On today's episode of DGC, I had the opportunity to chat with Hilary Kay, CMO at Wibbitz. Hilary dives into her transition from sales to marketing, and how deeply understanding sales is a cheat code for her role today. We also talk at length about the process Wibbitz went through to transition from a Sales Led org to Product Led, and what impact it has had on the business. See ya on the other side. ✌️
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Demand Gen Chat is a Chili Piper podcast hosted by Kaylee Edmondson. Join us as we sit down with leaders in marketing to discover the key to driving B2B revenue. If you want benchmarks or insights on trends in the market, this podcast is for you!
Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Demand Gen Chat. I'm your host Kaylee Edmondson. And today, we are joined by Hilary Kay, CMO at Wibbitz. Welcome. Thank you for joining us.
Thank you. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Yeah, absolutely. Do you want to kick it off with a good intro? Just a little bit about yourself, uh, who you are, and how you landed at Wibbitz and what you're doing for them today?
Sure. Um, so I'm Hilary, Chief Marketing Officer at Wibbitz, and I joined Wibbitz, uh, about six and a half years ago. Um, I was actually the first person hired in our New York office and on the business side of the company. So have been here really since the beginning of our journey and, um, helped launch the company to the market, have helped, uh, lead us through the evolution we've gone through as a company till today. Um, so yeah, I've spent a lot of time in the, the video space, uh, and excited to talk about our recent shift to product-led.
Yeah. And before you joined Wibbitz, you were actually on the other side of the house, right? Account executive.
Um, so I definitely had some experience in marketing before sales, um, more in freelance in sort of consulting roles. Uh, I'm very grateful for the right experience, uh, in sales at Yelp. It definitely taught me a lot about how marketing can best support a sales team, um, and just sort of what that experience is like. So I definitely value that as, as a marketer, I think it's super helpful.
Yeah, absolutely. We've actually recently hired a few, um, new marketers for our team as well. That used to be either STRs, account executives or even CSMs. Um, and I think having some additional insight from like their side of the house, or like, you know, their end of the funnel is super, super critical as we are working to like shape campaigns. It just makes everything a little bit, um, more well-rounded 'cause obviously looking at it-
... from very everything lens is one thing, but understanding what's gonna happen down funnel is another. Let's start with just an overall lay of the land for what sales-led means to you versus product-led. Um, 'cause I think of course everyone defines it a little bit differently. So just like a lay of the land for what those things mean. And then I would love to get into, uh, this transition that you guys have made at Wibbitz and how you made it, uh, pretty seamless.
Totally. I think also just to kind of give a little bit more context, so when you can understand, um, the background on a Wibbitz and, and sort of better understand why we did decide to make this transition. Um, so Wibbitz is an online video creation platform. Our goal is basically to make it really easy to create professional quality videos.
Um, we work with, uh, mid-market and enterprise customers, uh, so small businesses, but also big global brands like HubSpot, AT&T, Bloomberg, Horizon Media. And our customers are using Wibbitz primarily for content marketing, editorial content and internal communications. Um, so we have, uh, we basically were strictly sales-led motion until, uh, last year that's when we decided to make that transition. Um, in our perspective, the way we sorta define product-led versus sales-led, um, is really about how you're selling your product.
Uh, so in a sales-led motion, your product is being sold by your sales team. Uh, the customer can really only purchase the product through sales. And in a product-led motion, you were actually selling through your product. Uh, your customers can purchase directly within your product. And in my perspective, you're actually, uh, activating marketing campaigns within your product as well.
Um, so that's the biggest difference and we actually decided to, uh, sort of adopt like a hybrid model. So we still have our inside sales team, um, and we now have also a self-service free trial where people can sign up on our websites. They can actually purchase within products, and we have lower pricing tiers available to them. Um, we work with a pretty broad audience, as I said, small-medium businesses, but also big, big enterprises. So we wanted to basically capitalize on the different, um, types of buyers that are out there.
Yeah, absolutely. And what are some of those ways that you're working to help people choose the right journey, right? Um, once they land on your website, how does someone better self identify whether the self service route is best for them or if they are more appropriate to speak to a sales rep?
Yeah. A great question. Um, so our primary call to action on our website is our free trial. Um, we do believe that that's the best first touch point for somebody with our product. Um, even if ultimately they're going to be working with a salesperson. Um, so our primary CTA on our site you'll see as the free trial, we do have certain places within the site where we direct someone to more of a classic like contact us form or a demo request type form. Um, those are linked from pages that are primarily focused on enterprise. So we have an enterprise page, we have more enterprise focused, uh, like services, for example.
So, um, we do have that conversion point there as well, but we really do push people towards the free trial. Um, it's sort of once they're in the trial that we identify who we think would be the best fit for a more, um, enterprise or sales-led type experience. Um, and it's a combination of things obviously like firmographic data, but also, uh, actual product usage, we look at as well to make those sort of, that sort of transition or pathway between the product-led to the sales-led experience.
Yeah. And something I think is interesting too, that I just to wanna know how you guys operate is, um, once a prospect lands inside your app who actually owns that portion of the customer journey? Like at which point with this self-serve motion, do you hand the baton to, uh, I don't know, maybe it's like an SDR organization or even like a product marketing org who, who, um, who takes the baton, I guess after that. And at what point in the funnel does it happen for self-serve?
Yeah. The really, really good question. And I say it's a question that any company, um, that is using a product-led motion, uh, is thinking about all the time. Um, I think the answer, I mean the answer for us, and I think for a lot of other companies is it's shared primarily between marketing and product. Um, so that was a huge shift for us in the way as a marketing team that we work within our organization.
Uh, we, you know, as a more sales-led motion understand that friction or that sort of, um, you know, constant, uh, working to align with sales, because of that very same question of where does, where's the baton passed. Um, that seems sort of question and, um, you know, discussion and working to align happens actually with product, in a product line motion. Um, so it's something that's shared. Uh, we're both looking at the metrics within that funnel in the mesh, the funnel we're looking at is definitely very different than what you would see in a sales-led motion, much more focused on the actual usage of the product and the main sort of, um, uh, aha moments where the points where a user can see the value that we want them to hit, uh, as they work towards actually becoming a customer.
Um, so, so yeah, the answer is it's shared between product and marketing actually. And then of course, there's the point where if we identify someone as a more fit, a better fit for, uh, working with the sales salesperson, then at that point, the, the salesperson takes ownership, we use Salesforce. So your classic, you know, open up an opportunity with them as the owner that sort of where they take ownership in that process.
Yep. No, that's super interesting. I think everybody has like a different, slightly different answer and slightly different rationale. So I just like to better understand the inner workings and, you know, almost the partnership that has to happen on the front end between your team and the partnership or the product team in order to like really create-
... that collaboration up front. Um, and so as a result, how has this affected you or the structure of your marketing team? Um, obviously if you were just a sales-led motion before maybe your, your actual like headcount or dynamics of hierarchy had to change in order to adapt this motion and better support one side working really closely with sales from the John and the other side, working really closely with product for these, um, initial like aha moments.
Great. Yeah, great question. We, we actually made a, quite a lot of changes in our team. Um, so we, we have someone focused on growth, um, and that person is, is looking at really the full funnel from acquisition, but also working within that funnel within the product.
Um, we have actually recently hired someone who is focused on operations, who is gonna really help us with that, uh, that sort of, you know, the handoff of the passing of the baton between the experience within the, the product to working with the sales person. Um, so our team is definitely evolving as we've made this transition and as we're honestly still in the process of making it, um, and I think the other biggest change is not just within the marketing team, but like I said, how as the marketing team, we work with the larger organization and the company.
Um, recently we made a pretty big change where we actually have a marketing, uh, sort of figure working within our squads. So our R&D and product team is sort of like structured in different squads. Um, and we actually have a marketing member on each of those squads working directly with our product and R&D teams. And it's honestly been amazing. Um, it definitely is helping us with that, uh, you know, that struggle with sharing KPIs between the different teams. Um, so obviously when you're working together really as a team, it makes it much easier to hit those goals, so.
Yeah, absolutely. And having an internal stakeholder as someone whose role is to make sure that that feedback loop is very cyclical. Right? Um, because I feel like if, you know, if everybody is like only aligned to their very specific teams and seem very siloed, that critical piece of like, not only sharing KPIs, but like passing those learnings back to the top of the funnel, total aid in marketing data so that you guys can actually act on learnings or make adjustments in your go-to-market strategy or whatever that might be. Right?
Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. Especially since we're incorporating the actual product usage data so much more in our working campaigns, just having that closer connection with the people who are, um, building the product obviously helps that. Um, and also, like I said earlier, when you're selling through your product, you're also marketing through your product.
And in order to market through your products, you need a marketer there, and actually be able to advise and, um, you know, set the strategy. So, uh, having that, you know, that, that, uh, cooperation between our teams has been really great.
Yeah. And I feel like we've almost got gone about this kind of like bottoms up. So the next step, I guess, in uncovering how this has affected your business model is talking about how you're leveraging some of those data insights to affect your go-to-market. But also at large, like how your go-to-market strategy had to shift when you guys decided make this launch to. Can you talk through some of those changes that you had to make and even almost like how you rolled them out to make sure everything was succinct and everyone was aligned.
Yeah. Um, so I think at the, at the very top of our funnel or acquisition channels definitely have changed. Uh, we have focused much more on paid, uh, channels and also organic search, uh, which isn't, you know, not that we didn't think about it before, but it's definitely become a much, much higher priority for us, because we understand that we really need that high volume at the top of the funnel.
We're a little less focused on bringing a smaller group of this strictly the right people, but just really getting that reach, uh, to bring as many users as we can, uh, to experience the product. So, um, really the top that's focused at the top of the funnel was this shift in our market strategy, like the, the, the larger focus there. Um, and then within the, the funnel itself, uh, one, one big example of this is we are now working with a new metric called, uh, PQL, which is product qualified lead.
So instead of using MQL, uh, we're actually using that metric to help us understand where we have the most opportunity with our, uh, free trial users and within our pipeline. Um, we are, this is a great example of how we're using product usage data, product qualified. We is a vetric that actually looks at product usage. So we've done an analysis that basically helped us to identify what features or what actions within our products are more likely to be to a conversion at the bottom of the funnel.
Um, we use those metrics in a very similar way with a scoring model, like you would do with MQL. Um, and we use that within our, uh, paid channel strategy within our shifting of resources. Um, yeah, so those are the, a few big examples there. Um, I guess the other example is also the, the way that we work with our sales team of force, because we still have a sales team. We still have understand that, that the value that they bring in, we need to better support or support them with this new structure and with this new sort of lead flow that they're getting.
Yeah, absolutely. So I want to ask a follow up question about the insights that you're leveraging out into the wild, like to affect how you're going to market in which campaigns are running and where. Are you on the backend gathering those PQL metrics by source to say like, oh, hey, we're sourcing better quality PQL from these types of channels, or even like a step further to say these specific campaigns on these types of channels are sourcing, you know, x, y and z?
But even further down than PQL, right? So like after a PQL use for, you're handing it over to your sales team and getting further ingrained those, um, pipeline and revenue metrics, and then that's like directly impacting where you're going to market.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. We're using PQL as we actually really used to use MQL. So looking at specific campaigns, um, whether it be like a content launch or a specific campaign within paid search, and understanding our percentage of PQL from that specific channel. Um, all at fault, we also are looking at cost per BQL in a similar way. So looking at what's most efficient, which channels and most efficient to bring the most valuable users.
Um, and I think you touched on a really interesting point when you're working within a product-led motion, marketing is so much closer to the revenue when you're working with the product-led motion. Your owning really that full experience of when someone enters your product until they, they purchase. Um, so it's really interesting. And for me, it's really exciting because I, you know, you, you, it's exciting to see the direct revenue that you're able to bring. Um, you know, it's obviously we still look at our pipeline generation on the, on the enterprise sales side, but it is great to actually see a specific channel, and what that translated into, uh, interrupts of revenue.
Yeah, no, absolutely. And I think obviously the closer you can get to revenue or at a minimum pipeline in any organization, regardless of whether it's sales-led or self-service, um, will only help you, but will also better connect you to the sales organization, because if you're not working off of the same KPIs or the same North Star, that's like the biggest, you know, creator of friction or division between traditional sales and marketing orgs, right?
Is that marketers are working to fill the top of the funnel with an MQL quota that someone has given them, while most sales quota or sales scores are obviously based on revenue.
And that created raise huge gap between the two, which is why there's this huge motion around talking about sales and marketing alignment, because most stores don't have it because their KPIs aren't the same. Right?
Right, right. I'm, I'm, I mean, for, for us who are on this enterprise sales side, we still look at pipeline, we look at dollar value there. Um, I think I agree it's just the best way to have those conversations and make sure there is alignment between the teams, so.
Yeah, let's talk about, um, timeline and stuff too. Right? So moving from one motion to a combination or a hybrid motion obviously takes a lot of moving pieces and a lot of orchestration. What, how long did this take you to do? And it wasn't like a ramped approach or some type of phase approach for how you kind of scaled it and rolled it into your model.
Yeah. Um, so we, we had been twain with this idea for quite a while, and we actually made the decision to move forward on it in March of last year. Um, so it was a very interesting time, uh, for the world in general. Um, but we worked very quickly considering the, you know, huge shift and change that all of us went through to working from home and with everything else going on in the world. Um, we did do a phased approach.
So it was a three phase approach, uh, that started in March. The first launch that we had was in June, and then the very last launch we had was in September. So in terms of the product transition, and the, the main key product, um, aspects that needed to be put in place, it was six months, uh, which I was, was a huge accomplishment. It was a huge, huge team effort and a big push, but, um, we made it happen. In terms of the, the rest of the company transition, um, because it's not just about the product, there's a lot of other things, obviously that we need to think about, uh, that really took us about nine months.
And I actually still seem pretty really in that transition today. We're still evolving, we're still learning, we're still ironing out these new processes that we have. Um, and one of the biggest things when you're talking about this type of transition is really the mindset. Um, it's how people are thinking about their job, how they're thinking about their goals, how they're thinking about the customer journey, um, how they're thinking about the way that they work with different teams.
So there is a lot of work to be done there, and that takes time obviously, it takes a lot of education, conversations, um, you know, providing examples, uh, creating opportunities for small wins for people. Um, but it's something we put a lot of effort on and, uh, have made really good progress on.
Yeah, absolutely. And you mentioned something earlier, too, that I want to highlight. 'Cause I think it might tie in nicely to something that, uh, Craig Handy actually said on the last episode of DGC. He was mentioning that he's like really into psy- psychographic data and looking into different types of data points that people most often don't look into in marketing. Um, and one of his points behind that was that we, as marketers are really fixated on this notion of having an ICP.
And we think that our perfect person has this title at this company and it they're selling to these types of people and maybe their company revenue is x, y and z, and that is our person. And so we only need to attack the market for those people. Um, but in that, we are excluding obviously tons of edge cases or additional use cases that are well within our product offering, but we just haven't sold to it in the past.
So we just lean in hard to this one thing that we know works, and then we ignore everything else, and that's not the way to become the leading brand. That's the way to like-
... remain the challenger brand in the space. Um, and so I think you had mentioned earlier that you have always had this enterprise motion and the sales-led motion. However, now that you're shifting to this self-service motion as well, it's all about just getting people into the funnel. So in doing that, I know it's still kind of early, but have y'all had any of those aha moments you internally where you think, oh, we've been selling to this type of person or this persona for five years or whatever, but we've, you know, we, haven't been super focused on these six types of people when this is a huge market for us.
Yeah. I think it's a super interesting plan and I am fully on board with that sort of perspective. Um, I really think that that is a key part of a product-led approach. The goal is to get people in your product, using your product so that you can learn from them. Um, and it's less I think about saying, you know, you're with your team, you're deciding together that we think this person is the perfect person and we really only want to go after them.
It's instead sort of taking a, like a backseat and observing what happens within your product and observing the way that people use it, who is actually coming to use it, who is finding you, and then sort of stopping and evaluating from there. Um, we're definitely still in that phase now. Um, but we are seeing a much broader, uh, variety of, of users for sure.
Um, I mean, we, we even have users who are using it for personal use cases. Uh, maybe it's like a small blog that they have, uh, which is not, you know, not a customer that we have worked with up until now, and really they're using it for a similar way. They're using it for content marketing, but they're just not at a, you know, thousand person organization.
Um, so yeah, I think it's a great point. It's definitely something we're still, um, evaluating and something that, you know, I think a lot about in our marketing approach and how we position ourselves, um, because we want to make sure we're positioning ourselves in a way that will bring a broader audience and not, um, you know, more about positioning ourselves for what we can help you do and less about who you are, I guess.
Yeah, exactly. And I think that's like something super important that anybody can take away, especially if they're in B2B and they're listening to this. Like B2B marketers, I feel like pigeonhole ourselves into ICP-based audience targeting instead of pain-based audience targeting. Um, because I feel like we are scared or hesitant to cast a wider net, but there's so much learning and opportunity for expansion, if you cast-
... a slightly wider net in that mindset. Right? I think you said it earlier too. It's like, it's all about a little bit of a mindset and shifting-
... that mindset. And I think if you're, if you start targeting people based on pain or what your product can actually solve for them, instead of do they fit this very, very specific bubble, um, you'll only learn right from new, new inventory.
Right. Yeah. Yeah. I definitely agree. Uh, and you know, the world in the market is changing all of the time-
... and I, you know, 10, 15 years ago you would never have thought that you could create video. I would never have thought that I could just create a video on my own and, and share it. So, um, yeah, there's definitely an evolving, there's evolving opportunity all the time. And I think it's about putting yourself in a place where you can capitalize on those opportunities.
Yeah, absolutely. As you're prepping your team and prepping yourself maybe even to start this ship from a sales-led to self-serve or product-led, I keep saying self-serve, but product-led, um, were there resources or, um, other companies or, um, even books that you consumed or read to kind of like prep yourself and prep your team for this mind shift?
Yeah. I, um, I have a few recommendations. There is, uh, OpenView Ventures. Uh, they have an amazing, amazing blog. They are actually the certain, the, the, the group that coined the term product-led. Um, so they're definitely experts in the space, uh, and they give tons of examples of, you know, companies that are just doing this really well. Um, whether it's HubSpot or Slack, uh, but the big, the big names that you can think of when you're thinking about this type of go-to-market strategy.
Uh, the other is Product-Led Alliance. Uh, so this is an organization that's, uh, is, was formed by Wes Bush, uh, who had the great book on the topic and you can download it on, uh, audible listened to, it's great, I highly recommend it. Um, and he has a Slack Community, uh, there's tons of blog content on their sites. Um, so OpenView and Product-Led Alliances, the two recommendations they have.
Yeah, no, that's awesome. I always like to try and leave, um, listeners with some type of actionable feedback. So if they're interested or they're trying to go through a similar shift for their company, um, it's just really helpful, um, to understand kind of-
... what you, what you leaned on or what you're still leaning on, um, to learn from, right?
It's like we actually learned from others, there's like people have already done it and done it successfully or done it and it didn't go well, I'd like to know both of them [crosstalk 00:25:59].
... plain. Right?
Learn from the mistakes. Yeah.
I think within marketing, there's been so many new communities that have popped up. Uh, I, I mean, definitely before the pandemic, but I think even in this past year, people are seeking connection, seeking, you know, just another voice or another connection and, um, you know, a highly recommend joining some of the slack communities they're really helpful.
Yeah, absolutely. Do you have any top of mind that you feel are more impactful than others?
Um, so the Product-Led, uh, Alliance one is a great one, um, for content marketing, a Superpath had the great, uh, community. And, um, there's a B2B CMO group that I'm in that I it's just New York based, uh, B2B CMOs. So I'm not sure how open it is, but, um, I'm sure there's a ton of, you know, local groups that are out there, so.
Beautiful. Yeah. And if anyone listening to today's episodes wants to follow you and what you're doing over at limits, where's the best place for them to do so.
Yeah. So I'm on LinkedIn. I, and my Twitter is Hilary, uh, double underscore K-A-Y.
Beautiful. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on today's episode. I really enjoyed it. Everyone listening, please go and follow Hilary. She is a light, lots of knowledge to share. So please go do so. And we'll see you on the next episode.