How do retail tech companies break away from the crowded MarTech landscape to sell to the retail or e-commerce marketing leader – one of the most heavily-targeted B2B buyer personas?
That question was the inspiration for a virtual workshop that we recently hosted with a select group of founders and marketing executives of early-stage B2B retail tech companies. The workshop spotlighted industry veterans offering insider tips on the dos and don’ts of selling enterprise SaaS MarTech with a focus on what’s changed in COVID times:
- Nick Lamothe (Chief Marketing Officer at Legends, formerly at Reebok)
- Megan Kohout (VP E-Commerce and Customer Analytics at Kendra Scott, formerly at Amazon, Ann Taylor, and Club Monaco)
- Jordan Elkind (Managing Director at Blue Seedling, formerly at retail tech vendors Custora and Amperity)
Here’s the full recording of the workshop:
And here are five key takeaways from the workshop for retail tech companies looking to cut through the noise.
Five Key Takeaways
- Make yourself a COVID necessity. The most successful vendors have creatively pivoted or repackaged their capabilities to address core COVID pain points. Megan cited examples from her own buying experience: a logistics vendor that leveraged its fleet to offer same-day delivery, for example, and an augmented reality (AR) vendor that focused on improving web conversion rates and reducing returns in a world of store closures. Jordan highlighted how customer data platforms (CDPs), typically pitched as an infrastructure investment or incremental revenue play, have focused on driving media cost savings. Across the board, retail tech vendors must find a “hook” that enables them to solve a burning COVID challenge.
- Some channels might be down – but retail marketers always crave experience and connection. COVID restrictions have put a damper on a critical B2B marketing channel: conferences and events. But the most successful vendors are finding other ways to tap into marketers’ desire to learn from one another. Nick has been tuning in to his own network more to learn about new technologies – underscoring the benefits of an authentic and well-architected referral program. Megan highlighted the success of a recent vendor-sponsored at-home wine-tasting event (wine provided by the vendor!) whose focus was not on selling, but on connecting her with other local marketing leaders.
- Relevant, unique content FTW. During times of upheaval and change, marketers are hungry for data that will help them make sense of what’s going on in their business and chart out a path forward. That observation inspired Jordan to assert that data journalism is the single most effective and under-utilized marketing channels for retail tech companies at this moment. He spoke about his experience building the Amperity Retail Monitor, an industry benchmark that used pooled, anonymized consumer retail data to track changes across channels, geographies, and product categories as the pandemic unfolded. The Monitor secured free press coverage in publications like Forbes and Fast Company and generated dozens of MQLs at a time when traditional channels were in freefall.
- Develop an offer and pricing strategy that builds incremental trust. Now is the time to button up your pilot strategy. For both Nick and Megan, the most successful vendors have de-risked the investment process for them by offering well-constructed pilot programs. Nick appreciated a programmatic audio vendor that offered a 30-day trial with clear ROI guarantees. Megan highlighted how a customer data infrastructure provider ran a pilot focused not on campaign ROI, but on nailing a single use case: creating an accurate identity graph. In every case, the pilots a) demonstrate “quick wins” b) have a clear definition of success c) are tied to the long-term value proposition of the technology.
- Don’t forget you’re selling to humans. The most spirited conversation – from both workshop participants and panelists – centered on how to strike the right balance in the sales and outreach conversation. Nick and Megan both shared horror stories of cold outreach that was too vague (“I was just checking out your profile, it would be great to connect”) or too creepy (LinkedIn outreach with detailed descriptions of the food from the retailer’s college cafeteria). The consensus was: a) be direct about why you’re reaching out and why you think your technology will solve a problem for that specific person b) add value from the first interaction (“here’s an article I thought you might find interesting”) and c) treat sales prospects the same way that you would treat actual humans you’re meeting – with warmth, humor, an appropriate level of personalization, and humanity.
The main takeaway? As Nick, Megan, and Jordan emphasized: retail tech companies can achieve breakthrough success, even (or especially) in COVID times, by tuning their message and outreach to the needs and challenges of the marketing leader.
You can watch the full workshop here.
About Blue Seedling
Blue Seedling works with Israeli B2B startups as a plug & play marketing team or as a complement to existing marketing capabilities. We’re “full-stack marketers” across all marketing activities: messaging and positioning, website design, sales enablement, marketing planning and budgeting, running marketing programs (webinars, content, PR, events & conferences, prospecting), generating sales opportunities, and recruiting marketing talent.
Our remote team and network include marketing managers, marketing strategy experts, copywriters, graphic design partners, a website development agency, PR agency partners, a Facebook / Google advertising expert, and a 15-person remote team.