to evaluate all sides of it. There is a new commissioner that just came into the FCC recently. I would encourage anyone that’s listening that they want to learn more as to know, there’s some good industry blogs like TCPA world consumer consent council puts out a great newsletter.

That’s where you can keep up to speed on some of the what’s what’s. Thank you. Potentially going to change but I haven’t seen AI yet get incorporated with consent, but I’ll bet you at some point it will be And 

Cross: so i’ll be a little more general here Yeah, if you were gonna consult a brand, let’s say a brand comes to you They’ve got first party data that they’re collecting on their website, but they want to get into performance marketing or lead generation Can you what are some things that they should look out for?

What are some tips potentially that they should start with right away? Is there, are there, and this, I’m not fishing for verse, but are there tools that you would recommend that everybody have or that if as a business, as a brand starting out with lead gen, that you would say you should definitely have these kinds of things in place.

Joey: Yeah, and I’m actually working with some brands now they’re entering the performance marketing space. So I’m having these conversations live. It’s still relevant. It’s a good question because, you would think, oh, man, a lot of people in performance marketing would get stuck in silos. They assume everybody has everything figured out.

It’s not the case. Lead management. You have to have a good CRM to be able to intake leads and then track them properly from sales milestones. But you also have to make sure that you can it’s a point of sale system as well. So sometimes you can do that together or have a separate system where this point of sale connects to the CRM, but making sure your front lines has.

Access to the leads, but if you’re using a good CRM, you can route leads properly based on geographical location, time of day we use the terminology filters in our space to distinguish those points to make sure that they’re they’re tracked properly and get to the right sales professional contact engagement.

Is also key. So if you’re new to performance marketing and you’re looking for, hey, if I’m, if I am acquiring leads, how am I getting in touch with the consumer? Is it an outbound dial? Is my speed good enough? Am I making enough dial attempts to contact the consumer? Am I using SMS? AI SMS which I’m a big fan of.

I know the Verse team and drips and other amazing companies in space are constantly evolving, the AI SMS engagement process. And I think that’s key. You guys are the leaders in making sure that, consumers can speak to people when they really want to, which is critical, right?

We as an industry have always pounded the phone to make sure that we’ve outbound and to when it’s convenient for the sales professional let’s try to look at it when it’s convenient for the consumer. So if you go into that mindset and you’re buying leads and you’re doing a good workflow, hey, let’s make it convenient for the consumer to engage with us when it’s convenient for them, not just convenient for us.

Email marketing also, I think, is very important to make sure that you’re following up the consumer. And it’s funny. I just had a conversation with a friend right before this meeting, and it was about still a lot of sales operations and marketing, not connecting the dots you run into so many organizations that don’t communicate.

And it’s simple. Sometimes you just have to dumb it down and just make sure that everybody’s working together for the same common goal. It’s not just buy more leads. It’s not just add more budget. It’s not just sales needs to convert more. Make sure your infrastructure is connected. Use companies that are going to help you connect the dots.

Don’t be afraid to partner with best of breed in any specific area of your business that when you’re getting into lead gen, that’s going to help you succeed. 

Cross: Yeah, that’s such a, it’s such a huge point, because… We talked to, and you wouldn’t be surprised because you’re in it, but other people would be surprised because, from the outside perspective, you always see large organizations and you like exactly as you said, you think that they, you think that they have everything figured out and you go they’re big.

So they must. They must do everything in a way that’s way more sophisticated than we do. And they must have everything connected. And when you have conversations with the right people, you find out they go we have this CRM and this POS system, and they don’t really talk to each other. So we actually got this other, it’s an appointment setting system.

And you’re like, Oh those talk to each other. No, we don’t. We don’t really have our appointments sitting connected to our CRM, and it’s not connected to the point of sales. You’re always surprised and again, you’re not always surprised, but you’re always surprised that the, these organizations that are large and have paid a lot of money for these tools haven’t put them into place the way that they should be put into place.

And I’ll go back to something that you said. That I think is really important and it’s that a lot of brands and sales organizations, they do what they do what they’ve done in the past that’s worked. And you mentioned omni channel and using SMS and there’s a lot of different ways to use SMS for this, but the idea that.

You’re going to create an outbound system where the goal for you is the call, right? You want to get them on a call with your sales agent. So what you do is call, you you say, well, that makes sense, but yeah, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of opportunities and avenues for ways to create calls. And one of the things that makes me excited or that one of the reasons I like working with first, Is you have the problem is you want to create more, you want to create more opportunities for the sales team.

All they know how to do is dial. Both of those things are unrelated to what the consumer wants right now. And what the consumer might want is not to talk to anybody. They might’ve inquired, they might be laying in bed. They might be, waiting for their kid at school and the cars parked and they put the information and the kid gets in.

They’re not going to take a phone call with a home services person. They’re not going to talk about a solar system while they’re driving. Solar systems, I look space. You’re not, for whatever reason, they’re not going to get on a call right now. And we have to, if we’re going to, if you’re going to be consumer first, and if you call that one of your values as a brand that we care about how we do business with you have to care about their preferences in terms of engagement too.

So text messages allows you to have those initial conversations, set up a call for later. And I just really liked the freedom that it allows and really goes to another, in another direction in terms of getting in 

Joey: touch with people. Oh, great. And look, the talk about regulation and consumer engagement it’s a good inflection point now, actually, that we’re going to see.

Going into 2024 where one methodology where you just pound the phone or, one now where you’re looking at, putting the consumer 1st, there’ll be a nice kind of collision course here and you’ll be forced to find different ways to use your systems better and to treat the consumer better.

And digging or you’re not going to be compliant. So I think it’s actually a good intersection right now that we’re going to be running into here where we’ll be forced to be smarter and compliant in how we engage with the consumer. And it’s going to make everybody feel better instead of just leaving that stuff getting dusty on the shelf.

Totally agree. 

Cross: Joey, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. We appreciate you. We’re happy to know you. We’re really grateful for all the insights you provided. So thank you so much for 

Joey: coming on. Yeah, no, it’s an honor. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it. I’m really I’m glad to be on the show and be a good friend of you and the team.

Keep up the good work. 

Cross: Thanks, Joey.