By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
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This week’s show is entitled, “Influencing ABX Pipeline with Executive Event Experiences in a Post-COVID World“ and my guests are Kelly Webb Director of Global Marketing Programs and Dana Lombardo Global Field Marketing Director in Cybersecurity at Keyfactor.
Tune in to hear more about leveraging executive experiences during the pandemic and in a post-COVID world, while learning about:
- The psychology and efficiencies of doing virtual events for both attendee and seller
- How authenticity drives engagement
- What makes an overall marketing campaign successful
- Differences between deal acceleration, pipeline building and brand awareness
Listen in now for this and MORE, watch the video or read the transcript below:
Matt: All right. Well, welcome everybody to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. My name is Matt Heinz. I’m very excited to have you all here joining us today as we record this the last day of the month, last day of the quarter, if you’re on a calendar fiscal. I hope you’re all out there killing it and closing some deals. We’re on episode about 330 of Sales Pipeline Radio. Every episode past, present, future all available on salespipelineradio.com. Very excited to have with us today, Kelly Webb and Dana Lombardo from Keyfactor. Ladies, thanks so much for joining us today.
Kelly: Pleasure. Thanks for having us.
Dana: Thanks for having us, Matt. Appreciate it. Really excited.
Matt: This is a long time coming and I’m very excited we finally got this done, because I saw both you and Jamie Walker, who you work with, speak at the 6sense conference in December and you had some great examples. This is still, we call this sort of a post COVID world. I don’t know if we’ll ever really truly be post COVID but the work you guys were doing pre COVID, during COVID, creating executive experiences was really, really impressive. And doing that in person, doing that virtually, lots of good stuff there. As companies kind of emerge into sort of a more permanent post COVID world and are now blending those experiences, I think some of what you guys have done and seen work successfully was definitely worth sharing. So maybe we’ll just let you introduce yourself Kelly, maybe start with you. Introduce yourself, your role and then we’ll get into it.
Kelly: Thanks, Matt. Like Matt mentioned, Kelly Webb with Keyfactor: Director of Global Marketing. I run all campaigns and account based here at Keyfactor. The mandate to the business is really running and generating campaigns that drive revenue for the business.
Matt: Awesome, and Dana.
Dana: Thanks, Matt. I’m Dana Lombardo, Director of Global Field Marketing here at Keyfactor. I’m really mandated from the business to run event programs, all that you can think of. Our event portfolios is very vast. We don’t stick in one area, but leveraging the events channel to drive revenue for Keyfactor.
Matt: I was on a webinar yesterday and one of the guests talked about the fact that events just disappeared from our playbook two years ago during the pandemic. Not entirely true. Live events, live in person events disappeared, but I think I could argue that two years ago, events kind of had a renaissance in terms of sort of people getting creative about how to work virtually and still use events and experiences at events to get people’s attention. Dana, talk a little bit about what that looked like for Keyfactor and what you guys have learned through that over the last couple years.
Dana: Sure. Of course when COVID hit, we went into kind of an experimentation mode, right? We started sampling different… These virtual conferences. Vendors were very big on replicating that in person feel virtually and I think we saw very quickly, it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t one to one, apples to apples. So we kind of tested that out, pivoted more to a webinar kind of experience, presentations, thought leadership, and then also leveraged a lot of virtual networking. What I mean by that is round tables, experiences, peer to peer and that really has seemed to be what has taken off for us. When you look at it pre-COVID and we were all at huge trade shows, Keyfactor would always hosts a side happy hour, a side dinner. We took that portion of it, that fun experience and that engaging peer-to-peer networking and put it in a virtual world. That seemed to translate okay and pretty well, did pretty well for us. Replicating that trade show feel is just not something we continued to leverage as part of our strategy.
Matt: Well, we’re starting to see shows come back. Shoptop happened earlier this week, it seems like it was really busy there. We had HIMMS a couple weeks ago in the healthcare space. Some of the big industry shows definitely coming back. A lot of people excited to get back out there and saying, boy, it is nice to be out there but I think a lot of people also saying boy, is it nice to not travel as much as I used to. Boy, is it nice to be able to sit here wherever I am and still have that experience. Kelly, talk a little bit about (I mean, it’s easy to sort of sit here and talk about what we have lost in the last two years), what did we gain? What are some of the efficiencies of doing an event like this for both the attendee as well as for the seller?
Kelly: From an account based perspective, we’ve gained the ability to do more. Yes, it’s more expensive, but from a resource angle, we can pull in a C-suite for a Thursday and maybe the following Wednesday night, right? And it can be two different geographic areas. No one has to fly two different areas. They’re doing their cooking class within their kitchen. We’re very niche when we go after our market with these VIP experiences. Whether Dana’s putting on a champagne tasting and, or a cooking class, we like to tailor it to our audience.
So being able to do this at different hours, making it convenient for our audience, our C-suite, right? Not everyone wants to go to that Michelin dinner on a Wednesday night to leave their family, however they can include their family. We see at some experiences that their children or their wife or partner is cooking alongside with them in the kitchen. I actually was tech communicating with Dana the other day, it’s like, I’m actually more nervous about getting our target account physically in front of us at an event, versus we know we can definitely connect with them via Zoom or what have you.
Matt: It’s interesting to think about both the landscape we have available to us as a toolbox, as marketers and as field marketers, but then also sort of the shifting behavior of the buyers. I’m seeing, I think, this didn’t necessarily create an opportunity during COVID. This, to me, one, I’ve seen accelerated a trend that was already happening towards people wanting to travel less, wanting to not leave their family as often. We’re not just talking about event experiences here, we’re talking about executive event experiences. So by executive, we mean people that tend to be maybe be a little older, maybe have families and have kids. The bar is higher to get them to a local event, let alone go to a conference. During COVID obviously sort of there were no events, we were not supposed to leave our house, now it’s different. So what are some of the specific experiences, Dana, that you’re seeing work now to sort of earn the attention of an executive audience?
Dana: That’s a great question. What we have really seen work is leverage and experience like these wine tastings and cooking classes, but take it up a notch. Let’s not just have a regular, this wine is from here. This is how it’s made. We bring on the wine maker. They give us a virtual tour of their winery. They give us a virtual tour of where the wine is produced, giving us that lens into how this wine comes to be. Essentially, it’s really the behind the scenes VIP experience. I know we keep saying that, but that’s what it is. Something you would not regularly think, okay, I’m going to schedule this. I’m going to fly to Napa, do this whole tour. It’s going to take me a day. It takes about 45 minutes. They get all the same information and we don’t talk shop on these VIP experiences. We don’t. We bring a Keyfactor SME, of course, and our executives so it’s more peer to peer, but no presentations, no product pitches. It’s all networking and collaborating on the wine and what we’re seeing in market collectively as an industry.
Matt: Mm-hmm, I think there’s an exclusivity level there. There’s a unique scarcity to the experience you’re giving people. You’re not just sending them a bottle of wine, you get to talk to the wine maker. I know we don’t do sales pitches here, but shout out to Kelly and the purple cork team. Talk a little bit about some of the vendors you work with that have made this possible.
Dana: It is purple cork! Shout out to Kelly. When you said Kelly at first, there’s Kelly from purple cork and one here so I wasn’t sure. Kelly from purple cork, amazing. Shout out to her. She’s really expanded her portfolio as well and the experiences that she offers and that has been super helpful to field marketers like me specifically because to Kelly Webb’s point earlier that we could do more, we had to scale. And because of vendors like Kelly Robb over at purple cork, we could scale and create these unique experiences for our audience.
Matt: Well, and I know Kelly’s been doing things in the cocktail space. I attended an event with her where she actually had a chef walking through cooking a meal. I mean, I’m a foodie, I like to cook so knowing that I was going to get to watch a chef kind of go through the steps and to be able to ask questions, right? Ask dumb questions while he’s doing the whatever and hear other people’s questions that are also sort of foodies and just, you’ll learn a lot. It’s a really unique experience. You said something, Dana, I want to come back to. You said we don’t talk shop at these events. I think that’s an important point and a tactic to reinforce. That I think too often we think, we get someone in the room, we get someone into a conference, we need to sort of fast forward the conversation as much as possible-
Dana: “Attack”, products.
Matt: Exactly. It comes across sometimes as a bait and switch. Talk about the psychology though of creating and curating these experiences and how by not talking shop, but by creating a great experience, you still get high conversion afterward.
Dana: Just to share, these events convert from an initial meeting to pipeline at 92% for us, which is huge. It’s nearly every meeting we take converts. It’s because it is foundationally on that building the relationship, keeping Keyfactor top of mind. They might have vast knowledge of Keyfactor, they might not know us at all, but it encourages them to dig more and understand who we are because then by the time that we start that follow up, it’s already on their mind, but they remember us as a company that provided a fun, unique experience for them so I think it kind of triggers different emotions and different feelings and different buying behaviors based on the experiences that we create.
Kelly: I have to add, Dana does the very strategic job of planting people in different Zoom meeting rooms too so that also helps for breakouts. It helps the collaboration and maybe bring topics up to life that does sound a lot more organic than planted.
Matt: I love that where you can sort of take an event and sort of create a little more intimacy from that audience as well. Especially if you’re gathering people together, there’s likely a lot of commonality in terms of their role, their place, their position in the company and letting them get to know each a little better reflects well on you in that process as well. Joining us today on Sales Pipeline Radio, again, we’ve got Kelly Webb and Dana Lombardo from Keyfactor talking a little bit about executive event experiences as part of an ABX program. Kelly, let’s take a step back and say, we’ve got these great events, you create this great experience, but the event itself is just one part of a campaign, right? Can you help put that in context and help people understand how to do great events like this, but also what goes into making the overall campaign successful?
Kelly: You kind of nailed it on the head. It’s not just the Thursday night cooking event. It’s leading up to the experience of registration all the way to them opening the wine or cheese at their front door from a direct mail perspective. Then, it’s the experience of actually being at the event and then understanding where they’re at in pipeline, if any, what does the sales SDR feel… Who does the pipeline progression? It really is critical that we understand it’s not just, Dana does an amazing event and we upload these leads into Salesforce and they get an outreach or a sales locked cadence.
That would be 101 you’re wrong. We can’t do that. We just have to make sure that the message is genuine, it’s curated when following up, it’s coming from the right person. Dana mentions that we have someone from the C-suite typically in the room or present so having more of an executive touch of as well. But again, coming from more of following up on, “Hey, how was that dinner?” Or, “Hey, I remember seeing your son, did he end up liking those cookies?” Being more authentic is really something that we’re seeing drive or at least have more engagement following our events or Dana’s event that’s running.
Matt: We’re talking a little bit about taking the event and putting in context a campaign. So putting the event somewhere along a horizontal, sort of chronological line of sort of different components of a campaign. Let’s talk about that executive experience and its impact vertically. You’ve got an executive who may be a senior decision maker, but they are a member of the buying committee.How did these events fit into the consensus building you’re trying to create within your target accounts for other people that are going to influence the decision maker, but may not be part of that specific event?
Kelly: I think it’s just really. At first we have to identify from an intent perspective who is the account in itself, right? And then once we understand that buying committee, from a campaign perspective, we have different touch-points and offerings per persona. At the end of the day, when Dana does these type of experiences, it’s always, like you mentioned, going to be a VP or higher. We just have to make sure at the end of the day, when someone that’s reporting to the C-suite mentions Keyfactor or brings Keyfactor into the mix, they’re very well aware of who Keyfactor is against our major competitor or Venafi or AppViewX or what have you. I would say it’s more late stage, right? It’s more someone that we’ve already know, that we’ve seen engagement with.
We know that there’s potentially a budget, there’s a need. Maybe we don’t have the full buy-in yet. There’s still some folks that we still need to educate and make aware of who Keyfactor is. From a C-suite perspective, could be more of a brand awareness to some degree. We have different types of account based categories at Keyfactor so they mean different things to our sales team. From a brand awareness perspective, it might more of the big whales of our territories, right? We just want to make sure we’re always top of mind but for the folks that are in market, these are more deal accelerations and making sure that we have the ability to influence everyone in that buying committee.
Matt: You just mentioned two objectives that aren’t the same, that sometimes people blend together and confuse, right? There’s deal acceleration, right? There’s the pipeline building, which I guess would be a third and then there’s brand awareness. So we’re kind of like top, middle, bottom funnel a little bit here, right? You can have multiple people know in your target audience joining a particular event, but talk about how important it is to articulate internally sort of the differences in those objectives to make sure people understand the why, and then the ROI from doing these kind of events.
Kelly: Dana, do you want to answer that of the ROI of the event?
Dana: I mean, when you say internally, are you saying getting buy-in from our field sales teams? Why this event is important or-
Matt: Well, in a lot of organizations, anything marketing does are like, where’s my pipeline, right? In some cases, if you can get the senior executive from a particular target account, they may not be actively buying and so you may not cease pipeline in the month or quarter after, but there’s a consideration you’re looking for in the next time they are actively buying. There’s a level of patience and discipline you have to have, but also you have to sort of communicate in the organization, this is why we’re doing this. There’s a short term impact that might be deal acceleration, medium term might be pipeline development in the next quarter or two. But then those people that you want to buy from you in the next year or two that aren’t ready to buy today, this is a part of that.
Dana: I feel that you really hit the nail in the head earlier with the buying committee, right? These events with them being able to scale and bring really as many people as we want to these, someone might be aware of Keyfactor, but this might be a way for the director of InfoSec to share with his boss, “Hey, come to this event and experience Keyfactor the way that I have to really broaden that scope.” So to that would be more of a brand awareness play for that CISO where the director of InfoSec already knows this is an issue, that’s something I have to work on, but I have to build up the credibility and the internal buy-in and build the case for Keyfactor internally. Maybe that’s where they start. So it’s kind of hitting a couple different objectives and accelerating opportunity.
Kelly: The one thing I would add to at Keyfactor from an account based perspective, we look at influence, right? So it’s not over is that last step. Thank goodness for kind of the multi touch attribution as well, right? So we’re able to track maybe it was 10 months or 12 months ago, but we did have X interaction with one person within that account associated with net new logo so athat’s helpful in regards to tracking ROI.
Matt: Love it. All right. Well, we’re running a little out of time here. I appreciate you guys taking time to do this. Dana, I think this last question’s for you. Like mentioned before, during COVID we were sort of forced to take everything virtually and now we’re merging into a world that’s going to be a little bit hybrid just like our work environments. I think our events might be the same way as well. Without giving away all the secret sauce of what you guys are doing, how you think about that balance moving forward? What are you expecting in terms of people going back to in-person experiences versus continuing to leverage success you’ve had on the virtual front?
Dana : You nailed it. It’s going to be a hybrid. I think it’s forever. I don’t think this is a phase. I think this is the future. I think we’re living in the future of what events are right now. Honestly, and not just to be completely transparent and open, just like all of our field marketers, we got to go to these events and see what’s happening to see where we have to pivot and where we have to strategize, adjust, because we have a lot more factors thrown in at us now. It’s not just about is this event going to happen or are they going to cancel it because of COVID? Are people actually going to show up? We’re not sure. We have to experience that. We have a pretty robust plan and strategy. But as we learned back in early 2020, those yearly strategies can definitely alter and require you to pivot. I’m really excited to see how these in persons pan out, but we definitely have a virtual strategy alongside of those in person activities.
Matt: It’s going to be fascinating to watch sort of buyer behavior. And just like we’ve seen in the last couple years, I think we’re going to see some continued innovation from Keyfactor as well from a variety of other companies that are also working that hybrid experience. We’ll shout out to Jamie Walker for building a great team. Thanks Kelly Webb, Dana Lombardo from Keyfactor for joining us today. Thank you everyone for watching and listening. We’ll see you next week on another episode of Sale Pipeline Radio.
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