By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

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This week’s show is called New Lessons on Agility, Leadership and Focus from 2020’s Headwindsand our guest is Nimmy Reichenberg, CMO at Siemplify

We cover a lot of ground– talking about the unpredictable nature of this year planning for next year. And we touch a little bit on the interactivity between sales and marketing and driving predictable pipeline. I ask Nimmy what were some of the shifts they had to make in terms of creating more efficient marketing opportunities.

I think A, we came up with content that was relevant for what our target market was going through.

The second thing we did is what I call, embrace the suck.

Listen in now for this and a lot more– or read the full transcript below.

Matt:  Thank you everyone for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. If you’re joining us live on the Funnel Media Radio Network, I know our guests did and invited a bunch of his teammates to join us live today. So hopefully they’re listening. Maybe they can call him, maybe they can heckle. We’ll find out what’s going to happen.

Live radio Paul’s always fun, but thank you for those of you that are joining us in the middle of your Workday. And for those of you joining us on the podcast, thank you so much for listening and subscribing. We’re well over a hundred thousand listeners this year Paul. And I mean our numbers continue to grow, and it’s been pretty fun to watch. So thank you everyone for subscribing and downloading.

And if you’re new to Sales Pipeline Radio, thank you so much for checking us out. You can find all of our past episodes as well as future episodes available at SalesPipelineRadio.com. We are featuring each week, some of the best and brightest minds. In B2B sales and marketing today is absolutely no different, very excited to have the CMO of Siemplify, Nimmy Reichenberg. Nimmy, thanks so much for joining us today.

Nimmy:  Thanks for having me pleasure to be here.

Matt:  We’ve known each other for a while, and you’ve been a regular for our Friday morning coffee talks, and I’ve enjoyed so your opinions and commentary. And I think, you had mentioned on LinkedIn this week for people that were missing your pontifications during the COVID headwinds of 2020, this is their chance.

So looking forward to getting some certifications from you. Maybe just to start out by introducing yourself and where you’re at and what a little bit of 2020 has been like for you.

Nimmy:  Sure. So yes, my name is Nimmy Reichenberg. I am the chief marketing officer of Siemplify, which is a cybersecurity company based in New York, and actually born in Israel that actually gave birth to a lot of cybersecurity companies. And that’s the quick intro. And 2020 has been like for us, it’s been interesting to say the least. There’s a Chinese curse that says, “May you live in interesting times.”

So we’ve certainly lived in interesting times. And interestingly enough, the biggest event that is cybersecurity focused is called RSA, and it takes place in San Francisco in February. It was the last week of February, and that was when COVID-19 started making headlines here in the US, but that event still took place with 40,000 people. And basically the week afterward, everything goes down like it did for all of us.

And we were forced to think about the rest of the year without physical events, that at least in our industry of cybersecurity really play a pivotal role. Right? There’s a series of key staple events that we go through throughout the year. We’re forced to make some changes for sure.

Matt:  One thing that I’ve heard a lot of people talk about as we evaluate what happened this year and look at planning for next year, is this concept of trends happening in our industry slowly then suddenly. And I think that moves from in-person events to digital events, moves from field sales to inside sales. Migrating to a new way of doing business and doing marketing.

These aren’t necessarily surprises and brand new to 2020. Talk a little bit about some of the shifts that you guys have had to make. I’m assuming that some of those things are things that are quite welcome in terms of creating more efficient marketing opportunities.

Nimmy:  In Q2, we were able to generate more opportunities than we did in Q1 at a lower cost for opportunity. Right? So you’re right, in terms of efficiency and results, surprisingly the net effect of COVID-19 has been positive for us. And the way we did it, and you said, obviously shifted to some virtual events and all that stuff. But what I felt we did very well as a couple of things. One is we were quick to create content that was relevant for the time. Right?

And obviously COVID-19 changed the way every function works. And our target market, which is cybersecurity, we quickly came out with content that was around how security teams, which are typically huddled together in these dark rooms called security operation centers with lots of screen on the walls, and people looking at screens and ones and zeroes flying from left to right, how that function needs to adjust to working remotely.

Both at a function and then also, how do you secure your remote workforce? So we were quick to come up with content around that. There was I think also light. Right? We didn’t really preach or claim we were smarter than anybody else. And for example, we did and still do something we call the SOC Quarantine Diaries. Where we interview security professionals, how is your team and how are you coping to remote work? So I think A, we came up with content that was relevant for what our target market was going through.

And I think that yielded very good results for us. The second thing that we did is what I call, you embrace the suck. Now we acknowledge that things suck right around COVID. And what we did for example is we did a … I have a direct mail campaign where we sent audience a quarantine quiz, which was a very funny quiz with questions such as, hey, what would you rather do right now, sanitize your data or sanitize your hands? Right?

And at the end we actually offered things like, pick either a bottle of wine or ice cream or anything that can make the quarantine a little more pleasant. And I’d say the last thing that we did, again, it’s just a little bit off the beaten track was that we really focused a lot on interactive experiences. Right? So if anybody went virtual and I think initially the virtual events were just one never ending webinar, what we really felt is people don’t necessarily want to just sit down and stare at a screen for hours on end because things are now virtual.

It has to be interactive and get them involved. So even things like you do on your Friday morning coffee talks. Right? It’s not a webinar, people actually engage with each other. We started doing more workshops, so people actually get to build stuff on our product. Then there’s an instructor, it’s like a virtual classroom. So I think this interactive nature of the campaigns went a long way as well.

Matt:  Well, let’s talk a little bit about that. On Sales Pipeline Radio today we’ve got Nimmy Reichenberg. He’s the CMO of Siemplify Cybersecurity Firm. I mean, I want to get to the point. So the idea of the cybersecurity, seems like it’d be in greater demand this year as you’ve got a more distributed workforce. But these interactive experiences, I think this has been something that I think a lot of marketers have been challenged with this year. Right?

I mean, we can’t just throw up a bunch more webinars and assume people are going to show up. We can’t replace the conference happy hour with something where you’re going to sit in front of zoom for another hour at the end of the workday. So have there been either things you guys have done at Siemplify, or things you have experienced that have been good examples of interactive events that you think can be part of our playbook going into 2021?

Nimmy:  Right. So again, I think it varies by industry, but first of all, if you have an offering that lends itself to free play, where you have a software product that you build things on, et cetera. For example, we think of ourselves as marketers or salespeople. If you have a, I don’t know, a great forecasting tool where you can actually say, “Hey, let’s do an interactive workshop with maybe some demo data, and I’m going to show you how you can build a better forecast than what you’re using today.”

Right? So it’s not somebody just doing a demo in a webinar format. It’s, “Hey, let’s get a hands-on workshop for example.” I think that on the more product centric side, I think works well. If there are contests or games, and again, in cybersecurity for example, engineers and cybersecurity people always like to test their skills with games.

Hey, can you spot the attack here or the hacker here? I think these are things that lend themselves well in our industry, and I think you can find equivalents in other industry. There’s quite a few of them now, but I think they’re still effective. Even the interactive experiences like, “Hey, let’s have a cocktail mixing.” Right? So you replace the happy hour by shipping some cocktail ingredients to people’s houses and teach them how to make a cocktail and that everybody drinks it at the end. We did a shaved ice workshop. Right?

We brought everybody a shaved ice machine, it’s not that expensive, mix it up and had a shaved ice with some alcohol mix in as a happy hour. So I think these things where, again, you’re not just looking at somebody, but you’re actually doing something with your hands, putting something together, mixing something, cooking something, I think are much better experiences.

Matt:  Yeah. I mean, you mentioned really understanding your audience and making sure that you customize the experience for them. IT professionals and IT leaders can be notoriously difficult to engage with marketing campaigns there. They don’t like marketing, they don’t like things that sniff like marketing. You have to change your approach to a CISO and to an IT audience. I mean, do some of these events work better for a non IT audience than for IT?

Nimmy:  Interesting. I think you’re right that maybe the cyber security crowd are a little more cynical than maybe some other target markets out there. But I think what didn’t work in the physical world, again, this marketing that cybersecurity professionals are allergic to, also did not work in the virtual world and vice versa. So for example, that contest. Right?

So we had a contest that tests their skill, that they can spot the vulnerability inside their code, that works equally well in physical and virtual. I did not spot any major differences between what people were allergic to in the physical world versus the virtual world. Right? If you like to drink in the physical world, you’d like to have a cocktail shipped to your house as well.

Matt:  Yeah. Well, last question I want to ask you around events, because I think you got really good ideas and instincts around this is, the difference between being a producer of successful online events and being a sponsor of successful online events? And I think a lot of companies have been really smart, innovative, creative, in creating their events, whether it’s the happy hour, that I love to shave ice machine, and doing something unique that you use to engage your audience.

I think less successful this year have been sponsorships opportunities where companies that have traditionally done events have taken them online and tried to recreate sponsor value. Curious as someone who may have done some of that virtual exhibiting, as well as someone who’s been part of those events, if you have any feedback for sponsors and or producers to try to create more mutual value in those events in the next year?

Nimmy:  Yeah. So I definitely share the experience that sponsoring virtual events is not a great experience for the most part. I mean, we’ve done some things to improve the experience as much as possible. For example, in those cases where we did sponsor virtual events and had a virtual booth, we had a link to a demo station. Which is basically a Zoom that’s open throughout the event. Like a physical event where you said, “Hey, we’ve got a demo station, come watch a demo.”

So I click here and there’s a Zoom that’s open throughout the entire event, and you can get a demo from an SE. So we had that. In terms of producing events, I agree that that yields a better result. We’re actually next week starting to promote a large event that we’re producing. And the only thing is A, it’s still all about the content. Right? If you have great content, people will come. You just have to make sure that A, it’s shorter. I think people can watch an hour of content of presentation in a physical event.

I think in a virtual event, you have to keep it a little more, bite-sized put in the extra effort to make it fun and engaging, because people are ultimately sitting at their desks staring at a screen

Matt:  Sitting at a desk Paul, it’s all we’re doing this year. The tagline for this year is going, to be sitting at a desks or what name you said earlier, embrace the suck. It is one of the two. But we got to take a quick break, pay some bills. We’ll be right back more with Nimmy Reichenberg, talking about marketing this year. What marketing is going to look like next year. The relationship between sales and marketing, we’ll be right back, Sales Pipeline Radio.

Paul:  And just to pause to remind you that, if you’re like most of us, you’re in your dynamic marketplace of ever changing customers. You know that you can’t rely on cold calls and random Maxim marketing anymore to fill that pipeline. Tomorrow’s difference-makers are B2B organizations, building strategies and generating real predictable revenue. Yes, we said predictable revenue.

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Paul:  Okay, is anything predictable in these days here? I don’t know. You guys are trying to find ways to predict the future here.

Matt:  Well, I mean the opposite is I think unacceptable. If we’re just doing random acts of marketing and accepting lumpiness in our business, that’s no way to run a business, no way to grow. And there’s no question that this year, especially companies that are calendar fiscal year, they’re planning for next year. This is one of the more difficult times to try to create predictions and strategies going in next year, but you still got to do it.

And I’m wondering if our guests today, Nimmy Reichenberg, he’s the CMO at Siemplify Cybersecurity startup based in New York. As you guys think about 2021, and I know you mentioned earlier, you’re focused on generating opportunities for the sales team. What are some of the key ways you have worked with your sales counterparts to try to create some kind of a consistent, predictable plan that you can count on, going into next year, when we really don’t know health economics, et cetera, we don’t know what this going to look like?

Nimmy:  You’re right, and as I mentioned in the beginning especially in my industry, in our industry which is cybersecurity, the large events plays such a pivotal role in your annual planning. There’s a couple of ways that I approach this. One, if I look at next year, I almost divide it in half. My assumption and our assumption that at least for the first half of the year, it’s going to be much like the second half of this year. Right?

Events, especially the large ones, the ones that draw tens of thousands of people aren’t coming back, we’ll assume they want to take place and shift the buzzers elsewhere. I’ll mention in a second, how we’re shifting it. And then at some point throughout the year, right, we’ll see where the world’s at with COVID. And maybe the second half of the year, we’ll assume that events are coming back and shift this a little bit. I think there is a fair amount of certainty that large events are still not going to take place in the first half of the year.

So that’s almost like dividing the year into two that’s one thing. In terms of how we’re planning differently. So again, some of the things are, I think common knowledge by now, but you still have to execute well. Invest more in content, more in thought leadership. There’s going to be more inbound than outbound and all those strategies. It’s easier said than done because a lot of people are doing it. I think the bar for, “Okay, I have to create content that is compelling.

I’m not going to put another 10 tips for working from home and hopes that that’s going to break through the noise.” So really think about what are people interested right now, and create that thought leadership and content. The other thing that’s guiding our thinking for next year is what I call, embracing the low touch mentality. Right? So we’re essentially an enterprise sale. Right? We have field reps, our average deal size is in the six figures.

And what obviously has changed and I think will continue to stay this way for the better part of next year and some people say it’s never coming back, is the traditional enterprise sales reps in the field, et cetera. And what does that mean? I think it means that companies such as ourselves that are mostly about enterprise sales are going to have to adopt a mentality, that’s more commonly found in low touch sales. Right? Those products that you get a free trial and you put in your credit card and much of the buying process is self-serve.

Now, I don’t think we’re going to be self-serve, I think we’re still going to need sales people to make a sale. You’re never going to swipe your credit card for a hundred thousand dollars and buy our solution. However, I think when it comes to the buyer experience, they’re going to want to expect a lot more self serve on the website, a lot more research on their own, before they speak to a rep. Because again, the rep’s not going to get on a plane and sit down with them for a day and talk to them.

So I think we’re looking at ways of how to make our web experience more similar to what a low touch sales experience would be. So I think that’s another thing that guides our thinking. And the third thing we talked about is, how do we make things interactive? Right? Not just an endless webinar, because I think that’s ultimately what people miss and what they long for. Right? They don’t long staring at a screen, they long interacting with other people.

And the better job you can do at having people interact with each other online, I think the more successful your campaigns will be.

Matt:  Yeah. No, I agree. And I want to dig in a little further on this concept of the self-directed buying journey, because I do think even with complex sales, like I even saw some stats from McKinsey yesterday that indicated there’s now material percent of B2B buyers that are willing to buy things that are a million dollars and above online. Right? A lot of enterprise sellers would say like, “That’s crazy. How would you do that?”

But there’s a difference between the way we want to sell, the way we’re used to sell and the way we want to sell, the way we prefer to sell and the buying journey. You could argue conceptually the buying journey had better be what the sales process is, but oftentimes there’s conflict and friction there. Have you seen material changes this year in the buying journey, either the length or the depth or the criteria people are using to make decisions this year that you think are going to have longer lasting impact in the next year and beyond?

Nimmy:  Yeah. So interesting, we just closed a huge deal with one of the largest insurance companies in the world without ever setting foot on the customer premise. So if anything, this year has proven to us that it can be done. You can sell million dollar deals to the largest companies on the planet without ever setting foot at the customer side. So, will it continue that way after COVID?

Again, I think maybe it won’t be a quite as hands off as it is now, but I also don’t think it’s going to be back the way it was pre COVID. So this year has proven that it can be done. Right. And again, once a sales cycle starts, I think you just have to be better at removing friction from the whole sale cycle. If it’s the POC, again, the demo, the negotiation and all of that. But I think most of the work, especially for marketers has to do with the buyer’s journey prior to reaching out to sales. Right?

How can you A, identify interests and give people the experience to do the research and experience the product or service by themselves, or with less friction than you’re used to in the old world of enterprise sales. And I think the companies that are going to do a good job with that are the ones that are going to be very successful.

Matt:  Yeah, just a couple more minutes here today with our guest on Sales Pipeline Radio Nimmy Reichenberg. He’s the Chief Marketing Officer for Siemplify. We’ve covered a lot of ground, just talking about the unpredictable nature of this year planning for next year. And we’ve touched a little bit on the interactivity between sales and marketing and driving predictable pipeline.

I’m curious, as you continue to work closely with your sales counterparts, and we’re no longer in a world where marketing does the top half of the funnel by themselves, sales does the bottom half by themselves. There’s a minimum, an overlap in the middle of the funnel somewhere.

And it’s likely that with enterprise deals, you’ve got a coordinated effort between sales and marketing at many stages of the buying journey. What are some of the key things you’ve found tightened and coordinate that prospect dance between marketing and sales?

Nimmy:  Right? So some of the tried and tested and are best practices, I think are even more relevant in this age. For example, making sure that we understand who we focus on. Right? So, both ABM and an ideal customer profile and all that stuff was always important. But I think if you haven’t already done so, definitely make sure that you have reconfigured this process for COVID. Right?

Some of trivial examples, if you sold to airlines or hospitality businesses, probably not a great idea to focus on them now. They probably aren’t buying as many products and services as they used to. So I think again, it starts with agreeing, okay, the world has changed do we still like who we’re focusing on? Right, that’s one. Number two, especially since you’re doing a lot of interactive or at least we aspire to do a lot of interactive experiences, making sure that sales are part of that. Right?

They bring their customers, they prospect, they’re engaged in part of that interaction. So it’s not just our marketers, our dancing shoes on and entertaining the audience. It really is a joint collaboration between marketing and sales. Another thing by the way which has always been true, but I think you need to put more emphasis on that these days is, upselling. Right? Everybody knows that it’s so much easier to sell more to an existing customer than it is to acquire a new customer.

That’s always been true. But in this day and age, and I just think you have to take that statement that everybody knows it’s true. They go, “Okay, so how am I doing this? How am I focusing more on trying to upsell more to my existing customer?” And then also the last thing is how do I foster a community of customers? So again, customer marketing is always big and you always want to bring your customers together and create this group of raving fans.

I think now, because all this face-to-face interaction has been removed, there is a lot more appetite from customers to get together. And one of the things that bring them together is, “Hey, now we’re all insecurity, or all simplify customers I want to figure out how to best use this product.” So we’re also investing more in our customer marketing and community marketing, because customers long for this.

And if last year we just went to an event, met 10 of your buddies from different companies and had discussions, now you cannot do that. So we as solution providers can fill that void.

Matt:  Love it. This has been awesome, we’ve covered a lot of ground Nimmy. I appreciate your help today. I think the last question I want to ask you just as we get towards the end of 2020, and at some point we’re going to see the light at the end of the tunnel with this pandemic and be able to get back to some version of our normal selves.

What’s something that you miss from the beginning of Q1 that you’re looking forward to getting back to when things get a little back to normal? And maybe what’s something that you don’t miss, that you haven’t really missed, that you had been part of your life beforehand and you’re not looking forward to going back?

Nimmy:  Yeah. By the way, I’m surprised and I just chatted about this with my wife. I don’t miss business travel as much as I thought I would. Right? I haven’t been on a plane for, what is it? Seven months now. I thought I’d miss it more. Right? There’s also something nice to be breaking an all time record of spending, what is it? 200 days in my own bed or 250 days in my own bed.

And so I don’t miss it as much as I thought. And I’ve traveled a fair bit. Something that I do miss is taking a vacation to a destination that’s more than 50 miles away from my house for sure.

Matt:  True that. Well, we’ll all get back to that eventually. But I want to thank our guests today on Sales Pipeline Radio, Nimmy Reichenberg, he’s the Chief Marketing Officer at Siemplify, and we’ll put a link to his profile up in the show notes for this show. And I want to thank everyone for listening through another episode in the middle of your busy work day.

On behalf of my great producer Paul, this is Matt Heinz. Thanks for listening to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.

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Sales Pipeline Radio is sponsored and produced by Heinz Marketing on the Funnel Radio Channel.  I interview the best and brightest minds in sales and Marketing.  If you would like to be a guest on Sales Pipeline Radio send an email to Sheena.