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How a Cybersecurity Marketer Buys | The Buyer Centric Revenue Model Podcast

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I've been interviewing cybersecurity buyers about why and how they buy for 4 months. The tables have turned. Nelson Gilliat, host of The Buyer Centric Revenue Model Podcast asked me how and why I buy.

The methods that get me to look at a vendor or solution.

It's initially understanding and getting references from friendlies in my network of what's a good vendor to try out. What's a good tool to try out, who's worth taking a look at up and coming, before initial evaluation?

Platforms I trust to learn about new vendors or solutions.

LinkedIn - I’m in LinkedIn every day. Slack communities. I would say that on occasion, there's a good content piece on LinkedIn that I'll see in my feed that will engage my interest. Then I'd read into that specific piece of collateral.

If it's really good, I'll likely remember the vendor and maybe I would potentially look at the solution, but it's largely the content and the value that I got from the content that makes me aware of the vendor in the first place.

How I learn about and research vendors.

I chat with my network and see who has used it. I identify what use cases they used the tool or solution for. Is it working well in terms of functionality and capabilities?

Then I'll really scan the website and go deep on the website, not only from the product and the feature standpoint, but I really do a lot of digging on the resource hub. Are they marketing or are they creating content that is actually valuable, like frameworks or case studies?

Do they have usage guides to help show how to use their tool or apply that tool to specific strategies or tactics? To me, that's an indication of a company that's thought of, “okay, they're gonna have a tool, they're gonna buy it and we're not going ghost them, leave them hanging high and dry trying to figure out how to use our solution.”

Then I definitely scan the product page and check out the features. If there's pricing. I always like to look at pricing to understand, “okay, is this gonna fit in my budget?” It's a quicker and easier pitch to my boss when I know right away the features and the cost.

Then if it's triggering on all those elements, I'll request an in-depth demo and come prepared with questions based on my requirements. During the demo, if the questions are answered, then I'll be able to continue and say, “okay, let's get on a broader demo to talk with my boss or the economic buyer,” who's actually going to find funds if I don't have the budget already.

Sometimes I can't make the case to the budget holder for buying a new tool that might look cool or might look really valuable and we need it right now and I didn't know about it.

So, you have to make the case with the economic buyer who actually has the pull to move things around from a budgetary standpoint.

The % I take a demo from marketing promotions.

Very rarely.

If I do the initial research myself or it comes from a reference, I do due diligence then will I take a demo.

When I moved over to Cybersixgill, I already knew what I wanted to evaluate and buy, because I've done that initial evaluation in other organizations, in my previous roles.

So, that's likely an interesting insight - I already knew the vendor, so I brought them over to my next company and evaluated them without taking a demo from any marketing promotion.

One mistake I made was when I took a demo and bought out of impulse

Years ago, I took a demo with Drift, which came from email outreach on their part.

I purchased them and then realized very quickly, even after doing the evaluation and even after going through the demo that we just weren't ready for that tool at that specific time. And so it was very much an underutilized tool.

What would have remediated this issue was working internally to assess the requirements, build a strategy, define KPIs and drivers, and owners, and only then start evaluating a tool for purchase.

The % split preference for getting information from marketing versus sales.

Again, it depends on the kind of tool you're buying - if you're buying an enterprise tool or a SaaS tool.

For enterprise products, 85% marketing - give all the information I need to learn by myself, and then 15% sales or representative help me out to kind of understand specific use cases, my business case and see how it fits in my context of pain and need.

For SaaS tools - 100% marketing - self-service.

The importance of being able to take a product for a spin.

It's important to a certain extent. If it's going to be a long, drawn-out process to onboard and get things up and running for a test drive, to me, that's an indication that it's probably not for me.

If it's integrating well into a sandbox environment, it's triggering on all features, and onboarding is a relatively easy and low lift for me then that's great for larger solutions.

If it's a SaaS tool and I have access to a free trial, obviously it's easier for me to buy SaaS tools that are a lower barrier to entry in terms of price.

The preference for working with one salesperson versus multiple salespeople.

I want to understand who my go-to is when I work with a vendor. Who's the one person I can rely on for any question, no matter what, and they'll find the resource for me?

It could be multiple people within the buying process giving me answers, but I'm leaning more towards that one person that I have an established relationship with, who I can rely on to give me the answers I need even after purchase.

If something happens or if I need some help, I know who the one person is for getting answers.

What turns me off and causes me to tune out.

Advertisements on Instagram and direct outreach on LinkedIn saying what they do and immediately leading with, “Hey, is this something that you might be interested in?”

I hate, hate, hate it - these days, particularly, because I'm trying to build my network on LinkedIn free of people who send unsolicited messages. I’m trying to build an authentic audience on LinkedIn. So, if somebody requests an invite and I do take a look at who those people are, I'm very selective.

You get good at understanding who's going to pitch you and who's not, but sometimes you miss it. If I miss that person and if that person reaches out and gives me the crappy pitch, I literally go back into that person’s profile and disconnect.

They're out.

Not all digital channels are meant to be used as promotional channels for your product.

Let’s talk about Instagram promotion for products and services.

For me, specifically, I just want to go on Instagram after my long, stressful day of work and look at nice or cool photos.

I rarely upload photos of myself or my family, but I go there to check out what's going on with my friends and check out some cool videos or pictures of tattoos or vacation spots I want to visit. And that's it.

I don't want to see any tools or vendors on Instagram. As an overworked demand gen marketer for a vendor, I'm not the audience that's going to buy something directly from Instagram.

I did that one time years ago for some content template and was so disappointed by the quality vs. cost.

I do like to see what companies are up to on Instagram at events or I like to see what's going on with regards to their employee-centric content or their community within the company.

Down the line, I may want to explore potential opportunities with a company that piques my interest in what they are doing in their company.

It's always nice to see who's doing a good job with making their employees feel good and I think that's a great indication and a great space to be able to attract great talent.

I do follow a few, not a lot, but a few companies I admire on Instagram so that I can take a look at what's going on behind the scenes, within the office and such.

A great insight that I got from Ryan Cloutier about four months ago when I was on a call with him was, “I take a look at Glassdoor to see how companies are treating their employees because that's a potential indication of how they're gonna treat their customers.”

To me, that was one of the most powerful insights I heard in a while.

Cold email outreach - the bain of everyone’s existence.

As a cybersecurity marketer, I get so many emails from organizations that want to sell me contact information.

I didn't even opt-in to get that information and there's never an unsubscribe button. I make it a habit to reply back and request for that person, let’s call her Rachel for the sake if names, to leave me alone.

Then three days later, another shmuck, Richard, sends me the same exact email. They’re like cockroaches - they never go away even after you try to exterminate them.

Going through this experience allows me to understand and feel the misery security practitioners endure. I understand why they hate marketers and salespeople who do that to them.

My honest feeling about cold calling.

What is telemarketing? I don't even pick up the phone to answer my father.

My phone is always on silent. I hate seeing numbers that I don't recognize.

I will only answer the phone if it's somebody I know and with which I have an established relationship. If it's a vendor that I'm in a contract with, the telephone is rare.

We're either talking through email, or LinkedIn, or we're communicating through WhatsApp Chat. It's all written communication.

Only if shit hits the fan is there a phone call or a scheduled Zoom call, but in no way will I ever answer a phone call from a number that I do not recognize. I decline immediately.

“SDRs should sit under the marketing function.”

Pushing to move the SDR role under a different function will not solve very fundamental problems.

The SDR role is an unfortunate role to be in. Because the people that have been setting the KPIs of SDRs are defining the wrong KPIs and the wrong methods to get those KPIs, setting up a hungry professional who wants to make it for failure.

It doesn’t matter if it’s sales or marketing defining those KPIs and methods. Sales and marketing departments are equally running shady tactics and unethical ways to reach and engage with buyers as well.

So, it’s not a “who should sit under who” argument. It's a “what is your mission” argument, “what is your approach,” and “what is your mentality” argument. 

The whole reason I created Audience 1st was that it stemmed from frustration.

I was trying to figure out how to understand my buyers, how to do discovery, and how to engage them and pull them in - attract attention versus push for attention. I was looking in forums and I was saying to myself, “this is how you market to cybersecurity practitioners?”

It felt wrong. It was totally wrong.

If those approaches don’t fly with me, as expressed above, who said they would work with busier and harder-to-reach audiences than me?

I told myself, “the way you are doing this, you're going just piss off the buyer and you're not gonna scale growth this way. This is not sustainable.”

The tactics and methods that some marketers and teams are running are not scalable, not ethical, and not the way things should be done.

Tactics I consistently see that don’t work for cybersecurity buyers and hurt your reputation

  • “If you take a demo or look at my website and give me your time, I will give you a free Yeti Travel Mug.” 

  • Using buzzwords and jargon to position your company or hook buyers into your content offers - means absolutely nothing in the context of a buyer’s pain and need.

  • Hiring booth babes to lure people into event booths or launching marketing campaigns at events that have no value to the buyer.

  • Enrolling prospects into an email “nurture” stream with a strong push to a demo; bonus: doing that when they didn’t even opt-in to be in communication with you.

It's not about who sits under which function, but it's how you approach things.

What's your mentality? What's your mission? Is it to make a profit at all costs?

Or arm your buyer with everything they need to solve their problems fast with the least amount of friction?

Companies are doing a disservice to marketing and sales professionals when they do not train them on how to understand buyers.

It really upsets me that there aren’t enough organizations doing a good job training their sales and marketing professionals on how to understand buyers, how to approach them, and how to support customers throughout their buying journey.

I think it's doing a really big disservice to a lot of professionals who are trying to do things the right way but don't know how to.

They need that guidance. Organizations that are stuck in this profit-at-all-cost mindset, aren't nurturing their talent to do things correctly - to, at the end of the day, help them scale growth.

Undergoing this training provides a great opportunity and differentiator for organizations and their talent.

The ability to do customer discovery and identify the pain is a force multiplier for anyone who attains it.

The steps I took to get closer to my buyers

I made a list of every single trivial task that I wasted months and years doing, cut them out of my workflow, stepped out of my marketing cave, and learned all by myself how to do buyer research.

It was scary. But the best decision of my life.

Every week, I have one conversation with a target buyer. I'm constantly learning how to extract qualitative data, which I haven't done enough of in the past and I know a lot of marketers and sales professionals aren't doing enough of it - even customer success.

What’s more, I don’t want to keep the insights I’m capturing to myself. I want to impart that wisdom and intelligence I’m gaining from my buyers to other marketers so that they feel comfortable unmuting their mic and getting closer to their customers instead of sitting in the marketing cave and pressing all those buttons, making assumptions, and wasting a lot of money and time to just piss off buyers.

It's not a quick journey. It takes time.

But, if you start on this journey, you will generate demand and close faster than if you continue with the status quo.

Check out the Buyer Centric Revenue Model:

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