Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 253: Q & A with Kris Rudeegraap @rudeegraap
By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
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This week’s show is called “Omnichannel Experiences: Best Practices for Tactile & Direct Mail” and our guest is Kris Rudeegraap, CEO of Sendoso.
Join Kris and I as we talk about his company Sendoso and the change that the pandemic brought, the worth of investing more into prospects, and the mindset towards what marketing spends and ROI.
Listen in now for great insights and/or read the full transcript below or watch the video here:
Matt: Welcome everyone to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. My name is Matt Heinz. Thank you so much for joining us. As always, actually as of this year, we are doing these on LinkedIn Live. If you are joining us, live on LinkedIn, on Facebook, on YouTube, thanks so much for joining us in the middle of your workday. If you’re watching this on demand, check us out. We are here every week live at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern. One of the benefits of doing it in this format, if you want to join the show, if you want to ask a question, if you want your face and question or comment to appear on Sales Pipeline Radio, you can do that. You can do that today if you’re watching live. And if you’re on demand, check us out every week live on Thursdays. If you’re listening to us on the podcast, thank you very much for downloading, for subscribing. We are close to 300 episodes of Sales Pipeline Radio in various formats back through the years. If you like what you hear today, this is the format, this is the topic, this is the kind of content we do, and every episode is available on demand at SalesPipelineRadio.com. Very excited today to feature the CEO and founder of Sendoso. We’ve got Kris Rudeegraap. Kris, thanks so much for joining us today.
Kris: You bet, Matt. Thanks for having me on the show.
Matt: So, this has been an interesting year and a half. And having talked to you and people on your team, that it’s actually been a great year of growth and learning for Sendoso as sort of the old rules of field marketing, the old rules of marketing mix, kind of thrown out the window during the pandemic. And now that we can get back to normal, a lot of those adjustments are becoming fixtures as part of people’s go-to-market strategy. So would love to, maybe just for people that don’t know, give them a quick overview of sort of what Sendoso is, and then talk a little bit about what you have learned about sort of some of those changes to go-to-market strategies and B2B.
Kris: Yeah. So, for those who don’t know Sendoso, we are a sending platform. We make it easy for companies to send out corporate gifts, eGift cards, personalized branded promotional products, swag. You name it, we can send it, and integrate it into your tech stack and it’s all streamlined. I spent about 10 years in sales prior to starting the company, so this was something that I wish I had, and so I built it. But yeah, jumping into your questions though or your comments on the changing landscape when COVID came about, we saw a huge growth. We actually more than doubled the company in the last year just to kind of keep up with the growth. And some of the trends that I saw were…one was the outside sales reps becoming more like inside sales. So, where they used to go and knock-on people’s doors, drop off donuts, play a round of golf, we saw people adopting Sendoso as a way to send a DIY donut-making kit that the prospect or client could have at their house. Or we saw field marketers have to adapt to driving attendance to virtual events and make those virtual events more engaging and using Sendoso for that. We just saw a shift in spend, in terms of where people were spending their money, and so we saw a big lift in people using Sendoso more for that too.
Matt: It seems like we went from easy to reach people relatively in the office to then saying, “Okay, is sending, is direct mail, is gifting kind of gone during the pandemic, because who’s really going to want to get that at home?” And I think we answered that question pretty quickly. I mean, I started getting requests from people saying, “Hey, would you like to get something?” And then there was a confirmation of, “What address do you want to get it to? Where are you going to be? We’re not going to keep this if you don’t want us to.” And quite frankly, I think not only were people enthused, they were enthusiastically saying, “Yes, I’d like to get that,” but when you’re on the stay-at-home order, you’re not going to the office, you’re not going to restaurants, checking the mail becomes like a highlight of your day. So, getting something that comes to you that isn’t just in an Amazon box is kind of cool. So, talk a little bit about that shift and sort of for people that are still thinking, “Well, even today, people don’t want things at home,” I don’t know if that’s true.
Kris: Yeah. We quickly adapted. The day of the shelter-in-place order, we released a feature around the ability to confirm someone’s home address versus their office. And so, as you said, that actually picked up, it was a middle layer too, so that address is then deleted thereafter so there’s no personal address keeping by companies. So that feature skyrocketed, and people were liking the ability to kind of opt into receiving stuff. We also saw a big push for digital eGifts, like DoorDash eGift cards, Instacart eGift cards, some of these things where you’re at home and you’re ordering DoorDash already, and now someone’s going to buy you lunch, like, “Of course I’ll take that.” So, we saw a good mix of things that people could use.
Matt: This industry has evolved in a very interesting way. I’ve known you for a long time, Sendoso’s been around for a while. I used to joke with you and your team about getting the bacon button in the CRM. And literally at the office, you guys sent me one of those little … remember those Office Depot easy buttons that they had in their ad campaign?
Matt: You guys sent me one that literally said bacon, so it wasn’t in the CRM, but it was still very cool. But the idea that as a sales rep, you could say, “It’s that point in the cadence where I want something to go out. I don’t need it to go to 10,000 people. I need to go to one right now and three next week for the right reasons.” We’ve gone from enabling salespeople with some version of direct mail or packaging to thinking of this almost as sort of gifting, thinking of this as sort of a broader experience. Last year I thought pushed that a little bit. What’s your current thinking about? What is this industry? How should people think about this relative to sort of augmentation of their sales and marketing efforts?
Kris: Yeah. So, one of the biggest things that I see is that we’ve really created an opportunity for sales reps to add more creativity into their outreach. I think the sales tech and MarTech world has done a great job in the last decade pushing forth software that automated everything. So, it’s easier than ever to send an email, and really, with gifting and direct mail, it incorporates … you have to think about, “What’s the message? What’s the gift?” And there’s a bit of creativity that goes into it that still connects someone from a human-to-human perspective to help break through that noise.
And so I think with sales evolving, as it is constantly, for good salespeople, you need to have all the tools in your tool belt to get in front of that prospect. You’ve got to use email, you’ve got to use phone, you’ve got to use social, you’ve got to use Sendoso and gifting. I think we’ve seen in the last four-ish years since we got started that what used to be marketing-led, batch and blast, once a while, corporate gifting and swag was a thing before we existed, we just enabled it so that salespeople could click and send one thing and really make it more personalized. I think that’s the trend we’re seeing is almost like salespeople becoming mini marketers in the sense that they can kind of control more of their own destiny and the enablement that goes into that.
Matt: It’s not just the thing that goes out, it’s also the timing and context, which is why I think we’ve seen a big shift in companies going from, “Well, let’s do a direct mail campaign,” or, “Let’s send out a bunch of branded mugs and let’s do everybody at once,” to, “Yeah, let’s do this contextual value-added something, but let’s do it at the right time and the right place for the right person.” And so, really throttling that out is dramatically increasing the ROI people are seeing from those programs. And I think enabling the sales organization to do this has been hugely successful for a lot of companies, but in a lot of cases, it’s marketers that are embracing this and enabling this for their sales team. Talk about the conversations you’ve had with CMOs that are sort of bringing this into their sales enablement strategy internally.
Kris: So, I was just on a 95 customer roadshow or virtual roadshow the last two months, which was really eye-opening, and I talked to a ton of different CMOs and CROs. And one of the biggest trends for CMOs is really, how do they take sales and marketing alignment and enablement to the next level? I think they’re always looking at ways that marketing can still provide some kind of air cover, get campaign credit, and spend their marketing dollars, but in a way that salespeople feel like it’s aligned to what they’re doing. Sendoso was kind of the perfect scenario there because marketing can support it from a budgetary standpoint, add some controls on who can send what, the budgets, track it all through CRMs or through marketing automation platforms, but then give sales more of the ability to do what they want when they want. So that it’s more real time versus way back in the day when I was in sales five-ish years ago, marketing still tried to help, but it was like, “Hey, sales. Fill out this spreadsheet, we’ll get to it in a couple of weeks or a month.” And it was just kind of more painful than it needed to be.
Matt: Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Kris Rudeegraap. He is the founder and CEO of Sendoso, and the rules and the economics have really changed a lot for the way people think about sort of the marketing mix in a very good way, I think, where it used to be. Some companies still operate this way. They want the most possible leads at the lowest possible cost, and they’ll constantly say, “Well, why would I send this package out for X amount of money, when I can send this postcard out for less?” Or there seems to be more of a “Let’s do digital because it’s faster and it’s cheaper.” Well, sometimes that’s penny wise and pound foolish.
So if your competitor is willing to spend a few extra dollars to get something out there and they actually create influence or momentum or velocity with that prospect, what’s it really worth? And so, it’s not just about the lowest possible cost for marketing, but what is it worth to you to get that opportunity? And if you can be more precise about who you engage, when and why, all of a sudden that extra couple dollars, quite frankly, pennies in the grand scheme of things, helps get those bigger deals. Talk a little bit about that mind shift and that paradigm shift that you’re seeing in terms of how people are thinking about their marketing spend and ROI.
Kris: So that’s a great question. I got a couple different things to chime in on that. So one is, I think the concept of tracking the spend too, is something that now with Sendoso, we can track every dollar spent back to a prospect or a customer, and so that’s a paradigm shift. And maybe five-ish years ago, where direct mail and offline was kind of seen as this black box where it’s like, “Hopefully it works. We don’t know, but we’re just going to hopefully blast a bunch of stuff out.” So now it’s much more ROI tracking connected to your CRM, and so that’s a big increase for marketers who really like tracking, and almost see this offline sending as trackable as digital is now because of the way that we’re able to track everything. So that’s one thing.
To your point on the buying experience, if you have two similar products and two salespeople selling you, if one person breaks through and sends you something that’s more impactful and your kind of wowed by that experience, you’re not just buying the product, you’re buying almost the experience of that buyer’s journey. And so, I think that smart sales and marketing organizations are trying to craft that buyer’s journey in a way that stands out, and so you can be competitive in your product offering and competitive in your pricing. You can also be competitive in the ultimate buyer’s experience. And so, we’re seeing a shift there.
And the other thing to note too, where you mentioned there’s, a cost involved, so you could send out a bazillion emails for practically nothing. That actually keeps the channel of gifting even a little bit tighter because you can’t go out and send 50 million things. You’re going to be like, “That’s costing the same amount.” So that the channel still keeps it a little bit under control because there’s a finite cost to sending things, so not everyone’s getting a gazillion things.
Matt: So, we’re going to take a quick sponsor break here in a second. I did feel like I needed to send full disclosure. We are a Sendoso customer, and look, we’re small in the grand scheme of things, a small consulting firm, but what’s funny is … well, it’s not funny, we just launched a new account-based program to a new segment, and we rolled it out to the team. And look, we were trying to drink our own champagne, do a lot of the right kind of things, but the ooh and ah moments for our team was when we say, “Well, when people reach a certain threshold, a certain point in the campaign, we’re actually sending them a small succulent plant with a little note that says, ‘We’re looking forward to growing with you.'” And we’re big on dad jokes here in marketing, so a little bit of a dad joke there, but also the fact that we’re sending people a plant. It’s not that expensive. It’s a little succulent, right?
But it certainly stands out. The other thing we have done that’s been successful for us, and I wish I had one here at my desk at home, we have these little leather coasters that just have our logo on them. Just embossed, kind of nice. They’re nice looking, they sit on the desk. We send those out with a little note that says, “Hey, great to meet you. Look forward to talking further. In the meantime, coffees on us.” Get it? You put the coffee- Like I said, we’re really good dad jokes here.
But those little things, and even things utilitarian like that, every once in a while, I’ll talk to someone and they’ll hold it up, and it is the most coffee cup crusted thing you’ve ever seen, which means it’s been sitting there for a while, which means my logo and brand is in front of them, even if they’re not ready to buy. So those little things, and look, little succulents, coasters, doesn’t have to cost a lot. But you still don’t want to necessarily send it to everybody on your list. The right person at the right time has a much, much bigger impact.
All right, we’re going to take a quick break, but instead of running to commercial, we’re just going to do a quick voiceover here. And technically I don’t need to do this until August, but we have a new sponsor on Sales Pipeline Radio. I’m just really excited and just wanted to give him a little bit of love. I want to give a special thanks to our new sponsor, Vidyard. For those of you not familiar with Vidyard, easy-to-use video solution, simple videos. It’s another great tool that your sales team can use individually. It’s a tool that you can use as a marketing organization to create easy, trackable video tools, see the performance, see the impact it’s having. Just an amazing company, big fan of them for a long time. We’ve been using them internally.
Kris, my assistant is obsessed with Vidyard. She doesn’t send emails anymore describing things, she sends Vidyard videos, and I think in part to make sure, because she knows if we watched it, then we kind of get it, and now she wants us to actually follow through on it. But love that we’re using that. If you want to check out Vidyard, I encourage you to go to Vidyard.com/pipeline. They have a free high conversion virtual sales playbook you can check out. So, thank you so much to Vidyard for being a great partner, and thanks so much for being a sponsor of Sales Pipeline Radio.
Kris: We use that too, so a shout out to them. We love them.
Matt: It’s all love. Everybody’s using everybody. This is great. There’s a reason why you’re on.
Kris: Even our CSM team, everyone uses them at the company because it’s a great form. And we even seen people using Sendoso and Vidyard together. You send a gift; you include a video kind of thing. It makes an impactful experience even better.
Matt: It does. So, let’s follow that string a little bit. I was talking about coasters and small succulents, and certainly something in the mail, there’s an experience there that has a bigger impact than just necessarily what it costs to send it. But I am seeing more, especially for high potential prospects, direct mail and experiences that include video. It’s amazing the cost of having a little video player in your direct mail package, that it quite frankly is a bit of a disposable, it is becoming quite accessible for higher value targets. Talk a little bit about what you’re seeing in trends and success rates of putting video into direct mail.
Kris: Yeah. So, video mailers can be a great attention grabber. It also can be for certain industries that might have cost thresholds on what they can spend on the actual gift. It’s actually not even really a gift, it’s just a mailer that has a video playing, so you get past those cost thresholds. The other thing we’re seeing is people embedding links to watch a video as a call to action in a printed mailer, and then driving people online, maybe do a Vidyard video and tracking the successive campaigns that way.
So we’ve seen that work really well too, where there’s a little printed card, and on it, it says like, “Here’s a little video link.” So, I think all of those are effective means. And then I think digital gifting is still something that companies use and see a lot of success with. So, you could send along a “Hey, here’s a DoorDash eGift card,” and include a little video of, “Hey, grab lunch on me.” And so, you’re still building that rapport, standing out, and using video in conjunction with an eGift.
Matt: So, five years ago, we decided to call this Sales Pipeline Radio, and we mostly talk about acquisition here, but if we happened to have called it Customer Lifecycle Radio, it probably would allow us to dig into more of the following question, which is this isn’t just a prospecting tool and opportunity, right? The same things we’re talking about here can be leveraged in broadening the experience that you have with existing customers. Just deepening relationships and loyalty when you’re focused on renewals and expansion. Talk about some stories of where you’ve seen gifting and direct mail and Sendoso work successfully with customer bases as well.
Kris: So, we see ultimately across the entire funnel, so where [inaudible 00:17:17] is using a top-of-funnel, which is the obvious, AEs are using it to build rapport. We even see in the handoff till you close the deal, the AE sends something and introduces the CSM, so there’s a nice welcome gift and the handoff is clean. And then, having Sendoso on hand for certain life events, like your customer just had a kid and you send them a little onesie, or they hit a product milestone where they did something in your product and you want to send them a congratulatory, or their company got funding. So, it really just creates again, more of a human-to-human approach versus a vendor-customer approach. And so, we see CSMs, account managers, and then we actually saw a huge spike last year too in just internal use cases, like sales managers sending to AEs, and different ways that you want to use this internally to provide employee engagement. So that was a unique spike in activity for us as well.
Matt: I love it. I love it. Well, just a few more minutes here with our guest today, CEO and founder of Sendoso, Kris Rudeegraap. And now that we’re sort of getting back to normal, people are getting back to the office, we think that window of something really special getting at home has ended, do we think we’ll go back to sending stuff to the home? Will it be a mix? Or what we’ve seen in the last year is it really is recipient’s choice, which actually Sendoso provides. Where do you think, this is going to go in the next couple of years, especially as people start to plan for how they might incorporate this into their 2022 budgets?
Kris: So, I think it’ll be a mix, like you said. You’ll have the recipient choice where the recipient can decide, there’s certain surprise and delight scenarios where you know they’re already in the office and you’re wanting to send them something. There are scenarios where you’d send it to their home, and so I think that the beauty of the platform is you don’t have to spend as much effort thinking about that or pack the boxes anymore. You can just build that into your programs and build in how they’re going to receive it. So, I do think the back to office trend and getting people back to the office, you’ll see some more surprise and delight direct mail. And we see a lot of people using the back to office as another reason to send stuff to people and get them excited about that too.
Matt: Well Kris, you guys do a great job of just evangelizing the category and also just creating great content, best practice guides for folks that want to learn more about this. What’s the latest? What do you recommend people check out if they want to learn more about direct mail and gifting?
Kris: We launched a State of Sending Report for 2021, which has a lot of great data and benchmark numbers, so that’s available on our resources section. We’re constantly doing webinars. We have a big CONNECTED event later this year. So, if you go to our website in our resources section, we love sharing content, best practices. We’ve got kind of a super sender group where you can chat with others who are sending stuff. So, a lot of resources to make available for people that are either first-time senders or people that have done it 10 times over and just want to learn new things.
Matt: Well, you had me at super senders’ group. That sounds awesome. Well, check out Sendoso.com. They’ve got a great resource section. You’ll find a lot of those great resources. Kris, thanks again so much for joining us. It’s really a pleasure.
Kris: Thanks, Matt.
Matt: All right. Thanks everyone for watching today. I do apologize, actually, that I did lie earlier. I said we are live every Thursday at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern. For the next two weeks as we record this on July 22nd, I’m going to be out. I’m going to the beach with my family. We will not be recording, but we will have some reruns, and every episode, including this one, and almost 300 for the past episodes available on SalesPipelineRadio.com to keep you busy until I get back from the beach. Well, thank you so much today. My name is Matt Heinz. Thanks for watching another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. Thanks to our sponsor, Vidyard. Thanks to Kris for joining us today. We’ll see you in August. Thanks so much.