B2B Revenue Acceleration
B2B Revenue Acceleration

Episode · 2 years ago

59: Marketing an Open Source Company w/ Freek Hemminga


“Open source” means more than just the software. It’s more of a business model, mindset, and culture — especially when it comes to growing and maintaining upstream and downstream communities.

On this episode, I got to interview Freek Hemminga, Head of EMEA Marketing at SUSE, about the challenges of marketing an open source company.

What we talked about:

  • The main goal of open source software (& how to achieve it)
  • Balancing brand and services / upstream and downstream
  • 5 ways to build positive communities
  • Qualifying inbound leads for a +20% growth

To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast.

 If you don’t use Apple Podcasts, you can listen to every episode here.

You were listening to bb revenue acceleration, a podcast dedicated to helping software executives stay on the cutting edge of salesand marketing in their industry. Let's get into the show. Hi, welcometo BTB revenue acceleration. My name is Dan Seeber and I'm here today withFreak Heminger ahead of a mayor marketing at suit. Oh you today, freak? I'll fine. Thank you. Good so, freak, thanks to joiningus today. We'll be talking about how to market and open source company.But before we go into that conversation, great if you could introduce yourself toour audience and also tell us more about yourself, as well as sous,which is, of course, the company you're representing. Okay, no problem. So, yeah, I'm handing up marketing for EMIA, and the mainpast that we have here at Susa is, thankually, to generate demand and togenerate lead in order to fill our pipeline. That's the main reason ofof our being. The team actually consists of a number of food marketing managersare spread across the geography and obviously they take care of the actual planning anddeployment in their respective region and also in country and with tous this over athree and a half years now. Actually also in this role, before Icame on board to Tousa, I spent about three years at a service providerwhere I was responsible for marketing as well as actually for severything they are indirect routs to market and also, including that, was more responsibility for theiralliances relationships. Prior to this, I spend my time as a field marketingmanager in inverter software and actually, from the acquisition of Veritas by semantic Iwas joining the MIA team where I was handing up ten of working for abouteight years or in total. So pretty much in indirect roots to market.That can't in conguncing with marketing and also in terms of the rest of thepartner landscape. Alliances has also been a big part of of my past experience. Okay, that's just needs sort of a little bit about myself and mybackground actually, and in terms of the company, obviously suits a slightly differentbased in that you're not, you know, a normal sort of staff the solution, or you're not a normal solution where the sales guys go out andsell it and then you go a year later and get a renew or whatever. You're an open source software company. So could you provide a bit ofbackground on Your Business and and the solution you're offering and and the way inwhich you're set up? Absolutely what I've never dealt with open source myself before. Just to put that to to to make the clear up front her.For me it was also a completely new journey when I went on board atschoozer. But actually stooze is is the, as we call it, the openopen source company, and we work with an ecosystem of partners and communitieswhereby we deliver enterprise great open source software, defined infrastructures and also application delivery solutions. So very much on the on the platform layer and the infrastructure layerwererectly providing our services for and on. But obviously all of that is alsobacked by our services and support to make sure that customers are getting a continueto support on on the solutions that are are consuming from us. And manypeople are themselves what about this open which is, I think, a veryvalid question to ask. But what it really means versus that open means morethan just software. And then the open source software as so it's so forits it's more of a business models of culture. So we're also very keento live it throughout our organization, leveraging our Linux heritage, because that's wherewe have emerged from. We also deliver open source solutions across other areas andwe are very keen to make sure that whatever we develop, whatever we sellin terms of solutions and services into our...

...customers, that we actually really makesure that there is no kind of vendor looking or anything like that. Sowe really want to make sure that customers have always the freedom of rice andtherefore also never will feel looked in by ourselves. So the two very importantmessage I want to get out of here, and what we're also doing is ontheir platform many for stricture layer is helping customers in their journey on thedigital transformation, because obviously they're the big seen these days, although since anumber of years, but it's a very long Johny for most companies. Showonly just started, but we're very keen that we actually help and support anduse a customers on that journey towards a ditical transformation of their business. Okay, excellent. Well, appreciate the background and it's seems like both yourself you'vegot a guess, a long and relatively sort of focus background between channel andmarks and then suited as a company of and of developed out the Linux Opensource background into the into the business that you are today that you just describe. Now. One of the things that we just touch on there being anopen sort of open source software company. The nature of this business, ofcourse, in your role is are there must be a balance between marketing,the brand, as in suitor and and the software, that technology itself,as well as, to your point a few minutes go around, the servicesand the support and subscription to old to me, generate the revenue for anopen source company in your role. You mentioned that primarily marketing on are inplace to generate demand and generate leads. But where do you see the mainfor what do you see among main focus as being? How do you thinkthat differs from Your Traditional Enterprise Software Company? Yeah, very good question and infact actually it is always a balancing x to drafts both areas and ina way I find it comparable to the traditional software vendors, however, thataccepts you. Where we have to deal with is also an upstream community wherewe still have to make sure we're driving awareness around our brand, but alsoaround our solutions for the respective open source project that these upstream communities are responsiblefor or that they represent, and for our course, solutions. We mustcontinue to build the market awareness of the problems which we are we believe theopen source is the solution to and also the lastly, what we can offerin order to help them do that. Open source is, in a way, all about communities, whether it's your partner ecosystem, which we call thedowns, the downstream communities of the downstream areas, but equally important is alsothe the upstream. So I'm not sure how how well where you are ofthese upstream communities, but what I have started to experience that actually it's justlike a big fan base around this particular project. So it's a very differentway of how you're dealing with that. So it's not about the hardcore marketingmessage that is completely setting people off and upsetting them at the same time,and so you really have to make sure that you really contributing by by knowledgethat you were bring value to the conversation. So it's more of a dialog.So if you want as well, and we also need to make surethat we have a representation of to in these e open source project in orderto make sure there, you know, people in the community alls receptive towhat we're bring to them. So it's all about giving take and it's notabout it we going in with through traditional hardcore marketing message because again, thereis not working at all. So you have to be treating it in away that, you know, people feel that you as a brand actually bringvalue to their community. Yeah, that and that's an interesting point in makingthere, which is the nature of those individuals that reside within the upstream community, which are guessing developers and similar to...

...the roles, just by their verynature of their role and the type of person that typically goes into that role. They don't really react well to that, that standard sort of direct sales andmarketing approach, which is engaging with them from cold and just trying topush products and messages down the throat. I think they they're difficult to findon places like Linkedin and Zing and and all of those sort of social mediaplatform they don't really want to make themselves publicly available. So I think toyour point that that marketing around sort of knowledge sharing and being a trusted adviserand and being part of that community is seemed to be extremely important for them. I guess we're touching on that now, which leads me to my next question, which is clearly marketing strategy for a company like yourself is to buildrelationship with those communities, both the upstream communities and downstream communities, which,of course, that the partners. Now, as we both know, communities tendto be built organically, although you can of course accelerate that as abusiness, and there are many ways to both have positively and, as youjust mentioned, negatively influenced communities, but will focus on the positive to now. So from your perspective, what are some of the marketing tactics, whetherat Susa or just generally, you can apply in order to develop and alsomaintain the communities that you're you're building? Yeah, well, we do thatthrough must pall tactics. So you know, of course, you can think aboutsome of the big open source projects that have their own conferences attached toit. You know, this particular week we had the carfindary simony in theHake, you've cube calling our open source summers. There are so many ofthese conferences. So that's where you have an ability to do engage with.You know, we at least a very specific community, because it's sort ofmore of a comparing way to to protuce there in mind, and actually alot of the tech people are credit to though, on twitter, and alsowhat you typically see, and you know I don't generalize here, but whatif we generally see if your people are also very keen about their reputation?So also this is about what they bring to their community, how they're beingperceived and obviously know how how valuable people will see that they need victual isin terms of their knowledge and thransfer of that, as well as some ofthe ideas and perspectives spring to the community. So we will also want to makesure that, through the digital channels, were playing that well and we're engagingactively in these conversations. So that's one way of doing it. Andon the other hand, just before I describe that, I also want tosort of give a perspective where we sit in the hall, in the wholesolution, because in a way, who is a bit like an engine insidethe car. Most people don't really think about their engine when they purchase thecar and they are, unless you're eating neximum performance for race car, forexample. That actually on a different topic. But actually, you know, weare just part of that of that car and most businesses are being addressedwith a mix of independent hotware vendors, channels, system integrators and such thatactually sort of all together having integrated augmented way of their sellers to bring thatcar to the market. So within our go to market we have multiple rootsto market. We need to play the firm. We need to make sureit at also the receptiveness to our solutions is well in you stood by theirsellers, who are typically do control often the skills engagement before we get involved, but also that they are able to articulate the value that we bring.So in terms of influencing or engaging with with the audiences, we are notyou looking just at sort of these print communities where we do a bit offace to face physical events. You want, this is digital. But we alsoreally need to make sure that we don't get that that middle part who'sdoing all the augmentation of the various elements...

...to bring the total solutions customers.So that part, for is is equally important that we make sure that we'reall, thankfully applying various tactics to bring that knowledge transfer and bring it insightto our sellers of our indirect roots to market and our partner ecosystem. Sothat's what kind of tactics can think about. We do actual love of engagement withthem on their big Trados where typically a large portion of their sellers isavailable. We also spend a lot of time on partner enablement, whether it'ssome of partners or alliances, wherefore actually we have also partner able the teamso lically toughly taking good care of that, and we also make sure that wedo actually a lot of say to a degree. Account Base Marketing Approachis to make sure that within specific partners we are creating an uplift around theawareness around our solutions that are specific with that particular of a partner that webring to market. So if it's a big as I we want to makesure that we didn't. As I there's a good understanding that actually sees thispart of their portfolio and worth the role is is that we're playing in theirtotal solution they're being to markets or in the particular business practice at they're bringto markets and so on. So for all these partners too, fights wherewe're doing that equally. But also we need to make sure we're driving alot of tactics towards our end use of communities, because at the end oftoday, we also say there's all that full and push at the end ofthe day. So we also want to make sure that also the end useshave an understanding why they actually need us and actually that they can also recrecentfrom their partner. But also with the changes of the whole roots to marketthese days, where you have the higher scalers, or the service providers,if you want, that have been on the rise the last few years.You know, likes of Amazon, Google and markets soft with Azure. Therewas actually also more of a trend that and user style directly to these marketplaces and therefore wheelso need to make sure that also those people on the injuriesare side now where to find us and actually that they will find us,or at least search for us, on those market places for building and puttingtogether their solutions on them on these public cards. So again it's a mixtureof face to face as well as digital, and the digital part what I've experienceson the rise of the last three years by a riotically in comparison tobefore. But again it's also about being more laser focus and more specific andbeing able to deliver a more relevant message to the respective personas at the particularstational buying cycle. Absolutely, and that will make sense and that does agreat sort of insight into what you're doing there and, course, those variousdifferent mediums or tactics that you're applying a facetoface at the events and digital channelsacross your partner ecosystem and then obviously influencing directly and uses as well. Clearly, from a marketing perspective that involves quite a bit of upfront investment, particularlyat for a software come for an open source company, before you actually startrecognizing revenue, because you're they're starting to use lize your solution and it's obviouslynot until he gets that point in time where you're either they either require supportor further subscriptions and services around that that you you still actually generating revenue nowprior to that stage. Really, what are the some of the sort ofmeasurements that you can use to understand the impact that you're marketing is actually havingon these communities, both from a pre revenue but also a revenue stage.How do you measure the impact that your marketings having on those communities? Yeah, and this is this is actually working. Start to differ quite a bit froma few years ago. And where you see? That's all the traditionalsoftware companies still have their potatial licensing models where you have a big deal,you get all the cast up front, so it's sold one and this ayou know, you know exactly what it was that marketing has been contributing tothe business, in this case within subscription...

...base or whether it's, you know, a recurring revenue stream. It becomes indeed a bit more complicated. Soit's still all quite possible to measure the contributions were making, but you haveto do that over a longer period of time to really measure correctly what youractual impact is and therefore what your total returners of your investor euro dollar apound, and so where we are measuring in the first place, our successfrom a marketing standpoint is what we are contributing to our pipeline, and Imean the active pipeline. So hopeviously we bring an awful lot of opportunities andsome of those go go and loss, which is all totally understandable, butwe're also really measuring how, from its subscription based revenue do we contribute tothe total pipeline? So that's one side of it. And then, secondly, we're also measuring the extensive we know what's the revenue, the subscription basedrevenue, that we bring to the bottom line, where we actually see alsothe closed opportunities getting in our books. The one thing, though, thatwe're also moving towards to industry to start moving in the direction where we areable to measure the customer lifetime value, and this is a bit more complicated. It's particularly at least an hour space. is where you see that the initialorder, the initial subscription, often is relatively low in terms of valuebecause you know, they get it set up, they do the cause staffand then actually is that all overnch day order, the next best which actuallyis for their prediction, violens. And this is where, you know,where it becomes more important and interesting, because then you see that, overa twelve month period, for example, the value of that particular customer thatwe through to the business significantly higher than what it might have looked after thefirst month. So that's what I mean. You have to really look at thelongevity of the customer relationship on the one hand, and also the valueit builds up over the time. And you know, on the other hand, which is typically what you see by recurring or with recurring revenues strings,is that you also have to start factoring any turn that you're getting from fromyour customer base because it the end, it's Day, you have to makeup for that because if you get to you losing that revenue stream as well. And this is, I think, the next step for organizations like oursthat are to them the transformation of prescription even to recurring, which you alsohave seen with the likes of Microsoft, for example. Yeah, good examplesare though. We you there to had a very Richard turn turn around foodextually came. I was very strong. So a lot of soup for companiesare gone through a transition to really become not to subcust in verse, buteven recruiting absolutely, and regarding that piece around reducing Chourn and really focusing onthe customer success, that you acquire a client and then how you can gofrom, and she's starting with a small client to helping them to become alarger client and then keeping them for the long period. We had an interestingdiscussion a few weeks ago on this podcast with gentleman called Dan stilement from gainsites, and if you have any interest in listening to that I encouraged todo so because that was a an indepth discussion around the positive impact of customersuccess and how actually the what the importance is about which of that function toreduce. He gave some very interesting stats around what sales force are doing andhow actually a very, very high percentage, if not pretty much all, oftheir bookings and now coming from repeat business and their churn has become verylow as they've invested more heavily in customer success and account management. Then theyhave of your typical new business sales resources. One of the points you made therewas around tracking active opportunities and an opportunity and then subsequently revenue, Ishould say. To get to that point, of course, from a marketing perspectiveyou have to generate leads and demand,...

...as you touched on your role fulfillingat the start of this corpor being in open source company. We've seenit before when we open with companies like elastic, generate a large volume ofinbound leads that typically need some some qualification before they get in the hand ofyour of your field sales rep where you're inside cells rap, whoever would takethat initial conversation that maybe because they're they're either two low level or they're notactually a business that ever, just an individual that's interesting playing around with thissort of software. It there's a lot of factors that will go into it, but they typically need some further qualification for a business like yours. Whatsort of, I guess, percentage or impact is those inbound leads that you'llgenerate a lot of them, of course, having coming on your on your pipelineat revenue is at is that a large percentage or is that what arethe sources would you have? If not? Yeah, excellent questions. Are Oneof the things that we started to focus on. More so we startedback two years ago on that. If you firstly really enhanced the quality levelson an inquiry level, from from an inbound perspective. So we use quantitiesof inquiries. At three years ago, relatively speaking, there was a lownumber of the actually really filtered through. So obviously it's nice to have ahigh volume of inquiries, but if the qualities on on part, you knowwhat we what we require in order to be successful, then you need tosee, okay, what you do we need to do to make sure thequality level is going up. So that was also where we started to becomemore targeted, do more segmentation, you more want to feel really embark onthe digital side where you know you have a lot of ability to to bemore targeted, to be more specific, has a better and a more relevantmethod to the individuals. And actually now we really have seen a big fiftin terms of that quality so on. Just on the inquiry level, weare actually pretty much static you're over here at the moment. But on thecontrary, we are driving first twenty percent higher volume on the lead side.So actually is really starting to pay off that, you know, you canstill make a similar investment but actually drive much more potential pipeline on the backof it. Your other question in terms of yeah, how do we sortof sit through that? We have teley qualifiers and the actually within marketing.So they are also my team, and what they do is they go throughall of these leads. So's tried to contact all of these individuals. Soyou know, we work with the traditional orging Model S. it's old,based on the serious decision methodology which actually, I think these as most people use. So nothing, nothing too specifical or tailors, I would say.But anyway, they they do work on on the qualified, the automated qualifiedleads, and they made sure that they have a capability to identify thankful interestbased on then criteria. If they do that, then actually they will convertit and then it's being natal to stills, and we do that by means ofa so called warm handle. So we just not throw it over thetrends or just push it through the systems, but we also make through that thetally qualifiers work with our insight feels we actually picked it up. Theydo the first place on the still side, that they know what it is,that they're seeing where it comes from and that get some of thistional theirpart in order to be effective with their follow up, either themselves or actuallythat they conveyed to stills wrap or to a pint our card manager that thenconsequently can also work again with a partner on those leads. So that's sothe typical model that we apply at the moment. Okay, interesting and,as you said, over the course of our discussion. I think approaching marketingfor an open source company certainly has some differences, for particularly around the thethe communities piece, or be it still important to build trusted communities as nomatter what type of Software Company are? But I think that there's added valuethere for an open source company and also,...

...obviously it's some slight differences when itcomes to to understanding what impact you're having from a pipeline. In anyperspective there's also some some similarities. Really interesting conversation. Appreciate your insight.So I think we're coming too the end of Lup of our time today.Free So, and I really appreciate what you've shared with us today. SoI guess last point would be if anyone wants to connect with you learn moreabout you or suitor as a company, what would be the best way toget in touch with pie person, man or sad the business? Well,personally, people can always retalk to me on Linkedin on there. I'm alsoon twitter. So how people can find me there. Two if you wantto connect with whos or want to know more about what will for, andalso if you want to get in touch with Schooza, you can visit schoosit or come and you can either use the text or you connect the alsosubmit a request called for and you will be called back for the twenty fourhours. Excellent. That sounds like a good SLA. Okay. Well,once again, thanks not for Johan yesterday free and being great homing on.Sure there's been a pleasure. Thank you very much. operatics has redefined themeaning of revenue generation for technology companies worldwide. While the traditional concepts of building andmanaging inside sales teams inhouse has existed for many years, companies are strugglingwith a lack of focus, agility and scale required in today's fast and complexworld of enterprise technology sales. See How operatics can help your company accelerate pipelineat operatics dotnet. You've been listening to be tob revenue acceleration. To ensurethat you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcastplayer. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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