39. How to Manage Remote B2B Teams Effectively | Vedran Rasic

Slide Ep. 39: Interview with Vedran Rasic

How to Manage Remote B2B Teams Effectively

EP 39 - Vedran Rasic

“Working well remotely” and “managing teams online” have now not only become buzzwords, but also sought-after skills that every manager needs. On this week’s episode, we talk to B2B SaaS expert Vedran Rasic (Director of Marketing, VanillaSoft) about managing teams and budgets for B2B marketing in startups as well as larger organizations. He also elaborates on how to set up a strategic B2B SaaS framework and ideal customer profiles, the importance of planning short-term sprints, future trends, and how to avoid the “shiny object syndrome” while leveraging opportunities to grow strategically.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Vedran on managing teams and budgets for B2B marketing – from growing start-ups to managing the chain of command in larger companies [10:44]
  • How to set up B2B SaaS strategic frameworks and Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs) [16:50]
  • Vedran on strategic planning and short term sprints. [22:44]
  • Future trends and predictions [33:03]
    • Community marketing
    • Online live events
    • Real time edutainment
    • Gamification
    • Marketing fairness
  • Noise vs. signal – how to avoid the shiny object syndrome while taking advantage of the opportunities [40:36]

Companies & links mentioned in this episode:

Transcript

SPEAKERS

Christian Klepp, Vedran Rasic

Christian Klepp  00:08

Hi, and welcome to the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast. I’m your host Christian Klepp, and one of the founders of EINBLICK Consulting. Our goal is to share inspirational stories, tips and insights from B2B marketers, digital entrepreneurs, and industry experts that will help you to think differently, succeed and scale your business.

Alright, welcome, everyone to this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast where you get your weekly dose of B2B marketing insights. This is your host Christian Klepp. And today, I’d like to welcome my guest into the show who was a passionate entrepreneur, and B2B marketer experienced in delivering successful product strategies, achieving targets and building high performance teams. So, Vedran Rasic, dobar dan i dobrodošli. Welcome to the show!

Vedran Rasic  01:02

How’s it going?

Christian Klepp  01:03

Good. Good. Good. I’ve been practicing that one the whole morning, man. So..

Vedran Rasic  01:07

You’re native, you’re native Serbian tration or Balkan.

Christian Klepp  01:12

Thank you. Vedran, I really enjoyed, I’ve been enjoying, in fact, all these conversations that you and I have been having. And I’m really looking forward to this conversation.

Vedran Rasic  01:21

So likewise, my friend, I’m so happy to be here with you.

Christian Klepp  01:24

Alright, man. So let’s just get started, you, I would say are what many people will consider a serial entrepreneur in the B2B SaaS space. So I think I mean, it’s true, man, it’s seriously like, at least from the conversations that we’ve had. One skill that I think you’ve definitely perfected over time is the art of running and managing teams remotely. And that is no small feat, given the current period. So for the sake of the interview, why don’t we try to focus the topic a little bit, like narrowed down a bit further. So it’s in terms of managing remote teams and budgets, for B2B marketing purposes. So walk us through some of the challenges that you’ve encountered, and how have you addressed them?

Vedran Rasic  02:08

Yeah, man, I think it’s a great topic. I’ve been a passionate team lead for, I guess, over five years, and just generally love working with people and building structures where everyone can grow. And one thing that I can mention from my 10 years of my experience of working in different multicultural teams, we’ve talked about it,  worked in Serbia, Austria, Germany, Canada, US, basically all the across…I can tell…

Christian Klepp  02:39

International my friend, international!

Vedran Rasic  02:41

International, exactly. I can tell you one thing, and whether you’re working in person, online, remote, or inside the office, the same principles apply. So, people want to grow, they want to improve, they want to be loved, they want to feel that they’re part of the community one way or the other. And they want to feel appreciated. So if you can build that into your culture into how you’re running teams, I truly think it doesn’t matter. The industry or the surroundings, right? What are what are your remote there inside the office? Basically, the same principles apply? And I’ve been, I’ve been writing about this, how do you do that? How do you achieve that? Well I like to say it rarely delegate a task delegated responsibility instead. And obviously, this is not the original thinking, I think I encountered that, for the first time from Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, like very cheesy title for people that haven’t read it, but just amazing content all around, I feel that most management books that I read, they evolved around that topic of leadership and helping your team be better. Right. So that’s what I started with, I respect my people, when I’m hiring them, whether is like for few months, or a full time or whatever, or for a particular task, right? I try to group those tasks into a responsibility so that a person feels that this is their thing, they need to deliver that right, like my support and help, obviously, and depending on their experience, sometimes I’m more involved or I’m less involved, but the point is that on you as a lead, it’s on you to conceive to scope, a task and then to delegate it, but as a responsibility, not as a single thing, go do that, right. Like there’s, but if you explain, and so sometimes when I’m working with people for the first time, I tend to be boring because I keep repeating myself, I keep reiterating the same point in different ways, because I’m basically trying to get us on the same page. That is, that is basically the initial principle that I start with.

Cool, man, thanks so much for sharing that. And I think, you brought up such a great point. And it’s around that fact as simple as that might sound, it’s in terms of obviously getting the right talent on board. And it’s also making them feel like they’re part of the team. But I think also more important than that, if I understood you correctly, make them understand how their efforts and their work contributes to the overall success of the organization. Make them feel like, this is the role that they have to play in the grand scheme of things correct?

Oh, absolutely, man. And one thing that I’ve been testing lately is, if you add monetary value, and if you reward people with like, with more cash, with better structures, etc, they do not care about it. Most of most of the folks… and, I was thinking that, it might be because you hired these guys, you looked at those qualities, and want it to have people, different but also similar in how they perceive different things and how they do get the job done. But no, it’s actually a lot of people that I haven’t hired, but they were part of my team, or part of our teams, is the same thing. It’s not necessarily about the monetary value, it’s not necessarily about the shiny physical objects that you can see like, such as office or going to different conferences, and those kind of fringe benefits, it’s really about the culture, connection with your peers, or your cross functional or functional peers, it really comes down to that.

And for instance, I’ll give you one specific example. I’ve been doing that for years. And I read it in a book Trillion Dollar Coach, amazing, amazing book, by the way, about a guy who influenced like, the top Silicon Valley, CEOs. And basically, the one thing that he how he likes to start his executive meetings and board meetings is basically with something very personal. And so when you get people on a zoom call, or in the boardroom, and you start with something very personal, something related to their past weekend or week. And there’s no small talk, it’s basically is something that’s important, that person and you try with questions, and you dig deeper and you allow people to express themselves, like the the meeting, and the job gets done, in a much more compassionate and better way, because other people know, kind of feel that they know who you are, right? They know, if you say something, they know where it’s coming from. The other way around, there’s just a lot of friction. Over the years, I kind of learned that if we have the basic premise in place, which is we gathered to achieve a certain objective. And we if we’re walking towards that objective, then you need to start injecting those personal, kind of stories and personal sharing, because then people get connected and really, they enjoy working. I had a person telling me the other day, on my marketing team, she said, I started loving Mondays, Mondays actually are not the struggle for me anymore.

Christian Klepp  08:23

No more Monday blues.

Vedran Rasic  08:24

Exactly. It’s lovely hearing these things. Because I intrinsically think that your job is, as a B2B marketer, you’re a leader in your company, whether you’re a director or manager or C suite, like your job is to remove obstacles and let your people shine. Right?

Christian Klepp  08:45

Wow, spoken like a true leader, my friend. Well done, well done. You know, you brought up such an interesting point at the beginning, which is something I’ve also read like online, and from companies like Randstad or famous for HR consulting and what not. And it is true to a certain degree that monetary compensation and benefits such as like not necessarily in Canada, but in the US, like with health insurance, those are not the key motivators for employees. Those are to a certain degree, expected, but I think what the article was trying to, like point to was that, it has to be more than that now. So, I think I like the point, build to some of the things that you raised. Can these employees picture themselves growing in this company? Does the company provide a professional development path for them? Are there ways for them to continue getting some kind of training or mentorship if they’re younger employees or people that are starting out their career and so forth?

Vedran Rasic  09:54

And absolutely. One point in time, you have to have lunch. Yeah, bigger company, right? And that’s fine. It’s amazing, but all that gets is, I read about it, there’s that sushi again on the menu, I want something else, right? So it doesn’t create a real value, it saves time, etc. But like to create real value, you need to create a bond within your team. And but that’s the first principle man like, that’s just, it’s basics.

Christian Klepp  10:26

Yeah, sure. What do you believe is acquired from your experience to manage teams and budget successfully in order for B2B SaaS companies to improve specifically their marketing efforts?

Vedran Rasic  10:44

It’s a great question. It depends on whether you’re a startup or you are a company that’s been around for 5, 10 years, or you’re a startup that’s growing at a high pace, right. So, but what I would say, from my experience, working in the startup, so I’ll give you those examples and try to be specific there. But for startup, there’s one goal – prove the model and scale, right. So try to grow as fast as possible. And in order to do that, you need to prove the model, like, whether it’s a business model, whether it’s a product, and usually we call it a product market fit, right. So, growth is the only function so you got to grow at all costs. And usually, you don’t have a lot of budget, if you’re a bootstrap company, well, there’s usually very limited money you can work with. So it’s extremely important, like you do not create budgets, do not strategize, how are you going to spend money this and that, but go out and try and make small bets. Right? And watch it grow, like see what’s working, see what’s generating revenue, because all you need is to survive the next month, and the next month and the next month, right? So I even joke like from the financial perspective, it’s actually, the SaaS model, SaaS financial model for small bootstrap. Businesses is not good. What’s better is to look at things in a cash basis, right? Like the inflow and outflow. So because you won’t survive, right? And then okay, so if you have some seed investment and money, what you probably want to do, you probably want to hire, your first like marketing person, you want to hire like a sales leader, and then probably the rest, you want to outsource. And even like, the bottom line functions and operations, you probably want to outsource. So I think, it’s pretty straightforward. There’s not much you can do with it. And obviously, if you proved your unit economics, then you know which channels work best, and you can double down on them.

Now, for a bit larger companies, I think the most important thing is chain of command. What do I mean by that? Well, what I say, one person can manage four to six, or I don’t know, to eight, but I might, like that traditional belief that you can’t manage more than six people. So it’s really important that the budget is distributed well and so when it goes from a CFO or CEO and from a strategy perspective, it goes to either like a CRO and it comes down to me as a marketeer. I tried to split the budget properly, between my core functions, for instance, what do I mean by core functions? Well, core functions of my department, as I like to think of them, and my team likes to think of them as to grow, to brand and to support. And so that’s how I would split the budget. So for brand, especially 2021, I do not necessarily care to track anything, most of the stuff is you being out there, where your ideal customer profiles are, being out there just generating some goodwill for the brand and emphasizing your core beliefs and values. When it comes to growth, again, I try and place smaller bets, but substantially larger event and small startup, and see how they work, see what’s generating the revenue, what’s generating the bottom line, and depending on the strategic objective, whether I need to generate bottom line and improve the pipeline, short term, obviously I’m going to place bets and change things quickly. And if I need to do it over a long period of time, then obviously, I’ll let it sit there for a while and observe, what’s happening. But maybe it has to do with age, maybe it has to do with the startup background and entrepreneurial mindset, all these projects that I’m working on and aside, I just like to iterate quickly. I like to get to a solution quickly. And I like the versioning. Right? And we’ll talk about it later. But whether it’s a product whether it’s a budget strategy tactic, I like versioning. let’s start with version number one. Make it super simple, let it running. And then and then move forward. I’ll give you another example. When it comes to finance, companies usually have a big budget and when you look at the budget, and then there’s a tool $50,000, $100,000, you just go and acquire it, right? My thinking is, before you even acquire a tool, we should prepare a team that will that is going to implement it and execute it immediately without waiting for like, three, six, even nine months to implement the software. Because why did you purchase it? Right? So just like the iteration is what matters. And that’s how I think of budgets.

Christian Klepp  15:39

Right, right. Well, thanks. Thanks for sharing that. You brought up so many super insightful points. I want to circle back to something that you mentioned at least two times, in the past couple of minutes, you talked about placing smaller bets. And from your description, I think what interests me so much about the way you describe them, it sounds to me almost like a design thinking format, because what you’re doing is you’re you’re continuously iterating the process as you’re going along, and you’re doing things in sprints, right.

Vedran Rasic  16:10

Right. And, absolutely, and I think, we business guys and marketeers and what not, we borrowed this, and I’d be wrong, but I feel I borrowed it from my tech teams, and my tech guys. Basically, they love doing things in bi weekly sprints. And I just think that’s fantastic. Because how do you how do you make marketing specific? How do you make it concrete? Well, you ship fast, right, instead of talking spending time in meetings and brainstorming, and this and that, you ship faster. And that’s the underlying tactic, I would say.

Christian Klepp  16:50

Exactly. So further onto that point, especially with regards to marketing efforts. Talk to us about the importance of setting up strategic frameworks and ideal customer profiles.

Vedran Rasic  17:06

Right. So, again it’s for me, I like to think of it what stage are you in as an organization, right? And speaking of SaaS B2B, as our topic of interest, right? If you are in that early stage, product market fit, you’re go to market playbook is basically to win at all costs, right? So, you know… anything to win the business, right, because what you need, you need data, you need information, you need intel to refine your product, and to really find that kind of product market fit or even go to market fit, right? So it’s really important to just capture that business. And so who is your ideal customer profile? Well, you’re learning on the go, for instance I can talk about articles, I can talk about my side gigs, and projects that I’m running, such as Lead Delta, etc. For these types of organizations, it’s like if you have a one pager, or just describe your assumptions, that’s good enough, if you ask me. If you just describe an industry if you describe the winners in that industry, who can benefit the most from your product, it is just enough. And usually, from my experience, it’s really useful to focus on B2C2B kind of approach where you’re really focused on kind of more of a buyer persona than necessarily an organization. And then as you move on, once you understand product market fit, then you can actually start creating frameworks, which industries you can impact the most. And so you focus you double down on them, but also which industries you still want to continue experimenting with, right. And there’s a bunch of frameworks out there, I love that the HubSpot framework, like they have a bunch of interesting, interesting tables, how to create the profiles.

Christian Klepp  19:13

They’ve got that free tool, like any buyer personas and what have you.

Vedran Rasic  19:18

100% and then there’s one more interesting one Christian, I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it, it’s called the Value Proposition Design. Yes. It’s a kind of model for thinking it’s basically what it does on one side you have a customer profile on the other side, you have a value map. And basically you start with pains, you start with jobs that your ideal target market is trying to accomplish, and then you move on to the value map and what you’re providing. Then that the fit between the two is basically who you should be focusing and who are you building for. Um, another thing man, that’s, it’s interesting, they’re not sure from your experience, like customer success. I believe once you’ve figured about the product market fit, the immediate next next person that you need to have is customer success. Because then they’ll give you that real world example of who is really successful with your product. And how you can translate that into ICPs. And then market marketing dollar spend.

Christian Klepp  20:21

That’s been my experience as well.

Hey, it’s Christian Klepp here. We’ll get back to the episode in a second. But first, is your brand struggling to cut through the noise? Are you trying to find more effective ways to reach your target audience and boost sales? Are you trying to pivot your business? If so, book a call with EINBLICK Consulting, our experienced consultants will work with you to help your B2B business to succeed and scale. Go to www.einblick.co. For more information.

You touched on some things which kind of leads into the next topic of discussion. And I think I already know what your answer is gonna be for this one. But I promise you, Vedran, we’re not going to talk about COVID. We’re not going to talk about the pandemic. Because if you want to know that stuff, you just watch the news. But what I can say is that, short of stating the obvious. I think we’ve probably had like five years’ worth of changes within the past 12 to 14 months, just with everything that was going on last year, that everything has changed so rapidly. And I think in the B2B SaaS space, obviously, many would argue that this is an opportune time, because especially in the B2B space, digitalization is advancing rapidly. Now, that being said, even in traditional B2B marketing, people are always talking about long term planning, long term strategic planning, you plan for the year and so forth. But now a lot of people are arguing and I’d love to get your thoughts on this. A lot of people argue that because things have changed so much, it’s probably more prudent for you to like, do short term planning and short term sprints so that like you said, go to market quickly monitor the results and get the market validation quickly and iterate quickly. So what are your thoughts about like, short term sprints? Or long term marathons?

Vedran Rasic  22:23

Right. And remind me of that saying, how does it go to when you’re not planning, you’re basically planning to fail, right?

Christian Klepp  22:37

When you when you fail… when you when you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Vedran Rasic  22:44

I believe that…and funny fact, I was talking to my wife, my mom is telling me you continue to you’re planning, you’re plotting something. Stop planning! And I feel that I did well with that in my case. So I believe in planning them. And honestly, there are clear signals, I believe. And there’s a ton of noise. So if you turn off your notifications, if you turn off your suggested news and apps, and if you do that due diligence, and then you start thinking about what’s happening, because you already have a ton of information. I keep joking, there’s a ton of information out there. Just focusing on, what is your best guess? Where are we headed in the industry, that’s your expertise. Obviously, if you’re leading a company in a certain industry, you probably know a lot about it, then you’re talking to customers all the time, and you see what’s going on, like, you can play some bets. For instance, like, we can say that either Bitcoin is going to be a thing, or it’s not going to be a thing. There’s a lot of SaaS companies that are investing portions of their wealth into bitcoin. And I don’t even want to go into mechanisms of how they do it. And it’s just like, a lot of things. I just don’t like it.

Christian Klepp  24:14

Totally. That’s a entirely different interview.

Vedran Rasic  24:16

Exactly. But I think we can all agree that there’s more decentralization coming. When it comes to money, or administration or businesses, more and more people will be, well, they like to see mercenaries. Well, you can call it that way. Call it whatever you want. But like there’s a lot of people are going to be like self-made, they’re gonna come together for a mission. And then they’ll go, chillaxing belly and then they’re gonna go and do another mission and another mission, etc. So, thinking, that’s the workforce part. The first part I was talking about money, right. The third thing is, where’s the software headed? Like, there’s more integration. There’s more Intelligence. So based on all these factors, you can plan for something, for some outcome. And then you fix that plan or a vision in the short term. And your teams, so you’re tactical out that strategy, right? So your tactical and operational level, you basically try and run short term sprints, like I said, because otherwise you won’t get anything done. So and you get to try more things, you get to place more bets. So only teams that ship will learn fast and generate results, but the persons steering the ship, so the strategic level, in my mind, should be looking at those factors that are, de facto truth, like, or a fact. So, I think both, there’s a strategic level should look what’s going to happen within a few years, because it’s not not unclear, man, there are signals, if you remove the noise. And for the rest, short term sprints, man.

Christian Klepp  26:08

Right. I think the the expression in English is the writings on the wall right? That was a great answer. And in fact, that brings to mind a, something this gentleman mentioned that I also had the pleasure of interviewing, and he, he didn’t coined the phrase, but it’s a commonly used phrase and his area of expertise, which happens to be blockchain. And he mentioned the term monarchies and militia. So basically, it’s pretty much like just, the things that you’ve been describing in the past couple of minutes, it kind of goes back to that monarchies and militia kind of situation. Because obviously, the monarchy being the establishment, or the bigger corporations, and the militia being these smaller, bootstrap, ambitious firms, like in this in this particular case, these B2B SaaS companies, right. So there’s been more opportunity now than ever before for them to chase those ambitions, those goals, those opportunities that have opened up so long. Yeah. So, really interesting, really interesting that you brought that up.

Vedran Rasic  27:24

It’s hard to turn a blind eye to that. I mean, it’s happening and you as a leader, you got to act.

Christian Klepp  27:32

Absolutely. So we’ve talked about this a little bit already, but just talk to us about some of the changes to the landscape that you’ve seen as a result of the pandemic, and how have these changes affected your organization and the way they work and interact with your team?

Vedran Rasic  27:49

Right. I’m probably not the best person to answer that question. Because I work maybe in like, two or three offices in my life. Other than that, there was it was fully remote. You know, last time that was it, it was a jammed office. It was in Austria, and then after that, I guess it was in Canada in Toronto.

Christian Klepp  28:10

But managing teams remotely is a very sought-after skill, my friend.

Vedran Rasic  28:18

Oh, there you go. So, if everything else fail, I’ll consult in the area. (laugh) Anyways. So in November 2019, brief story, we actually went full remote with Autoklose, so on the ability of our team to organize and work remote. And we cancelled our lease, and, you know, ever since we’ve been remote, and then during the acquisition, and that’s actually a funny story, the whole negotiation, and everything was done during the pandemic. So, you’re getting a little bit of weird for everyone. But once we got acquired, our parent company, VanillaSoft, was also deep into working remotely, because it was 2020. Right. And so the tools were in place, and it almost for us, it was a natural transition into another bigger organization. And for sure there are struggles because people are different and interestingly enough, I think for salespeople, and probably we’re going to touch upon that later but for salespeople, for marketing people, for extrovert type of functions, so to speak they might be missing that gong in the office, chat with a colleague and whatnot. So, trying to mimic some of that in an online world using the online tools would probably help. I personally hope that, people will have the option to choose. So let’s say, if you have an office, turn it into a nice looking headquarters where people can come for a few weeks and work from there or if there’s brainstorming or meeting, like, important meeting taking place, you can you can retreat there and work together for a few days. But I think not a single… like most companies should not limit their workforce to kind of work remotely and pandemic just add a kick it out a little bit, but a few notches.

Christian Klepp  30:21

Exactly. It’s funny that you mentioned that, especially the extroverted people, they’re probably missing those out. They call them here, watercooler conversations, or the pantry chat, right? You’re going to refill your coffee, and you stop and do a little bit of small talk. And, and I mean, I can imagine, maybe not necessarily in the SaaS space, but in other B2B functions, it’s that whole experience of people going to physically going to seminars or summit in the tech space in the US, for example, going to Las Vegas for a trade show. I mean, all of those things have shut down, right? And who knows if that’s ever coming back. But in the meantime, I think at the moment, the only really plausible option is to find the digital means to… not necessarily replicate the same experience, but how can you, as a salesperson, as a marketing person, do that same outreach that you used to do in person, perhaps even on a larger scale digitally,

Vedran Rasic  31:29

But let me give you an example here. When I think about innovation, I think about kids, and the younger generations. You look at them, they spend times on screens, and it’s a weird thing to me, not to be outside, not to go to concerts, games, or whatnot. But to a newer generation, they listen to a concert over zoom, or whatever other platform. And I heard that example, a couple of times, being brought up by fathers that I follow into the podcast base and whatnot. And I was like, interesting. I think new products will emerge, new kind of multiplayer, peers, or sales mode, and communities will emerge, to fill that void or needs, right. And for sure, there’ll be our generational, it’s going to probably crave something else. And there’ll be like, some niche conferences and large conferences and what not. But I think there’s now space for for something new to emerge. And we’re seeing that across the board.

Christian Klepp  32:42

Absolutely. And it’s interesting that you talk about these future trends and predictions, because that was the next thing I was gonna ask you. If we were looking at, I wouldn’t even say, let’s not do the whole like looking, you know, 10 years down the line. Let’s just talk about like, in the next two to three years, where do you think all of this is gonna go?

Vedran Rasic  33:03

Um, so first things first, related to your previous question, and the communication, direction communication when I think community you know, if we’re talking B2B SaaS marketing community is a big thing, right. And we see that, you know, with the recent acquisition of Hustle by HubSpot, so there’s that. So before, we had growth hackers or Indie Hackers acquired by stripe. So there’s a lot of these examples, right? So it seems that community is more important than ever. Now, look at it from the partnership perspective. So a few years ago, if I told you, dude, let’s hook up our Salesforce CRM into a platform and just share accounts and what not, you’ll be like, no dude, like, just gonna steal my contacts or whatever. Right. But now you have cross beam, right? And people do it willingly, even though they still don’t have a business model, right. And probably, they’re not like doing the a option, which is stealing your data, but they’re, for sure doing something with your data, and like, but no one cares, because we are totally in a different, at a different stage of transparency and kind of working together and coming together. So I think that community marketing is more important than ever. So then look at these platforms where salespeople get to hang out, like, bravado or whatever the name is, like, there’s a couple of these platforms where salespeople come to trade information or to find products or know what the specification of product is. But what I’m saying is, like, there’s more and more of that community marketing and so I think that is a big trend that we’re gonna keep on seeing.

There’s a lot of these online events. Not sure where this is going I think, more than ever, the quality will matter. Because like a lot of people can produce, it’s so cheap to produce, right? I have perfect lighting, I have good mic, I have 4k camera, boom, there, off you go. Right. And we placed a lot of bets and a ton of dollars in our own studio here at VanillaSoft. So I feel that, marketers will plan even more a synchronous events throughout the year that will kind of make sense for their audiences. So I think that that’s definitely a trend, like it’s a no brainer trend, right? Like, everything is moving online. And even, just to give you an insider information, when I’m when I’m talking to these different vendors, like most of them are bullish that towards the end of the year, there’s going to be a live conference. And let me make a prediction here, if that actually happens. So if if we have the opportunity to organize a live conference, I think it’s going to be huge, because a lot of emotions, a lot of it’s just like, people of a certain profession coming again, together, I think whoever placed their bets on that will win. But also, I’m trying to be rational as well and saying, you know that, if that doesn’t happen, then those that bet on online conferences and split their budgets there would win.

So another thing that I that I feel is a big thing is a real time edutainment. So, look around, there’s more and more real time tools coming up. There’s more and more real time shows. And especially here in North America. In Europe, I feel sometimes people don’t even understand that they find it foolish. And quite frankly, for me, sometimes it’s really hard to wrap my head around it. I’ve been here for like four years, but like sometimes it’s just too much for me. Yeah, but there’s that real time edutainment where people pay more focus to entertainment than anything else. So that’s another way for people to get together. And bringing the pop culture elements into your emails into your instead of plain personalization into your webinars into your YouTube channels and doing things in front of everyone else, I think is a big win in the next couple of years.

Christian Klepp  37:14

That’s interesting that you brought that up? What about like, is slightly different to entertainment, like, but gamification? Do you see any of that happening?

Vedran Rasic  37:24

I definitely think that gamification was a big buzzword in 2016/2017/2018. And for some reason, because of the inability to implement, we went with an a option A and option is always the easiest. So let’s build something into our tools that’s going to gamify. Let’s do this and that. So and then that didn’t work. And now everyone’s like, ah gamification sucks. But I think exactly what you’re saying, gamification paired with what I heard the other day from Macau, a guy that I just met online, and an amazing dude. It worked for Google for a while. And you know, we had a quick chat. So he mentioned that multiplayer sales mode, I think gamification and some sort of information sharing in your gamified experience, I think is a is still like, pretty much a big trend.

Christian Klepp  38:19

I think so. I mean, like I’m not a gamification expert level, at least from what I’ve seen, and from some of the campaigns that I’ve been involved with, I think that it’s still a relatively untapped space in B2B. I mean, I know there’s some companies out there that have dabbled in it, but I don’t think it’s actually reached its full potential yet.

Vedran Rasic  38:38

No, I do tend to agree with that. And one other thing that I noticed in the last couple of months, take a look at the… I call it marketing of fairness. There’s a new breed of tools that are pushing and it’s particularly SaaS companies 2.0, as they call them, the Twilio stripes of the world. So if you look at there’s a new usage base price thing, and they started with it. But now for instance, HubSpot made a move. I’m not sure exactly when I found about it, like a few weeks ago, but apparently, there’s like, you know, it’s been announced, it’s been a few months. So then all moving to a more fair kind of Slack alike usage-based pricing, which I kind of like to call marketing fairness. And it’s just, it seems right in 2021. And I think a lot of companies will be moving towards that in their campaigning and their product pricing and product marketing in general.

Christian Klepp  39:42

That’s a definitely an interesting observation. It’s almost as if it’s like a bit of a natural evolution, that’s just the way that the way that the market is behaving that these trends are kind of like heading in that direction.

Vedran Rasic  39:56

Oh, yeah. 100% right.

Christian Klepp  39:58

So Vedran, this is one of my favorite parts of the interview because there’s always like a very interesting, different and passionate answer that comes out of this question. Commonly held beliefs, conventional wisdom, so every area of expertise has one. So obviously, B2B SaaS marketing is no exception. So just with regards to this, especially when it comes to managing teams and budgets for B2B SaaS marketing, talk to us about one of these commonly held beliefs that you strongly disagree with, and why?

Vedran Rasic  40:36

I tried to be as methodical as possible and obviously, combining that with creative nature of marketing. But one thing that I… especially in companies that have their path, and they know, their objectives, there’s one thing that I feel is kind of ruining marketing teams, well, even like everything. Let’s start with this, they’re still in development, they like to say, set up a requirement and do not change it. Let us execute… like, in that one sprint, right, the two weeks sprint, and let’s get it done, and then we can tweak it and whatnot. But it does the same thing in marketing, oh, there’s this new hot thing. Did you see like, XYZ company doing that? Oh, we got to do that, too. And then you’re like, well, what would all these other priorities that we already prioritized? And we’re working towards and oh, no, no, no, we got to do this. Right. And that’s noise versus signal that I keep talking about, there’s usually a ton of noise there. And as individuals, by all means, go and test it, play with it, like start a new small project, etc, that’s going to help you become a better professional and serve better your team and your company. But as a company, you got to be focused, and you got to cut through the noise. And the only way to do that is to say no a lot of times. And I just think like that new hot thing, you got to be the first right. It’s just not even grounded in numbers, because we know that a ton of first movers are never the winners. I think, what’s his name? The popular psychologist, Grant. What’s his last name? Forgot. Anyways, he keeps talking about it, he proved it scientifically that, it’s the first mover advantage is not really advantage. Most cases.

Christian Klepp  42:45

Yeah, that’s incredible advice, man. And I couldn’t agree with that more. Yeah, it certainly is noise versus signal, or the term that a lot of guys in the B2B marketing space like to use is this shiny object syndrome. Alright. So it’s exactly like what you said, Hey, check it out, it’s like this platform, or this software, or this app, this is definitely gonna help us this is or this overused term, it’s a game changer, man, it’s gonna be dangerous.

Vedran Rasic  43:16

Exactly. And then then you bring that to your team every three days, and then they start hating you. And here’s my alternative, not to be negative about it, here’s my alternative. And encourage your teammates to have hobbies to have professionally related gigs and projects and things that they’re working on, and support those. Because if they succeeded it, then they go their way perfect, like, good for them, you support them just, they’re gonna remain friends, you’re gonna build something great together. If they stay, in most cases, they will, they will have a new skill to contribute to your company, to your team to your brand. And they’ll be the ones to prioritize to help you prioritize and implement that that new thing.

Christian Klepp  43:57

Absolutely. If I’m reminded of this old analogy, and I think it’s not just applicable to B2B marketing, I think it’s applicable to leadership in general, you have to sometimes compare yourself to the captain of a ship. So, and I’m not trying to say that you go down when the ship sinks. That’s not what I mean. (laugh) I mean that it’s the captain’s job to make sure that the vessel stays on course. Alright. So and when everybody else is distracted by whatever it is, right? So in the marketing context, the shiny objects and what have you, it’s the captain’s job to say, Okay, guys, this is our goal. We’ve got to stick to it. We got to stay focused. It’s like what you said just, you know, you have to learn how to push back and say, no, we’re not doing that or, or we go and test it first before we implement it completely.

Vedran Rasic  44:52

I love when my guys come back to me and they say like, this is what we tried. This is what we think and whatnot and then you as a captain, having all these information, you know, like you, you go and you help make a decision. So that’s lovely.

Christian Klepp  45:06

Absolutely, man. Absolutely. Ron, you’ve shared so many valuable insights with us in the past couple of minutes and your experiences over the years. And now this is the part where you get to tell the listeners a little bit about yourself.

Vedran Rasic  45:21

That’s the part, right? Look, man, I shall hope so. I hope that, we’ve shared some interesting ideas, and it seems that maybe you want to be a maybe you want to do a Joe Rogan type of thing and go into two hours or something like to your guests.

I came to Canada four years ago, to search for kind of more entrepreneurial gigs and kind of to build things and ship things, because it’s much bigger market. So, I went from typical R&D agency studio where you build products to running a first startup that failed, to running a second startup that succeeded and we sold. Now I’m placing those little bets that I keep talking about. So I’m running this little project called Lead Delta. I have folks, running the project with me. And as a full time, I’m serving as Director of Marketing at VanillaSoft, one of the top five sales engagement platforms out there in the B2B space. And, you know, I like to meet and talk to interesting people such as you, Christian. There you go.

Christian Klepp  46:37

Boom, there you go. No, amazing. And Vedran once again, thank you so much for coming on. And sharing this has been such a great session. What’s the best way for people out there to connect with you?

Vedran Rasic  46:49

Just Google, I bet there’s not a lot of Vedran out there, especially here. So I think Twitter, VedranRasic twitter handle is good. And you can find me on LinkedIn. So I’m happy to connect.

Christian Klepp  47:03

Fantastic. But Vedran, this has been such an insightful and interesting session and conversation, as always, my friend. So thanks again for your time.

Vedran Rasic  47:13

As always, thank you so much.

Christian Klepp  47:14

Thank you. Alright, take care, stay safe and talk to you soon. Bye for now.

Vedran Rasic  47:18

Talk soon.

Christian Klepp  47:19

Thank you for joining us on this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast. To learn more about what we do here at EINBLICK, please visit our website at www.einblick.co and be sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes or your favorite podcast player.