It’s the 7th episode of Meaningful Conversations with Revenue Leaders – No fluff. Meaningful conversations only.

Today, we are joined by Tobias Knieper. Tobias is an entrepreneurial thinker with a big passion for SaaS and marketing. He is currently leading the marketing efforts in the DACH region for Fivetran, and brings with himself several years experience in both sales and marketing.

Check out the interview highlights as well as the full conversation below!

Highlight 1: Gated content - yes or no?

I think you can’t give a yes or no answer.

If people can really get value out of it, and it’s about the product, then it should be gated. For example, instructional pieces about the value of certain integrations should, in my opinion, be gated.

Educational content about the product or promotional content shouldn’t be gated, like case studies - that should be free for everyone to see.

Highlight 2: What are three tips to break down silos between sales and marketing?

I think all three pieces of my advice would be “talk to your salespeople”.

1️⃣ Ask people from sales what they need from you. And then obviously also give it to them.

2️⃣ Show salespeople your quarterly marketing plan or yearly marketing plan in advance and ask them for feedback around this.

3️⃣ Get feedback on the impact your activities, for example, events had on the sales team. Learn what worked or did not work for them.

Highlight 3: Do you prefer marketing-sourced revenue or marketing-influenced revenue as your main KPI?

I think for me, I prefer marketing sourced because I think that it really gives you credibility.

Obviously, it’s also nice if you influence things, for example, people visiting the wine tasting or coffee tasting, you helping to accelerate the pipeline through these activities.

I think looking at marketing-influenced revenue sometimes gives you credit when you perhaps shouldn’t get credit. It’s the salesperson’s deal. For example, somebody from the business development team brought them in and they had already two calls and you just booked them for a wine tasting as well. Then they go onto close and marketing gets associated as much as the salesperson. I don’t like it; I only like to take credit for things I have really also done.

Highlight 4: Who would your first marketing hire be, what would you look out for?

I actually think about this question a lot. When you’re one single marketing person taking care of a 100 million people market with a new language where you have no content whatsoever in that language, it sometimes gets messy.

You’re like more of a project manager than a marketer at some point.

For the first hire, I could imagine two scenarios:

1️⃣ Hiring another person who is a generalist and we can split the work between the two of us.

2️⃣ Just hiring somebody for content. For salespeople, for case studies we do, for everything, all the blogs - we could just translate the content from other languages, but it’s not the same as if you will just address the market naturally.

Highlight 5: If there was something that you could change about the buying experience of software, what and how would you change?

What I would wish for and what I think is perhaps not there yet in Germany compared to the rest of the world, would be the Win-Win oriented attitude.

Just really seeing what value you can get from the software you are thinking about purchasing.

And people really telling you, honestly, if they see it’s not a fit - “Tobi, you won’t be able to make use of it”.

Want to check the uncut full text? Here's your transcript.

Jan 0:06

Alright.

Tobias 0:08

Let’s start now by reading out the question.

Jan 0:12

Exactly, exactly, exactly.

Tobias 0:18

Okay, so why did you choose to work in marketing, I think I’ve always been a strong communicator, and I love psychology, especially buying psychology of people. And that paired with my passion to create content. I think that’s what brought me to marketing.

Jan 0:33

Boom, you smashed it. Easy.

Tobias 0:36

And what’s the best piece of advice about marketing you’ve ever received? I think “always start with the problem that you solve for the customer” is the most important piece of advice for marketing. And it’s not only for marketing, I think it’s also for starting a business. Always start with what you can do for the customer.

Tobias 0:37

What is the craftiest way you’ve been prospected? So I always love it when people sent me things. So that’s been two or three times that people sent me things. I always loved it. Besides that, I love video and social proof. So I think it’s it’s really about sending out physical things, video and social proof, but overall, just put in the thought and then people will love it.

Jan 1:25

Nice. (Speaking German). That’s why you answered?

Tobias 1:34

Yeah. Gated content, yes or no? Or why or why not? I think you can’t give a yes or no answer, it depends a little bit. If people can really get value out of it, and it’s not about the product, then it should be gated. For example, for us - we have like essential integrations that people will really get value out of and learn about what they can do for the business with data - that should be gated. But that educational content about the product or promotion content shouldn’t be gated, like case studies, things about the product - that should be free for everyone to see.

Tobias 2:18

So next one, what are the three best tips you would give other marketers to try and break down silos between sales and marketing? I think you can first of all, ask people from sales what they need from you. And then obviously also give it to them. And show sales people your quarterly marketing plan or yearly marketing plan in advance and ask them for feedback around this. And then also afterwards, get feedback on how it worked out for them, for example, after the events and things like that, so all three pieces of advice would be “talk to your sales people”.

Jan 2:52

I would love that. That’s great tips.

Tobias 2:55

So, what tools help you most in your day to day? I think Slack for communication is really a game changer if people don’t use that, that is one big thing. Then the obvious ones like Salesforce. Yeah, single source of truth there, as well as for us at Fivetran - Looker, as our BI tool where we can get all our dashboards and all our data. And then one if you’re prospecting, if you’re, for example, in the German market, and you have to find innovative companies, Crunchbase is great to look out for recently funded startups - they are always really innovative and into tech things.

Jan 3:38

Perfect. (Speaking German). Let’s just do it.

Tobias 4:09

(Speaking German).

Jan 4:12

Okay, then let’s just dive into it. So do you prefer marketing sourced revenue or marketing influenced revenue as your main KPI if you should go out there and look at your KPIs?

Tobias 4:29

Yeah, I think for me, it’s pretty straightforward that I prefer marketing sourced because I think that it really gives you credibility. Obviously, it’s also nice if you influence things. For example, people visit the wine tasting or coffee tasting, and you help to accelerate the pipeline. That’s also great but marketing sourced is the thing and especially for us we also have online purchasing where people can just put in their credit card, and sometimes people just talk to the sales rep for one minute and then put in their credit card. And then it is basically your deal. And that is why I think marketing sourced is great. But marketing influenced should also be there to support accelerating pipeline, things like that.

Jan 5:11

Yeah, very interesting. It’s nice when they just swipe the card and you can take the credit for that. But like, what do you think is like the pitfall maybe of the marketing influenced revenue? It’s like something that’s hard to track? Or because I think maybe that was something you were a bit referring to, or?

Tobias 5:31

Yeah, I think sometimes it gives you credit when you perhaps shouldn’t get credit. It’s the salesperson’s deal. For example, somebody from the business development team brought them in and they had already two calls and you just booked them for a wine tasting as well. Then they go onto close and you get associated as much as the salesperson. I always don’t like it; I only like to take credit for things I have really also done. Obviously there are many ways to it. Marketing sourced for me is just the main thing because it’s easier to track is also a thing I would say, yes.

Jan 6:13

Yeah, I understand that. And I love this aspect that you’re like a true marketer that just wants credited for what he does. But it’s super tricky. Like, for us, you know, when the buying journey is getting so complex, it’s going back and forth. And in the end, you know, it’s hard to make the clear attribution on who was actually responsible. So yeah, thanks. Thanks for that insight, man.

Tobias 6:38

And I think one more thing… As soon as we go, like to bigger enterprise accounts, I think it will also not be as easy. Right now, like, our sweet spot is more between 200 and 500 employees, those companies, and we have for us like two to three people working in data. And then it’s always pretty clear, like how that should be attributed. Once you go enterprise or things like that, it will obviously get more complicated. I will then still prefer marketing sourced, but marketing influenced might be a bigger part. As soon as this happens.

Jan 7:12

Yeah. Now, if you just think about these enterprise companies, how do you think that that would change?

Tobias 7:22

Yeah, I mean, like enterprise companies, you can’t say “Yeah, they came in” and then it’s like a straightforward journey to close. So it’s like, they came in, I don’t know, like on 10 different touchpoints. For example, take Siemens or Allianz in Germany. 10 people signed up already, perhaps via marketing, some BDRs brought somebody to a meeting… And in the end, like one of these champions comes in, and then accelerates pipeline, perhaps brings somebody in that used to talk to us before and then it like gets messy. You can’t really then say, like, yeah, it was marketing sourced, because this person from the event who signed up then closed in the end. And I think that it gets a little bit messy.

Jan 8:05

Yeah. Fantastic. good points. So yeah, maybe we can just jump to the next topic then. And this is a big one that I’ve been discussing with a lot of people right now is how are you actually making sure that you get return on your marketing campaigns? And how can you actually align that with your KPI goals? Difficult one, there’s probably no straightforward answer, but I would love to get your take on that.

Tobias 8:33

Yeah, I think, first of all, you always have to say - data and review, that is the main one, obviously to do afterwards to see if it worked out. But that isn’t like, the most straightforward answer to the question. And I think what is important is that you like plan out what you think the impact will be. And then afterwards, review, if that impact really came to came to life. But overall, I think it’s really important to just try things as well. Like I said before, with talking to the sales team, it’s important to walk them through, like, what are you expecting out of these campaigns? What do you think the impact will be? How they should work towards the KPIs and then afterwards, see, like, if it really did work that way, and then you can in retrospect always tell like, what worked, what didn’t, and then for the next time, you will know what to do and what not and then you’ll you’ll get better and better over time. And obviously, like starting in a new market, it’s sometimes like the first time you do things. Just go for it, do it and then see afterwards. You can’t always 100% be sure that you’ll hit the KPI with that. I think that is it.

Jan 9:51

Yeah, so a bit of like creating increments, sort of trying, benchmarking, but… The question that I’ve been been asking or discussing a bit is like, how are you making sure that you’re setting the right benchmark? For example, are you waiting for a benchmark conversion to happen? Let’s say like a CR of above X percent or an impression? How do you make sure that you make a benchmark that is, like, not too high, not too low? Yeah. Did you get the question?

Tobias 10:27

Yeah, I think I get the question. But that is also like, for some things, I think it’s out of experience you pretty much know or you have a good idea for that. And for other things, for example, like events, you sometimes have to see because you can’t, for example… Okay, how many of the people from the event, take a meeting, if you go to like an enterprise event, and we’re only 20 companies there and one of them will close? Perfect. But for other events where there are 5000 people, one close, it might be a little too small. So you always have to see what might might be the best KPI but yeah, it’s very difficult to see if it really has the impact that you want. But in the end, I think you can all boil it down to is the money you’re spending in a good proportion to the revenue you’re getting from it. And if not so, can you - sometimes it’s not backable by data, but - can you be sure that the brand awareness will rise from that?

Jan 11:31

Yeah, yeah.

Tobias 11:33

If you can answer that question with yes, then that’s great.

Jan 11:33

Yeah. If we speak about about brand awareness, how would you break that down? Is it like in terms of shortened sales cycle, is it by increased MQL, sign up? Or what would you look at there?

Tobias 11:53

Yeah, that is very difficult to say for me right now, especially in a really small market where you don’t have so many… Not a small market, actually very big market. But when it is not such well known brand. And you have to dig through the noise, first of all, and for me, like, for example, what I do most for brand awareness are events that perhaps do not have such a high close rate, but when you can see things like how many people you talk to, and how many people saw your presentation at the show, how long did they watch it, perhaps also visited the booth afterwards, downloaded content, things like that? And also, perhaps, right after the event, people come to your website, things like that. You see that. But otherwise, it’s not really that easy to measure it. Single campaigns - Yes, it’s a little bit easier. But overall, like how it’s rising, not that easy, I would say.

Jan 12:57

Yeah, fantastic. And that’s probably a struggle we will have for for a long time, you know, and until we have AI who can actually, you know, solve everything and make meaningful predictions. Thanks. And I don’t know, imaginary scenario, Tobi. Now you have to make your first marketing hire. What would you look out for? And why would that be?

Tobias 13:28

Yeah, like, for me, I actually thought about the question a lot, because when you’re one single marketing person taking care of 100 million people market with a new language where you have no content whatsoever in that language, yeah, it sometimes gets messy. You’re like more of a project manager than a marketer at some point. And I could imagine two scenarios, like one scenario being hiring another person, which is a generalist where we can just split up the work between the two of us. And that would be nice. Where perhaps, yeah, one of the two would be sort of like the project manager, looking from the top down and then dividing the work. That is one thing I can imagine. And the other thing would be just hiring somebody for content. I mean, we have a PR agency. But yeah, just like, for salespeople, for case studies we do, for everything, all the blogs, obviously, we can just translate it, but it’s not the same as if you will just address the market. And I think that would be my second choice there.

Jan 14:29

Yeah, that’s cool. That’s I think, we heard the same from the others, like generalists, you know, as a duplicate or specialists that can do one thing in particular. That’s cool. If you would hire somebody, what would you look at? You know, what would you be hiring for in that person, you know, a certain character trait or how what would that look?

Tobias 14:51

Yeah, I think like, the person should align with our core values. I think that is the most important thing for me. Obviously, it doesn’t hurt if the person’s already experienced in marketing. A little bit would perhaps be very, very good, I wouldn’t say mandatory but very good to have. But then yeah, for Firevtran it’s really about like “one team, one dream” attitude, and ability to learn, take initiative. And yeah if the person is this, I think nearly everybody - if they are curious, if they make a good impression to you. Everybody can learn anything. And that is the most important thing I would look for.

Jan 15:31

I love that attitude, like winning together, winning as a team, and then you learn together. Love that. So I know, Tobi, you like to buy software - you know, it’s very hard sometimes, and there are a lot of influences. You know, how long should you have a free demo? Should you have a free trial? But if there was something that you could change about the buying experience of software? Like, what and how would you change stuff?

Tobias 16:04

Yeah, first of all, I think like, me, personally, I don’t buy that much software, because they have dedicated people for that, especially when you buy as a company. But in general, what I would wish for and what I think in the software space is already pretty good - but in Germany, in general, perhaps it’s not there yet - like to really have that Win-Win oriented attitude, just to really see what value you can get from the software. And people really telling you, honestly, if they see it’s not a fit - “Tobi, you won’t be able to make use of it”. And telling you that is really important, or that you should only perhaps, like, take advantage of parts of the software and other parts are not valuable for you. And then always people like looking into what you do, being prepared, and then like showing you only the parts that are relevant to you. And if that is the case, I think everybody’s honest to each other. And you try to create a Win-Win for everybody. Yeah, you can’t go wrong with that one.

Jan 17:12

That is so spot on, I think it’s a lot about transparency, like, you know, understanding your true product pains, and like, you know, listening to you and once you’re ready to get pitched or like to fit in, then choose the parts wisely. Because oftentimes, you know, it’s like, “Oh, we have this great product, we can solve everything”, you know, and then you just smash or get smashed by a value and you’re like, “Ah, it is not actually like solving my pain that I’ve been looking for. But you get didn’t even give me the time to to express it properly, because you’re just going through your slides”. Sometimes, yeah, it can be even for me as a fellow sales person, can be annoying sometimes.

Tobias 17:55

100%, yeah.

Jan 17:56

And this one is a really interesting one. And then I have a fun one after that. Maybe - that was not scripted. And yeah, if we considered most marketing projects that every marketer drives take really long time to get results. Some get fast results. But usually like, in comparison to sales, it’s you know about the longer term. How do you convince your stakeholders to get buy in for the projects you want to drive?

Tobias 18:28

Yeah, like I talked about before with talking to salespeople, I think it’s really important as well, to just build trust with all the stakeholders that you have - might it be sales, your managers, things like that. And then always be transparent, like, what are you aiming for; like because with some you’re aiming for quick results; show them what they can be expecting out of this. And then yeah, go for it, basically. And some might take longer - be transparent about that, always tell people, how long it will take, what are you expecting out of this, why are you doing this, how is it helping the KPIs? And if you I think, can answer those questions and people see that it would make sense, then they will trust you again. And that will play into your cards for the next time. So I think yeah, that is a pretty good way to go. And for me, actually, that hasn’t been too big of a pain, to be honest. In the past.

Jan 19:25

You’re doing a good job of being transparent and being convincing. I love that. Cool. So fun one before we give the floor to you completely, Tobi. If we look like in the future of like, marketing in the next maybe, let’s say three to five years. What do you think where B2B marketing will go and how will like software and the B2B space change in terms of the marketing space.

Tobias 20:00

Yeah, I think that it will go more and more towards personalization. So with the things that we are able to tell about people, the data we can bring in, I at least hope that every customer will get like a very highly personalized experience, where they might come to the website and already see - might not be in the next few years, but, I see that in the future - like where they already get like that sort of personalized pitch, at least to the industry, see the relevant case studies of other customers that we have out of the country out of the industry. Yeah, I think it’s slowly starting to implement, but I think it will get higher and higher. I think the buzzword for that is “targeting” obviously, but I would like to consider it or name it more like a personalized experience. I think that is good. But then also, not as much salesy and stuffing things up people’s throats, but really being considerate and showing them what might be the benefit for them. And yeah, if they would like to consider that or not.

Jan 21:13

Nice. And now a completely random follow up question because we spoke about getting prospected, because you get prospected a lot I can assume, maybe not all the time, but if we speak about that… There’s usually a lot of cold calling involved, right, when people call you and… What’s the thing that you hate the most? Or maybe like about about cold calling?

Tobias 21:40

Yeah, I mean, actually, to be honest, first of all, I think there’s not so much cold calling involved right now for me, I just get a ton of emails, a ton of LinkedIn requests, but not so many calls. So first of all, I would say that I’m pretty surprised by getting a call so that is still for me personally now a good way to reach me perhaps. But then what I hate most is that the people just start pitching right away and not take like the time to consider if you’re like in a bad situation right now, if you can’t even speak, like, you don’t know. I know if somebody is calling me with a number I don’t know during business hours, I obviously answer, assuming there might be a business partner, somebody from an event or so because they always call like that. And yeah, perhaps what I would like to say is just to be aware that there is also a person on the other end of the line but that goes for both parts, also like the person answering the phone. I’ve been doing cold calls, I would never like be mean to anybody calling me, I’m always like the nicest person ever.

Jan 22:41

Oh, that’s a shoutout to you, man. Oh my god!

Tobias 22:45

But, sometimes it’s just annoying if people just pitch right away and also hold you for too long on the phone, because it’s unexpected, like, you should be mindful of that. But other than that, I think like if you do it the right way, it can be still a legitimate way to get prospects.

Jan 23:05

Great. Lovely. Is there anything you would like to add we have missed?

Tobias 23:10

Yeah, I don’t think so. I think the questions were pretty cool, pretty straightforward and yeah I love all performance and thanks for having me.

Jan 23:18

Great. (Speaking German)

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