SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Dana Drissel, CMO at Kaon Interactive

In this chat, Dana Drissel shares a few thoughts on what Sales teams need today, versus what they had to prioritize more of during pre-Covid-19 days:

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Hi Dana, welcome to SalesTechStar! Must be exciting taking over as CMO here at Kaon Interactive, tell us about your journey through the years…

I’ve been working at Kaon Interactive for the past 15 years. During that time, we’ve been leading the way in developing interactive sales and marketing applications for the world’s largest B2B companies. I’m proud to lead an agile marketing team, supported by great leadership and an amazing community of colleagues, that can pivot as the marketing and technology industries shift. To put that into perspective, when I started at Kaon, smart phones and Twitter didn’t exist – let alone innovations such as the cloud, tablets, augmented and virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. Each of those developments brought up a different need for our customers and an expansion of Kaon’s offerings to be a solution to those needs.

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A few of the top of mind initiatives you’d address in your new role?

Positioning. Positioning. Positioning. With the introduction of a product manager this year, a European market expansion, and a shift to a digital-first enterprise mentality driven by the pandemic, we need to focus on elevating and reframing our positioning to align with current and future audience needs.

  • Why – What problems are we solving?
  • What – What do we propose to do?
  • How – How can our platform and approach deliver this?

From your time over the years, what are some top learnings you have for product marketers?

Think beyond the feature and function of your product. Think about the value your products or services deliver to your customers. If your customers don’t understand the tangible business outcomes and results they will get from your solutions, they will commoditize your offering.

Today, sellers have little opportunity to influence customer buying decisions (buyers now spend only 17% of their buying journey meeting with potential suppliers), so failure to quickly and concisely articulate your competitive differentiation and value will be a deal-breaker.

This can be a challenge for IT, manufacturing and life science companies that offer complex solutions. They need to find ways to communicate their story that aren’t passive PDFs, videos or presentations.

ABM has fast become the name of the game for the industry over the years: a few examples of some of your most successful ABM campaigns (and insight into the platforms you used to drive goals?).

Getting to the right audience, with the right message, at the right time is key for any seller.

I’ve found that you can’t just rely on one medium to make this happen. Over the last few months, we’ve been running ABM programs for some of our largest global enterprise customers (IBM, Cisco, Dell) to let them know our solutions can extend beyond individual silos (sales, marketing, training, onboarding) to create long-term, cross-functional value and ROI.

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To do this, we ran a series of LinkedIn sponsored ad campaigns (with short videos) showcasing our digital customer applications being used by our customers to communicate their complex value differentiation stories across their buyer’s journey (in-person and virtual via events, websites, sales meetings, executive briefing centers, and more). These sponsored ads would go into the LinkedIn feeds of our top-tier audience (e.g. Director of Product Marketing, Event & EBC Manager, VP of Marketing, CMO) at the company we’re actively targeting. The program was pay-per-click, so we were generating tons of awareness but only paying if someone showed an interest in learning more. This made the campaign extremely cost effective.

These ads coincided with email outreach via our marketing automation platform (Pardot) to drive maximum awareness and reach. We have also introduced small-batch, ultra-targeted customer roundtables via the Zoom Webinar platform, layered with the above. The programs elevated our awareness and resulted in dozens of meetings within net-new divisions of our customers’ organizations.

What are a few of the top marketing plans, strategies and hacks you feel CMOs in 2021 (in SaaS) need to be focusing on more?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, executive leaders at B2B global enterprise companies have been looking for ways to sustain and grow their organizations without in-person meetings. This challenge has revealed a variety of temporary “fixes” for siloed functional areas within a company, including sales, marketing, employee onboarding, training, etc.

Pre-COVID, enterprise organizations built the foundations of their customer acquisition around in-person meetings and events. Over the past year, we’ve learned that CMOs MUST have a more agile approach to marketing to adapt to changing customer needs and the variable business landscapes. And, while selling and working remotely, we’ve learned that customers crave interactive experiences.

When in virtual meetings and events, we need to find ways to keep attendees engaged in order to transfer enthusiasm, gain insights, and provide deeper knowledge. This creates a more serendipitous interaction with other people that allows us to see problems and discover solutions in new way.

Can you tell us about some of your preferred salestech and martech tools from your time in the market: a few that have become your go-to platforms repeatedly?

I am constantly using Owler and ZoomInfo to follow, track, and research companies. They crowdsource competitive insights by providing news alerts, company profiles, and polls in real-time.

LinkedIn Navigator is our sales team’s primary tool for extending our network and reaching new prospects.

Then, Salesforce is critical in cohesively collecting all that data and being able to report on it and our interactions in a meaningful way.

A few top takeaways for young marketers aspiring to be CMOs in the future?

Budget needs to be spent wisely. ROI needs to be both defined and closely tracked to justify the spend. It is easy to get caught up in the small things. Always be strategic and focus on what makes the most impact for your company. You will make mistakes. Those lessons learned will prove to be of great worth.

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Kaon Interactive

Kaon Interactive is a B2B software company, their interactive sales & marketing applications simplify clients’ complex product and solution stories in a visually engaging manner.

Dana Drissel is the CMO at Kaon Interactive

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