Majority of digital marketing involves a transactional relationship with the customer, but in b2b it is totally different. In this episode of the B2B Digital Marketer podcast, Joey Knecht, CEO of Proteus, shares that b2b digital marketing is about building a relationship and trust with your customers.

Growing up in NYC, Joseph Knecht learned the science of navigating through challenges by helping engage diverse groups of people to find solutions at an early age. From his early years of leading street-ball leagues with peers in his Long Island neighborhood to a host of other entrepreneurial pursuits as a young man, this talent to identify the needs of customers and engage them in solutions shaped the contribution he now extends to international business-to-business (b2b) leaders across all industries.

The completion of his undergraduate career at West Virginia University and his Masters in Business Administration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln led Knecht to hone his interest in leveraging technology to meet the ever growing demands and sophistication of today’s 24/7 on-demand world and the increasing complexity of buyer decisions in b2b sales processes. Today as CEO of midwest-based Proteus, Knecht’s focus is on leveraging technology to empower and engage the bargining power of buyers in complex b2b sales cycles. The company’s newest product, ProteusEngage helps sales leaders take guessing out of the previous “dark-out” periods that so often slow or kill the sale between qualified to close in the process. Joseph and the ProteusEngage team are helping sales leaders illuminate this “dark-out” period with a crystal clear path of personalized buyer engagement with multiple decision makers, all while eliminating the headache of having to add layers of infrastructure or additional employees.

Since landing in the midwest and joining Proteus he has coached and mentored hundreds of entrepreneurs to launch digital products and technology companies. As an avid outdoorsman he enjoys adventures around the world with his wife. He can be found hiking, fishing and boating and is often spotted scaling through underground caves or jungles with his friends and family.

Click HERE to listen to the full podcast episode:


  • 00:36 – Introduction
  • 01:20 – Joey Knecht’s background in b2b Digital Marketing
  • 02:42 – Customer-centric solutions
  • 04:31 – Pitfalls of having more people in the decision-making process
  • 07:23 – Rethinking marketing and sales
  • 09:57 – Marketing is about being empathetic and building meaningful relationships
  • 13:39 – Things that are overrated in marketing
  • 16:25 – The curse of knowledge
  • 17:51 – Sales is still about relationship and trust
  • 20:33 – The shift of power to the buyer side
  • 23:07 – Blending sales and inbound/outbound marketing
  • 26:00 – Rethinking the marketing
  • 29:11 – Conversations with your internal champion
  • 34:01 – The one question every b2b digital marketer should be asking themselves
  • 36:18 – Connect with Joey Knecht

Memorable Quotes

“At the end of the day, it’s about relationships.”

“Sales is still about trust.”

“Forget about the one and done, you got to think about the long game.”

“This is not about high frequency transactions, this is about relationship development – time and place.”


Jim Rembach: "OK, b2b DM (Digital Marketing) gang. Man, this is going to be high energy, high passion. Now we're not going to try to go off the rails, but we're going have a really, really good discussion in how to really enable yourself to make the sale from the digital marketing, the interactive marketing, marketing in general. Because that execution point and that bridge is something that is vital in the success of an organization. And I should actually just say survival of an organization today. I mean, this is no longer how do you thrive, this is how you survive. Right? So Joey Knecht is on the show today. Joey, thanks for being with us."

Joey Knecht: "Appreciate it, sir."

Jim Rembach: "Now, if you could just share a little bit about your background and what your experience associated with the digital market."

Joey Knecht: "I really appreciate the time and the group. And, yeah, it's been a unique journey myself as a disruptor. And people kind of like want to swim upstream. You know, I grew up on the East Coast, Long Island area, the city area, and then gracefully made my way to West Virginia for my undergraduate and then came out here to Nebraska in the Midwest to receive my master's degree. And it was the best, best shift ever. I became an intern in this company, Proteus, about twenty three years ago, which I like saying and don't like saying, because that number is getting pretty high there. But it's been awesome. We've had a lot of success here and have always been involved in digital technologies, definitely in the marketing side, content management, sales, marketing sides of the world and have multiple products in the space. But yeah, just always been fun. Love it. We have clientèle nationwide, but always been involved in the early adopter kind of products, basically always looking to push the envelope to new technologies. And the answer isn't always in technology. I always think, Jim, it's a combination of technology approach coaching. There's kind of multiple approaches to it to achieve success so that that infinite goal of building that recipe and repeating that is just a big passion of mine."

Jim Rembach: "Well, and even, you know, just to kind of make this clear, you know, you even talked about how. Well you mentioned several things. Everything from like lean, lean startup. You talked about innovation. You talked about, you know, a lot of different things. But ultimately, what your driver is is being customer centric and customer focused."

Joey Knecht: "You got it. I mean, from a marketer's perspective nowadays, marketing and sales, I like to consider what we do in buyer enablement as bringing people together, developing those relationships. That's really the challenge at hand, is how to be personalized, how to be centric to their needs, wants and desires. Their is general marketing and then their specific solution, marketing or challenge marketing, where you're helping them. Dare I say, as a consultant, overly use sometimes in marketing and we're partners and all of that. But truly understanding the challenge of the target or the prospect and then how do you navigate that? As you know, Jim, in a lot of these transactions, especially now, the sales cycles are just elongating. I mean, you have anywhere from three to five people on your side, a product market or a sales rep, a VP sales, you name it, three to five people on the selling side and the marketing side. And then on the buying side, especially if you get over $50,000 lifetime value, you're going to have anywhere from five to twenty five [decision makers]. We have clients that have 40 different people or stakeholders on the opportunity. So it isn't just, 'can we market'? It's how do we address the specific needs of each one of those stakeholders? Because as you know, in your space, the CIO looks at this challenge or opportunity differently than the compliance officer or the COO or the other people on the transaction side. So this is really, from a marketer's perspective and a sales, again bringing them together. These are the biggest challenges we have out there now, especially when purses are tight right now. Right? I mean, that's just a big challenge right now for marketers."

Jim Rembach: "Well, even as you're talking, I start thinking about one of the big pitfalls, curses, threats. Because when you start talking about more people being added to the decision making process, just take that 40 example you threw out and they don't all come to the party at the same time."

Joey Knecht: "No, no, they don't. And that's a big challenge. You hit it right on the head. So from a marketing perspective, let's say you're doing like, you know, email marketing or some sort of digital placement marketing, you know, how do you get them and when do you get to them? And one of the big shifts, our clients are saying we have hundreds of clients around us, one of the big ships we're seeing and it shouldn't be a surprise. Everybody's going to be like, 'No joke, Joey.' It's on demand, right? Your marketing needs to now be on demand, not on your schedule when you want to push it out and they should consume it. It's actually switching to the buyers controlling when they want to consume your information. So how do you create an environment where they can consume your information on demand? Which is a huge shift from a marketers perspective? Right? We've always tried to game what time should we send out emails? What time should we make calls? What time should we be doing all this stuff from a marketing perspective, when in reality, when you have so many people on both sides of the equation now and b2b is how do you provide an ecosystem that when they're ready to transact, when they didn't make that last five meetings are four meetings, how do they get caught up on that? And that's really, you see this shift now of sales and marketing coming together to say how do we combine our resources and our talent to basically target these folks at the different persona levels, but also make it available to them when they can consume it? It's a big thing for marketers to understand, especially now, as you and I discussed, is a lot of this is in capital preservation mode, right? A lot of our clients and a lot of people around the country are shifting a lot of their marketing activities towards their current clients. To one, maintain them and justify their investment today, what they're paying today. But then also looking, it's probably going to be easier to get net new revenue out of current customers. As we all know, it's 70 percent less cost to go get money from a current customer. And they already have you in their system and everything. They might be shifting some dollars. So it creates great opportunities for the marketers to kind of go from heavy NBD mode to maybe a blend of current account. And still NBD, like you and I talked about. If you're a marketer now, a lot of people are retracting, so I'm going to counter what I just said. But that's what your guys and gals listening want to hear is you can retract and a lot of people got scared so they're retracting, but that creates a seismic opportunity for you. If you go full into the new business development, that's where you're going to build relationships. Now, in 2020, I was talking to a VP of a multibillion dollar tech company. And basically the concept there is like, 'Joe, we're probably not going to sell anything new BD the rest of this year.' He's like, 'I'm good with it. He's like, 'we're marketing and building relationship. We are going to blow 2021 one out of the water.' And he's like, 'no one understands what I'm doing right now, but I'm excited because we're going to have a record year in 2021.' It's crazy out there."

Jim Rembach: "Well and it's hard to answer to, I mean, you know that and I know that because, you know, we're all worried about today in this quarter. And all of those projections and things like that are just really just to be thrown away. Some organizations were not in the position strength, meaning, hey, I didn't have, you know, thirty clients to be able to lean upon to sustain my business and maybe a net growth out of them that's, you know, just enough to be able to be OK with. Not everybody's in that spot. And so this is something that's important in regards to the blend. That's one. And then, also is to me, it's the counterintuitive. You and I even talked about one particular industry that you're working in and that you created a product for. Which, by looking at others would say, well, that's a dog, man. Why do you want to try to sell to them? And for you, the new revenue, that opportunity was quite significant. That was the deal with a lot of places."

Joey Knecht: "And that's the thing, you know, as a marketer and sales, again, looking at this is we have the same problem ahead of us, right? It's not marketing on its own and sales on its own. And you go fend for yourselves. It's really bringing it back together and saying, how can we rethink our go to market strategy? How can we rethink how our product is being used? How can we rethink? You know, if you're a zoom salesperson, you look like a genius now, right? Everybody's buying Zoom. Not hard to be a rockstar salesperson or a marketer for Zoom right now, right? But for everyone else, how do they rethink the strategy? How do they identify submarkets? Maybe what you considered in the past tier two, tier three clientele, or tier four clientele in your archetype of clients, maybe they're really strong right now. Maybe your health care clients aren't strong because hospitals are so busy, they're not letting anybody on facilities. Nothing's going on. Very hard to get in right now. But if you have other types of clientele that are more open to it and they're growing right now, which many segments are growing. Clearly, there's hits in hospitality and restaurants and a lot of segments are down, but a lot of segments are also up. So from a marketer's perspective, it's reallocating those funds. Maybe from some of those dog categories right now into those, maybe, growth or emerging categories that you weren't really paying a ton of attention to in the past, but are creating some seismic opportunities now because no one's helping them. So you're able to come in and be able to market to them and create success for them. So that's fun because obviously COVID and a lot of what has happened is very tragic. But it also has forced a lot of businesses to rethink a lot of things about their marketing and their sales and how to be successful around that, which I think will pay dividends for a lot of organizations moving forward, hopefully when things get better."

Jim Rembach: "But as you're saying that for me, you know, for me, unfortunately I get sideways on certain things. So I became certified in emotional intelligence and I really studied human behavior. Why we decide and how we decide and doing all that. And what the research shows for us is that our brain, when it's confronted with a problem, its job is to try to solve. Now, the problem is there's only so much that we have in our own well. So when you have a new problem like this one, nobody's had experience in it whatsoever. And so when we start talking about our decision making process and how we go about formulating a plan that we can execute upon, there's a lot of risks associated with that. Like the one gentleman you had mentioned said, nobody knows or can understand what I'm doing, but I'm pumped about 2021. How do you get moving?

Joey Knecht: "Yeah, I think your emotional intelligence is dead on. We talked about it a lot with our clients and and having empathy in marketing and sales right now too, right? Like understanding that people are struggling and no matter what, even if their company is doing well, they might be having things at home, right? Their loved ones might be sick. They're worried about their parents who are older, right? Like, it kind of definitely had a hard shift where people were like, let's slow it down here, let's bring it down a notch and really be a little bit more empathetic and understand there are lots of other things going on there, right? So there's still a way to be empathetic in your marketing and in your sales process. But then also focusing on, at the end of the day, Jim, it's about relationships, right? So if you extend yourself, you're empathetic, you care about the needs, wants and challenges that they're having, right? It's not a today thing. It might translate to a today thing. That's awesome, maybe that happens. That's awesome. But it's really about building meaningful relationships so that over the next two years, three years, all of these efforts that the marketing team and the sales team are working against are fruitful for the organization. It is definitely a long scale kind of vision, right? And I understand that's hard to maybe go to the vice president or the CEO and be like, this is what we're doing. But ultimately, that's the opportunity. The opportunity is to still make sure you're providing value to your current clients and communicating and marketing to them, not hunkering down, being open and transparent. We we hear a lot of the term transparency, empathy, be open to your clients. What's good? How are they doing, right? For a classic example, there are clients that maybe might want to stop one of your listeners services because they can't pay for it right now. But if those marketing and sales teams had open conversations, they might be able to figure out ways to keep them on as a client and we renegotiate and move contracts around. So just being open and honest in the marketing and the transparency of the relationships is used. And then those typically can then transpire into future opportunities for the organization to grow in the future. And so, I know, we know, when times get tough, one of the first things to get cut, marketing and sales budgets, right? Is the first one and two to go off the docket. And you, as the sales leader and a marketing leader, need to understand that. You have to put together that plan to be able to go to the leadership and say, I know this is a little counterintuitive to maybe what you're hearing all day long, but within the means of our organization and I'm not talking about your Coke and you got nine billion to spend on marketing, right? How are we going to get creative about looking at our current clients, looking at maybe those tiers that we talked about earlier, that might be where there are opportunities? How can go do digital or virtual sales to them, virtual marketing to them on a one to one basis or some sort of model to start to build those relationships and create opportunities? Definitely for many groups, this is rethinking it and changing their approach. But that change, I think, can be very, very valuable in the long term for them."

Jim Rembach: "And so for me, you hear a lot of people talking about account based marketing. Take another marketing type of method and incorporating that in all these types of different things that you could and should be doing. Everybody has their own opinions and you start looking at, well, I think that's kind of hype, right? It's full of hype. Are there some things that are out there right now that are just overloaded with too much hype?"

Joey Knecht: "Well, yeah, you know, definitely on some of the digital side for sure, some of the geo fencing and targeting for certain industries. It might work really well, but we have a lot of clientele that that just doesn't really line up in a b2b sale. And of course, now with everybody working remote, a lot of those very targeted technologies are kind of struggling a little bit more than in the past because people are now not at their offices. And you had all this kind of data and paths and now you're trying to reconstruct ways. I think, ultimately too, it's still about relationships, right? So when you're marketing or digital marketing, any kind of marketing, ultimately what you're trying to do is, is find an opportunity that somebody has a problem, you have a solution, and how do we bring you together? And yes, it's about impressions. Yes, it's about getting them interested in what you're doing. But ultimately, it's what do you do after they learn, high level, about you? As you know, Jim, in a typical b2b transaction, now typical b2b transaction, the clients are now doing about seventy five percent of their research online, looking at competitors, doing all sorts of things before they even reach out to you. right? So from a marketers perspective, there are benefits of doing some of that targeting stuff, but a lot of them are going right back to basic 101 digital marketing. Which is your website, your SEO, some of the building blocks of keeping you in front of the clients the right way. Because they are self administering a ton of the research before they're even engaging with you. And still everybody is 'we're going to pound them. We're going to get them on their phone. We're going to get them all this way.' But fundamentally, they are still going to basic approaches of looking at websites, understanding comparison sites, things of that nature. And for many clients, that part of their house is not clean and they're spending a ton of money on all kinds of digital marketing elements, pieces that are ultimately driving those customers. I was looking at one yesterday where their demo of the product was atrocious. So they're spending all of this money marketing and you get to the actual demo and the demo is completely off, like completely off the rails, right? And so it's kind of interesting that it's exciting and it's cool and it's new and it's tech. But ultimately, what does that really look like? What is the conversion from that really adding to your bottom line? And I think that's always been a challenge in marketing, obviously, and in digital marketing especially, right? How do we connect the dots to the conversion and the opportunity around that?"

Jim Rembach: "I mean, even what you're talking about right there and I started thinking about a lot of that is the curse of knowledge, right? I know so much about my funnel, therefore when I construct all these things together, it's exactly what you need, isn't it?"

Joey Knecht: "Exactly. Because I know it. Because I've been with the firm ten years right now, like everybody knows this or what they're searching for online, right? And it's funny, a lot of your partners and listeners, too, I guarantee you what happens to is they have a product and that product is probably maybe sold into a couple of different verticals or different use cases of their product or service. But they write everything kind of in the marketing and how they're promoting it in like one persona. And it almost looks like a Swiss Army knife of we can do everything for you. And the problem is the consumer, now that they're doing so much of the research on their own, they're needing to understand, again, back to that empathetic approach of how do you know my problems? How do I build trust that you know what I'm struggling with? I don't want a Swiss Army knife. I want a specific Allen wrench to solve my problem. And I can't comprehend how your Swiss Army knife can be my Allen wrench, even though there's an Allen wrench in the Swiss Army knife, right? And that's where a lot of groups really, really struggle in digital marketing is because they put out everything that's humanly possible. They're feature centric, widgets galore, everything. But really, it's the problem that you're solving for them. How do you digitally market to them? That's a huge, huge piece of the puzzle right now."

Jim Rembach: "Yeah. And so there actually are some pretty powerful tactics in regards to being able to accomplish that, that enable some of the fundamentals you're referring to. Then also, part of what you are promoting from a solution perspective is Proteus is a fundamental activity."

Joey Knecht: "Correct. Yeah. I mean, so like I said, you, Jim, we have a buyer enablement product which falls under the category of sales enablement. But really where it came from is we interviewed hundreds of sales leaders and hundreds of CMOs and marketing leaders and they said we need an environment where we can come together to actively navigate that complex sales process from qualified to close and then also wallet share, making more money off of current clients. And so how do you do that? It's ultimately still about relationships, right? It's understanding their problems, understanding their needs, and then sharing with them relevant information that helps guide them through that decision making. And ultimately, Jim, trust. Sales is still about trust. And still, even though the customer is doing seventy five percent of their research on their own, ultimately when they select you as a vendor or a partner or whatever, they're ultimately taking a leap of faith. It is impossible for any buyer now to truly understand what many companies are providing. They have inherently built a trust in the sales leadership, the marketing leadership of that company, and say, I'm going to now take a leap of faith, right? Like, I think I'm to the point where I trust you enough that you know me, you know our client, you know what we do. I'm betting on that we're going to be successful together. Impossible for all of that to be transpired in one hundred percent confidence for the buyer. So it's still at the end of the day, relationships and trust. And there's an art and science to that, right? Again, being empathetic, sharing meaningful information. When we talked earlier Jim you said, what do you think from a digital marketing perspective? What are your teams sending out? I said, ironically, a lot of our marketing materials for our own enterprise are research papers from other companies, from institutes, other things we're seeing. Because we listen to our clients, where their challenges are, and we're sharing with them meaningful information to help them become more successful. You know, there's the old joke that a company that hires IBM, the person who selected IBM, never gets fired, right? Because they're like, look, I selected IBM. How could you fire me? So anybody who is an IBM, you've got to be thinking that. So how can you get to the point that they trust you enough to pick you over IBM? It's just a fun way, as you're thinking through your own company and your own materials and what you're sending to folks. How do you get them to the level of, I trust these guys more than IBM or pick your largest competitor within your ecosystem. That's what you're striving for, right? If you're a smaller player in that ecosystem."

Jim Rembach: "Well, and without specifically total functions. And our new listeners and watchers can figure that out when we add it to your show notes, page and stuff. But there was a similar type of solution that I used in a previous life where the whole sales and marketing, enablement, client onboarding and that whole long sales cycle process had some similar types of value propositions as what you have with this solution. That company didn't make it. So it was about 15 years ago. I'm not getting into the company as far as how they managed this, that and the other. But what makes something like what you're talking about now different than that 15 years ago?"

Joey Knecht: "Great question, Jim. You know, I like to say, kind of, the power has shifted. So in the past, 15 years ago, much of the power was still in the sales reps hands or the consultants hands. And they controlled a lot more information. A lot of stuff wasn't available for those customers to make seventy five percent of their decision before that. So it was very much sales enablement, which is a popular term today, which is how do we equip sales reps with information to be able to push out? The problem is, many of those systems are designed to just push PowerPoints out as fast as humanly possible or just marketing assets. Now, those marketing assets and power points, they're very importan. I'm not negative on that. What I'm saying is that the power has completely shifted to the buyer side. So the buyers are now way more educated, right? And, as you know, they want to consume information on demand. They're very selective. Plus corporate governance, and a lot of the other factors around a sales process has dramatically changed. Where, you and I when we first got in the business, you could do a transaction with two people and it could be a $500,000 transaction. Two people involved. Done. Goes to purchasing. It's done. Now, anything over $35,000 or $50,000, as the research says, has a minimum of eight people most of the time on the deal, and anything much larger, COO compliance. So now as a marketer, the biggest challenge is, is how do we conversate and build trust with all of those decision makers? It's not just about sharing marketing materials, it's about building trust, communicating to them, sharing different elements of security documents or all the things within your industry as a marketer. It's thinking from that perspective. It isn't always a product brochure that marketing has to be thinking about to share with potential buyers. It's all the things that could get a no. And basically, why are deals dying? And making sure that marketing is supporting those elements to help drive those deals further. So there's just been a gigantic shift of power and expectation on the buyer side too, as we mentioned earlier, it's a complete on demand world now for these buyers."

Jim Rembach: "So, OK, so as you're talking, for me, it goes back to what you had mentioned in regards to the blending, right? From a digital marketing perspective, I need to now be more blended to look at what am I doing? A couple different things, I think, is my push. I still have to do some push. Also, how am I drawing in? But then also, what are we doing in order to be able to support the sales activity? So there's quite a few different things that are going on here."

Joey Knecht: "You bet. There's been a ton of effort and energy on that kind of inbound marketing, right? On top of the funnel marketing, digital marketing. That's where a lot of your lead gen education, a lot of that stuff is happening. And what you saw was a tremendous push towards that, right? Like tremendous efforts and energies towards that and budgets. But when we started interviewing tons of marketing leaders and sales leaders, they said, you know, now we're getting people to what we would call MQL or SQL (sales qualified and marketing qualified). Then when they got the sales qualified, they were really struggling on how do we communicate and market to now all of these different stakeholders in a transaction? And that's where, again, the big shift is happening for marketers is it's not just the top of the funnel activities and not just getting the meeting for the rep or the demo or the consultant, right? It's now, all of a sudden, we got one person at the company interested in us. I now, as a sales rep and a marketer, have to convince nine other people to select our solution or service. And so that marketing takes on a whole other level of trust, relationship, communication for that qualified to close experience. And then it actually just keeps on going. We originally built the product just for new business development and we knocked it out of the park. Then the clients were like, 'it went so well. Can we use this to cross-sell our clients?' Because that's the other piece that everybody thinks from a marketing perspective, it's frequently the glitz and the glam of new logos coming in. When in reality, for so many of these organizations, true rapid growth and long term value of the organization come from cross-selling and up selling their current customers. And taking those same marketing pieces and converting them and elements of digital marketing for that upscale. Equipping the reps to be more successful in converting new business or just explaining how the service or product we're providing to you is generating value for you, right? Because every year they're looking at 'why are we spending X number of dollars with you guys?' You need to be reinforcing that. So many organizations have just relied on 'well, they're going to renew and the sales rep will call two months out and they'll just renew.' When, in fact, marketers now need to be justifying the expense year round. Many, many clients we work with QBRs or monthly touch points to just justify the expense of what they're providing to their customers to reinforce leadership. Because a lot of times leadership, who decides the money, is different than the daily users. Which again, from a marketers perspective, is a big shift too, right? There's the decision makers pulling the trigger and then the daily users. How do we keep the original decision makers aware that they made the right choice in bringing your company and your product in?"

Jim Rembach: "Well, man, as you start talking about that, there's a lot of things start running through my head in regards to just the overall line alignment and I'm configured in the way that I have my go to. In other words, this is my go-to process. This is my go-to. This is how it actually flows. All it has to be reworked and revisited and changed. And I think that that's what you were kind of alluding to before, is how do I need to pivot? How do we iterate? And that's that answer is going to be different for everyone. So even when you were talking, I started thinking, well, if I'm one of those companies that happens to compete on the whole price platform, which to me is very scary, I can't do some of the things that you're talking about. It's just not going to happen, because it's not built into my pricing models. And then also I start getting into the situation where if I don't play on that platform and, you know, a purchaser or buyer or prospect is going to try to push me into that, where do I need to say, 'no, we're not the right fit. Got to go.'"

Joey Knecht: "Yeah, you know that's the magical, when to release and get out, right? And a lot of times, from a marketer's perspective, too, it's how do we generate and identify that we are providing more value? I agree with you, prices. I never like to compare on a price level. We're always hoping that there are some other value sets that you're able to provide from a marketing perspective to reinforce the why you're using our product ultimately. But then there's also, maybe from a marketers perspective, looking at how they can leverage the product for other purposes within the organization too, right? So depending on the product or service, sometimes there's portability to other lines of work or other opportunities within the organization. Obviously, the listeners have all different types of products. But ultimately, if it still is on a price level, I know multiple marketers that are at that price level and they are proactively going out to clients, knowing that that might be something going on and saying, 'here's the deal. We have you contracted at a one year evergreen contract right now. What if we switch that to a two year or three year evergreen?' If we're able to do that, we'll reduce the price a little bit to help offset some of that risk. So marketing knows that if you're a marketer and you know you are price sensitive market, somebody else is going to be doing that to your clientele. They're going to come in and try to swoop in and say, if we can go multi year deal, we'll be able to drop that. And then ultimately they want that client, because later on they want to cross-sell them, right? So you need to rethink from a marketing perspective. The tool isn't just marketing, it's how do we restructure the relationship maybe? How can we do a referral program for consistent partners within that space that they can introduce us to where we can provide some funds or offset some of the cost to them. So there's many different ways. And this is really that opportunity for the marketers, again, to come together with the sales team. And it's not two separate worlds. It's how do we together make our companies stay successful? Not not have to lay people off, hopefully nobody, weather the storm, and then more importantly, this strategy actually can become part of the long term recipe for how you guys build the book of business over a period of time, not just the current strategy or the strategy, you know, six months ago. So this is, again, rethinking the model, rethinking your marketing, thinking how you're talking to your clients about those opportunities is definitely, we're seeing a lot of that out there."

Jim Rembach: "Well, and for me, I think you answered a lot of the questions that we a lot of times talk about on this podcast. Where would I reallocate? Where would I invest if I had no constraints? I mean, you hit and answered a lot of these. And for me, one of the things that, as far as a takeaway, where you didn't come right out and say it specifically, but for me it's definitely been in my head, is that I have to be really careful whether I'm in sales or marketing, to have somebody internally self educate, one of their colleagues internally."

Joey Knecht: "Yeah. So this is, again, that shift when you now have multiple decision makers and stakeholders. I always like to say to a marketer, what are they saying about you when you and/or the sales rep are not in the room, how were they selling your stuff? So the idea and again, that power shift is who really has the power? Now, what you need to be thinking as a marketer is what can you provide the internal champion to be sharing internally to the people who are coming after him and her, right? So you can just roleplay for a minute. Let's call the person Tim. So Tim is your internal champ. You know what goes down. Tim goes to a board meeting or a team meeting and says, 'hey team, I'm interested in using this product.' Tim's going to get pounded, right? Tim's going to get like, what about security, what about this? And Tim's like, 'I have no idea, you guys are intimidating me.' Deal dead. And that's how you get ghost deals, right? Because Tim got scared as all hell, right? So from a marketer's perspective, how do we equip Tim for success? And a lot of this comes back to centralized and on demand. So Tim can then say to folks, 'great questions. I love all your different perspectives, because everybody has a different perspective on the deal. Let me invite you to this environment so that you can be educated about the product and the service and how it solves your problems.' And all of us, as marketing and sales reps, get that internal champ. And then you're like, are we giving them a tool to go to battle internally for us? Because basically they become you the 99.5% of the time that you're not around. And that's where a ton of deals and tons of marketers are missing the ball there. What are we providing them to share internally to keep shepherding that deal along until the marketer or the sales rep can get re-engaged?"

Jim Rembach: "And I think when you say that, for me, I just came across in the past couple of weeks where somebody was like, 'hey, send me something so I don't have to have internal conversations. And my reply has been, because I've been conditioned to now say, I'm not going to do that."

Joey Knecht: "I'm not going to do it. Not going to do it. Not when you haven't really qualified them yourself. And I always like to say, well, that's great. I understand that. Who are the one or two people you really want to talk to first before we loop in the other nine people? Great. Let's do a half hour call with that. Let me understand their needs a little bit more. And I always, and our teams and many of the marketers we work with, it's to protect that person you're on the phone with, right? So the switch of context there can always be, let's say that person was Sarah who is on the phone. You're like, 'Sarah, I would totally send you stuff, but I wouldn't send anybody into war without me knowing what's on the other side of that fence. So let me help you out here. Let's do it just a quick, we could do a fifteen minute call. That's fine. Let's just do a quick 15 minute call with them. Let me clear the deck, frame it a little bit, then I'll share all the stuff you guys need to do and we can keep shepherding along.' So when you switch it from an empathetic standpoint of, 'I don't want to put you at war here, Sarah, let me help you be more successful. You're already putting up political capital for me. And I want to make sure I tee you up for success, not just sending you a brochure and a Calendly link and saying, let's do this meeting.' Like Sarah's dead. Like there's no way she's coming back out of that meeting. And I'll never do that again, right? And so then Sarah is burnt for the rest of her life. She doesn't wanna bring anything to her internal team. So, from a marketer's perspective, that's definitely stuff you got to be thinking about."

Jim Rembach: "It is. And so for me, what I do is, this is what I end up saying something along these lines. 'No, I'm not going to do that because I don't want to set you up for faliure."

Joey Knecht: "100%. And they love it because then they actually are realizing that you're just not pushing selling and you're not just pushy marketing. You actually say like, trust me, you're going to probably need my help a little bit because it's a complex situation, complex offering. Someone's going to ask something that you clearly wouldn't know the answer to. And so I want to make you look like a champion. And even if that 15 minute call yields nothing, you look good because I'm deferring the negativity from necessarily you, Sarah, to me and I'll take that negativity all day long, right? And that's really the trust. And then, you know what happens, a year from now, Sarah is calling you, right? Sarah's calling you and saying, hey, you guys continued to market to me and, you know, things changed in our organization. Now there's an opportunity, would you mind coming back in? And that's, what I always say, you've got to forget about the one and done. You've got to think the long game, always got to think the long game. This is not about high frequency transactions. This is about relationship development, time and place, time and place."

Jim Rembach: "So I think you kind of summarized one of the questions that we like to wrap up with, and that is what does a digital b2b DM (digital marketer) need to be asking themselves?"

Joey Knecht: "Yeah, great question. And, you know, six months ago, probably a little bit different of an answer, right? And so one of the things, like I said is, you're not on an island. Don't think you're alone. Blended strategy, don't retract completely if you can. Open up dialog with sales. We talked about today already multiple ways of potentially driving new revenue streams, whether that's from working with current customers and building some specific marketing approaches to niche clients, the clients that actually are spending money or may be opportunistic. Also just nurturing and maintaining clients that you currently have, right? Don't forget about the people who are clients. You don't want to lose a lot of those clients. So really, that strategy there and then whatever budget is still possible to to rustle up and work with and again partnering with sales, maybe there's a little bit of money there and a little bit in marketing. You kind of pull it together. And you know what? Maybe there's less travel costs and some of the other things that have happened, maybe in your organization, you guys can pull a little war chest up and then it's like, OK, if we were going to NBD now, who do we want to go get and which ones would be the right ones for that short term opportunity? Maybe we could close them in a quarter or two? And then who are the whales or other folks that we know aren't going to be transaction's today, but could be big for us in 2021 and figure out a marketing and sales plan together. Be a team, be a team, weather the storm, but also fight and really go after, you know, some of those opportunities. You'd be amazed where money can be found, right? Clients that we have that we've just recently gotten, I know nobody would be calling them because they think they're not spending any money. But when they just cleared $1M off of their travel budget or $10M off of this, and they're like, we're not going to go to any conferences this year. So we're not going to get a lot of leads. As a marketer, you got to be thinking, is that way? Wait a minute. All of these companies aren't going to be able to go to their $280,000 booths and all these things. They're reallocating money right now. There's a pool there. It's already there. What can I do to get a slice of that to help them be successful in any segment of that opportunity? So there is still money out there and it's just being targeted and having the right approach."

Jim Rembach: "Most definitly. Joey, I had fun with you today. How can the b2b DM gang get in touch with you?"

Joey Knecht: "Sure. The easiest way is Everything's there and contact forms, stuff about our products and services, tons of resources and white papers related to complex b2b sales and just the whole process. And a ton of the stuff I've been saying here today is there and we have so many different concepts that we're researching related to the buyer experience, how that relates to to marketers, how that relates to timing and on demand and all sorts of innovative ways that our clients are leveraging products for a game that has permanently changed moving forward. As a marketer, our roles have completely changed moving forward. And so it's interesting, but at the end of the day, Jim we keep saying it Jim, it's still those relationships. And so how do you still weave that into, it's not about 10,000 emails to one person, it's how do you understand them, develop relationships and trust, and take it to the next level. So I appreciate the time Jim."

Jim Rembach: "Joey Knecht, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom and we wish you the very best."

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Proteus Team

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We at Proteus have developed relationships with multiple leaders from a variety of different industries, product, and service types. From these conversations, we've gathered some great insights.

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