Declan Mulkeen (Strategic IC) - I'm delighted to be joined today by Gideon Thomas, who's the VP of Marketing and Growth at DealHub. Gideon, thank you for joining us today.
Just as an interlude, I just noticed that DealHub was recognised by G2, with the Top 50 Award for Best Product for Sales, so congratulations on that.
Gideon Thomas (DealHub) - Thank you, we're certainly proud to achieve that award, there's a lot of stiff competition out there in the global market, and we recognise that customer voice has certainly been an important part of this achievement.
Declan (Strategic IC) - And how long have you been around for?
Gideon (DealHub) - The company has existed for six years, being born out of Israel, and then opening a secondary office over in the Bay Area, and we've grown our user base, our customer base, to really be a worldwide company already.
Declan (Strategic IC) - And so how many clients do you have approximately at the moment?
Gideon (DealHub) - Approximately, I think we're between 150 to 180 customers, ranging from companies with a couple of hundred employees all the way up to enterprise. We certainly have a lot of companies in our portfolio who are now unicorns, quite a lot this year, which were acquired with some really outstanding achievements, and definitely, some of the hottest names in tech, specifically in software, are in our customer base.
Declan (Strategic IC) - Okay, well we'll talk a little bit more about DealHub as we go through the conversation, but I just thought it'd be interesting to talk to you a little bit about, you know, we're living through quite extraordinary times, you know, Gideon. What have you learned personally, over the last few weeks?
Gideon (DealHub) - Absolutely, so definitely as a marketing leader, I've definitely decided to take a step back rather than trying to act first, so to kind of take the listening approach to marketing. I've seen that specifically on social channels, organic channels, that a lot of people have been following each other. Probably 90% are producing similar content. I think a lot of people don't have a defined playbook for how to deal with situations like this, and they've been trying to muddle through that together.
So we've tried to position ourselves kind of on the other end of the same spectrum, which is if everybody is doing that thing, then let's try and be different. And I think from a starting point, I think the key kind of phrase I would lead with would be empathy marketing. Which is to understand the humanness in all of this, to try and maybe take a step back from leading with brand and start leading with thought leadership, human to human.
And then identify with the different stages of grief, which is kind of a really good marketing methodology in all of this, which is shock, why is this happening to me?
To anger and frustration, why is this happening now? This is really inconvenient, and it's a very painful thing to go through, so perhaps a little bit of disbelief, and despondency, to kind of of the next stage beyond that, which is, I'm now ready to do something, I'm not perfect, but I know I can be doing more, I know I can be doing more right now, and then kind of the further progressions of that.
So I see the content trending that way, I see messaging trending that way, and I see the appetite from the wider audience moving that way too. That we see that general trend working its way through, and some green shoots are already coming through right now which is really positive.
And obviously the great way to validate all of this is through organic content where people give their feedback, comments, and all the rest of it, where you can see something authentic. It tells you so much more, and I'd say organic first, and paid acquisitions second.
Rather than banking and projecting what you think people want to hear by doing things that way.
Declan (Strategic IC) - And linked to that actually, Gideon, there's obviously been a lot of talk, and we've obviously spoken about it before. A lot of talk about whether or not it's the right time to sell, and what your company's position should be.
What's your take on that? And what have you perhaps heard from your clients, who are obviously involved in selling their solutions.
Gideon (DealHub) - So yeah, from obviously one part of our solution is price quotation solutions. So we see a lot of the transactional nature of companies, and then still there is a huge appetite for people to be sending out price quotes. I think the nature of how is more interesting to you than the what.
So how people are doing that now is people are proactively being flexible and dynamic with pricing, pricing approval workflows, they need that immediacy, they need to be able to do things quickly, on the fly, and some of the bureaucracy of enterprise kind of approval processes have had to be overcome, people have had to be nimble is a popular term over in the UK, or agile maybe in the US.
So definitely being responsive with all of that, and sometimes you might be selling, I've heard this as well, from sales operations leaders, you're selling, but perhaps your audience has slightly changed. You're not completely sure who you're selling to, that's changed, but you're still selling, so sell differently.
Yeah, so I hope that helps, that's something I've definitely seen, and I think when it comes to a marketing perspective on the same piece, I would say that buyer intent still remains, so buyer intent signals, from whether that be from review sites, or tools like ClearBit, or whatever your preferred buyer intent tool is, you'll see that with search Google, organic Google, paid ads, will still kind of reach out to those bottom of the funnel buyer intent search queries. And then you have the whole block of people on places like social media, like for example LinkedIn, of course, is a great channel, and others, where the intent has changed.
People that you could approach a few weeks ago to push your product, you cannot do that to now. And you need to respect that, and you need to move your mindset to brand positioning, and not on the straight acquisition.
And as a consequence of not making that shift, and adjustment, firstly from an ROI point of view, you're going to burn through tonnes of budget, 'cause people are not ready to buy right now, and secondly, you don't have permission to do that. If people are in this place of distress, and you're proactively trying to sell something that they're not ready to purchase, you're only going to alienate yourself, you're only going to come out on the other side of this alienating yourself as a brand, and being several steps behind.
So definitely you want to continue to market, but market intelligently, so move, you know, pivot, and do a lot more on content.
People are looking to be led through this, right? So the how-to, the what to do, all of that, they're looking for leaders to come out and make leadership statements, not manage situations, but be a leader.
Tell them how you're going to bring value, tell them what you're learning, tell them what value you can bring to them, all of the above, and help to guide people through this situation, and wherever possible, best case scenario, do something that doesn't. And then of course do something that doesn’t immediately benefit yourself as a brand, or even as a thought leader.
Think about how you can add more value to people who are just vulnerable right now. Even within the world of business, I'm thinking within the context of business, there are people that need help without being able to give something transactionally in return.
Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah, so let's just talk a little bit about DealHub, and with particular reference to ABM. And the ABM Account-based marketing use is becoming more and more popular. Many, many companies are looking to implement it as part of their go-to-market strategy.
How do you see DealHub helping companies to do better ABM?
Gideon (DealHub) - Right, so first of all to understand what DealHub is, DealHub is that deal stack, that's taken together all of these separate sales stages, and brought them into one. So we create a personalised website from seller to buyer, that has brought everything together.
Everything from sales content, personalised sales content, to contract management, contract redlining, price quotation, the margin discount that goes in there, the SOW, the eSignature,the terms and conditions, and maybe even a 'know your customer' form for collecting the billing information, et cetera, et cetera. So we've brought that all together, and essentially what I'm saying there is you're delivering a sales proposal, which is personalised from buyer to seller, it's contained and safe, and that buyer can share that with the stakeholder committee, and share the same story at the same moment in time.
So you have essentially one source of truth, consolidated in one location. So that's on the closing the deal side of things, how does that match up, or marry up with Account-based marketing?
It's not two journeys, it's one journey for a buyer. It's kind of from lead to close, it's one buyer journey, it's one customer experience, and what they're hoping for, let's put it from a buyer point of view, is they're hoping for that responsiveness, personalisation, consistency, to be concise with the information, to be relevant with the information at every stage in the journey with your brand, from kind of lead to close.
And if that experience transitions at the halfway mark, from marketing to sales, and changes into a whole different experience, of course, that's where you're going to have drop off, and revenue leakage. So, you know, the ultimate brand experience is the one that's consistent from one end to the other.
Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah, and you mentioned actually, Gideon, personalisation. Talk a little bit about that,in particular obviously with ABM, not so much in the one-to-many stage, but much more in the one-to-few, and the one-to-one, personalisation is key for any effective ABM, or, how would you see DealHub facilitating that?
Gideon (DealHub) - So absolutely, I mean for DealHub it's very easy because the qualification information has already been inputted to the CRM, so you already know, for example, the job role, you'll know the vertical, you'll know the size of the company, and the industry, maybe even the currency that they're selling in.
Whatever kind of qualification questions we've been asked, and then with DealHub themselves, we just read that information down. So the proposal that goes out has to factor all of that. So for example, in an ABM, ABS world, you're not sending out the same top of the funnel content that you captured the lead with way earlier in the journey, no.
By this point, you know what industry they're in, so maybe you're sending out a case study which says I understand your use case, you're not alone, there are others like you, this is how we support them, and here it is in something that's readily available to you so that you as a buyer know that I've listened, and I'm reciprocating back to you that my solution is relevant to you and you are not taking a risk.
Declan (Strategic IC) - And with regards to DealHub, and DealRoom, which is also one of your solutions there, how do you see that as kind of enabling better sales, and particularly at the moment, obviously sales teams, SDRs, account executives, everyone is now working remotely.
Gideon (DealHub) - Right.
Declan (Strategic IC) - How do you see that facilitating, helping to do a better sales process, and close?
Gideon (DealHub) - Yeah, I mean, by its very nature, so I love the term remote sales, first of all, because remote sales could be inside sales, but it also could be field sales, where you've had the meeting in person, wherever it may be, in the bar, or on the golf course, at the ball game if you're in the states, and then you want to send the follow-up action, you're still going to send that probably digitally.
There's going to be emails going out, and you want to make the most memorable, and positive, and timely experience possible, so that you can just reinforce your professionalism. People always say that we live in an experience economy, since, you know, companies like Amazon have hyper-personalized everything in B2C, in B2B we expect the same experience economy, even though it's B2B and not B2C. That's our expectation.
So the DealRoom of making everything easier to digest in one location is just the most contextually relevant way to acknowledge that in B2B.
Declan (Strategic IC) - And going back to that point about everyone now working remotely, how do you see that impacting your clients?
Gideon (DealHub) - That's a broader question, and I would say that some companies are more ready for that. I live, for example, and work now in Israel, where working remotely is completely part of the DNA, so it was more like, just a change of gears from one week to the other, our leadership can function this way, the whole of our team can function this way at the drop of a hat.
I know for other organizations, perhaps bigger organizations, and further afield, that it was more of a change management process, or maybe they didn't have the tools or systems in place, they weren't ready for that, it was more of a shock to the system. And there's a whole calibration phase, not a business as usual phase. For us, we are completely enabled to work as usual. I think the question that begs is what will everybody take from this, when, you know, the virus COVID-19 is over, and things return to normal.
I think from this point onwards, everybody needs to have this kind of workflow-enabled, so that we are ready for everything. We found personally that our productivity has increased by at least 30%. You know, open offices and all of that kind of stuff can be quite noisy. Time spent in travelling can be time without an ROI. There are a lot of immediate benefits, and obviously, the reduction in overhead costs, you know, with utilities, and rental spaces, and all that, are obviously reduced this way. So yeah, we always need to be ready to do this, and it definitely does, it is the right way to scale sales teams.
So you can have your in-house, inside sales team, and that's good for certain stages of business growth, but eventually, when you want to do bigger deals, you want to do them face to face, when you want to be selling across different global territories, it's not always efficient to open a physical office in every location. Sometimes you just need to get the best salesperson available to cover that region, and to support them, to enable them, as a remote sales professional.
Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah, and going back to talking about marketing and DealHub, how do you see your marketing strategy?
How has it changed in light of the current circumstances?
Gideon (DealHub) - Right, so I touched on it before, so we reduced media spend, we pivoted less from acquisition, and more on to content, thought leadership, brand positioning. And we've made the investment in perhaps different types of content than we historically have done before.
We've gone deeper into video, we've seen massive, and positive ROI from that. And we've also increased our creative process, so Declan you probably would have seen that in recent weeks we've really doubled down on creating net new content for organic, for thought leadership, and we've committed to doing a net new piece every single day of the week.
That is very time consuming, labour intensive, and something as a marketing leader you wouldn't naturally think of as a starting point, cause you'd think, how do I scale that?
But what we've seen, as we've looked at the numbers, is that organic content shared through thought leaders, through people, has up to an 800% uplift, then content shared through the brand. And of course, there is, at times like this, you're looking for authenticity, you know, more than anything else.
So if I'm able to share it as a person, and you have questions, you're going to feel more comfortable that there's an address for that question than if it's coming through the company site.
More so than that, you can also see the other type of social permissions for other questions that have been asked. You know, posting the first question is always the hardest, whoever comes second and third feels a lot more enabled by seeing the tone of the conversation. And sometimes that means I need to be a little bit more informal, as a marketeer, so that I'm more approachable in that context.
Declan (Strategic IC) - So, obviously I see a lot of your content on LinkedIn, but are there other channels that you guys are finding are working well for you at the moment?
Gideon (DealHub) - Sure, so I touched on video. So, of course, video has a play on LinkedIn, but likewise, it has a play on YouTube, which is an amazing channel, a relatively less competitive channel than kind of Google Search. Essentially when you make the investment in video, you can probably get a return on it through LinkedIn organic, LinkedIn page, YouTube, Google Search, you can embed it into your website, you can embed it into your content assets, your blog posts, whatever else, your resource library, so massive ROI for that initial investment.
Other channels, I mean I know what the trends are saying, so the trends are saying that Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, are all peaking right now, massively, in comparison.
We haven't made a big pivot to those channels, because I'm already starting to see that the green shoots are coming out, and people are starting to return to normal. So I think once that happens, people will start to go back to the channels which are familiar to them.
So I don't see... I think there's unique times in life where you can actually gain ground in a channel where maybe you're a little bit further behind, than the bigger players, for example, LinkedIn.
And this was that moment, so rather than pivoting to something which was completely new, and doing it from, zero to 100 in three to five weeks, we decided to go deeper in what we know, rather than trying to experiment. I didn't feel that this was the right time to experiment when there are constraints on budgets, and everything else.
Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah, and you mentioned a couple of times, green shoots, finally, as kind of the last question to you.
Gideon (DealHub) - Yep.
Declan (Strategic IC) - How do you see, we're now into April which is almost over, we're entering May very shortly, how do you see now, the rest of the year for DealHub?
Gideon (DealHub) - Well the good news is we've, in the last days and weeks, we've been closing really really big, significant deals, so it's not just something that's theoretical,
I'm seeing people, and customers, putting their money where their mouth is, and I think there's always a need for capacity for, need-to-have products, as opposed to want-to-have products. And for example, one of our core products is our CPQ solution, pricing solution, and our contract management solution.
Even if you're working with a reduced workforce, your need for accuracy on closing deals, and contract management, and you know, your terms and conditions, will not go away. People will not want to leak revenue throughout the rest of the year. There are certain verticals that are actually improving right now.
So for example, the supply chain is going through a boom, obviously, the food and manufacture in relation to food is going through a huge boom right now. Telcos, Telecoms communications are going through a big boom right now. The tech industry, as a whole, is always buoyant, above others, whenever there's kind of an economic downturn, they're always the one to invest in. There's enough meat there, there's enough substance there in the marketplace, whereby people still want to improve, and actually, all it is is a litmus test. Some people have been prepared to stick with their legacy stack for a while now because it gave them job security.
Right now, there's a real litmus test to say actually I'm willing to consider change because there's a compelling need to get things to a higher degree of accuracy.
Declan (Strategic IC) - Interesting, Gideon, thank you very much. Lovely to speak to you again, and it's fascinating to learn more about DealHub, and the things that you're doing at the moment.
Thank you for your time today.
Gideon (DealHub) - Pleasure, thank you, Declan.