Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 359: Q & A with Kyle Hamer



A discussion on the importance of humanizing B2B sales and marketing by incorporating elements from B2C practices, focusing on building relationships and creating emotional connections.

By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

If you’re not already subscribed to Sales Pipeline Radio or listening live Thursdays at 11:30 am PT on LinkedIn (also on demand) you can find the transcription and recording here on the blog every Monday morning.  The show is less than 30 minutes, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales and marketing professionals.

We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities.

This week’s show is entitled, B2C Best Practices for B2B SaaS GTM and my guest is Kyle Hamer, SVP Marketing at hh2.

Tune in to Learn About:

  • How to tap into the human side of sales and marketing in B2B and B2C industries.
  • How emotional connections play a role in both B2B and B2C decision-making.
  • Insights on bridging the gap between personal relationships and transactions in B2B.
  • Examples of leveraging channel preferences and creating relevance in marketing strategies.
  • The importance of building trust and curating customer experiences in B2B.

contact us for Heinz Marketing

Listen and/or Watch HERE and/or read the transcript below:

Matt: Welcome everybody to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. My name is Matt Heinz. Super excited to have you all here for our latest episode.

Well, we’re going to get into it here in a minute with our guest Kyle Hamer. Excited to have you here, man. First, before we do that,

If you’re listening and watching on demand, thank you so much for downloading, for subscribing. Every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio can be found past, present, future at Excited to have our guest today, Kyle Hamer. We’re going to talk a little bit about B2C sales and marketing and how that applies to B2B. first of all, welcome to Sales Pipeline Radio, maybe just for those that you don’t know you, maybe just a quick introduce yourself.

Kyle: Hey, yeah. Thanks for having me, Matt. I’m super excited to be here. As we head into Memorial Day weekend for those that are listening, thanks, for those of you, families, service members, or otherwise that have sacrificed for Matt and I to be here and have this conversation.

Somebody had to pay for that and we’ll remember that this weekend. To our active members who’ve put their job on the line, put their life on the line, put their family on the line. Thank you. I’m happy to be here. I’ll describe myself like I described myself everywhere else. I’m a sales and marketing mutt.

I’m not quite sales. I’m not quite marketing. People don’t know what to make of me. But I think that allows me to provide a unique perspective on go-to-market revenue engines. And I’m now in my 10th year in marketing leadership role inside of software organizations.  Working for a company called hh2 and we are taking over construction back office, software as a service. We’ve got a platform to make life easier for those of you that are contractors and I think what we’re going to talk about today is really relevant as we look at humanizing the B2B sales and marketing motion.

Matt: Yeah, I love that you bring both the sales and marketing approach to this, because I think sometimes we tend to compartmentalize those way too much in B2B. We think of those as different functions, part of one integrated go to market motion. Your prospect doesn’t care what your org chart looks like. So there’s one. And two, I think, we tend to operate in our own echo chamber and think that we know what we’re doing all the time in B2B when there’s an awful lot of lessons to be pulled from a variety of different industries.

I had a great conversation last week with someone in the chemical space. And the way that folks in the chemical space do marketing is completely different than how a lot of software companies do it. And I would argue is a far healthier, more productive way. We can get into that later, but I think the consumer space, the consumer marketing that we see all around us we tend to say, “Oh, that’s different. You’re marketing to consumers. I market to businesses. I market to buying committees. My lot sales cycle is long and complex.” Yes. And I think there is a lot we can learn from what we’re seeing work in the B2C space. Talk a little bit about why that’s such a passion for you in sales and marketing.

Kyle: Well, it’s a passion for me because I think at the end of the day, transactions happen on a human level. And I don’t think it’s B2B marketing. I don’t think it’s B2C marketing. I think it’s H2H market. It’s human-to-human sales and marketing. You bring up, “well, my sales cycle is like 18 months.”

Gotta be honest with you. How long have you been thinking about buying a new car, Matt?

Matt: it’s a long time actually. Yeah.

Kyle: You think about it forever, right? And yet car companies continue to invest in their advertising, their marketing efforts, whether it’s for a new Rivian or the Tesla, they’re always spending money and investing in capturing your mindshare, your attention.

Well, that sales cycle, even though it feels like it’s a marathon, the day you actually walk into the dealership, that sales transaction is facilitated by months and months and months of H2H marketing in a B2C environment.

And folks are like, “well, that’s not really relevant.” I think it is right. I got to understand what kind of car I want. What am I trying to get? What are my needs? All of the same stuff that’s relevant for a B2B conversation. Your, consumer goods at the high level, your house, your car, they have to consider all of those things as well. And I think there are some really valuable lessons for B2B marketers. If we stop thinking about, “well, it’s my company marketing to their company and it’s…” No.  It’s “I’m marketing to you based on how you might buy or how you might think about this experience and what do I need to do different?”

Whether it’s digital, print, online, offline, sales, voicemails, et cetera. If you stop thinking about it as my business to your business and you start thinking about it’s me to you, I think it’ll fundamentally change how we go-to-market as B2B marketers today.

Matt: So, so many different angles we can take on this. One that’s super interesting to me is we tend to think B2B decisions are made logically and B2C decisions are made emotionally. And I don’t think you can separate those in either scenario. I feel like the emotional connections, whether it’s just based on the heart versus the head or based on humor, I feel like B2B marketing in general gets a little too stale and a little too formal.

What are some examples of how we can bring that more of a fun, emotional construct from B2C marketing into the B2B space?

Kyle: Oh, that’s a good question. And I think that it’s very dependent on the products and or services you’re selling in a B2B environment. So, you mentioned earlier chemical or Industrial. So industrial, chemical, energy, if I’m dealing with stuff that could be commoditized or you think, “well, I can buy it anywhere.” That’s one set of complex problems. And then you gotta look at what’s my consumer relevant?

An example of that might be cereal, right? So, we need to see how is cereal marketed versus how am I marketing my chemicals? Or how am I marketing my paint or whatever it may be like. You definitely have a relevancy there, but I think for, at least for me and where I’ll stay in pocket for the conversation today is, is really relative to software and what we see in that space.

I have the most experience there and I don’t want to speak out of turn as it relates to some of these industries where the marketing cycle, I think is a little more complex, but from a SaaS standpoint, one of the things that I think is the great equalizer happening in the market right now is the democratization of content, the democratization through AI scaling up content, creating personalized experiences, being able to leave a digital footprint that really allows your customer or prospect to have a great experience and to learn over time is, is valuable. I’ve seen a lot of companies over years, Matt, invest tons and tons and tons of money on top of the funnel thought leadership content. But they use that only to bring them in to introduce them to the company. What if instead of building content, talking about the company or talking about the big ideas, we were talking about the emotional impact. What if we talked about how our software allowed Billy’s dad to get home sooner and watch the baseball game on Saturdays or allowed Suji to make sure that she didn’t miss Sally’s dance recital anymore.

The thinking fundamentally has to shift in what value am I driving to the other person on this other side of this message, this content, the screen, et cetera? And we’ve, got incredible tools in front of us, but now I think we need to think different.

Matt: Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Kyle Hamer, he’s the SVP of marketing for hh2. We’re talking about B2C best practices in B2B. You know, one of the other angles I think is really interesting is we tend to create these, what I assume are artificial made up lines between different channels that we expect are consumer channels or B2B channels.

Like, sometimes you’ll see someone write something kind of personal on LinkedIn and people will be like, “oh, I can’t believe they brought that into this channel”, right? Same thing for Instagram. It seems like if everyone’s doing scrolling, why, if that’s where people are, why can’t you have a B2B presence there? Now it might be weird if you were to say, “Hey, I know you were list looking at cat videos, but have you thought about replacing your servers, in the data center.” I mean, that would be kind of jarring, but I think there’s still a way to leverage the channel and its natural proclivities to create relevance. Do you think that that distinction between channels and B2B versus B2C does exist, should exist? And how do we play that?

Kyle: Well, it’s an interesting juxtaposition and I’ll use an example from last night. So, there’s a company B2B that’s been recruiting me for a while in my position at hh2, not to go work for them, but to come check out their software. Last night I’m laying in bed watching Netflix with my wife and she goes, “why am I getting an ad for hh2?” asking me questions about why she would potentially be getting targeted.

Now their ad is talking about, “hey, do you want to know how we retargeted you?” They’re much more into the X’s and O’s of how they ran the play. But they could have taken that one step further and, based on the time of day, just said, “enjoying watching the show with your husband?” Could you have taken to the next personal level? Could you have said, “Hey, it’s likely that you’re watching this show”, you know, whatever it may be, there’s a way to create that personal connection that now I’m really curious about how your software works. How did you retarget? How did you do those things? And from a channel standpoint, yeah, I think it matters.

I think it matters because, we looked at LinkedIn as only professional. We look at Twitter as kind of all just the dumpster fire of the internet. We look at our website as the place where we go to church and where we, we have to be the most pristine, but I think the reality is your customer and prospect just wants to have a very human experience.

So, can I find what’s most important to me or relevant to me very easily? Question one question two is, is as you’re having those messages, are you adding value and progressing me forward? Are you helping me feel a certain way, experience a certain thing, or are you just giving me education? And I think sometimes in B2B, we give you this dry, boring and, I say this with this caveat or this exception, it’s dry, it’s boring and we make marketing B2B emotionless.

Well, you can make it too clever so that it’s no longer clear, but if you focus on a clear message and you make it emotive. Each channel should build on the other. So, it’s about 2017, I was working with our team and we built a B2B campaign where when we reached out, we reached out and it was a story-based email and we called the campaign Sleeping Chris.

And it was the story of a person in their early thirties they’d just come into this position. They were working around the clock in order to help the company grow and they were emotionally exhausted, right? And because of this: Are you tired of missing out on key family events?”

And we used Billy’s baseball game. “Are you tired of missing your son’s baseball game in order to accomplish task X?” That was the question we presented. Well, when we sent that email out, I think we had, I want to say it was like a 30 or 40 percent open rate because we tried to tie the subject line to something that would be emotional.

When we got it to open, there were guys that were already in the sales process who called up and were upset by the email, thinking that we had taken their personal story, wrapped it into a marketing email to help them actually progress their sale forward. We used Chris, which hit this person’s son’s name in order to drive it forward.

And so again, seven years ago for me, it was kind of the early indication of, “Oh, maybe, maybe B2B isn’t really where it’s at. Maybe it’s really more about creating that emotional connection, whatever the channel is”. Well, for that particular campaign, email told the story. Then you had all of the imagery that was reinforced for four to six months in everywhere that somebody went with retargeting, the channel, the website, the trade show booth. And before you knew it, we went from a 3 to 4 percent growth rate. So somewhere just shy of 22 percent in our bookings. We didn’t change our product. We just changed how we talked to the market and instead of treating them like a department, we treated them like a human.

Matt: I think B2B companies can have a personality. You can have a perspective. You cannot take yourself too seriously. You can have a sense of humor. But ultimately people don’t tend to have relationships with buildings and brands, well, people do have relationships with brands, but I think that that’s based on a personal relationship.

And so I want to talk about like the importance of personal relationships as part of this, and how do you think about the brand, the company versus the people in the company and how do you best leverage that, like, are there lessons from B2C on that, or to your point, like, what are some ways that more companies can think about that at a more emotional, personal level, similar to the story you just told.

Kyle: Well, I’ll use another recent story. An organization that I did some consulting with in the last couple of years, they had what I would call a typical B2B customer service experience, which if you buy software today in B2C, guess what happens? You go into a queue, it’s only support via chat or email. Getting somebody on the phone is really tough. Well, if my Facebook’s not working, I’m probably not going to change my life, but if my bank account’s not working, I can’t get ahold of somebody that’s really frustrating. Right? So when you think about brand experience and what people have B2B, oftentimes what I see is, is that we only look at the relationship as the transaction of what are we doing from a marketing standpoint on the front end? Or what are we doing or what are we saying to the market? How are we positioning? How are we messaging versus what is each interaction look like for my company?

And for a lot of B2B companies, one of the easiest ways to humanize and create a great brand experience and pleasurable memory is, is your support. Is it easy to get somebody on the phone? Can I get my question answered? Well, organizations oftentimes ignore that operational component because they’re only thinking about how can I add more versus how can I create a better experience for those that are here?

And, and so when you think about brand and going B2C, B2B actually has some advantages where I’m not going to have the same volume of consumers calling in. So, it’s okay for me to have a phone line. Maybe it is okay for me to have an answering service that picks up. And it’s our goal to have answer every third ring, right?

So if you have a problem in your moment of need, my brand will be there. You think about from a B2C standpoint or even an H2H standpoint, if I can trust an organization to have my back so that when I show up or I have a problem, I emotionally like, Oh, this is a pain at this moment, but I’m going to call, I’m going to go reach out to this other human, like, I’m going to have peace of mind. I’m going to have a high degree of trust. And that’s going to force me to become an advocate that’s going to force me to have a certain set of experience or feelings towards the organization. And that forced movement will transform your brand over a period of time.

And so I look at one of these organizations that I was working at; when I first got there, they didn’t have an easy way for their customers to call in and get ahold of them. And when you come in, it was like, well, okay, how do I submit a support ticket? Oh, you send an email. Well, what, what’s required for me in the email? Well, you got to have all of these things. Well, how many times do you go back and forth before you get all those things on the support ticket? Oh, it’s usually four or five times. Okay. What’s the first interaction from you? Well, the first interaction says, “thanks. We’ve received your support ticket. Please allow 48 to 72 hours for us to reply.”

You think about it, right? I’m in a moment of need. I’m frustrated. I need some help. And you say, “Hey, it’s going to take me two to three days to get back to. You wouldn’t do that anywhere else, right? You call the plumber and you’re like, Hey, it doesn’t take me two to three days to get here. Yeah. But my toilet’s overflowing right now.

Business to business, same thing. It’s a human-to-human interaction. When you talk about brand, you talk about going to market, you’re going to create advocates for who you are, one human to human experience at a time, not at a global scale. It’s just going to positively reinforce that message that’s going out.

Matt: Yeah, I love it. I think we’re going to wrap up here in a second, but I think that one of the other things that’s really important for people to think about differently in B2B is the difference between a transaction and a relationship. In the B2C space, you see people thinking about a long-term relationship with a customer or with a prospect.

And I think in B2B, we tend to think about these transactional moments, like, “Oh, I got a two-year sales cycle and I’m going to close them”. Right? And it’s okay. But like, then you’ve got them as a customer and maybe they move to another company or maybe that company changes and their needs change.

And so I think about that at an individual level, because even for us, like small consulting firm, we track repeat clients. We also track what we call repeat executive sponsors. If a CMO hired us at their last company and they bring us into the new company, that is a big win. And that speaks to a longer-term relationship than just the account I’m trying to transact with.

And I think that relationship level is critical. And I think that, the more we automate, the more we digitize our marketing and sales and B2B, the more important those relationships are, the more important is for us to think about that long term relationship as a differentiator.

Kyle: Well, and I think it’s probably a bunch of platitudes to say, well, “just listen to your customers”, right? I mean, everybody says that, but at the end of the day in the B2B space, I think the more you listen to the customers and the more you curate your content, the more you answer their questions, the more transparent you are the higher degree of trust you’re going to generate in that relationship.

And if they can trust you, they’ll be back regardless of what organization they’re in. Right. I look at brands like 6sense. I look at HubSpot, I look at Salesforce and what they’ve done a good job of is, is being consistent in their brand over time. What I think HubSpot’s doing a good job of personally is, is taking content and forcing marketers in how they structure things, how they’re thinking about their digital environment, to think much more about that human-to-human interaction.

What is most important to me? What questions do I need to ask? And then curating the experience so that it’s easy and simple for somebody who want to come back and do business with you again.

Matt: Well, and to that point, as we wrap up the sales and marketing effort is one thing, what you’re talking about is experience, not just with your marketing, with your content, but experience with your product.

That is part of your brand. That is part of the relationship you have. And I think as go to market leaders, as marketing leaders, as go to market As go to market leaders, we need to think about that product as just as important, if not more important part of the overall experience and through line.

Well, Kyle, thank you so much for joining us. Kyle Hamer, the SVP of Marketing for hh2. Fun conversation. If you missed part of this, you can catch it on demand very shortly. Thanks everyone for joining us. Have a wonderful holiday weekend. We’ll see y’all next week.

Kyle: Take care.



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