“Once you end up with customers who actually have demands, you have to go about the process of actually building a business. We grew this company with a fairly specialised widget for large enterprises, but that is not our ultimate goal. I believe there is a larger market and we are always looking for new technology and channel partners. It is a never ending process.”
Insightive.tv: What challenges do you face when reaching out to your target audiences?
Willy: Security seems like it would be an easy sell, and it is easy to get people to agree on the need for security. But it is much harder to get the budgetary commitment — the ROI is abstracted and security is sometimes an afterthought. One of our largest challenges is also an opportunity — we are in a new space. Even with all the noise, there are still people who don’t know that there are solutions to their problems. In an ill-defined space, people have questions, but they also don’t necessarily know what to search for. We try not to rely on the same search terms and buzzwords as everyone else – when vendors start parroting each everyone’s message gets diluted and it becomes difficult to accurately define your product’s place within the market.
For our sales team, the challenge is getting to all the stakeholders in a large organisation. This is particularly true because of the variety of people we need to contact. For a large company, new technology can require a big investment. Security is rarely bought in isolation — the real driver for the purchase is often the implementation of a digital transformation project. Not only do we need to speak with the usual suspects — senior IT people and the CISO — there are other factors and departments that come into play. Compliance teams have the power to stop projects and are often involved in our sales, but they normally don’t have the funding to actually purchase our products. With some firms, we have contracted with the HR, CRM or Marketing teams. With Salesforce, for example, we sell to the sales operations team.
Insightive.tv: What is your strategy to cut through the noise?
Willy: Delivering a steady stream of useful content is one of our core strategies. We are partnering with more syndication channels and focus heavily on creating content that stands on its own merits. Our webinars are not product pitches — we often just facilitate a panel discussion and put an oblique reference to what we do at the end. We find that people spend a more time on our content if it is substantive. Whatever the channel — email, Linkedin or social media — you must have something interesting to compel people to engage. Again, this is a benefit of working in a new sector — people are hungry for papers that are easy to understand, as well as more technical white papers that they can absorb at their own pace. We are able to invest in substantive content by using what we make as efficiently as possible. For example, we often take the transcript of a webinar and turn it into a blog or white paper, and push all three through social media.
From an outbound marketing standpoint, we are always trying to refine our targeting. However, we also periodically pull back to make sure that we are casting a wide enough net. There are always surprises — people who don’t have a standard job title, come from a smaller company or a new sector. I strive to make about half of our outbound marketing very targeted and half more exploratory and wide reaching. We are also always looking to work at scale and automate processes. Having said that, we almost inevitably get better results when there is at least a degree of personalisation. For example, when sending out an invite we find that a text-based invitation from me, or another identifiable person, performs about twice as well as a standard HTML email — even though the fancier email looks better. From an inbound perspective, we get personal pretty quickly. This is something we find works better in B2B sales.
Beyond targeting and content, we try to be thematic. Our core campaigns are generally made up of two or three themes that run concurrently across different channels. “Active Encryption” is an example of a current theme. Maintaining consistency on a topic across several channels and over a couple of quarters helps identify the company with an aspect of the industry and allows the topic to slowly cut through market noise via repetition.
Insightive.tv: How do you identify buyer needs and where do you see areas for expansion in the near future?
Willy: This sounds like a cliche, but you have to spend time with your customers. This is particularly true in a new sector — look at your early customers, listen to their needs and investigate what you did that brought them to your product. Messaging is very important, and hearing how your customers talk directly about purchasing drivers is far more valuable than what you can come up with in isolation. I am a big believer in applying an agile process, continuously updating and refining messaging.
Large enterprise deal often involves 20-30 people, over 100 touch points and takes 6-24 months to close. Getting a good sense of what works is an imprecise science — it was never just “one” thing that closed the deal. We have to look at the aggregate in terms of the whole trajectory of a successful deal. Inevitably, we try and triangulate on what we see being effective further down the sales funnel.
We have done very well in the financial service sector and healthcare industry. Expansion in these sectors is certainly a priority. But, I think a fresh area for expansion may be in our own backyard. Some of the big brands in Silicon Valley have moved so fast that their security developments have lagged behind.
If you are on the startup track in Silicon Valley, you often skip steps required to build a sustainable company. While many start out trying to hit the jackpot, once you end up with customers with real-world demands, you have to go about the process of actually building a business. We started this company with a fairly specialised widget for large enterprises, but that is not our ultimate goal. I believe there is a larger market and we are always looking for new technology and channel partners. It is a never ending process.
Building and maintaining a successful marketing funnel is an age old problem, and although things have become more efficient, they have also become more complicated. It is more complex than many people assume to use Salesforce and the range of available automation tools to create a tight process in which people all know what they are supposed to do. Linkedin is a channel that I am bullish on at the moment. The ability to target ads by industry, verticals and companies is very helpful. This can be even more effective when used to link content rather than product plugs. We work to keep a degree of personalisation and content focus within a scalable and automated system.
Willy Leichter is Vice President of Marketing at CipherCloud. With two decades of marketing experience, Willy joined CipherCloud in 2013 and became VP of Marketing in 2015. He currently leads teams responsible for all areas of outbound marketing, has revamped CipherCloud’s lead generation process and implemented content driven marketing campaigns to continue the company’s growth and market dominance. We spoke with Willy to learn how he cuts through the noise and connects with key stakeholders in an era of digital saturation.
CipherCloud is a leading cloud security firm providing an integrated multi-cloud security platform with customer-controlled encryption, content control, risk analysis and data protection. Named Best Cloud Computing Security Product of the Year by SC Magazine — CipherCloud has secured venture capital to expand within the burgeoning market of cloud security.