Welcome to episode 155 of the SaaS breakthrough podcast. Really excited to be here today with Chris Schreiber, head of marketing at Qwilr. Hi Chris.
Really excited to have you, really excited to talk about this cool campaign that you're going to share with us today. So let's jump right in. Tell me how you would describe Qwilr in two sentences.
Yeah, so Qwilr is a proposal software. It's used by sales and marketing teams and to really create like visually engaging sales proposals that stand out from the crowd and win more business.
I love that answer. You don't often think of sales proposals as visually stunning. Visually anything.
I know, it's obviously like an underserved part of the market. Like there's so much time and energy that goes into creating and there's so much like impact that they have on the business. And yet, so much more attention has been paid, just kind of more upper funnel tools. And obviously on the design side and interactive side, there's all sorts of tools for marketers to bring deals in. And then we're still kind of living in like, you know, a few decades behind on the sales side. And so we're, we're part of that kind of next generation of SaaS tools just helping kind of sales and marketing teams like really up their game on design on interactivity, on automation, all the things that we're kind of used to on the sort of upper funnel marketing side.
So you recently ran a marketing initiative that had as the central piece, a survey of a hundred plus software buyers. And I want you to tell me all about it. So let's start at the very beginning. Walk me through the goal and the intent for this initiative.
So software SaaS companies are kind of one of our major verticals that we sell into. We've got like great product-market fit there. And so we want to be a thought leader within the space and we want to be able to produce, like relevant, actionable insights for our target customers and produce sort of fresh information. And so as we were kind of looking around the landscape, we realized that there's so much data and like research and information on the seller side for like ways to sell better and sort of efficiency metrics and workflow. Like it's, there's no shortage of it out there, but then when you try to turn it around, there's not that much from the buy side. Like there's not that like really much like fresh, deep insight on the process of buying software. And so, you know, our chronic core value proposition is to help sellers and marketing teams sell more effectively through better proposals. So we wanted to just honor kind of some legitimate, fresh insights on the buy side and then turn that into content that could be actionable for our audience.
So why a survey? I mean, how did we get to kind of this research-based content specifically as part of that initiative?
I think a survey is always like a good place to start when you feel like you're sort of waving into new territory that hasn't really been like, well-defined like, it didn't feel like there was tons of benchmarks for us to work off of, like we have some of our own data, but, you know, that's something we wanted to have a sort of broader data set to work with. So, you know, surveys are like relatively quick. There's a lot of great tools out there to be able to sort of, you know, connect with any audience that you want and get some insights pretty quickly. And it sort of sets you down a path of whether you want to go even deeper on the research. And so that's how we started.
That makes sense. So you wanted to do some research, you wanted to do the survey and the, was the intent always to put it in kind of a top of funnel report or did that come after you kind of looked at these results, looked at the answers that you were given, and then you were like, well, we gotta publish it in this specific way.
Yes, the intention was always to put into like top of funnel content, but part of the, sort of like the catalyst for deciding to do it is that I knew legitimate insights would work their way sort of throughout our funnel that our sales team would just naturally be able to sort of reference back to any like, you know, concrete new insights that we came up through here. So we're a new tool, sort of a new product category, and lot of times people are on the prospect side just asking us for kind of like validation and insights. And so it just helps kind of give our in markets sort of sales teams, just more sort of, you know, thought leadership in their everyday conversations. So it was really kind of like full funnel value that something like this delivers.
Yeah, it was not only top of funnel for prospects, but, but really great sales enablement probably for your whole team. It sounds like.
So what was the actual content of the survey? What's the content of the report? What kind of questions were you asking and how did you find your participants for your survey?
So, we tried to just laser in, on sort of a lot of the core categories of like the SaaS purchase experience, you know, and so that can be sort of you know, preferences around pricing, and sort of deciding on sort of packages, preferences on sort of communication, methods by the sales team preferences around the sort of complete steps of that sort of last stage of the purchase process. And so we sort of poked at it from a number of angles.
How did you find your participants for the survey?
We use SurveyMonkey as the the survey tool and essentially like narrowed it down to SaaS, like software purchase decision makers and went for sort of like many of them like company size, we kept it all US-based. But that was sort of like the core kind of like filters that they were kind of in the purchase decision role or like in the influencer on buying software company.
Yeah, we use we've used SurveyMonkey before as well. It's a really helpful tool that kind of target audience where they can kind of find those, those survey takers for you is really helpful. It also helps to keep a little bit more of a neutral, you know, sort of feel to your survey so that you're not exclusively reaching out to your network, people that know you, so that you can kind of get a broader look.
Exactly. I mean, I think, you know, we wanted to educate the market, but we had to, you know, educate ourselves as well through this. So that was kind of one of the draws to it as well. I was like, well, let's be the foremost experts in sort of, we'll be the first ones to learn any kind of new surprises here. And then we will you know, we will curate it and, and kind of make it accessible for the world.
So you've all these responses now, you're compiling this report. Any results that you want to share with us that really stood out to you, maybe surprised you or were different from benchmarks you had expected?
I mean, so, yeah, again, like part of the catalyst for doing this is we didn't feel like there were enough benchmarks out there. So we didn't necessarily go into it knowing what we were going to find. We were trying to just create some like initial data points for things that, you know, we found like were referenced a lot, but really didn't have backup. So I mean, I think the first one was like, there's actually a lot of frustration, you know, as we sort of waited into the discussion about kind of level of satisfaction, like we found 79% were frustrated with the SaaS buying process, like right off the bat, there's clearly like a lot of room for improvement here and there's a lot of components of, of buying software. So it makes sense. One theme that we sort of went into, like, as an expectation was just sort of buyer empowerment, you know, like just sort of in the age of Amazon, you know, it's not like B2B buyers, like just turn off that whole kind of perception.
Like there's still an expectation of a lot of control, a lot of sort of ability to navigate to the product that you want on your own computer. Not all sort of through like a conversation with the seller. And so like one specific kind of like outcome of that was, I think it was 63% of buyers, you know, they really prefer like choose your own pricing models, where they can kind of build the specific package that they want versus sort of pre-configured packages. And that I think, you know, sort of falls into this behavior, we're all very used to, and kind of the era of e-commerce is really being able to kind of like finally select the specific sort of, you know, components that you feel like you really want and don't want in your package.
This is going to put you on the spot a little bit, but what you just said really brings up a question for me on self-serve versus, you know, a more direct sales motion. Did you find anything in your results about how people prefer to purchase based on, you know, some of the Amazon concept that you're sharing here?
Yeah. I mean, I think it's, we looked at a few sort of aspects in terms of the, like the price levels that you'd want to see like where you felt it was relevant to interact with the salesperson versus where you want it to be self-serve. I forget off the top of my head, like what the price increments were, but they were lower than we expected in terms of like, it was, people did want to be able to interact with sales sort of on their own time tables at maybe like a lower price increment that we expected. But it's really more of a, like merging of the worlds of kind of self-serve versus sales led processes, where you saw like, even in a sales lead process, you know, there's a lot of sort of elements that I can find value from my interactions with the seller. But I want to have a lot of control over it.
And I also want to have like tools throughout the process that are still gonna allow me to kind of make decisions without having to go, sort of have like a gatekeeper on the other side. So I think that's, that's more, what it is, is like, you know, sellers moving into buyer enablement instead of just sort of one directional selling and being there where they want it. But sellers also being able to provide the tools to their buyers, to kind of move fast and make decisions on their own, to the extent that they can.
Thank you. Let's talk about what came next. So you've got these great insights, you build this beautiful report and what do you do with it?
Well, so just, I guess, one other draw of doing this project is that it was, it was a nice opportunity just to like showcase what you can build with Qwilr. You know, first we ran the survey, we sort of went through the data analysis kind of process the results to get to like, okay, here's what we think are the clear insights. And then we went to essentially like the development of the report as a Qwilr doc. Which was a lot of fun because it was kind of the first, like truly kind of like deep research report that had built, been built on our platform. You know, we're very focused in the sales proposal, sales kind of collateral world, but this is basically like an extension of our own sales collateral. So it made, made sense. So that was fun and produced one of the, probably like cooler docs, I, I selfishly would say. And then we went into the process of basically like, you know, sharing it, promoting it with the world. So we sort of simultaneously launched like a webinar and promoted that we'd be like relaying the results of this. We put out a press release about the results, then got some PR coverage and a few different marketing and sales trades. And then we ran an ad campaign on LinkedIn with kind of our target audience to drive them to a landing page essentially gave you some of the data and then in exchange for the full report get your email address.
That was going to be my next question. So it is gated content, but you did share some of the value of that gated content ahead of time, to kind of, for an exchange, right. Like, okay, here's what you can expect. That's cool. That's cool. So what are you finding you know, are you continuing to drive traffic? Are there other places, you know, apart from its initial launch, so to speak, are there other places where it kind of fits into more of a standard funnel or are you finding that people, people are coming organically to that page?
I mean, I think all of the above, you know, like our sort of like paid promotion is starting to subside. But we are still seeing like, you know, we created a lot of content around this beyond just like the sort of gated components. So blog posts that are finding kind of organic content. We still see people sort posting social specific stats from the survey. So it's kind of taken on a life of its own. And we've just found that it naturally kind of weaves into our kind of like next chapter projects. Like there's just these kind of like concrete data points that we can refer back to on like what makes for a modern buyer experience. And so we've kind of referred back to it in, in webinars since then that are kind of all kind of in related subjects, but not necessarily just about the report and our sales team refers back to it.
And, you know, I'd say like, interestingly, like even in some of our product development conversations internally, like there's kind of specific insights that we even see like our product team being like, well, we sort of, we see this as a trend. Here's, like I said before, there's just there, aren't a lot of benchmarks for a lot of these things. So it's like, cool. Here's a data point that we now have to kind of like qualify particularly around the sort of like buyer empowerment, buyer enablement side, like what buyers really care about. So, I mean, I think that's the real win when you do things like this, that you have your campaign and you have sort of lead gen targets and you want to create sales conversations, but when you do research right, like it's, it naturally stays as a part of the conversation.
You know, I think when you, when these things are less successful, it's like you sort of put the time and you can potentially put just as much effort in, but you've created data that doesn't sort of like have lasting power. And that's because either like you did something that everyone kind of already felt like they knew just really didn't change anyone's thinking, or, you know, you just didn't produce kinda any real insights from it. And I honestly I've been involved in both in previous projects. And so it's, you know, the upfront part of this process is really essential to like, know the market, you know, really have a hypothesis about like, here's what we want to study that we feel is under studied. It's obviously relevant to our business, to our prospects. Like, it's the type of questions that are coming up every day.
So like, let's go be the first to put some initial data points, like putting that time upfront, where you really kind of go through the paces to validate that this is worth your while to go invest in research is, is really essential. And I think sometimes, you know, teams can move like a little bit too fast and yeah, they either put up really sort of commoditized data or like they just didn't have enough of a clear focus to like make the data clearly for an audience. Yeah, a little bit of my kind of perspective on how to do and not to these things.
Absolutely agree. I think, you know, I think you hit on a couple of wins here and a very basic one is just like a marketer talking to their audience. I don't think we do that enough. You know, I, I, or we only talk exclusively to our audience, right? Like we look at our own data, our own kind of bubble of information without the broader context of how it fits into the rest of the market. So I think that's huge. I also think we're in a a period now, and I know you said, you know, a big part of this effort was because we wanted to create some benchmark data where there, where there really wasn't any before. And I think people are just hungry for that kind of information right now. I think people are vying for confidence right now in, in SaaS, in particular, in a world. That's just sort of like, nobody knows what's going on. And these, these benchmark, these benchmarks are grounding for us. Right. They, they help us understand how we measure up to everybody else around us. And that's really, I, I think what I'm hearing a lot from our audience too, is just like, how, where do I measure up here? Like, what are other people doing? Is everyone freaking out? Or is it just our company? Like, wow, what are we doing? I think that's a really powerful tool to put in their hands.
Yeah, I think that's right on. I mean, I think we have this sort of rapid development of new technologies and software and it's hard to sort of contextualize a lot of these developments in terms of like centering its value and kind of the regular, we know, sort of like that, that there's a lot more power there and there's a lot more capability, but not all things like have a market. And so, you know, understanding sort of the product features and the value, and then trying to sort of overlay like, okay, let's, let's understand in a really sort of human way, like the end user and where they are at today. What's frustrating what they care about, how they're behaving differently by using these or not using these. And I've, I've, you know, at that playbook, since I started, like, I started my career at Google and kind of every tech company I work since like keeps being very valuable.
I think, as you sort of like, as a marketer digests, like understand the advances, understand how this product has kind of like raised the head of the market now, validate it on, on the user side. And and it can't just be like overly narrow on just your feature set right now. Like you have to, it can't just be purely kind of self-serving data to say, like, there's, oh, there's this kind of like incremental benefit that when you do our specific thing versus kind of standards is value. You really have to cast some wider net, get like real insights. And then usually there is a natural sort of segue back into the product that you're offering.
So if someone listening wanted to replicate a similar campaign, any points of advice, anything that you would advise them against. One thing I just, I like to ask a question and then insert my own thing. One thing that I automatically think of, I personally struggle with creating survey questions that are not leaving. I do this all the time. I, I love surveys. I think they're a powerful tool. And then I'll write out a question and I'm like that very clearly is designed for them to answer this one way. I don't know how to, I don't know how to that. So that would be my question. But what other advice would you give to people about how to execute something like this
First, it's like a little bit I was talking about it earlier is sort of validate the research opportunity, you know, like understand what's novel about your product and where you think there's like behavior change happening in the market. And which could be like a, you know, really significant sort of market change. If this product grew. Like understand that now you know, look at the data that's out there. Like, is there already sort of copious amounts of research that reinforces what you're kind of building towards? If there is like, you know, that makes a little more challenging. And so you have to kind of like zero in on like, what are the questions that I would like answers to that through like a fair amount of research online I cannot find and ask around and see, like, has anyone ever sort of seen a study that speaks to this?
And that's a good sign, you know, people were saying like, no, that would be really interesting if that existed though. And sort of cast a wide net with that, with those lines of questions, with your sales team, with your, you know, sort of people outside your business kind of be like, would you find it interesting if I were able to kinda give you data about these things? And then, yeah, I mean, I'm the same way as you say, like, I don't have like a formal research background. I worked on a lot of research projects in my career, but like there's no sort of academic background there. So it's important to have a good research partner. You know, they bring a different skillset to the table where they don't necessarily know anything about your specific market, but they don't need to, because you can essentially like lay out your draft of questions and they'll tell you, like, this is why that's a leading question and here's sort of best practices on survey design and, you know, there's a nice sort of meeting in the middle there where like, you know, you often are trying to get like a self-serving result, but you know, a qualified researcher will help you sort of like find the right sort of balance between like, oh, well, this could very much lead to the result that's good for you, but this is how you would ask it in a way that like, the audience will receive it you know, at a valid way. And so, yeah, I mean, I've always benefited from kind of that process where like marketing validates the opportunity and then a research partner helps validate sort of the process.
Love it. Okay. We're going to pivot you ready for a different kind of question? So I want to ask you a leadership question. What are you struggling with most as a team leader this quarter?
Just sort of finding the right balance of like rigor and speed. Like we've got a number of sort of ambitious new sort of projects or strategies that we're starting to like really commit to. And we want to run fast, but we also like want to put in the appropriate amount of time to do research, kind of like validate that the ways we're going to spend time and money are really gonna be worth our while. And so we're, you know, and I work at a startup and so there's not sort of endless that is there, it's the same people all the times that are going to be doing the sort of like strategic thinking and research as well as the execution. And I find, you know, the, the end result is like, you just gotta be really collaborative. You know, you gotta be able to wear sort of multiple hats in sort of the same day of, of let's put on our strategy hat, really think sort of blue sky opportunity. And then like, you know, we're gonna have to probably get back together day or two and start putting together our tactical plan. And we're gonna have to kind of coexist in both places for a while until like, you know, we're far enough along and now we're really executing.
I empathize with that. I feel that too. Okay. Lightning questions. I'm going to ask you three questions. You're gonna answer them as fast as you can. Ready. Question one, what is one thing you did this week to support your team?
I mean, I think, yeah, just spending a lot more time on just collaboration. I really sort of like working sessions to kind of like pressure tests, like some of these kind of new concepts that we have for strategies and just like allow these meetings go longer kind of into you know, I work with a global team. So at some point someone's definitely in a tough time slot, but you know, you just need, you're that much better off when you invest the time and sort of these planning sessions. So yeah. It's extra time for collaboration and planning.
Great answer. All right. Number two. What is your most embarrassing webinar moment?
I don't know. I don't really have one. Like I, I did one, like in the middle of COVID before I really had my sort of like work for home set up and just like, the lighting was just like very weird.
Did you do it like from your bathtub?
Basically kind of did like a closet. And like, I didn't really check in on the lighting that much and just like everything just like very orange, just looked like I was just in this orange C. So like, you know, early started work from home lessons around like natural light versus lack of natural light.
Totally. Okay. Last question. Favorite tool that you can't live without?
We have a totally global company, like it's basically all times zones and it seems like Slack is really kind of like the lifeblood of our business and communication. And it does very much deliver on at least at this company for like the promise of less email. And I will say emails, like always been kind of the bane of existence for me. Like I just always found it to be like a very like insufficient medium. And they're just so much more that Slack offers in terms of like, you know, the visual certain nature of things you can share, the way is like all the kind of all the ways you can communicate without writing words, you know, like just various like reactions. So, you know, we are a real power users of Slack and I am kind of amazed at how many, like simultaneous conversations I have going on it. I can't really like imagine like life without it now.
I don't know what I would do. I don't know what I would do if there was an outage, if I couldn't log in one day. Yeah. We're the same way our whole company runs on that. And it's it's alarming how attached you become to those tools, but they are, they are what drives your business, so totally get it. Okay. So Chris, thank you so much for answering all of these questions. This is an incredible initiative. I'm so glad to have met you, give us one final where can people find you? Where can people find your report? We will link it in the show notes. And also where can people learn more about Qwilr?
Starting with Qwilr like Qwilr.com best place to kind of find all of this. You know, the buyer experience study, you can just sort of type in a search Qwilr buyer experience, will be the top result. Follow us on social, you'll see copious you know, links to it. For me, you know, probably LinkedIn is where I'm most active. So just Chris Schreiber on LinkedIn. And Twitter would probably be second to that. And then my handle's cousinchris which is a carry over from a band that I was in for a long time called Cousin Chris and merging, merging my SaaS and music identities there.
We can't just let that slide. What did you play in the band?
It was really my band. And, and so like I wrote all the songs. I was a singer guitarist and like, I've been in bands my whole life, but I was primarily like a drummer for a long time and just kind of learning, doing song writing on the side and doing, playing a lot of slide guitar, and then basically got sick of like carrying the full drum set to the, to the shows and made the switch. And yeah, it's kept on for a long time doing, doing shows primarily around like San Francisco and then kind of deprioritize like the live shows got more into recording and I've done some like some songs for like movies and for commercials and enjoy doing a lot of that.
That is so cool. I have a theater background and I always love to find other musicians and artists kind of in marketing, because I think that, you know, storytelling just shows up in so many different mediums in so many different ways. And a lot of us do it in multiple mediums and multiple ways. So I think that is so cool. I cannot wait to listen to some of your music. Will you please send them all?
Yeah. Check it out. I mean, I think it's one of the things that is kind pf catch me in the tech industry. Like it's always been like plentiful, like people that are in the arts, like particularly music. And, you know, for me, like, I had a conversation like a little while ago about this is that like, I don't like to play covers. Like, my sort of greatest joy is the process of creating a new song. And I think it's like a very similar part of your brain that goes into working in tech and like developing new products. Like not just trying to play the greatest hits and covers, but actually trying to like do some original stuff. And I think if you're wired for one, like you're actually quite possibly wired for the other.
Totally agree. Wow. Multitalented you are. So happy to have had you. Thank you so so much Chris. Really, really appreciate it and have a beautiful weekend.
You too. Thanks so much.