B2B Revenue Acceleration
B2B Revenue Acceleration

Episode · 2 years ago

59: Marketing an Open Source Company w/ Freek Hemminga

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

“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 sales and marketing in their industry. Let's get into the show. Hi, welcome to BTB revenue acceleration. My name is Dan Seeber and I'm here today with Freak Heminger ahead of a mayor marketing at suit. Oh you today, freak? I'll fine. Thank you. Good so, freak, thanks to joining us 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 to our 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 main past that we have here at Susa is, thankually, to generate demand and to generate lead in order to fill our pipeline. That's the main reason of of our being. The team actually consists of a number of food marketing managers are spread across the geography and obviously they take care of the actual planning and deployment in their respective region and also in country and with tous this over a three and a half years now. Actually also in this role, before I came on board to Tousa, I spent about three years at a service provider where I was responsible for marketing as well as actually for severything they are in direct routs to market and also, including that, was more responsibility for their alliances relationships. Prior to this, I spend my time as a field marketing manager in inverter software and actually, from the acquisition of Veritas by semantic I was joining the MIA team where I was handing up ten of working for about eight 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 the partner 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 my background actually, and in terms of the company, obviously suits a slightly different based 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 and sell 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 of background on Your Business and and the solution you're offering and and the way in which 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 at schoozer. But actually stooze is is the, as we call it, the open open source company, and we work with an ecosystem of partners and communities whereby 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 layer wererectly providing our services for and on. But obviously all of that is also backed by our services and support to make sure that customers are getting a continue to support on on the solutions that are are consuming from us. And many people are themselves what about this open which is, I think, a very valid question to ask. But what it really means versus that open means more than just software. And then the open source software as so it's so for its it's more of a business models of culture. So we're also very keen to live it throughout our organization, leveraging our Linux heritage, because that's where we have emerged from. We also deliver open source solutions across other areas and we are very keen to make sure that whatever we develop, whatever we sell in terms of solutions and services into our...

...customers, that we actually really make sure that there is no kind of vendor looking or anything like that. So we really want to make sure that customers have always the freedom of rice and therefore also never will feel looked in by ourselves. So the two very important message I want to get out of here, and what we're also doing is on their platform many for stricture layer is helping customers in their journey on the digital transformation, because obviously they're the big seen these days, although since a number of years, but it's a very long Johny for most companies. Show only just started, but we're very keen that we actually help and support and use 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've got a guess, a long and relatively sort of focus background between channel and marks and then suited as a company of and of developed out the Linux Open source 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 an open sort of open source software company. The nature of this business, of course, 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 services and the support and subscription to old to me, generate the revenue for an open source company in your role. You mentioned that primarily marketing on are in place to generate demand and generate leads. But where do you see the main for what do you see among main focus as being? How do you think that differs from Your Traditional Enterprise Software Company? Yeah, very good question and in fact actually it is always a balancing x to drafts both areas and in a way I find it comparable to the traditional software vendors, however, that accepts you. Where we have to deal with is also an upstream community where we still have to make sure we're driving awareness around our brand, but also around our solutions for the respective open source project that these upstream communities are responsible for or that they represent, and for our course, solutions. We must continue to build the market awareness of the problems which we are we believe the open source is the solution to and also the lastly, what we can offer in order to help them do that. Open source is, in a way, all about communities, whether it's your partner ecosystem, which we call the downs, the downstream communities of the downstream areas, but equally important is also the the upstream. So I'm not sure how how well where you are of these upstream communities, but what I have started to experience that actually it's just like a big fan base around this particular project. So it's a very different way of how you're dealing with that. So it's not about the hardcore marketing message 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 knowledge that 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 sure that we have a representation of to in these e open source project in order to make sure there, you know, people in the community alls receptive to what we're bring to them. So it's all about giving take and it's not about it we going in with through traditional hardcore marketing message because again, there is not working at all. So you have to be treating it in a way that, you know, people feel that you as a brand actually bring value to their community. Yeah, that and that's an interesting point in making there, 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 very nature 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 and marketing approach, which is engaging with them from cold and just trying to push products and messages down the throat. I think they they're difficult to find on places like Linkedin and Zing and and all of those sort of social media platform they don't really want to make themselves publicly available. So I think to your point that that marketing around sort of knowledge sharing and being a trusted adviser and 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 build relationship with those communities, both the upstream communities and downstream communities, which, of course, that the partners. Now, as we both know, communities tend to be built organically, although you can of course accelerate that as a business, and there are many ways to both have positively and, as you just mentioned, negatively influenced communities, but will focus on the positive to now. So from your perspective, what are some of the marketing tactics, whether at Susa or just generally, you can apply in order to develop and also maintain the communities that you're you're building? Yeah, well, we do that through must pall tactics. So you know, of course, you can think about some of the big open source projects that have their own conferences attached to it. You know, this particular week we had the carfindary simony in the Hake, you've cube calling our open source summers. There are so many of these 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 of more of a comparing way to to protuce there in mind, and actually a lot of the tech people are credit to though, on twitter, and also what you typically see, and you know I don't generalize here, but what if 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 being perceived and obviously know how how valuable people will see that they need victual is in terms of their knowledge and thransfer of that, as well as some of the ideas and perspectives spring to the community. So we will also want to make sure that, through the digital channels, were playing that well and we're engaging actively in these conversations. So that's one way of doing it. And on the other hand, just before I describe that, I also want to sort of give a perspective where we sit in the hall, in the whole solution, because in a way, who is a bit like an engine inside the car. Most people don't really think about their engine when they purchase the car and they are, unless you're eating neximum performance for race car, for example. That actually on a different topic. But actually, you know, we are just part of that of that car and most businesses are being addressed with a mix of independent hotware vendors, channels, system integrators and such that actually sort of all together having integrated augmented way of their sellers to bring that car to the market. So within our go to market we have multiple roots to market. We need to play the firm. We need to make sure it at also the receptiveness to our solutions is well in you stood by their sellers, 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 not you looking just at sort of these print communities where we do a bit of face to face physical events. You want, this is digital. But we also really need to make sure that we don't get that that middle part who's doing 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're all, thankfully applying various tactics to bring that knowledge transfer and bring it insight to our sellers of our indirect roots to market and our partner ecosystem. So that's what kind of tactics can think about. We do actual love of engagement with them on their big Trados where typically a large portion of their sellers is available. We also spend a lot of time on partner enablement, whether it's some of partners or alliances, wherefore actually we have also partner able the team so lically toughly taking good care of that, and we also make sure that we do actually a lot of say to a degree. Account Base Marketing Approach is to make sure that within specific partners we are creating an uplift around the awareness around our solutions that are specific with that particular of a partner that we bring to market. So if it's a big as I we want to make sure that we didn't. As I there's a good understanding that actually sees this part of their portfolio and worth the role is is that we're playing in their total solution they're being to markets or in the particular business practice at they're bring to markets and so on. So for all these partners too, fights where we're doing that equally. But also we need to make sure we're driving a lot of tactics towards our end use of communities, because at the end of today, we also say there's all that full and push at the end of the day. So we also want to make sure that also the end uses have an understanding why they actually need us and actually that they can also recrecent from their partner. But also with the changes of the whole roots to market these 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. There was actually also more of a trend that and user style directly to these market places and therefore wheelso need to make sure that also those people on the injuries are 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 putting together their solutions on them on these public cards. So again it's a mixture of face to face as well as digital, and the digital part what I've experiences on the rise of the last three years by a riotically in comparison to before. But again it's also about being more laser focus and more specific and being able to deliver a more relevant message to the respective personas at the particular stational buying cycle. Absolutely, and that will make sense and that does a great sort of insight into what you're doing there and, course, those various different mediums or tactics that you're applying a facetoface at the events and digital channels across 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, particularly at for a software come for an open source company, before you actually start recognizing revenue, because you're they're starting to use lize your solution and it's obviously not until he gets that point in time where you're either they either require support or further subscriptions and services around that that you you still actually generating revenue now prior to that stage. Really, what are the some of the sort of measurements that you can use to understand the impact that you're marketing is actually having on 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 from a few years ago. And where you see? That's all the traditional software 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 a you know, you know exactly what it was that marketing has been contributing to the business, in this case within subscription...

...base or whether it's, you know, a recurring revenue stream. It becomes indeed a bit more complicated. So it's still all quite possible to measure the contributions were making, but you have to do that over a longer period of time to really measure correctly what your actual impact is and therefore what your total returners of your investor euro dollar a pound, and so where we are measuring in the first place, our success from a marketing standpoint is what we are contributing to our pipeline, and I mean the active pipeline. So hopeviously we bring an awful lot of opportunities and some of those go go and loss, which is all totally understandable, but we're also really measuring how, from its subscription based revenue do we contribute to the 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 based revenue, that we bring to the bottom line, where we actually see also the closed opportunities getting in our books. The one thing, though, that we're also moving towards to industry to start moving in the direction where we are able 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 initial order, the initial subscription, often is relatively low in terms of value because you know, they get it set up, they do the cause staff and then actually is that all overnch day order, the next best which actually is for their prediction, violens. And this is where, you know, where it becomes more important and interesting, because then you see that, over a twelve month period, for example, the value of that particular customer that we through to the business significantly higher than what it might have looked after the first month. So that's what I mean. You have to really look at the longevity of the customer relationship on the one hand, and also the value it 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 from your customer base because it the end, it's Day, you have to make up 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 ours that are to them the transformation of prescription even to recurring, which you also have seen with the likes of Microsoft, for example. Yeah, good examples are though. We you there to had a very Richard turn turn around food extually came. I was very strong. So a lot of soup for companies are gone through a transition to really become not to subcust in verse, but even recruiting absolutely, and regarding that piece around reducing Chourn and really focusing on the customer success, that you acquire a client and then how you can go from, and she's starting with a small client to helping them to become a larger client and then keeping them for the long period. We had an interesting discussion a few weeks ago on this podcast with gentleman called Dan stilement from gain sites, and if you have any interest in listening to that I encouraged to do so because that was a an indepth discussion around the positive impact of customer success and how actually the what the importance is about which of that function to reduce. He gave some very interesting stats around what sales force are doing and how actually a very, very high percentage, if not pretty much all, of their bookings and now coming from repeat business and their churn has become very low as they've invested more heavily in customer success and account management. Then they have of your typical new business sales resources. One of the points you made there was around tracking active opportunities and an opportunity and then subsequently revenue, I should say. To get to that point, of course, from a marketing perspective you have to generate leads and demand,...

...as you touched on your role fulfilling at the start of this corpor being in open source company. We've seen it before when we open with companies like elastic, generate a large volume of inbound leads that typically need some some qualification before they get in the hand of your of your field sales rep where you're inside cells rap, whoever would take that initial conversation that maybe because they're they're either two low level or they're not actually a business that ever, just an individual that's interesting playing around with this sort 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. What sort of, I guess, percentage or impact is those inbound leads that you'll generate a lot of them, of course, having coming on your on your pipeline at revenue is at is that a large percentage or is that what are the sources would you have? If not? Yeah, excellent questions. Are One of the things that we started to focus on. More so we started back two years ago on that. If you firstly really enhanced the quality levels on an inquiry level, from from an inbound perspective. So we use quantities of inquiries. At three years ago, relatively speaking, there was a low number of the actually really filtered through. So obviously it's nice to have a high volume of inquiries, but if the qualities on on part, you know what we what we require in order to be successful, then you need to see, okay, what you do we need to do to make sure the quality level is going up. So that was also where we started to become more targeted, do more segmentation, you more want to feel really embark on the digital side where you know you have a lot of ability to to be more targeted, to be more specific, has a better and a more relevant method to the individuals. And actually now we really have seen a big fift in terms of that quality so on. Just on the inquiry level, we are actually pretty much static you're over here at the moment. But on the contrary, we are driving first twenty percent higher volume on the lead side. So actually is really starting to pay off that, you know, you can still make a similar investment but actually drive much more potential pipeline on the back of it. Your other question in terms of yeah, how do we sort of 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 through all of these leads. So's tried to contact all of these individuals. So you 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 qualified leads, and they made sure that they have a capability to identify thankful interest based on then criteria. If they do that, then actually they will convert it and then it's being natal to stills, and we do that by means of a so called warm handle. So we just not throw it over the trends or just push it through the systems, but we also make through that the tally qualifiers work with our insight feels we actually picked it up. They do 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 their part in order to be effective with their follow up, either themselves or actually that they conveyed to stills wrap or to a pint our card manager that then consequently can also work again with a partner on those leads. So that's so the typical model that we apply at the moment. Okay, interesting and, as you said, over the course of our discussion. I think approaching marketing for an open source company certainly has some differences, for particularly around the the the communities piece, or be it still important to build trusted communities as no matter what type of Software Company are? But I think that there's added value there for an open source company and also,...

...obviously it's some slight differences when it comes to to understanding what impact you're having from a pipeline. In any perspective 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. So I guess last point would be if anyone wants to connect with you learn more about you or suitor as a company, what would be the best way to get in touch with pie person, man or sad the business? Well, personally, people can always retalk to me on Linkedin on there. I'm also on twitter. So how people can find me there. Two if you want to connect with whos or want to know more about what will for, and also if you want to get in touch with Schooza, you can visit schoos it or come and you can either use the text or you connect the also submit a request called for and you will be called back for the twenty four hours. 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 the meaning of revenue generation for technology companies worldwide. While the traditional concepts of building and managing inside sales teams inhouse has existed for many years, companies are struggling with a lack of focus, agility and scale required in today's fast and complex world of enterprise technology sales. See How operatics can help your company accelerate pipeline at operatics dotnet. You've been listening to be tob revenue acceleration. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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